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   March 2003 Issue of the Pneuma Informer

The March 2003 Pneuma Informer

In this issue:



What's New at www.PneumaFoundation.org
New Articles and other Features on the Pneuma Foundation Website:

Come visit soon. Write to Member Services with any comments or questions you have about the website or the Pneuma Informer.




Reports from Around the World

Montreal: A God who loves
Thousands of Asian immigrants live in Montreal, Canada. Ni Qu is a missionary there, bringing the Gospel to the city's Asians. She reports: "One day, I wanted to give a man on the street a New Testament. He was extremely rude to me. Shocked, I said 'Jesus loves you, too'. He told me that he was a Muslim, and didn't have much understanding of Jesus, so we started talking. I asked him whether his God loved him, and we spoke about Jesus for a long time. In the end, he took the Bible and said goodbye. Days later, our pastor received a letter from the man, telling how he had come to believe in Jesus by reading John's Gospel. That clearly demonstrated God's ability to change people," she says.
Source: Ni Qu in "DMG informiert" by way of Friday Fax 2003 Issue 10

Afghanistan: Thousands born again
According to an international aid organization in Afghanistan, thousands of people have received the Lord while listening to Christian radio programs. People in the refugee camps are spontaneously talking about Jesus as their savior. One mullah had started listening to Christian radio programs in Pashtu and he became a Christian. He started teaching others of what he had learned, risking his life to do so. He also encouraged others to listen. Within a short period of time, he had witnessed and helped another 1000 families come to Christ. The mullah was soon arrested and tortured. A hook was pierced through his tongue and he was dragged through the streets of the city until he died. This did not frighten the newly Christians. Another mullah, who is now a Christian, continues the job today, and he has also baptized several new Christians.
Source: IBRA News Bulletin

South Korea: prayer initiative to bring down the walls
The barbed wire and ideological controversies between North and South Korea are not the only walls that Christians in South Korea pray will fall. "Although the Korean church seems very much alive when viewed from the outside, denominationalism is like an aggressive rust in the Christian scene," says Richard Briggs, initiator of the "No More Walls" prayer initiative. Every Monday, Christians meet on "neutral ground" at 6:30 a.m. to pray that "the walls of isolation separating pastors and members of Christian churches will fall, and that the Korean church will not be lamed by protectionism and in-fighting." The fear of "sheep stealing" is so great that some pastors even forbid members of their church to attend concerts organized by other churches. The newly-formed prayer movement has three aims: that North and South Korea will be peacefully reunited; that the walls between the thousands of denominations will collapse; and that true revival will return to the nation.
Source: Friday Fax 2003 Issue 6

Iran: time of harvest starting?
A time of harvest is beginning in Iran, amid persecution. Christians have died as martyrs, been tortured and imprisoned. The leader of one underground church, for example, was hung up by his arms and tortured with electric shocks. However, many Iranians are experiencing Jesus supernaturally. Many Christians have dreams in which Jesus speaks to them personally, or in visions. According to the leader of one underground church, "it is difficult to find leaders I can trust. I can only trust people who have already been imprisoned once and did not give away any information." The following are some recent reports; the names have of course been changed.
Raised from the dead
Amir, a building worker, fell 15m (around 50 feet) from the fifth floor while working. He was rushed to hospital, but the nurses could only pronounce him dead. Christians prayed for him; the severe wounds were healed, and he returned to life. He is now well, and a witness of God's power who leads many to Jesus.
Why Mullahs in Iran respect the Bible
Rumana is 21 years old. She studied Islam for five years, including at a school where the religious leaders (Mullahs) are trained. Someone gave her a Bible, and she chose to follow Jesus. She dreamed of Jesus, as have many others, and testified about him to the Mullahs —for which she was imprisoned. In jail, she also told others about Jesus. The guard beat her, and put her on death row. Through Rumana's testimony, another inmate imprisoned for life chose to follow Jesus, and now sees it as her job to lead other prisoners to Jesus. After a few weeks, the prison guard who had beaten her also decided to follow Jesus. Rumana was called before the officials, who joked about being able to decide how much longer she would have to remain in jail. She replied "God alone decides, not you..." She was released after four months. Following her release, she gave Bibles to two Mullahs, who ridiculed it —but died within the week. Now, many Mullahs in Iran treat the Bible with great care and respect.
Healing and salvation
Ored has been a Christian for three years. He, his brother and sisters chose to follow Jesus after seeing their invalid cousin healed through prayer. Police planted opium in the apartment where believers met for prayer, aiming to imprison one of the Christians —the punishment for possession of drugs is harsh. Ahmed, one of the other Christians, claimed to be guilty himself, and was arrested in place of the police's original target. He was imprisoned, tortured and almost killed.
Source: Friday Fax 2003 Issue 9




