The Holy Spirit is Revealer

The Holy Spirit Is Revealer     May 25, 1977- moviemaking forever changed that day. You may think that’s good and you may think that’s bad, but either way…it’s true. The original Star Wars was released. I was finishing up my sophomore year of high school in May of 1977 (which either makes me really young or really old…depending on your perspective!) and couldn’t wait to see it! The funny thing is that movie theaters ONLY agreed to show it because the studio threatened to withhold the movie The Other Side of Midnight if they didn’t!

No matter what revisionist history creator George Lucas offers now, the original movie was NOT envisioned as the beginning of a franchise! He barely got the first one made and distributed. But the overwhelming success of that movie, later renamed Episode IV: A New Hope, guaranteed future installments. That fact led to May 21, 1980, when the second installment, The Empire Strikes Back, was released. And THAT movie (considered by many to be the best of the series) produced arguably THE best “reveal” in movie history.

Late in the movie, our hero, Luke Skywalker, is trapped by the evil Darth Vader. After hacking Luke’s hand off with his light saber (NOT a very nice thing to do!), Darth says, “Obi Wan never told you what happened to your father.” Luke replies, “He told me enough. He told me you killed him!” And then…Darth drops the bombshell! “No…I am your father!” Bum, bum, buuuum! The first time I saw it…May 21, 1980…you could hear a pin drop! “No…WAY!” Mind. Blown!

The most shocking “reveal” in movie history was a well-protected secret. Very few people knew about it until the movie was released. Even the actor in the shiny black suit, David Prowse, didn’t know. He was the BODY of Darth Vader, but not the voice. So, Prowse spoke lines as they filmed, but they were NOT the lines we heard in the finished cut. Those were provided, of course, by the iconic James Earl Jones. When they filmed, Lucas told Prowse to say that Obi-Wan killed Luke’s father, setting up the greatest “reveal” ever!

We are in the midst of 7 weeks of digging deeper into exactly Who the Holy Spirit is. Each week, we focus on one word- a name that describes the Holy Spirit. The first week, we talked about the fact that the Holy Spirit is the Author. Week 2, we considered that the Holy Spirit is the Encourager. Week 3, we looked at the Holy Spirit as Indweller. Last week, we considered the Holy Spirit as the Intercessor. AND TODAY, WE LOOK AT THE Holy Spirit as the Revealer.
      1Corinthians 2:12-13 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.

The Holy Spirit is the direct link between God and humanity. Jesus promised that, after the resurrection, His Holy Spirit would come to guide us into all truth. Since the Holy Spirit in our hearts, we’re able to better understand truth. Why? Because we have the very mind of Jesus Christ, in the Person of His Holy Spirit, within us.

Let’s be honest- often our actions, even the ones that make us look our best and most pure, most altruistic, are nothing more than a veil to hide the truth- from not just others, but ourselves. We regularly put on a mask to hide the reality of who we are from the world. But the Holy Spirit isn’t going to stand for that sort of self-deception for long!

    We are SO vulnerable to the weight of sin, to the constant gravitational pull of the world. It’s always there, singing its siren song and trying to lure us onto the rocks of self-doubt and sin. We tend to think that the opposite of evil is good. And that seems reasonable. I mean, I’ve seen enough Law and Order to know about “good cop, bad cop”! But it’s really NOT. We can do “good” for entirely the wrong reasons. No, the opposite of evil is truth.  Being honest about who we really are…and about the sin in our lives…is the opposite of evil. The Holy Spirit doesn’t simply want us to “do good”. He wants us to first offer full disclosure of our sins. He wants us to confess our sins to Him. He will then forgive us and wipe those sins away. THEN we are compelled to “do good”- NOT to improve our image but as a response to the revealing of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is the Great Truth Revealer. But truth in this case doesn’t mean rules and regulations. It’s not about “church doctrine”. Instead, it’s about the revelation of God’s facts…God’s truth. The Holy Spirit reveals the truth…about us! Unchangeably, unrelentingly and inevitably, the Holy Spirit shines His light on our thoughts and actions…the deepest recesses of our hearts. Everything we have and everything we are is revealed. No matter how we might dress it up for the rest of the world, the Holy Spirit pierces through the smoke and mirrors and reveals who we really are. His goal is to tear down the facade we work so hard to create. As He does that, an amazing level of self-knowledge is the gift we receive. It IS a gift, but it can be a painful one to receive.

