Spiritual gifts is a topic that has intrigued many throughout the ages. There are various thoughts on how they work, are they still around, when a Christian gets them, and more. As the jacket of the books states, “pastor and author Sam Storms offers practical steps to understanding and exercising spiritual gifts in a way that remains grounded in the Word and centered in the gospel.”

I was interested in seeing what stance this book was going to take on the subject of spiritual gifts. In my experience, spiritual gifts is one of those topics that is very polarizing.  The forward written by Matt Chandler (whom I respect greatly) made me want to see what this book was about. 

The topic of spiritual gifts has interested me for some time. I have heard the arguments about how some spiritual gifts are no longer needed or in use today (cessationist view). I have also heard of those who believe that the gifts are all still in use today among the church (continuationist view). 

Sam Storms is one who holds the continuationist view, but presents his convictions with a strong use of Scripture.  He writes in the conclusion, “The foundation for the experience of spiritual gifts is and always must be inerrant truths articulated in the Bible. Any attempt to move forward apart from the parameters set for us in the [New Testament] will likely lead to experiential excess, theological error, and an unbridled fanaticism that will serve only to bring disgrace on the name of Christ and do damage to those very people you are trying to serve and help” (237).

The manner at which Storms takes the Word of God and uses it as the starting platform and guardrails makes this book and great and reliable tool.  The words and thoughts that are presented in this book are ones that are backed up with Scripture. 

One of the only issues that I had was that there was not equal attention given to the gifts mentioned in the book. I know that to write a full work on each gift would be too much for one book. I even get why Storms chose the gifts that he did in this book. I just didn’t get why three chapters were devoted to “prophecy” and one to the others. 

Recommendation

As for a recommendation, I would highly recommend Practicing the Power by Sam Storms to the Christian that is looking for answers to the question of whether some particular spiritual gifts are still at work today. I believe Storms gives some great insight and uses Scripture to show that you do not have to check solid, grounded in the Word theology at the door to believe that the Holy Spirit is still distributing the gifts that some think are long gone. 

Palm Sunday
Today marks the beginning of what Christians call “Holy Week.” This is a remembrance of the week leading up to the two most significant events in all of history: the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

I cannot think of a more crazy week that has ever been. It is the ultimate emotional roller coaster. It starts out at a very high point and plummets to the lowest only to rise again even higher than before. I am going to attempt to blog each day this week with some thoughts tied to what is believed to happened on this corresponding day long ago. 

Palm Sunday

“When they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage at the Mount of Olives, Jesus then sent two disciples, telling them, “Go into the village ahead of you. At once you will find a donkey tied there with her foal. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them at once.”

This took place so that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled: Tell Daughter Zion, “See, your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” The disciples went and did just as Jesus directed them. They brought the donkey and its foal; then they laid their clothes on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their clothes on the road; others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them on the road. Then the crowds who went ahead of him and those who followed shouted: Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven! When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in an uproar, saying, “Who is this? ” The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”” (‭‭Matthew‬ ‭21:1-2, 4-11‬ ‭CSB‬‬)

This is the account from Matthew’s gospel of when Jesus entered Jerusalem for the final time. What a day that was! The long-awaited Messiah was entering into Jerusalem to take care of the business that He was sent to do. 

We see the people standing along the road singing and shouting praises to God at the mere sight of Jesus. In my humble opinion, this should be a picture of what every Sunday looks like. As we recognize the Lord, we respond in the only appropriate manner: praise and worship. 

It is hard to praise the Lord when you do not see Him though. The only people that we see participating in this praise event are those that get a glimpse of the Savior. We do not read about those in their homes or busy running their errands of the day joining in this praise. 

Do you see Jesus at work around you? If He were to pass by through your city/town, would you be able to give Him the praise due Him, or would you miss it?

May our eyes be open today to see the work and presence of the King of kings. May we join in with others singing His praise: “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

I am one that does not like to forget things. Sadly, I feel my hand on my head many times as I suddenly remember something that was to happen earlier. It is embarrassing at times. It is frustrating most of the time. 

I can remember when my wife and I got married, there was a moment that I forgot something. No, I didn’t forget the rings or to say “I do!”

No, what I forgot was so much different. I remember that I was so nervous that day.  I wanted to make sure that everything went off exactly like it should. I was looking out a window from the worship center of the church that overlooked the parking lot. I was trying to see if there was anything I had forgotten. 

As I looked out the window, I noticed that something was wrong: my truck was missing! 

I knew that I had parked it in an exact spot, but my little 2000 Chevy S-10 was nowhere to be found. I quickly felt my pockets and searched through my things, and my keys were nowhere to be found. Suddenly, I realized that I had left my keys in my truck. It didn’t take long to realize that two of my groomsmen weren’t to be found (truck thieves).  They had taken my truck and filled it with packing peanuts. 

While we laugh about that now, it reminds me that there are some things that are forgotten so easily and are not so funny. 

