I have in my office a picture of an altar call at Camp Cedaredge in the mid 1980’s. Some of those teens are Pastors and Missionaries today. I keep it here as a reminder of the memories of hundreds of teenagers calling out to God. An incredible move of God that I so desire for my church body.
I grew up in the classical Pentecostal church, where my father believed strongly in allowing the Holy Spirit to move in church services. The altar was full of people who sought God, repented from sins, and where the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit was real and palpable. I am truly grateful for those memories. I have experienced those moments as a Pastor, and pray for them to be life defining and as transformational for my people as thy were for me.
However, I have also experienced the misuse of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the disunity it brought. There have been times over the years where I have struggled to allow these gifts to operate because of the misuse in the past, and unfortunately, also the present. I’ve also wrestled with allowing the operation of these gifts in recent years because of the misuse on a larger scale.
One of my mentors, Dr. Linfield Crowder, after I had expressed this exasperation, gave me the best advice. His response; “take down the barriers, protect the boundaries”. “The New Testament’s boundaries are clear”. I was reminded of this a few weeks ago after a conversation with my father in law, also a pastor, after watching the Jesus Revolution movie. “In a true revival there will be those who will try to misuse it for their own agenda. You have to step up as a Pastor and protect it”.
Here’s how I believe we go where the Bible goes and stop where the Bible stops — and how we can tell the difference between the real and the imitation:
•A real experience is marked by humility and brokenness that brings repentance not pride and avarice.
•A real experience is supernatural but not New Age, mystical and weird.
•A real experience has a solid and sound biblical foundation, not just an “extra biblical” experience.
•A real experience brings a deeper commitment to HIS mission not personal emotional gratification.
•A real experience produces a deeper sense of love for God, His church and each other not spiritual elitism.
These are some thoughts from one hungry, Pentecostal pastor, weary of the performance driven, spiritual entertainment industry invading our platforms. Platforms where I believe sincere, but misguided people are looking for what’s real, but have found a cheap imitation.
God please bring the REAL thing, and give me your wisdom and understanding as a Pastor to protect the boundaries.