Focal points for Good Friday and Easter

Lovely creation using cloth: black symbolising death and white symbolising the righteousness of God.

I must admit to feeling regret that this year I had not paid as much attention to Lent and Holy Week, particularly Good Friday and Easter. I sighed and felt drawn to some of the pictures I received on WhatsApp. These are pictures that demonstrated careful attention to aesthetics in worship. These arrangements inspires us to draw near to Jesus. They seem to draw us towards greater devotion and adoration because they point us to a pivotal turning point in salvation history. They point us to God we can relate to easily and who gives us hope: a suffering and victorious God.

Easter – the risen Christ carrying us on His shoulders

The traditional churches are much better at this. There is something we can learn from them. In the liturgical calendar these would be the high points of the year, requiring much preparation and inspiring longing and anticipation. It could be viewed as an annual corporate means of grace for renewal. The repentance and prayerful devotion of Lent, leading to meditation on the passion of our Lord, will lead us to humble ourselves and renew our first love for Jesus. And Easter is when we allow the resurrection power to revive us afresh to new life. 

Good Friday: For God so loved the world He gave us His Son!

Above are some of the beautiful arrangements of worship focal points in the main sanctuaries or other halls. They are all from the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary branch in Australia. How lovely  are Thy dwelling places!

(Photo Credits: Juyoung )

PREACHING A SERIES ON OUR PENTECOSTAL DISTINCTIVE

Missing from Pentecostal pulpits

It is not uncommon for Pentecostal churches to shelve preaching on Pentecostal distinctives as they seek relevance with a contemporary audience. Addressing felt relational, emotional and felt needs of church members take priority over church’s distinctives. This can happen because the Pentecostal doctrine of baptism of the Holy Spirit can be an offence to today’s young adults. Yet it must be talked about or we will lose our heritage, our identity and one of God’s greatest gift to his church and his greatest resource to reaching the world for Christ.

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

I announced and planned a series on the Holy Spirit. I initially planned something that began with the works that the Holy Spirit would do according to the teaching of Jesus in John 14-16, and then talk about the Baptism of the Spirit, and finally a session on Speaking in Tongues.

However, as I proceeded to prepare, with the Lord’s influence, it began to be (1) The Baptism of the Holy Spirit, covering the five incidents in Acts when the Spirit was poured out as initiation experiences/encounters. After feedback from members, newbies and mature ones, I slowed down and stayed with Acts 2 the Day of Pentecost and drew most of my observations and conclusions from Acts chapter 2, after painting a picture of what happened there, giving the Bible background of the passage. I also brought in two persons, one of mature age, and another younger person to share their experiences of being baptized with the Holy Spirit and how the gift of tongues had blessed them.

At the end I gave an invitation for prayer for fresh anointings and healings, and invited those who wanted to be filled with the Spirit to meet at the conference room after the service. Three adults in their 50’s showed up. After giving them a briefing, several of us laid hands and prayed for them to be filled and remarkably they were granted the gift of tongues within fifteen minutes, and we spent the rest of the time praying, prophesying, anointing with oil, and singing in tongues for another 20 minutes or more.

My Cry and Prayer

It was a blessed time and gratifying. My only disappointment was that not many of the younger age group were there desiring and thirsting for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. I am praying that God would stir the hearts of people who had been content with what they have experienced of the Christian life thus far, with a holy discontent that wants more, indeed ALL of what God promised and intended for His people. May we have a people with hearts aflame for the passion of His name.

I wonder if it is the same with the church you worship in. Do they preach about their distinctive? How often?

Ash Wednesday and Lent for a Pentecostal church

Ash Wednesday was on Wednesday 6 March 2019. It marked the beginning of Lent – a period of 40 days of preparation for Good Friday and Easter.
The church tradition is that this period of 40 days, similar to Jesus 40 days of fasting, is for soul care – taking time to slow down, reflect, pray, fast and repent. The period of seeking God would lead to personal revival and ascend with a church celebration of Christ’s resurrection power in Easter.

As a Pentecostal I am not used to observing Lent. It was Trinity Theological College that exposed me to this. It took a long time for me to appreciate the values of having a rhythm to the church year. Observing Lent, Good Friday and Easter, and Pentecost are good practices that embeds the centrality of Christ in the church’s worship and plans. May I encourage you to do some of the following as the Lord leads:

PRAY
Give a half day to God in reflection and prayer.
Pray for unsaved family members, friends, neighbours and colleagues.
Pray in tongues for 15 minutes each day for a whole week.
Meditate on the passages of the last week of Jesus and use them as a springboard of prayer.
FAST
Skip a meal and use that time to humble yourself before God, acknowledging your shortcomings, powerlessness and need of Him.
Go vegetarian for a week and give up sweet stuff.
Fast from negative words and complaining and gossiping.
Fast from social media for a whole day.
REPENT
Seek forgiveness and forgive where necessary.
Speak kind and appreciative words to family members.
Repent from worrying and entrust specifically your burdens to God.
Visit and honour your aged parents or grandparents.
Listen to someone’s story without judging, or interrupting or offering solutions.
Pay attention to those who may need your help.

Have a meaningful, reviving, enlightening Lent. How would you like to use Lent for your own soul-care?