In his book, “Christianizing the Roman Empire A.D. 100-400”, Ramsay MacMullen undertakes to understand how Christianity, which the pagan Roman Empire considered to be a dangerous cult which it sought to destroy, came to be the official state religion of the empire within the space of 300 years.  He asks:

“What did Christianity present to its audience?  For plainly the process of conversion that interests me took place in people’s minds on the basis of what they knew, or thought they knew.”

And he concludes:

“The Christian church grew in strength and influence through the power of God demonstrated in manifestations of the Holy Spirit.  The defining moment of course came in A.D. 312 when the Roman emperor Constantine was converted to Christianity.  With Constantine as its patron and benefactor the Christian church at last enjoyed toleration rather than persecution, and financial benefits in the form of endowments of land, the use of public monies for the construction of basilicas and even tax exemptions.  Over time, as the church became more and more institutionalized, the demonstration of God’s power became less and less evident.  The church began to rely instead on political and military power to further its cause.  Eventually the unity of spirit which was the hallmark of the early church was lost as divisions arose over church doctrine, and the church of Jesus Christ splintered into numerous competing factions, each convinced it alone was the true church.”

Although the Christian church of the 21st Century, fractured and fractious as it seems, bears little outward resemblance to the unified, dedicated, Spirit-empowered body of believers to whom Christ first entrusted the Great Commission, God’s purpose for it has not changed.  For, as the Apostle Paul reminded the Christians at Rome in the 1st Century A.D.:

“God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.” (Romans 11:29 NIV)

In other words, despite all protestations to the contrary, God’s plan for the church, the mission to which he has called it, and the gifts he has offered to the church to enable it to fulfill that mission, have remained unchanged throughout the centuries.   The mission – to demonstrate to all those living in the world and to all the heavenly spectators God’s purpose in Jesus Christ:

“And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment–to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will… “(Ephesians 1:9-11 NIV)

His intent was that now, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Ephesians 3:10, 11 NIV)

And the gifts given to accomplish this:

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

“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.” (Acts 2:38 NIV)

Everyone who accepts God’s gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ becomes a member of the body of Christ and also receives the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Each and every one is thus given direction and empowerment to fulfill our own God-ordained destiny, and when each has done so individually, then the church will have collectively fulfilled its own destiny.  This will occur because God has thus ordained it, whether or not the church collectively understands and embraces its destiny.  Remember Jesus Christ is the head of his body, the church, and he can and will direct and empower the members of his body to accomplish his Father’s purpose in him, even though the left hand may not know what the right hand is doing, much less why it is doing it.  It is not necessary for us to understand everything God is doing in the body of Christ.  It is enough that we begin to understand what God is doing in us, and that we respond to him positively, allowing him more and more latitude to work his will in us.

The Gift of The Holy Spirit

God’s desire is to work in each of us in exactly the same way he worked in Jesus Christ and has worked in the members of Christ’s body since the day the church was born.  That is to say God desires to work his will in us and through us by the power of his Holy Spirit.  He makes this possible by giving to each of us the gift of the Holy Spirit.  What a gift that is!  God has, in his Holy Spirit, given us a gift of unlimited power and scope.  This is the same Holy Spirit who:

  • Is instrumental in God’s creative work (Genesis 1:2; Job 26:13; Job 33:4; Psalm 104:30)
  • Conceived the only begotten Son of God (Luke 1:30-35)
  • Descended upon Jesus at his baptism (Matthew 3:16)
  • Anointed Jesus for ministry (Luke 4:18, 19)
  • Raised Jesus Christ from the dead (Romans 8:11)
  • Came upon the church at the Day of Pentecost (Acts2:1-4)
  • Empowered the church of Jesus Christ for ministry (Acts 4:31; I Corinthians 2:5)

In the Old Testament we are occasionally told the Spirit of God came upon an individual, such as:

  • Moses (Numbers 11:25)
  • Joshua (Numbers 27:18; Deuteronomy 34:9)
  • Gideon (Judges 6:34)
  • Samson (Judges 14:6; Judges 14:19; Judges 15:14)
  • Saul (I Samuel 10:6)
  • David (I Samuel 16:13)
  • Ezekiel (Ezekiel 11:5)
  • And others less well known

These individuals were all used mightily by God to accomplish his purpose – but they were few in number.  However, in the New Testament, we are told on the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit came upon all of the believers – not only came upon them, but also filled them.  They were baptized with the Holy Spirit and they were filled with the Holy Spirit.  As Paul later explained to the Ephesian church, the baptism with the Holy Spirit sealed them and guaranteed them their inheritance:

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13, 14 NIV)

Having been baptized with the Holy Spirit, Paul admonished them to continue to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  This would allow the Holy Spirit to manifest in them both the fruit of the Spirit and spiritual gifts.

