A Tribute to My Dad

This coming Sunday is Father’s Day here in the United States. Father’s Day is always celebrated the third Sunday of June. It is a day in which we give honor to the dad or dads that raised us. Today I would like to tell you about my dad and invite you to purchase a copy of my new book on our new bookstore website.

 

Fourteen years ago today something very special and odd happened to me. While I was picking out a Father’s Day card in a card store with my wife Susan, the manifest Presence of the Holy Spirit overwhelmed me. Standing there in His Presence, He spoke to me. I have heard Him speak to me several times, but I have seldom heard His voice that clear. In fact, His words were so clear, I immediately turned away from the card stand. Hot tears filled my eyes as I turned and walked directly outside.

 

ScannedImage Dad, Mom and We Boys in Our Sunday Best!

 

What did the Holy Spirit say that day? He said, “This will be the last year you will buy a Father’s Day card for your dad. Choose wisely.” Over the years I have forgotten the name of the store and its address. I will never forget that day. I first hoped I was imagining things. That is why I walked out of the store. I wanted to make sure I had heard correctly. A minute later my wife Susan, who had followed me out, asked me what I was doing walking out of the store without giving her even as much as an explanation. When I shared what I had heard with her, she asked, “are you sure?” Yes, I said. I wish I wasn’t. But, I was sure.

 

Fifty-one weeks to that day later I conducted dad’s funeral. And, like I shared at his funeral, I want you to know that my dad was a good man and a godly man. He was married to my mother for forty-eight years. With mom, he raised three boys and spent most of his life working in a bakery. For most of his life dad’s skin smelled of flour, of the shortening that he fried his donuts in and of fresh baked bread. He was up between one and three a.m. most mornings and asleep in his chair by eight most nights.

 

Wayne Stone was born during the Great Depression to tenant farmer parents who lived about forty-five miles south of Tulsa, Oklahoma. The youngest of six children, my dad’s early life was extremely difficult–to say the least. These were the days of the famed Dust Bowl. Dad’s father then had a stroke when dad was only five. Because of his father’s paralysis, the family had to leave the farm and move to another state where they could be near his mother’s family. Little work, food being in short supply, worn out hand-me-down clothes and the beginning of World War II created more stress than the little family could almost take. But these circumstances were used by the Holy Spirit to bring dad’s mom to the Lord Jesus Christ. And, when my grandmother, Mae Stone, was gloriously saved, she immediately led my dad and her other children to the same saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

ScannedImage-65 Dad and Mom in Later Years

 

Dad served the Lord Jesus every day of his life. To dad, Jesus was more than his Savior. Jesus was Lord. Dad loved his wife and family with all of his heart. An avid church goer, dad served as a deacon, softball coach for the church’s women’s softball team and substitute Sunday School teacher. One of dad’s finest moments came when he was voted “Father of the Year” at our home church in Nampa, Idaho. He loved being outdoors. He loved hunting, fishing and riding his motorcycle. But most of all, dad loved the Lord Jesus.

 

It has been thirteen years since dad went home to be with the Lord. I still miss him. I miss the funny way he looked when he wore his Bermuda shorts and cowboy boots (at the same time, no less). I miss his pudgy build and “bird legs.” I miss his whistling. I miss his kind words. I miss fishing with him on the middle fork of the Salmon River in late August and hearing about a new kind of bread he had learned to make. But more than anything, I miss listening to dad pray.

 

In the introduction of my new book, The Altar of His Presence, I write about dad and what it was about his praying that touched my life. As I said earlier, dad loved meeting with the Lord. In the church I grew up in my dad could be seen sometimes before, always after, and from time to time during a church service kneeling with his handkerchief out, tears flowing down his cheeks with his heart open to God. I heard Dad pray thousands of times at church, at home, before a meal in a restaurant and even before he died. His altar time was always filled first with thanksgiving and praise for the Lord and Savior he loved, honored, and adored. Within a minute or two from the start, Dad’s voice would break and tears would fill his eyes and begin spilling down his cheeks. Dad’s tears were seldom a result of sadness. Sadness held no place with Dad. His brokenness was a result of his having a contrite spirit.

