The 1 Question: A new series.

I will be responding to the many questions that were shared at the Chain of Lakes Christmas Eve service.  This response was the sermon that was shared yesterday, January 8 at Chain of Lakes Church.

Question:  Can we be forgiven for all if we are truly sorry for what we have done?  Even regarding the 10 Commandments?

Today I’m beginning a January sermon series called the “The 1 Question.”  At Christmas Eve worship I asked each person present to share one question about God, the church, or personal faith.  

I was personally thrilled that 24 questions were submitted.

I was also a bit dazed that 24 questions were submitted.  

When our worship team was talking about this series, they suggested I write a blog about each question.  I said “yes.”  I said “yes” before I knew that 24 questions would be submitted.  This series is going for four weeks.  That means I have 20 blogs to write.  

Lord, in your mercy!!  Would you pray for me.

I encourage you to read these blogs.  You can find links for them from the Chain of Lakes web site and the Chain of Lakes Facebook page.  You can find a listing of all 24 questions on the blog.

This series is significant because illustrates the point that we value questions at Chain of Lakes.  We’re authentic, so we’re willing to listen to people’s questions.  

If you have questions about God, personal faith, why things happen the way they do in a church, relationships, please ask the question.  Don’t be Minnesota Nice about your questions.  Ask hard ones.  

These are the questions we are going to look at in this series.  

 

Sunday, January 15     What does it mean to be “full of the Spirit?”  

Sunday, January 22     Can a child or someone who has never heard the Word go to heaven?”

Sunday, January 29     Does God really have a plan?  Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?

Today the question is: “Can we be forgiven for all if we are truly sorry for what we have done?  Even regarding the 10 Commandments.”  

The answer to this question has everything to do with our view of grace.  G-R-A-C-E.  To help all of us understand G-R-A-C-E I wrote a Bible Study on G-R-A-C-E.  I strongly encourage you to use it this week.  I know that many of us are reading through the Bible.  Put this devotion in your Bible and read these readings.  In the middle is a place to take notes.  I believe God will say something today that you’ll want to remember.  On the back is our congregation’s prayer requests. 

I just gave the answer to this question.  But there’s something more important than the answer.  What’s more important is how we get to the answer.  I’m going to spend the rest of this sermon sharing how we land on G-R-A-C-E.

At Chain of Lakes we want to help everyone who comes here in four ways.  We want to help you:

 

In your faith life

In your relationship life

To recover from past wounds

To discover your Inspirational Intersection or your identity in Christ.

To have a rich faith life, we must understand grace—G-R-A-C-E.  

I can’t help reflect on grace without thinking about a traditional song.  We sang a contemporary version of the song today.  The traditional version

SLIDE

Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me.

I once was lost, but now am found

Was blind, but now I see..

            The words to the song were written by John Newton.  Newton served the Episcopal tradition as a priest.  He collaborated with the poet William Cowper to write these words.  They were a sermon illustration at his church New Year’s Day of 1773.  The congregation probably didn’t sing the words that day.  Most likely they chanted the words. 

            

It wasn’t until 1835 that the words were combined with the tune.  

Amazing Grace is a song of Extraordinary Blessing.  It has been big and bold.  

It’s performed about 10 million times every year.  During times of crisis—during the Civil War & the Vietnam War—it had a surge of popularity.  A lot of people recorded a version of the song—Judy Collins’ Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson—even Elvis. President Obama sang the song at a funeral for a victim of the church shootings in Charleston, South Carolina.

The song provides the answer to today’s question.  The answer, of course, is grace.  G-R-

A-C-E.  

 

Grace that is FREE—grace is a gift and costs us nothing.   

Grace that is unconditional—God offers it to us at any point in our life no matter what we’ve done.  There are no strings attached to grace.

Grace that is undeserved.  The point of grace is none of us deserves it—and grace is still given by God to us.    

One controversial lyric is “it saved a wretch like me.”    