The Fruit of the Spirit

The fruit of the Spirit is the manifestation in us of the nature and character of God, as opposed to our own sinful nature.  Only by allowing the Holy Spirit to fill us with God’s nature can we overcome our natural tendencies toward sin.  As Paul told the Galatian Church:

“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:16-23 NIV)

Although our sinful nature makes it impossible for us to obey God’s law in our own strength, when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, God’s nature in us changes us so we exhibit character and behavior which are in keeping with his law.   This change takes place in our spirit, or as Watchman Nee calls it, our inner man.  This inner man, our spirit, is contained within our outer man, or soul.  In order for our new Godly character and behavior to reach those around us, the Holy Spirit must get through our outer man.  The outer man must be broken to allow the release of the Spirit from within us.  Only then will our new nature be evident to others.  Only then can those around us share the benefits of the fruit of the Spirit growing within us.

Spiritual Gifts

When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, not only are our character and our behavior towards God and our fellow man changed, but also we are empowered to exercise spiritual gifts.  Or more precisely we allow the Holy Spirit to exercise them in us and through us.  What the Bible calls “spiritual gifts” (Greek: pneumatika – spirituals) are simply manifestations, or demonstrations, of the power of the Holy Spirit.  Since God is infinite and omnipotent, these are by definition limitless, both in number and scope.

The Purpose of Spiritual Gifts

Spiritual gifts are intended for a twofold purpose: the growth and the unity of the body of Christ.  Remember it is God’s ultimate purpose to bring all things in heaven and earth together under the headship of his Son, Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:9-11).  The entire creation will be redeemed, beginning with mankind, the crowning achievement of God’s creative power.  As the Apostle Paul said:

“The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” (Romans 8:19-21 NIV)

So the entire creation is waiting for the body of Christ to be completed, joined to Jesus Christ, its head, as a bride to her husband.  Then, as the Apostle John tells us in the Book of Revelation:

“I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”  (Revelation 21:1-5 NIV)

The growth and unity of the body of Christ are therefore seen to be essential since the redemption of the entire creation will not occur until the redemption of mankind is complete.  Let us examine then how spiritual gifts, manifestations of the Holy Spirit, work to bring about that growth and unity.  The Apostle Paul tells us:

“Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant…

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.

There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.

There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good…

The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body.  So it is with Christ.  For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.  Now the body is not made up of one part, but of many…

But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.  If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church.” (I Corinthians 12:1, 4-7, 12-14, 18-27; 14:12 NIV)

And Paul says God has gifted some individuals within the church for the purpose of training and leading the other members in the work God has chosen them for. As he says:

“He {God} gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-13 NIV)

The Distribution of Spiritual Gifts

The distribution of spiritual gifts within the body of Christ is at the discretion of the Holy Spirit.  He gives spiritual gifts to each and every member of the body as he sees fit to enable us individually and collectively to accomplish the work God has called us to.  No one is left out.  No one is useless or expendable.  Everyone has a part to play which is uniquely theirs and is required for the body of Christ to be whole and functioning as God intends it to be.  The Apostle Paul tells us:

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.  To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.

All of these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.” (I Corinthians 12:7-11 NIV)

And the Apostle Peter adds:

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” (I Peter 4:10 NIV)

So we see God intends for each and every one of us, as members of the body of Christ, to exercise spiritual gifts so the entire body can be built up, strengthened and unified.  What are these spiritual gifts? How do we know which gift or gifts the Holy Spirit wants to manifest in and through us?  Let’s begin with a listing of spiritual gifts.

Spiritual GiftsS

As we said earlier, any listing of spiritual gifts is by definition incomplete, since the ways in which the power of the Holy Spirit can be manifested are limitless.  There are, however, numerous spiritual gifts mentioned in the Bible, and listing and discussing them will give us some understanding of the ways God might choose to manifest his power in us.

