Friday, May 31, 2013

6/1/13- Lifting the Load

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior,
    who daily bears our burdens. (Psalm 68:19)

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2) 

Thoughts:  Once more the church proves itself to be the body of Christ.  God bears our burdens daily- lifting the load, giving us peace, and even sympathizes with our weaknesses.  But, He often does that through people- especially His people.  So believers are called to bear the burdens of others for the glory of Christ.  It is not that God magically bears our burdens- though miracles happen more often than we think.  More commonly, God uses and calls His body to bear our burdens.  The parable of the Good Samaritan was a reminder that we are to call any man in need a neighbor- and to help them with their hurts and their load.  
    Today, I saw the whole physical family rally around my daughter and son-in-law lifting stuff, cleaning stuff, taking one end of the load as they moved to a different house.  I also saw one church member lend them a truck and another (thanks Tracie) brought us a wonderful meal.
    The church works best when we see our calling to bear the load of others.  

Prayer: Today, help me to see an opportunity to bear the burden of another.  

(My son and son-in-law carrying a heavy piece of furniture together).  

Thursday, May 30, 2013

5/31/13- Keeping the fire going

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. (Rev. 2:4,5)

Thoughts: Today the lampstand of the church of Ephesus is gone.  It once was mighty.  Paul taught there and was well loved.  Miracles were done there.  The apostle John taught and probably died there.  It is strong tradition that Mary mother of Jesus also lived her last days in Ephesus.  The people at one time burned over a million dollars of spells and sorcery scrolls in zeal for the gospel.  Today the pagan temple of Artemis- one of the seven wonders of the world at Ephesus is gone- but so is the Christian church.
    It could happen to any church- or any Christian.  It is hard to keep that first love.  In a relationship- we get to know each other and become as comfortable and worn as an old shoe.  However, that having been said, it is easier to stoke the flames of love when we are together than when we are apart.  Three logs together burns brighter than three logs spread apart (the embers go out when spread apart).  The illusion that we can fan the flames for God all by ourselves is a common mirage.  Just as football is meant to be a team sport, so Christian faith is meant to be practiced in all its messiness together.  While it is possible to throw the ball up and catch it by yourself- being with others is better.  Christians are called to love each other- and also to love God together.  Cyber communion just isn't the same.  

   Today I am helping move my pregnant daughter and busy- medical-student son-in-law and grandaughter to a new house.  I picked up a table donated by his grandfather.  Tomorrow my son will come and help haul some furniture and boxes.  Saturday my daughter and other son-in-law will come and haul some more.  Friday night a wonderful church person is bringing over supper.  Now, she could move all by herself (she is pregnant and is still working).  But it is more memorable and a bit easier when many hands come together to make the load lighter.  
    Make sure your relationship with others and the church is strong for when you need the church.  The church teaches us to love God- but also teaches us to love each other through the mess and disappointments of life.  The church is far from perfect- it is quite messy.  We should not be surprised at the sin in the church on this side of heaven.  But it still points to a brighter day- when there is no coldness, sinfulness, aloofness in church- but it is full of love.  Fan into flames your love for God- use the church as the bellows to blow hard on your dying embers.  

Prayer:  Lord, may I return to your true love.  

(The ruins of an Ephesus street)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

5/30/13- The Significance of the Church

love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. (Ephesians 5:25-30)

Thoughts: Two common images of the church are given here: the bride of Christ and the body of Christ.  Christ does not hate his body, and Christ does not hate his bride- but cares for both.  He does not neglect either one.  The image of the bride is one taken from the Old Testament (Isaiah 62:5; Jeremiah 2:2).  We are called to love God and know that He loves us.  We are called to not let our love grow cold but fan it into flames.
    The idea of the body of Christ is a more New Testament idea.  Christ's physical body is gone- but we are His hands and feet- we do His work.  More than that, we are all different parts/members of one body unit.
    For those who think the church is unimportant or only a very small part of being a Christian- we need to remember that Christ sees purpose in being together- as a united body- moving as one to perform His work.  We are called to be together and not be severed from each other- or neglect the love of each other.  Furthermore- we are His bride- loved by Him as a whole.  We are similarly called to take care of ourselves corporately as a church that we might present ourselves as a pure and radiant bride without fault. A bride is called to pull herself together for her groom- to get it altogether.  So we are called to pull ourselves together to be One before Him.  Just as siblings stop quarreling out of respect for their father- so we should stop quarreling but work together for the family name of Christ.  Christ dearly loves and cares for the Church.  To think that Christ only cares for us as individuals or simply as a bunch of separated individuals misses the strength of the love of God that pulls us together. 

