A first time for everything …

Susan and I have lived in our home for five years. This is the first time we have seen three deer behind our home, and it’s raining. One is running away and two are following. The superscription of Psalm 22 reads, “Set to the deer of the dawn.”

Holy Spirit manuscript finished.

Today I finished the manuscript tentatively titled “The Holy Spirit: An Apostolic Perspective on Pneumatology.”

It is 275 pages long, with 228 endnotes and forty-three chapters. It was my intention to address every verse in the Bible that mentions the Spirit, and I hope I’ve accomplished that goal.

I’ve been working on this project since just after the 2018 general conference of the United Pentecostal Church International, and I hope it will be published before this year’s general conference.

I intend, now, to turn my attention back to writing the second volume of my work on Psalms, but I don’t plan to start tonight!

I suppose the short books (about 100 pages) that I’m thinking about writing will have to come along later.

No More Questions.

I am scheduled to teach the adult Bible class at The Sanctuary UPC in Hazelwood, MO for next Sunday’s Easter lesson. The study guide I plan to distribute is posted below. I will also post the PowerPoint presentation, which is keyed by number to the study guide. In addition, I plan to post the video of the lesson next week.


As Peter explained the phenomenon of baptism with the Holy Spirit to the curious onlookers on the Day of Pentecost, he connected the risen Christ to this experience by means of Psalm 110:1, the Old Testament’s most frequently quoted verse in the New Testament: “This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” ‘ Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:32-36).

Since Peter declared the pouring out of the Holy Spirit by Jesus to be a fulfillment of Psalm 110:1, we should examine the psalm carefully. The Christology of Psalm 110 is so significant that there are direct quotes and allusions to it in at least twenty-two chapters of the New Testament.  The influence of Psalm 110 is felt in at least eleven of the twenty-seven books in the New Testament.

[2] It was widely understood in the Jewish community that the Messiah would be the Son of David. But Jesus’ use of Psalm 110:1 confounded the unbelieving Pharisees. The question is profound: How could the Messiah be both David’s Son and David’s Lord?

[3] [4] In Psalm 110:1-4, the Lord (Yahweh) speaks to David’s Lord (Adoni). This is not an account of a conversation between persons in the Godhead during the time before the coming of the Messiah. David was a prophet. (See Acts 2:30.) As a prophet, he foretold the future. (See Acts 2:31.) David foretold the conversation recorded in Psalm 110, but it occurred in conjunction with the ascension of Christ, not before the Incarnation. (See Acts 2:33-36.)

[5] The statement “sit at My right hand” does not refer to a specific geographical location. The right hand of the Lord is a figure of speech referring to His power and authority. In conjunction with His ascension, the Messiah has been exalted to the position of ultimate power and authority. (See Philippians 2:9-11.) As F. F. Bruce points out in a discussion of the phrase “the right hand of the Majesty on high” in Hebrews 1:3, “That no literal location is intended was as well understood by Christians in the apostolic age as it is by us: they knew that God has no physical right hand or material throne where the ascended Christ sits beside Him; to them the language denoted the exaltation and supremacy of Christ as it does to us.”

[6] The Messiah will sit in exaltation and supremacy until all His enemies have been subdued. The idea of His enemies being made His footstool “is an ancient Near Eastern metaphor for absolute control” (VanGemeren). 

[7] [8] [9] [10] Peter’s recorded Pentecost sermon consists of twenty-three verses, leading up to the question, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). Of these verses, nine are made up exclusively of quotations from the Old Testament; two include introductory statements followed by quotations from the Old Testament; and one is given completely to identifying the Hebrew prophet who will be quoted in the following verse. Six verses explain these quotations.

Without these quotations, Peter’s sermon would have been very short. Would that have resulted in the cry, “What shall we do?” We will leave that question to God. But there is no question Peter’s powerful preaching from the Hebrew Scriptures was useful in bringing conviction on his hearers and giving him the opportunity to proclaim his message of repentance, baptism in the name of Jesus Christ, and the promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit.

