Sometimes I suspect some people think I’ve lost my mind. I’ve talked in Sermon’s about God whispering in my ear, or being visited by an angel or having some highly unlikely event happen (what some Spiritual people call a “God-incidence” as opposed to a “coincidence”).

But something happened recently that had never happened before.

I was standing at the sink, not thinking anything in particular, when four lines
that ended with rhyming words just popped into my head. It wasn’t like I THOUGHT them or somehow worked them into the way they came out. They just…well… HAPPENED.

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Jesus is rightfully the focus of our attention at Christmas time. After all he is God incarnate (i.e. God taking on a human body so that we can connect more easily with Him). We call Jesus “God’s Son” to assure our understanding of the connection between God and Jesus (and ultimately our own connection with God through connection with Jesus). If you’re familiar with the Gospels, however, you’ll note that Jesus generally referred to himself as “the Son of Man”. This term originated in a vision of the Old Testament prophet Daniel

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In Matthew’s Gospel chapter 13, verses 10-17, Jesus quotes from the prophet Isaiah to explain to his disciples why he mainly teaches in parables (except to the disciples themselves in private Mark 4:34). The three reasons I believe this are that: (1) The ability to discern (hear or see and be certain you are hearing or seeing God’s voice or activity in your life correctly). This is accomplished through intense and regular prayer — both speaking and listening — through which the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth (John 16:12-13);

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Today is PENTECOST — we celebrate the 3rd person of the Trinity, THE HOLY SPIRIT.

We are taught that the HOLY SPIRIT comes to live inside of us at BAPTISM. The main REASON God implants the Spirit within us is to EMPOWER everything we DO as a Christian.

The Spirit empowers our Outreach … the Spirit transforms us inwardly so that our compassion / generosity / self-control / our inner PEACE + JOY / our sense of connectedness with God …. All INCREASE as a result of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that we receive at Baptism.

There’s just one catch — as we grow into adulthood and life’s challenges and temptations increase … the Spirit within us must also INCREASE to meet the growing TRIALS. THAT IS WHAT WE MEAN BY SPIRITUAL GROWTH.

And the difficulty is this

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For quite some time now we have heard or ISIS and other (primarily Islamic) terrorist groups. Much of what is said attributes their motivation to either Religious or Political reasons. There is, however, some growing thought that Psychological motivations play an important role, especially in the recruiting of younger non-Arabic youth into terrorist training and activities.

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