Prayer: Lord, May I love your Church- your bride- your body. 

Click here for music to go along with this blog

5/29/13 Find Something to Worship

Ascribe to the Lord, you heavenly beings,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness. (Psalm 29:1,2)

Thoughts: At the Baccalaureate Service in our town, Rev. Mark Scott quoted David B. Wallace who spoke at Kenyon College's graduation and said to the relatively secular group: "Find something to worship."  His point was worship of anything or anyone gives purpose, direction, and hope (even if it is a bit delusional).  The Bible tells us to "worship the Lord and serve Him only" (Dt. 6:13; Mt. 4:10) because all other gods will fail us or in the end harm us.  It frankly is hard to go through life without worshiping something- living a purposeless existence.  Some worship video games, themselves, their partner, their children, their money, a boat, a car/truck, a job, prestige or popularity, beauty, human intelligence.  Such worship is not much different from worshiping the moon or a tree- for they are only part of creation.
      The Church is called into existence by the worship of God.  We who are drawn to give ourselves to the Lord are called in love to be together.
      A few years ago there was a house fire in our area.  What I found was that neighbors who had not talked or been together for years would come out- knock on each other's doors- and go look at the flames and activity surrounding the fire.  It became a common draw and brought everyone closer together- as really any disaster does.  So it is when we experience the power, majesty, beauty and help of God- we want to come together and focus- and worship.  There is a draw to God that calls us to sing to Him, pray to Him, commune with Him and each other and focus on Him together.  However, if the flame is not very significant or powerful in our eyes- we will stay in our houses, stay in our seats, stay to ourselves.
     If we find the Lord is worthy of worship;  if we love Him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength- then we will come out and worship together.

Prayer: Lord- May I give myself to you in humility, in worship.  Give me a vision to see what is important and what is not.

(Crowd standing around a burning plane)
(Chapin High Baccalaureate Graduates)

Monday, May 27, 2013

5/28/13- WHY CHURCH?

Though with a scornful wonder we see her sore oppressed,
By schisms rent asunder, by heresies distressed.
Yet saints their watch are keeping, their cry goes up, 'How Long?'
And soon the night of weeping shall be the morn of song. (Stanza 3 of "The Church's One Foundation")

from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.  To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. (Revelation 2:5,6)

Thoughts: For the next few months I will be looking at scriptures and working on devotions on the church and why it is important to be the people of God together.  I will start with the "why church?" question because the definition of the church is precluded by the why of the church. 

     First the church is because God made it to be.  The reason "why" the church exists, people of faith believe, is because God created it.  If God did not "make" Christians, then the church would not exist.  The idea of being "born again" (John 3) has little to do with our jumping into the new life as much as God's ushering life into being.  Our passage above reminds us: He loved us before we could love Him.  He freed us from our sins- when we could not force ourselves free.  He makes us a kingdom, when we are often unmaking it, tearing it down, scarring it with sin, schism, and heresy.
    But this passage also hints at why God makes us a church.  We are to be a kingdom of priests.  That is we are to convey the grace of God to the world, and lift up the world to the mercy of God.  Priests stand between the people and God as intermediaries- interceding, conveying forgiveness, truth, love and hope.  We are a kingdom of priests- telling the good news of Christ to our world.  We are called to serve God here- together- glorifying Him.  The reason for human  beings is to glorify and enjoy Him.  The reason for Church is even more so.  When a church is not serving God- but only themselves; when a church is glorifying a human being or ideology and not the God who made it then that church has lost its purpose and will soon wither out.  God made us to serve and glorify Him- so our focus should be on God and how we might reflect His glory to others.  

Prayer: Lord, help me to be a part of serving you with others. Help me to be a part of glorifying you with your Church.  