 

ScannedImage-11 Dad and His Boys a Few Weeks Before His Death

 

Dad’s prayer time wasn’t filled with fear or remorse over some terrible secret sin that had infected his life. No, his brokenness came from spending time every day in the manifest Presence of the Holy Spirit. To begin, Dad would recall how his Savior’s love had changed his life, his mother’s healing of milk fever, and his gratefulness to the Lord for giving him his wife and sons. Decades after his salvation, Dad would consistently thank his Lord for bringing about the circumstances that brought his family to God. His thirst for more of the glory of God was born out of his desire to be filled to overflowing with the righteousness, peace, and joy that only the Spirit of the living God could bring.

 

It is no wonder that I identified the altar with being in God’s Presence. During our nightly prayer meetings I came to understand the need to be filled full of God’s grace and glory. It was with dad in the secret place of the Most High that I was first given experiential knowledge of the Holy Spirit.

 

So today I honor my dad, Wayne Stone. I honor him for the example he set before me. I ask you to honor him too. How? You can honor him by reading more of his story in my new book, The Altar of His Presence. You can purchase your copy today at our new website at: http://www.thealtarofhispresence.com.

 

If you choose to purchase eight books we will not only pay the shipping and handing, but we will include our new revised version of my book, Gifts from the Ascended Christ.

 

Take time to honor your dad this week. If he is still with us, take time to tell him how much you love him and thank God for him. If he has passed away, honor him by telling others about him. Again, don’t forget to visit our website by clicking on the book cover below or by going to: www.thealtarofhispresence.com today!

The_Altar_of_His_Presence_FINALFRONTCOVER

 

 

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Stay Committed to Excellence

The Apostle Paul believed in excellence to the point of admonishing the Philippians to only think  about “virtuous or excellent things” (Philippians 4:8). I have no doubt that Paul would agree that when it comes to our lives, we either choose the pain of self-discipline, which comes from a commitment to personal sacrifice and growth, or we choose the pain of regret, which usually comes by taking the easy road and refusing to fully embrace the opportunities given to us.  

 

Excellence is seldom attained without wholehearted commitment. Many in this day do not fully understand the difference between interest and commitment. (Remember the Yale graduate students I mentioned a few weeks ago?) If we are only interested in something, we give it our full attention only when and if it is convenient. Convenience is the enemy of excellence. Why? Because, when we are really committed to something, we accept no excuses from ourselves or from those who have chosen to be involved in our endeavors.

 

Commitment is the first step beyond convenience. It prepares and enables a person to become effective. Effectiveness can only be maintained through excellence.

 

Commitment is the first price that must be paid. Why?

  • Everything worth having costs something.
  • The better the desired result, the higher the price.
  • Commitment then is determined by the price we are willing to pay.

 

People who are committed to excellence are willing to pay the “high price” because:

  • They have dedicated themselves to stay optimistic and enthusiastic.
  • They refuse to settle for average or mediocre.
  • They pay attention to the details.
  • They work hard to perform with consistency.

 

Finally, those who make excellence a part of who they are:

  • Stay committed to the long haul.
  • Are willing to travel the road alone, if attaining their goal requires it.
  • Able to keep their eyes focused on the prize.

 

We conquer our past by focusing on our future. Therefore, stop thinking about your past and start focusing on the possibilities only found in your future. For God never consults your past to determine your future. Therefore, don’t let people hang around you if they not believe in your future. Always move toward people who are as committed to excellence and away from those who only are committed when it is convenient.

 

Philippians 3:13-15 says,  But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.

 

And Titus 3:8 says, “This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.”

Are You Thirsty, Yet?

