Friday, February 3, 2012

Disengaged from Corporate Worship Experiences? A Study in Humility

Our experiences with the Holy Spirit generally happen in one of two venues: in a group setting or when we are alone.

While we value and appreciate all experiences with God, many times we neglect to see a major positive side effect of receiving in a group setting; namely, humbling ourselves before others.

Experiencing God in a group setting has a different prerequisite than it’s more private counterpart; the group setting demands a different type of personal humility. In order to be a part of a community, you must lower your guard and humble yourself publicly on some level. Participating with others as you experience God demands that we lay down our pride–and hopefully its accompanying pretense.

If your spiritual life is only ever expressed in private, you are missing something wonderful! Even if you are wired in your personality to be very shy or reserved, there are ways you can open up and participate in a corporate setting. It doesn’t demand that you be the center of attention; conversely, it demands that you enter in and cooperate with what the others are doing. You actually stand out less!

I dare my shy friends to just take a small step out and participate a little more than you are currently allowing yourself. Even a small step is progress! Pray out loud during the corporate prayer times; sing along with the worship songs, raise your hands, allow yourself to enter in on a new level. Simply do more.

I frequently ask myself this question in worship, “Is my pride comfortable right now?”

Now, not everyone who avoids spiritual community does so out of timidity. Some disengage from corporate worship all together; they don’t merely attend as a disengaged spectator–they don’t attend anymore at all! I am deeply disturbed with a growing trend of people disconnecting from corporate church gatherings. I understand that they have possibly been hurt by some past church experience or leader. In listening to many of these folks, I have discovered that the premise for “de-churching” is ALWAYS based on negative experiences, NOT what the Bible says:

“ And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” Hebrews 10:25 NLT

Do you see how this goes hand-in-hand with not wanting to humble yourself?

“I don’t want to ever go there again…”

“They don’t treat me with respect there…”

“They don’t recognize my gifts…”

“That church is full of hypocrites…” (Good! Then we can all fit in well!)

Do these sound familiar? The next step is stepping away. Then, exalting our negative experiences over Scripture, we feel justified by our excuse–surely we are the EXCEPTION to the Biblical mandate of corporate worship!

By that point, pride has a deep foothold. Maybe if we planted ourselves in the place we know we belong, we would reap the benefits that we really desire?

Perhaps it’s time to reassess our spiritual routine…AGAIN! It requires constant attention and calibration…for all of us.

What do you think?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost?

Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost?

I recently had a person ask me, "Are the Holy Spirit and the Holy Ghost two different beings? You get the Holy Spirit when you are saved, but you get the Holy Ghost when you speak in tongues, right?"

This question highlights how much confusion there is about the ministry of the Spirit in general and, within that confusion, the significant amount of it that is caused by misunderstood or poor terminology.

Though the questioner raised several points needing clarification, I want to speak to the terms "Holy Ghost" and "Holy Spirit."  A word of warning; this may rattle some deified tradition, but to me, accuracy is always more important than maintaining the status quo.

You have probably noticed that modern English Bible translations do not use the term "Holy Ghost;" and that for good reason. The King James Version (KJV) was translated originally in the year 1611; this version used the terms Holy Spirit and Holy Ghost interchangeably in the New Testament and used the term Holy Spirit soley in the Old Testament. 

In the Old Testament--which was written in Hebrew, the term ruach (meaning spirit/Spirit, breath or wind) is translated as "Spirit/spirit."  The only time you'll find the word "ghost" in the KJV Old Testament is the phrase "give/gave up the ghost", speaking of someone dying.  This phrase is a 1611-era figure of speech that is substituted by the translators for the actual Hebrew verb, gava, which means to die or breath your last breath.  There is absolutely no usage of the word "ghost" in the Hebrew Old Testament.

In the New Testament--which was written in Greek, the term pneuma (also literally meaning spirit/Spirit, breath or wind) is used exclusively to speak of God's invisible Spirit, the third Person of the trinity.  

The Greek word for "ghost" is phantasma, meaning "ghostly apparition."  Phantasma is used twice in the Greek New Testament--both times speaking of being frightened by what the Disciples thought was at first sight a "ghostly apparition",  namely Jesus walking towards them on the water (see Matt 14:26 and Mark 6:49).  They were literally afraid of what they thought was an unholy ghost!

Though the KJV inconsistently renders pneuma as both Ghost and Spirit, the original is clearly, consistently intended to read as "Holy Spirit".  No place is this more evident than in Acts 2:4, where the KJV translates the one word, pneuma, as both Ghost and Spirit within the same verse! This perhaps demonstrates the superstition of the era in which this version was translated, but also our need for modern, reliable Bible translations and scholarship.

