søndag 11. mai 2008

Where is the outpouring?

Where is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit? In my ordination as a pastor more than sixteen years ago, we asked for the Spirit to fill me and equip me for the pastoral ministry. I often feel the signs of the presence of the Spirit are few and rare, and I long for a fresh outpouring of living water into the church where I serve.

The last month many Christians have looked to the "Florida outpouring" and they ask if this is the beginning of a new, great revival. The preacher in the centre of the revival, Todd Bentley from Canada, with his tattoos and his piercings, is not the typical image of an American TV evangelist. (See video clip) He has introduced some rather interesting new vocabulary, like "bam!" and "boom!", which is probably not going to be taken into the Lutheran liturgy.

The question is - for those of us who manage to look beyond the cultural expressions that we are not comfortable with - if it is God who is doing this, or if it is only a show. When I look at the TV broadcasts and listen to what he tells us about his past and how he has been led into the ministry, I must say that he seems honest. He seems to be driven by a strong urge to be in the presence of God and to experience his glory, and to pass this on to the people he preaches to. And when you see and hear the testimonies of the people who are being healed from all kinds of diseases and infirmities, you can't help but feel the joy.

The Holy Spirit comes in many different ways. Not only in the "bam!" and the "boom!" He comes with the still voice that creates faith where there used to be unbelief, and he comes to the small gatherings, not only the big celebrations. He certainly does. But... Our greatest danger is if we become complacent and say that we don't need any new outpouring. And to be honest, most Lutheran worship services could need some blasts to wake us up from our deep slumber.

I have had a good Pentecost this year. In the Chinese worship service on Pentecost Eve we invited the Holy Spirit to come. Nothing dramatic happened, but the whole congregation came forward to receive prayers, some tears were falling, and we felt His presence among us. It has been wonderful to see how the Lord has built up this small congregation year by year and how he is equipping the new believers with his gifts.

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