home > Pastor’s Desk > 2022 > February 4th > The Surprising Places Moments & People Where When & Who The Holy Spirit Suddenly Transforms

The road to where he was going was hot and dusty. His mind was racing over what he had just seen. Never in his life had he witnessed anything like it. He knew this road well. From a young age he had first travelled it going in the other direction when his father had enrolled him into the tutelage of Israel’s leading professor and an expert in Torah Law. He had been taught well. Which was why, as an adult, he was now travelling north from the Holy City to the capital of Syria to track down and imprison — and if necessary — execute the members of this growing band of infidels who were seeking to destroy his beloved religion and to defy the God he had dedicated himself to. But something was troubling him. He had just overseen the execution of one of these renegades in his usual manner. But never had he seen a condemned and bleeding man so in control of a situation; and, never had he seen a man who was surrounded by an angry mob look to so calm so peaceful so confident and so … forgiving. In his final seconds of life he uttered those words. It was those words that had set his mind racing as he travelled with his two companions, each of them on horseback, as they neared Damascus. And then it happened! Boom! Knocked off his horse at the force of it. Blinded by the intensity of the light. And the voice that silenced everything else that spoke simultaneously into his “dream ears” and his “awake ears”. From this booming moment his life was ever changed. Few believed it, least of all those in Damascus who dreaded his arrival. But it was real. And it was but the first of a series of dramatic transformations wrought by the ‘boom’ of the Holy Spirit. And this ‘holy boom’ continues to surprise, in surprising places, at surprising moments, and with the most surprising choice of people!  

And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
¶ And Saul approved of his execution.
¶ And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.
Acts 7:60-8:3

 

BEHIND THE BOOM

When Saul began his murderous rampage against the Christ-followers, some of these believers began to pray for Saul to be blessed and to come to know Christ as Saviour, as Jesus had commanded His followers to do (Matt. 5:44). I wonder how many Victorian Christians are praying now in a similar way for Premier Dan Andrews? I wonder how many Tasmanian believers pray like this for that person who annoys them? Behind the ‘boom’ that the Saul of Tarsus encountered was a band of unnamed believers who were praying for him.

¶ But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him.
Acts 9:1-3

We Christians have good reason for thinking that people’s conversion journey is often a step-by-step pathway leading to that divine appointment of new birth; but, we also need to recognise that the Holy Spirit can also ‘boom’ convert someone without this step-by-step process. This is evidenced by those people who once regarded God, spirituality, and especially Christianity, as nonsense or perhaps irrelevant, or maybe even something worse — then seemingly in a ‘boom moment’ of Holy Spirit transformation they are instantly converted to being passionate lovers of God, His Word, His people, and His Cause! Saul of Tarsus appears to be such an example but he is by no means the only one. This past week I heard two other similar testimonies of people who were suddenly converted to Christ. A few months ago I heard the remarkable testimony of Becket Cook who even used the word “boom” to describe his experience with the Holy Spirit when he was suddenly converted to Christ (I recommend subscribing to his Youtube channel).

And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.
But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”
The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one.
Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing.
So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
¶ Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias.
The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”
And the Lord said to him,
“Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.”
But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem.
And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.”
But the Lord said to him,
“Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”
So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight.
Then he rose and was baptized;  and taking food, he was strengthened.
¶ For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.”
Acts 9:4-20

  LET’S BE BEHIND ‘THE BOOM’

We can each be among the unnamed believers behind the Holy Spirit ‘booms’ that could take place right around Tasmania among those who currently give no thought to God, His Word, His Church, His Cause. As we pray and intercede on behalf of these hardened, indifferent, pre-believers, that Holy Spirit continues to do what He does often in a way that we cannot see. But when the boom takes place it was as Jesus told Nicodemus-

The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound,
but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.
So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
John 3:8

Your Pastor,

Andrew

Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.

5 Comments

  1. Blair

    I am of the opinion that one doesn’t just believe by reason, it’s always the work of the Holy Spirit that brings about conversion

    Reply
      • Vanessa Dunkley

        Thanks Andrew for this week’s encouraging Pastor’s desk. I loved your positive words of “pre-believer” rather than “non-believer”. I feel it definitely helps to think these words when praying for loved ones that over the decades seem no closer to saying “yes” to Jesus.

        Reply
    • Vanessa Dunkley

      Thanks Andrew for this week’s encouraging Pastor’s desk. I loved your positive words of “pre-believer” rather than “non-believer”. I feel it definitely helps to think these words when praying for loved ones that over the decades seem no closer to saying “yes” to Jesus.