I am not intending to blast the KJV as being full of errors or hurt those who have been strengthened by reading God's Word in this translation.  I am trying to clear up a 400 year old misunderstanding that has potentially caused many to fear the ministry of the Paraclete who desires to help us, not scare us.

There is definitively no usage of "Holy Ghost" in the original Hebrew or Greek Bibles.  Simply put, biblically, there is no such being as the Holy Ghost.  Both the Hebrew term ruach and Greek term pneuma are rightly translated as Spirit, not Ghost in modern English translations.

Both the biblical terms for spirit center around life and action, not death and fear--as phantasma, or ghost, implies. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Life, not the spirit of death, a phantasm or phantom.

I pray that our practice of sometimes holding tradition over truth will be challenged--because in this case, the mistranslation of Ghost has likely encouraged many to have additional superstitious fears about a ghostly apparition instead of desiring the Holy Spirit's practical, desperately needed ministry.

So how about letting the term "Holy Ghost" give up the ghost?

Friday, May 28, 2010

How Tongues Speaking Fits into the Big Picture

Here is an excerpt from our most recent article in the Enrichment Journal entitled, "A Thirty-Something Minister Looks at Initial Evidence."

To read the entire article, click here.

Did tongues speaking suddenly show up out of nowhere? Is the Book of Acts our only basis for understanding and teaching on the subject?

A brief survey of the Acts accounts reveals that speaking in tongues is the biblically mentioned sign in the three detailed accounts (Acts 2,10,19) and is the most likely sign in the two nondetailed accounts (Acts 8, 9) as well. The only consistently repeated sign of Spirit baptism in Acts is tongues speaking; any other conclusion is synthetic. But what about the bigger picture?

I have discovered that presenting a broader biblical context than merely presenting the Acts narratives enables people to see the subject in a more personally imperative light. The more Scripture we use, the more hunger we will generate. Along these lines, the following concepts offer some teaching angles to consider.

Two common stages in biblical Spirit-empowering narratives
Looking at what people experienced in other biblical Spirit-empowering events helps us frame a broader context for Spirit baptism. What happened to people when the Holy Spirit came upon them before the Day of Pentecost?

The overwhelming response to the Spirit’s empowering in the Old Testament was spontaneous prophecy in the speaker’s native language. In fact, these occurrences frequently displayed a two-stage process:

The Holy Spirit came upon the person, and
The person gave witness with sudden prophetic speech.
Examples of this common two-stage pattern include: Numbers 11:25; 1 Samuel 10:6,10; 1 Samuel 19:20; 2 Samuel 23:1,2; 1 Chronicles 12:18; 2 Chronicles 15:1–7; 20:14–17; 24:20; Isaiah 59:21; 61:1; Ezekiel 2:1–7; Joel 2:28,29; Matthew 12:18; Luke 1:67–79; 4:14,15; Acts 1:8; 2:4; 10:44,45; 19:6.

These two common stages follow through to the New Testament fulfillment of both Moses’ desire (Numbers 11:29) and the direct oracle from God (Joel 2:28,29) that first, the Holy Spirit would one day come upon all of God’s people, and second they would give prophetic witness.

Even Jesus reiterated this theme when He prophesied that the Holy Spirit would first come upon believers; and, second, He would empower them as vocal witnesses (Acts 1:8).

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

NEW Holy Spirit DVD Curriculum for KIDS!

A brand new DVD curriculum about Spirit Baptism for elementary-aged kids is now available from

It is loosely based on our children's book, "Kid Power!", and contains six interactive 20-30 minute segments suitable for children's ministry, small groups or family time.

Inspector Clueless leads the way to a biblical understanding of the Holy Spirit's power with great special effects and practical teaching metaphors designed to help kids understand and receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.

"The Holy Spirit: Our Super Power" is now available for $39 and includes DVD, book and leader's guide/script.

Click here and scroll to the bottom left to find a preview video and ordering information.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Teaching Helps on Spirit Baptism as a Separate Event After Salvation

Here is the latest installment in our series of articles in the Enrichment Journal:

This article deals with some practical teaching helps to frame Spirit Baptism as a post-conversion anointing experience.

