Archive for April, 2009

Catching up with the world

April 19, 2009

Most of us make use of modern technology such as computers, mobile ‘phones and emails.  But the use of gadgets is not always beneficial.  Some preachers really thought they had ‘made it’ when they began to use Powerpoint.  But they have been left behind again.  For certain purposes the video projector can be useful, projecting maps, charts and diagrams for example.  But many preachers, rightly in my view, have resisted using Powerpoint in preaching.  One minister told me that when he used it he found that the congregation’s eyes were always on the screen as though they were not listening to him.  In fact, while they were copying down what was on the screen they missed something he said.  So he stopped using it.  In fact the business world was already ahead on this.  According to recent research by a major university,  Powerpoint for business presentations is counter-productive.  They discovered that PP divides the attention of the audience between the speaker and the screen with the result that the audience learned less with PP than without it.  This is apparently the case with straight speech in business presentations and lectures, so it would apply to sermons also. There are, of course, many other factors such as the skill of the lecturer/presenter.   For preaching what we need, in addition to careful preparation and clear presentation of the Truth is the unction of the Holy Spirit.  Two books that are directly relevant to this are Spirit Empowered Preaching by Arturo G. Azurdia III (Mentor/Christian Focus, 1998) and Power Through Prayer by E. M. Bounds (various publishers and editions).

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Azusa Street, 1906

April 15, 2009

The events that occurred in a dilapidated building on Azusa Street, Los Angeles in 1906-7 are widely regarded as the beginnings of the modern Pentecostal and Charismatic movements.  Those events originated through the teaching of two men: Charles Fox Parham and William Joseph Seymour.  Charles Parham, who had been influenced by Weslyan “second blessing” holiness teaching, had come to the conclusion, through his study of the Acts of the Apostles, that there was a third blessing, the baptism of the Holy Spirit which was evidenced by speaking in tongues.  He taught this to his students among whom was William Seymour.

Seymour moved to Los Angeles and set up a mission in Azusa Street.  His teaching on the baptism in the Holy Spirit, the glossolalia, and people falling “under the power” aroused considerable excitement.  This, together with news of the revival that had occurred in Wales in 1904-5 caught the attention of the newspapers.  Crowds began to gather.  Unfortunately, along with well-meaning Christians, the excitement also drew in mediums, hypnotists, and members of other sects.  Chaos ensued.  Feeling out of his depth, Seymour wrote to Parham begging him to come and help restore order.  When Parham eventually arrived he was horrified by what he observed and denounced the whole thing, thus ending his friendship with Seymour.  However, Seymour himself later came to reject speaking in tongues.  It is ironical that the men regarded as the founders of Pentecostalism themselves rejected the whole or part, respectively, of what happened at Azusa Street.

For further details see the Appendix by Nick Needham in William Goode, Charismatic Confusion, (Trelawnyd, K & M Books, 2000), and Stanley Jebb, The Azusa Street Phenomenon in Where Reason Fails, papers read at the 2006 Westminster Conference, London.

The Return of the Daughters

April 7, 2009

Recently Shirley purchased a documentary DVD called The Return of the Daughters: A vision of victory for the single women of the 21st century.

It is published by The Western Conservatory of the Arts and Sciences, and presented by two fine young Christian women.  We were thrilled with it, and indeed quite moved by it.  It is controversial, but then isn’t the Gospel controversial?  We recommend it heartily to any couple who have daughters.  See the website http://www.returnofthedaughters.com.  It is available from http://www.conquestbooks.co.uk.

Among others this DVD features a well-known (in USA) Baptist minister, Voddie Baucham.  His web site is worth visiting too.  He has written several books including The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern world, Piper & Taylor, eds. (Crossway, 2007); Family Driven Faith (Crossway, 2007), and What he must be if he wants to marry my daughter, (Crossway, 2009).