Archive for April, 2014

School Bus 6There is a common phrase that has come about on the re-K noon route.  It usually happens when they first get on the bus or after there has been a lengthy 3 second pause in the discussion.  Yes, guessing from the title, the phrase is the all too familiar, “Hey! Guess what!”  Every day I start off wanting to hear about the students’ day.  I want to get to know them and their family.  I want to know their interests, their dislikes, and what they did over the weekend.  Of course, this is always how the ride starts, not how it finishes.  It usually end up with me thinking, “Don’t make eye contact in the mirror.”  Once this phrase gets rolling at the beginning, it is hard to stop.

See this phrase is not limited to one student. Oh no, this phrase is massively contagious!  Once one student makes this phrase airborne, all the students catch it.  It really wouldn’t be that bad except for three reasons.  First, I am driving the bus and it is a loud vehicle to drive.  It makes it very difficult to hear the students that are farther back or that don’t quite know how to talk loudly at the right time.  Secondly, Their voices do not carry.  They are so high pitched that when they get excited about something, it is hard to understand.  Most are still pronouncing words in creative ways and it has to go through my filtering system in my mind in order to figure out what they are talking about.  Lastly is this, and it might sound bad, but after twenty minutes of “Hey! Guess what!”  I’m all guessed out.  Maybe if they had some interesting things to discuss I would be more invested.  But usually it is the same thing every day: “Hey! Guess what!” “What?” “Um, um, I can touch my backpack from my seat.”  Now, before you go and judge me too quickly, let me explain.  I know that all they want to do is be heard.  They want to have a conversation where an older person is interested in the same things they are.  They want companionship and acknowledgment.  But sometimes the phrase just gets over-used.

There is a phrase in the Bible that I believe gets this same type of reaction from a lot of people.  The reaction where people tend to become immune to the phrase or try to outright ignore it.  Well, let’s say it is less of a phrase and more of a name: Holy Spirit.

Now, before you leave the page let me explain.  There are many denominations that hold tight to the Holy Spirit and acknowledge his work daily, I do not come from one of those.  I come from the background of Southern Baptist.  The Holy Spirit is certainly discussed and mentioned every once in a while, usually rearing his head with passages about Pentecost and the ever rare, “Being led by the Spirit” sermon.

My goal is not to bash any denomination, or lift any denomination up, because that would be missing the point completely.  The goal is always to lift God up.

Let me give you some examples of where we miss the Holy Spirit.

Salvation:  During most salvation experiences or prayers one is told to ask Jesus to come into our lives and change us.  Jesus certainly made it possible for our lives to change, but it is the Holy Spirit whom he has given to come in our lives.  John 16:7 “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth; it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you.  But if I go, I will send him to you.”

Prayer:  During our prayers, most end with declaring the prayer to be heard “In Jesus Name.”  That is absolutely true.  It is only through his power and work and name that we have the ability to be heard from the Father.  But during our prayers I often hear people ask Jesus for things.  Such as: “Jesus, please heal my leg.”  “Jesus, be with my family.”  While power certainly comes from Jesus, are we talking to the right person?  Romans 8:26 “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”  He helps us in our weakness.  The next verse says that the Spirit searches us and knows us and intercedes for God’s people.  Yes, it is through the power of Christ we can talk with the Father, but the Spirit is the avenue in which we do.  Jude 1:20 “But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your mot holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit.”

Gifts:  Most are aware of Galatians 5:22-24, and the Fruit of the Spirit.  Many can attest that they have divinely received these gifts.  But when we experience peace or joy or love, do we attribute it to the Spirit?  We cannot neglect the work that the Holy Spirit does in our lives.  He is the active hand in the world today.  The Father dictates, the Son saves, and the Spirit leads.

What would happen if we did not know the Holy Spirit?  This was a very real occurrence in Paul’s time at Ephesus.

Acts 19:1-7 “And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. There were about twelve men in all.”

Is there evidence of the Holy Spirit in your life?  Do you know him?  Do you acknowledge him?

We cannot let the Holy Spirit slip from our mouths because he is active and he is at work in this world and in each believers’ life.

In Christ’s Love,
Josh

School Bus 6

The Pre-K students have finally played a game that I am both familiar with and can almost play along with.  They started playing the game Simon Says on the bus.  When I heard the phrase, it took me back to the days of frustration when I would not listen for those specific words.  I was never very good at this game.  I have learned that there are people whose gift (possibly their spiritual gift) is to lead Simon Says.  It is quite amazing to watch a professional at work in their craft.  They can think of specific instructions and say them in a way in which you actually forget you are playing a game!  I admire and despise these people.

But back to the students.  Being Pre-K-ers they can never play a game the normal way.  No, their version of Simon Says did not contain actions to complete.  Nor did it really require anyone to listen for the phrase “Simon Says.”  Instead they did something that just plain boggled me.  I don’t know where they might have picked it up.  I am confident that anyone who knows the actually game would not even think to play this way.  Instead of stating actions for the rest of the group, the designated “Simon” stated facts.  Like this: “Simon says, Josh is tall.”  “Simon says, we are in a bus.”  They would go back and forth talking about one another.  Never in a condescending way, but in an encouraging and uplifting manner that stated the good things about each other.  Statements that discussed how nice, fast, or cool each student is.

What an interesting way to play the game, right?  Did you know that Jesus played this game?  Yep!  Not the Simon Says version where actions are required, but the Simon Says facts game.  He probably had a different name for it, but it went something like this “Truly I say to you…”  That phrase is found over and over coming from the mouth of Jesus.  It is as if Jesus is letting everyone know that he is about to drop some massive knowledge on everyone in the ultimate form of truth.

As a side note, I have often wondered why he said this.  He is usually talking to his disciples or followers…does he really need to say, “Look, I’m not lying about this!” before the talks?  We know Jesus, you don’t lie.  But I digress.

Jesus actually uses this phrase 30 times in Matthew alone within the ESV version of the Bible!  30 times, just in the book of Matthew!  Maybe we should take note of these things.  Maybe when he says, “Truly I say to you,” we ought to take very important notice of this.

The normal Simon Says game is a game about listening and acting.  I think this different version that both children and, seemingly, Jesus played is also about listening.  It is about not just hearing what is said, but listening for understanding and knowledge.  There is a very distinct difference in hearing and listening.  We must listen to the words of Jesus always, but maybe with a little more focus in these phrases.

I thought about going through some of the verses that use this phrase, but they vary so much and it is hard to pick only a couple.  So I encourage you to click on the hyperlink above and look through some of them yourself.  If you are feeling the need for a deeper study instead of simply reading the Bible, this may be exactly what you need.

I will depart with this, Truly I say to you: “keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” Jude 1:21 ESV

In Christ’s Love,
Josh