Please take in the EXCELLENT article by Dr. Edgar Lee in the same issue; he is regarded among the top Pneumatologists in modern Pentecost and it is an true honor to have my little article appear next to his! You can read his work here:

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Anointing of Jesus and How It Applies to Us

This is an excerpt from our current article, "Jesus The Anointed One: Our Example for Supernatural Ministry," in the series of practical Pneumatology articles featured in Enrichment Journal (Fall 2009-Summer 2010).
Did Jesus perform miraculous acts purely out of His raw divinity (as the Eternal Son) or was there another factor at work? The scripture is clear; as the messianic God-man, he would never be divested of his deity in any way (Col 2:9), but he would operate under the auspices of the Spirit’s anointing. Luke 4 records the fulfillment of Isaiah’s messianic prophecy, “The Spirit is upon me because he has anointed me…” (Luke 4:18ff, Isa 61:1ff). The Apostle Peter’s cristological pneumatology is revealed when he teaches the Caesareans that “God anointed Jesus Christ of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power and how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil for God was with him (Acts 10:38). Jesus operated under the auspices of the Spirit’s enabling—not because his divinity was insufficient, but because as our great example he would have to lead us in paths we would be able to follow. His promise of the power coming with Spirit baptism (Acts 1:8) would allow us to operate in realms not accessible to mere humanity.

The promise of “greater works” (John 14:12) has kept many a minister up late at night in introspection. Jesus spoke about us doing these “greater works,” but how can earthly novices like us actually expect that to happen? Talk about being under-qualified! The context of Christ’s words is the eminent sending of the Holy Spirit to empower believers—the same Holy Spirit that came upon Him at His baptism in the Jordan.

More than a Trinitarian photo-op, the baptism of Jesus and the subsequent descent of the Spirit—along with the audible expression of the Father’s approval—should speak volumes to us about the process of our personal quest for supernatural ministry. Jesus did not need forgiveness for personal sin nor the Spirit’s power to enable for personal weakness, but as our great example, he would follow the Father’s will step by step; clearing the path that we—who desperately need forgiveness and empowering—could follow. The Holy Spirit’s descent upon Jesus following his baptism established another facet of the pattern we are to emulate, for immediately afterwards Luke records that Jesus was considered “full” of the Spirit (Luke 4:1).

Christ’s reliance on the Spirit’s power loudly speaks of our desperate need for Spirit Baptism and the “fullness” of supernatural ministry power that comes with it. We can follow Christ’s great example as our ministry role model because, like him, we can experience and rely upon the Holy Spirit’s power.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Rare Pentecostal/ Healing Books Available Again!

Many dismiss the ministry, experience and contributions of A. A. Allen because of his latter years--which were filled with increasingly suspicious behavior. But, whatever your opinion may be, few doubt the effectiveness of his early ministry.

Since his death, the two books that told the story of Allen's personal quest to demonstrate God's power have been out of print and VERY difficult to find. These two inspirational resources are now available from John Carver Ministries. The Life of A. A. Allen: As Told by A. A. and Lexie Allen contains Allen's autobiography, "My Cross" (which details his personal quest for supernatural ministry) along with his wife's biography, "God's Man of Faith and Power"; these are reprinted with bonus material including rare photos and a recently discovered epilogue written by Allen just two years before his death.

This book will find a welcome place in the hands of anyone who longs for God's power in their ministry. It will also fill a void in many historical libraries.

Foreword is by noted Pentecostal/Healing scholar Dr. David Edwin Harrell.

You can purchase the book here:

Check out John Carver's website here:

Sunday, January 10, 2010


One of the most encouraging and empowering books I've read in a long time is Matt Brown's Revolutionaries:Men and Women in Every Century Who Advanced Christianity.

Revolutionaries surveys over 40 men and women--from the first century until modern times--who laid down everything to spread the fame of Jesus. Designed to stir passion as well as to make history come alive, Brown does a remarkable job at framing how eternal significance is measured: through sacrifice and obedience. Each chapter is concluded with a strong, practical point of action that will challenge the reader to surrender more to the Lord.

Of particular interest to this blog's readers will be his inspiring chapters on two notable 20th century Pentecostals--Aimee Semple McPherson and Smith Wigglesworth.

Pastors could very easily use this book for small groups and youth/young adults will find it fast moving and interesting. Quantity discounts are available.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Forgotten Legacy of Oral Roberts

Today I watched the Oral Roberts memorial service live on TV.

Rightly hailed as a central figure in Christianity in general and Pentecostalism in specific, Roberts' legacy lives on through countless protégé's, a major Christian university, and many, many other obvious contributions.

