Coffee with Christ


20161004_150844 (2)You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. -John 1

Coffee and Christ are a constant theme in my life.

In a day of 24/7 media saturated bad news, I chose to have a positive imagination. When God captures it, it’s allthemore wonderful.

I woke up one morning with an image of Christ sitting with His Father over a cup of coffee talking about their Kingdom and the subjects who live there.

“Father, there is a sister who has lost some precious things, could you help her find whatever she needs to continue her journey”?

“Yes, son. Because you asked, I will do it.”

After another cup, I can hear Christ say, “Father, did you see the humor in that brother’s misstep? He humbly sought to do good. It backfired and he laughed it off. I can so relate. Remember the time on the mountain, it was just the two of us. I was walking as I spoke to you and was transfixed by the sunrise. Then I was sideswiped by that branch. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard at how strange and wonderful it is to be human.”

“Yes, son. Without your perspective and wounds, I would never know what my own creation is feeling or suffering. I am glad to give the gift of comfort, humor and anything else to those who ask.”

I don’t know a thing about what God and Christ really talk about, but I do know Christ speaks up for His own. The most beautiful union is between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. By His grace alone I know He is speaking up for me. He also looks out for everyone in the world; those bearing His image.

I imagine the Holy Trinity caught up in laughter in their perfect Heaven, the place where pure happiness resides and is awaiting the gathering of all of God’s family home one day. I also see God wiping away our tears in this realm and forever in the life to come, empathizing with our sorrows.

Won’t it be marvelous to enjoy the Heavenly delights with our Father and big brother Jesus in the Spirit in which life was created from the beginning to be…

Good!

And it’s still all good!

Amazing!

The Ties That Bind Us


A cheerful look brings joy to the heart;
good news makes for good health.

-Proverbs 15:30

Recently I dropped my daughter off at her youth group and went to a sister church who was studying Daniel. Though this was the third time to return to this class – a church we attended many years ago and have many loved ones – this particular teacher didn’t know me.

The text was Daniel 6, Daniel in the Lion’s Den. It’s so much more than a children’s story that can come across as a fairy tale at times. It speaks of God’s relationship with Daniel, and Daniel’s faithfulness to impart God’s wisdom. Every king to obey God through Daniel succeeded, or repented, and one unfortunately was obliterated on the spot.

I made a comment admiring Daniel’s faithfulness, and have sought to be as faithful, but know I have some work to do and aim more for that goal every day.

The teacher immediately went to Hebrews 11. I love this passage, but felt the teacher might have thought I was unchurched, a new Christian or something along those lines. He then spoke to everyone, We can have this faith. Then pointing my way, Can you have this faith?

I did a double take between my ears and didn’t respond in case he was not pointing to me. But he repeated the action and the phrase.

Somewhat surprised I said, Are you talking to me? He didn’t respond.

An aside, though we never saw the movie “Taxi Driver,” my husband and I usually quote this line in a Robert DeNiro voice. So I couldn’t help myself. In my best DeNiro I replied again, You talkin’ to me? The teacher smiled and a few laughs broke out cutting the tension. This particular church appreciates the impact Christianity has had on art and vice versa, so it was a natural exchange.

He nodded, and went on.

Afterwards, as we left the building, the teacher held the door open for me and commented, Thank you for participating tonight. He built me up as well.

And then it happened. It came out – that part of me which enjoys connecting to other Christians through identifying that myself as a Christian – or I admit that sometimes it’s insecurity that needs assurance by making sure the other person knows I am a committed Christian. I am slowly growing out of this as my word and actions should show that I am who I am in Christ. I find myself explaining less the older I get.

But I got creative, and know I am not the only one whose fallen for a little bragging, but, yes, I fell for that one too.

I love Hebrews 11. In fact, I recently did a 5K race (and name-dropped the race as it was a well-known one – though part of me was simply grateful for having participated). My playlist included Hebrews 11-13. As I spoke, I felt the Holy Spirit’s inner presence guiding me, and any trace of ill-motivation fell away, and progressed naturally.