I just celebrated my 38th birthday on March 28th. I have been a follower of Jesus since I was about 12 years old. If my math is working right, I’m about 26 years into following Jesus. That would be twice as long as not being a follower of Jesus. 

I think that the tragedy of forgetfulness comes when a follower of Jesus forgets what it was like to not have Jesus. 

How quickly do we forget what it was like to not have any real hope? How quickly do we forget what it was like to not have peace?

I have crossed paths with many people who have been following Jesus much longer than not. There is a great temptation to forget the past and move forward. I believe keeping that past that we were delivered from in close remembrance can go a long way in helping us be faithful in the new life we’ve been given. 

How?…

When we remember what it was like to have no hope, no peace, no life, then it will drive us to share the “good news” with as many people as possible. We should want to share this wonderful gift that is far better than any sports team or grandchild (and we all loving sharing about those, don’t we?).

Let us not forget what D.T. Niles shared: “Christianity is one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread.” 

How quickly do we forget who we were when we were rescued by God’s grace? Remember where you were… who you were… and what God did. This might just help you see others as God does. 

The Southern Baptists of Mississippi are pushing a campaign to get their members more involved in evangelism. This campaign is called “Tell Me, Tell Someone.” It is a good campaign in my opinion. It is one that any Christian can get on board with not just Southern Baptists. 

Along with this campaign, the leaders of the Mississippi Baptist Convention are hitting every county and prison in the state spreading the message of the campaign. This past Monday, the county that I live in hosted this rally. 

Dr. Jim Futral shared with the crowd that gathered at the Bruce town square about the importance of sharing our faith with others. In his message, Dr. Futral also shared some interesting stats with the crowd.

  • Mississippi has the most churches per capita of all the United States. 
  • Calhoun County has the most churches per capita of all counties in Mississippi. 

Honestly, I was not surprised at these stats. The state in which I have lived for some time now has churches scattered all over. The county in which I live has a population of around 14,000 (+\-), and there are 44 Southern Baptist churches along with many other denominations. The editor of our county paper shared that there are almost 100 active churches in our county. The joke of “a church on every corner” about rings true where I live. 

Dr. Futral also shared another stat with the crowd. I wish that I could say that this stat shocked me, but it didn’t. What was the stat?

  • No county in the state of Mississippi (including Calhoun County) has more than 1/3 of the population reached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

The reason that this stat didn’t shock me was that I shared a similar stat with the Southern Baptists in our county a couple of years ago. I shared that a demographic study showed that 65% of our county’s population is considered “unreached with the Gospel.” 

While there may be a church on just about every corner, it doesn’t always mean that things are well. Our county has the most churches per capita over any county in the state, yet we also have over half of the population that is not being reached with the Gospel. We are really doing no better than those counties that have the fewest churches in the county. 

Just because there are groups that meet in a building and have a sign that shows their name has “church” in it doesn’t mean that things are happening. There should be an impact made on the community because of the presence of the church. I have often posed the question to our church that if our church was gone tomorrow would the community care or just go on about life as usual?

I pray that the numerous churches in our area will recognize the important task that we have to share the Gospel with those around us. A county that has close to 100 active churches should not have an unreached population of 65%. 

We have come upon one of the great seasons of the Christian faith.  The Lenten season is one that is celebrated by Christians around the world.  It is a time where Christians choose to fast from certain things in order to focus their attention more on Christ and what He has done for us through the cross and the empty grave.

Different people choose different things from which to fast (give up or not partake in for a time).  Some people choose certain types of food or drink… others may choose to lay down social media or TV…

Our family has chosen to partake in a “Daniel Fast” for the Lenten season. We are doing this to help our family not only grow closer to the Lord, but also to help clean up some of our eating habits.

Whatever one chooses to “give up” during Lent, I have learned from times before that just giving something up for a while doesn’t do what this season is intended to do.  Lent is for us to purposefully draw closer to the Lord and refocus on what He has done and is doing in our lives. This is not done by just giving up something.  We have to purposefully redirect that attention towards Christ.

While it is not necessary that a Christian partake in Lent, I would encourage any follower of Jesus to take part in this wonderful season. I would encourage you to spend some time finding out what is one thing that takes your attention away from God, and then give it to Him in this season.  Fill that time with prayer and study of the Bible.  I have found some good resources that would help one refocus on Christ as we approach the greatest season of the year.

He Reads Truth / She Reads Truth

These are some really good websites that come with Bible studies and devotionals to help followers of Jesus spend time in God’s Word.  They have apps for your smartphones or tablets also.  Some of the plans do cost (the Lent devotionals are $2.99 and well worth it), but they also have free studies.

YouVersion

YouVersion is an app for smartphones, tablets, and computers that allows you to access the Bible in just about any translation you could imagine.  It also has many devotional plans (FREE) that help followers of Jesus in their time in the Word.  They have a multitude of devotional studies for the Lenten season.

Whatever you do, my prayer for each of you is that you draw closer to Jesus and what He is wanting to do in your life this Lenten season.