It’s the end of a long Sunday. What a great day … but long.

Once again, I was with the Holland Park Church. I taught class this morning (on “Ten Disciplines for Seeking the Spirit”) and then preached (“The Spirit and Transformation”–a study of the final “Paraclete Passage” in John’s Final Discourse). The lessons were well-received. As I’m finding all over, there is a real hunger here for information about the Holy Spirit–especially practical information about how to develop a personal relationship with the Spirit.

I’ve taken to using a metaphor that I believe is helpful. At least it communicates! There is a great deal of difference between having a marriage certificate and having a marriage … between a piece of paper that declares you married and a living, breathing relationship that is (in fact) a marriage.

Every baptized believer has the gift of the indwelling Spirit. Congratulations! You are the proud possessor of a Spirit certificate. But that is a far cry from enjoying a relationship with the Spirit that lives within you! How does the Spirit work? Where is the Spirit leading you? How can you walk in the Spirit each day? These are skills that must be pursued–in much the same way as you must learn to love and relate with your spouse. There are certain attitudes and habits that can quench a relationship with God’s Spirit … and certain attitudes and habits that will foster a relationship. Do you know which is which? Do you know how to build intimacy with the Spirit inside you? These questions and ideas were the heart of the class period.

The sermon was about the Spirit and Transformation–the idea that Jesus promised his disciples (the Apostles and us) that the Spirit would be our guide into all truth. I know this notion scares some people. They think “all truth” refers to an ability to see the future or access to some hidden mystery Jesus never talked about during his ministry. No. The “truth” the Spirit is promised to reveal is the same truth Jesus himself came to reveal: the nature of his Father. Jesus came to reveal God. But, whereas Jesus was the perfect revelation of the invisible God, his revelation was always limited by the receivers. The disciples didn’t understand. They kept missing the point. In the end, they couldn’t bear any more. (Sound familiar?)

So Jesus speaks to them (and us) about a Spirit who continues to be active in revealing God. What we don’t understand now, he teaches again tomorrow. What we cannot bear tonight, he helps us bear in the morning. What is too big for our minds to grasp, he puts into small words and simple ideas. And when we are too small to contain the fullness of God’s glory, the Spirit works at expanding us, growing us, deepening us so that, from glory to glory, we are made capable of holding the fullness of God. Quite a concept! Quite a work! I think the people of the Holland Park Church were encouraged.

I went to lunch with a sweet couple who are on the journey from law to grace, from righteousness-through-obedience to righteousness-through-faith, from a gospel that depends on them getting it right to a gospel that rejoices in Jesus getting it right. They belong to a tiny church struggling to glorify God on the edge of the Australian desert. And it is a struggle. They have endured judgment and censure and pressure from another church in the same town. Their freedom has been questioned. The validity of their relationship with God has been doubted. They are sincere, loving, and deeply committed to following Jesus. But they are also wounded and fragile and disappointed. It was wonderful to spend the afternoon with them, offering what encouragement and counsel I could.

I felt myself squarely in the will of God today, doing exactly what he wanted me doing with people who really needed me to do it! It felt wonderful.

Tonight, I’m staying in the home of Dirk and Christina Leijen–leaders of the Holland Park Church and some of the best people you’ll ever meet. I love Dirk: intense, curious, passionate. I love Christina: quiet, caring, patient, and mothering. You should meet their adult children: Jonathan (and his American wife Jenny)–a future leader of the Australian church; Chris (and his wife Lindsay)–who led our worship time today; Jen (and her husband Alex)–fun, loving, and growing in her Christian faith; and Rachel (with her husband David)–who loves the church and finds ways to serve. A great family, made great by the impact of Jesus on their lives and their shared commitment to his Lordship.

Alright. It’s past my bedtime! But I wanted to “catch you up” (as they say in Australia!) before turning in for the night. Pray for these people. Remember you have brothers and sisters half a world away who, like you, are trying to make a difference for Christ. I’m proud of them. You should be too.

The “ToolBox” resource is the PowerPoint presentation that accompanied my class today. Hope you will find it interesting and helpful.