Over the years we have seen many different lists of spiritual gifts compiled by various authors, but two of the most comprehensive we found are contained in:  “Your Spiritual Gifts Can Help Your Church Grow”, 5 by C. Peter Wagner and “Discover Your Spiritual Gift and Use It”, 6 by Rick Yohn.  Starting with a  combination of lists from these two books and adding one suggested by Dr. David Yonggi Cho and one I have observed I have noted at least 31.  But since the list will still be incomplete, we will leave it to you to add others as God reveals them to you.

In most cases, scripture references will be given to allow you to investigate these spiritual gifts for yourself.  Many of these references are quite explicit, while in some others the spiritual gift, though not explicitly mentioned, is strongly implied.  In all cases, the manifestation of these spiritual gifts can clearly be seen throughout the Bible, in the history of the Christian church and in the world around us today.  Let’s see now what these manifestations of the Holy Spirit include:

  • Knowledge
  • Wisdom
  • Faith
  • Healings
  • Miracles
  • Prophecy
  • Discerning of Spirits
  • Tongues
  • Interpretation
  • Apostleship
  • Teaching
  • Helps
  • Administration
  • Service
  • Exhortation
  • Giving
  • Leadership
  • Mercy
  • Evangelism
  • Pastor
  • Celibacy
  • Voluntary Poverty
  • Martyrdom
  • Hospitality
  • Missionary
  • Intercession
  • Exorcism
  • Craftsmanship
  • Music
  • Boldness
  • Writing

Once again, this list is incomplete, as the Holy Spirit’s power is limitless.

Counterfeit Gifts

The Bible repeatedly warns us not to accept every spiritual manifestation as being of God.  Satan (Hebrew: satan – adversary, accuser), too, is a spiritual being with supernatural powers, as are the fallen angels, or demons, under his command.  We are advised to be wary, as Satan is a master of deceit, who will attempt to seduce and destroy us by presenting himself as worthy of awe and worship by virtue of his imitation of the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Christian who is aware that Satan and his demonic spirits are actively seeking to deceive the unwary through the manifestation of supernatural powers which mimic the gifts of the Holy Spirit has cause to remain alert but has no cause for fear.  Satan has no power over those whom he cannot deceive.  In fact, the devils all fear those in whom the Spirit of God dwells and who are submitted to God’s will.  The Apostle James advises us:

“Submit yourselves, therefore, to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Come near to God and he will come near to you.”  (James 4:7, 8 NIV)

And the Apostle Paul says:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” (Ephesians 6:10 NIV)

Having put on all the armor of God and wielding the sword of the Spirit, Paul tells us we should pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests and we should be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

The Bible teaches us Satan and his demons have such fear of the Spirit-empowered Body of Christ they are constantly seeking to thwart the accomplishment of the Lord’s work in and through the church by sowing seeds of fear, doubt, confusion and discord within the Body.  In addition to imitating spiritual gifts for this purpose, they also attempt to influence Spirit-filled believers to manifest their genuine spiritual gifts in inappropriate ways and times.  To safeguard against this, the Bible provides guidelines for the proper use of spiritual gifts to provide for the growth and unity of the church as God intends.

In his first letter to the Corinthian church, the Apostle Paul makes it clear:

  • spiritual gifts are distributed in the church by the Holy Spirit as he sees fit
  • they are for the benefit of the entire church rather than the exaltation of individual members
  • they are always to be exercised in a decent and orderly manner

He also explains if their use is not governed by love they are of little or no value. (I Corinthians 13)

“Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.  For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit.  But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort.  He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.

I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy.  He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified.” (I Corinthians 14:1-3 NIV)

What Paul means by prophesy is not so much to foretell future events but to share the good news about what Jesus has done for us. As the Apostle John wrote in the book of Revelation:

“…the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Revelation 19:10 KJV)

So what does all this mean for us today. Simply that we continuously ask God to fill us afresh with his Holy Spirit and that we then allow the Spirit to work in us and through us to accomplish his purpose.


