In the second grade, we had a standing assignment to write a “morning story,” a short story about whatever we did the night before, that we would read to the class the following morning. I dreaded that assignment; instead of writing about what I did, I would write about what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go. This frustrated my teacher to no end. He was so frustrated that he called my mother in for a parent-teacher conference.
I had been warned. Her husband was the church organist, so she naturally sympathized with his views on what was appropriate church music. I was a relatively new pastor, and one day she handed me a cartoon she had clipped out of a magazine. It depicted a white-robed saint amidst fluffy clouds, but this saint, newly arrived in heaven, looked baffled and confused because he did not know where to plug in his synthesizer. And that was just the point—there would not be any synthesizers in heaven. Reflecting on the source of the cartoo
What is the difference between a gift and a present?
This is the question that I have been asking myself for the past several years, every time my birthday or the holidays roll around. It is the question that exasperates my loved ones as they try to give me gifts.
Here is my own personal definition: presents are something that I have specifically requested. I would like this shirt at Macy’s. I would like that item on Amazon. When the designated gift-giving day rolls around, I get to enjoy the present that I chose.
May God Himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together—spirit, soul, and body—and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ.
—1 Thessalonians 5:23, The Message
I have a confession to make: I get itchy when I hear the word "holiness."
I seem to feel fine when I hear about the holiness of God, the Holy Spirit, that our God is a holy God, but when it comes to ascribing holiness to people, then I get itchy.
The Sabbath School lesson for this week takes up the question of the Personality of the Holy Spirit, exploring the long-time discussion or debate about the nature of the Holy Spirit. Over time, people have had various ideas on this subject. Some have claimed the Holy Spirit to be an emanation from God, that it is an unseen force of some kind, while other have attributed personhood to the Spirit. This question has been long debated partly because of the language used to describe the Trinity. One particular difficulty is the use of the word “Person,” or “three Persons” of the Godhead.
What I am about to explain is far from an easy task. I have to admit my human limitations in trying to explain the divinity of the Holy Spirit. Even Ellen White admits, “The nature of the Holy Spirit is a mystery. Men cannot explain it, because the Lord has not revealed it to them. Men having fanciful views may bring together passages of Scripture and put a human construction on them, but the acceptance of these views will not strengthen the church.