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Sermon for May 19, 2024 — Pentecost

Program Transcript


Today we gather with hearts ablaze, commemorating a momentous occasion that resonates through the ages— we gather to honor Pentecost, a day that marked a new beginning. It is a day when the Holy Spirit, the divine breath of God, renewed all creation and ignited the flame within the hearts of believers.

As we embark on this journey of worship, let us revisit the birth of the Church, a moment that echoes through eternity. Pentecost, the day when the disciples were audibly and visibly empowered by the promised Holy Spirit, marking the beginning of the Church’s collective work in Christ.

The same Spirit descended upon them in tongues of fire and filled them with the courage to continue the work that Jesus started. Today, that same Spirit empowers each one of us, renewing our hearts, and inspiring us to be the Church in the world.

We are the Church, not merely a building but a living, breathing body connected by the Spirit’s life-giving breath. This Pentecost, let us remember that the Holy Spirit is our Advocate, our Comforter, and our Guide.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus promised the Advocate, saying, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26)

The Holy Spirit advocates for us, intercedes on our behalf, and empowers us to boldly proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. Signs and wonders follow as we step out in faith, and the love of Christ radiates through our actions.

As we go forth into our communities, let us carry the flame of Pentecost with us. The Holy Spirit, our Advocate, accompanies us, guiding our steps, comforting our hearts, and empowering us to love our neighbors.

In Psalm 104:24-34, we find words that resonate with the work of the Spirit through the Church. Let this scripture be our guide as we embrace the renewal offered by the Holy Spirit.

How many are your works, Lord!
In wisdom you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.

There is the sea, vast and spacious,
teeming with creatures beyond number—
living things both large and small.

There the ships go to and fro,
and Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.
All creatures look to you
to give them their food at the proper time.

When you give it to them,
they gather it up;
when you open your hand,
they are satisfied with good things.

When you hide your face,
they are terrified;
when you take away their breath,
they die and return to the dust.

When you send your Spirit,
they are created,
and you renew the face of the ground.

May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
may the Lord rejoice in his works—
he who looks at the earth, and it trembles,
who touches the mountains, and they smoke.

I will sing to the Lord all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
May my meditation be pleasing to him,
as I rejoice in the Lord.

We are the Church, and we are empowered by the Spirit. As we go forth, may the winds of Pentecost carry us to new heights, and may the love of Christ overflow from our hearts. Let us go boldly into our neighborhoods, knowing that the Holy Spirit, our Guide, goes with us.

And so, dear friends, as we celebrate Pentecost, may the Holy Spirit continue to renew all creation through the Church, through us. Amen.



Psalm 104:24-34, 35b • Acts 2:1-21 • Romans 8:22-27 • John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15

This week, we celebrate Pentecost, remembering the day when the Church began its collective work in Christ. On that day, the Church was audibly and visibly empowered by the promised Holy Spirit to continue the work that Jesus started. The theme for this week is the advocacy of the Spirit. In the call to worship psalm, we read that the Holy Spirit renews all creation. In the Acts passage, we read about the coming of the Spirit on Pentecost. Peter, empowered by the Spirit, preaches a sermon and his first words were a defense of his fellow apostles who were speaking in tongues. In Romans, we learn about the intercessory ministry of the Holy Spirit. In the John passage, Jesus teaches his disciples about the Holy Spirit and refers to him as the Advocate.

The Advocate

John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15 NIV

Have you ever pretended not to be home when someone came to your door? Whether it be a solar energy salesperson, Jehovah’s Witness, candidate for office, or someone trying to get you to switch your internet service, we often have to deal with people who want to talk to us about things we do not necessarily want to talk about. Within seconds, you know that you want the interaction to end, yet it keeps going on and on. The awkwardness of these one-sided conversations is often palpable. So, what do we do? Despite the internal screaming, we put a polite but neutral expression on our faces and calmly wait for a moment to say, “No, thank you.” This process will usually have to be repeated two to three more times. It may not be the most honest thing to do, but it is no wonder that many of us have, at least, been tempted to leave the doorbell unanswered.

