Of Hurricanes and Nuclear Missile Fly-overs and the Holy Spirit

What a week! With Hurricane Harvey ravaging a path of destroying floods across southeast Texas and western Louisiana—accumulating devastating human losses (at least 30 dead) and crippling economic losses now estimated at $42 billion with projections eventually to exceed $100 billion (rivaling Hurricane Katrina for the most destructive storm in history)—and with North Korea test firing another unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile this time straight across northern Japan and into the Pacific—one can sense the whiplash as the world’s anxious attention is yanked back and forth from East to West. What next?

We grieve for the flooded residents of Houston, this nation’s fourth largest city. And we empathize with the threatened citizens of Japan (how would we enjoy a neighboring foreign power flying a nuclear-capable missile so low in the sky above us it triggers advance warning sirens across our cities?). Fear, anxiety, uncertainty are rapidly becoming a way of life anymore, aren’t they?

And here we are beneath pleasantly blue and breezy summer skies, tucked away in the quiet southwestern corner of Michigan—far away from floods and missile overflights—a new school year already one week old. What’s not to like about our good fortune?

But be careful what you celebrate. Wasn’t it Jesus who warned, "‘For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage [going to college and graduating] . . . and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away’" (Matthew 24:38-39)? Apparently the cataclysm of the only global and certainly most destructive flood in human history struck at a moment preceded by not a single reportable clue or warning. Just the pleasant rounds of everyday life on the planet. "‘So it will be at the coming of the Son of Man’" (v 37).

Which in itself may be sufficient reason for us to "ponder anew, what the Almighty can do, if with His love He befriend thee" (Joachim Neander).

Because a loving heavenly Father would find no pleasure in catching His children by surprise. Rather, one would suppose He would do everything in His power to prepare His children for the coming cataclysm. No wonder He offers you and me the most exquisite and essential Gift of all! How did Jesus put it? "‘If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him" (Luke 11:13).

That’s why for the next few weeks I invite you to join me in pondering (and receiving) the one Gift that brings "all other gifts" and "all other blessings" with it! The title of our miniseries, "Ground Zero and the New Reformation: How to Be Baptized with the Holy Spirit." This morning I want to share with you what I’ve discovered in a little book given to me a few weeks ago. In fact you can have a PDF of that short but moving book right now on your own phone or laptop by going to http://www.discipleshipcourse.org/images/pdf/Weitere_Materialien/Steps_to_Personal_Revival.pdf. I’m on my third time through this English translation of the German writer Helmut Haubeil’s Steps to Revival: Being Filled with the Holy Spirit.

Our blue skies notwithstanding, the world’s a mess. God longs to reach this civilization one more time. He needs you and me. Which is why we need His offer of a daily baptism with the Holy Spirit. He’s running out of a time. Won’t you please join me in praying for that baptism every day? How? Listen carefully to what we discover in this new miniseries. It’s time.