The January 2005 PNEUMA INFORMER
In this issue
What's New at www.PneumaFoundation.orgNew Articles, Links, and other FeaturesNew Articles from the PNEUMA REVIEW
New Featured Online Articles
- Updated article: "Rightly Understanding God's Word: Whole Book Context" by Craig S. Keener. Part 1 of 2. What can the overall context tell us about how to read each book of the Bible? From the Winter 2004 (Vol 7 No 1) issue of the PNEUMA REVIEW. http://www.pneumafoundation.org/article.jsp?article=hermeneutics-keener-wholebook1.xml
- "Rightly Understanding God's Word: Bible Background" by Craig S. Keener. Part 2 of 2. More examples of using cultural background. Take a course on how to interpret the Bible from Professor Keener. From the Winter 2005 (Vol 8 No 1) issue of the PNEUMA REVIEW. http://www.pneumafoundation.org/article.jsp?article=BibleBackground2-CKeener.xml
- Book Review: Gift & Giver: The Holy Spirit for Today Craig S. Keener Reviewed by Wolfgang Vondey. From the Winter 2005 (Vol 8 No 1) issue of the PNEUMA REVIEW. http://www.pneumafoundation.org/article.jsp?article=/article_0020.xml
- Find other articles, reviews, and editorials from the PNEUMA REVIEW on the PNEUMA REVIEW Articles index. http://www.pneumafoundation.org/resources/articles_archive.jsp
New Download Resources
- New articles from R. T. Kendall about the importance of sound biblical teaching: "Itching Ears?" The church needs more than good experience - it needs good theology. http://www.pneumafoundation.org/article.jsp?article=/article_0022.xml "Word + Spirit = Power" A divorce of the Word and the Spirit in the church has resulted in 'fast-food' teaching and preaching - often tasty, but seldom healthy. http://www.pneumafoundation.org/article.jsp?article=/article_0023.xml Added December 28, 2004.
- "Pentecostals' Pursuit of Higher Education Sees 'Explosive Growth'" New trends in education among Pentecostal/charismatic leaders. Added December 29, 2004. http://www.pneumafoundation.org/article.jsp?article=/article_0024.xml
New In Depth Resources: Articles by Pentecostal/charismatic ScholarsNew Requests for Articles
- Download Resources Index: http://www.pneumafoundation.org/resources/downloads.jsp
To save space and make downloading easier, most download resources are compressed into ZIP files. Latest versions of Mac and Windows operating systems have built-in unzipping tools, and older OS users can still download free utilities to do this (links are provided on the download resources page).
- An updated version of Craig Keener's Bible Interpretation Course is now available. This is a full course on how to read and interpret the Scriptures by Professor Craig S. Keener. Professor Keener grants you permission to use this course to teach others and distribute his syllabus without cost. 168KB file. This resource is also available in a French translation prepared by Craig's wife.
- New requests for article submissions on the Request for Articles page for the PNEUMA REVIEW http://www.pneumafoundation.org/pr_wanted.jsp
New or previously published articles and book reviews are wanted for these and other subjects. Please see the page for details.
- The Tabernacle
- What should the church's response to postmodernism be?
- What is cross-cultural mission and how should the church be involved?
Also, be sure to check out the "What's New" section on the Pneuma Foundation homepage. New articles and other features are being added regularly.
Tell us about your web site
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Reports from Around the World
El Salvador: Spiritual Renewal After Civil War Devastation
El Salvador was devastated by war only a decade ago, but the Latin American nation is now a land of faith and spiritual renewal.
Evidence of an evangelical awakening can now be found everywhere. Just 13 years ago, before the civil war ended, only 5 percent of the country's population was born again. Today it is estimated that 30 percent of Salvadorans are evangelical Christians. One church in the capital has 100,000 members.
Cristina Hasbun, a pastor's wife living in the capital city of San Salvador, sparked a quiet revolution two years ago when she rented a stadium and organized a conference that attracted thousands of Salvadoran women. Many of them stared in disbelief when Cristina, who was ordained as a pastor alongside her husband, Juan Carlos, donned a wireless microphone and preached several sermons during the first daylong event. In a culture of pervasive machismo, Women do not preach in El Salvador.
