I grew up in a very conservative Pentecostal home. We lived by many rules called “standards”. The hope was that these rules would instill some kind of deep spirituality in our children. As my generation grew up, many of the children who lived among so many rules could only see “the rules” and not the spirituality that the rules were meant to inspire. There were a small number that found the rules to to be a “fence of security” from a world they could not embrace but feared and they became the next generation of the modern day Pentecostal. There were also a group of survivors that fell victim to the “unyielding law” of the rules where injustice was found in the immediate forgiveness of the passive personalities that readily apologized and conformed while those who questioned for better understanding were never given a place of acceptance at all. Continue reading
A few weeks ago, I was preparing to do my Sunday Sermon on the Mustard Seed. Surprisingly, in my years of teaching and preaching, I have never focused on the parables concerning the Mustard Seed. I may have mentioned it in a sermon that touches on faith but I have never truly studied the parable or tried to analyze the profound analogies in which Christ used the amazing Mustard Seed.
I have been teaching a Bible Study to my son in law, Alex, who was born and raised Lutheran. His walk with God started many years ago and the faith he has shared has been excellent in it’s witness of God’s greatness for God is not a respecter of persons nor does He allow organizational labels to hinder His mighty hand from reaching out to all those He has wonderfully created. I was raised Pentecostal and there was a time when my small mind believed that only our group had the ear and hand of God in it’s midst. At age 23, God began the process of humbling my arrogance and revealing His love for ALL the world. The scripture in John 3:16 is non exclusionary. “For God so loved THE WORLD….”. Unto this day, I am ever learning, for only a fool is hindered in his capacity to grow in understanding. Our ability to grow in wisdom and knowledge is likened unto Christ who also reflected this attribute when He walked in the flesh ( Luke 2:52). Without this ability, we become stagnant and spiritually die. For faith is likened unto the Mustard seed… it GROWS. The worst feature of the Pharisees was their inability to grow their faith to a perfect understanding of the Law, it’s purpose and it’s eventual fulfillment in Christ.
I knew a speaker that always used this analogy, he said something like this “You can tell me how great Ice Cream is and I may or may not believe you. But once I get the cone and that cold, creamy, sweet delicious flavor is savored in my mouth, only then can my experience give me the revelation of what your description so pitifully tried to convey.” In the same manner, I may tell you ice cream is wonderful but if you happen to get a flavor that creates a horrendous experience for you, you may never find yourself a fan of ice cream.
Several years before my husband and I became ordained ministers, we were home pastors and this required us to hold a Bible study in our home once a week. Each week, I would carefully clean, pray, study the Word, and cook a meal for all the attendees. Through this study, we had several people consecrate their lives to God and get baptized. It was such an exciting time because I could see the fruit of our labor in this ministry. However, nothing can remain this simple.