We in reformed churches are fond of quoting the Apostle Paul, who said:
There is one body and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling;
One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
(Ephesians 4:4-6 KJ)
Nevertheless, we recognize more than one mode of baptism, including sprinkling, immersion and pouring. Infants are usually sprinkled, indicating that their parents are dedicating them to God. Older children and adults are often baptized by pouring or immersion after making a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. Immersion in particular symbolizing that they have been both crucified with Christ and resurrected to new life in him.
However, there is one baptism which is seldom spoken of today in many churches. John the Baptist said:
I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Matthew 3:11 NIV)
He was speaking of course of Jesus Christ. Men baptize us with water, but Christ baptizes us with the Holy Spirit. That this is a separate occurrence is shown by something that happened when the Apostle Paul visited Ephesus, as recorded in Ephesians 19:1-6 (NIV):
Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied.
Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.”
On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.
When we are baptized with the Holy Spirit the first thing that is produced in us is the fruit of the Spirit; that is, love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22, 23 NIV)
In addition, as the Apostle Paul tells us, we are then each given the ability to manifest the Spirit for the common good. (I Corinthians 12:7 ISV) Paul goes on to list 12 manifestations of the Spirit (sometimes called Spiritual gifts). These are not all there are, however. The Bible tells of certain individuals in the Old Testament who were gifted with supernatural abilities by God’s Spirit. These were for certain purposes and were not then available to everyone.
However, on the Day of Pentecost all of the believers present were filled with the Holy Spirit and they all began to speak in tongues and prophesy, as had been foretold by the prophet Joel. Acts 2: 1-21 (KJV) And as time went by and the believers began to share the good news to an ever-widening circle, they manifested many other spiritual gifts to meet the needs they encountered. I am aware of more than 30 types of Spiritual manifestations (or gifts) that have been catalogued. But of course, any listing of spiritual gifts is incomplete since the ways in which the power of the Holy Spirit can be manifested are limitless.
In his book, “Christianizing the Roman Empire A.D. 100-400”, Ramsay MacMullen undertakes to understand how Christianity, which the pagan Roman Empire considered to be a dangerous cult which it sought to destroy, came to be the official state religion of the empire within the space of 300 years. His conclusion: the Christian church grew in strength and influence through the power of God demonstrated in manifestations of the Holy Spirit.
So why are most of us unaware of this, and why don’t we see these manifestations of the Spirit more frequently today? Although it was the demonstration of the power of God that led to the growth of Christianity, over time, as the church became more and more institutionalized, the demonstration of God’s power became less and less evident. The church began to rely instead on political and military power to further its cause. Eventually the unity of spirit which was the hallmark of the early church was lost as divisions arose over church doctrine, and the church of Jesus Christ splintered into numerous competing factions, each convinced it alone was the true church. So it has continued until the present day.
Also, some have claimed that manifestations of the Holy Spirit, or spiritual gifts, were no longer needed after the New Testament canon was established, but that is not really the case. They are still available to us today, but we have largely been unaware of their availability or just ignored them.
But the commission that Christ has given to his Church to go into all the world teaching all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I’ve commanded you (Matthew 28:18-20 ISV) then includes his instructions to announce “the kingdom from Heaven is near! Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers and drive out demons” (Matthew 1:7,8 ISV) . And this is something we cannot do without the manifestation of God’s power by the Holy Spirit.
Periodically over the last 2,000 years God has again poured out his Holy Spirit to baptize many people and spark a revival of spiritual gifts. Such a revival occurred about 50 years ago, beginning in the Haight Asbury area of San Francisco, turning acid-dropping hippie dropouts from society into dynamic Spirit-filled believers in Jesus, and spreading from Southern California throughout the United States and beyond. My late wife Mary and I came into contact with a number of these so-called Jesus people in the early 1970’s and were fascinated by the love and enthusiasm they exhibited. We didn’t then know what they had, but we knew that we wanted it too. So we jointly committed to follow Jesus wherever he led us and he baptized us both with his Holy Spirit and we began to manifest spiritual gifts. That was the beginning of a life of challenge, adventure and accomplishment that totally changed the direction of our lives and provided us with opportunities to go places and do things we had never dreamed of doing. We discovered that God’s plans for our lives were far greater than anything we could have imagined and allowed us to impact the lives of many others in positive ways.
As we recently saw in the spiritual revival at Asbury University and other places, God is now once again pouring out his Holy Spirit without measure and providing all the opportunity to participate in this life-changing experience. The choice is yours. You can ignore this, be a spectator or you can become a participant in what God is doing.
I strongly urge you to choose to participate.

The Ultimate Conspiracy Theory

Conspiracy theories abound in today’s world. All of these are attempts to explain how and why the disastrous events that plague us occur and who is behind them. This includes events such as insurrections, assassinations, mass murders, genocides, and wars in general, as wells as natural disasters such as droughts, floods, killer heat waves, and sometimes even hurricanes, tornadoes and cyclones. The belief is that if we can understand how, why and who is behind these we can somehow prevent them from recurring. Most of these conspiracies are based on scant evidence and pure conjecture. There is, however, I believe, one ultimate conspiracy theory that provides the answers to all these questions.

