Now What? We’ve walked through the Holy Week looking at the journey of Christ from Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday. With all this….how do we respond? How do we apply it to our lives? How do we take what we’ve learned at walk forward.
Mark is joined by Alec Rowlands of Westgate Chapel to discover just that.
Purposely your life, God’s purpose. Listen at onpurposely.com. In His Steps, a Holy Week journey.
Mark Holland (00:13):
In the studio. Once again, another pastor who is helping us In His Steps. Jesus steps to the cross. We’ve come actually through Easter. We’re on day number nine, and the question being posed is now how do we respond to Easter? And I have in studio pastor Alec Rolands of Westgate Chapel and Edmonds. Hi there, pastor.
Alec Rowlands (00:35):
Mark Holland (00:36):
Hey, good to have you in Studio Pastor. And we’ve come through a number of days here hearing from different local area pastors about their thoughts on different days of what’s called the Passion of Christ, the Holy Week, the day after Easter. But before we do that, wanted to get a quick introduction to you. Again, a longtime pastor in the area, Edmonds, biggest church, I think in Edmonds, certainly, and one of the biggest churches in the Northwest. What’s it like being a, what they call a mega pastor?
Alec Rowlands (01:06):
Oh, no, I don’t consider myself a megachurch. Pastor Westgate has been around for quite a while. This will be the end of my 35th year this March. So it’s been a great, just been great community to serve in. And God has gathered together a great congregation of people who love him, who love prayer, worship, intercession. So, it’s been a great, been rocky. There have been, obviously every pastor has struggles here and there, and churches go through difficult times, but it’s been an amazing 35 years.
Mark Holland (01:43):
Well, we’ve all been through a difficult time with the pandemic, but it’s good to see things are getting back to normal a little bit. And you’ve had a wonderful outreach to the community currently called Apologyea real vital ministry, but so many ministries coming from Westgate Chapel and Edmonds. You can find out more at westgatechapel.com. Yes. Is that it? Okay, well, let’s get into our subject at hand then In His Steps. Again, this series, we’ve come through Easter, and this is the day after Easter. And the question now, and how do we respond to Easter? What? Yeah, tell us a little bit your thoughts on this subject.
Alec Rowlands (02:16):
Yeah. Well, I think obviously Jesus’ death and resurrection, which we’ve just finished celebrating is the only foundation and basis for our salvation, and our hope for forgiveness of sin, and eternal life. So, that’s a given. But to answer the question, what happens after Easter? I think you’ve got to go to the Book of Acts because the Book of Acts happens after the day after the celebration of Easter. And Acts chapter one, verse three says, During the 40 days after Jesus suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles from time to time and proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And then he tells them, don’t leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift. He promised, as I told you before, John baptized with water. But in just a few days, you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. So I believe what happens after Easter, and what makes Easter meaningful for us post Easter, the original Easter, is that it’s the Holy Spirit in our lives that actually brings the revelation of Jesus’ death and resurrection to us that actually confirms in us that we’re sons and daughters of God, that gives us the hope of resurrection, of living in resurrection life, and the hope of eternal life.
All of that’s ministered to us by the Holy Spirit. So, what’s after Easter? The Holy Spirit is, and I’m afraid too many churches and too many Christians in America give lip service to a creed that recognizes the person of the Holy Spirit. But what we are not doing is living in a day-to-day fellowship with the Holy Spirit who convicts us of sin, convinces us of righteousness, guides us. Bible Jesus said he’d even tell us what’s coming down the road. So, we need the Holy Spirit to parent our children now more than ever. We need the Holy Spirit at work to know how to navigate ourselves as believers. We need him for revelation. We desperately need the Holy Spirit. And he’s the most neglected member of the Trinity.
Mark Holland (04:38):
And why do you think that is? Why is he? Because people get kind of spooked by, I think by the Holy Spirit and
Alec Rowlands (04:43):
By, yes, I think…
Mark Holland (04:45):
Holy Ghost as it used to be called, he used to be called.
Alec Rowlands (04:47):
I think sometimes Pentecostal theology scares off the everyday believer and they associate Holy Spirit with what a friend of mine used to call this present weirdness. But in reality, every believer, you wouldn’t even know you are a believer unless you have the Holy Spirit. But Paul says, don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit? Every Christian has the Holy Spirit in residence, in their lives and is waiting to minister to them. Everything Jesus said the Holy Spirit would come and do. And actually for me, Mark, the greatest illustration of this is in my own ministry. I went to Cedar Rapids for my very first senior pastorate at the age of 30. And in those days, I was enamored with all the church growth methods, and I was going to be a successful pastor and have the fastest growing church in Iowa.
