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?

Holy Week: contemplative and charismatic

The theme of our Holy Week was The Gethsemane Journey. Can the Pentecostal and contemplative blend? Why not? Although  the practices of the Pentecostal and the contemplative seem to be incompatible opposites they actually enrich and deepen each other! I saw this in our experience of Holy Week 2017. I handed the planning to our young pastoral staff: Ethel, Tom and Sarah. I told them the parameters was that we share with the church different practices of prayer both contemplative and charismatic. This was what they came up with.

Monday: Lectio Divina

Tuesday: Praying the Psalms

Wednesday: Prophetic prayer

Thursday: Intercessory prayer

Each evening would begin with time for people to be still and wait on God in silence with background instrumentals played over the speakers. Then there would be brief explanations of the prayer practice we would be doing. Followed by an hour for people to actually enter into the practice of prayer. The last segment would be a partaking of Holy Communion.

The worship hall would be made conducive with dim lights, devotional  instrumental music (except of the last evening when we had a live band), and the hall would be cleared of the usual auditorium seating so people could sit anywhere on the floor or chairs along the edges.

Personally I enjoyed each and every evening of Holy Week. It was no chore. The Lord was present each night to impart different insights and experiences. The first night a Scripture portion lighted up and shifted my posture towards a ministry matter. The second night I felt I was crying out to the Lord on behalf of the sick. The third night, I composed and sent prophetic prayers and words to three friends. The last night, I had to facilitate the intercession evening. However I enjoyed the soaking session with the live worship band. Whether contemplative or charismatic practices are used the common element is the presence and power of God.

Some of the participants who attended the Holy Week wrote about their experiences in this article in our church website: Holy Week: The Gethsemane Journey.

The whole Lent and Holy Week can possibly be a seasonal “curriculum” for personal and church renewal. How does your church use this season for God’s glory? Share with the readers what your church has done.

My new Brompton foldable bike

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The Brompton: On the Thursday I collected it, the haze had  broken and I had my first ride.

When my kids were little, I bought them bicycles. Now they bought me a Brompton foldable bike for my sixtieth birthday, several weeks in advance, before the clearance sale ended. They knew I wanted it because I had talked about it. They had also seen me searching for a pre-used Brompton at the togoparts website. The sale had gone on for several weeks but I was blessed to have a cobalt blue version which was available only in the H6R model, which was the model I had wanted. The H handle-bar enabled me to have a more comfortable upright posture when I ride. The handle bar looks like the M bar but is two inches taller.

When I ordered it the haze was thick. When I took delivery of the bicycle, it was a Thursday, 8 October 2015.  That day the sky was clear and I could ride the bike that day and the next few days. What a blessing it was, especially after almost a month of staying away from outdoor activities.

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The Brompton in kneeling posture.

Compared to other foldable bikes the Brompton is not the clear winner. It is made of steel and quite heavy at over 10 kilograms. The parts are proprietary and modification is limited. The wheels are small at 16 inches. The basic body shape has remained the same and there are no other models or departures from this classic design. It is a good ride but a rather expensive one at $2,780 before discount.

A great compact fold that works for daily commute and storage.
A great compact fold that works for daily commute and storage.

What makes the Brompton a winner is the fold. The fold is the best ever for the kind of comfortable commuter or leisure ride that the average person would want. Its fold is compact with nothing sticking out. After folding it can stand stable and it can be placed in a luggage bag for travel. It is mobile and easily wheeled around. You can take it into your home or office without occupying much space. You can commute with it in the car boot, or take it into the MRT during off peak hours. You can push it around in the shopping mall too.
The marketing of Brompton is superb. It is made in Britain and nowhere else – the pride of British engineering with the bike joints skilfully welded by hand. In addition, the marketing helps the Brompton to exude the classy image of a British gentleman in his top hat.

