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September 28, 2012

Experiencing God the Holy Spirit

I grew up a coach's kid. One of the sports my dad coached was track & field. He was the varsity field events coach. I will never forget watching the state champion pole vaulter he coached. From that point on, I dreamed of being a pole vaulter. So in my freshmen year of high school, I pursued my dream. When you are learning to pole vault, you do not just start out pole vaulting. You start by learning to run down the runway with the pole in hand, plant the pole in the vault and then swing on the pole onto the big mat. After a few days of this, your coach places the bar on the standards and you attempt your first pole vault. It was a cloudy and drizzly day, and I was second in line to vault. The first guy to vault easily cleared the bar. He also cleared the mat. The landing place was the cinder track. In a few seconds, he picked himself up from the track and stood there dazed with scratches impeded with small pieces of cinder and blood running down his arm and side of his face. Our coach simply replied, "You better go inside and see the trainer." Then came his infamous words, "Bowers, you are next." The head track coach had just called out for anyone who wanted to do a mile time trial to line up at the starting line. I dropped the pole and told the coach, "I think I'll try out for the mile." I crossed the finish line that day with a 5:27 mile. The head coach said, "Bowers you are going to run the mile." I never went back to my dream of pole vaulting, but I did become a 4:27 miler. I discovered that day I was trying to become a pole vaulter when I was much better suited to be a distance runner.

I meet so many people who struggle to let God's Word be a lamp to their feet and a light to direct their path. They are trying out for Christian pole vaulting wanting to always make great leaps in their faith instead of going the distance day by day allowing God to show them where they have come from, where they are at, and how to take the next step of growth. They want the ministry of God the Spirit to be a spectacular once-in-a-lifetime moment, instead of a significant day-by-day ministry over a lifetime.

The ministry that God the Holy Spirit provides is a daily ministry where He is available to us to reveal the truth of God's Word and guide us in how to respond and take action in the way that personally moves us forward in our own spiritual growth. 2 Peter 2:20-21 tells us that God the Spirit was the member of the Trinity revealing to the writers of Scripture what God wanted written. We call this ministry of God the Spirit, inspiration. God the Spirit is also the one who guides us to understand and empowers us to obey the truth that is revealed (John 14:25). We call this the ministry of illumination and maturation. As you facilitate and discuss the inspired word of God with your group, you need to pray and ask group members to pray that God the Spirit will teach the group not just what the truth means but also how to personally apply and act on the truth that has been learned. Facilitating what a biblical passage means and how to apply and act on it is only transformational when done in dependence upon God the Holy Spirit.

Everyone in your group is in their own unique place in their spiritual journeys. You have the opportunity to encourage your group members to allow God the Spirit to meet them where they are and lead them to their next step to personally become more like Christ. You can help them learn that being filled with God the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) is not some spectacular once-in-a-lifetime experience to get more of God the Spirit. It is the daily experience of more dependency on God the Spirit's ministry in our lives. Sometimes I just need the ministry of God the Spirit to give me a joyful attitude when helping my wife with household chores. Not spectacular, but very significant.

The ministry of God the Spirit also creates group unity. The Spirit works in the life of our group to give us oneness of mind, heart, focus and purpose. Group unity is experienced when we pursue the truth of scripture together and share the process of experiencing His powerful ministry to get us a step closer to the likeness of Christ. Our fellowship of the Holy Spirit is one of the common life of growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus.

As group leaders, we need to be reminded that it is not our job to change people, but to create the opportunity in our group for God the Spirit to change individuals. His ministry of the Word reveals to us and comforts us that by grace through faith we are the sons and daughters of God the Father (1 John 3:1-3) and transforms us from one degree to the next into the image of God the Son (2 Corinthians 2:17-18).

Let me encourage you to read the verses I have included and reflect on the following questions. How dependent are you on the ministry of God the Spirit in leading your group? How are you inviting your group to depend on the ministry of the Holy Spirit to teach and guide your group's study of God's word? How passionate are you about the Holy Spirit's ministry to conform you and your group members to the image of God the Spirit? Are you encouraging your group to depend on the Holy Spirit as the comforter who helps us know we are the sons and daughters of God the Father?

I am so grateful for your leadership. I am even more grateful that as you lead your group you can be led by God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit in facilitating your group to experience the life changing love of the Father, the life of God the Son and the transforming work of God the Spirit.

Now may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God our Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with your group whenever and wherever you meet. Amen

Grace and peace,