Another aside, I love road races. John and I have been connected to the race community for over twenty years. We have enjoyed supporting others and ourselves enjoyed participating in the races, always feeling a deep sense of connection to Hebrews 11-13.

The teacher and I then realized most of the people from church were in their cars or far from us. Feeling the awkwardness of it all, we then set to proving our familial faithfulness.

I dropped my daughter off with her youth group and my husband is working. I wish he were here. He would have loved the class.

He then introduced himself, got my name and added, My wife and two boys were on the back row. So we talked family, and before anymore awkwardness could set in, I asked, So, what books are you reading?

As he walked me out the direction of my car for safety’s sake – for it was dusk – we discussed some wonderful books that we each either have read or will add to our reading list.

On my way to pick up our daughter, I called one of my college roomates, a close friend and sister in Christ. She shared her own mixed-motivations and how she has learned from them. In it all, we had a grand laugh, as well as my husband later that night, and then my parents the next day.

Before this post sounds much ado about nothing, I want to say that not only did I glean more about Daniel’s faithfulness – for we know nothing of any of his motivations except that his actions were honorable – yet, we can deduce that his motivations were pretty spot on.

There were other saints in Scriptures whose motivations were mixed, and yet God’s grace extended to them. Yahweh covered them and turned their stories around as they grew their faith. How grateful I am to live in an age of Grace, where walking with Jesus not only comes with truth spoken in love, but I find He laughs with us in our humanity.

I am also grateful for growing up with some special people who themselves have shared their imperfections and gotten a great laugh at the end of the day. My parents are at the top of this list, and have told many a story on themselves which have become legendary. My husband and I, as well, love laughing at our foibles as we learn. How wonderful Grace is! How I want to give it more!

There is nothing like story to help us tie and bind us together more in relationship to Jesus and to each other.

Amazing!

God Call—His Timing


GodReflection: When God Calls

gary portraitIn my last post I closed with a faint echo of God’s call here in my sunset years. Let me make one more observation.

Not many weeks ago we went through the clock reset in our home as we moved forward each timepiece one hour to coincide with the new daylight savings time change throughout the nation.

In our time conscious world, we have at least one clock per room. Some timing3rooms may have two or three clocks to be within easy glance day or night.

Funny thing about those clocks, they are never in sequence. Every clock may have a one to three or four-minute variance from the others.

My clocks are not precise.

Then there is God.

His eternity to eternity nature seems to have no comprehension of my time phobia.

Yet His eternal time piece keeps precise time with every tick of my life. He reads me like a clock—His clock. God knows my every thought before I think it. He knows each step I take before I take it. He feels every beat of my heart and smiles at the times when that timing5beat is in sync with His.

He reads my clock perfectly but my little human brain can’t read His eternal Rolex at all.
That one fact makes God’s call an exercise of faith. To follow God’s call demands trust.

I read David’s confession of God’s presence in Psalms 139:

You have searched me, LORD, and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

I think back over the long roll call over the pages of Scripture with names of those who followed God over the centuries. In the vast majority of cases God’s call, the answer of the person, and God’s action or answer turned into a scene played out over a lifetime.
In cases like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and Moses the results of obedient answers timing6were only fulfilled centuries later.

So here I sit without a timepiece that accurately anticipates or verifies God’s calls throughout my day, my week and my year. I have no way to predict His future action in my life. Where does that leave me?

OK, here is where I think I’m at.

I believe deeply that Holy God resides in me through His Spirit as He constantly calls out for me to follow and to grow. He is at work to aid my slow metamorphic walk into His likeness.

However, I may not recognize impulses as His call. And, even when I do, my mortal self can not predict the full implications, consequences or His timing. I am left only to follow with a sometime weak and at other times confident trust.