"Guilty As Charged"
By Dennis L. Kutzner

As humans we do not naturally accept or admit our guilt.

I spent several hours in a courtroom recently listening to the pleas to misdemeanors, most of which were, "Not Guilty." I'm sure many were not guilty. The problem, however, is when we are guilty we want to fudge. We must explain ourselves, or try, hoping the person we are pleading with understands there were extenuating circumstances.

In one case, the person pleading was cited on three separate counts, driving without a license, driver's license suspended, and having an illegal drug and paraphernalia. He pleaded not guilty to each count. He had not worked for an entire year and was not looking for work. He was 24. When the Judge asked how he paid for his room, board, and food, he responded, "my mother." He was a guilty as anyone could be and he went to jail.

Certainly, he would not be able to post bond, unless "mother," could and would.

What would possess a man who was not guilty to plead guilty for someone else?

If you say, "love," you would be correct!

You are guilty. I am guilty. The whole world is guilty. And to accept the price or bond paid for our guilt, we must admit or confess we are guilty.

When we do, we go free, and not until!

Once a Christian the Bible informs me I will still be guilty at times. What do I do then? The Apostle John in his first letter states we are to again, admit our guilt to our Advocate (attorney) and permit Him to plead our case to the Judge. Isn't it comforting to know the Judge's Son is our Attorney!

So, guilt admission is a must in any state of being. Guilt is temporary, if, we admit it. When the Holy Spirit fingers you it is best to admit it, not attempt to wiggle out of it, just admit we are guilty, that is, confess our sin, and, He, who is faithful, will forgive us of our sin, all of them, will cleanse us from all our guilt and shame to make us free again.

Apply this to your Christian role, to your marital role, parental role, vocational role, to every role and you will soon see we fall very short.

Sounds Biblical to me, how about you?



Rev. Dennis L. Kutzner is Executive Secretary of Calvary Ministries, Inc., International.




Thoughts to Ponder

"The Bible teaches us that all Christians will spend eternity together; so we are family. Yet we don't act like it. And we don't know what we're missing."
—Pastor Clarence Shuler (quoted in Beacon, Nov/Dec 2002, page 8)

"If church is run as a business or corporation, it ceases to be a family. But if church truly is a family, we not only support one another, we will confront one another. Otherwise, there is little accountability."
—Glenn Kaiser

"Koinonia is never a cozy club for pious denial. It is the joint venture of a surgical team committed to the health and wholeness of one another."
—Michael Jinkins from Invitation to Theology




Foundation News

Conferences and Exhibits
Several members and volunteer staff of the Pneuma Foundation from the West Michigan area have been able to attend various conferences and exhibits together recently.

On February 20, 2003, several individuals were able to view the special Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit at the Van Andel Museum in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. This special exhibit is the only scheduled exhibition of the Dead Sea Scrolls from the Israel Antiquities Authority. The Dead Sea Scrolls were first discovered in 1947 by a Bedouin shepherd in caves near the Dead Sea in Israel. These scrolls include some of the earliest surviving text of the books of the Hebrew Bible and many of them were written more than 2,000 years ago. Webmaster Dave Driggs and his wife Jennifer, Raul and Erin Mock, Kevin Williams, and other friends of the ministry were able to see the exhibit together and encourage others in the area to see the exhibit while tickets are still available.

Mike Dies and Raul Mock, both editors for the Pneuma Review, will be attending the 32nd annual conference of the Society for Pentecostal Studies March 19-21. Asbury Theological Seminary in Lexington, Kentucky is hosting this year's convention. Many of the writers whose work has been published in the Pneuma Review and on the Pneuma Foundation website will also be present. Those attending SPS 2003 are encouraged to find the Pneuma Foundation display table and help themselves to the latest issue of the Pneuma Review which is being offered to conference attendees without cost or obligation.