Everything we need can be found at the base of the Cross – at the feet of Jesus. It’s THERE that we are washed clean by His shed blood. And how do we know that? What is it that tells us…convicts us…to come to the cross of Jesus Christ, seek redemption and become a new person? The Holy Spirit. There is a Christian band called Big Daddy Weave who recorded a song called Christ Is Come. The bridge to the song includes these words:

“Prince of Peace, Yeshua, Messiah, the Son of Man, Holy One, King of kings, Lord of lords, the Great I Am, Comforter, Counselor, Author and Finisher, Divine Truth Revealer, Deliverer, Healer- You are God!”

The Holy Spirit IS the very essence of God, sent down from Heaven to not just live WITH us but to live IN us. He comes to reveal God’s truths to us. What is He trying to reveal…to you?

The Newest Wrinkle in the Journey

BP cuff     The latest wrinkle in the ongoing saga of “Rev. Mark Vs. The Cancer” was initially addressed yesterday. I have shared that, although my blood pressure has been rock solid for…forever, recently it’s been a bit hinky. For the past month+, it has been behaving differently at the Cancer Center. It’s been high when we have arrived. It’s been higher still when we get to the infusion side of the building. And it has spiked while I was sleeping in the chair, actually receiving the infusion. One of those days, about 2 weeks ago, they even had to wait and see if it would come down before they could start. 

     Ans the last month or so has unfolded, I started thinking about all of that. We were all focused on what the BP did at the treatment center that, apparently, none of us thought about what it was doing the rest of the time. Meanwhile, I was having these symptoms- constant headache, pressure, an overall feeling of crudiness, nosebleeds, etc. When you are dealing with sinus issues, a bad cough, cancer and chemo treatments all at the same time, it’s REALLY hard to get a handle on what is causing what. 

     But recently, I put all of that together and thought this could all be a rather sudden rise in BP. I mean, why would it only be a problem at the Cancer Center? It really would make no sense. So, I decided I should try to get into our family doctor but figured tracking the BP some ahead of that would be a good idea. Well, like got in the way and I didn’t.  

      But then, Thursday evening, I just felt bad. And so, I asked my wife to take the BP. It was high. Then we had to decide- what do we do about that? Do we wait until yesterday morning and try to get into our family doctor? Is it high enough that we need to do something tonight, like the ER? We decided to wait until yesterday morning and try to get in. Fortunately, I was able to. The nurse took my BP- high. The doctor took my BP- high.  

      I shared in detail the symptoms I have had. The doctor, seeing all of the various pieces coming together. Decided that, yes, we needed to address this. So, he prescribed a BP med. He said we didn’t want to overdo it and drop it too quickly. I picked up the med later yesterday morning and started it immediately. He was clear that it would take 2 weeks or more to have the full impact. 

     So, the headache and pressure, the nosebleeds, the overall feeling of crudiness will all continue for the next couple of weeks, hopefully slowly diminishing during that period. I pray they diminish sooner as opposed to later- I can’t imagine how better I might feel if these symptoms diminish or actually go away.   

     I honestly don’t know why, after a lifetime of perfect BP, I would suddenly, over the course of a month or so, develop problems. But that is a question for another day. Let’s get these symptoms addressed and then, maybe, look at the “why”.  

           #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus! 

Changing Habits

groundhog_day     (This is a “greatest hits” entry from several years ago. My week caught up with me last night.) I was watching one of my favorite movies recently…Groundhog Day with Bill Murray. (I must confess, the first time I saw it, I thought, “What a stupid movie!” But something compelled me to watch it again the next time the opportunity arose. THAT time I got it…and loved it!) In the movie, Murray plays Phil Connor, a self-absorbed Pittsburgh weatherman who gets “stuck” on Groundhog’s Day, forced to re-live that same day over and over…until he “gets it right”. (SPOILER ALERT!) He finally DOES get it right in the end.  