Sunday, May 26, 2013

5/27/13- Memorial Day Freedom

These are the names of David’s mighty warriors:
Josheb-Basshebeth,[a] a Tahkemonite,[b] was chief of the Three; he raised his spear against eight hundred men, whom he killed[c] in one encounter.
Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite. As one of the three mighty warriors, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered at Pas Dammim[d] for battle. Then the Israelites retreated, 10 but Eleazar stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The Lord brought about a great victory that day. The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead.
11 Next to him was Shammah son of Agee the Hararite. When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel’s troops fled from them. 12 But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the Lord brought about a great victory.

Thoughts: Here is a partial list of David's "Mighty men." It is a memorial list written for remembering in the future.  Every now and then I try to look up ancestors who served in different wars.  Having a record of those ancestors helps me to remember who they were even if they lived hundreds of years before.  It is often in the terrible act of war that we are remembered for generations to come.  Memorial Day is a day to remember those who have given themselves for our country.  Our freedom is based on their sacrifice.  That is the way it is with most things- if we want blessings, we must be willing to sacrifice for those blessings and not just wait for them to land in our lap.  God brings victories by those who are willing to risk it all for the greater good of many.  

Prayer: Lord, thank you for those who have freely given themselves to preserve our freedom.  Keep us a land of the free and the home of the brave.  Help us to use the freedom we have in ways that honor you. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

5/26/13- The Ultimate Shelter

Hear my cry, O God;
    listen to my prayer.
From the ends of the earth I call to you,
    I call as my heart grows faint;
    lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
    a strong tower against the foe.
I long to dwell in your tent forever
    and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. (Psalm 61:1-4)

Thoughts: The shelter of God's wings shield us from the elements, the sun, the heat, the rain, the cold.  Jesus looked on Jerusalem and said how he would like to gather Jerusalem under his wings as a mother hen would gather his chicks- but they would not come (Mt. 23:37).
    God is the ultimate shelter.  He is called in scripture "the shelterer" or the "one who provides shelter" ten times, and inferred many more times.   He covers us with the pinions of his wings.  He is the ultimate shelter in life and in death.  In fact, He is the only shelter in death that promises to lead us through to more life.  
      Human shelters provide temporary shelter but not the ultimate shelter.  In the tornadoes in Moore, OK May 20, 2013, those who had shelters survived.  But in the end nothing on earth can shelter us from death.  There is an illusion that we can protect ourselves.  So Sadaam Hussein's Yugoslavian engineers promised that his bunkers were impenetrable- until the bunker busting bombs destroyed them.  So today Doomsday Preppers think they can get enough dehydrated food to ride out the end of the world (however they define that).  They deceive themselves.  Only God is the ultimate shelter and refuge.  
     If there were an attack on our land, and we knew where to find shelter, and people were inviting us to come, would we go the other way?  Yet many turn away from the shelter of the Almighty in order to go their own way.  

Prayer: Lord, shelter me in the midst of the storms of life.  I come to you in life and in death- I am yours. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

5/25/13- Not Forgetting God

10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. 11 Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 15 He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakesand scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. 16 He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you. 17 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18 But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.
19 If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. 20 Like the nations the Lord destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the Lord your God.  (Deuteronomy 8:10-20)

Thoughts: On Memorial Day weekend, we need to remember what is really important.  When God prospers us- and we get out of the recession.  When we get rest from war and peace, and we build fine houses and settle down, we forget what God has done for us.  It is not just that the pioneers made America great.  It is not that we pulled ourselves up by the bootstraps.  It is not just 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration or luck. We do not make ourselves be born.  We cannot raise ourselves up as children.  We do not make all of our breaks.  Americans have known this for a long time- and have acknowledged God's help everywhere.  Somehow today we have forgotten that God acts, God helps, God leads and guides.  When the worst recession ever comes- this time we have not repented but have gone the other way- away from God.  More and more are not believing in God.  Four times as many churches close than open.  Morally, for the first time ever- the majority of Americans believe sex outside of marriage and homosexual relationships are moral.  It is time for us to remember God- and remember His ways.   It is important to remember that we were not a theocracy before 1960 but the majority of people held to biblical values- even if they did not believe.  It is time to remember we are not on our own- but we owe God our thanks.

Prayer: Lord, may my memory and vision be sharp.  Help me to remember you this Memorial Day weekend.  

