HOLY SPIRIT POWER

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

 “On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from Heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.”

In the Book of Acts Jesus’ promised a “Helper” to the apostles.   After His ascension they obediently waited and several days later the Holy Spirit came upon them on Pentecost.

What a powerful moment that must have been!

2,000 years later it can be hard for us to relate to an experience like this.  When was the last time you had a mighty wind storm blow the windows open in your house and tongues of fire settle over the top of your head that didn’t involve some major catastrophe?

We can look at these events in the Bible and feel like miracles like this just don’t happen today.  It’s easy to not see the Holy Spirit moving in the grind of our day-to-day lives.  But He is moving.  He is moving just as much today as He did back then.

The best way I can illustrate this is through a testimony of what recently happened in my family.  I sincerely pray this testimony is communicated and received in a way you can see how the Holy Spirit moves and the power and swiftness in which He moves.

The story starts on November 22, 1948.  That is the date my mother was born.  My mom was born into an extremely dysfunctional family that was verbally, mentally and physically abusive.  She led a pretty tough life and as such she became extremely hardened.  She lashed out, could be down right mean at times, and spent much of her life hurting those closest to her because of how she was hurt.

In her search for answers as to why her life was the way it was and an attempt to figure out what the future had in store for her she dabbled in mysticism at some point. I can remember her visiting tarot card readers, palm readers, fortunetellers and I know we had an ouija board in the house at one time.  As a child this was both intriguing and frightening.  As an adult Christian I now see how that led to further damage her and our family.

Recently through a series of accidents where my mom fell and suffered significant injuries it was discovered she has a brain disorder called Progressive Supranuclear Palsy.

“Huh?!” Yea, that’s what we said when the doctors told us.

Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP) is an uncommon brain disorder that affects movement, control of walking and balance, speech, swallowing, vision, mood and behavior, and thinking. The disease results from damage to nerve cells in the brain.  The disorder is much like Parkinson’s and because it is so rare can be misdiagnosed as Parkinson’s.

Since my mom’s diagnosis and subsequent decline in health, my sister and I both have become more and more concerned about her salvation. Not to say we weren’t concerned before, but when you are hit with something like this eternity all of a sudden doesn’t look so far away.

We have talked and prayed many times on how to approach our mom about her faith.  We never landed on when or how, but desperately wanted to have the conversation with her. While we didn’t know when or how, the Holy Spirit did and he revealed His plan on Mother’s Day.

Though I didn’t see it fully until now, the Holy Spirit put His plan in motion 2 weeks prior to Mother’s Day while I was on a Men’s Retreat.  On the retreat we developed a Life Plan.  The plan called for you to set up “accounts”, things you want to accomplish.  I had several accounts set up in my plan.  My wife, children, finances, career were just a few.  On the second day of the retreat as I was tightening up the plan, a good friend approached me at a time that was supposed to be a time of silence, reflection and writing.  He asked if he could sit next to me and talk.  I said “sure” and he shared with me that one of his life accounts was his mother and his vision for her salvation.

As he spoke, I looked down at my plan and realized there was a major omission in it. My mom wasn’t one of my life accounts! How could I leave her out after the many thoughts and prayers I had about her salvation?!  There was no time to try and figure out why; there was only time to fix the mistake.  I quickly added her and while my plan allowed 4 years to reach my other goals, I gave myself one year for my mom.

The next move the Holy Spirit made was to put it on my sister’s heart to come in for Mother’s Day.  This was huge.  She is a wife and mother and coming down would mean traveling alone and giving up her Mother’s Day to be with her son and husband. Being the obedient Woman of God she is, she of course made plans to come down.

The Friday prior to Mother’s Day at our lunch Bible study at work my prayer request was that the Holy Spirit would open up and opportunity for my sister and I to talk to my mom about her salvation, that He would give us the words and my mom would receive what was said.  During the prayer, the prayer leader prayed for “A moment of sanity” during the weekend.

A moment of sanity… This was a very interesting word to me considering my mom’s life and current medical disorder.

I should mention the prayer leader new nothing of my mom’s past and very little of her medical condition.  For him to pray for “sanity” was most definitely inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Mother’s Day weekend arrived and as planned my sister came down.  As she always does she had a full weekend’s agenda planned out to make the days special for our mom.  She so unselfishly gave of herself and her time.  On Saturday she took our mom out to shop, talk and spend lots of quality time together.  On Mother’s Day we took her to church and to a very nice brunch on the lakefront.

At the time I didn’t think there was anyway the weekend could be better and then the Holy Spirit took over to complete the work He started.

After we finished eating, I went to get the truck while everyone else took a stroll on the lakefront.  It was extremely hot, so my wife and I took my mom and our little boy and headed home. My sister and one of our daughters decided to hang out on the lakefront a little longer to enjoy the scenery and some good conversation.

As I was driving back to the house, the Holy Spirit spoke very clearly to me.  He said, “When you get home, you will have the moment you have been praying for.”  I was so overwhelmed that I couldn’t tell you what else was said on the ride home.

