Thursday, 30 July 2009

THE CONQUERING GOSPEL

Luke 13:19 It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.

More people are becoming Christians today than at any other time in history- including the first Day of Pentecost! In Africa, according to one report almost half the population is now Christian. The Gospel is "growing" in our day (see Acts 12:24). Even in countries where the Church was once the cultural hub, and traditional church attendance has declined, there are signs that God is renewing and reviving people into a fresh understanding Christ and His saving work. The Gospel is birthing a new generation of holy, passionate, God-fearing, Word-honouring believers!
Romans 9:6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed...

Just as the Church was birthed at a time when the population's morality was skewed, the institution of the family was challenged, organised religion had become devoid of genuine spirituality, and there was a growing economic class of slaves, we are now experiencing some of these same challenges in our day.
Acts 19:20 So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.

But the assurance of the Bible is that the Word of the Lord - The Gospel - will prevail mightily. This Gospel is not about Buddha, it's about Jesus! This Gospel is not about becoming religious, it's about surrendering to the Lord Jesus Christ as the Saviour of our souls. Each Sunday we celebrate in song, music, prayer and wonder, the God of the Gospel and enjoy His power to save, heal, deliver and bless. It is at this time we are encouraged to live out the Gospel (it affects how we treat others), to promote the Gospel (it affects how we contribute to our society) and to preach the Gospel (it affects how we love people enough to try to save them from an eternal Hell).

Around the world at the moment the Lord of the Harvest, the Holy Spirit, is directing the advance and growth of the Gospel. Even our own Valley has not escaped His attention. To God be the glory as His Church here advances His Gospel both here and abroad.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

A DEEPER PAIN

Proverbs 18:14 The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?

The Bourne Identity is one of my favourite movies. It has a small scene in which two CIA assassins discuss their work. They confide that their job had led them to experience phenomenal head-aches. The guilt and shame of what they were doing has taken its physical toll on them. In the movie, one of these assassins, Jason Bourne, can no longer violate his conscience by killing people. He hurts. But his intolerable pain has no relief with medication or even vengeance. Instead, he finds relief by repentance.
Prov. 14:30 A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.
Prov. 17:22 A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.

Scripture reveals that some pain originates in the soul but is felt in the body. There is no pill or injection that can relieve this kind of pain. This malady only responds to the forgiving, atoning, grace of God bought at the infinite price of Jesus Christ.

In the Godfather Trilogy, Michael Corleone is a deeply troubled man. He travels to Rome to do commercial business with the Vatican but has the course of his life dramatically altered when he encounters a born-again Cardinal who diagnoses his physical ailments as the symptoms of a sin-stained soul. The Cardinal pastors Corleone to confess his sin and seek the saving forgiveness of God. The whole movie trilogy is about this scene. The story to this point in the movie has been about gansters, crimes, murders, police and political corruption and family betrayal. Years earlier Michael Corleone had murdered his own brother for betrayal. Little wonder he is aged beyond his years and in constant pain! But in this moment of grace this hardened gang-land mobster breaks down and weeps over the condition of his soul. The Cardinal leads him to a forgiving Saviour. For the first time in his life, Michael Corleone finds relief from his pain.
Eph. 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,


Should we preach that Christ can heal physically? Peter cites this Isaiah passage in a context that seems to be about spiritual healing rather than physical healing -
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
First Peter 2:24

While some believers debate whether physical healing is in the Atonement (Christ's Death) it at least is soul-healing (which may have a physical effect). The context of Isaiah 53 and where Peter cites it in First Peter 2:24 is surely about Christ dying to save sinners.
For many people their deathbed anguish is not merely physical or psychological.
As her palliative-care nurse, Jean Echlin, writes, “At the end of her life she shared with me her agony over her lost babies . . . she felt that she had committed murder.”
Caroline is not alone, as Echlin writes in Perspectives 2007, a publication of the De Veber Institute for Bioethics and Social Research. Echlin also tells the story of a woman named Lydia, who was dying of cancer. Even with the use of a pain pump, which gave her steady doses of morphine, Lydia's pain did not abate.
Caroline and Lydia are but two examples of what the Institute calls an "unexpected correlation" between abortion and pain-relief care. Dying women experience unresolved guilt and psychological pain related to their abortion—guilt and pain that stand in the way of a peaceful death. Their guilt is so great, Echlin says, that it impedes the effectiveness of their pain medication. Only when the abortion issue is resolved—when someone listens to them and assures them of God's forgiveness—is the pain medication made effective, and the women able to die peacefully.

