The Greatest Gift

In the Gospels, the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus as he arose from the water as John the Baptist baptized him.[1]  The Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus like a dove according to all four gospels.  The fact that this occurred during his baptism by John the Baptist in water emphasizes the point of the importance of baptism by water because it is through the water we receive the fire of the Holy Spirit. The acceptance of Jesus Christ as our Lord and savior allows us to accept the Holy Spirit into our soul.  The act of baptism unites us with Christ. Depending on your denomination, there might be a right of confirmation, which is when you publically announce your acceptance of Jesus Christ and this is when the gifts of the Holy Spirit are inflamed.  While the disciples believed, Jesus to be the Messiah it was not until after the resurrection of Jesus that Pentecost occurred.

Pentecost is a church season and is set aside for the celebration of the transference of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples when Jesus breathed on them.  To receive the Holy Spirit, one must be baptized for the remission of their sins and they shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.[2] As a Christian, we desire this gift because the gift provides us with the possibility of nine separate gifts to assist us in being used in the divine plan of the Lord. These gifts are the word of knowledge, the word of wisdom, the gift of prophecy, the gift of faith, the gift of healings, the working of miracles, the discerning of spirits, the ability to speak in tongues and the interpretation of those tongues.[3] While no one person has all nine gifts, the gifts are given to us, as the Lord needs them for us to ensure his plan is fulfilled.

These gifts are used to reaffirm Christian believers and to bring new believers to Christ.  As a Christian, we are a willing open vessel from which the Lord to work through to ensure God’s will is done. As Christians, we must be dead in order to live in Christ.[4] Therefore, this means we give up our flesh and earthly desires to become empty vessels that the Lord can use to fulfill his divine plans. The Holy Spirit is not only seen in the New Testament but also in the Old Testament.  When God spoke, it happened.[5] The manner in which things were completed was through the Holy Spirit.  In the Trinity when we discuss the Holy Spirit, it is an important part of the trinity because it is the action-oriented part of Trinity.  Where God and Jesus exist so does, the Holy Spirit performing the actions ensuring the divine will of the three in unison is accomplished.

McGrath describes the Holy Spirit as the wind, breath, and charism.[6]  He uses the wind to describe the Holy Spirit for its strength, uncontrollable nature, and ability to move. The breath is in reference to Adam when he breathed life into him.[7] Therefore, the Spirit lives in us from the time of our creation. However, it is not until Baptism and Confirmation do we receive the full power of the Holy Spirit.  In the beginning, the breath leads us in the direction towards cross and God but we must be quite and listen for its prompting. The charism is the ability to perform tasks that would be impossible which we see as part of the nine gifts that can be given to a believer if they are willing to receive them. McGrath discusses Hippo’s logic about the Holy Spirit in regards to the consensus on the Trinity.[8] The focus of the discussion of the logic is based on the need and importance of love within the Christian life.  Hippo laid out that the greatest gift can give someone is love and the Holy Spirit.  Because of these two great gifts from God, then it could be concluded that the Holy Spirit is love.[9]  The weakness of this argument by Hippo according to McGrath is that the Holy Spirit is like that of a substance that unifies the Father and Son with believers together.[10]  The weakness in placing a description and understanding of what the Holy Spirit is that we describe it with what we know.

Therefore, any description made by man will be inadequate to express the being of the Holy Spirit.  It becomes more complex when unifying what it is with the Trinity. Any attempt to describe how the trinity works together being one of the same beings leads towards modalism, which is the belief that God is one person who has three separate modes in which he engages with individuals.[11] While this mode of thinking helps explain God in a logical manner that can be grasped and understood, it fails to identify God the Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit as separate unique beings that are three but one. Understanding the greatness and unexplainable nature of the Trinity is key to understanding that our personal relationships with the three Godheads are important as Christians.  The Holy Spirit is the fire that lit up Jeremiah when he would not mention God’s name or speak any more in his name.[12]  God’s word was in his heart and a burning fire shot up his bones and he was weary but he could not hold back God’s words.[13]  We know all are blessed with that fire in our hearts to speak and “just be” for God. The sacraments of baptism and confirmation ensure that the fire is ignited. We receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit to fulfill God’s will here on earth.  We are made in the image and likeness of God.[14] That image had life breathed into us.[15] This life that has been breathed into us is ignited by the fire of the Holy Spirit.  Like a parent, God gave us life by breathing the Holy Spirit into us to lead us to worship him.