     I have probably seen the movie, or at least part of it, 15-20 times or more. (Hey, give me a break! I said I loved the movie!) But THIS time I realized something I hadn’t quite thought of before. In the movie, Phil goes through nearly every emotion possible, trying to win the love of Andie MacDowell. And in the meantime, he figures out a great deal about life. He starts out a jerk and ends up a pretty decent guy. (He SHOULD have- I’ve heard that the the author who wrote the book upon which the movie is based envisioned that the character of Phil spends…ready?…10,000 years stuck in that one day!)  

     As I thought about WHY he changed…or perhaps the better word is HOW he changed, it dawned on me that the WAY he changed was by repeating specific behaviors over…and over…and over again. ONLY by doing that was he able to become something different…something new. In other words…he formed new habits. Most statistics say it takes between 21 and 28 days to form or change a habit. (He had the…what?…benefit?…of 10,000 years.) And that’s exactly what he did- by repeating specific behavior over a period time, he was able to change his habits…change himself. 

     What are things about YOU that you would like to change? Come on now…we ALL have things we would like to change. Maybe you want to quit smoking. maybe you want to exercise more. Maybe you want to cut back on your caffeine. Or maybe…you want to become a more Godly person, a stronger Christian. How do you do that? By changing your habits. Figure out what it is you do that you feel keeps you from a deeper relationship with God. Maybe you are a bit too judgmental. Perhaps you tend to gossip. Maybe you aren’t very friendly and open to others. Maybe there are behaviors that you exhibit that you are not so proud of. Whatever it is, the bottom line is this- the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect different results. If you want things to change, you HAVE to do something different…and you can’t just do it for a day or two. You have to do it over an extended time…say…28 days! (Hey…it’s a LOT less than 10,000 years, right?!)  

     If you are willing to try this, I guarantee two things: 1. it WON’T be easy! And 2. God will walk every step of the journey with you. And I don’t know about you, but I always find that a great  comfort! 

           #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus! 

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride- Church Edition

Image result for mr. toad's wild ride

       I have shared in this space before the importance of team-building in a church. As a church, or any organization/business/whatever, grows, one essential thing becomes more and more important- team-building. And while it DOES apply to all of those other venues, we will focus this discussion on church growth. 

     As a church grows, one of two things happen. 1. the church sees both numerical and spiritual growth (both, I feel are essential). They enjoy the experience of measurable growth, but they don’t react to it OR plan for it. And they hit 80% capacity in any one of 4 areas- worship attendance, youth/children’s ministries, nursery space and/or parking space. And that is a magic number. Once you cross the 80% threshold, things start to change. Why? Because, believe it or not, psychologically 100% is NOT capacity, 80% is. Our minds tell us that, beyond 80% and we are starting to feel too cramped. So, if we hit it and haven’t made plans to address it by providing MORE space, we will subconsciously self-correct until we are slightly under it. In other words, people will stop participating until any or all of those numbers are beck to, or under, 80%. 

     Or #2 will happen. A church will anticipate that fact and make changes along the way so that, when it hits 80%, it is ready to make course corrections (or already has) that will easy that “full feeling”, allowing ministries to keep on rolling. And that, I have learned, is A. universal and B. essential to maintaining growth.  

     We have wrestled with that problem almost from the moment we walked into this church 7 years ago. We have managed to keep up with the growth curve in three of those 4 areas, but NOT the 4th one. So, we have slowed in our growth, almost stalling over the past 2 years. But, with some fairly major changes, we seem to back on the right track. We have been fortunate to have someone join our staff who is a pro at building teams, so…! And now, we have added a recently retired ordained elder in the United Methodist Church as our new Associate Pastor and he is an outstanding addition!  

     What all of that tells me is that A. we have truly blessed with a talented, dedicated staff here and we had better hang on, get ready to be flexible and prepare for Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride! 

           #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus! 

Vacation Bible School Wrap-Up

Image result for mission to mars vbs     Tonight, the church that we currently serve finishes up Vacation Bible Study. And I will be the first to say- we all love it when VBS COMES…AND when it goes! It is so much fun to see those bright, shining faces every night! The kids are having SO much fun. And we have SUCH a good team of volunteers. It is GREAT to see so many adults step up and say, “Whatever I can do…put me down!”  

