On this Pentecost Sunday, I am thinking about terrorism. The news of the morning was about another Islamist terror attack in London. I am reminded that God has not given us “a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7 ESV). Just as the earliest Christians boldly proclaimed the gospel in the midst of persecution, so too must we be bold in our gospel witness in the midst of terrorism.
I believe in speaking in other tongues (here and here). In a recent Facebook conversation I noted that many young Pentecostals are minimizing tongues-speech as a sign of the Spirit. I was asked, “In your opinion are the young Pentecostals minimizing tongues or are they pushing back on the position that without tongues there is no Holy Spirit indwelling?
I often read stories of believers who “flirted” with Pentecostalism only to “marry” a different Christian tradition. Some of these people were reared in Pentecostalism, only to defect later in life. To be fair, I understand their stories. But, I am disappointed. After a lifetime of ministry in the Pentecostal movement I have many criticisms. But I remain an unrehabilitated Pentecostal.
“It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions” (Joel 2:28).
I must admit frustration. I often hear that my generation needs to move aside and make way for the millennials. I’m told that I’m a dreamer and the millennials are visionaries. I guess that means I’m tired and sleepy? Certainly not!
This is a common question among Pentecostals. In fact, many Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians will gladly acclaim an inspired and gifted preacher who falls short on knowledge of the Word. This may sound somewhat patronizing, but it may be that Pentecostals would prefer to feel the Word, rather than think about the Word. I’m not opposed to feeling the Word. The preached Word of God should provoke a range of emotional responses from lamentation to rejoicing. But, the authenticity of the emotional responses should correspond to the veracity of the preached word.
A few years ago I was engaged in a battle of heart and mind. I was struggling with the church – the body of Christ. You need to know that when I use the word “church,” it means the church catholic – all expressions of the church throughout the world. I was disappointed and cynical, and began to seriously doubt the present relevance and future significance of the church. This battle was fierce and prolonged. Even now skirmishes continue to erupt. One day, while driving and contemplating these issues, I prayed,
“My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; for behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed” (Luke 1:46-48).
Every year as we approach the 4th Sunday of Advent the gospel reading provokes us to reflect upon the Virgin Mary. As a protesting Pentecostal, there are certain presumptions that I bring to the task. The greatest presumption is to ignore any honor bestowed upon the Virgin, to make her a footnote in the Christmas story. But if I desire to hear the Spirit in the written word of God, then I must be willing to put my presumptions aside and take a fresh look at Mary, the mother of my Lord Jesus Christ.