Juan Hasbun reports that miracles are becoming more common in El Salvador as Christians leave their mark on secular society.
Source: Adapted from CharismaNOW report. Used with permission. http://www.charismanow.com/a.php?ArticleID=10379
Helping with Reports
Other News and Headlines
The PNEUMA INFORMER editor is looking for volunteers that could help gather and format reports for publication in this email newsletter. If you would be interested in helping with this, or if you have a one-time suggestion of an encouraging story or report of what God is doing in the world, please write to the INFORMER editor by using the email address found on the Contact Us page.
for Current News and Links
- Persecution Watch: Eritrea: Surge of arrests of Christians 200 Christians have been arrested since the beginning of the year. (CharismaNOW) http://www.charismanow.com/a.php?ArticleID=10461
Kazakhstan: No children under 18 to attend worship or Sunday School (Forum18) http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=494
Spain: Evangelical church torn down by authorities The promised replacement meeting place has still not been found (CharismaNOW). http://www.charismanow.com/a.php?ArticleID=10409
Vietnam: New evidence of torture, mass arrests of Montagnards Christians are being arbitrarily arrested and tortured. Also, Cambodia has slammed the door on new asylum seekers (Human Rights Watch) http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2005/01/09/vietna9967.htm
China: North Korean Refugee Advocates Roughed Up Security officers forcibly break up Beijing press conference that called for 'compassion.' (ChristianityTodayOnline) http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/102/42.0.html
World-wide Report: "2004: Tragedy & Triumph For Persecuted Christians" report from Open Doors. http://www.crosswalk.com/news/religiontoday/1304492.html
Iraq: "Bleeding the weak" Without political power or tribal muscle, Iraq's Christians have become ideal victims for gangsters and extremists. Many are now fleeing the country (The Guardian, London) http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1382450,00.html
Saudi Arabia: "Terrorizing Ally" Saudi Arabia tortures Christians even as it makes human-rights gestures. (ChristianityTodayOnline) http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/152/33.0.html
- "Bitter Pill" FDA strengthens warning on RU-486 (ChristianityTodayOnline). http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/002/17.23.html
- Is Rolling Stone Afraid of the Bible? The magazine is suddenly squeamish of religion. At least in one case. By Mark Moring (ChristianityTodayOnline) http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/103/53.0.html
- USA: "Missionary Generation" Not all colleges are the same, some do stand out from the centers of debauchery that many public universities have become. Religious colleges are churning out a different kind of graduate (Q&A by Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review Online) http://www.nationalreview.com/interrogatory/qa200501110730.asp
- Sudan: 20-year conflict officially over Interim self-rule for Christian south (The Boston Globe). http://www.boston.com/news/world/africa/articles/2005/01/10/20_year_sudan_conflict_officially_over
- Florida preacher dies during sermon His final words were "And when I go to heaven" (Associated Press) http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20050111/ap_on_re_us/brf_preacher_collapses
- December 26 Tsunami Disaster: Wave stands still at the Name of Jesus Daylan Sanders, founder of the Samaritan Children's Home in Navalady, Sri Lanka, told CNN's Anderson Cooper that he commanded the wave to stand still in Jesus' name. "[T]here was no power on Earth that could have held it back but the power of God. I said [to other survivors later], I called upon God, and I commanded it in the name of Jesus, who 2,000 years ago he commanded the waves, and they obeyed. He commanded the sea, and they obeyed. And this is the very same God did the same to us and gave us those precious few seconds that we needed." http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0412/31/acd.01.html
WHO estimates tsunami injured at half million The World Health Organisation estimated that 500,000 people were injured in the Indian Ocean tidal waves and warned of a "health disaster" if survivors are not given quick access to clean drinking water.(AFP) http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/afp/20050104/hl_afp/asiaquakeaidunhealth&cid=1508&ncid=2337
"Disaster Prompts 'Neighborly Love'" By Ajith Fernando in Colombo, Sri Lanka. A ministry leader in Sri Lanka meets Christian survivors straining to deliver aid to victims despite their own losses (ChristianityTodayOnline). http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/152/53.0.html See also: "Temptations in Disaster" By Ajith Fernando. Advising his colleagues on spiritual disciplines during a crisis (ChristianityTodayOnline). http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/152/54.0.html
"India's Christians Prominent in Casualties and Aid" By Manpreet Singh in Chandigarh, India. Velankanni basilica, Christian fishermen among hardest hit (ChristianityTodayOnline). http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/152/52.0.html
- Editorial: Slaughter of the Innocents, 2004 The Netherlands celebrates Christmas by reenacting Herod. (ChristianityTodayOnline) http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/152/12.0.html
- Ukraine: "Confronting Caesar" Pentecostal Nigerian pastor in Ukraine takes a stand for freedom. An interview with ChristianityTodayOnline. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/151/42.0.html
See other news to pray and praise God about in the Prayer Requests department below.