[11] [12] [13] Peter saved one quotation from the Old Testament, Psalm 110:1, for the last: “The Lord said to my Lord, sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” Then, Peter said, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

[14] [15] [16] (Colossians 2:11-14.) [17] (Colossians 3:1-4.)

[18] (The Resurrection … Your Hope)

[19] (Here’s the Answer to Jesus’ Question)

[20] (David’s Son is fully human. The virgin Mary was a descendant of David.)

[21] (David’s Son is fully God. The virgin Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit.)

[22] (And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh [I Timothy 3:16].)

[23] (It’s a mystery, because it’s a miracle. Receive it by faith.)

[archive]

From the Day of Pentecost Onward

I have just finished chapter twenty-two of my manuscript tentatively titled The Holy Spirit: An Apostolic Perspective on Pneumatology, and I’m beginning chapter twenty-three, “From the Day of Pentecost Onward.” This has been a learning experience, and the end is not yet. So far, the project is at 162 pages. It will probably finish with at least 200, but probably more. I’m aiming for the April 30 deadline to have the possibility for Fall 2019 production.[archive]

A chapter finished, another to begin.

Today I finished writing chapter 21 in my upcoming book tentatively titled The Holy Spirit: An Apostolic Perspective on Pneumatology. The chapter is titled “The Holy Spirit in the Life and Ministry of Jesus” and it consists of about 40 pages. Tomorrow, I plan to begin the next chapter, titled “The Holy Spirit in the Lives of People before the Day of Pentecost.” As we begin to draw toward completion, I plan to address the work of the Spirit in the lives of believers after Pentecost, including the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit. It is my intention to include in some way every reference to the Spirit in the New Testament, as I have done with the Old Testament.[archive]

An important component of writing.

A cup of tea and a little bowl of nuts. These are important components of writing, staving off drowsiness. I’m up to page 141 in my upcoming book The Holy Spirit: An Apostolic Perspective on Pneumatology. My deadline is April 30 for Fall 2019 publication.[archive]

An arm lost . . . a dream fulfilled.

As I looked through old college yearbooks recently, I found an article I wrote about a quarter of a century ago, then forgot. I read it to my wife, Susan, and she suggested that I share it with you. It is a true story.


In 1925, a boy was born in Pennsylvania who was destined to make history in major league baseball. Now, I’m not much of a sports fan, and I couldn’t tell you the batting average of anybody at anytime during the history of baseball. But when I learned the story of Pete Gray, I’ll have to admit I was inspired.

When he was a little boy, Pete had a tragic accident. In a fall from a truck, he lost his right arm. But what Pete, who was right handed, didn’t lose was his burning desire to play professional baseball and specifically, to play where Babe Ruth had played, in Yankee Stadium.

Although Pete could hardly hang on to a ball when it hit his glove, and he rarely connected as he swung the bat with his left hand, he kept trying. He was always the last one to be chosen among the young boys playing sandlot baseball.

But Pete persevered, developing a technique to catch the ball, roll it across his chest, and grasp the glove under the stump that remained of his right arm, releasing the ball from the glove so he could grab it with his left hand.

He practiced batting diligently, swinging repeatedly at a ball dangling from a tree limb by a string.

The day came when Pete had developed such skill that he began to be chosen early as boys teamed up for a ball game. He went on the play in high school. Pete was so valuable on the school team that he won the right to try out for the Memphis Chicks, the main farm team for the old St. Louis Browns.

When he arrived in Memphis, Pete was mocked by the other players trying out for semi-pro ball. But in spite of their ridicule, he was selected to play left field and eventually won the Most Valuable Player award.

One day a scout for the Browns, the reigning National League Champions, spotted Pete and signed him to play major league baseball. The day came when Pete Gray, a one armed man, saved the pennant for the St. Louis Browns by making an incredible leaping catch for the last out in the last inning. The game was against the New York Yankees, and it was played in Yankee Stadium, Babe Ruth’s home field.

Today, Pete Gray’s glove is displayed in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

You can battle your way through adversity. You can compensate for skills or talents you don’t have. The important issue is determination.

