Acts: the Gospel of the Holy Spirit (Part 2)

Watch the latest video from McGuiggan Reflections.
For the next few months, we will be exploring the book of Acts in a series titled Acts: The Gospel of the Holy Spirit. We hope you enjoy and can benefit greatly from this study. To contact Jim, feel free to email him at or visit his website at
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Can’t See The Wicker Gate?

For now we live in creaturely weakness and all the limits that go with that as we move toward old age and death.
When we’re young we feel immortal (though we don’t think of such matters)–that’s a good thing. The young should be allowed to be young. But as we age the world gets to be less and less a playground, the challenges we face and the decisions we must make have greater consequences and require more wisdom. If we’re fortunate we recognize our limits and if there are many options and each of them with pros and cons we become uncertain. Which? Where? How? When? What if? Ten thousand voices are whispering or shouting and confusion and uncertainty get married.

Life is too complex for any woman or man (or group of men and women) to know all the answers to even personal living much less to be able to micromanage a family, a nation or a world.
John Bunyan in the last half of the 17th century wrote an allegorical novel called Pilgrim’s Progress. Bless me, did you know that book has never been out of print though it was written well over 300 years ago? Its style makes it harder for us to read (there have been some updating done). Whatever its limitations it hasn’t been translated into something like 200 languages and dialects for nothing.

In the opening he falls asleep in a cave and dreams. In it the dream he sees a raggedly dressed man with a book in his hand and a great burden on his back. The man reads from the book and becomes extremely agitated and cries out, “What shall I do?” He has learned of a great catastrophe that was coming on the city in which he lived and he wants to escape it but he doesn’t know how to do that. Later as he walks in the fields, still reading from the book and even more distressed the man meets one called The Evangelist who hears the man’s story of fear and the burden he carries and Evangelist urges him to flee from the catastrophe to come. The distraught man responds, “But where should I flee to?”
The Evangelist points and says, Do you see yon wicker gate?” The confused man peers in that direction but confesses he can’t see it. “Well, do you see that light shining?” The man says he thinks he can see that. “Then keep you eye on the light and go straight at it and you will come to the wicker gate. Knock on it and it will be opened for you and you will be told what you are to do.”
I don’t know how many streams feed my confusion and the uncertainty that comes with it. In relation to many questions in life and living and on a regular basis I have to admit “I can’t see the wicker gate.” Nevertheless, I’m certain there’s a steady light in the distance that I can see and I’m keeping my eyes on that.

[So grateful Holy One, that your Word is a steady light way ahead of us to which we can look for direction and a lamp for our feet that we can see the killing swamps. Stay near, we pray, for we are so easily confused and we desperately need your clarity and grace to walk with assurance. This prayer in the name of the Lord Jesus, the Light of the world.]

“Something in Common.”

When we come face to face with serious and sustained trouble it’s not easy to believe that countless lovely things are happening in life. Your beloved one dies and you half-wonder why there are still people enjoying one another’s company? Why are aren’t the clocks stopped, how come birds still fly? Why aren’t all the deer standing still and silent as though they too are stunned by your grief? Why is it that cars continue to rush by and why are children still laughing as though they can’t stop? Life goes on and rationally we know it makes sense but emotionally we want to scream for noise to cease. He left you for another woman or the wife you adored said she wanted to be free—she didn’t know why, had no explanation, but she’s now gone and there’s nothing you can do about it. Financial ruin, a son and suicide, a parent and relentless disease, a daughter, drug-addicted, pregnant, marrying the drug-addicted father.
One day this will happen; you’ll be faced with something you can do nothing about. You’re not wise enough, equipped enough or emotionally strong enough—not to face this! Not This. Other things, many of them, and you made it through somehow, but this—this is different. So you slip off to some isolated place, a hill outside of town maybe, and there you begin to sob your heart out. When you’ve wept and can weep no more you hear someone else sobbing and moaning; you can’t help it, you must check and there, just beyond where the hill twists, not far from you, you see Him. Eyes streaming, chest heaving, bowed head, between his hands, sobs getting louder as you get nearer. He’s in too much pain and you just can’t let Him be like that alone. You put your arm around Him and gently ask Him if He would like to tell you about it and He tells you the awful thing that is going to happen and that He can do nothing about it—absolutely nothing. Then with his face wet with tears, He asks, “You too?” You tell him your heartbreaking story while He listens intently. He then puts His arm around you and whispers, “You and I have a lot in common.” He asks your name and you tell Him, “My name is, ‘Every One’.” You ask Him His name and He says My name is, “Me Too.”
Luke 19:41-44; Matthew 6:36-38.