And I was going to knock it out of the ballpark. Everyone would be so impressed with me. And for two and a half years, we pushed all of the church growth buttons, all the methodological buttons. And at the end of two and a half years, nobody had given their lives to Christ. Church was about 300 in those days. Nobody had given their heart to Christ. No lives were visibly being transformed. We’d had no baptismal, water baptismal services in two and a half years. I was tired. The people were tired. I just driven them into all of this programming, and it was just fatiguing and it was not very rewarding. And so, I concluded that my best solution is to go take a, I need more theological training. So, I signed up for an extension program at a seminary in Missouri. And wouldn’t you now it, Mark, the first class I had was entitled Guidance and Power in Luke and Acts.
And the professor, an old gentleman named Stanley Horton, taught right out of his Greek New Testament. And he showed us five words, five Greek words in the Gospel of Luke that identified the person and work of the Holy Spirit in Jesus, when he was present, physically present on this earth. And then the same five words that Luke uses to describe the person and work of the Holy Spirit in the body of Christ, in the Book of Acts. And we are the body of Christ. And I realized in that, sitting in that one week of classroom experience, I realized that I’d been trying to pastor a church. Number one, I was prayerless, I had really had no prayer life. I prayed over meals. I prayed, God bless my sermon preparation. And I’ve told our congregation, if you were misfortunate enough to have me come and pray for you in the hospital, I would come and pray for you at the hospital.
But other than that lit, and it’s hard for people to believe, but I had no prayer life. Raised in a godly family, raised to believe in the power of prayer. Parents lived it, didn’t just teach it, lived it, but I was just pastoring out of my head and out of methods for success. And I had to go back to the church that next Sunday, after that week of class, and first of all, repent to them that I’d been a prayerless senior pastor, and felt like the Lord told me, Mark, before that next Sunday after the class. He said, if you will start seeking me, and if you will call everybody I send you, to seek me, I will do exceeding abundantly above all you could ask or think. And Mark, by the end of that summer, we had to add a second service. We started 6:00 AM and noon prayer meetings five days a week.
By the end of that summer, we had to add a second service. By the end of the next year, we had to move the services to a high school, a rented high school auditorium. Children’s ministry had overtaken the old building. We were landlocked in the old building, so we couldn’t expand. And two years we moved into a 1500 seat sanctuary. And I hate, I don’t like throwing numbers around because a lot of pastors do like its means anything. It doesn’t really mean anything. What matters is people in our church is following Christ, full of the Holy Spirit, and being obedient to that inner voice of the Holy Spirit who’s waiting to communicate with us every day what’s on the heart of the Father.
Mark Holland (09:25):
So you would say then the main response to Easter then is a new relationship with the Holy Spirit? Yes. Pentecost. Yes. The 40 days wait here and the Holy Spirit will come and you’ll be baptized. Yep. Yeah. Okay. So practically how more prayer in our life, what are some of the aspects of…
Alec Rowlands (09:45):
I think prayer is where it has to start. Mark, I think at this point, I think for believers to just start searching the gospels for what Jesus said the Holy Spirit would do, and maybe even search the Old Testament to see what he did. Now, he worked differently in the Old Testament. He came on certain individuals for very practical tasks, like we’re told the Spirit came on Besaeil, and he was given skills to build the first tabernacle at the base of Mount Sinai. We told the Spirit came on David, and he wrote Psalms that are being used to this day. So very, very practical, but it’s only in the New Testament that Joel’s prophecy is fulfilled, where now the Holy Spirit is poured out on all flesh. In fact, Jesus said it’s better for me to go away, to his disciples, because when I go away, I’m going to send you the Holy Spirit.
So I would say if Christians today would just begin in their prayer life, to start inviting the Holy Spirit, and then just spending time just in worship and waiting on him. Invite him to speak to you, invite, I know we’ve made fun of people who said he shows them parking spaces. Right. And that seems a little trivial to me, but it does at least indicate someone who acknowledges the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives, and invites him. I’m not saying he finds parking spaces for us, but at least it shows someone who is actively inviting him in to our day-to-day decisions and activities.
Mark Holland (11:23):
We can have that moment by moment relationship with God because of the Holy Spirit.
Alec Rowlands (11:28):
Yes. Yes. That’s why I jumped on the opportunity that the station here gave me to pick the one after Easter. I know a lot of people might want to talk about death and resurrection, which is equally important. But after Easter’s over, it’s the Holy Spirit is the one who guides us and speaks to us and encourages us and comforts us. All the things Jesus said he would do. Well,
Mark Holland (11:53):
Some of the things he said in the Bible talks about is the gifts of the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit. These are all related. Yes. So ways of growing in your faith. Yes. Yes. They don’t come by your own effort. No. Or knowledge necessarily. Right. Ascent, mental ascent. They come through a relationship with
Alec Rowlands (12:12):
The Holy Spirit. With the Holy Spirit.
Mark Holland (12:13):
Absolutely. And those gifts, one of those gifts of the Spirit, we hear about this term, some of the power gifts and…
Alec Rowlands (12:19):
Mark Holland (12:19):
Those are different from fruit of the Spirit.