John Newton identified himself as a wretch.  It’s worth knowing some of his story.  His mom died two weeks before his seventh birthday.  His dad was a sailor, so he ended up living with his step-mother.  Unfortunately John Newton’s step-mother was like the step-mother in Cinderella.  It didn’t go well.   He was sent to boarding school.  At the age of eleven he was sent to spend time with his father at sea.  JN became a tough, raunchy, and disgusting sailor.  At 18 he tried to desert from the crew he was serving.  He was caught and punished.  He was stripped to the waist, tied to the ship and whipped 96 times.  He responded by simultaneously wanting to murder the captain and kill himself.

            

Five years later, at 23, he was part of a crew sailing off the coast of Ireland.  There was a terrible storm.  John Newton awoke in the middle of the night.  The storm caused a hole in the ship.  The ship was filling with water.  It seemed like it would sink.  John Newton cried out to God.  The cargo shifted and filled the hole.  The ship drifted to safety.  He and the crew were saved.  

This was the beginning of his shift to the faith.  He eventually became a priest.

John Newton always knew he was a wretched man.

I have a question.  How do you think God viewed John Newton?  God viewed John Newton in the same way God views all of us.  God knew everything about John Newton.  God knew the worst and raunchy and filthy desires of his spirit he had.   God judged John Newton.  Do you know what the judgment was?  Forgiven.  

It’s fair to ask the question—and remember we encourage questions—how do I, Paul Moore, know that God forgave John Newton.  This question is tied into today’s question.  

            Can we be forgiven for all if we are truly sorry for what we have done?  Even regarding the 10 Commandments.    I know this because Jesus came to share and illustrate Grace-G-R-A-C-E.    

When Jesus died he died between two people.  The gospel writers, Matthew and Mark called the two people on the other crosses, bandits.  

The Greek word was lestai.  I’m not trying to teach you Greek, but I’m trying to teach you the type of person that these two people were.  A lestai is a person who  plunders and pillages – an unscrupulous marauder (malefactor), who exploits the vulnerable and doesn’t hesitate to use violence.  The gospel writer Luke called them criminals.  

            

“One of the criminals who was hanged there kept deriding [Jesus] and saying, “Are you not the Messiah?  Save yourself and us!”  But the other [criminal] rebuked him saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?  And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.”  Then [the criminal] said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’  [Jesus] replied “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’” Luke 23:39-42

According to Luke these were the last words that Jesus said to a human being.  The last words that Jesus said to a human being were words of forgiveness.  Grace!

            

Another story about Jesus.      

Two men were praying in the Temple.  One was a Pharisee.  

 

“God I thank you that I am not like the other people:  thieves, rogues, adulterers or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.”

Tax collectors were hated in the days of Jesus.  We might have opinions about the IRS, but our opinions are nothing like the opinions of Jews towards tax collectors when Jesus was alive.  Tax collectors operated like independent contractors for Rome.  They gave a certain amount of money to Rome, and then they were free to collect money.  in that they would give money to Rome and then collect money.  As long as they gave the money to Rome, they were free to collect as much as they wanted.  Often tax collectors were unscrupulous.  They would do whatever they could to get as much money as they could.  Not only that a tax collector represented a foreign country that was hated by most people.  The tax collector was a wretch.

            

The tax collector had something that the Pharisee didn’t have.  The tax collector knew he needed grace—or mercy.  The tax collector knew he needed forgiveness. 

‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”

Maybe we’ve heard this story often.  If we’ve heard the story often we run the risk of losing the astonishment of the story.  Who was the hero of the story?  

Was the pious man or the wretch?  

The righteous man or the unrighteous man

The follower of the law (what we might call the 10 commandments) or the breaker of the law.

            

The hero was the tax collector.  

 

“I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”  Luke 18:14

To truly have a rich and robust faith we have to start with having an understanding of our own need for grace.  If we don’t have an understanding of our own need for grace, then we will always run the risk of being like the Pharisee.  