For many Christians, this is what comes to mind when we think about evangelism or witnessing. Perhaps we imagine ourselves like door-to-door salespeople trying to deliver a message that no one wants to hear. We can sometimes be reluctant to share our faith because we do not want to come across as pushy or annoying. To some extent, this reluctance is understandable. There are some Christians who approach evangelism in a way that is off-putting to say the least. At this moment, in every major city in America, there is a self-proclaimed Christian standing on a street corner shouting at passersby that they are sinners going to hell. Many Christ-followers do not readily tell people about Jesus because they do not want to be lumped in with those who peddle fear, guilt, and hate in God’s name. Yet, we are commanded by Christ to go and make disciples. We are compelled by love to share the good news about Jesus with our neighbors. How do we navigate these waters?

It is a blessing to realize that we are not the ones who should answer this question. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit from the Father to empower the church to share the story of our salvation in Christ. If we yield to the Spirit, he will give us the perfect words to say. This is what we are celebrating on this Pentecost — the coming of the Holy Spirit in a more manifest way, which led to the inauguration of the Church. If we want to see the Lord move in our time, if we want to see the gospel go to the ends of the earth like never before, we have to be empowered by the Spirit. Let’s look at how Jesus describes the Holy Spirit in the book of John:

“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father — the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father — he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning…

I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you, but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” (John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15 NIV)

Jesus described the Holy Spirit as the Advocate — the one who stands with us and for us. He intercedes on our behalf and counsels us in the way we should go. He testifies about Jesus to us and through us, and he leads us into truth. Without the Holy Spirit, spiritual formation would be impossible. We would be ignorant of the truth about our sinful state and not have the means to become more like Christ. Without the Holy Spirit, there would be no mission because our witness would depend on our own efforts and ability to persuade. Without the Spirit there would be no worship because the Spirit makes Christ known to us. How do we worship someone we do not know? But glory to God, we have the Spirit! The Spirit is always with us and will never leave.

That is good news, because we need the advocacy of the Spirit. We live in a society where many see Christianity as obsolete and unnecessary. Many do not believe in God, or they believe that God is unconcerned with what happens on earth. Some have had bad experiences in church and are angry or hurt. Some professed believers combine Christianity with the politics of power, leaving people with a negative view of the faith. To be honest, I do not know what to say to the people in any of these categories. But thankfully, the Holy Spirit knows what to say and he speaks with perfect love. When the Spirit speaks through us, even challenging things can be attractive to the listener.

On the Day of Pentecost, Peter gave a sermon where he told the audience that they were complicit in the death of Jesus Christ, the Messiah and Lord. That is a hard thing to hear. Rather than being repulsed, the audience was contrite and drew near. It was not because Peter was a great orator. It was because the Advocate stood with Peter and empowered him to speak. Sometimes people will react poorly to the words and actions inspired by the Spirit. Jesus was perfectly yielded to the Spirit, and he was crucified. We are not responsible to achieve certain results. Our responsibility is to submit to the leading of the Spirit and have faith in a God who is good and does all things well.

Most of us will not be led by the Spirit to stand up in our town hall and give a sermon or yell at passersby on the street corner. However, we are commanded to go into our communities — the places where we live, work, and play — and love our neighbors. We are to love them extravagantly and unconditionally. We are to do this by yielding ourselves to the leading of the Spirit through spiritual practices like prayer, silence and solitude, fasting, meditation, etc. As we open ourselves to the ministry of the Spirit, he brings everything that Jesus is into us, and we become more like Christ. Then, compelled by love, we become salt and light, a peculiar people who live in such a way that our neighbors ask us about the hope that is in us. And, when they ask, we have faith that the Advocate will stand with us and speak in and through us. We believe that the answer we give will not be from us but from God himself. He is the Spirit of truth. He will guide us into all truth. He will tell us what is yet to come. He is our Advocate!