A Christian can see the Holy Spirit today as the ultimate gift from God being shared with us.  This love is like no other love we have ever known in our life.   We are able to display aspects of this love through the gifts given to us by the Holy Spirit. As a Christian, we are all broken.[16] While broken we are made whole by being united in communion with God and therefore are asked to be a living sacrifice which is transformed so we may be a good, acceptable and perfect for the will of God.[17]  Our brokenness has made us whole and with the flame of the Holy Spirit, we are able to be fishers of men and bring others who are broken, into the body of the Christ, which is one of the greatest gifts one can give to another.[18]

[1] Luke 3:22, Matt. 3:16, John 1:32, Mark 1:10 KJV

[2] Acts 2:38 KJV

[3] 1 Corin. 12:7-11 KJV

[4] Ephe. 4:22-24, Luke 9:23-24 KJV

[5] Gene. 1:3 KJV

[6] McGrath, Alister E., Christian Theology: An Introduction (Chichester, West Sussex, United Kingdom: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011), 228.

[7] Gene. 2:7 KJV

[8] McGrath, Alister E., Christian Theology: An Introduction (Chichester, West Sussex, United Kingdom: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011), 251.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid. 244-245

[12] Jere. 20:9 KJV

[13] Ibid.

[14] Gene. 1:27 KJV

[15] Gene. 2:7 KJV

[16] Psal. 51 KJV

[17] Roma. 12 KJV

[18] Matt. 4:19 KJV

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Let My Mouth Be Filled With Thy Praise Part II

This week’s Gospel readings from the Book of Common Prayer 1928 edition are from St. Luke and his telling of the crucifixion of Jesus. The reading from today is St. Luke 23rd chapter verses 39 through 49.  One of the Roman soldiers challenged and mocked Jesus asking the question that if was truly the son of God then why did he not save himself?  Although a Roman soldier a man rebuked his fellow soldier saying that Jesus’s killing was wrong for he had done nothing wrong. Feeling ashamed and believing he asked Jesus to remember him when he went to heaven.  Even at the end Jesus was converting individuals into believers.  Jesus stood till his final breath fulfilling his mission and beliefs.

Would we do that today?  As Americans we watch in horror the outside world has become.  We watch the endless videos of ISIS beheading Christians.  Yet once we see the video we will turn the channel or go get something to eat.  If Christians make up 2.18 billion of the 6.9 billion individuals in the world, why is it that we cannot mobilize ourselves to protect our beliefs and fellow brothers that share our faith?  Why are we allowed in our country to watch hate crimes based on the religious intolerance of others? As one of the leading countries of the world, why as a Christian nation do we fail to do what is right in the eyes of our Lord Jesus Christ?  I on average are at Church four to five days a week.  I spend three of those days in some type of religious service.  We pray for the state of our nation and for the state of the Church yet what are we actually doing about it?

As the outside world drastically changes we become scared and fearful of what our friends, who are not strong about their religious beliefs, will say to us if we share with them about our faith.  We hear words as being a Bible Beater, Religious Nutcase, and Crazy. Therefore we ignore the opportunity to share our faith denying the opportunity for someone to possibly find a closer meaning to God. Isaiah 41 verse 10 states Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

We all have the power to change individuals’ lives and possibly bring them back to the Lord.  We are all disciples.  As disciples we are expected by the term alone to help to spread the teachings of another according to Webster’s dictionary. As disciples the most important tools we have are prayer and the Holy Spirit.  To ignore either is a failure on our part to be prepared to be open willing vessels for the Holy Spirit. This is not an introvert or extrovert issue.  As an introvert I have spent most of my time tucked away from others because of the serenity it provides me. Not until recently decide that I could be a disciple with my own gifts. I share my word through blogging, Facebooking, twittering, and having small one on one conversations with those in need.  I do not go door to door asking if they have accepted God into their heart.  Some people can do that I cannot.  I can however go into a hospital waiting room and talk to people who are upset and alone.  I can talk to them gently about God.