Mark Earley, “An Unexpected Correlation”, Breakpoint, January 22nd 2008

It is not a light thing to be saved. It is profoundly enormous in its implications. Not only is the God of the Origin of the Universe so immensely concerned with His crown of creation - mankind - He has stooped to become what He has condescended to create so that He might sacrifice His Son to redeem us. He has then sent His Holy Spirit to seek out and save His elect. And if you are one of His elect, then by now you have probably already dropped to your knees in tears of appreciation as you glorify the God for the peace that you now enjoy. Because without this peace from salvation God only knows what pain we might be in.


Thank God we are healed.


Amen.

Terminally ILL Girl Changes Her Mind About Wanting To Die

A terminally ill British teenager who demanded the right to die has suddenly changed her mind.

Hannah Jones, 14, has put her name back on the transplant list for a donor heart, eight months after rejecting the offer of a new heart.

The teenager originally turned down the new organ because she believed she had already suffered "too much trauma" following a battle with cancer that left her with a heart defect. But after suffering partial kidney failure nine days ago, Hannah has now agreed to the surgery after being informed that she cannot receive dialysis until she receives the heart.
[Read]

Sunday, 19 July 2009

A New Marriage By Sunday


I'm preparing my latest writing project. What do you think the greatest challenges are to a great marriage relationship?

Thursday, 16 July 2009

FORGIVEN, CLEANSED, AND FREED

First John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Have you neglected to ask God for forgiveness? Have you been slow to seek cleansing before God? (2Cor. 7:1) Is your heart soft toward God? (1Peter 3:8) Does your soul burn with devotion for Christ? Are you struggling to be excited about the things that God has created you to be excited about - His glory, His heart for the lost, His church for you, His Word, His presence? Have the things of this world dulled your affection for worshiping Jesus? Do you have a "a need to perform" mentality when it comes to feeling accepted by God and others?

Today I preached at a regular monthly speaking engagement I have had each month for the past fourteen years. It has been rare that each month all the members of this small monthly congregation are together again for a time of hymn singing worship and my preaching. And every time I preach there I am very mindful that these dear precious senior men and women may not make it to our next monthly service. I preach with the burning thought that any of these people could rehearse any of my sermonic sentiments as they draw their final breath and experience their final heart beat. It's in these moments that I want my monthly congregation to recall that being forgiven by God, cleansed by God and freed from hurt/guilt/shame/regret is theirs for the asking because of the wonderful, glorious, grace of God.

When we too are on our bed of transition from this life to the next, I hope that we can lie there with the knowledge that we have asked for and received from God forgiveness, cleansing, tenderness of heart, and passion for His glory and cause. I hope that today we will do busines afresh with God. Not the kind of business where we can offer God anything in exchange for anything from Him. But the kind of business where we accept and seek all that Christ has infinitely worked for us.

The unbelievable message of Christianity is you can have peace with God through no effort of your own! Oops, did I say "unbelievable"? Sorry. I meant "truly unbelievable". This is because when God saves us, He does by His grace, and with that grace comes faith (trust and belief in God) and God's love-

1Tim. 1:14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

This means, that even the faith to believe in God is a gift!

Eph. 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

We are made "right" with God through no effort of our own. It is the grace of God that establishes our relationship with God, But it is the grace of God that enables us to maintain our fellowship with God. None of us know when our last breath or heart-beat will be. It may be tonight. I pray that before that time we will each fully surrender afresh to Almighty God and dedicate ourselves to making Him more glorious before our world.

Amen.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Gutsy Apologetics

Created In The Image of God

Human life is unique. The Bible reveals to us that after God created all non-human life, He then especially created humans. But even more importantly, God declared that He created mankind in His image. In Latin this is referred to as imago dei - the image of God. Only mankind bears the imago dei. We know that this does not merely mean our physical traits since God is Spirit and not confined to a physical body. So what does the "image of God in man" mean?