God gives grace freely.   The answer to today’s question is grace.   To take it to the next step we have to ask ourselves—how deep is my own understanding of my need for grace.   John Newton, and the lestai and the tax collector knew that they needed grace.  For them grace wasn’t an academic exercise they debated in their minds.  Grace was burning in their heart because they knew they needed it.  The question that I want each of us to ponder about ourselves is how deep do each of us know that we need grace.  

We can’t talk about grace without bringing in some other words about faith that have tripped people up.  One of the words is sin.  

Unfortunately the church has done a poor job of talking about sin.  In general when preachers talk about sin we’ve made one of two terrible errors

We’ve made people feel so bad about their sins that they won’t approach God

We’ve made people feel so good about themselves that we never talk about sin.  Then people believe that they don’t need God.  

The reality is that each one of us have been given wonderful gifts and are capable of being an extraordinary blessing.  We are good.  And the reality is that each one of us is capable of doing terrible things and even doing evil.  We sin.

One of the reasons that we exist at Chain of Lakes is to be authentic.  Part of being authentic is acknowledging that we sin—that we fall short.  We miss the mark.  Sometimes we sin even when we don’t know that we sin.    Acknowledge our own sins prevents us from living as prideful people.  We won’t be like the Pharisee.  

The key is recognizing we fall short—we sin—without beating ourselves up.          

I pray in the morning and use a prayer sheet.   On my prayer sheet is a place where I list the ways that I messed up the previous day—the ways that I sin.  I’ll either write these sins down or reflect on them.  Sometimes it’s hard.  I’m putting a mirror in front of my own spirit and take a hard look at what is happening.  

I do this not with a sense of dread, but with a spirit of anticipation.  I’m not happy that I sin or fall short, but I don’t bludgeon myself.  I’m very sorry that I mess up.  But I look at confession as opportunity to grow.  Through my own acknowledgment I anticipate becoming more like Christ, that’s one goal of faith to become more like Christ.    

There’s no secret formula to confession.  It’s very simple.  I find three words to work.  “I have sinned.”  The Apostle Paul put it this way:

“For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

Jesus gave us access to grace.

If we go back to the question.  And here it is:

            QUESTION

We can go down all sorts of rabbit holes when we think about confession that don’t ultimately help us.  What happens if we confess and aren’t truly sorry; or how do we know if we are truly sorry.  Do we need to confess something more than once.  Or is there a magic number in confessing.  Am I truly sorry if I confess something twenty times instead of once; or do I need to confess something a thousand times.  Do I need to prove myself to God.

Here’s the thing.  God is on our side.  God is not against us; God is not waiting to pounce on us for and make us prove that we are truly sorry; God never created a litmus test for sorrow.  God is on our side.  Grace.  G-R-A-C-E. 

Grace leads us to think about our own image of God.  This is an important question for our faith life.  

            What is your image of God.

Is God like our worst critic waiting to jump on us when we mess up?

Is God like a bad teacher waiting to go through the lessons of our life and say, “uh, uh, uh” you didn’t confess this sin?

Or instead is God like Jesus on the cross.  Looking at the bandit who waited until the end of his life.  Jesus responded to the bandit by saying, “today you will join me in paradise.”  Essentially saying, “I forgive you.”

I hope that our image of God is Jesus giving grace on the cross.  

In the Scripture that ___ read, the Apostle Paul said that at the right time Jesus died for us.  What this means to me is not matter what we’ve done in our life, Jesus wants to forgive us.  That’s the image that we carry with us.

In my work on this sermon I reaquainted myself with the story of Jeffrey Dahmer.  Jeffrey Dahmer was one of the worst serial killers in the history of the United States.  I went to his Wikipedia page and had to stop reading it.  It was horrible.

One part of his story that is worth lifting up is at the end of his life, while he was in jail Jeffrey Dahmer started a conversation with Roy Ratcliff.  Roy Ratcliff is a pastor.  He started having a weekly conversation with Jeffrey Dahmer in jail.  Jeffrey Dahmer confessed his sins.  He was baptized at the end of his life.  Ultimately Dahmer was killed by another inmate.  At the funeral service Roy Ratcliff said this about Jeffrey Dahmer.