On this Day of Pentecost, let us be grateful for the Advocacy of the Holy Spirit. We are not salespeople selling a product no one wants. We are the Church! And, we are empowered by the Spirit. We share the good news about Jesus Christ and signs and wonders follow us. Let us go boldly into our communities to love our neighbors, knowing that the Holy Spirit, our Advocate goes with us.

Can I Get a Witness? w/ Terry Ishee W3

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May 19—Pentecost
John 15:26-2716:4-15, “Truth-Teller”

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Program Transcript

Can I Get a Witness? w/ Terry Ishee W3

Anthony: And that makes for a great segue into our next Bible passage, which is for Pentecost. Jesus said, I’ll send the Spirit and the Spirit is sent. John 15:26-27 and 16:4-15. It is a Revised Common Lectionary passage for Pentecost, May 19.

“When the Companion comes, whom I will send from the Father—the Spirit of Truth who proceeds from the Father—he will testify about me. 27 You will testify too, because you have been with me from the beginning.

But I have said these things to you so that when their time comes, you will remember that I told you about them. “I didn’t say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I go away to the one who sent me. None of you ask me, ‘Where are you going?’ Yet because I have said these things to you, you are filled with sorrow. I assure you that it is better for you that I go away. If I don’t go away, the Companion won’t come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will show the world it was wrong about sin, righteousness, and judgment. He will show the world it was wrong about sin because they don’t believe in me. 10 He will show the world it was wrong about righteousness because I’m going to the Father and you won’t see me anymore. 11 He will show the world it was wrong about judgment because this world’s ruler stands condemned. 12 “I have much more to say to you, but you can’t handle it now. 13 However, when the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you in all truth. He won’t speak on his own, but will say whatever he hears and will proclaim to you what is to come. 14 He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and proclaim it to you. 15 Everything that the Father has is mine. That’s why I said that the Spirit takes what is mine and will proclaim it to you.

So, on this Pentecost, Terry, we celebrate the companion, the Holy Spirit coming to us to guide us into all truth. I’m going to ask you to get a bit personal here to testify. So how have you personally experienced the presence and the truth guiding power of the Spirit?

Terry: Yeah. I’ve been a pastor for 27 years and I …

Anthony: You’re getting old.

Terry: I’m getting old, brother. I’m getting old. I started crazy young. I started crazy young, but I didn’t grow up in the church. But when I found the church, it was a Baptist church. And it’s a tribe that I love, and I try to love. Man, sometimes they make it really hard to love them.

And the Trinity for — and this is the old Baptist joke — the Trinity for the Baptist is Father, Son, and Bible. And that’s really what it feels like, right? It’s just study the Bible.

And so early on in ministry, the Holy Spirit was this real stranger. Of course, we acknowledged it as part of the Trinity, but it was the mysterious part of God. And we just left it at that. And then I’m casting a large shadow on a large group of people, but typically that’s the experience of that denominational life.

And as I grew in maturity and grew in my own leadership, I became more and more fascinated with the Holy Spirit. And by no means am I charismatic or I know I’m — it depends who you talk to, right? We’re all shades of different kinds of charismatic. But man, the Holy Spirit has been something in my life that has truly transformed and has made a significant impact on my spirituality. Of every discipline that I have in my repertoire — my daily, weekly, creating a rule of life and a rhythm of seeking to be with God — a silence and reflection on the Holy Spirit has been probably number two.

Man, someone, when I was a young kid — I started ministry when I was 19 years old. I joined a church planting team, and someone said, as a young pastor, I never wanted to come across as a moron or an idiot, which was just hard to do when you’re that young. Of course, you’re going to come across that way.

But someone said, Terry, God makes a promise. He says if you pray for wisdom, he will be faithful and give you wisdom. And so that is my number one spiritual practice is I plead for wisdom from God Father, Son, and Spirit. And I believe wisdom is a beautiful gift that God gives us.