Report the News
We are looking for stories about what God is doing in the world, reports about the persecution of Christians, and information about significant trends and ministry opportunities. If you have a news item to report, please send an email to the PNEUMA INFORMER. http://www.pneumafoundation.org/contactus.jsp
Someone wrote a question recently to the Pneuma Foundation asking for clarification about our statement of beliefs. We include it here with editor Raul Mock's answer.
Hey I was wondering if I understood your statement of faith, that when a person is baptized of the spirit, they must speak tongues or that they normally do. And what are the scripture references that back that up.
Response from PNEUMA REVIEW editor, Raul Mock:
Thanks for writing with your question, Matthew.
Since entire books have been written to discuss this question, I do hope you will not mind if I remain brief in my answer. The teaching called initial evidence is the teaching that the Baptism in the Holy Spirit will always be accompanied by praying in tongues.
Initial evidence, that all who are baptized by the Spirit will speak in tongues, was a teaching of early Pentecostals and remains an important tenet for many classical Pentecostals today. Charismatics (those from the charismatic renewal of the 60's and later) generally agree with this teaching as well. Those sometimes called "third-wavers" (such as the Vineyard movement) see this teaching as divisive and have generally disagreed with it or revised it, even though they do affirm the baptism of the Spirit in similar terms as other Pentecostal/charismatics.
Since the members and even founders of the Pneuma Foundation come from all kinds of Pentecostal/charismatic backgrounds, we wanted a simple statement of belief on this subject that expressed our diversity of belief. We all agree that the infilling of the power of the Spirit is available and special privilege for service for all believers in Jesus the Messiah. We all agree that praying in the Spirit--speaking in tongues as the Spirit gives utterance--is the normative evidence that Jesus has baptized a believer into God the Holy Spirit. However, since there is no proof text that says directly that the baptism in the Spirit is known to have occurred because someone has spoken in tongues, we adopted a statement that says tongues is the normal initial evidence. Since the New Testament does not give us a reason to think that this is the only possible "evidence," we cannot in good conscience tell our brothers and sisters in Jesus that they cannot be Spirit-filled unless they produce tongues. The Spirit "blows" as He wills and we do not trust our senses (either physical or spiritual) that we know for certainty what the God of the universe is doing or can do.
In summary, we believe that tongues are the normal accompaniment to the (initial) baptism in the Spirit.
Thanks again for writing. Is you would like additional clarification, please write again.
In the love of the Father,
"My New Year's Resolution" by H. Murray Hohns
I've been making New Year's Resolutions for years and years without a lot of success; so this year I propose we do something different. Instead of making a list of do's and don'ts, let's start the New Year by asking God to add four things to our lives in 2005. These four are: favor, honor, joy and mercy. Lord, would you make us ever mindful of these four things all year long!
We'll start with favor. We all have God's favor but somehow we generally ignore this fact. Indeed everyone who reads this and those who don't are each God's favorite person. No one else is more important in God's sight than you are. You have the favor of God; indeed you are his favorite of all. The Creator of Heaven and earth and all within loves you and will do wonders for you if you just invite Him into every situation of your life.