Scripture tells that there came a time when God created a brand new universe out of nothing (ex nihilo). That includes not only stars, planets, galaxies on an unbelievably massive scale, but also all the diverse forms of life we have on Planet Earth. His crowning achievement was the creation of mankind, who were given responsibility for caring for it (stewardship). And God declared that all of this was very good, and it was. Our faint memories of this cause us to yearn for a return to this paradise.

Unfortunately, there was, and still is, one who detests what God has done. This creature is so beautiful, talented and powerful that his egotism caused him to believe he could be more exalted than God himself. He is extremely jealous of God’s creation and especially of the creatures God says are made in God’s own image, and continually seeks to destroy it all. He has achieved a great measure of success in doing this. Hence all the disastrous events in history and still today which we seek to understand. His name is Lucifer, meaning Light Bearer, but he is called by many other names, such as Satan (Accuser or Adversary), the Devil (Slanderer), Old Nick, Old Scratch and various other appellations. Whatever name you use for him, he is the mastermind behind all the evils that befall the human race.

However, regardless of how powerful he is (Jesus called him the prince of this world), there is one who is more powerful. We can rest in the fact that God is still in control of the world and will ultimately bring about the resolution we all yearn for. As bad as things are, and we sense they are getting worse, there is still hope for a better outcome. This world will not end in a nuclear conflagration or the effect of a supernova of our galaxy. Mankind will not utterly destroy the Earth or themselves. All of Satan’s attempts to destroy God’s creation have been, and will continue to be, thwarted. God has known all along what would happen and has promised that ultimately this world will be replaced by a new one in which there will be everlasting peace and prosperity and where everyone will truly enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. No exceptions.


Christianity, Judaism and Islam are all considered monotheistic religions, that is, they believe there is only one true God. However, Christianity proclaims the Godhead is a Trinity, consisting of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. How can we reconcile this apparent discrepancy? The Hebrew Bible, which Christians call the Old Testament, clearly states:

“ Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: 

And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. (Deuteronomy 6:4, 5)

However, the Hebrew Bible also says that when God created mankind, he said:

“ And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Genesis 1:26, 27)

You will notice that this is the first implication of God’s Trinitarian nature. And he refers to mankind as both him and them. It seems apparent to me this indicates the Godhead has both masculine and feminine attributes and that to complete the image of God requires both male and female humans. You can begin to sense this when you read that after God created the first man, Adam, he then took one of Adam’s ribs and used it to fashion a woman. And Adam said:

“ This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”  (Genesis 2:23, 24)

This clearly says the female was taken out of the original male and when male and female are joined (married) they become one flesh. This became painfully evident to me when my wife of 53 years passed away in 2017. I felt that a large part of me had been ripped away, leaving a gaping wound. It took a while for that wound to heal and the scar it left is still painful.

A clear image of the Trinity began to emerge when Jesus was incarnated in human flesh. Jesus often spoke of his Father in heaven (e.g., Matthew 7:21; 10:32, 333; 11:27; 12:50; 16:17; 18:10, etc.) The implication was that he was the Son of God.

Later, when he proclaimed:

I and my Father are one.” (John 10:30)

The Jews picked up stones to stone him. And when he asked why, they replied:

“The Jews answered him, sayingFor a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. (John 10:33)

When the time neared in which he would be arrested and bound over for trial, leading to his death, Jesus lifted up his eyes to heaven and said:

“Father, the hour is come, glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee.” John 17:1

He continued:

And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. 

Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.” (John 17:11)


Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be

one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. (John 17: 20. 21)

Shortly before that, Jesus had spoken to his disciples about the third facet of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, saying:

“ If ye love me, keep my commandments. 

 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; 

The Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receivebecause it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. 

 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. 

Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more: but ye see me: Because I live, ye shall live also. 

At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.”  (John 14: 15-20)

The clear implication of all this is that the three aspects of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) are one Trinitarian God. And furthermore that the disciples of the Son (male and female) will become one with them, a perfect marriage.

The Apostle Paul speaks of this in his instructions to husbands:

So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 

For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 

For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 

 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto hiswife, and they two shall be one flesh. 