However, I have not yet heard others comment on what I perceive to be a major component of his legacy: the broad acceptance of professional medical treatment by people who believe in divine healing. Like it or not, Pentecostalism (in general) has a history of rejecting medical treatment in favor of divine healing alone. In fact, some of the pre-Pentecostals influencers such as John Alexander Dowie classified doctors in the same category as demons and devils! Many of Dowie's followers would become early leaders in the modern Pentecostal movement and promote divine healing--such as John G. Lake, F. F. Bosworth, Eli Richey (and his son Raymond T. Richey) among others.

Though I have not yet found it specifically stated in any Pentecostal denomination's creed, there was a generally negative opinion of the medical profession in early Pentecostalism--from simple suspicion to blatant opposition. Many taught that pursuing medical treatment was a sinful act demonstrating a lack of faith! As recent as 1955, British Assemblies of God leader J. Nelson Parr's anti-medicine teaching was published by GPH. His opinion was not unique; many Pentecostal leaders shared his view and taught it to those they influenced, making it a common (but not universal or codified) belief.

Enter Oral Roberts--arguably the icon of divine healing for the 20th century. Under his massive tent and through the media, countless people outside of traditional Pentecostalism were exposed to the supernatural healing ministry for the first time and all of Pentecostalism sat up to take notice. The name Oral Roberts is still synonymous with divine healing.

In 1977, this spokesman for the supernatural announced his dream of building...a hospital! He further went on to explain that there was no conflict between medical treatment and the belief in (and practice of) divine healing! This sent murmurous ripples across the church world. However, this announcement did not reflect a personal change in Roberts' doctrine; he had a rather developed doctrine of God's sovereignty relating to divine healing from his early days of ministry. His logic was that not everyone receives divine healing, so therefore, the Pentecostal/Charismatic world should have their own world-class hospital.

I'm sure you know the rest of the story; the City of Faith Medical Center only operated from 1981-1987 before financial problems forced its closure. End of story? Not in my opinion. Still today the Pentecostal/Charismatic world is indebted to Roberts for what the near-sighted perceive to be his greatest failure. This American icon of divine healing built a hospital and sidelined the common, long-standing anti-medicine teaching--hopefully once and for all. Today, only a few fringe sects of Pentecostalism teach against medical treatment.

Though the three towers of the once-hospital (now an office complex) still cast a shadow over South Tulsa, they remind us today that Pentecostals are compassionate and humanitarian alongside our belief in supernatural healing.

Thank you Oral Roberts; whether or not you realized it, your prophetic action of hospital building brought balance to an often narrow understanding--yet you still encouraged us to believe in God for our healing, demonstrating the reality of both through your own ministry.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pentecostalism is NOT the same thing as the Word of Faith Movement

I am generally opposed to negative posts, but a constantly arising issue needs to be addressed: what Pentecostalism is NOT.

Pentecostals are having a bit of an identity crisis because of decades of Christian media influence and a general lack of discernment on our part. I can understand when a poorly-researched secular writer lumps us in with other groups who share a doctrine or two with us, but unfortunately, many of our own can no longer detect the difference.

I am not saying that those in the Word of Faith (WOF) are not true Christians or that they are insincere or not effective in ministry. I simply want to point out that they are a different stream than classical Pentecostalism.

Though our Word of Faith friends share many of our doctrines, they also have many critical differences from Pentecostalism:

---Classical Pentecostalism does not embrace the "Prosperity Gospel" and its potentially materialistic ways; in fact--while we are thankful for God's blessing--Pentecostalism has a rather developed experience and doctrine of suffering.

---We do not embrace the metaphysical definitions and formulas of faith expressed in the WOF's "positive confession" doctrines. For example, the Assemblies of God actually has an official doctrinal position paper against such teaching.

---We do not embraced the tangled Christology of the WOF's "Born-Again Jesus" doctrine (that Jesus had to be Born Again in Hell prior to his resurrection).

---We reject the idea that God operates by His own personal faith, i.e. "God has to have faith that what He says will actually happen." God has no higher object upon whom to place His faith; he doesn't have faith in that sense--He has omnipotent power!

---Pentecostals do not embrace many of the WOF's healing doctrines and practices. We believe that God can and does supernaturally heal but we also keep His sovereignty intact, allowing Him divine prerogative to delay or deny such a request. We do not believe or practice that God must act upon our behalf because He is "legally bound to do so." Nor do we believe that the sick person has defective faith if healing doesn't come; this assumptive practice only leads already hurting people into condemnation--something that was never a fruit of the ministry of Jesus.

You may notice a subtle theme in these differences; many WOF teachings tend to empower and deify man while robbing God of His sovereignty and volition.

What do you think?