In a world where we spend so much time either wanting to be noticed or to be overlooked as Christian Disciples we have no option.  There is only one truth and responsibility.  We are expected to plant the seeds of truth in everyone we touch.  We spread those seeds through our actions, thoughts, words, and deeds.  Have you spread those seeds today?  Pray often for not only does it provide comfort and focus for you but also provides you the opportunity to allow God to speak to you which you can then share with others you talk to on a daily basis.  Christianity is not a check box designated for service only but should be a daily, moment by moment, activity that courses through our veins to share about daily. Remember to share your joy with others because it brings joy to the Lord. For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers. 3 John 3-5.

Father, we pray for your holy Catholic Church; That we all may be one. Grant that every member of the Church may truly and humbly serve you; That your Name may be glorified by all people. We pray for all bishops, priests, and deacons; That they may be faithful ministers of your Word and Sacraments. We pray for all who govern and hold authority in the nations of the world; That there may be justice and peace on the earth. Give us grace to do your will in all that we undertake; That our works may find favor in your sight. Have compassion on those who suffer from any grief or trouble; That they may be delivered from their distress. Give to the departed eternal rest .Let light perpetual shine upon them. We praise you for your saints who have entered into joy; May we also come to share in your heavenly kingdom. Let us pray for our own needs and those of others. Amen

How Old Is Your Heart?

Life is hard.  It is harder being a Christian now than it ever has been.  The looks and stares we get from individuals in crowded restaurants as we sit and pray.  How before my recertification exam I stood in the women’s bathroom and recited out loud the Lord’s prayer accepting the fact that I was not prepared to take it much less pass it.  Women coming out of their stalls to star at me as I looked in the mirror and continued to pray.  Not one person joined me.  So as I am sitting in the testing room I get to question two of the exam and I look up and told the Lord that I was at his mercy and his will be done.  I do not remember anything after that.  For an hour I apparently finished my exam.  I was recorded and video tapped.  When I finally came to I was on question two of the survey questions asking me if I was male or female.  I finished the survey questions and the results came up.  I was nervous.  I do not remember anything about the exam or any of the questions.  I was told I took it but I do not remember it.  The minim score I needed to pass was 750.  I scored exactly 750 when the results came up saying I passed I got down on my knees and prayed.  By passing I was able to keep my job which is the only source of income for our household.   It was truly the Holy Spirit who took and passed that exam.  I was the vessel He was working through.

So I been talking about my experience with friends and family.  Some under the sacred canopy and others not so much.  Those that do not attend church I have found to they just sum it up to me being smart and putting actual thought aside.  That I just allowed my brain to process the information from long term memory and was doing active recall.  Granted scientifically I would normally use that to explain the reasoning why individuals can often pass exams during high stress times however I argue in this case it is not.  I had no idea about the information being presented to me since the exam I took last time and past was four years older.  Between the walking pneumonia and outside family stress I was a mess to even get myself into the testing center.  My church family has been relatively supportive of my explanation of the experience.

I was reading an article that that explained the millennial nones and developing a religious sociological discussion for the groups.  For Atheist they developed the image of sacred rain boots.  The significance of this is that it is a description for the boots is that they are developed by the interactions they have with those that are religious.  The authors describe the world to be muddy in the eyes of atheists and how they interact with the religious helps them traverse the muddy world made by those that are religious.  To me the sacred rain boots are a barrier from the larger population in general.  From my experience though in general individuals are always partly atheist. Not everything we do say or see is from God.  Is this right?  NO.  But in a majority of the population science has overwhelmed the religious community and taken the fun and mystery out of life.  Believing in religion is like going back to the joy of being four years old and discovering the world for the first time.  As good Christians we should always have the heart of a four year old.  The problem is that we look down on that mystery and awesomeness as a negative experience.  In a world where internet is like the world’s biggest library nothing is ever a mystery anymore.  Our children grow up way to soon and as parents we encourage them to explore and find answers way before they should.