My bottom line is yes God calls and it is always His perfect timing.

Will you join as together we attempt to believe what I just wrote?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection: God’s Call—His Timing

Gary@Godreflection.org
http://www.GodReflection.org
http://www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com

God’s Holy Spirit is Active in Worship


GodReflection: Is Worship for God or for Me?

gary portraitI sometimes wonder if the traditional way I’ve understood the Holy Spirit is less than helpful. Let me explain.

Truth is the word trinity is not found on the Bible’s pages. Nor are Father, Son and Holy Spirit ever used together in a specific Scripture text as three distinct personhoods.

Rather than the view of Father, Son and Spirit as three different Holy Beings, what if I envisioned the Holy Spirit as the earthly presence of Father and Son? Isn’t that more in line with the New Testament? My copy of Acts and the Letters paint the picture of Father and Son actively at work through believers who composed the church—the body of Christ.

In Acts chapter sixteen Father and Son desired the message of God’s grace to enter the continent of Europe. We read this account:

Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia.

However, note verse seven:

When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to (Acts 16: 6-7).

It is the Spirit of Father and Son that dwells within the heart of believers and guide their steps.

spirit1I don’t believe Scripture ever tells us to worship the Spirit as a third member of the Godhead. Whereas worship is always directed only to Father or Son. The Spirit of Father and Son are present to receive worship.

When Paul the apostle writes to a group of believers in the city of Thessalonica he makes the connection between Father and Spirit as one and the same: Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 4:8).

Let me lay one more foundational stone to my thought process. It comes from the conversation of Jesus with a woman at a well in Samaria. Jesus’ response is focused on God’s Spirit in worship:

“. . . Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24).

Ok, here is what I think.

Perhaps the Holy Spirit is simply the presence of the Spirit of God and Christ.

spirit6When I engage in the worship assembly the spirit of Father and Son not only are present in my body but are also present within every believer in the room.

We are in the combined presence of the Holy.

Where could be a better place to be convicted or to encounter forgiveness and healing than in the presence of the Holy? That is intensified through the joint presence of Holy-indwelled siblings.

spirit7In silence I look around the room. It isn’t difficult to envision the weakness and defects of all us human types. Then I think of the contrast beyond comprehension that is palpable. In contrast to all my weakness stands the strength of the Holy Spirit. Father and Son are present and active.

We have had the joyful audacity to bring our sin and defects into the Holy Presence. Perhaps that alone is the picture of God’s Holy Spirit active in worship.

Isn’t that a blessing that comes through joint worship for God AND for me?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

http://www.GodReflection.org

gary@Godreflection.org

 

He Shares with Me His Spirit


GodReflection: Does God Care Specifically About Me?
gary portraitMy acquaintance with the Holy Spirit is a process. Like the metamorphic change of a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly I have a profound desire for the resident Spirit to work its transformative power to help me move from acquaintance to a close relationship.

An almost forgotten voice in my family church linage is that of Kentuckian Barton W. Stone (1772-1844). In his sermon “The Four Unities,” his fourth unity which he identifies spirit0as “fire unity” where he affirmed that the Spirit’s residence in the hearts of believers is what unites the body of Jesus—the church.

I am united and with Jesus and all believers through His Spirit that took up residence in my body and soul when I submitted to God through His Son.

spirit3With the apostle Peter’s revelation and instruction “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,” Jesus shares His Spirit with all submissive humans.

Another apostle, Paul, wants me to join with Timothy his protégé to “guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”

Do I have to understand the reality of the Spirit within for me to trust its reality?

When I think of Christ followers of the first three centuries I am reminded that their walk with Jesus took place without the advantage of a Bible with sixty-six books and letters. Truth is, until recent times a majority of the Christian world walks an identical path.

I suspect those early believers were hard-wired to the daily present Holy Spirit far beyond what I can possibly imagine. Their discernment antenna probably tuned into the Spirit more readily than mine does.

spirit6In stark contrast, I have 24/7 access to Holy Scripture through King James, the American Standard Version, the RSV, NIV, the ESV, and a gazillion other translations to aid my walk.