David was a man known for being a man after the heart of the Lord. In fact, David’s own words declared just how focused he was on experiencing the Lord’s Presence and gaining special understanding of the Lord and His ways.

Psalm 86:11-12 says, “Teach me your way, Lordthat I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your Name. I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your Name forever.” And, Psalm 63:1-3 David prayed, “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory…your love is better than life.”

These words speak to many of us. From my youth I have spent much time reading, praying and praising in these two Psalms. Again and again my heart has been thirsty with spiritual desire. Like David, my soul has been painfully unsatisfied at times. My prayers continually describe how I eagerly I long for the Presence and Manifestation of the Holy Spirit.

I am convinced that there are many others like me. From the hundreds of people who continue to faithfully read this blog to the others that I hear talking in casual conversation, thousands of people are now convinced that neither religion, science, education or money will ever quench their thirsty soul.

Just as natural thirst can be the result of exertion, eating salty foods or going without water, the act of becoming spiritually thirsty can result from a personal crisis (like cancer), a financial crisis (like losing your job) or a crisis of faith (due to an educational or political experience).

True spiritual thirst should be the result of spiritual revelation. Like David, we must come to know that only the Holy Spirit’s Manifested Presence in our lives can fully refresh, support and strengthen the thirsty heart and soul. In fact, as I am writing this blog, I am reminded of an old hymn by Lanny Wolfe that said,

“The world may try to satisfy that longing in your soul.  You may search the wide world over, but you’ll be just as before.

You’ll never find true satisfaction until you’ve found the Lord, for only Jesus can satisfy your soul.
 
Only Jesus can satisfy your soul. Yes, only He can change your heart and make you whole.
He’ll give you peace you never knew, sweet joy and love and Heaven, too.
For only Jesus can satisfy your soul.”
Are you thirsty, yet?

Spiritual thirst calls for us to desire; to examine or explore; to seek earnestly; to diligently search for; to wish for;  to crave; to investigate; and to pursue the Lord and His Presence.

Being thirsty moves from wishing to acting. Thirst calls us to put action to our plans and intentions. Without thirst there is no motivation to move toward a higher level of faith and fulfillment. One doesn’t drift into discipleship and transformation of soul without choosing to do so.

Being thirsty to know the Lord must involve our whole heart, soul, mind and strength. Our relationship with the Lord must not be viewed with a lukewarm or hapless commitment. Effort must be consistently exerted. Progress can only be marked with total devotion, extreme fervor and passionate zeal.

When we are thirsty, we are internally motivated. We give, share our faith, enter fellowship, worship, pray, study, engage in world missions— not because someone is forcing to, or are manipulating us into, but because our thirst for the Lord Jesus Christ becomes our greatest desire. We then live to know, love and serve Him.

Are you thirsty, yet?

If this sounds like what is going on inside of you, I encourage you to pray these words…Dear Lord Jesus, how awesome and glorious is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! Your dwelling place is me! And yet, my heart and soul yearns, thirsts and even faints for more of you Lord. Lord, my heart and my flesh cry out for You. I ask you to fill me to the fullest degree. Move upon me by Your Holy Spirit. Flood and overflow me. Saturate me in my attitude, opinion, emotion, commitment, action and pursuit of You. Saturate and inebriate  me with Your Presence.

In Jesus’ Name. Amen!

Experience the Nearness of Jesus Today!

Kenneth Wuest said, “The Holy Spirit desires to produce the highest type of Christian experience in the life of the believer, and if the believer has the same interest, he will show it by maintaining an attitude of dependence upon and trust in the Holy Spirit to produce that life in him. It is our responsibility to ask that the Holy Spirit’s activity will continue and become more rich and effective in our lives and ministries.”