 

“Jeff confessed to me his great remorse for his crimes.  He wished he could do something for the families of his victims to make it right, but there was nothing he could do.  He turned to God because there was no one else to turn to, but he showed great courage in his daring to ask the question, ‘Is heaven for me too?’  I think many people are resentful of him for asking that question.  But he dared to ask, and he dared to believe the answer.”  

Did God forgive Jeffrey Dahmer.  I think he did.  I don’t say that easily.  JD was the worst of the wretches.  I can understand if people could never forgive JD for what he did.  If I was a family member of one of JD’s victims, it probably would take me a lot of therapy to forgive him.  I’m not God.  Jesus looked at the bandit shortly before his death and said, you will join me in paradise.  You are forgiven.  

The task is how do we let this forgiveness/grace/G-R-A-C-E infuse our life.  

Let me close with this story.  How many of you have seen the movie, “Rogue 1.”  Amy and I saw it a week ago.  There is a scene in the movie where a character named “Chirut” has to make an extraordinary action.  He risked his life in order to advance the cause of the rebels.  And as he took this action he said to himself, “I am one with the Force; the force is with me.”  He said this over and over and over.  It was his mantra.

I’d like to leave you with a mantra.  I’d like to encourage you to say this mantra this week.  I want to encourage you to say it over and over and over again during your week.  The mantra is this:

            I am forgiven; I am forgive; I am forgiven; I am forgiven.

Take this mantra; say it many times this week; experience the power of grace.  I am forgiven.

 

SERMON January 15,2017

When people talk about you when you are not around, what would you like them to say?  

Today we heard a story about Barnabas.  He had quite a story.  Barnabas traveled with Paul on one of his missionary journeys.  He had a lot of experience of going into villages and sharing the gospel.  He was an essential part of the working of the Holy Spirit.  

In the story we heard today Barnabas had been sent to a village named Antioch.  Some context.  The faith community in Antioch had been growing dramatically.  The people in Jerusalem wanted to hear about what was happening.  

Obviously this was a few years before cell phones or Snap Chat; no one could send a text.  The only way to find out what was happening was for someone in Jerusalem to walk to Antioch, observe what was happening, and then walk back and give a report.    

SLIDE

Here’s a map.  It was about 300 miles from Jerusalem to Antioch.

Barnabas was selected.  He walked to Antioch.  I’ll let Luke—who wrote the book of Acts—share what happened.    

SLIDE “When [Barnabas] came and saw the grace of God [in Antioch], he rejoiced, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast devotion.”  Acts 11:23

And then Luke—who was an educated man and wanted to write an orderly account of the story of Jesus—couldn’t help but editorialize.  He wrote: 

SLIDE For [Barnabas] was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith.  And a great many people were brought to the Lord.  Acts 11:24

Barnabas was full of the Holy Spirit.  That is how we was described.  I would hope that we would want to be described this way too.  

This brings up the question—what does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit?  That’s the question of the day.

Today I’m continuing a sermon series called “The 1 Question.”  At Christmas Eve I asked people to share questions about which they would like to hear a sermon.  I received 24 questions.  

SLIDE Last week the question was “Can we be forgiven for all if we are truly sorry for what we have done, even regarding the 10 Commandments?

Next Sunday the question is: Can a child or someone who has never heard the Word go to heaven?

Two weeks from today we’ll look at: Does God really have a plan?  Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?

SLIDE Today the question is “What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit?”  

My hope in this sermon is to share a bit about what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  From the outset I have to share that I’m just scratching the surface.  This could easily be a six-week sermon series.  

Of the four gospel writers, The phrase “being filled with the Holy Spirit” was only used by Luke.  He described all sorts of people as being filled with the Holy Spirit.  Peter and Elizabeth, Zechariah, Stephen, Saul, John, Barnabas and of course Jesus.  But being filled with the Holy Spirit is not meant to describe people in the Bible.  It’s meant to describe you and me.  You and I can be filled with the Holy Spirit.