Acts: The Gospel of The Holy Spirit

Watch the latest video from McGuiggan Reflections.
For the next few months, we will be exploring the book of Acts in a series titled Acts: The Gospel of the Holy Spirit. We hope you enjoy and can benefit greatly from this study. To contact Jim, feel free to email him at or visit his website at
Watch on Youtube via IFTTT

A Worn Face & Kind Eyes

A.C. Benson, Cambridge academic, author and essayist died in 1925. In one of his letters he tells of another period of deep dissatisfaction and depression that began to tell on him. During those periods he said,

“I grow nervous and strained; I am often sleepless, or my sleep is filled by vivid, horrible, intolerable dreams. I wake early in the clutch of fear. I wrestle at times with intolerable irritability; social gatherings become unbearable; I have all sorts of unmanning sensations, dizziness, tremors; I have that dreadful sensation that my consciousness of things and people around me is slipping away from me, and that only by a strong effort can one retain one’s hold upon them. I fall into a sort of dull reverie, and come back to the real world with a shock of surprise and almost horror.

I went the other day to consult a great doctor about this. He reassured me; he laughed at my fears; he told me that it was a kind of neurasthenia, not fanciful but real; that my brain had been overworked, and was taking its revenge; that it was insufficiently nourished, and so forth. He knew who I was, and treated me with a respectful sympathy. I told him I had taken a prolonged holiday since my last book, and he replied that it had not been long enough. “You must take it easy,” he said. “Don’t do anything you don’t like.” I replied that the difficulty was to find anything I did like. He smiled at this, and said that I need not be afraid of breaking down; he sounded me, and said that I was perfectly strong. “Indeed,” he added, “you might go to a dozen doctors to be examined for an insurance policy, and you would be returned as absolutely robust.”

In the course of his investigations, he applied a test, quite casually and as if he were hardly interested, the point of which he thought (I suppose) that I should not divine. Unfortunately I knew it, and I need only say that it was a test for something very bad indeed. That was rather a horrible moment, when a grim thing out of the shadow slipped forward for a moment, and looked me in the face. But it was over in an instant, and he went on to other things. He ended by saying:

“Mr. ——, you are not as bad as you feel, or even as you think. Just take it quietly; don’t overdo it, but don’t be bored. You say that you can’t write to please yourself at present. Well, this experience is partly the cause, and partly the result of your condition. You have used one particular part of your brain too much, and you must give it time to recover. My impression is that you will get better very gradually, and I can only repeat that there is no sort of cause for anxiety. I can’t help you more than that, and I am saying exactly what I feel.”

(But the above is not what I really meant to share with you though it is not without value. I think what Benson went on to say is priceless—an education really, and something I think God would be pleased if we could take to heart. It reminds me of God who showed Himself in and as Jesus of Nazareth–see Mark 7:24 and maybe 5:30. jmcg) Benson continues:

“I looked at the worn face and kind eyes of the man whose whole life is spent in plumbing abysses of human suffering. What a terrible life, and yet what a noble one! He spoke as though he had no other case in the world to consider except my own; yet when I went back to the waiting-room to get my hat, and looked round on the anxious-looking crowd of patients waiting there, each with a secret burden, I felt how heavy a load he must be carrying.”


“You Could Show Him Your Hands.”

Like millions of other believers I’m big on doctrine! I’m big on truth. Arthur Holmes is right: all truth is God’s truth. It doesn’t matter if it’s truth about biology, botany, celestial mechanics or the brain capacity of a salamander.

Like millions of other believers I hold that the truth of and about God as it has come to its unending climax and fulfillment in the person and work of the Lord Jesus is what gives all the others truths their place and worth. So I’m for “getting it right” and that calls for commitment to and study of the biblical witness. But the Bible is not about itself; it’s about God who superintended the writing of it.

It’s a complex business—Bible study I mean—and that means we need wise men and women, gifted by God, to help us. It’s important that we get the non-negotiables right. It was right in the middle of a doctrinal presentation that Paul said, “Bad companions corrupt good morals.” So there’s a fundamental need to get a correct if not exhaustive grasp of the jugular elements of the Story of God. I get that! I see that! But I see this also—our commitment to Jesus-like behavior is part of the calling to which God calls people who will make up his NT elect (Ephesians 5:1-2) who will by their very existence, doctrine and adorning of that doctrine bear witness to God and His eternal purpose for, and His love of the human family.

I mentioned this in a little book of mine called Jesus: Hero of Thy Soul. Mary was barely more than a child when the parents split, the father vanished and the mother died. She was left to raise her brothers and sisters. When she should have been making daisy chains she was washing clothes, when she should have been pushing a swing she was scrubbing floors, when she was making food she should have been served food. She slept too little, ate too little, worried too much and died exhausted and guilt-ridden. Dear God, she was just a child. She was afraid to meet God because she was sure she hadn’t done enough to please him and didn’t know what she’d say to him when the time came to meet him. Can you credit that?

One of her little brothers who sat stroking her trembling hands said to her, “You could show him your hands.”

I don’t know what that boy’s entire theology was or what it became but he was on the right track with some aspects of the heart and mind of the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. I can’t abide a religion that dismisses all that with immediate warnings about “salvation by works.” Bless me, who doesn’t know that salvation is by the holy generosity of God as it was/is expressed in Jesus Christ?

Listen to Mary’s little brother and hear the voice of the Lord Jesus in it and think of Acts 10:38-39

(Holy Father, bless the burdened children. This prayer in your Son’s name.)