I believe that is why I have some much fun being at church.  There is no quick and easy solutions.  There is mystery and awesomeness all around it.  I have begun to surround myself with friends who think and feel the way I do.  We are returning to our roots and enjoying the mysteries of this life.  I have spent years in academia in both the sciences and arts.  I can say as an academic I love playing in the mud.  As Christians we should encourage others to come out and play with us and share in the innocent joy of fun once again. As Psalm 96 tells us O sing unto the Lord a new song: sing unto the Lord, all the earth.Sing unto the Lord, bless his name; shew forth his salvation from day to day.Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people.For the Lord is great, and greatly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods. I pray your week may be blessed and fruitful.  Remember to pray continuously for both your joy and sorrows for our voice is a joy unto the Lord.

For Joy in God’s Creation

O heavenly Father, who hast filled the world with beauty:
Open our eyes to behold 
thy gracious hand in all thy works;
that, rejoicing in 
thy whole creation, we may learn to serve
thee with gladness; for the sake of him through whom all
things were made, 
thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A Calling To Our Lord To Serve

When religious strife it is our duty and responsibility as Christians to remain quiet and pray.  God will speak to you when He is ready.  Last Thursday I was walking outside to my car at work because I had left a canned soda in the car.  It gets so hot here that it would have exploded leaving sticky residue all over my car.  So in haste I went outside to get my soda can.  I was not even five steps outside the door when I heard the bells calling the Carmelite nuns to prayer.  I just stopped and closed my eyes and listened.  At that moment I was at peace.  I was calm.  I knew what I needed to do again in my life.  Where God wanted me.

I ran back inside when the bells stopped.  I began to google Anglican nuns.  Know give you some back story when I think nuns I think catholic school teachers with rulers.  I remember failing Latin and being told I was failing Latin because Satan had a hold of me.  But then I knew nuns to be fun because I remember the show about the flying nun.  Which interesting side note, she was playing a Daughters of Charity nun which is dedicated nuns of the Catholic faith.  They used to wear those traditional large white habits as their uniform in the 1960s.  But the question became doe Anglicans have nuns?  There are episcopal nuns but was the Anglican Church able to have a group of nuns as well?  The answer to the question is yes.  These nuns can be married as well.  These women often do not do the monastic life but go out into the public and provide charity to those in need.

When I was five I ran up to my parents and told them I wanted to be a priest.  I enjoyed the idea of wearing black and the collar.  I realize women in the priesthood is wrong on multiple levels of the Anglican Church but there must be some way to serve in that kind of function.  Just like me at age five I give everything to everyone that I have even if it leaves me with nothing because we are here on this life to serve and help others.  Before getting married to my husband, I lived with few items.  A table, books, and bed.  I had a computer for work and a TV which I used to play music but there was nothing.  I sat on lawn furniture in my living room for years.  I only got the lawn furniture in the living room so my mother and dad could sit somewhere instead of being on the floor.  I found peace with the clarity and cleanliness.  I would read the Bible and study.

There is a position women can be appointed to in the Anglican Church which is deaconess.  I will be writing about that next week because it is an amazing and honorable position that a women can be bestowed with through God and the Church.  I cannot say how God spoke to me through Church bells.  He just did.  He reawakened that desire of my five year old wanting to take care of others as my primary responsibility and showing individuals how great and good God is.  That it is not about the great large acts of charity but the small every day activities we do to be nice.  The miracles Jesus performed were great and magnificent but also he performed small unselfish acts every day for those society saw a least deserving. Being a Christian is not just something we do on Sundays but something that we must do every day.  It make take me several years before I can spend every day at Church performing ritual and taking care of others.  However at least there is a new end.  I am not stuck in what I am doing now but it is instead just something to move me closer to reaching the position where God wants me to go in this life. It is important though not to lose hope or faith because God will talk to everyone who accepts and desires Him.

Till next week may God bless you and keep you forever.  In Christ Alone.

R. Send out Thy light and Thy truth, that they may lead me.

V. And bring me unto Thy holy hill, and to Thy dwelling.

R. O let us live.

V. And we shall call upon Thy name.

R. Turn us again, O Lord God of Hosts.

V. Show the light of thy countenance, and we shall be whole.

Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty and Merciful God, that Thy Holy Spirit may come unto us, and dwell in us, and make us to be a worthy temple of Thy glory. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Religious Strife