Honor follows favor. We automatically honor people we favor, and God has built the grounds for honor into each of us. Indeed when we were conceived God bestowed each of us with his dignity, and this gift never leaves you. Every man and woman who survived for a moment in their mother's womb has immeasurable dignity. We may strip someone of their dignity but God never does this. God sees you as he designed you - someone with great ability and potential - his favorite person ever on this earth. Next year let's honor everyone we know, meet or hear about because God has made his dignity part of the essential ingredients of the human race. If we honor God's creatures - each other - we actually honor God, their creator, and God honors those who honor him.
Joy follows honor. When we are honored or offer honor to another, we feel great joy. Someone once said that "Joy is the feeling you get inside when you realize that God has heard your cry and started to work in his ways to make your dream reality". It's a wonderful feeling! Woes flee away! That feeling is joy unspeakable and full of mercy.
Mercy means that you are safe and secure, foolishly happy, even though you know that you do not deserve to be there. Mercy is lovingkindness. When your dreams are fulfilled, joy abounds, and that makes us love everybody even ourselves. You know the song: "What a day this has been..."
Scripture states that "If God be for us, who can be against us." 2005, like no year you have lived so far, can be filled day after day with sweet and pleasant things, delight, constant flourishing and wholeness all in all. All we have to do is to start the year, not with our own strength and determination to be better people; no instead, we can live the most abundant year we have ever experienced merely by asking our Creator for a year of favor, honor, joy and mercy. Taste and see.
H. Murray Hohns is a retired civil engineer and technical writer. He is an ordained Foursquare minister, an instructor at Pacific Rim Bible College in Hawaii, serves on his denomination's national financial council, and is a regular contributor to the PNEUMA REVIEW and PNEUMA INFORMER.
Resources You Can Use
Many internet ministries have made a rapid response to the Asian crisis.
Truthmedia has rebranded and modified their existing THE LIFE (Passion) site to become an evangelistic Tsunami support resource. http://www.thelife.com/disaster
Another evangelistic site asks where God is WHEN DISASTER STRIKES: http://www.whendisasterstrikes.org
Other online sources for thinking and discussing this tragedy:
By the way, please do not pass on emails with pictures of apparently unidentified Tsunami children (or anything else), unless these include a 'current status' webpage. There are several of these going round, where the children have long since been identified.
It is worth adding in parenthesis that Dr David Barrett estimates that over 150,000 Christians currently die each year as a result of their faith - a similar figure to the tragedy. Salvation Army figures reveal that 200,000 Nepali girls under 18 in the s..x trade in India; experts estimate that 10,000 children aged between six and 14 are virtually enslaved in brothels in Sri Lanka. The Thai Government reports that 60,000 Thai children are sold into prostitution - independent non-governmental organization (NGO) experts estimate the figure to be closer to 800,000. May the tragedy somehow break this trade, much of it operating for western tourists in the affected beach areas of these countries.
Source: Web Evangelism Bulletin (Jan. 2005)
The FBI (US Federal Bureau of Investigation) alerted the public to a variety of online scams asking users to send money for the victims of the recent tsunami disaster.
In its statement, the agency offered advice for those wishing to help victims of the tsunami:
- Do not respond to any unsolicited messages (spam) regarding the disaster.
- Be skeptical of individuals claiming to be surviving victims or foreign government officials asking for help in placing large sums of money in overseas bank accounts.
- To ensure that contributions to U.S.-based nonprofit organizations are used correctly, go directly to the Web sites of recognized charities and aid organizations, rather than following a link to another site.
- Attempt to verify the legitimacy of nonprofit organizations by utilizing various Internet-based resources to confirm the existence of the organization as well as its nonprofit status.
- Be leery of e-mail that claims to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files, since the files may contain viruses. Open only attachments from known senders.
Read the full alert: http://www.fbi.gov/pressrel/pressrel05/tsunamiscam010505.htm
Source: Thanks to Jim C. for sending this information.
Easy Swahili Bible Commentaries and Texts are Now Available
These are written and checked by Kenyans and Tanzanians and may be found at: http://www.bibliakiswahili.info
Source: BRIGADA TODAY. Used with permission. www.brigada.org
Illustrated Tour of the Temple
Take an illustrated tour of the Second Temple (the Temple built by Ezra, rebuilt by Herod the Great, and visited by Jesus).
Please note that this site is operated by Jewish people that do not recognize Jesus as Messiah. "The Temple Institute website is an ongoing project of the International Department of the Temple Institute, Jerusalem, Israel."