      Reply
  2. LYDIA

    Becket Cook. I’d read it before some time back, so thank you for refreshing my memory Andrew. Throughout our lives I would imagine that we either know or get to know of young men and women who for what ever reason decide that they are not in their right body. It could even be closer to home where family members might be lesbians or homosexuals. What springs to mind here is that we love the person not the pathway they are on. It is also a fact that those who have gone to church, gone to Christian schools and know or knew their Bible have lost their way into this lifestyle. Off hand I know of three.
    But now we come to what it is that many of us see every single day, the transformation of how God intended it in Genesis, of man and woman. TV these days is rampart with the ‘new’ – nothing NEW under the sun – way to accept all gender and cross gender varieties which needs some medical intervention to change a physical body in some cases.
    Seriously each is born either male or female. Yet, it is how these dear little ones are brought up or what they are taught, or what they see or read or hear or experience. The text comes to mind Matthew 18:6…that if anyone were to hurt these little ones then it would be better for a millstone to be put around their neck. Jesus was not thrilled one bit to have little children hurt physically or spiritually.
    It seems today that the attack is out to destroy not only the family but also the family structure till it takes pathways that make no sense. All these poor lost souls who truly believe its OK to be ‘gay’ were once small babies, tiny little children who were formed, shaped, influenced, hurt or confused and over time believed the father of all lies.
    Like all conversions it takes the miracle of the Spirit to change a heart, any heart.
    Often I have used the analogy that, one little toe nail over the line is one little toe nail over the line. In other words every person sins and every person needs forgiveness in Christ.
    So we praise the Father and the Son and the Spirit. We pray for those who need prayer. I’m glad our church does this weekly! and very graciously, which should encourage us to follow suit. With that mighty work of the Spirit moving Becket Cook and I am sure countless others, He can do and He will do it! Nothing will stop Him!

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

AMAZING ACCESS

Anyone who has attended a large event such as the recent Will Graham Outreach event that was held at the Launceston Silverdome would be familiar with the varying levels of access that are provided to staff and volunteers associated with this type of event. The security system used included identification in the form of different coloured shirts, prayer volunteer cards, and all access cards that permitted access to the entire venue with no questions asked by security personnel. This is like the access level that God has to our lives. Being omnipresent, He has unhindered access to every aspect of our lives. He knows our innermost thoughts, sees all that we do, hears all that we say. God has the ultimate ‘all access’ card.

WHY FINDING TRUTH MATTERS

How can we determine whether a claim is true or false? Some people think there are different kinds of truth — my truth, their truth, and your truth. But how do they know that their assessment of truth is true? After all, their assessment – that there is my/their/your truth might just be based on their truth rather than the truth. Truth has certain qualities that distinguishes it from what is false-
 Truth corresponds to reality.
 Truth is verifiable (that is, if it is true, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is falsifiable (that is, if it is false, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is sometimes testable (that is, claims that are experiential can be tested by experience – including scientific claims, historic claims, and existential claims).
We have good reasons for the believing that the Bible is true because it is the divinely inspired, reliable and authoritative Word of God which has been superintendedly preserved by the Holy Spirit (read more about this).

THE 5 MOST IMPORTANT YEARS OF ANYONE’S LIFE

Parents, Kids Church leaders, and Christian school teachers should be intentional about shaping children to be fully devoted followers of Christ who have reasons for believing Christianity is true – which shapes them into virtuous contributors to society and to find their role in God’s Kingdom. This will be one of the necessary and indispensable means for the Church to fulfil the Great Commission of Christ.

TIME- YOU CAN’T CONTROL IT – BUT YOU CAN LEARN FROM IT

We live in a fast paced world. We expect things to happen quickly. None of us like to be kept waiting. Even when we order something online we expect it delivered straight away. Some of us having to work two or even three jobs just to be able to pay the bills. We describe ourselves as time-poor. Yet, we all get twenty-four-hours in a day. Sixty-minutes in an hour. And sixty-seconds in a minute. Most of us need to adjust how we see, understand, and treat our time. This will involve, what will be for some, adopting a foreign and largely unaccustomed view of time that involves worship, sabbath, and deepening relationships. From this biblical perspective we will come to see time as a gift from God, not a curse, or source of frustration. Within this gift of time God teaches us how to worship in those times when it is difficult to do so. Rather than thinking this divine gift of time is ours to do with what ever we want, God uses this gift to teach us that we should gift it back to Him beginning with (but not limited to) treating Sunday as a sabbath to come together to recommit our hearts, voices, minds, and presence with God’s people, back to God. God gives us passing time to learn to deepen relationships – especially with our kin, and our friends. Time is meant for relationship building. 

I AM WHO I AM BUT I AM NOT WHO I USED TO BE BUT I AM NOT YET WHO I WILL BE

One of the greatest lies that the would-be enemy of all our souls attempts to perpetuate is that we are what we are and we can never change. This lie is whispered into the ears of many people’s invisible ears so imperceptibly that they actually think it originated with them. “You were born this way – and you can never change”, “This is who you really are – and you can never change”, “There’s no hope of anything ever changing for better – so you might as well just kill yourself” and so on. But these sly alien voices inside the heads of the vulnerable are lies. People can change. People do change. Some circumstances were always going to be temporary and were always going to change. I know this is true because I am living proof. I am who I am but I am not who I used to be and I am not yet who I will be.

