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THE VACUUM SALESMAN
A vacuum salesman down in rural Tennessee. He had a his vacuum cleaner and all of this tools and everything, and he went out there and he told a lady, "I’ve got the most exciting vacuum cleaner you have ever seen. It will clean your house from top to bottom...you only have to pay so much down."
And the lady said, "It sounds real good."
He said, "You see that big pile of dirt right there on the floor with all those fur balls and bugs and things." He said, "My vacuum cleaner will just pick up all those things up just like that and if they don’t, I’ll eat it."
She said, "Well, you might as well get your knife and fork, because we do not have any electricity out here!"
Power is the one thing nations, politicians and businessman
covet. But the power that we need is not an earthly
power. God has promised believers Spiritual power.
Vance Havner once rightly said,"We are not going to move this world by criticism of it nor conformity to it, but by combustion within it of lives ignited by the Spirit of God."
(From a sermon by Donnie De Loney, Pentecostal Power, 5/22/2012)
John Williams III
Jesus lifted up the spirit of a discouraged preacher who retired early because of what happened to him. "In the Pentecostal Evangel church leader George U. Wood writes:
"Have you ever heard a healing take place? I have. I listened to an audiotape of Duane Miller teaching his Sunday school class from the text of Psalm 103 at the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on January 17, 1993. Duane prematurely retired from pastoring three years earlier because of a virus which penetrated the myelin sheath around the nerves in his vocal cords, reducing his speech to a raspy whisper....
"Teaching his class that day with a special microphone resting on his lips,
he reaffirmed his belief in divine healing and that miracles had not ended
with the Book of Acts. Listening to the tape, at times you can barely
understand his weakly spoken wheezy words of faith. The miracle happened at verse 4 when he said, "I have had and you have had in times
past pit experiences."
"On the word pit his life changed—the word was as clear as a bell, in contrast to the imperfect enunciation of the preceding "word past. He paused, startled; began again and stopped. He said a few more words—all in a normal clear tone—and stopped again. The class erupted with shouts of joy, astonishment and sounds of weeping. God completely healed him as he was declaring the truth in this psalm. (You can read the full account in Miller’s book Out of the Silence, Nelson Publishers.)". (Craig Brian Larson. Choice Contemporary Stories & Illustrations For Preachers, Teachers, & Writers. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1998, p. 116). If there is anything that this story tells us it is this, never underestimate what God can do! It was the healing touch of Jesus that gave Rev. Duane Miller the full range of his voice again!
A book that has changed my life is What’s So Amazing About Grace? In it the author, Philip Yancey quotes Mark Twain. Apparently Twain used to say he put a dog and a cat in a cage together as an experiment, to see if they could get along. They did, so he put in a bird, pig and goat. They, too, got along fine after a few adjustments. Then he put in a Baptist, Presbyterian, and Catholic; soon there was not a living thing left.
In this area it might be Baptist, Pentecostal and Catholic. But you know, it’s hard enough sometimes for a Wesleyan, a Wesleyan and a Wesleyan to get along.
Tony Campolo tells about the time he was asked to speak at a Pentecostal college. Before the service, eight men had him kneel so they could place their hands on his head and pray. Tony was glad to have the prayer, but each of them prayed a long time, and the longer they prayed the more they pushed on Tony’s head. And then they even seemed to wander in their prayers. One of the men didn’t even pray for Tony, he prayed for some guy he was concerned about. He began to pray and said, “Dear Lord, you know Charlie Stoltzfus. He lives in that silver trailer down the road a mile. You know the trailer, Lord, just down the road on the right-hand side.” Tony wanted to interrupt and tell him that God already knew where they guy lived and didn’t need directions, but he just knelt there trying to keep his head upright. The prayer went on: “Lord, Charlie told me this morning he’s going to leave his wife and three kids. Step in and do something, God. Bring that family back together.” With that, the prayer time ended and Tony went on to preach at the college chapel. Things went well and he got in his car and began to drive home. As he drove onto the Pennsylvania Turnpike, he saw a hitchhiker and felt compelled to pick him up. No one can tell a story better than Tony Campolo, so I’ll let him take it from here: “We drove a few minutes and I said: ‘Hi, my name’s Tony Campolo. What’s yours?’ He said, ‘My name is Charlie Stoltzfus.’ I couldn’t believe it I got off the turnpike at the next exit and headed back. He got a bit uneasy with that and after a few minutes he said, ‘Hey mister, where are you taking me?’ I said, ‘I’m taking you home.’ He narrowed his eyes and asked, ‘Why?’ I said, ‘Because you just left your wife and three kids, right?’ That blew him away. ‘Yeah Yeah, that’s right.’ With shock written all over his face, he plastered himself against the car door and never took his eyes off me. Then I really did him in as I drove right to his silver trailer. When I pulled up, his eyes seemed to bulge as he asked, ‘How did you know that I lived here?’ I said ‘God told me.’ (I believe God did tell me.) When he opened the trailer d...