 

This week I wrote a devotion about many of these people Luke described and what it meant to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  I encourage you to use it this week.  In the middle is a place to take notes.  I believe God might say something to you that you’ll want to write down.  ON the back is a place for our congregation’s prayer requests.  

——————————————————————————————————–

The Holy Spirit is one of the most misunderstood ideas or doctrines of faith.  This is so sad because the Holy Spirit does not have to be complicated.  We humans have made it complicated.  I have many examples of what caused this confusion, but one I want to share comes from the Apostles’ Creed.  

We don’t say the Apostles’ Creed often at Chain of Lakes, but we certainly could.  

SLIDE   I believe in God the Father almighty maker of heaven and earth.  And Jesus Christ his only son our Lord.  Who was conceived by the Holy _____.

The Holy Ghost?  When I was growing up I was afraid of ghosts.  If I thought a ghost was coming I would put the blankets over my head and try to hide.  The last thing I would want is to have contact with a ghost, and I certainly wouldn’t have want to be filled with a Holy Ghost.  

Where did this come from?  The Holy Ghost is a phrase that was used by the King James translation of the Bible.  It’s a terrible translation of the greek word pneuma.  You open up the New Revised Standard Version and you won’t find the term Holy Ghost.  The Holy Spirit

Another part of our confusion is we’ve been taught that we primarily have experiences of the Holy Spirit.  And we do.  When I was in elementary school I went to Presbyterian camp on Lake Okibodji.  I loved going to camp.  The camp still exists.  One year on the last night of camp the counselors took us into a room.  It felt like the Upper Room.  A counselor started sharing her story.  At the end of her story she shared how she was happy that Christians weren’t persecuted for their faith like in the 1

st

century.  And she started crying.  And I kid you not, this wave of emotion hit the room.  All of a sudden many people were crying.  Not everyone.  I was a macho boy so I refused to cry.  I felt it.  Something entered that room.  I can’t prove it to you logically or with the tools of science, but there is no doubt in my mind that the Holy Spirit swept over us.    When we left the room many of us started hugging each other (which I liked because I was a adolescent boy).  It was an experience.    

The next year we were at Camp.  And the counselors had an end of camp worship service the night before we left.  We were in a different room.  And though my faith life wasn’t that deep, I decided that I wanted to have another experience of the Holy Spirit.  So as we sang songs and prayed I prayed with all of the energy that I had something like, “I want to experience you again.”  Those weren’t the exact words, but that was the idea.  This time I wanted to have an experience of the Holy Spirit.  I wanted to be touched.  I didn’t care if I couldn’t hug any girls.  I wanted to have that wave hit our room again and hit me.  I prayed; I clenched my eyes shut as if that would do anything.  I prayed and prayed.  And do you know what happened?

Nothing.  Nothing happened to me.  The music was good and the prayers were fervent and I have no doubt that God was in the room.  I didn’t have an experience like I had the year before..  

As I’ve reflected on these experiences I’ve learned that the Holy Spirit is more than an experience.  I’ve learned that the Holy Spirit was just as present that second year as it was the first year.  It was present in a different way.

What is the Holy Spirit?  The Holy Spirit is God.  We believe in the Trinity—God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  One God; three persons as the hymn Holy, Holy, Holy shared.  The math doesn’t work—3=1 or 1=3. But God goes beyond math.  The Holy Spirit is God.

What is so awesome is the Holy Spirit is inside of us.  You and I don’t have to do anything to get connected to the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is part of us.  Just as blood is part of us or our muscles are part of us.  We don’t have to do anything to have access to blood or muscles.  The Holy Spirit is like that.  

How do you know that the Holy Spirit is part of us.  I can say this because of our baptism.  Like many other denominations Presbyterians believe that baptism is a sacrament.  What this means it is a sign and seal of grace.  We believe that when someone is baptized we can practically see God.  It’s a sign of grace.  