We know that mankind is uniquely endowed with -

  • An immortal (not eternal, since it is created) soul that defines our life (James 2:26)


  • Self-consciousness, we can ponder our own existence


  • Moral sensitivity with the ability to be altruistic and heroic


  • Aesthetic appreciation that admires and is captivated by beauty


  • Spiritual hunger that manifests in transcendent (beyond this dimension) worship


  • Curiosity about the past and the future


  • A need for intimate relationship especially with God


This is what makes us different from animals and very special in the eyes of God. It's also why in Genesis 9:6 that God condemns the unjustified taking of another human's life.

The imago dei of humans is not mitigated by a person's size, gender, race, skin colour, location, intellectual prowess, or ability to perform a task. Therefore, from conception (the smallest possible size of a human) even in a mother's womb (location does not determine whether a human is a human) or in a hospice care bed attached to feeding tubes, human beings are of unique worth. God has made no greater statement about this than when He sent His Son to die in our place so that human beings could be reconciled to their Creator.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Is Cannibalism Immoral?

The world was recently shocked at the story of a German man who cannibalised a volunteer victim. Journalist, Rachael Bell reports in her article, The Cannibal & the Court the following-

The media has had a field day with Germany 's first cannibalism case.
Armin MeiwesArmin Meiwes, a middle-aged computer technician, has wowed the court and the public with his bizarre confessions. He appeared relaxed and normal, despite the unusual nature of his crimes.

Meiwes has been charged with murder for sexual pleasure, which has a maximum sentence of 15 years. However, he claims that the man he killed in 2001, Bernd-Juergen Brandes, volunteered to be killed and eaten so there was no murder.

Juergen BrandesHere is how this unusual case began. Meiwes had advertised on the Internet for a well-built man who would consent to being killed and eaten. Meiwes says that there are over 400 cannibal web sites and chat rooms. Supposedly, more than 200 men responded favorably to his ad.

Brandes was one of them and they got together for dinner at Brandes' home in Rotenburg. It's hard to say whether Brandes had planned to serve his penis that night or whether it came up as an idea once the two men were together.

Meiwes claimed that Brandes wanted to have Meiwes cut off his penis. Meiwes then cooked the penis and they ate it together.

Source


The German courts convicted Meiwes and jailed him for 8 1/2 years. They regarded that what Meiwes had done was immoral despite their being mutual consent. Meiwes' legal defence team argued that Brandes was a willing participant in his cannibalism and murder, and therefore what Meiwes did was not immoral. But the courts rejected this reasoning and ruled on the basis that neither consent or democratic weight can ever make something immoral, 'moral'.

Sometimes those who propose that what is immoral should be legalised on the basis that it should only affect those who consent to it. As the German Courts rightly ruled, consent never makes an immoral act, moral. Even if certain Jews during WW2 had consented to the Nazi's gas chambers, this does not make what was done to them 'moral'.

It was during the Nuremberg trials in Germany after World War Two that another justification for legalising immorality was also soundly rejected. This was the idea that the most number of people in a society determine what is moral and immoral. At Nuremberg, SS Officers were charged, convicted and condemned for acts of immorality (referred to as "War Crimes") despite the vast majority of the German population supporting their actions and their national Government even having made their actions lawful. Opinion Polls sometimes matter. But not when it comes to what actually constitutes right and wrong.

Jeffrey Dahmer, convicted of cannibalism and murderThus when people propose that governments legalise and make lawful such things as aborting unborn humans, embryonic stem cell research, and 'voluntary' euthanasia, legislators should filter out the arguments often used to buttress these campaigns that sound like "consent makes it moral" or "the majority view makes it moral". Otherwise we could become very ethically confused if these same people start campaigning for legalised cannibalism as is happening now in some European countries.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Why Christians Oppose Euthanasia


The reason so many Christians are deeply troubled by the proposal to introduce legalised euthanasia by lethal injection is apart from an immediate and obvious violation of the Sixth Commandment preventing the taking of another person's life, is the idea that if a person loses bodily functions, they become undignified. Each of my children were born into the world unable to tend to or care for themselves. They had not yet learned to how to control their bodily functions. Never did I consider them "undignified" as a result. And I'm pretty sure they didn't as well.