Around-the-clock, podcasts, sermons, websites, and Christian writers flood my brain. I suspect the Spirit sifts and chooses through all of that input to provide me with daily guidance.

However, with all my advantages could it be that I fail to see through it all to appreciate as I should the Spirit’s action within?

spirit7I would like to think that my Spirit discernment is on the upswing as my path wines toward the sunset. There times when I see His presence with greater clarity. But, through it all I plant my eighth brick on the witness of the aged apostle John.

Most likely in his nineties, after walking Jerusalem’s street and country sides with Jesus; after observation of death, burial and resurrection; after persecution and a lifetime of perseverance; after daily acquaintance with the post ascension presence of Jesus’ spirit within his own body; old John writes:

This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them (1 John 4: 13-16).

spirit10Through a lifetime I’ve seen enough intermittent signs of the Holy Spirit to trust His presence as an indwelt guide. I know He is there even when I miss His sign posts.

So here is brick number eight of twelve: He shares with me Hisbrick7 Spirit.

Like the previous seven, I lay this brick to help me become less of an “earthoholic” and more addicted to the Holy as I seek God’s reassurance that He cares specifically about me.

Don’t you suspect we would all be more successful at life were we to acknowledge Holy Spirit presence and accept His assistance?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection: He Shares With Me His Spirit

Gary@Godreflection.org
http://www.GodReflection.org
http://www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com

Secret Earth Walk


GodReflection: God Shares His Secret

garyguarujaMy parents taught me how to navigate the streets of our hometown.

Firsts, by repeated routes in our old car or work truck, then by parental permission of discovery with my bicycle.

My Grandpa and the Boy Scouts taught me about the four compass points. For Grandpa, as long as his old chevy and the road was pointed in his predetermined compass direction life was good. Scouts used merit badges to teach me how to follow that same wiggly needle.

My dad taught me how to read roadmaps that were usually given free at gasoline stations.

walk9Not long after my twenty-first birthday at the end of the Junior year in college, I loaded my baby blue Ford Mustang with all possessions—roadmaps included—and navigated the southern Interstate routes from Abilene, Texas to Boston, Massachusetts.

The returned to the New Mexico desert was plotted by a northern interstate route that took me through Indianapolis, St. Louis and Tulsa.

walk1.jpgEach journey built on cumulative experiences prepared me for a move to the mega-city Sao Paulo, Brazil at age twenty-two. There the maze of streets was so extensive that maps took  the form of a thick book, O Guia São Paulo. In size, it was more like Genesis to Revelation.

I find my early life of direction acquisition to be a wonderful analogy of my earth walk under the canopy of the Holy.  It too was a learned navigation experience.

From cradle to adolescent baptism, to family and church I was provided basic instruction in Holy Compass Points.

walk14I did not emerge from baptismal waters ready to read topographical Spirit walk maps.

However, there was a God-secret about map reading I didn’t understand at the time. In fact, it took more years than I would like to admit to learn the secret to navigate my earth walk.

There is an aspect of how to earth walk that perhaps I knew intellectually but only now can I see with greater clarity.

Let me explain.

In the one of the first two blog posts of early September 2012, I observed that the years of my life walk took on three phases: learning, doing and being.

walk10Over my prime “doing years,” God used the gifts He issued to me, for my own growth and for His advancement into the lives of others.

In His graciousness, He allowed me to feel as if I was a player who brought talent to His game plan.

Here is my new aha. Here is what I now see with greater clarity.

No longer am I a sharp tool. The once honed edges are now worn. So, at the sunset of my walk12walk I judge my effectiveness as minimal.

As this old earth body continues to wear, tear and disintegrate, I am less and less of a problem solver. There is very little I can do to discover solutions  (as if there ever was under my own steam).