I want to conclude with a story that Tony Campolo tells about a time he was asked to speak at a Pentecostal college. He remembered that before the service, eight men had him kneel so they could place their hands on his head and pray. He was glad to have prayer, but each of them prayed a long time, and the longer they prayed the more they pushed on his head. One of the men didn’t even pray for him, he prayed for a neighbor. He said, "Dear Lord, you know Charlie Stoltzfus. He lives in that silver trailer down the road a mile. You know the trailer, Lord, just down the road on the right-hand side." Tony recalls that he wanted to interrupt and tell him that God already knew where they guy lived and didn’t need directions, but he remained silent & just tried to keep his head upright. The prayer went on: "Lord, Charlie told me this morning he’s going to leave his wife and three kids. Step in and do something, God. Bring that family back together." The prayer time ended & Tony preached. Things went well. After the service as he was headed home he saw a hitchhiker and felt compelled to pick him up. Campolo, said, "We drove a few minutes in silence & then I said: ’Hi, my name’s Tony Campolo. What’s yours?’ He said, ’My name is Charlie Stoltzfus.’ Campolo got off the turnpike at the next exit and headed back. After a few minutes Charlie said, ’Hey mister, where are you taking me?’ He said, ’I’m taking you home.’ He narrowed his eyes & asked, ’Why?’ I said, ’Because you just left your wife & 3 kids, right?’ He was shocked, he had never seen me before. He plastered himself against the car door & never took his eyes off me. Then I really did him in as I drove right to his silver trailer. When I pulled up, his eyes almost bulged as he asked, ’How did you know that I lived here?’ I said ’God told me.’ (I believe God did tell me.) When he opened the trailer door his wife exclaimed, ’You’re back, You’re back’ He whispered in her ear & the more he talked, the bigger her eyes got. I said with real authority, ’The two of you sit down. I’m going to talk & you two are going to listen’ That afternoon I led those two people to Jesus Christ."
** IS THE CHURCH ON THE ENDANGERED LIST?
Many Americans are on a spiritual quest. This should be good news
for the church. But, according to researchers, many of them are
choosing noninstitutional forms of religion. A recent poll by Gallup
shows that weekly church attendance is holding steady at about 40
percent of the population - the same rate as in the 1950s. But other
researchers - like Dave T. Olson, director of TheAmericanChurch.org
- claim only 17.7 percent of the population attends a church service
any given weekend.
Olson, who bases his numbers on annual church attendance reported by
individual U.S. congregations, says, "People who only go to church
now and again exaggerate how often they go."
Albert Winseman, religion and social trends editor for the Gallup
Organization, says people are shopping for alternatives to church
and that is one reason 3,000 local churches close their doors
"Most denominations are either declining or stagnant," says
The Assemblies of God is one of the few Christian groups to show
steady growth in recent years. The Yearbook of American and Canadian
Churches reports the Assemblies of God and Southern Baptists are the
only Protestant faith groups of the largest 25 to report an increase
in membership for 2004.
An April Gallup poll indicated 65 percent of Pentecostals attend
church weekly, second only to Church of Christ (at 68 percent) among
VANISHING PROTESTANT MAJORITY
Half a century ago, two-thirds of the population considered
themselves Protestants. Officially, for the first time last year,
self-identified Protestants dipped below half of all Americans,
according to Gallup research.
Evangelical and Pentecostal church attendance looks stable, but
membership isn’t keeping pace with population growth. Olson says
although the same number of people are attending church as 15 years
ago, there are an additional 48 million people living in the
But people are not necessarily flocking to other faiths. J. Gordon
Melton, author of the Encyclopedia of American Religions, says
tabulating all the Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews and New Agers
accounts for only 7 percent of Americans. Self-professing atheists
comprise another 10 percent of the population.
"In the culture today we don’t have the churchgoing momentum we did
in the 1950s, when ’respectable people’ attended church every week,"
says Earl Creps, director of the Doctor of Ministry Program at
Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri.
"There’s no guarantee anymore that people are going to come to
Although only 17 to 40 percent of Americans attend church regularly,
about 80 percent of the population professes Christianity.
Pollster George Barna, who last year wrote the book "Revolution:
Finding Vibrant Faith Beyond the Walls of the Sanctuary," believes a
transformational shift is occurring in how Christians view church.
He claims more than 20 million committed yet disaffected
"revolutionaries" have struck out on their own to form house
churches, family faith communities and cyberchurches.
WHAT CHURCH OFFERS
Creps, author of "Off-Road Disciples," believes these
"revolutionaries" are forfeiting a great deal by not being involved
in a local church. "A great church offers relational connections,
people modeling how to live faith, accountability, the enormous
power of a group worship experience and the operation of the gifts
of the Spirit," he says.
Theologian J.I. Packer says the reality of corporate church life
pervaded first-century Christianity and should today as well.
"Individuality is not correct, according to biblical standards,"
says Packer, author of "Knowing God." "The church is central in
God’s plan. God uses the church to set up His kingdom - the
corporate relational reality where people respond to Christ as King.
We can’t dismiss the structure God has established."
