Power.  We think of strength or authority in our daily situations.  A baseball hitter is known to have power when he hits lots of home runs.  The President certainly has power as a ruler of a country.  A boss has power over employees.

What does “power” mean in the context of Acts 1:8 (But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.)?  Practically speaking, what power does the Spirit give me?

  1. The power over sin, the flesh, and Satan.
  2. The power of the Spirit bears fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, etc.).
  3. The power of identity: I am God’s adopted child, righteous in His sight.
  4. The power to witness to God’s love and truth.

That’s a lot of power! Let’s claim it and use it!

Elements of the Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:3-11)

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: [#1] that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that [#2] he was buried, [#3] that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and [#4]that he appeared to Cephas (Peter), then to the twelve. Then [#5] he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then [#6] he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, [#7] he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But [#8] by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so [#9] we preach and so you believed.

The Temptation of Self-Rejection

“No sooner had Jesus come up out of the water than He saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit, like a dove, descending on Him. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my son, the beloved; my favor rests on you.'”

The Beloved. Here we learn that title belongs to Jesus. But through the rest of the love story called the gospel we learn it belongs to us too.

It’s certainly not easy to hear that voice today in a world filled with voices that shout: “You are no good. You are ugly, worthless, despicable. You are a nobody–unless you can prove otherwise.”

These negative voices are so loud and persistent that it is easy to believe them. That’s the great trap of self-rejection.

I am surprised at how quickly I give in to the temptation of self-rejection. As soon as someone criticizes me or I feel rejected, left alone, or abandoned, I find myself thinking: “That proves once again that no one loves me, that I am a nobody.” Instead of taking a critical look at my circumstances or my limitations or others’ limitations, I blame myself–not just for what I did, but for who I am. My dark side says, “I am no good…I deserve to be pushed aside, rejected, and abandoned.”

Now others lean  toward arrogance which is just the other side of self-rejection. Arrogance is putting yourself on a pedestal to avoid being seen as you see yourself or letting others see you as you really are. Arrogance is just another way of dealing with self-rejection. Whether I am inflated or deflated, I lose touch with the truth and distort my vision of reality.

Do Our Actions Match Our Convictions?

Daniel 6:4-5…

At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.”

Daniel’s opponents scrutinized him to find faults. They couldn’t find any so they basically made up some.

If someone examined my life (your life), would my (your) actions match my (your) convictions? Would I (you) be found blameless and faithful.

FAQ: Will Catholics Go To Heaven?

Catholics who trust in Christ for salvation will go to heaven, just as Protestants who trust in Christ.

Catholics or Protestants or even people who are a part of my church family who trust in religion or their good works and NOT in Christ will not go to heaven.


Don’t You Get It: You Are NOT in Control

A central theme in the story of Jesus’ arrest is being “handed over.” In the Garden, Jesus was “handed over” to Roman authorities. Some translations say he was “betrayed,” but the Greek says that Judas “handed over.”

The same word is used also for God. Romans 4:25, “Jesus was handed over for our sins.” Romans 8:32, “God did not spare Jesus, but handed him over to benefit us all.” So “handed over” is important in the spiritual movement of Jesus from ministry to passion.

The drama of being handed over radically divides the life of Jesus in two parts. The first part of his life is filled with activity and initiative. Jesus preaches, heals, and travels. But immediately after he is handed over, Jesus is the one to whom things are being done. He is arrested, led to the high priest, beaten, and nailed to a cross. Things are being done to him over which he has no control.

This is the meaning of “passion” (to suffer). He is the recipient of other people’s actions. It is important for us to realize that when Jesus says, “It is finished” (John 19:30), he does not simply mean, “I have done all the things I want to do.” He also means, “I have allowed things to be done to me that needed to be done to me to fulfill my purpose.” Jesus fulfills his vocation not in action only, but also in passion. 

We are so preoccupied in our culture with staying in control. Our self-esteem is largely based on our ability to stay active, be productive, take initiative, and set directions for our lives. The reality is that we have very little control over our lives. Most things are done to us or not determined by us (gender, color of skin, nationality, family of origin, and education). And our common destination is death.

The challenge is to see our passion as much as our action as vocation. How are you called to follow the way of Jesus to the cross? how are you called to follow Christ to new life? Both are parts of following Jesus in life and death.

Passion is a kind of waiting–waiting for what other people are going to do. All action ends in passion. To love another is to realize that they have the power and freedom to hand us over to suffering, whether intentionally or not. When we are handed over, we wait to be acted upon. When the time comes, we let go of our wishes and desires, and wait open-endedly for others to act, for God to deliver, giving up control over our future and letting God define our lives.