 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” (I Corinthians 5:28-32)

And later Paul says:

Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” (I Corinthians 12.27)

The Book of Revelation speaks of the marriage of Christ and his church:

“ Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth

Let us be glad and rejoiceand give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is comeand his wife hath made herself ready

And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.” (Revelation 19:6-9)

The theological term Perichoresis describes the relationship of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) as cleaving to one another such that they have their being in each other without any coalescence or commingling. Once again the analogy of male and female marriage is evoked. Perichoresis has also called the Dance of Love, with the three Persons of the Trinity in a dynamic, interactive, loving and serving relationship, which is the model for human relationships, marriage in particular. So we are invited to join with the Trinity in this Dance of Love. This is the destiny that God offers to us all, the ultimate unity.



When we quote something without examining the context in which it was uttered, we run the risk of misunderstanding the full intent of the original speaker.

Here are a few examples of what I mean:

  1. We often hear “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” quoted. It is even inscribed on the façade of the University of Texas at Austin Main Building Tower as a tribute to the pursuit of knowledge. However, this is only part of Jesus’s statement quoted in John 8:32, which is a conditional statement. (John 8:31, 32) It reads in full:

Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free

The truth about Jesus, who said he is the truth (John 14:6), is what will set us free.


  1. Then there is this:

“I can do all thing through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) We often take this to mean God will empower us to accomplish anything we set out to do. However, when we examine the context in which Paul said this, it takes on a very different meaning (Philippians 4:11-13):

“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

In this context, the meaning is more like “I can endure all thing through Christ who strengths me.

Remember Jesus has told us “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

Paul considered the suffering and loss he endured to be nothing compared to what he gained as a disciple of Christ. He desired “that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed unto his death.” (Philippians 3:8-10)

In other words, suffering is to be expected, but valued as it can bring us closer to Christ. In that context, we can do all things needed to endure because of Christ’s help.


3. And how about:

We like to receive this promise for ourselves:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Examining the immediate context we see that this was spoken to those Israelites who were in captivity in Babylon. And it continued,

“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”   (Jeremiah 29:12-14)

The promise was contingent on the Israelites seeking God with their whole hearts. And that meant obeying the commandments that he gave them. Apparently they did for a time, for as had been prophesied in Scripture, the Jewish people were allowed to return to Jerusalem after 70 years of exile. That prophecy was fulfilled in 537 B.C., and the Jews were allowed by King Cyrus of Persia to return to Israel and begin rebuilding the city and temple. The return under the direction of Ezra led to a revival among the Jewish people and the rebuilding of the temple.

But unfortunately this did not last. For as God had reminded them many years before,

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:6-8)

And they began to substitute their own rules and regulations in place of what God’s intentions were with his commandments. God continued to send prophets to warn them of the consequences of their rebellion for a time.  But after the prophecy of Malachi around 420 B.C. God was silent for more than 400 years until the arrival of John the Baptist to herald the coming of God’s only begotten son, Jesus Christ, to live among us in the flesh, demonstrating how God intends for us to live on this earth and inviting all to join him in the everlasting kingdom of God. He corrected many of the misconceptions people had of the scriptures, saying “You have heard it said, but I say to you…” And he chastised the religious leaders for their self-righteous attitude, saying.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” (Matthew 23:23)

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.” (Matthew 23:25)

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” (Matthew 23:13)

“And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.” (Luke 11:46)

 “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 

They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’ 

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” 

And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!” (Mark 7:6-8)

And Jesus lamented over their stubborn refusal to take to heart what he was saying and change their understanding of God’s intentions for them,

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” (Matthew 23:37)

And, as a result, he prophesied that because of their rejection of God’s plans for them their corrupt religious system and the magnificent temple they had built would all be destroyed. That destruction was completed by the Romans in 70 A.D.

The lesson here should be pretty obvious for us today. When we neglect the fact that God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and his ways than our ways, and stubbornly insist of doing things our way instead of following God’s directions, we lose out on his intentions for us and reap the whirlwind. That is to say we can only claim God’s promise in Jeremiah 29:11 for ourselves when we are obedient to his leading.

There are doubtless many other examples of scripture promises we tend to claim without examining the context in which they were given. But these examples should suffice to make it clear that we do so at our own peril. Yes, context is extremely important.