The notion of "intolerable pain" is now addressed by the wonderful God-given advances in Palliative Care. So this argument for it is dismissed.

The idea promoted that euthanasia should be legalised to put people out of their misery by lethal injection is extremely demeaning to the inherent dignity and value of all people, regardless of their age or physical condition.

The idea that simply because someone suffering a terminal illness - that since it is inevitable that they will die - we should allow them to receive a lethal injection to get it over with fails to understand how such conditions are now treated. It also overlooks the medical law of "Double Affect".

And it is bewildering to say the least that proponents of this Bill claim that the only reason Christians object to this Bill is because "they lack compassion", or "their own fear of death" forces them to oppose this. There are thousands of Christians who are working with the suffering and ill precisely because they are compassionate and there are thousands more again who far from having a fear of death have deep reverence for life and the One who gave it and commanded that no-one else take it.

Links-
Finding Truth Matters

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Strengthen Yourself In The Lord

First Samuel 30:6...But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.

Are you looking after yourself? People pay mega bucks to repair their bodies or to firm them up. Some people will make frequent visits to gyms and fitness clubs in order to strengthen their bodies. But what do you do "to strengthen" yourself "in the Lord." King David knew what to do.

I wonder what he did?

Do you recognise the times when you need to strengthen yourself in the Lord?

It must have been harder for David to become strong in the Lord than it is for a Christian today. Today, we have the knowledge of Christ and His work on the Cross that strengthens us (Romans 16:25). We are blessed with experienced believers who the Lord uses to strengthen us (see Acts 14:22; 15:32; 16:5). We can be strengthened when we yield to, fellowship with, and ask for the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:16). We can appeal to God anytime, anywhere, in any spiritual condition, for God to strengthen us by His grace (giving us something we don't deserve, see 2Tim. 2:1; Hebrews 13:9; 1Peter 5:10). This strengthening grace of God comes to us through the Body of Christ- our local church. Just being in church on Sunday with God's people in an atmosphere of worship for Jesus, the sacrament of Holy Communion, the sacred declaration of God's Word so that believers are made and strengthened, personal prayer from others, and careful fellowship (see Hebrews 10:25 and 1Peter 4:10).

We are strenthened in the Lord when we share the Gospel with others - especially when it is difficult to do so (2Timothy 4:17). We can also be strengthened when despite how we feel, we take time out to pray-
Hebrews 12:12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees

Are you looking after yourself? Are you strengthening yourself in the Lord?

Revelation 3:2a Wake up, and strengthen what remains.

Amen.

Definition of Dignity

The definition of dignity
We all want to live a dignified life. Depending on how you regard life- whether from an naturalistic Darwinian evolutionary perspective (mankind is the random result of uncaused, unrepeatable, chaotic activity), or from a Biblical perspective (mankind is the direct creation of God and is uniquely invested with the image of God which endows us with certain sacred properties such as an immortal 'soul', you will either see that mankind must gain dignity or celebrate its dignity.
And it goes without saying that while we would probably want to live a long and enjoyable life most of us would want our dying condition to be without being humiliated, debased, or disrespected. Added to this, most of us would like our lives to end without pain or suffering. Possibly, many of us would also add that we would want our lives to end without them becoming a burden to our family and friends.

Yet, for most people who get old they end becoming how they were when they came into the world: dependent. Similarly, as you get older your body doesn't always respond the way you would like. This can make those you become dependent upon uncomfortable. In fact, in 1995 then Governor General Bill Hayden said that such people can become an unnecessary burden on society.
‘there is a point when the succeeding generations deserve to be disencumbered - to coin a clumsy word - of some unproductive burdens’
The Hon. Governor General Bill Hayden, address to the Royal College of Physicians, 21st June 1995, Brisbane Courier Mail, 26th June 1995

But dignity is still due to the dependent. They should not be pressured to think that the only way to be dignified is to allow others to give them a lethal injection (which sometimes causes toxic shock resulting unrelenting vomiting, uncontrollable convulsing, and prolonged severe shortness of breath).

