And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness (Acts 4:31).

As the Christian church enters the third millennium of mission to all the world I am reminded of the words of my childhood hero, Captain James T. Kirk, who proclaimed the mission of the starship Enterprise: “… to boldly go where no one has gone before.” Jesus declared, “Go therefore… even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

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Encountering God at the Altar

Encountering God at the Altar: The Sacraments in Pentecostal Worship

In the 2002-2003 United States Congregational Life Survey administered by the Center for Pentecostal Leadership and Care, Church of God pastors rated “participation in footwashing, baptism, or the Lord’s Supper” as the pastoral task they were least competent to perform. Yet the significant place these formational worship experiences have in Christian life and commitment and in relation to core Pentecostal theological teaching suggests the need for pastoral guidance in their observance. Pentecostal congregations need pastors capable of leading them in meaningful and Spirit-led participation in these biblically based spiritual practices.

This volume in the Center for Pentecostal Leadership and Care Pentecostal Leadership Series is intended to address this need in pastoral ministry. Dan Tomberlin takes seriously the ecclesial (within the church) context of the sacraments of footwashing, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper. He emphasizes the communal nature of their celebration as compared to more individualistic approaches. That is, Tomberlin sees these sacraments as formative and transformative rites of the church rather than mere personal religious experiences. He affirms the reality and importance of the personal dimension of faith but finds the fuller meaning of the sacrament in the relationship between the individual and the community of faith.

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The Virgin Mary: A Pentecostal Reflection

…the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin… and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you... Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High..and His kingdom will have no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:26-35).

Several years ago (1999), during my first trip to Bulgaria, I visited the Rila Monastery. The monastery is settled in the midst of the beautiful forests near Rila Mountain. I was overwhelmed by the iconic art that covered the buildings. I quickly noticed that the great majority of the art represented the Virgin and Child.

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John the Baptist: Witness to Christmas

There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light (John 1:6-8).

We don’t often think of John the Baptist when thinking of Christmas. As far as I know, there are no Christmas hymns dedicated to him, he does not appear in the manger scene, and he does not appear in any Christmas play that I’ve seen. But in the observance of Advent, the person and message of John the Baptist is significant in our preparation for the celebration of Christmas.

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Recovered Treasures

“Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!’” (Luke 15:8-9).

Ironic as it may seem, renewal movements often look back for inspiration and guidance as they engage the future. This is especially true for those who seek reformation, or revival, within the Christian church. Renewal movements seek to recover something that has been lost. The Pentecostal Movement was birthed as sincere believers sought to recover the apostolic faith. The heart of Pentecostal spirituality is an encounter with the Holy Trinity.

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