Many observers believe house churches and cyberchurch movements are
short-lived trends that will never amount to more than 5 percent of
Melton says such methods don’t represent a new phenomenon. "For
decades people have been saying they can be a good Christian and
never go to church," he says.
Gallup sees a strong link between individual spiritual commitment
and church attendance by measuring factors such as prayer, Bible
study and small group involvement.
"People can say they are a spiritually committed person without
attending church, but it happens only 5 percent of the time,"
Creps says merely getting people into the sanctuary isn’t the goal.
"The issue really is the need for every person to come to God
through His Son Jesus Christ. That involves a connection with a
community of Christians - which we call church."
"The church is God’s primary vehicle for the proclamation of the
gospel," Winseman says. "The abundant life is found most abundantly
in the community of the local church."
--John W. Kennedy, Today’s Pentecostal Evangel
This article reveals the current condition of the church and some new trends in Christianity but for the church to be the Acts New Testament church we need to continue to explore and discover from acts what it looks like and what it does.
In his sermon, “A Dangerous Pentecost,” Halford Luccock tells of Lorenzo de’Medici, the great Florentine patron of the arts who was very proud of the spectacles he staged for the citizenry. Among his productions were several amazingly realistic religious pageants performed in church. But one Pentecost, Lorenzo went too far: he used actual fire to depict the descent of the tongues of flames on the apostles. The fragile stage set caught fire and, before horrified onlookers, the entire church burned to the ground (Marching Off the Map, Harper, 1952). The moral is clear: pray for Pentecostal power, but don’t try to manufacture it.
Charismatic Chaos, J. MacArthur, Jr., Zondervan, 1992, p. 175
False prophets and false Christ’s will make the scene in the last days. There was Prophet Jim Jones of the terrible Guyana tragedy on November 18, 1978 when he lied to his followers and convinced them (or commanded them) to drink Kool-aid laced with poison. 913 people were found dead, including Jim Jones. Jones thought he was the re-incarnated Christ.
All I can say is, “It is appointed unto men once to die but after this the judgment.” In his case, it may well have been more judgment than for others.
And there have been others. David Koresh of the Branch Davidians and the Waco, TX, shootout in April of 1993. When David Koresh (Vernon Wayne Howell) was 19 years old he (supposedly) became a born-again Christian in the Southern Baptist Church but soon joined his mother’s church, the Seventh Day Adventist Church. There he fell in love with the pastor’s daughter and while praying for guidance he opened his eyes and found the bible open at Isaiah 34 which stated that none should want for a mate; convinced this was a sign from God he approached the pastor and told him that God wanted him to have his daughter for a wife. The pastor threw him out, and when he continued to persist with his pursuit of the daughter he was expelled from the church.
In 1981 when he was 22 he moved to Waco, Texas where he joined the Branch Davidians. From there it was apparently all downhill. And Koresh took 80 people with him to their deaths on April 19, 1993.
And one of the latest to hit the scene is De Jesus from Puerto Rico. In the eyes of his flock, Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda is, in fact, the second coming of Christ. As the head of the Growing in Grace International Ministry, he presides over a sprawling organization that includes more than 300 congregations in two dozen countries, from Argentina to Australia. He counts more than 100,000 followers and claims to reach millions more through a 24-hour TV channel, a radio show and several Web sites. He is supported by the generosity of his devotees, who have launched some 450 businesses to pour cash into Growing in Grace’s coffers. Though de Jesus’ followers worship him, others denounce him as a charlatan.
De Jesus, 60, spent his youth drifting from the Roman Catholics to the Pentecostals to the Baptists. Then one night in 1973, he says, he awoke to a vision of two hulking men at his bedside who announced the arrival of the Lord, who, says de Jesus, "came to me and integrated with me." In the early years after founding Growing in Grace in Miami in 1986, de Jesus didn’t claim to be Christ. Instead, he worked as a pastor spreading his doctrine: that ...
Story: Perhaps I can explain it better by telling you as story that the famous Canadian 20th Century Pentecostal missionary, Jonathan Goforth, used to tell.
When Jonathan was 16 and still living at home with his parents, his father bought a second farm. He asked Jonathan to look after a huge field on that farm and get it ready for harvest.
Jonathan loved his father and wanted to please him. So he ploughed and weeded the field. He tilled it, bought the best grain and planted it in the field.
When the field was ready for harvest, Jonathan brought his father over to inspect it.
Jonathan’s father came and stood on a small hill overlooking the field and said nothing.
He simply surveyed the field to see if he could find weeds.
When he found nothing, Jonathan’s father simply smiled.
Jonathan Goforth used to say: "It was the smile on my father’s face that was all the reward I needed. So it is with our heavenly father when we do what he commands us to do."
Tulsa area floods: people coming together to fight rising water. Republicans next to democrats, Catholics next to Pentecostals, blacks next to whites. Put aside minor differences for a greater purpose. Church has the greatest purpose ever given in the life of this world and people outside see many fellowship as a bunch of grippers and fussers when we should be standing shoulder to shoulder to accomplish the task we have been given.