As one of His present tasks, the Holy Spirit takes that which is given to Him by the Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ and reveals the knowledge, wisdom, understanding, gifts, talents, abilities, etc. to believers (John 16:14-15). In other words, He reveals all the redemptive benefits of salvation in Christ which are mediated to us through the Spirit.12

But, the most important aspect that the Holy Spirit shares with us is the nearness of Jesus. (John 14:18).

The Spirit makes us aware of what I call “The Personal Presence of the Lord Jesus.” He makes known to our spirit all that is in the Lord Jesus Christ. This includes His love, help, blessing, forgiveness, healing and all that is ours through faith in His Name (see 2 Peter 1:1-4). Likewise, the Holy Spirit draws our hearts to seek the Lord in love, prayer and worship.13

Having fellowship with the Holy Spirit fills our hearts with joy, brings sensitivity to the ministry of intercession as well as to the prophetic and other dynamic gifts.

The fire of the Holy Spirit is forceful, yet warming. He leads us to believe, yet test all things; to hold on to what is good, yet to avoid every kind of evil.14 The Holy Spirit brings enhanced sensitivity to the sin or actions that would grieve Him as well as to a greater aspiration for justice and a greater mindfulness of the sin that besets us.

Paul encouraged the saints at Philippi to have unity of thought and feeling in Christ Jesus. Such unity included them being in tune with each other through their partnership with the Holy Spirit. He urged them to be one in spirit and purpose as like clocks adjusted to strike at the same moment.15

Paul’s use of the Greek word koinonia in his letter to the Philippians speaks to his revelation of the association, community, joint-participation and the share which believers have in their partnership with the Holy Spirit.

Thayer in his Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament says the word koinonia, “speaks of the fellowship that consists in the fact that Christians are partakers in common of the same mind as God and Christ, and of the blessings therefrom.”16

The Father, Son and Holy Spirit have all things in common. Our fellowship with Him makes us of like nature with His divine nature. (2 Peter 1:1-4)

To be in fellowship with (and a partaker of) His divine nature means to love holiness and hate sin which makes impossible a life lived in the darkness of sin. The thing possessed by both He and us is light. He is light and there is no darkness in Him. In the case of the believer, he lives in the sphere of the light which God is (1 John 1:7).17 Such fellowship with the Spirit creates a relationship that involves a common interest and a mutual, active participation in that interest by the Spirit and believers of like mind and spirit.18

The result of our fellowship and communion with the Holy Spirit is an interest and a mutual active participation in the things of God and the work of God in saving lost souls and bringing wholeness to every person who calls upon the Name of the Lord. It is that partnership between the Holy Spirit and the believer that creates a life of joy, peace and love.

The Holy Spirit also desires to produce the highest type of Christian experience in the life of the believer, and if the believer has the same interest, he will show it by maintaining an attitude of dependence upon and trust in the Holy Spirit to produce that life in him. It is our responsibility to ask that His activity will continue and become more rich and effective in our lives and ministries.19

G.D. Watson in his book, Living Words, said, “The Holy Spirit will put a strict watch over you, with a jealous love, and will rebuke you for little words and feelings, or for wasting your time, which other Christians never seem distressed over. But, when you are so possessed with the Living God that you are, in your secret heart, pleased and delighted over His peculiar, personal, private, jealous guardianship and management of the Holy Spirit over your life, you will have found the vestibule of heaven.”

I encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit to produce the most intimate, glorious and wonderful experience that you are able to endure. Ask Him to reveal the Lord Jesus Christ in ways too marvelous for words. Embrace, experience and enjoy the wonder of Him saturating your heart, mind and body. Ask the Heavenly Father to fill you to overflowing and experience the wonder, glory and presence of the True and Living God. In Jesus’ Name.


 

This blog is from my new book on the Holy Spirit. Here are the end notes for this week’s blog. Enjoy your study!

  1. Romans 8:14-16; Galatians 4:6
  2. John 14:23-24; 16:14
  3. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22
  4. Ephesians 4:30 and Philippians 2:1-2
  5. Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Entry 1 John 1:3-6
  6. Untranslatable Riches from the Greek New Testament, Kenneth Wuest. Page 98.
  7. Ibid. Page 99.
  8. Ibid. Page 101.