And then right behind that pleading that almost, incessant pleading for wisdom — and it’s even a joke in my family. My daughter, like she’s contemplating dating some bonehead. And I just tell her, “You’re 18. I love you. You love Jesus. I know your life call, your core values, and who you are in the kingdom. Make wise decisions.” And they always make fun of me because that’s my go to: make wise decisions; make wise decisions. God will give you the wisdom to make a wise decision.

But second to that, making wise decisions, seeking wisdom, is I want to hear. I want to hear from God. I want to hear from the Holy Spirit. And so, I actually try to carve out significant time and just sitting still. I’m not the best meditator.

I’m not the best kind of silence person. My mind wanders and I’m all over the place. But one of the things that I’ve discovered is absolute silence isn’t the point. God wants that the journey that our minds go on when we sit and try to be still, Jesus just wants to jump in on that. The Holy Spirit wants to guide that and be in that. And so, I will carve out significant amounts of time to simply, Lord, what’s your next step?

And even Anthony, I don’t think I’ve even told this to you. So, I’ll tell you right here. My daughter is 18. She’s about to graduate high school and go off to college. And we’re going to be empty nesters. And so, we’ve been praying Lord, what’s next for us? So much of our ministry over the last 15 years has been neighborhood based and school based because we are highly missional incarnational people. And all of a sudden it feels like our neighborhood, we’ve lost more neighbors in the last three years than we had in the last 17.

We’ve been in this house for 20 years. We’ve just valued incarnating into one place and sticking, staying put. And we’ve lost more neighbors in the last three than the first 17. Amen. And so, the neighborhood is turned over. It feels different. Almost feels like there’s a release here. The school, obviously we don’t want to be the creepy people that keep coming to school after your kid graduates, which those people exist. And so, we don’t want to be like that.

So, we’ve just been discerning and praying to the Holy Spirit. Lord, what’s next? What’s next for us? Where might you be leading us? And I carve lots of time out just to sit and listen.

And the Spirit has been so faithful that I can look back in my life. Every church plant that I’ve been a part of, the decision to start two separate coaching and consulting firms, joining Forge America 14 years ago, taking on the executive director role two years ago — every one of those moments, there was a season of just sitting in silence and just hearing like, Lord speak.

And if you were to ask: Terry, have you heard the audible voice of God in 27 years, 32 years of following Jesus? I haven’t, but have I felt the nudging and the prompting of the Holy Spirit? I hear it all the time. I feel it all the time. And it’s one of those things where I think it just comes to: can you sit still enough?

And again, it’s a presence issue. We have to enable — if you’re to be a great missionary, when we do missionary training, we want you to have presence with your neighbor. You can’t truly share good news if you don’t know what good news would be to them. So, you have to build a sense of presence. And in order to build a sense of presence, you have to build a sense of proximity, right?

I can’t know what would be good news to my neighbor, if I don’t know my neighbor. The only way to know my neighbor is to be in proximity to my neighbor. The same thing is true of the Spirit. We can’t expect to have presence with the Holy Spirit if we aren’t in proximity with the Holy Spirit. Now, I know that the Holy Spirit is with us at all times. And so, we are technically in proximity of the Holy Spirit all the time. But are we intentionally putting our minds on that proximity?

And so that has been a game changer for me. And for me, I really truly feel like every decision that I’ve made has truly been, and every blessing that God has bestowed on our family has been in cooperation with God and in seeking him and seeking wisdom from the Spirit.

Anthony: Yeah, that’s good. I like that — proximity, the intentionality of that proximity. And with that proximity, in my mind, I’m seeing the picture in scripture of Jesus with Peter at Caesarea Philippi, where Peter proclaims that Jesus is the Son of God, Messiah to the world, and Jesus affirms him.

And then in the same scene, Peter’s opposed to the mission of God, therefore, the cross. And he says, get behind me, Satan. You’re like, Peter’s got to have whiplash. I just was affirmed and now I’ve been corrected.

And earlier I’d mentioned it comes with coaching the aha’s and the oh moments. And the Spirit is leading us into truth, meaning also revealing what is wrong in the world and what doesn’t look conformed in our lives to the Son of God.