5/24/13- Love and Marriage

Place me like a seal over your heart,
    like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
    its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
    like a mighty flame.
Many waters cannot quench love;
    rivers cannot sweep it away.
If one were to give
    all the wealth of one’s house for love,
    it would be utterly scorned. (Song of Songs 8:7,8)

Thoughts: The old song goes, "Love and marriage, love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage."  For some, love and marriage were meant for the horse and buggy days.   But marriage is the commitment and willful part of love- and it is a human experience that began in creation and will outlast any generation.  Some try to delay it as if being ten years older will make us wise enough to know what we are doing.  The U.S. Census Bureau says that in 1986 47% of those 25-29 were married and today that has shrunk to 27%.  Previously we have elevated our careers over having children, and now we are elevating getting established in our careers over marriage.  So we are having children much later and are finding that it is more difficult to have children later, it is more difficult to have healthy children when we have them later.  One of the sad statistics is that despite all of our technology and advances in medicine the United States leads the industrialized world (50% more than the rest combined) in first day infant mortality.  It is a mix complex of unmarried teen births and marriages occurring later thus having children later in life.  The rate of children being born with disabilities (despite the largest abortion rate in the western world and the largest amniocentesis rate) has also skyrocketed.  Getting married later and having children later has a huge effect on this as well. 
    I write all this with a heavy heart.  One of the greatest blessings in life is human love.  The Song of Songs reminds us that love is as strong as death.  Just as many believe there is a God but miss out on loving Him, many believe in marriage but miss out on love.  Love is risky.  It takes work.  It takes forgiveness and patience.  But it is well worth all the effort poured into it.  
    Thirty three years ago today I married a girl right out of college.  We had three wonderful children together.  We have had huge ups and downs in our lives.  Many waters cannot quench love.  Rivers cannot wash it away.  But staying with her has been the greatest blessing to me.  I wish others could believe in God's love and human love- taking the risk.  Not everyone is meant to be married or have children.  But it is not wrong- nor am I embarrassed to say human love is a great blessing.  

Prayer: Lord, place my love as a seal over my heart.  Let me not place wealth and work above true love today.  

(our first day at our first apartment)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

5/23/13- God as a Safe Room

For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock. (Psalm 27:5)

I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!  I would fly away and be at rest.
I would flee far away and stay in the desert; 8  I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.” (Psalm 55)

Thoughts:  Twenty two people were saved in the F-5 tornado in Moore Oklahoma when they locked themselves in Tinker Federal Credit Union vault.  Vaults and safe rooms saved many people.
    The terrible, horrible and shocking tragedy at Moore Oklahoma is a symbol of  what happens to all of us.  We think we will go on forever in a peaceful status quo and our ideal is smashed by some kind of storm.  Everyone of us faces the loss of everything we have one day- not by storm but by death.  Death is the great leveler- and it is a part of life.  Where can we find a shelter from death?  Some say there is none.  But God is described as a shelter in a storm.  It is true in life and is true in death.  Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me, though they were dead, yet shall they live."  

Prayer: Lord, help me to rest in you, my shelter.  

5/22/13- Tragedy and Faith

18 While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, 19 when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!
20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship21 and said:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
    and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
    may the name of the Lord be praised.”
22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

Thoughts: One of the most tragic events in the Bible are the tragedies of Job.  I remember Arlo Guthrie had a song in which someone said, "I have it better than him" and then he said, "what about the last guy" (the guy compared to whom no one has it better).  Job was probably close to the last guy.
    Job lost everything he had- but it was when he lost his family to a terrible wind storm that he reacted.
     He was not stoic.  He didn't say, "everything is okay."  He truly grieved- tearing his robe, shaving his head in sorrow.  Later (chapter 2) his immune system and health would show his grief and sorrow.
     But neither did he give up on his ultimate help.  He questioned God.  He wondered what was going on.  But he held onto his integrity and his God.  It is a true witness of faith when someone does this.  I have seen it in the Moore Oklahoma disaster- people holding onto God and each other in the midst of the worst kind of human tragedy.  In many ways- the worst sorrow for a loving person is the loss of family.  
     Presbyterian Disaster Assistance has some suggestions of how we may help those in such horrible tragedy:  (Give, Acts, Pray). 