When a dependent person loses control of vital body functions should they be made to feel 'undignified'?
Interestingly, when voluntary euthanasia was temporarily allowed in the Northern Territory of Australia in the 1990s, making provision for the terminally ill in intolerable pain to have doctor-assisted deaths, of the 7 people that took advantage of the temporary law, few (if any) actually had a terminal illness and none had untreatable pain. In Holland, where there is legalised voluntary euthanasia, up to 1,000 people each year are euthanased without their consent.

One man in Tasmania who cares for over 350 dying people each year, Dr Paul Dunne, said that each of these people despite their physical state dies with great dignity. To legalise Vountary Euthanasia in this State, he said, would be to introduce "a throw away mentality" when it comes to frail and vulnerable people.

Current medical practice is right now able to treat what was once 'intolerable' pain. This is called Palliative Care. Those involved in this field medicine are one of the greatest blessings to any "society". When a doctor helps to relieve a patient's dying pain with ongoing morphine (described by one doctor as one of the greatest blessings from God to the pained) they are activating what is called "The Law of Double Effect". This current practice is not euthanasia since it does not intend to kill a person but it may hasten their death after it has become established that further treatment is pointless.









Despite how others may respond to a person who is suffering and dying, they should never be regarded as worth less - which is what "undignified" means.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

The Dignity of Euthanasia

tearsNo one likes to suffer. But even more so, no caring person likes to see another person, especially a loved one, suffer. This is especially the case when it comes to how we feel about the terminally ill trying to endure intolerable pain. Some people propose that the kindest thing we can do for a person in this condition is at least what we would do for any animal- put them out of their undignified misery (read: euthanasia). It is perhaps this motivation that has led Mr Nick McKim to introduce a Private Members Bill, Dying With Dignity 2009. (A copy of the Dying With Dignity 2009 Bill can be found here.) But there is another way of looking at this problem. Rather than thinking that euthanasia is the solution, it may exacerbate a whole set of other even worse problems.

Here's some of the main points that I think that we need to be aware of and why we should play a role affecting the outcome of this Bill.

  • Human life is uniquely valuable, or rather: humans are uniquely invaluable.


  • Euthanasia is the taking of a human life. It is therefore (i) Assisted suicide; or (ii) Unjustified Homicide.


  • Euthanasia is therefore a violation of the 6th Commandment and an obscene mockery of God's image uniquely borne by human beings (Genesis 9:6).


  • We do not consider a terminally ill patient's refusal to accept life-saving treatment as Euthanasia.


  • The unrelenting physical pain of the terminally ill is an opportunity for, and more often than not a display of, dying with great dignity.


  • Death beds often bring great healing to fractured families.


  • People who are religious, and especially Christians, have long held that suffering is not meaningless or without purpose, and that it has the potential for great good to result. The epitome of this is the Cross of Christ where from one man's intense suffering the availability of salvation to the entire world as a result.


  • This Bill proposed by The Tasmanian Greens' Leader presupposes the following-
    (i) There is no meaning or purpose in the suffering of the terminally ill;
    (ii) That Frederick Nietzsche was correct when he taught that a human-being is just the sum of their chemical elements and that after their death there is no other form of existence for them. Therefore, there is no moral dilemma in ending a person's life since, according to the "Nietzsche's Naturalism" there is no spiritual realm where such moral choices will be judged;
    (iii) That a person who wants to die has the right to do so in a manner of their choosing;
    (iv) Governments have no right to stand in the way of a person who wants to take their life;
    (v) Justification for Euthanasia may include psychological or emotional "pain". (Suicide is not the solution to this type of pain!);

* Allowing this Bill to be passed would send a desperately sad message to those providing palliative care for the terminally ill; those involved in suicide-prevention among vulnerable teens; the elderly who feel pressured to stop being such 'a burden' to those around them.

