Acts of the Holy Spirit: A Top 10 List
Over the centuries, some scholars who have studied the Book of Acts have wondered why it was not entitled Acts of the Holy Spirit versus Acts of the Apostles. Why? Repeatedly the Holy Spirit shows up in the lives and ministries of the twelve disciples and Paul’s missionary journeys during the emergence of the church on the day of Pentecost till now.
We had a wonderful spirit-filled Annual Conference June 5-8, in Peoria, due to the dedicated work of numerous volunteers, clergy and laity. Most importantly, we were led by a power greater than ourselves. So, I have laid the good to great things that happened directly at the feet of the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit:
- A young woman from Liberia shared how we have touched her people and country with our continual prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness.
- Dr. J. Clif Christopher dared to challenge us on what separates us from God more than anything -- our money. Though disturbing at times, we heard his biblical challenge with repentant hearts. He left us with some compelling food for thought.
- Fairview Heights Christ UMC has been the major catalyst for starting a new church in Honduras. IGRC is a partner with Christ Church in this initiative. Most gratifying, the church is growing by leaps and bounds. It is busting at the seams in worship attendance. The spirit is alive.
- Near the end of Ken Miller’s first-rate report as Conference Lay Leader, he publicly affirmed the servant leadership of his pastor and his church as one that is growing. Ken’s affirmation brought to mind a Mississippi River District Church that has grown every year for years numerically as well as one church on the Sangamon River District that recently celebrated 23 persons joining the church on one Sunday while declaring “there are more to come.”
- Approximately 84 children were in day care while we convened Annual Conference. Again, they came to the stage sang and presented the Bishop with a shirt. Some of them even cried. How could we not feel the spirit evoked by the Christ who said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not?”
- The Holy Spirit invigorated the Ordination Service. A number of persons responded to acknowledged God’s call on their lives. Prayer, weeping, rejoicing and shouts of acclamation ensued. Now we have the privilege and responsibility of helping them, discern what form of ministry to which they are called.
- On the last day of Annual Conference, Rev. Kim Dancey requested that we suspend the rules to consider a motion to up our pledge to the denominational Imagine No Malaria Campaign from $2.3 to $2.5 million. It was passed overwhelmingly. IGRC has fully embraced its mission to knock out malaria in the world like America knocked out polio in the 50’s and 60’s. Secondly, we upped our pledge because the Bishop Thomas Bickerton of Western Pennsylvania said IGRC inspired his conference to raise their goal to $2.3 million. To catch the IGRC, they will be challenged to do even more.
- Teenaged lay members of Annual Conference were invited to the stage. As they shared their name and other information such as I’m a pk (preacher’s kid) or pk squared (both parents are pastors), we were touched. Numerous delegates told me so or e-mailed their affirmation of seeing those teens on stage. My calling them to the stage was a God thing -- nothing more, nothing less.
- We recognized the chartering of a new church in IGRC, by name Real Life. Out of the blue, the Holy Spirit came upon the DS. And he danced before the Lord as did Israel’s second King, David.
- Finally, my wife and I are very thankful for the extravagant generosity shown us in our first Annual Conference. To everyone who played a part in making it so, we give thanks and praise for the gift of God that is in you.
Now, I’ll try to catch up on some rest and relaxation. Next week is a’ coming; so is Annual Conference 2014. May God bless and keep you. See you along the way.