Pray: Father of Compassion, pour out your comfort on the people of Moore Oklahoma.  Strengthen then hands of those helping, comfort those mourning with your Spirit.  Lord, when great tragedy strikes, help me to be faithful to you, and to reach out to others in your name. 

(Moore Oklahoma house)

Here is some comforting music (Third Day)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

5/21/13- Pentecost and the Ascension

"I saw the Lord always before me.
    Because he is at my right hand,
    I will not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
    my body also will rest in hope,
27 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
    you will not let your holy one see decay.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
    you will fill me with joy in your presence.’
29 “Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, “‘The Lord said to my Lord:    “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’

Thoughts: Peter addresses the crowd quoting from the Old Testament Psalms- Psalm 16:8-11 and Psalm 110:1.  He had just quoted Joel 2 about a day coming when the Spirit would be poured out on all people (men, women, gentiles).  Apparently Peter was trying to link the events of his day to the prophecies of the Old Testament.  Such a link would encourage the people to believe that God was not dead or asleep but very much alive.
    Often commentators focus on David's quote from Psalm 16 as simply about the resurrection.  But what both Psalm 16 and Psalm 110 have in common is the idea that the Messiah would be ascended to the right hand of the Father.  In the minds of these disciples at Pentecost- this has just happened.  Christ was taken up before their eyes.  While they may not have actually seen the actually raising of Christ from the dead (though they saw the empty tomb and the appearances afterwards referred to in vs. 32), they actually saw the ascension before their eyes- not long before Pentecost.  Doubtless they were searching the scriptures about ascending to the right hand- a place of  power and honor.  In verse 33 Peter links the ascension of Christ to the pouring out of the Holy Spirit.  It is almost like Christ ascended to the right hand of God the Father and then poured out the Spirit of God upon us.  The power of Christ to help us, intercede for us is made complete at His ascension and His first act to help us was sending His Holy Spirit to us. In John, Jesus said that unless he left them he could not send the Spirit (14, 16).  But His going to a place of power meant sending the Spirit of power to help them.  This Spirit of God helps us even today to pray, leading us, convicting us- until we too are brought into the presence of the Father.  

Prayer: Thank you for the presence and power of your Holy Spirit, sent to us as a sign of your exaltation.  Lord have mercy on me this day that I might honor you.  Use me in the power of your Spirit to glorify you reflecting your power back to you.  Use my hands and feet as your body to do your work today.  

(Ascension Raphael)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

5/20/13- Acts 2:22-24

22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead,freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. (Acts 2:22-24)

Thoughts: Once he had their attention, Peter's message was about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.  Peter mentioned that many of them had seen or heard of Jesus was a miracle worker.  But Jesus was arrested and crucified.  This event was not just evil men's actions.  But it also involved God's deliberate plan.  These two things deeply contrast- one was chaotic and mean while the other was purposeful and loving.  God allowed Christ to die in order to show His power in raising Him up.  Death cannot defeat Jesus- the God in the flesh.  In this short paragraph, Peter let people know the wonder of Jesus and the sorrow of his death by the people of his day.  It was convicting and elicited them to ask, "what can we do to be saved?"  

Prayer: Jesus thank you for living, dying, and rising for me. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

5/19/13- Pentecost a Different Kind of Spirit

And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.
And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?
And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?
Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,
10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,
11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.
12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?
13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.
14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:
15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.
16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:
20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come:
21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Thoughts: From a secular point of view how might one describe Pentecost?  Maybe someone might say, it was a spiritual experience for you, but I don't want any of it.  Maybe the people seemed confused- even "drunk?"  Ironically Paul contrasts being filled with alcohol spirits with the Holy Spirit when he said, "be not drunk on wine but be filled with the Spirit."  (Eph. 5:18).  Whatever happened, it was something unusual so that 3,000 people were added to their number that day.  That they understood the gospel clearly- in their own language or not- is important.  From the outside looking in spiritual experiences are best labeled "crazy" so that we might keep our distance.  But to the three thousand who formed the next nucleus of the church it was the most enriching, awe-inspiring, wonderful experience ever!  There are no adequate secular words to describe the mystical, mysterious, mystifying spiritual experience with the living God.  

Prayer: Lord, let me not be afraid to listen to your Spirit and to respond to you knocking upon my heart's door.  

 Gloucester- Pentecost