Brownsville Revival – A River Runs Through It

(November 1999 – Volume 5, Issue 11) On Father’s Day I am lucky to get a card from my adoring sons, so you can imagine my chagrin when I found out that on Father’s Day 1995 a church in Pensacola, Florida, got the Holy Spirit. Up until that time the Holy Spirit had apparently been camping out up in Canada (see paper on “The Toronto Blessing”), but for some unknown reason He decided to move South. Since He did, the Brownsville Assembly of God has experienced “Revival.” Four nights per week, 48 weeks per year, services are held, usually with long lines of anxious seekers wanting to get in. Of course the stats keep changing (so fast that the church’s marquee actually is a McDonalds’ type sign that reads “Over ___ souls saved”). But according to the church’s web site (www.Brownsville-revival.org), over 2,660,000 have attended the Revival and 141,387 have made…

Ancient-Future Faith, Its Practices

(July 2008 – Volume 14, Issue 7)  In a recent sermon dealing with the emergent/emerging church, Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill in Seattle and self-described emerging church leader, identified four lanes in which the emergent/emerging movement is traveling. In the first lane are emerging evangelicals who believe in basic Christian doctrine, such as the Bible being God’s Word and Jesus dying for our sins. They also tend to form the “hip, cool church,” according to Driscoll. Pastors who may fall in this category include Dan Kimball and Donald Miller. Without taking much time to debate with Driscoll at this point, I would certainly challenge the notion that Donald Miller is a supporter of basic Christian doctrine. Kimball, on the other hand, does hold to certain doctrinal positions such as the three ancient ecumenical creeds, but would not want to drift much beyond them. Traveling down the second lane are the…

Ancient-Future Faith, Its Beliefs

(August 2008 – Volume 14, Issue 8)  In his most recent book Finding Our Way Again, The Return of the Ancient Practices, Brian McLaren, the most recognizable name in the emergent church movement, signals a shift, or at least a new emphasis within emergent, toward ancient practices of earlier periods of church history. As usual, McLaren believes the church has lost its way due to its refusal to follow God’s leading. The church has become “proud and unteachable” but fortunately a few “humble and teachable” people (guess who?) are pointing out the right path:[1] “When the community of faith realizes it has lost its way, it begins looking forward by looking back…It looks to its ancient practices to help it reset its future course.”[2] This means that the church, in order to find its way again, must look to and adopt the early church (not New Testament church) traditions and rituals,…

Ancient-Future Faith Or Do All Roads Lead to Rome

(June 2008 – Volume 14, Issue 6)  Rumors are starting to circulate that the emergent church movement is running out of steam. After making the biggest splash and the most noise of anything in the Christian community for many years it appears to be approaching exhaustion. Some like Rob Bell and Erwin McManus who are clearly in the “emergent conversation” have denied their involvement. And people seem a bit tired of hearing about postmodernism, its rejection of universal truth and its promotion of relativism. After all, how long can people live questioning the obvious and denying reality? These things play out nicely in philosophy class and in college coffee shops, but have serious limitations in the real world. Maybe it is time for the emergent ship to leave the dock and make way for the next fad. But before we begin to make funeral arrangements for the emergent church it might…

A Matter of Purity

(January 2004 – Volume 10, Issue 1)  As the author of Hebrews begins to wrap up his intensely doctrinal epistle, he makes it clear that doctrine has as its goal the changing of lives. It matters little how much theology you know; it matters little if you write doctrinal treatises on the Melchizedekian priesthood of Jesus Christ; it matters little if you can understand and explain everything in this epistle; if this knowledge does not change your life, it is of little value. What does it matter if I know all of these things and more: If I can’t be kind to my wife and kids at home; if I am in constant battle with people at work; if I am hard to get along with, mean spirited, divisive, easily offended, a gossip or lack concern (Hebrews 13:1-3)? If I can’t live in moral purity or I live for the same…

A Look at Depression Through the Lens of Scripture

(December 1997 – Volume 3, Issue 10) The man sitting before me would not respond to my questions. He sat, motionless, staring at the floor. That he had been under a great deal of stress was a fact known to all who loved him, but that he was this close to the “edge” surprised us all. Soon he would find himself on the psych ward of a local hospital, medicated and undergoing both individual and group counseling. Unfortunately his life would never be the same. He had come to this state of deep (what some would call “clinical”) depression because of unbiblical and sinful choices that he had been making in his life. Even though he would overcome his depression, the counseling he received reinforced and validated these choices. He would ultimately leave his wife and child, drop out of the church and pursue his ungodly lifestyle. Marital problems are the…

A Biblical Screening of Jim Cymbala’s Book, ‘Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire’

(December 1998 – Volume 4, Issue 11) The motivation behind reading this book was both a rave review from an IFCA (Independent Fundamental Churches of America) communiqué (written by Steve Johnson, member of the publication committee), which was also published by the IFCA bulletin service; and an equally positive book review in Voice (the IFCA magazine) by Richard McCarrell. I will quote McCarrell’s review in total, for context: Vance Havner loved telling of two Indians watching the construction of a lighthouse. It was finally completed, and the big day arrived for its opening. As dignitaries gathered, the worst fog of the season blew in. One Indian turned to the other and said, “Light shine, bell ring, horn blow, fog come in just the same.” Vance Havner would then say, “We’ve never had more lights shining, bells ringing, and horns blowing than we have today within the church. Yet, we’ve never had…

Can Man Live Without God? by Ravi Zacharias

Zacharias is an able apologist in the tradition of Frances Schaeffer. He writes well, mixes heavy thoughts with interesting stories and stays within the framework of conservative biblical Christianity. Having said that, it should be recognized that not all of Zacharias’ concepts emerge from Scripture. Unfortunately, there is good evidence in this book that the author has swallowed a great deal of secular psychology, which he freely interlaces with biblical truth. As a matter of fact, this whole volume is built on the foundation that man has the need for meaning and security (see p.113), a standard understanding of several wings of psychology but not found in Scripture. If the reader can leap over this admittedly large crevice there is much delicious fruit waiting on the other side. Zacharias handles well many philosophical questions. He proposes wonderful insights into the reasoning and views of the secular mind, offering alternatives that…

Fresh Fire or False Flames

(September 2008 – Volume 14, Issue 10)  Are you ready for the third wave – again? You might recall that, in the 1980s, C. Peter Wagner termed John Wimber’s Vineyard Movement the “Third Wave.” Wagner claimed at the time that the first wave of modern stirrings by the Holy Spirit began at the turn of the century with Pentecostalism. This led to establishing various Pentecostal denominations such as the Assembly of God. The second wave, which started in 1960, was the charismatic movement which brought the power of the Holy Spirit to the major denominations. Then Wagner said, “I see the third wave of the eighties as an opening of the straight-line evangelicals and other Christians to the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit that the Pentecostals and charismatics have experienced, but without becoming either charismatic or Pentecostal. I think we are in a new wave of something that now has…

The Sovereignty of God – Part 4

(December 2001 – Volume 7, Issue 11) The issue that we have been dancing around for the last several papers, and now must seriously address, has to do with the sovereign nature of God. Our context, so far, has been that of pain, suffering and evil in this world. And while this continues to be a good springboard into our discussion, it certainly does not exhaust the pool of topics and questions emerging from the subject. The broader discussion must include the whole gamut of problems that swirl around the “sovereignty of God” vs. the “freewill of man” debate.