To your self-control, add perseverance (II Peter 1:6).[archive]


Here is a clip from Pete Gray’s days with the St. Louis Browns.

Goodbye, Howdershell. Hello, Wentzville.

Yesterday, at the invitation of Dr. David Norris, I had the privilege to teach a three hour Pneumatology class at Urshan Graduate School of Theology. The subject was the gifts of the Spirit. I realized this may be the last time I am ever on the Urshan campus before the move to the new campus in Wentzville, Missouri, this fall.

Although I retired from full time employment with UGST on July 1, 2018, it was with a mutual agreement with the school administration that, if there were a need to do so, the school could invite me to return to teach from time to time. Earlier this week, I accepted an invitation to teach a course on the Book of Psalms for this upcoming fall semester at the beautiful new forty three acre campus  in Wentzville.

I am pleased to have had the opportunity to teach during the final semester on the campus that long served Gateway College of Evangelism and, more recently, Urshan College and Urshan Graduate School of Theology. In addition, I am thankful for the privilege of teaching during the first semester on the new campus of the Urshan system.

It is possible to take classes from UGST as a guest or to audit classes. A person who wishes to explore the Book of Psalms with me next semester, but who is not enrolled as a student, could go to the website [www.ugst.edu], click “Admissions” on the menu bar, then click “Apply for admission,” “Apply as a guest or audit,” and then complete the form to obtain full information.

My history with the Howdershell, Florissant campus goes back quite a few years. Actually, I was on the original campus of Gateway College of Evangelism before the school moved to Howdershell. This was sometime during 1968 – 1970, when I served as Director of Promotions and Publications for the General Sunday School Division of the United Pentecostal Church, Inc., under the direction of  J. O. Wallace, the director of the division. I was on campus with the mission of developing some promotional material for the annual North American Sunday school attendance drive.

The school quickly outgrew the first campus and in 1971 moved to 700 Howdershell Road in Florissant, Missouri. This beautiful campus of some twenty acres had previously served the St. Stanislaus Seminary, the oldest college campus west of the Mississippi River.

In 1974, President W. C. Parkey invited me to join the Gateway faculty, where I would teach courses in Christian education. I also taught the Media Evangelism course, which published a tabloid sized newspaper for purposes of evangelism. The paper was called “The Good Word,” and the press run eventually reached 100,000.

Late in 1974, I think it was in November, I received a phone call from W. I. Black, the district superintendent of the Missouri district of the UPC. He asked if I were interested in pastoring. His call resulted in my seven and one-half year pastorate of the First Pentecostal Church in Dupo, Illinois. As a result, I taught for only one full semester at Gateway.

That was not the end of my involvement with the school, however. In the early 1980s, I worked with Gateway to develop a continuing education program. The purpose was to provide an opportunty for those who had some college but who had never completed a degree to do so by taking concentrated classes on campus and developing portfolios of their previous educational experiences. Several people graduated from this program.

In 1982, I moved my family from Illinois to California, where I was involved in administration and teaching until 2007 at Christian Life College. But even during this time, I was able to return to the Howdershell campus from time to time as an adjunct professor for Urshan Graduate School of Theology, located on the same campus as Gateway. As I recall, the first class I taught for UGST was a week long course in January 2001, the first year of the seminary’s operation.

My work as an adjunct continued until 2007, when Judy and I returned, with my mother, from California back to the St. Louis area, where I planned to serve as a part time faculty member at UGST in what I termed “semi-retirement.” This description of my work didn’t last long. Soon, I found myself serving as the academic dean in addition to teaching. Then, in addition to these responsibilities, I moved into a new office and also functioned as dean of administration.

So, I have quite a long and storied past relationship with Howdershell. I will always have fond memories of students and faculty and administrative friends. But it’s time to move on. The schools now occupying the campus – Urshan College and Urshan Graduate School of Theology – have outgrown the campus. I can honestly say I was there in the early days, and I am happy to still be around in some capacity in these days.

Goodbye, Howdershell. Hello, Wentzville.[archive]