At the Community Center

Hank was sitting on the bench at the community center when Anaïs walked over to him. “Hello, Pastor Hank.”

“Hello, Anaïs.”

“I didn’t expect to run into you here but I’m glad I did. I’m here to sign up for a Fitness Kickboxing class.”

“That’s great. I’m here because I teach Vegan and Vegetarian cooking classes.”

“Really?”

“Yes.”

“What’s the difference between vegan and vegetarian?”

“The difference is a vegan diet excludes all meat and animal products  such as meat, poultry, fish, seafood, dairy and eggs, whereas a vegetarian diet excludes meat, poultry, fish and seafood.” 

“Which one are you?”

“Vegetarian.”

“So you have dairy and eggs?”

“Yes.”

“I can’t see myself being a vegan but maybe a vegetarian diet wouldn’t be bad. It’s a lot healthier.”

“Yes, it is.”

“Maybe I’ll sign up for your vegetarian classes.”

He smiled.

“I didn’t get a chance to tell you how much I enjoyed your sermon yesterday.”

“Thank you.”

“You have a wonderful way of explaining things. You make the Bible come alive and its teachings easy to understand. How long have you been a pastor?”

“Twenty-five years.”

“Wow. That’s a long time. You must really love it.”

“I do.”

“Well, you’re very good at it.”

He smiled. “Thank you.”

“Do you give Bible Studies?”

“Yes, I do. Are you interested?”

“Yes, I am.”

“All right. Just let me know when you’re ready and we can arrange to meet at the library.”

Anaïs stared at him blankly. “The library?”

“Yes.”

“You don’t give Bible studies at your place?”

“No. I always give them at a library. Is that a problem for you?”

She shook her head at once. “No.”

“Do you have a Bible?”

“Yes.”

“Good. I will give you a set of Amazing Facts Bible Guides. I would like you to study each one and then we meet at the library to go over what you have studied and answer any questions you may have. Make sure to bring your Bible with you.”

“All right.”

“Will you be coming to church next Saturday?”

“Yes.”

“I will give you the set of study guides then.”

“All right. Thanks, Pastor Hank.”

“You’re welcome. Do you have any questions you’d like to ask me about the Bible?”

“I have questions but they’re not about the Bible.”

“Okay. What would you like to ask me?”

“What made you decide to be a pastor?”

“It was God’s calling on my life. Same as it was His calling on the prophet Jeremiah’s life.”

“Oh. What about your family? How do they feel about your being a pastor?”

“They have accepted it and support me.”

“You’re different from the minsters I’ve seen.”

“How so?”

“Well, you don’t look like a pastor.”

“How is a pastor supposed to look?”

“I’m not sure but you don’t look like one. And it’s hard to believe that you’re not married and have a family.”

“Yes, people are usually surprised about that.”

“Wasn’t there anyone in Portland?”

“No.”

“Maybe you’ll have better luck here in Cotonou.”

“Maybe.”

“I guess it would take a very special woman to be a pastor’s wife.”

“Yes, it would. A pastor’s wife once told me that there are six characteristics a pastor’s wife needs to have.”

“What are those six characteristics?”

“First, she must be selfless, second, she must be mentally and emotionally stable, third, she must be faithful, fourth, she must be passionate about God and His Work, fifth, she must be discerning, which means she is always watchful and prayerful because at any time, she or her husband or their marriage can come under spiritual attack and sixth, she must have a strong relationship with God.”

“Oh. It sounds like she has to be perfect.”

“No, not perfect. No one is perfect, only God but she must be Spirit filled.”

“Spirit filled?”

“Yes, filled with God’s Holy Spirit.”

“Oh. How do you get filled with the God’s Holy Spirit?”

“Well–” he was about to tell her when Ede showed up. He smiled, happy to see her. “Hello, Ede.”

“Hello, Pastor Hank.” Her gaze shifted to Anaïs who didn’t look at all pleased to see her. “Hello, Anaïs.”

“Hello, Ede. Pastor Hank was telling me what he’s looking for in a wife.”

“Oh.” Ede looked at him.

“Actually, I was about to explain how a person gets filled with the Holy Spirit.”

“Maybe you can explain it to me when we meet in the library. Pastor Hank is going to give me a set of Bible Study guides next week Saturday when I go to Harvest. And then, we’ll meet in the library to go over the first study guide after I’ve studied it.”

“Maybe Pastor Hank wouldn’t mind explaining it to both of us now how a person gets filled with the Holy Spirit.”

Hank’s mouth twitched slightly. “I’d be happy to explain it to both of you now.”

“You can explain to me another time,” Anaïs said. “I’ll see you in church on Saturday. Goodbye, Ede.” She gave her a withering look.

“Goodbye, Anaïs.”

When they were alone, Hank asked, “What about you, Ede? Do you want me to explain about the Holy Spirit another time too?”

“No, now would be great.”

“No problem. We have time before the game. Would you like to sit?”

“No, thanks. They say that too much sitting isn’t good for you.”

“Yes, I’ve heard that too. I’ve been standing for more than an hour.”

“Oh, yes, today you had your cooking class.”

“Yes. Anaïs is thinking of signing up.”

Ede’s lips compressed. She was tempted to ask if Anaïs even knew how to boil an egg let alone cook but she held her tongue. “I’m really curious to know how a person is filled with the Holy Spirit.”

“To be filled with the Holy Spirit means to be controlled by Him. And the only way He can be in control is if we allow Him to be. This means we must allow Him to control every area of our lives. We are to submit completely to Him and let Him guide us in our words and deeds. A Spirit filled person is one who is obedient to God’s Word, lives a godly life and whose conduct is above reproach. We have examples in the Bible of people who were filled with the Holy Spirit–Elizabeth, John the Baptist, Jesus, the disciples, Peter, Stephen who was martyred and Paul. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul wrote, ‘let the Holy Spirit fill and control you’. We receive the Holy Spirit when we are born again. This is what Jesus explained to Nicodemus. He said that we must be born of water and the Spirit. Water here means baptism and to be born of the Spirit means and to be born of the Spirit means conversion and accepting Jesus as our personal Saviour. To be born again means we turn away from our sins and the old way of life which was contrary to God’s Word. Peter explained the process this way, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’. To be born again means you have repented, asked for forgiveness and have forsaken your sins. True repentance is the turning away from your sins. Then, you receive the Holy Spirit who will dwell in you. Paul said that our bodies are temples in which the Spirit of God dwells and that’s why we must use our bodies for God’s glory. This means that we are warned against sexual immorality. Every other sin that a person does is outside the body. But those who are sexually immoral sin against their own bodies. They would be like desecrated temples, unfit for the Holy Spirit.”

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“And you have to have faith in Jesus to receive the Holy Spirit. This is why salvation comes only through Him.”

“Yes. Jesus said, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water‘. He was talking about the Holy Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive but the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. We must believe in Jesus in order to receive the Spirit.”

“I’d like to learn more about the Holy Spirit.”

“We can do a Bible study just on Him if you like.”

“I’d like that.”

“Let me know when.”

“All right. Thanks, Pastor Hank.”

“You’re welcome, Ede. One more thing, Jesus said that our heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.”

“That’s wonderful.”

He smiled and stood up. “Yes, it is. It shows us what a loving Father God is. He likes to give us the very best and much more than we deserve.”

“Yes.”

“Now, let’s go and watch some live football.”

Sources: Youtube; Heart Foundation; Toronto Vegetarian Association; Blue Letter Bible; Amazing Facts; Bible Gateway; Amazing Facts; Bible Info

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