Five Levels of Relationship

Susan and I are celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary tomorrow. She has been and continues to be the love of my life. Together we have traveled the globe telling the Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ. A close friend asked what were some of the things I have learned over the forty years. While there are several things, one of the most important things I have learned is that all of our relationships are on one of five different levels. The highest form of relationship should be our intimate and spiritual relationship with our Heavenly Father, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Paul the Apostle wrote to the Church at Rome, “For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. (adoption) And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:13-18

There are basically five levels of relationship in our lives. While we expect to be on certain levels with certain people, each of us determine the level we are on based on our commitment to the relationship. All relationships are on the following levels:

LEVEL ONE: Acquaintance.

This level does not require deep intimacy at all. A relationship on this level is one where you are not sharing your problems or personal stories. People who are on this level with you don’t know your likes and dislikes. Your communication style is surface. When you speak to an acquaintance, communication is short and usually about the mundane everyday happenings concerning life.

LEVEL TWO: Casual.

People who are on this level with you are a short step above being a mere acquaintance to you. We generally have casual relationships with the people we attend classes at college with, or sit near at weekend church services or see them once a week at the coffee shop or at work.

There may even be meaningful moments from time to time with such an individual. These relationships have their use and context, but they are not usually close, nor intimate. In such relationships people don’t hang out often and rarely become close friends.

LEVEL THREE: Close.

Close relationships are more personal and deeper especially when it comes to commitment. Most work related or extended family relationships no longer the close relationships they once did. Nor, do they usually require a close commitment.

In most ways, many people see themselves as “close” if they are friends on Facebook or Twitter. But close relationships should be more than being social media friends. Close relationships should be bonding, mutual and serious. Why?  They require being in proximity to one another, both geographically and emotionally.

LEVEL FOUR: Committed.

Committed relationships are a step beyond close. They create a certain level of vulnerability. When people are in a committed relationship they do not exploit or expose the weaknesses or frailties of those they are committed to. Sadly, modern thinking has destroyed many a committed relationship. This is due to the exposing of personal or private details to others.

The people in a committed relationship should have the expectation that each party will keep any information—learned because of the relationship—in confidence (even if the relationship ends).  This level of relationship requires trust. Why? Because when people are in a committed relationship they must trust one another. That trust cannot be violated because trust is the foundation of the commitment and love is the motivation.

Even if one person feels that their trust has been violated by the other, neither person exposes or exploits the other. When people “tell” what they have learned in previous committed relationships they hinder the development of future relationships. Why? Because if you will tell what you know about someone else, you will tell what you come to know in your present and future relationships.

LEVEL FIVE: Intimate and Spiritual.

The highest form of relationship is our spiritual relationship with our Heavenly Father, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is beyond close or committed. He lives within us. Therefore, this relationship is intimate. In other words, it is of the deepest nature. It requires consistent and close contact, warmth and a total commitment.

1 Corinthians 6:19 says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” The Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ have chosen to dwell within us by the Spirit. For Jesus said in John 14:23, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”

As believers, we have received the Spirit of Adoption whereby we cry, “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15) Abba is an intimate Aramaic term for Pops, Dad or Daddy. The Spirit of Adoption is the Holy Spirit Who has proceeded from the Heavenly Father into us because of the death, resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. John 15:26 KJV says, “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.”

Over the next few weeks I will be sharing in this blog how the development of a consistent, close, warm and deep spiritual relationship brings blessing to the first four relationship levels and our relationship with God. I encourage you to read the Scriptures in Romans 8 and Galatians 3 and 4. Ask the Father to give you a spirit of insight and understanding so you can know Him (The Father and the Lord Jesus Christ) better and be able to better all of the relationships in your life.

Robert