Non-profit Standing
Paperwork has been completed and filed for the Pneuma Foundation to be given permanent tax-exempt status under the United States Internal Revenue tax code 501(c)3. The Foundation was given an 5-year advance ruling that it qualified for tax-exempt status in 1998, and has been gathering history since then to demonstrate this. Nearly two-thirds of the Foundation's income comes from contributions from members and friends of the ministry. Thank you for your support and prayers! Please pray that there are no delays or problems with receiving the full tax-exempt status from the IRS.




Resources You Can Use

Risk Management at Your Church:
Nightclub Fire - Happen in a Church?


Yes, a devastating fire could happen in a church, like the tragic fire in a secular nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island in February 2003. And it would be just as devastating a loss. Is your Church prepared?

Here are some questions worth asking:
Is there an approved plan of escape on paper that every usher knows? Have you performed a 'dry run' with your ushering staff? If you have a basement, is there a plan for getting those who would be there during church out? Have you met with your local fire department to review a Fire Escape Plan and worked with the Fire Chief on making contact with the Fire Department? If packed, could you safely get all the people out of your building(s) quickly and safely before smoke and heat overtakes them?
Congregational leaders need to seriously address these and related Risk Management issues.

Here are some resources to consider:
http://www.guideonecenter.com/ChurchandSchool/churchindex.htm
http://www.churchmutual.com/safety
http://cmr.gospelcom.net/cgi-cmr/webstore/web_store.cgi?category=risk

Adapted with permission from The Circular from Calvary Ministries, Inc. International



Excerpts from the Spring 2003 (Vol 6, No 2) issue of 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, visit:
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From "Pentecostals and Subordinate Revelation" by Edgar R. Lee

Writing to a Pentecostal audience, Professor Edgar Lee discusses principles about the place of revelation important to every Pentecostal/charismatic.


'You Pentecostals believe in continuing revelation, don't you?' That question, posed years ago by an evangelical friend who probably thought I was a little heretical, pointed out to me how important it is to clarify our doctrine of revelation.

Many groups over the centuries have indeed held heretical notions of revelation, placing greater emphasis on the messages of their prophets than the teachings of Scripture. One particularly notorious example is found among the revolutionary Anabaptists of the 16th century, some of whom took over the city of Munster, Germany, and led the populace in revolt and sexual excess through prophecies and revelations.

In our own lifetime probably all of us have met some Pentecostals and charismatics who seemed to elevate their private revelations or emotions above the Bible. What had previously been wrong to them on biblical grounds was suddenly felt to be right because of some subjective experience.

Since we as Pentecostals believe that God continues to speak in various ways to the church today, we must carefully outline a doctrine of revelation that is truly biblical.

The doctrine of revelation

Christianity is a revealed religion. It teaches that humankind are the fallen creation of a qualitatively superior divine Being who cannot be known unless He chooses to reveal himself. Even so, the Bible shows that our holy God takes the initiative and mercifully reaches out to communicate with an unworthy race which He wishes to redeem. To those who respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, God personally reveals himself through Christ and provides both the information and the miraculous regeneration needed for salvation. Thus a sound doctrine of revelation is the foundation of Christian theology.

While several biblical words may be translated revelation, the most common Old Testament verb is galah (cf., 1 Samuel 3:7; Daniel 2:22,28; Amos 3:7), and the most common New Testament verb is apokalypto [noun apokalypsis] (cf., Romans 1:17; Galatians 1:12; Ephesians 1:17, 3:3,5). Both of these words have the idea of 'uncovering,' thus 'revealing.' To illustrate, the ancient Greeks used apokalypto for the unveiling (uncovering) of a statue. These words are used over and over again in Scripture as God makes himself and His will known.

Theologians have come to use two basic concepts to describe the way God reveals himself as taught in Scripture. The first is general revelation which denotes that disclosure God makes of himself in the created order and which is available to all human beings everywhere and at all times. Men and women may see evidences of God's handiwork in nature as did David: 'The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands' (Psalm 19:1). Paul also taught that 'God's ... eternal power and divine naturehave been clearly seen ... from what has been made ...' (Romans 1:20).