Brompton bikes have a cult following in countries where they are sold. Brompton owners form clubs and participate regularly in cycling excursions and charity events. They have a kind of fellowship of the wheel. I have joined one such Facebook club, to trawl for pre-used accessories on their website. You don’t just buy a bike you buy an image, a fellowship and a good and highly portable ride.
The Brompton bicycle is like a good Pentecostal. He is modest the way the main body of the bike is low. However no matter how low a profile he keeps there is that bit of attention it cannot help but attract. The bike also has a kneeling position when it rests. I like this unique feature – it’s like the bike is praying on its knees, the way a good Pentecostal should. This is often a conversation starter with other cyclists and strangers. In addition, the Brompton is highly mobile and ready to go the way a good Pentecostal is ready to go with the the good news even to other cities and countries. The clearest evidence that the Brompton is pneumatically filled is the pleasant clickety-clack of the wheels in motion, a bicycle version of speaking in other tongues. I know quite a number of pastors that own a Brompton, and they are Pentecostals!

My Pentecostal heritage

Pentecost: come Holy Spirit
Pentecost: come Holy Spirit

I have always been thankful for my Pentecostal heritage. Like a river of life, it has enriched, fertilized and nourished my spirituality. I have many reasons to be grateful and here are just a few of them:

The Pentecostal experience has made the reality of God’s presence and activity in my life is undeniable and unforgettable.

It  gave me a vision of how great and alive and loving our God is.

I have a deep assurance of faith and never doubted the reality of God throughout my Christian life.

I have experienced the spiritual empowerment and abilities of God’s Spirit in diverse ways.

I am glad to be part of such a vast and enriching spiritual movement.The Pentecostal movement has resulted in the salvation of millions of unbelievers around the world as well as impacted social concerns like political oppression, poverty, racism, unemployment, and even the green movement.

Evangelist T.L. Osborn: still pressing on

Evangelist TL Osborn in healing crusadeEvangelist T.L. Osborn was one of my Pentecostal heroes in the early years of my Christian life. We young leaders in the church also looked up to him as someone we wanted to emulate for reasons right or wrong. We read his books and gave out tracts written by him on Saturdays as we walked from Queen Street to the esplanade. We prayed for the gifts of healing for we saw it so evident in his ministry. Over the years though, we have seen so many Pentecostal heroes falter through immorality or financial improprieties that we begin to believe the only safe Pentecostal hero to talk about is a dead one. It was heartening though to read J. Lee Grady’s interview with this humble man of faith, T.L. Osborn, now 88 and still active. Even more heartening is that he has kept his integrity (Lord I believe, help my unbelief). Grady wrote about the interview:

“I once had a vision of the Lord,” Osborn told me, leaning over in his chair to look into my eyes. “But in the vision, God didn’t have any hands. Then He looked at me and said, ‘You are my hands.’” Throughout his worldwide ministry—which has never been well-known in the United States—he reminds Christians that God is waiting on us to obey the Great Commission.

Read the rest of the article from Charisma Magazine here, “Why T.L. Osborn Is My Hero”

Goh Ewe Kheng: servant leader

GOH EWE KHENGThe session of the Pastors’ Conference organized by Tung Ling had ended. Pastors and leaders stood up to stretch, look for the restroom, or just stand around and chat. A grey haired man went about with a carton of packet drinks to serve the pastors. He dressed simply and looked ordinary, though he was a very wealthy businessman and notable church leader. He was a great influence in the local and wider church and in the marketplace. He was one of many pioneers who unknowingly could be modelling a bi-vocational church and marketplace leadership that will increasingly needed in the decades ahead. He is Goh Ewe Kheng, one of my favourite sermon illustrations of humble and faithful servanthood. So when I read an article about him by Edmond Chua in the Christian Post, I just had to link it. He wrote:

Elder Goh Ewe Kheng is the quintessential minister in the marketplace. He started church ministries, preached, co-founded a denomination and participated in the governance and activities of over 30 committees, all while running a business. The passion of the 87-year-old Founding Elder of the 7,640-member Church of Singapore passion to serve God began at an early age.

Continue reading about the personal and family life of this inspiring marketplace and church leader HERE.