Alec Rowlands (12:21):
Yes. I mean, there are three different lists of gifts. There is different. In Romans, it talks about gift of administra in talks about gift of administration, gift of helps, gift of hospitality, gift of teaching. And then the Corinthians, the first Corinthians 12 list is the typical list we think of when we speak of gifts, which would be prophecy, words of knowledge, words of wisdom, discernment of spirits, tongues, gifts of healing, interpretation of tongues. So those are the typical gifts.
Mark Holland (12:57):
That kind of miraculous things maybe for certain situations.
Alec Rowlands (13:00):
Yes. But then the fruit of the spirit, of course, is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness.
Mark Holland (13:05):
And who doesn’t need more of that?
Alec Rowlands (13:07):
No kidding. Yeah, no kidding. In our world. Yeah. We need more of that too.
Mark Holland (13:10):
Well, I know when I be first became a Christian, filled with the spirit, all of a sudden the word of God made a lot of sense to me. Yep. Comes a lot. No different. I would read it before I was a Christian. I said, I don’t get this. Yes. And then as soon as I became a Christian, received Christ, all of a sudden I couldn’t get enough of the Bible.
Alec Rowlands (13:27):
Yes. I actually Mark, I actually think that you can’t read the Bible without the Holy Spirit. And when I have my quiet times in the morning, I verbally, in my study all alone, I say, Holy Spirit, I invite you. I welcome you. I know you’re living in me, but I invite you. Make the word come alive for me today. Let me hear the voice of the Father. What did you… And because the Bible says he breathed the scripture through human authors. So, if the Holy Spirit is the one who breathed these scriptures into existence, then I desperately need him to understand them, have a hunger for them, like you just articulated, and be able to apply them to my life. It’s not just a mental Yes, my minds are involved. It’s not just a mental exercise. We need the Holy Spirit for prayer. We need him for scripture reading. We need him for everything we do, disciplining our children.
Mark Holland (14:25):
It also talks about the Holy Spirit. I always saw the it… It’s not called, we see a bird that is used to represent the Holy Spirit of pigeon. A pigeon is not like, but God uses the word the dove. And a dove is…
Alec Rowlands (14:41):
Like a dove.
Mark Holland (14:42):
It’s very gentle. Yes. Easily grieved. Yes. Easily frightened away. That I think has always been a really intriguing word picture to me of why, of the spirit of being like a dove. Yeah. Can you expound a little bit on that idea? How the spirit can be grieved?
Alec Rowlands (14:58):
Well, anytime the a believer sins, we grieve the Holy Spirit. And the more we sin, the more we grieve him, and the less sensitivity we have to His influence in our lives. There’s a verse in the New Testament, I can’t put my finger on it right now, that says, we can’t even come in repentance to the Lord, except for the work of the Holy Spirit. So, we are utterly dependent on him, even for simple things like repentance. We don’t just repent, genuinely repent of sin just out of our own volition. We need the Holy Spirit even. Even for that.
Mark Holland (15:44):
Well, if as people are listening to this and the question we pose today, now how do we respond to Easter, as we kind of wrap things up, how would you encourage people to perhaps maybe ask the Holy Spirit into their life, maybe in a new way? I believe all if you become a Christian, you have the Holy Spirit. Yes. But there does seem to be different, can I use the word dimensions or feelings? Yes. Or kind of relationships with the Spirit? How do we make our relationship with Holy Spirit grow?
Alec Rowlands (16:11):
Well, I think if I were the believer listening to this program, what I would encourage them to do is first of all, acknowledge and recognize that he is resident in you. If you’re a born again believer, the Holy Spirit is resident in you, and he is just waiting to be invited. My dad used to preach, and he didn’t have a text for this, but my dad used to preach, Mark, the Holy Spirit is a gentleman. And that’s goes along with what you’ve just said about him being illustrated in scripture as a dove. He, he’s, he’s not. He’s one that’s always going to point to Jesus, point to the Father. He’s not going to grab attention for himself, and he’s not going to force himself on us. So, I’d say the first step is just acknowledge, Hey, this, the Holy Spirit is resident in me.
And then secondly in prayer, invite him into your day. Start every day saying, Holy Spirit, this day is yours. I am yours. I’m trusting you to lead me today. And I believe that every Christian that starts doing that will begin to identify ways and places and times where the Holy Spirit will interrupt. Start speaking to you. Use scripture to speak to you. But you must give him time. You must give him time, because he’s a gentleman like my dad used to say. He’s not going to force himself in. So, you must acknowledge him and give him time in your life to speak.
Mark Holland (17:41):
And you’ve been listening to the Purposely equipped series called In His Steps, a Holy Week journey, and today featuring Pastor Alec Rowlands of Westgate Chapel in Edmonds. To find out more about the church, visit them online at westgatechapel.com. Please leave us a review of this message so more people can discover this podcast and find more episodes of Purposely Equipped at onpurposely.com.