Source: Thanks to Kevin for recommending this resource.
Thoughts to Ponder
""History is a vast early warning system."
Source: Norman Cousins
"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to remain a child always."
"Being reassured weekly that your sins are forgiven is a great comfort."
Source: D. G. Hart
"True contemplation is not a psychological trick but a theological grace."
Source: Thomas Merton
"Human desire, deep and restless and seemingly unfulfillable, keeps stuffing itself with finite goods, but these cannot satisfy. If we try to fill our hearts with anything besides the God of the universe, we find that we are overfed but undernourished, and we find that day by day, week by week, year after year, we are thinning down to a mere outline of a human being."
Source: David John Seel Jr.
Excerpts from the PNEUMA REVIEW
The PNEUMA REVIEW is a quarterly printed journal of ministry resources and theology for Pentecostal and charismatic ministries and leaders. For more information about the PNEUMA REVIEW, and to learn how to subscribe, please visit: Introducing the PNEUMA REVIEW. www.pneumafoundation.org/intro_pr.jsp
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In order to complete this issue of the INFORMER while it is still January, no excerpts from the journal will be included.
- Pray for those affected by the December 26 earthquake and tidal waves. The human loss along the Indian Ocean coastlands is so great it is hard to comprehend, especially where people were already poor in material things. Pray for the church to have tremendous opportunities to minister the life-changing love of Jesus during this difficult time.
On pastor in Colombo, Sri Lanka reported the following on the day of the tsunami wave: "Few families of my church effected. They lost their house and the belongings. One brother called Suranka (Helper) came to church this morning with his wife and three small kids totally lost his small house and all belonging. If he did not come to church this morning definitely the whole family would have died. It is a great miracle that he is alive with his family today. Now he is staying with his relation's house. This evening he came to see me. My wife gave some clothes to his wife. I encouraged him and I told him that I will help as I can. There is another widow, her daughter and son (son is dumb and deaf) lost their house and their things and they are in the refugee camp. I will visit them tomorrow. At this moment, we cannot visit the area because all the affected areas are covered by police. Right around my area all the Roman Catholic churches and Government schools are became refugee camps. They are in need of food, clothing and mineral water." Reference Number: 90015530
Another ministry leader in Sri Lanka said: "In the past the Church has accused of 'un-ethical' conversions and anti-Christian propaganda was bandied around. Not less than 10 days back, a Catholic church a little south of Colombo was burned. Nevertheless, all churches are responding to the tragedy in spite of that they have been accused of and are helping ALL affected irrespective of their religious persuasion. This is a bold step in the face of such accusations, but one that is being done in obedience to God's command to love people. . . . This is the first time Sri Lanka has been hit by a tsunami and while we have experienced floods, famines, occasional cyclones and even a 20 year civil war, this is the single biggest tragedy to hit Sri Lanka and it took all of seven minutes."
- Pray for believers in Belarus: Vasily Yurevich, of the charismatic New Life Church, was on 28 December fined 150 times the minimum monthly wage for organizing an "illegal" service, Forum 18 News Service has learnt. Pastor Vyacheslav Goncharenko - who faces punishment on the same charges - told Forum 18 that this "is a colossal amount of money." Two weeks earlier the church's re-registration application was rejected, rendering - against international law - all its public activity illegal and subject to punishment. Some religious leaders have been fined in Belarus this year, but the fines have generally been much smaller. Pastor Goncharenko told Forum 18 that "we're ready for everything. We will stand up for our rights to worship God. This is all we want to do, and God will defend us." Nina Gordeyuk, deputy head of the local district administration, vehemently denied to Forum 18 that the authorities are waging a campaign against the church.
Source: Forum18 News http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=480
- Congratulations to Steve Brooks on his recent installation as pastor of a church in the New Hope area. Steve has contributed book reviews to the PNEUMA REVIEW and is currently working on an interview project.
- Congratulations to volunteer Emilie Walma on her recent engagement to Ryan Davis. Emilie has assisted with PNEUMA REVIEW mailings for over two years. The volunteer staff wishes you God's best in your life together.