We get in the house, all sit down in the living room and there is dead silence.  I remember thinking, “this is it”.  We started talking casually about the church service and what the pastor said.  I asked my mom if she understood.  As she answers most questions these days, she said “Yea”. That went on for a bit and then I shared how I once doubted if I was going to Heaven and how now I’m certain I’m going to Heaven and why I am so certain.

I was speaking scripturally to her about the saving grace of Jesus Christ and how we are save by grace through our Faith in Him. My wife then began taking everything I was saying scripturally and giving my mom a very simple, practical life application to the scriptures.  It was so easy, peaceful and beautiful!

After some time talking, I realized it was time – time to ask the most important question.

I said, “Mom, if you died today, do you know that you are going to Heaven?”

The silence was deafening.  It seemed like an eternity.  She didn’t say a word but continued to look up.

I then asked, “Mom, what are you thinking about?”

She replied, “I’m thinking about Philip.”

Philip is my step-dad who has lung cancer and is also my mom’s caregiver.  I have to admit while I am concerned for Philip’s health and pray for him everyday, at that moment I wondered why she was thinking about Philip.

To be completely transparent I wanted to say, “Stay with me!  Don’t go sideways on me here!  We’ll get to Philip but right now is about you!”

Of course I didn’t say that and gently asked, “Why are you thinking about Philip?”

She softly and insightfully said, “Well, I’m thinking I need to ask him this same question.”

WAIT WHAT?! THAT WAS IT!  THAT WAS THE MOMENT OF SANITY!

If my mom with a brain disorder that affects thinking, understood the depth, magnitude and eternal impact of the question being asked of her, unselfishly thought of someone else in that moment, meant the Holy Spirit was very powerfully working in the room, in my wife, in me and in my mom!

Whew!

That was powerful but our job wasn’t finished yet.  After talking about Philip for a moment I asked her again…

“Mom, if you die today do you know you are going to Heaven?”

She answered, “I’m not sure.  I think I might have done enough good things to get there but I really don’t know.”

I said, “Well mom, we want you to know.”

My wife then explained to her it wasn’t her deeds that would get to Heaven but only by the blood of Jesus would she get there.

We then asked her if we could pray with her for her salvation.  She agreed so we all joined hands, including our little boy to pray. I started off the prayer, praying over her and the moment.  When I got to the salvation prayer I sort of got stuck.  I only know the prayer we pray in church and struggled to remember it.  I asked my mom to stay with me and then I heard a sweet voice gently say, “Tony, I got it”.

The voice was that of my bride.  She began to lead my mom in the most beautiful salvation prayer you ever heard. When they were done, I closed us out and we were all smiles, hugged and took in the moment.

Just then my sister and our daughter made it back from the lakefront.  I told my sister what happened and she was overwhelmed with joy.  I also told her I felt terrible she wasn’t there.  She told me not to feel that way because this was the way it was supposed to happen.  She felt if we were all there it would have been too many people and too much talking. She said it happened just the way the Holy Spirit planned it.

So that was the lead up and the actual event.  Let me take a quick minute to give you some of the behind the scenes.

I found out after this all went down, that my sister had been praying from the moment she got in town through the brunch for me and she felt very overwhelmed.  It wasn’t until she was on the Lakefront with our daughter that she finally had a peace come over her.

There were a few things going on in the background while we were back home talking to my mom that are also worth mentioning.  First our son was there with us.  He is 7 years old and he is your very typical, active 7-year-old boy that always needs to be the center of attention in the room.  During the entire time he was very well behaved, sitting quietly and listening.  Next, we have a dog that barks at the wind and every shadow she sees out the front door. It was the same with her, quiet and lying down.  My wife said it was the most peace she has ever felt in our home.

Someone asked me a few days later if I had any doubt my mom would want to receive Christ or tell me she didn’t want to have the conversation.  I honestly can tell you in that moment there was not one iota of doubt she would do anything but pray the prayer and receive salvation. If you know me, you know I doubt a lot of things at times.  In that moment, the Holy Spirit removed all doubt and all fear.

From the moment my friend spoke to me at the retreat about his mom, to my sister deciding to come in for Mother’s Day weekend, to my friend at work praying for sanity, to my sister feeling the overwhelming need to pray, to me hearing the Holy Spirit’s call, to my son being so quiet and obedient and the dog being settled, to my wife and I working so well as a team in talking to and praying with my mom was evidence the Holy Spirit was working to move in a very mighty way.

There is one more soul going to Heaven and one less going to hell because of the Holy Spirit. That my friends, is Holy Spirit Power!

It’s important to know we can experience the Holy Spirit’s power anytime in our lives just as the apostles did.  We simply need to pray daily inviting the Holy Spirit to move in our lives, be open to receive His call and then we need to act on His call.  It’s honestly really that simple.

Be blessed my friends!

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