Life After Death

I believe in life after death. Yes, I believe that what we call death is not the end of life but merely the passageway from one type of life to a better one. When this mortal corruptible body of mine ceases to function and turns to ashes, I believe I will pass through the portal of death into an incorruptible body that will never die. I believe that death will mark the end of my life on this earth with its troubles, losses, grief, pain and tears as well as its joys and laughter and, yes, its hatred, lies, incivility, insults, injuries and sometimes unspeakable, unbelievable acts of evil. And I believe it will also mark the beginning of an unending life of beauty, love, joy and laughter in a world where God will wipe away all tears from my eyes, and there will be no more death, pain or sorrow and no more crying. I believe it will be there that I rejoin with my wife, and my grandparents, parents, relatives and friends who have gone on before me. So not only do I not fear death, but will welcome it when it comes, as it will for all of us.
That’s a beautiful scenario, you may say to me, but what if you are wrong and death is indeed the end of it all? And I would reply to you that would in no way diminish the abundant, challenging, adventure and accomplishment filled, joyful life I have lived in the midst of this fallen world with all of its pitfalls, failures and disappointments for nearly 8 decades.
And I would ask you, what if it is true? What would your life then be like in this world and the next? It’s definitely something worth pondering.


Yes, I believe in reincarnation, although not in the way you probably think of it. Allow me to explain. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and all that is within them. On the final day of creation God created mankind in God’s own image, male and female. He created the male first, fashioning him a body from the dust of the earth. God breathed into that body the breath of life (God’s spirit) and the male became a living soul in a mortal body. God then created a female from one of the male’s ribs to be an equal partner with him, thus completing God’s image in mankind.  This was the first incarnation.

Mankind was put in responsible charge of all that God had made, thus creating the world’s oldest profession. It was not long before mankind began to mess things up though, out of a misguided attempt to become as gods themselves, knowing good and evil. God had warned them against this, telling them if they became aware of evil it would introduce death into the world. But they did it anyway. Before long they were to taste of this. One of their sons became jealous of his brother and killed him, thus inventing fratricide, which we have become quite skilled at in the subsequent ages. Things continued to get worse from generation to generation to the point that God wiped out most of mankind and started over with just one family that had not fallen prey to such evil.

Once again, however, over the ensuing generations, mankind proceeded to wax more and more evil, despite God’s repeated warnings of the consequences. Finally God sent his only begotten son, whose name was Jesus, to be incarnated in a human body to demonstrate to mankind how they should live. Jesus told them it was possible to live as God had intended all along and, if they would only follow him, he would show them how. He then travelled around spreading this message, while befriending the outcasts of society, healing those who were sick and on at least one occasion raising back to life one who had died.

His message was not well received by those in authority, the rich and powerful, who felt their position threatened by him. So they trumped up false charges against him, tried him illegally and managed to have him executed. Although they thought that was the end of the matter, God soon proved them wrong. After just three days in the grave, Jesus was raised back to life in a new immortal body, which was not subject to death as his mortal body had been. You might say he was reincarnated.

The best news, however, is that, because Jesus, who was totally blameless, took upon himself the misdeeds of all of mankind, he suffered the consequential death on behalf of us all. Our debts are completely absolved. And, furthermore, we are promised that the death of our mortal body does not end the life of our soul, but it will be re-embodied into an immortal form, just as Jesus was. That is to say, we will also be reincarnated and thus able to live with God for eternity.

So yes, I believe in that kind of reincarnation, and I am eternally grateful for the promise of it.


Almost three years after the fact, it suddenly dawned on me that December 21, 2017, the day my wife Mary passed away, was the winter solstice. The winter solstice is the darkest day of the year, the one with the shortest period of daylight and the beginning of winter. And it was certainly the darkest day of my life.

But it is also the last day of diminishing light. Starting the next day the daylight period each day gets progressively longer until the summer solstice in June of the next year. The winter solstice also occurs during the last week of the Advent season, a season which includes the lighting of candles to represent the blessings to come from the birth of Jesus, the Savior, the light of the world. And shortly after the winter solstice comes Christmas day, followed a week later by the first day of a brand new year.

I remember that just three days after Mary passed away I celebrated the best Christmas Eve I ever had, knowing that she was in a place with no sorrow, pain or tears, other than tears of joy and laughter, and that I would one day in the not too distant future join her in that happy place. As I reflected in my book “Traveling Solo but Never Alone”, in the next days and months a brand new phase of my life began, one that is still proving to be full of challenge, adventure and accomplishment.