As Moses said to the Hebrews so I say to my earth walk: “You are too heavy of a burden for me to carry alone” (Deuteronomy 1:9).

I now see with greater clearness the secret gift of life navigation that God issued to me at my baptism. The Holy Spirit really does live within and in fact does guide my life walk.

This is my current game plan.

Throughout the day and night, I rehearse with the Creator my daily unsolvable concerns. And leave it to His Spirit to run the plays. Sure, I feel concern. Yes, worry has less and less of a presence. Don’t tell anyone—it’s our secret—God shared it with me.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection on Secret Earth Walk 

Gary@GodReflection.org     www.GodReflection.org  www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com

Life with The Holy Spirit


GodReflection: Life in the Holy Presence

garyguarujahspirit3Me and the Holy Spirit got off to a late start on our relationship. The problem was with me and not with him.

After all, with observance of costumes and spooks on Halloween the King James’ “Holy Ghost” wasn’t someone I wanted to meet.

He knew me. However, I received a late introduction to him.

I will return to that thought in a moment.

Recently I came across a verse in 2 Chronicles 16 as the story of Judah’s King Asa unfolded. On a certain occasion God challenged him with a rebuke proceeded by the following statement:

For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him. 

The story of God is the story of His availability to humankind—His beloved creation. He still stands ready and active to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.

hspirit6Two thousand years ago He sent His Son to walk the earth, to show us in human form how much He loved and cared for us.

As His Son returned to heaven, that Son Jesus promised that the eternal presence in the form of the Holy Spirit would personally indwell all who would come to belief.

Now back to my late introduction.

During the early years of my life preacher types had far too much power. They forgot to tell us they might be wrong. In many cases their personalities were so strong and their presence and presentation was so powerful that few pew sitters questioned their conclusions.

And so I learned that the Holy Spirit resided only in some sort of inspirational manner in Scripture. He made the Bible Holy. So unless I was in the actual process of reading my Bible I was on my own. It never occurred to me that the bodily dwelled Holy Spirit watched over my holiness which I received through Jesus.

As I look back I conclude we human types are rather incapable of a successful walk with Jesus when we attempt to live in his presence under our own steam.

It was during my college years that exploration and learning started to play more of a role in our national fabric. That made it easier for my church tribe to begin to examine former conclusion. As it turns out that process continues.

Our God is a changeless God. The extent of the depth of how I understand God is in constant change as I mature. His eyes still range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.

Hspirit4Back to my Holy Spirit introduction.

I came to awareness of the Holy Spirit’s presence over a lifetime rather than in a big moment one-time encounter.

It came from an initial realization  that the gift of the spirit  Jesus promised to send to his disciples after his ascension, would be received by all who experienced the death, burial and resurrection with him through baptismal waters.

As Jesus’ salvation act was shared from Jerusalem to Rome those who witnessed the story and wrote it down constantly attributed the progress of its spread as being under the direction of the Holy Spirit.

From Paul I learn that God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us (Romans 5:5) and that my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in me, whom I have received from God so I am not my own (1 Corinthians 6:19), and it takes the aid of the Holy Spirit living in me to stay true to my commitment to Jesus.

Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. 2 Timothy 1:14

Ok, how can I live my life in the presence of the Holy Spirit? Here is what I think.

I don’t think I can throw away my GPS and expect the Holy Spirit to tell me to turn left, right, or to continue straight ahead. However, I do notice when I live with a heart open for guidance I seem to make better life decisions. Any consistency in good outcomes is most likely not rooted in my own human decision making ability.

Normally, I find that whatever confidence I may have at any given time in Holy Spirit direction comes from a quick rehearsal of past decision experience. It is when I look back that I see his presence and his guidance.

I would love to hear from you as to how you have experienced life with the Holy Spirit.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection on Life with The Holy Spirit

Gary@Godreflection.org     www.GodReflection.org

www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com