And we believe that baptism is a seal of grace.  We believe that grace is sealed inside of us for all of eternity.  Once you have been sealed with grace it can never be taken away from you.  No matter what you do, grace is inside of you.  That is why baptism is so important.

Another way to say this is the Holy Spirit is inside of you.  The Holy Spirit is more than grace, of course, but at baptism we believe that the Holy Spirit is sealed inside of us forever.  It’s part of our spiritual reality.  

So though we can have experiences of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit is much more than an experience.  

What happens is we good, stoic Midwesterners aren’t good with emotions and experiences, so we’re unsure or even afraid of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is more than a ghost; the Holy Spirit is more than an experience.  The Holy Spirit loves us; the Holy Spirit wants the best for us.  

What does it mean to be full of the Spirit?  Again—I’m just touching briefly on this.  I have a phrase that answers the question.  I’ve shared this before.  The phrase is the Inspirational Intersection.  

SLIDE

The Inspirational Intersection is the intersection between what God wants us to do and be and what we want to do and be.  

Say this with me.  

Say this line is what God wants us to do and be; say this line is what we want to do and be.  We want to discover the intersection.  When we find that intersection we ware full of the Spirit.    

When we discover this intersection we discover a tremendous amount of energy and passion and imagination.  It’s as if we’ve found ourselves.  At this intersection we often say we were made to be at this place.  Everything is natural and flows.  

The Inspirational Intersection is not a place where God wants us to be and we don’t want to be.  We can exist at this place for a while, but we don’t find energy there.  This is a place of should and oughts and have tos.  This is doing things that we’re supposed to do.  Sometimes the church compels people to be at this place.  We send a message “you really should be doing this,” or “you really ought to do that.”  This is a place of going through the motions.  There’s not a lot of joy at this place.

I don’t believe that God wants us at this place for a long period of time.  

The Inspirational Intersection is not doing and being what we want and what God doesn’t want.  This turns us into God.  That place doesn’t work because God is not going to let us be God. 

We have to discover the intersection.  Quite frankly this is one of my goals as a pastor for us at Chain of Lakes.  I want Chain of Lakes to be full of people who are living at each of our Inspirational Intersection.  Because the energy can’t be contained.  We will be so full of the Spirit.  It will be overflowing.

John Ortberg wrote a book called “the me I want to be.”   We did a study on this many years ago.  The me I want to be is God’s best version of us.  This is being filled with the Holy Spirit.  Being the best of who we want to be connects to our mind and our heart and our spirit.  We are operating at place of wonderful energy.  

Notice what John Ortberg didn’t way.    

SLIDE

The Me I don’t want to be 

The Me I Pretend to be

This one is hard for people in church because we think there an image of Christians that we’re supposed to live into.  One of the beauties of Chain of lakes Church is we don’t try to pretend.  We have a call to be an authentic, Chritian community.  Don’t pretend.  Be yourself.

BUR doesn’t mean

The Me I think I should be

There’s no shoulds when it is coming to be full of the Holy Spirit.  

The Inspirational Intersection.  How do we find that place.  

One way is to talk and reflect with God.  Let me give you three simple reflection questions.  This week spend some time reflecting on three questions:

SLIDE

What does God want me to do and be?

What do I want to do and be?

Where is the Intersection?  

Another way is to worship weekly.  When we worship a spiritual energy field is created.  When we worship well we are lifted up to experience God.  We connect to a supernatural reality.  Worship forms us.  We forget for a time the challenges that might weigh us down.  When we worship well we leave worship a different place than when we enter.   

If worship isn’t full of the Spirit then we will change.  I think worship at Chain of Lakes is full of the Spirit.  But we constantly are evaluating worship here at Chain of lakes.  With my encouragement our worship team decided to hand our evaluation forms about worship.  We started doing this last week.  I read an evaluation that one person filled out.  It was really helpful.  

Worship is the most important ministry that we have.  Worship weekly.

Two ways to discover our Inspirational Intersection.  Reflect and talk to God; worship weekly.