Three years later in 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic has produced a very dark period for people all over the world. However, the miraculous development of two highly effective COVID-19 vaccines, with more to come, provides a ray of hope that we are nearing the dawning of a brand new day in the new year of 2021 that will bring light to the world once again, and fill us to overflowing with joy and gratitude.


I don’t know about you, but I am really enjoying life right now. When the news of the COVID-19 pandemic broke here in March, I felt that God told me I had nothing to fear so long as I followed his directions. Since then I have been cautious, but never fearful. I have followed the recommended protocols, wearing a face mask in public and washing my hands much more frequently than ever before. I keep hand sanitizer in my apartment and in my car and use it when I can’t wash my hands.

But I have continued to go everywhere and do everything that the law allows. With the precautions I mentioned, I go grocery shopping at least once a week, I get a haircut every four weeks, and I go to my regular doctor and dental appointments. I dine out as frequently as ever since the restaurants have started opening up again, including sharing a meal with friends sometimes, and I have been to movie theaters at least half a dozen times so far. I continue to fly my radio control model airplanes at my club’s airfield.

I enjoy worship services and Sunday School classes online via Zoom, as well as several online meetings of other groups with which I am associated. When my schedule allows I attend the in-person networking meetings of the one group I know of that conducts them. I attend in-person meetings every two weeks of a men’s fellowship group to which I belong, and lately I have been attending outdoor Vesper services at my church and have had the pleasure of a face to face meeting with our new Senior Pastor. What a joy!

I am even enjoying some of the effects of the pandemic restrictions, as there is much less traffic on the roadways and most of the venues I visit are much less crowded.

In short I am doing everything I can as a 78 year old with underlying health issues (atrial fibrillation and hypertension) to enjoy life to the fullest for whatever time I have remaining on this earth. As Henry David Thoreau said, “I wanted to live deeply and suck out all the marrow of life…” And I am doing just that!


In this era of climate change concerns the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the entirety of humanity worldwide to the precipice of what is arguably the greatest crisis we have ever faced. Fortunately there is a sure remedy for the dilemma in which we find ourselves ensnared. Thousands of years ago God spoke and said:

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (I Chronicles 7:14 NIV)

Simple. Concise. Comprehensive.

But do we really understand how to accomplish this? Let’s unpack this and examine it step by step.

Step 1: Humble ourselves

This should be the easiest part if we are really observant. As the beloved hymn says:

“O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art.”

When we take the time to truly consider the magnitude and magnificence of the universe, we will realize how great and powerful God is and how lowly and weak we are in comparison. This should burst the bubble of our inflated egos and make us humble. So first of all, let’s be still and know who God is.

Step 2: Pray

At first blush this seems self-explanatory, but let’s examine it more closely. We need to remember that prayer is intended to be a dialogue between us and God. Dialogue implies two-way communication. We are remiss if we merely voice our concerns, complaints and cries for help without staying tuned to hear God’s reply. It is also good to give him thanks even before receiving the answer, but knowing it will come. This is a display of trust in God’s goodness and care for us.

Step 3: Seek God’s face

This would seem to create somewhat of a problem, for Scripture tells us when Moses on Mount Sinai asked God to show him his glory, God replied:

“I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

Then the LORD said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.” (Exodus 33:19-23 NIV)

What does it mean then to seek the face of God? To me the answer is simple when we remember that God created mankind in his image. To seek the face of God then means to try to see God’s face in the face of everyone around us, regardless of race, religion, skin color or sex. Our attitude towards those who are different from us will then be much more in keeping with Christ’s command (not suggestion) to us to love our neighbors as ourselves.

And finally, Step 4: Turn from our wicked ways

There are many facets to this requirement, but I believe they all stem from the fact we have forgotten that when God created mankind he gave us the authority and responsibility to nurture and care for all he had created, including all of the flora and fauna, as his stewards. That we have neglected the responsibilities of our stewardship is evident in the way we continue to abuse our privileged status. The natural world and other fellow humans have all suffered as a result. We must, as Christ enjoined us, “Repent {change your worldview}” and turn from our sins of abuse and neglect in order for our land to be healed.

One final thought:

God has already granted us forgiveness of our sins since Jesus has borne for us the penalty of death they demanded. And as to healing our land, I don’t believe God intends to sovereignly clean up our mess for us. I believe, having delegated the authority and responsibility to us, he intends to show us how we can and should clean up after ourselves.