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

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PENTECOSTALISM, THE TWO SIDES OF REVIVAL

home > Pastor's Desk > 2024 >June 21st > PENTECOSTALISM, THE SIDES OF REVIVAL Pentecostalism began with a move of God - a revival. This happened on a Jewish Festival called the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1). This was when the Holy Spirit was given and poured...

MY BIGGEST BURDENS

A burden is something that weighs on you. You could be burdened emotionally because a relationship that is weighing on you. You could be burdened psychologically because of the weight of a looming deadline. You could be burdened spiritually because of the weight of guilt you are carrying. You could be burdened physically because of your weight and depleted strength. We all carry burdens. There are seasons in our lives where some burdens a big and you do not feel that you will be able to bear up under the enormous pressure you are under. Those seasons will pass. For those in leadership there is the constant burden of the weight of responsibility that must be carried. (Have you ever noticed what this kind burden bearing does physically to a President or Prime Minister over their term in office?) In the Bible we read that GOD actually gives people burdens so that they become stronger, wealthier, happier, and more productive. These types of burdens always involve caring for others. (Have you ever considered why Jesus was sweating great drops of blood as He was praying just before He went to the Cross via His hours of humiliating pummelling, beating, scourging, hair-pulling, and mockery?) I want to share you with you why I am now carrying an enormous burden that I would consider that biggest burden I have ever had to carry. I do so in the hope that this might help you to bear your burdens with greatest expertise and joy. Yes, joy.

HOW TO DEVELOP YOUR RELATIONSHIP SKILLS

This year we have been laying a foundation for knowing God and then each Sunday building upon it. Throughout June we are focusing on how knowing God enables us to find our joy in Him and consequently to discover that He enables us to find joy in our relationships with others. But sadly, for many people who have vowed to love, serve, and follow Jesus, this has not always been easy to do. This is why the current sub-theme of humility is critically important if someone desires to truly experience joy in each of their various relationships with others. 

KNOWING GOD

In the past few months, we have been hearing in Church and also by reading the Pastor’s Desks that through the Psalms and by the Fruit of the Holy Spirit, we can know God more. The Psalms show God as our Shepherd, God’s character is unchanging, we can be still and know Him, and that He is poetic. The Fruit of the Spirit reminds us that God is faithful, gentle and kind, and that we need to stay close to Him in the same way a baby gets nutrients from its mother through the umbilical cord. Knowing these things, we can become more like God as He helps us outwork His character in our lives. Philippians 3:10 challenged me in this regard some time ago.

RULES RULES AND MORE RULES

What comes to mind when you hear the word Rules? For some, it is a welcome relief to all the chaos surrounding us. Rules can provide comfort, safety, stability, predictability and protection. But for many others, as soon as you hear the word rules, it causes you to sigh loudly, followed by the instant urge to do the opposite. It can cause an immense sense of frustration along with that feeling of being boxed or caged in. Then some rules are plain silly as they make no sense, or there appears to be no apparent reason for why the rule/s exists in the first place. 

The Vine and the Umbilical Cord: Life, Abiding and Bearing FruitThe Vine and the Umbilical Cord: Life, Abiding and Bearing Fruit

Jesus’ allegory in John 15:1-17 of the vine and the branches provides a beautiful picture of the intimate and living relationship available to those who would abide in Him, the true Vine; and it illustrates how naturally the Holy Spirit is able to produce fruit in the lives of those who are willing to be branches abiding in the vine.

Knowing God Through The Fruit Of The Spirit

I’m sure you can picture an occasion where food delicacies are served and someone is there who has lost all sense of decorum to the point of being rude to get to the food before others and is unable or unwilling to engage in any level of conversation for the sake of finding the choicest of foods. Maybe that was you or me on occasions. Or an All You Can Eat challenge restaurant. It is a picture of complete lack of self-restraint (especially if Homer Simpson is involved). Whilst we are away, I am looking forward to visiting a town (Kenilworth) with a bakery tourist attraction that sells 1kg doughnuts. I’m not sure what will happen there, but I can imagine many have risen to a challenge.

WHAT CHARMING BETRAYERS DESERVE ACCORDING TO THE PSALM OF KING DAVID, NUMBER 55

Australia is now grappling with a national crisis — the violent abuse of women by men. Every four days in Australia a woman is being murdered [Source]. The sad probability is that she was murdered by “a current or former intimate partner” [Source]. But added to this alarming statistic is the even greater and more horrifying statistic of number of women who are experiencing abuse – physical; sexual; verbal; financial; psychological – daily. In fact, it is so prevalent that most people working in this arena know that most domestic abuse incidents in Australia are not reported. Abuse is oppression. And since the Bible is so clear and consistent in its condemnation of oppression of the vulnerable you would naturally assume that this national crisis was being thundered and denounced as a great evil from the majority of pulpits around our country at the moment. This assumption is further reinforced by the guesstimate that one-in-four women in every Australian church is regularly abused in some way by a man. But I suspect that it is not.

KNOWING GOD THROUGH PSALM 23

My cat, Lola, had a beautiful, fluffy, soft coat. I had her for 13 years so I knew her very well. She loved a cuddle and snuggling at night sleeping in the crook of my arm. She loved me but with others she could be a rascal, hissing or swiping her claws. She never scoffed her food but was a grazer. It was common to hear her crunching her biscuits for a midnight snack and she loved ice cream. She loved hiding in cardboard boxes or in the pantry. She particularly hated the car evidenced by her continual mournful meowing til she got out. As I knew her, she also knew me. She knew I would feed her and give her pats or cuddles. When I called her she knew my soft voice, my touch, my smell. She knew my growly voice when she had done the wrong thing. When I’d take her to the vet she would be still in my arms as the vet examined her and vaccinated her. If she was injured or sick I would look after her.

KNOWING GOD THROUGH PSALM 22

The Bible is an amazing book. As we look through the book of Psalms we can so unbelievably clearly see God at work. And also most poignantly, this Psalm – Psalm 22 – prophetically points to, and closely mirrors Jesus and the events of the cross mentioned in the New Testament. This Psalm is well over 1000 years prior to Jesus.There are some well known passages of Scripture that stand out as being prophetic promises of the Messiah. These prophetic words show us that God is Omniscient; He knows everything. The first Messianic prophecy shows that the seed of the woman would eventually defeat the devil.