       We had good numbers the first night (Sunday)- for dinner, for VBS AND for the adult Bible Study. Monday, the number of kids ALMOST doubled! (My experience is that, historically, the 2nd night is the biggest. And then, last night, the numbers of kids were good again. And tonight will wrap things up. (We buck the trend and do 4 nights instead of 5. We have found, by the 5th night, everybody (kids AND adults) is ready for things to be over.) Since I am a BIG believer of “leave ‘em wanting more, we do! 

     The dinners have been great, as usual. The first night was taco salads- or as they call them around her, taco haystacks. Tuesday, it was sliders and mac and cheese. Last night, we had pizza boats- or, as they called them to keep with the outer space theme, Pizza rockets. And tonight, we close out with baked spaghetti. The meals are open to anyone who wants to come, whether or not they are participating in VBS. So, they draw VBS kids and their parent, adults attending the adult Bible Study, and then just a cross-session of adults who come for dinner and then go home. ALL are welcome,  

      The adult study has gone great, drawing a good cross-session of VBS parents and church members. And the kids’ programming has been WELL received- the kids keep talking about how much fun it has been and how they definitely coming back! And they HAVE. It has been a WELL-built team carrying out a WELL constructed plan to near-perfection! Just couldn’t ask for better! 

     Thank you to ALL who made it happen- our Director of Youth & Children’s Ministries, the MANY adults who made the nightly stations so good, the team who did SO well with dinner and clean-up, the parents who dutifully brought their kids and, of course, the KIDS! It takes all of them! 

           #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus! 

Full Chemo Day

chemo day    Yesterday was Week 3 of this cycle of chemo. In a nutshell, that means that I have next week off and then another cycle- 3 week “on” and a week off. That will put us roughly A> at the end of August, B/ at the end of 4 cycles or 4 months and C. time for new scans. They will take the scans then (not yet scheduled) and compare them to the last set I had. We will see what the cancer has done during that time. (A reminder, some ot it improved, some of it remain unchanged and some of it grew slightly.) Then, a new plan will be enabled. That could be to continue chemo in its current form. It could mean continue chemo but change the protocol. Or it could mean halt chemo altogether. We’ll see! 

      Yesterday started by walking out the door at 7AM. We arrived at the doctor’s off at about 7:45AM and checked in. We got called back pretty much right at 8AM. The nurse did her usual stuff. My BP, which has been giving me trouble lately, was up again. We then saw the Nurse Practitioner, who read our results and did her exam. All in all, things looked good. She DID prescribe a new antibiotic for me to try with this cold/sinus infection/whatever that I have been fighting. (A couple of weeks ago, I finished what proves tro be two rounds of one in an effort to treat///whatever this is!)  

      We then got sent out to check back in for chemo treatment. Our appointment wasn’t until 9AM. It was now about 8:30AM) and they were busy and running behind, so we didn’t get in until about 9:30AM. From there, it was relatively typical. Two things stood out yesterday. As has been the case in recent weeks, my BP is acting wacky. After 2 years of being GREAT and rock-solid, it has been high in the doctor’s office and higher 20-30 minutes later in the infusion side. It has risen even more during the infusion, threatening to have to shut things down. So, we will be seeking some answers from our family doctor. 

     Even though I am now getting the Benadryl orally (my request), I was trying to fall asleep almost immediately after getting in the chair and getting warm blankets on me. We were there several hours and I slept HARD- sleeping through all the “BP drama” and lunch! Then, seemingly suddenly, it was time to unhook me and send us home! As I have said, that can be a rough transition. They out either need to get another patient in that chair or they already have other patients in chairs who also need their attention. So, I go from sound asleep to walking in 10 minutes or so- a bit of a challenge!  

     We got home and I said I did not want to try and take a nap- I had slept so much already. I got in mu chair, under my blanket…and promptly fell asleep! On chemo days, I just have to wait off/sleep off the effects of the Benadryl. Then, I feel fairly good. It just takes time/  

      #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!