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27

It is hard to write this week. I kept away from blogging because actualization is hard to accept sometimes. I spent the past weekend trying to see if God talks to everyone or just to a select few. It says God and the Holy Spirit speak to those that are quite and accept Him in. In the Old Testament individuals knew when God spoke to them. Through a fiery bush and through angels. There was no doubt because God was able to be acknowledged through one of man’s five senses. I speak with people at my Church who hear God through thoughts and songs. I left the Church in high school because I heard nothing. I sat and wanted to hear but there is nothing. I spent years studying various religious texts and ritual to hear nothing. I came back to the Church hoping maybe this time God or the Holy Spirit would talk to me. That they would make their presence known. I came back to church in February. I gone head first and try to stay actively engaged yet like before in my high school years I can answer the questions and do the motions but in the end there still no one there providing me with some insight on where I should go, what I should do, or why I should be even be here. Before I left the church I spent four hours sitting in an empty building in the dark trying to get some knowledge that others around me seem to have. I am now back and again it is hard. I go through the motions I do the ritual and try to understand the readings and how they apply to me but nothing in my head or heart speaks to me.

I guess that is why I always have somehow thought I been God’s little comedy play. But my church has taught me that is Satan just getting his words in edge wise. I talked with my husband about it over dinner on Saturday and he said it was different for everyone but he knows God talks to him. I have derived its either I do not get it or academics have killed the manner in which I analyze and process information that is meant to save me.

If my religious strife was not enough I have come to find out that I am not really excited that freemasons have decided to accept homosexual couples into lodges. This makes those organizations that depend on freemasons for their existence to have to accept homosexual couples. This leads to the questions about how the organizations will adapt their rules such as in the Order of Eastern Star only women can be star points and men can only be worthy patrons. So do we go based on born orientation or role in their relationship? If we do that then were does the Bruce Geners of the world go? So I am in the process of demitting from my organizations except the Order of Eastern Star but will be taking a leave of absence from meetings until the Grand Lodge of Texas decides to do what God has instructed.

So I employ my readers to contact me. How does God talk to you? How do you know him? God has never spoken to me. The pattern and ritual of the church has always enthralled me but having the experiences of Job, Mosses, and others I have not yet had. I have to trust that maybe someday I will be given the ability to hear Him.

Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. Acts 2:33

The Trinity and God’s Sign

Trinity Sunday week.  Webster online has an interesting definition of the Trinity.  It defines it by the capitalization of the T to discern if it is being spoken in regards to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. If it is a lower case t then it is defined three very similar things. In Mass we discussed how the belief in the Trinity to be a true Christian was like being in the eye of a hurricane. The Father is the power for the center to stay secure, Jesus sacrificed himself for us to be able to reach the center of the storm, and the Holy Spirit is what I believe to be the rock that keeps us grounded from being entrapped from the winds that swirl around.  These winds are sin.  For me the structure that keeps me in the center of the eye in the hurricane is a perfect description.  My safety is due to the entire structure although it contains three different parts.  I have also seen it in the sign of the Trinity.

trinity

The intersecting parts presents an accurate description of the narrow door to heaven that Matthew discussions. By believing in the Trinity we receive eternal life.

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.  Matthew 7:13-15

I had a rough weekend this past weekend.  I spent the last of my money buying Godparent gifts for my step children’s Godparents.  My step children were baptized on Trinity Sunday which I believe is important.  Their Godparents are amazing wonderful individuals.  Anyway on Saturday before their baptism we went out to purchase some food and I needed to pick up their gifts.  The last of my money was gone.  When the total came up I looked at Ben and he couldn’t afford all of it.  So I took the last of my money and made the decision to purchase it.  As I walked out of the store with our four small bags I began crying.  All gone.  Nothing left.  I had been holding on to the money so I could purchase my wedding ring and license.  And now it was all gone.  Ben and I are planning to get married on the 19th of this month.  I was distraught.  I was able to purchase Bens wedding ring but I know am not able to purchase my own.  I just collapsed into his arms sobbing in front of the car.  He just hugged me and told me God will get us through this and I asked him how.  He said turn around and in front of me was a rainbow. God’s sign.  Ben then told me he would be purchasing the marriage license and we would find something for my wedding ring.  I was about to tell him I always had foil but he interrupted me and said no we will find you something so you don’t have to wear a foil ring. He hugged me and told me it would all work out.  He told me we just have to believe.

So I believe.

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth; I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.  He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again.  He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer Pg 96