Anything you want to talk about regarding that? How the Spirit is leading us into that kind of wisdom, the aha’s and the oh’s?

Terry: Yeah, so repentance has been something that has been a bit of a theme in my life. A great friend of mine and actually the founder, one of our founders, a co-founder of Forge America, Alan Hirsch has written just a wonderful, beautiful book on this idea of repentance, reorientation. And it’s called Metanoia. And so, the metanoia moment is that pivot moment, that pivotal moment of turning.

And in my own life, I had a dear friend, Paul Gokey. He’s now in the Houston area. We used to early in our church planting journeys, we’d commiserate with one another because planting a church — which Anthony, I know you’re a church planter and you’ve worked with lots of them — it sometimes can be a very daunting and hard task.

Anthony: Sure enough.

Terry: And we would commiserate, and we’d sit, have lunch, and talk. And I remember one afternoon, we were sitting there just chatting and Paul had said, hey part of my life, I seek to live with an ongoing posture of repentance.

And man, that was a seminary class, that was a seminary degree in a conversation. It changed so much for me, how I viewed God, and how I view my response to God. And as we got into it and dug into it, it wasn’t an ongoing posture of repentance that he was beating himself up or constantly in confession of every little thing he did, but it was a posture of repentance or a posture of reorienting himself around Jesus as king.

And Lord, and when I began the task, the challenging task of, can I live my everyday walking, breathing, sleeping life, attempting to orient my life, to make everything the focus of my life, put on everything I see, put on the lenses, the glasses, the sunglasses, the lenses to see Jesus as king? Could I begin to live that sort of life?

And as I began that, what I found was this idea where you walk with the Spirit, and this ability to acknowledge the areas of my life where the world has won over the Spirit, and how do I begin to surrender that piece of me, that God might invade that part of my being and fully make me whole as he intends me to be.

And that’s been a life-changing process. Do I do it perfectly? No. Do I struggle with it? Absolutely. But there is this sense of I’m going to give it the old college try. I just want when my feet hit the ground in the morning, I want to orient my mind: Jesus is King today, just as he was yesterday, and he will be tomorrow.

And so, what are the implications of Jesus is King and Lord of my life? What’s my implications for the next hour and trying to live life that way. And some might be listening to this and say, Oh my gosh, that sounds horrible. That sounds like a, such a burdensome way to live. And like you had mentioned earlier, it sounds like I’m giving up my life, but I have found so much joy and happiness and contentment in that very life that there is something freeing in knowing that in a moment’s notice, I can turn my attention to Jesus as king and say, “You are king and I am not. I give you my life, do with it as you see fit. Change me, form me, make me into the person you want me to be, Lord.”

And man, there is something so freeing in that because it’s not about me. It’s not about, Lord, what do you want me to do to change me? But it’s, Lord, you change me, you do it. I’m certain all he wants for me is to surrender. And so, when I can live a life of surrender of reorientation around him as king it’s been life changing. It has been the greatest sense of connectedness and intimacy with God that I’ve ever experienced.

It’s wonderful.

Anthony: Yeah, that’s so good. I had a similar experience where my friend and brother said that exact same thing, that repentance is ongoing in life. It’s not a one and done scenario at all. And you mentioned Alan’s book, Metanoia, this whole changing of my mind, which changes my action.

And I find for me, Terry, that’s where the rubber meets the road when it comes to repentance. Does what I say have congruence with what I do? And generally, when there’s a disconnect there, that’s where repentance has to be once again offered up like, “Lord!”

It’s like somebody might ask me, are you faithful? And this is where Karl Barth helped me; it’s a spectrum. To the extent that I’m faithful, I’m faithful. Help me in my unbelief Lord, right? That is ongoing repentance.

Small Group Discussion Questions

  • Do you ever feel reluctant to share your faith with others? Why or why not?
  • Do you find comfort in the fact that the Holy Spirit is described as our Advocate? Why or why not?
  • Can you think of a time when you believe the Holy Spirit spoke through you? What was it like? What was the result?

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