WHO DOES THIS EPHESIANS FELLA THINK HE IS?!

It may well still be the best-selling book of all time – and continues year-by-year to be so – but certainly is not the best-read of our current times! If there was ever any doubt about this, the events this week in Hobart, at St. Mary’s (Catholic) College Girl’s School, should remove all doubt! A furore erupted over the news that the prescribed Scripture reading for the year-end graduation celebration, which incorporated a Mass, was “Wives submit to your husbands” taken from Ephesians. Callers into ABC radio’s breakfast program decried this assault against women – especially young, vulnerable girls. One caller, responding to the news that the text being used was a citation from Ephesians, denounced Ephesians and apparently demanded, “Just who does this Ephesians bloke think he is?!” Another caller stated, “Why are they quoting ancient Roman philosophers in the twenty-first century?!” And yet another caller somehow linked all religious wars to passages like this one in the Bible! He remarked, “I’m an atheist. All wars are started by those who are religious! No war was ever started by atheists!” (Perhaps he had never heard of Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Vladimir Putin, who were collectively responsible for the deaths of over 20,000,000?) This furore led to the Archbishop conceding that the Ephesians passage did not have to be used at the graduation ceremony. But this furore has highlighted just how unaware many Tasmanians are about what the Bible is, what is actually says, and why it says it. And I am now about to correct this deficiency.  

THE LORD IS MY ROCK

Of the many tributes paid to her majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, was the often noted reflection that during her reign the world underwent a series of rapid changes that were dramatic and unprecedented in human history. There were technological inventions that revolutionised the way people could access international travel options enabling them to be virtually anywhere in the world within a matter of hours. New forms of communication emerged with the development of a global satellite communications network enabling people to watch Neil Armstrong take his one giant leap Live on their black-and-white TV screens (as I did in the corridors of Corio Primary School in 1969). Space exploration, the stuff previously just in the realm of science fiction writers, became a reality with manned and unmanned voyages to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. But the past one hundred years have also been a time of great upheaval with empires crumbling, governments toppled, wars waged, genocides committed, pandemics raging, nations birthed, rulers assassinated, and massive refugee movements from oppressive Islamic and Communist regimes. Added to this has been the demise of professional journalism and the rise of internet-citizen-journalism where it is now common for TV News reports to feature footage taken from someone’s cell-phone which was posted on social media rather than the more expensive option of sending their own film crew there. And while we’re mentioning the internet, let’s not forget to mention – the internet. This alone has possibly been the most monumental change in the way people communicate, work, learn, and shop. But while it was noted that the Queen had witnessed all of these many changes, it was also noted that the Queen herself was an unchanging constant during all these upheavals who brought about a sense of stability, peace and reassurance. To millions of people around the world, she was their rock in a world of turmoil and change. Yet this was only possible because she herself had an immovable, dependable rock upon which she had built her life.

WHO BUILDS A CITY ON A HILL?

home > Pastor's Desk > 2022 > October 7th > Who Builds A City On A HillFor those who don’t know, I was born in Geelong, and have always been fan of the Geelong Football Club. But I’m not just a fan, I’m a paid-up member of the Club. In fact, I’m a student...

5 INDISPENSABLE GUIDELINES FOR NEW PARENTS

This is not for everyone. If you are already a parent, this is not for you. Instead of reading this I suggest you read one of my other more abstract Pastor’s Desk articles. If you are not a parent and have no intention of ever being a parent, this is not for you. Instead of reading this I suggest you read one of my more weighty articles on FindingTruthMatters.org. If you are not yet a parent and one day hope to become a parent, this is for you. Find a quiet place, take the next six minutes thirteen seconds and use the reading of this article as an investment into your future parenting strategies. I did not invent these guidelines. Like many parents who have also discovered the value of these guidelines, once discovered, they seem obvious. These successful parents probably grew up with own parents who inculcated these guidelines almost intuitively. However, my suspicion is that this is becoming increasingly rarer. As with all true guidelines they are adaptable, flexible, and are not a guarantee of parental success — but if ignored they become the point in the mathematical problem solving where you can see you made an error in your working out. In other words, while these guidelines may not guarantee success, if ignored their neglect almost certainly leads to frustration and disappointment. Here are five indispensable guidelines for every prospective new parent.

WHAT WOULD IT TAKE FOR ATHEIST & MAGICIAN PENN JILLETTE TO BECOME A CHRISTIAN?

I’ve been praying for Penn Jillette for some time now. It began when I first heard him ridicule the Bible and Christianity. My fascination with Penn (and Teller), and other world-class magicians, has been due to my pursuit to develop my craft of preaching. There are a lot of similarities between preachers and magicians (just as there is also a lot similarities between solo musicians and preachers). I seek to learn from magicians about how to keep an audience’s attention, how to tell a story, and how to make a point by employing the element of surprise. But there are some significant differences between what magicians do and what preachers do though. A magician is deliberately deceptive. A preacher is striving to uphold truth in an honest way.