Theologians further understand that there are indicators of God's being and nature both in history and in the constitution of men and women who are made in His image.

However, since sin has marred the creation and corrupted man's moral and spiritual nature, general revelation alone is never sufficient to lead one to a saving knowledge of God.

This leads, of necessity, to the second concept, special revelation. Here God reveals himself personally in ways that convey accurate knowledge of himself and His will and that make possible a saving relationship.

. . .

* Read the rest of this article in the Spring 2003 issue of the Pneuma Review.




From "Rightly Understanding God's Word" by Craig S. Keener

. . .

The Importance of Context

Context is the way God gave us the Bible, one book at a time. The first readers of Mark could not flip over to Revelation to help them understand Mark; Revelation had not been written yet. The first readers of Galatians did not have a copy of the letter Paul wrote to Rome to help them understand it. These first readers did share some common information; in this manual we call this shared information 'background': some knowledge of the culture, earlier biblical history, and so on. But they had, most importantly, the individual book of the Bible that was in front of them. Therefore we can be confident that the writers of the Bible included enough within each book of the Bible to help the readers understand that book of the Bible. For that reason, context is the most important key to Bible interpretation. (Background, what the writer could take for granted, is also essential; we will return to that subject in a later chapter.)

Often popular ministers today quote various isolated verses they have memorized, even though this means that they will usually leave 99% of the Bible's verses unpreached. One seemingly well-educated person told a Bible teacher that she thought the purpose of having a Bible was to look up the verses the minister quoted in church! But the Bible is not a collection of people's favorite verses with a lot of blank space in between. The God of the Bible is not a God of isolated verses without their context; using verses out of context one could 'prove' almost anything about God or justify almost any kind of behavioras history testifies. But in the Bible God revealed Himself in His acts in history and through the inspired records of those acts and the inspired wisdom of His servants addressing specific situations. Too often we take short-cuts to understanding the Bible by quoting random verses or assuming that others who taught us have understood them correctly. When we do so, we fail to be diligent in seeking God's Word (Prov 2:2-5; 4:7; 8:17; 2 Tim 2:15).

After one begins reading the Bible a book at a time, one quickly recognizes that verses isolated from their context nearly always mean something different when read in context. We cannot, in fact, even pretend to make sense of most verses without reading their context. The method of isolating verses from their context disrespects the authority of Scripture because this method of interpretation cannot be consistently applied to the whole of Scripture; it leaves many verses left over when it is done. Preaching and teaching the Bible the way it invites us to interpret itin its original contextboth explains the Bible accurately and provides our hearers a good example how they can learn the Bible better for themselves.

If we read any other book, we will not simply take an isolated statement in the middle of the book and ignore the surrounding statements which help us understand the reason for that statement. If we hand a story book to a child learning how to read, the child will probably start reading at the beginning. That people so often read the Bible out of context (I will offer examples below) is not because it comes naturally to us, but because we have been taught the wrong way by others' examples. Now we must accept the opportunity to begin teaching the next generation the right way to interpret the Bible. It is important that we not get so wrapped up in the details of the text (or worse yet, the point for which we wish to use it) that we miss the larger picture of the context. Just as we would feel misrepresented if someone quoted us out of context, changing our meaning, we should avoid quoting the Bible out of context.

Many contradictions some readers claim to find in the Bible arise simply from ignoring the context of the passages they cite, jumping from one text to another without taking the time to first understand each text on its own terms. For instance, when Paul says that a person is justified by faith without works (Rom 3:28), his context makes it clear that he defines faith as something more than passive assent to a viewpoint; he defines it as a conviction that Christ is our salvation, a conviction on which one actively stakes one's life (Rom. 1:5). James declares that one cannot be justified by faith without works (James 2:14)because he uses the word 'faith' to mean mere assent that something is true (2:19), he demands that such assent be actively demonstrated by obedience to show that it is genuine (2:18). In other words, James and Paul use the word 'faith' differently, but do not contradict one another on the level of meaning. If we ignore context and merely connect different verses on the basis of similar wording, we will come up with contradictions in the Bible that the original writers would never have imagined.

. . .

* Read the rest of this article in the Summer 2003 issue of the Pneuma Review.


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