Let me go in a different direction.  There’s one part of the Holy Spirit that it’s important to talk about and that is talking about the charismatic parts of the Spirit.  This is speaking in tongues or being slain in the Spirit or other practices.  

Presbyterians have not always been comfortable with these dimensions of the Spirit.  Let me share some history.  

SLIDE It’s a story about William J Seymour.  He was an African American minister, the son of a freed slave.  He preached that speaking in tongues was evidence of the Holy Spirit.  He got kicked out of his first church.  He kept preaching.  Eventually crowds began to gather when he preached on Azusa Street, in a run-down building in downtown Los Angeles.  When he preached at Azusa Street something incredible happened.  It was a revival.  People came from all over the world to participate in this revival.  The revival last for three years.  It started the Pentecostal movement.  The Azusa Street revival was multi-racial, welcomed poor people and encouraged the leadership of this revival launched Pentecostalism.

Part of Pentecostalism is speaking in tongues.  The Greek word is glossalia.    

A story.  I first came into contact with speaking in tongues when I was in college.  I was in a group called Intervarsity.  I had a friend who was a few years older than me.  One day we prayed together.  As we prayed together he started speaking in a language that I didn’t understand.  He was uttering different syllables and vowels.  I had no understanding of what that was.  I wasn’t threatened by it.  I was more curious.  When we were done I asked him if he was speaking in Hebrew.  No—he said that he was speaking in tongues.

That was my first experience of being with someone who spoke in tongues.  In my ministry I’ve had many friends who speak in tongues.  I love to pray with people who speak in tongues.  We have people at Chain of lakes who speak in tongues.  All the people I’ve known who speak in tongues approach their gift with a tremendous amount of humility.

We don’t need to be afraid of people speaking in tongues.  Admittedly it’s a bit strange at first to hear someone speak in tongues.  But once we get used to it, it’s not that strange to pray with someone who speaks in tongues.

I don’t speak in tongues myself.  Speaking in tongues is a gift.  God hasn’t given me this gift.  Speaking in tongues doesn’t mean a person is a Christian on steroids.  What it means is we have a gift.  I don’t look at a person who speaks in tongues as a better Christian.  I look at the person as having a gift.  Just as I have gifts.  Just as you have gifts.   No gift is better than another or makes us a super Christian.  

We can be filled with the Spirit and not speak in tongues.

We can be filled with  the Spirit and speak in tongues.

If you know of people who speak in tongues I would encourage you to talk to the person about their gift.

When we are filled with the Spirit we are living at a really cool place.  We live with less anxiety and much more contentment.  Let me close with this.  

Imagine a day of being filled with the Holy Spirit.

We get up a little late, but it doesn’t bother us.  We needed the rest.  

Our kids get out of bed and we give them a big hug.  When you are hugging your kids you are experiencing love.  Life might be crazy at breakfast if you even have breakfast together.  You’re not sweating the small stuff.  When your kids leave for school, you’re not yelling at them about forgetting something or nagging them to remember something.  You’re telling them you love them.

As you drive to work you get caught in a traffic jam.  It doesn’t bother you.  As you’re driving to work someone cuts you off.  Instead of responding in a nasty way, you just smile.  

When you’re at work someone tells you the latest bit of gossip—a real juicy tidbit of information.  You listen and smile.  You don’t’ feed the desire of your workmate to pass on something that is not helpful.

You decide to read your Bible during a break.  It doesn’t matter that some of your workmates want to call you a goody two shoes.  You’re comfortable with who you are.  You know the truth.  You like your relationship with God and the criticism of others doesn’t bother you.

You come home at night and your spouse does something dumb.    It bounces off your heart—you’re full of the Spirit.  You don’t condone what your spouse did and don’t encourage it.  You say, “honey I love you, but don’t do that anymore.”  Your spouse appreciates the love that you shared.

What a difference your day is when we are filled with the Spirit.  You encounter the same problems that you always have.  But they don’t’ affect you.  You are filled.  You are filled.  You are filled.  Let’s be filled.