For the first half of the week I was attending the Pursuit conference in Houston. Hosted by a large church there, the conference was an invitation to the reclamation of the gifts of the Spirit in the life of the church. The host pastor confessed his functional cessationism (believing doctrinally that the gifts described in Scripture are still happening today but in practice living as if they are not). For many it was a introduction to prophecy, tongues, and healing (among other gifts) but for many of us it was also a keen reminder of what our hearts long for. I lead a church that holds doctrinally to the continuation of the gifts, we are parts of a network that expresses this clearly, and we have been blessed by a number of significant healings and prophetic words timely and Christ-exalting. And my attendance represented an earnest desire form more expression of the gifts in the life of the church and the unleashing of gospel power that we would proclaim Jesus with boldness in our day
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This morning I had the pleasure of dropping my daughter off for the first day of middle school. It's only sixth grade but on a new campus with older kids, and many more of them, it is a big deal for her. Paired with her frequent bouts of anxiety, it could have been a rough morning. But by God's grace, she did great. She asked me to take her as Mom took the younger kids and I gladly obliged. We had a chance to pray together and she said "peace out" as she jumped from the car into the new day. As I drove away, watching her walk to class, I was struck by the heart of God for his children. As I contemplated her day and the experience, I continued to pray and my heart was soft, almost to tears. Now, I am a huge softy anyway but the way I delight in my children and long for the best for them is nothing near the heart of God for us. He rejoices over us with gladness, he quiets our souls with his presence. He loves us and counts us worth so much that he would send his Son
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"[T]his Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it." -Acts 2:23–24 This is part of the defining sermon at the foundation of the church. Peter is preaching to the gathered crowd who came around when the Holy Spirit fell on the believers waiting after Jesus' ascension. This is what the preacher says of Jesus, that he was delivered according to plan, to solve the wrath against sin, and he was raised up because death couldn't hold him. We know this pretty well if we have been around the church for any length of time. But let us not move over it quickly today because this is actually the center of our hope in life today and proof of the finished work of the cross for us. These words of Peter are true, and because what he describes happened, we are forever changed and empowered to live.