Pentecost’s Power for Today

The pandemic has stripped us of a lot of things, but many of us are little changed. Many clergypersons have hoped that one of the life-altering things to come out of all this drama would be a national and international return to God. What do you think so far? Has this been a speed-bump in our lives, or a Come-To-Jesus moment that stops us in our tracks and makes us take stock of everything? As Pentecost Day approaches this coming Sunday, It’s something we need to ponder. Is Pentecost a watershed moment in the life of the church and us as individuals, or is it just another lesser known day on the church calendar?

As a cradle-Methodist, I don’t recall hearing much about the Holy Spirit growing up, not even on Pentecost. About the only time I remember hearing anything about the Holy Spirit was in the pastor’s benediction. I did go to a tent-revival, invited by a Baptist or Pentecostal, I think, and heard more than I wanted to hear about the Holy Spirit. Pretty much I had a generic belief in God, and semi-understood that Jesus died for us, but I don’t recall anyone saying how you made sure that you had salvation, forgiveness, and faith. Heck, it was the 60’s and we went through confirmation, and we got enough religion from that to inoculate us so that we wouldn’t catch the real thing. We weren’t fanatics. We were Methodists.

Then my mother’s dad died. Papa never went to church, but he belonged. Then in short order, Uncle Lee died suddenly, and just like his dad, he didn’t go to church. I remember the conversations around the edges of both funerals. People were actually wondering if they went to heaven. What!? My safe 60’s assumption was that everybody went to some sort of heaven, but Papa and Lee’s deaths rattled me. Grandmother must have noticed. I don’t recall her ever going to church either, but she told me that she would give me a dollar if I watched Billy Graham every night of his TV crusades and could tell her what he preached about. A buck is a buck, and I’m no dummy. I watched every time.

I still went to Sunday School, grateful for Mrs. Eaddy’s tutelage. I had been confirmed, but had no clue about faith being any more than a notion that “Jesus loves me this I know.” As a pre-teen trying to navigate life with the deaths of two of my most favorite people, I found myself sitting on the edge of my twin bed watching Billy Graham on a small 13” TV. Three nights in a row, I prayed for Jesus to come into my heart. I was that desperate to know for sure that my faith was real.

I learned about the Holy Spirit shortly thereafter, and it wasn’t at church. I started meeting with a bunch of teenagers who were way more than a youth group. We sat on the floor of Miss Margaret Lyon’s house and shared Bible passages and talked honestly about faith, temptation, and Jesus’ presence in our lives through the Holy Spirit. That was welcome news to me. I knew I couldn’t live a Christian life in my own strength, so I asked Jesus’ Spirit to fill me as I exhaled out my own prerogatives and inhaled His. The Holy Spirit is who changed me from a “churchian” to a Christian.

Several years later I was meeting with a denominational committee about going into the ministry. I was in college and planning to go to seminary. They were trying to grill me about my faith and Christian experience. One asked me when I became a Christian. I told them about sitting on the edge of the bed watching Billy Graham and praying to receive Christ. Another said in a high-and-mighty way, “Well, since you already were confirmed, you were already a Christian.” My response seemed to silence the group, “I may have already been a Christian, and God might have known it, but I didn’t.”

Does any of this resonate with your story, or your spiritual journey? The purpose of Pentecost is to remind us that the Holy Spirit lets us know we’re saved, made right with God, transformed, whatever words that you want to use. The Holy Spirit turns our head knowledge into heart knowledge. Sitting on that bed listening to Billy Graham, I began to know it, but being filled over and over again with the Holy Spirit ever since has made it real. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. The Holy Spirit is real! Ask Him to fill you up, and Pentecost will be one of the best days of the year for you. Amen.

12 thoughts on “Pentecost’s Power for Today

  1. I loved this blog. I am attaching a little story that was sent to me by my NC Baptist cousin. We often share stories. This was written by one of her fellow church members. Food for thought.

    In Christ we Love, Pat Friday

  2. As I prepare a bible study on the lectionary scriptures for this Sunday, I have a question for the group – What has the Holy Spirit done for you? I love your answer – changed head knowledge into heart knowledge. I experienced this same thing. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Tim,
    Just so you know, Aunt Margaret Lyon is still alive in Roanoke. She’s 94; played tennis weekly until about 2 years ago. But somewhere along the way, she took a wrong turn and became Presbyterian!!😂
    David Lyon

    1. David, Really? The “Miss Margaret Lyon” I knew was in Edgefield, SC. Wow! If she’s your Aunt, I am even more grateful. You come from good stock, but I already knew that! Thanks, tim

      Sent from my iPhone

      >

  4. Now I thought I knew a lot of your stories, but I had missed this one! Love it, Dr. Tim. One of my “bones to pick” with the UMC has been that they taught me that I became a Christian when I went through confirmation. I am a cradle Methodist too, but I didn’t truly meet Jesus til August 1968 when I was sitting in a pew at a youth revival and God literally called my name. I heard a loud and sure voice, saying “Judy, listen to this man.” I looked around. Had no one else heard it? Again, the message was repeated. I might have been a clueless 17 year old, but I began to truly listen. That night, the speaker plainly said Jesus loved me, and would have died on the cross even if it had been only for me. I thought about all I had heard, and went back the next night and knelt and surrendered under the power of the Holy Spirit and gave my life to God. So is the Holy Spirit real? Absolutely! Does He empower us to live life daily? Absolutely! Jesus told the disciples, “I will send you a comforter,” and He did. “I will send you power from On High,” and He has. Praise God!! Because you are so right, we don’t have the power ourselves to live as Christ. But the indwelling Spirit of God does. Praise be to God!

  5. I love this so much. I’ve been cynical and grouchy about churches not meeting, a little perplexed over how God feels about us not assembling. See, I was raised a rule follower and 3 times a week mandatory independent Baptist attendee. It’s taken me most of my life to acknowledge I was seeking something other than closeness with God, I was seeking to be seen there and validated by the preacher and others. I miss being with others in church but I have drawn closer to Him through the realization that church for me was still linked to validation from others’, that I wanted to be seen there by others, not to “see” God there more clearly. Thanks for sharing your story and lining up with what the Holy Spirit is showing me gently…when I return to church I’ll be returning more to worship and less to be served, (this honest comment may be a bit too honest, that’s “how I roll” now.)

    Thanks again.

  6. Thank you for this wonderful blog on where we are and why in these troubled times around the world. I have two adopted Black grandchildren (late teens, early 20’s) living in Minneapolis/St. Paul… they live in fear and I fear for them. I pray always for understanding, acceptance and love to awaken in the hearts of those who don’t understand, accept and love ALL of God’s children… perhaps all of this strife will move that ball forward.

    Thank you for your meaningful, welcome insights and voice, always, but especially in these troubled times.

  7. I meant for my thoughts above to reply to Repentance and Racism… somehow posted under the wrong blog. Just FYI.

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