ACTION REQUIRED-
1. We require as many thoughtful and considered submissions to be made as possible. The Parliament has set up an Inquiry which has quietly called for submissions by July 31st 2009.These submissions can incorporate an elaboration of any of the above points but would be enhanced by personal accounts (which pastors perhaps more than many in society should be able to provide) of people close to us who have died with dignity.

Written submissions to the Committee should be addressed to the Secretary, Joint Standing Committee on Community Development, Parliament House, Hobart, 7000, and forwarded prior to the close of business on Friday, 31 July 2009. Hon Kerry Finch MLC (CHAIRMAN). The Committee encourages the lodgement of submissions in electronic form. Emailed submissions must include name, phone number and postal address. Guidelines for witnesses and the preparation of a submission are available here or by contacting the Secretary – Ph: (03) 6233 2248 – Fax: (03) 6233 8103 –Email.

2. Attend the upcoming Pastors and Church Leaders' Briefing Sessions-
Hobart: St David's Cathedral, Bishop John Harrower's office
Thursday July 9th, 9:00AM - 10:30AM
Speakers: Rev. Dean Richard Humphrey, Mr Nick Overton and Dr. Andrew Corbett

Launceston: Legana Christian Church, Bridgenorth Road
Tuesday July 14th, 8AM for a complimentary cooked breakfast.
Speakers: Mr Nick Overton, Bishop Ross Nicholson, Dr. Andrew Corbett

--An Information Pack will be provided to all attendees. RSVP for either events to Nick Overton

I hope to see you at these briefings, and I hope you can make a submission as well.

CHARISMATIC GIFTS ENDED?

Mark 16:17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues;

Christianity was spectacularly birthed! Depending on whether you regard Christianity commencing with the birth of Jesus or with the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, either way, there is no escaping the foundational distinctive of Christianity: the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus was virgin-born because the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary (Luke 1:35). The Church was born because the Holy Spirit was outpoured on seeking believers. The first followers of Christ saw some outstanding miracles- healings, deliverances, resurrections, water-walking, mind-reading, fortune-telling, and lunch lunch lunch. Jesus told His followers that they too would receive similar power.
Luke 24:49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.

Praying for healingThis power of the Holy Spirit, talked about by Christ in John 14-16, was seen as a gift from God, or put another way- an expression of God's grace. The Greek word for grace is charis. This is where we get the word "charismatic" comes from when describing the grace-gifts of the Holy Spirit. By the time Paul wrote to the Corinthians, it had become obvious that there were some generally common charismatic gifts evidenced in the early churches. He lists these in First Corinthians 12. These include healings, miracles, tongues (speaking unlearned languages), interpretation of tongues, faith, words of wisdom, words of knowledge, prophecy, and discerning of spirits. Someone who is baptised in the Holy Spirit and has been graced with any of these gifts is generally referred to as being "Charismatic". But there are some who claim that these gifts were only available during the formation of the Church, before the New Testament books were completed and compiled. They claim that the gifts of the Holy Spirit have "ceased". These people are generally known as cessationists.

But this is not explicitly taught in Scripture. A vague appeal is made to a reference in First Corinthians 13 which alludes to these gifts being done away with when that which is perfect has come. But the context of this passage demands that it is referring to when the Resurrection happens, not the close of the New Testament writings. Added to the dire lack of Scriptural support for the idea that the Holy Spirit's power and spiritual gifts are no longer available, history reveals that the Holy Spirit has been anything but inactive since the close of the New Testament. So if the New Testament at least leaves open the availability of the Holy Spirit's power and gifts for today, perhaps there is a healthy well-balanced way to seek the power, signs and wonders of God for our present circumstances. Perhaps we could join with the earliest church in their prayer?

Acts 4:29-30 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

Pondering the word- charismatic, when we refer to the signs and wonders of the Holy Spirit's power such as healing and miracles, I am struck by the word charis...grace. Unlike some hyper-pentecostals who claim that they can make God do signs and wonders, this word, charismatic, reminds me that God's power is distributed according to His grace. Our appeal, like the appeal made in Acts 4:29-30, is an appeal to God's grace. As such, our role in these signs, miracles and wonders is one where we choose to seek God for them- but it is God's unique role as to how in His sovereignty He chooses to respond.

Acts 14:3 So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.