Leadership Blog

12 Jun Afraid of a Supernatural Demonstration of the Gifts of the Spirit?

I am one blessed person. I was raised (and reared … but that is for a different blog post) in a Christian home by two Jesus-loving, Spirit-filled parents who knew the importance of continually being in church services (again … another possible future blog post) where the Holy Spirit was a resident and not a guest (another possible future blog post). Because of constantly being in an environment where the Holy Spirit was free to speak and demonstrate His presence, I know what the New Testament “norm” is for Church. Speaking and worshiping God in tongues in a church service for personal edification? It’s the norm. The gift of tongues and the interpretation of tongues during a worship service for the benefit of the Church? It’s the norm. The gift of prophecy? It’s the norm. The gift of … I could go on and on and answer with the same answer. It’s the norm. This constant exposure forever sealed in my spirit how Church should be done.

Is this happening in your services? If your answer is no, I can probably guess what your reason might be … a fear that the people and especially the visitors won’t understand the movement of the Spirit. I fully understand your concern. After all, this is a supernatural manifestation of God’s presence and power and, with many people unaccustomed to this, you have a fear of them quickly looking for the exit door. Am I right? Because of this, few leaders today desire and/or allow the New Testament norm to be their norm.

How do we address this situation? The answer is quite simple. The Bible demonstrates that the supernatural workings of God always needs to be followed with an explanation. We see this in Acts 2 when Peter answered the “What meaneth this” question. In Acts 4, Peter had to explain the supernatural power of God (the gifts of  healings and the working of miracles) to the Sadducees. In Acts 11, Peter had to explain to the leaders of the Church about the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit upon the Gentiles. Paul’s letters to the Corinthians are both an explanation and correction about working together with the Holy Spirit.

I’ll admit up front that this was taught and demonstrated throughout my upbringing. After there was a manifestation of one of the gifts of the Spirit, my pastor B.B. Hankins would always (and I do mean always) give a brief biblical explanation for what had just transpired. For example, if there was a message in tongues followed by the interpretation, Brother Hankins would immediately follow with an explanation to the effect of, “For the sake of those who might be visiting our service today, allow me to explain what just transpired. From God’s Word, we see that Jesus told His followers just before His return to heaven that the Father would be sending the Holy Spirit (John 14:16) to help and strengthen and encourage God’s children. We read in I Corinthians 12 and 14 that one of the ways that the Holy Spirit supernaturally comes to our aid is by His speaking directly to us through supernatural utterances.” Or, Brother Hankins might say, “For the sake of our guests today, let me explain what just transpired. The Bible show us in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 that our supernatural God uses supernatural means to care for His children. What you’ve just seen and heard isn’t something new. The apostle Paul wrote that God would use these gifts to edify, exhort, and bring comfort. And, from the message that just came after the utterance in the heavenly language, you can easily see that God did speak to us.” It was never a lengthy sermon but rather a simple, short, helpful explanation.

Let’s be New Testament. We have no reason to hold back on the Pentecostal expression of worship. Our bold embrace of singing in the Spirit or praying in the Spirit (1 Corinthians 14:15) in a corporate gathering will show what should be experienced in private at home. Our freedom to allow the gifts of the Spirit to operate in a public gathering shows what the Holy Spirit wants to do in your congregant’s workplace.  But remember, an explanation is of the utmost importance.

One more note … what I’ve shared must be the practice THROUGHOUT the Church … children, youth, AND adults. Children’s Pastors/Student Ministry Pastors, make the New Testament norm your norm. It’s not “weird” to be filled with the Spirit and pray in a heavenly prayer language. (1 Corinthians 14:2,4,14). It’s not “weird” to sing in the Spirit. (1 Corinthians 14:15). It’s not “weird” for God’s gifts to be seen in your service. ( 1 Corinthians 14:26). It will cause both your people to grow spiritually and your congregation to grow numerically. Example … Acts 2 – 3,000 people added to the Kingdom … Acts 3 and 4 – 5,000 added to the Kingdom. The gifts with the explanation will ALWAYS produce growth.

I apologize for the length of this blog post. But, I am convinced that this is one of the most important blogs that I have written. It is both needed and timely for today’s Church. I’ll look forward to reading your response.

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05 Jun Your Children … Filled with the Holy Spirit

Before you get into reading this blog post, I need to apologize. I know that what I am going to share is so, so simple and yet, perhaps so simple that it is overlooked and ignored in many children’s ministries. Here are some facts …

  • If a child is capable of understanding God’s gift to the sinner (salvation), then a child is capable of understanding God’s gift to the believer (the Baptism in the Holy Spirit).
  • If a child is capable of receiving the gift of salvation, then a child is capable of receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit.
  • If a child is capable of knowing that they have received eternal life, then a child is capable of knowing that they have been filled with God’s Spirit.

If all three of these statements are true (and they are), why aren’t all of the children in our Sunday school classrooms and mid-week Bible clubs and children’s church auditoriums baptized in the Holy Spirit? If the truth be known, if asked about God’s greatest gift to the Christian, most children in our ministries would be absolutely clueless. Am I right?

God has not changed in His desire to fulfill His promise (Joel 2:28; Acts 2:16-18, 39) to give the Holy Spirit to all those who ask. (Luke 11:13). This “all” includes every child in your ministry. God has been waiting to hear the sound of a child’s voice asking to receive the fulfillment of His promise. But, this only happens when you and I as leaders act as though the three facts are actually true and are put into practice.

Here is a brief overview for what is needed to see every child receive the infilling of the Holy Spirit:

  • Since a child is capable of understanding about God’s gift to the believer, we must prepare the way through the preaching and teaching. We see that Jesus just didn’t tell His followers to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit. He first taught about this Comforter (John 14 – 16) before giving the opportunity to receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5).  Over a period of a few weeks, introduce the Person of the Holy Spirit, tell of His assignment, and giving illustrations/testimonies of who He is and what He does in your life.
  • Since a child is capable of receiving the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, after the foundation is laid, boldly provide the opportunity for the child to ask. Have a service that is almost totally dedicated to altar ministry. Be sure to spend time with those working alongside of you to insure that they know how to pray with the children.
  • Since a child is capable of knowing that they have been filled with God’s Spirit, show them from God’s Word the biblical evidence as seen in Acts 2:4; Acts 10:45-46; Acts 19:6. Really, this should be a repeat from what was taught in the preparatory teachings. But, it is important that this truth is emphasized as a way of confirming what God has done.

I hate the self-imposed word limit that I use in writing this blog. (Honestly, I have already exceeded it.) If space would allow, I would share about the importance of using these three facts to be the launching of a series about the value of the walk of the Spirit and another series about the necessity and benefits of praying in the Spirit. In other words, to me, it is critical that what was accomplished around your altars doesn’t become just an entry into their diary as a spiritual “experience”. Instead, it needs to become the beginning of a new-found relationship with the Holy Spirit and you are there to help nurture this relationship. Perhaps I will post blogs about this in the weeks to come. (I know that it will be in an upcoming book.)

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29 May The Parakletos

Let me pass along a challenge for you to pursue in the next few days. Using the Bible translations that you might have in your library and/or the vast information available through the internet’s Google, deepen your relationship with the Holy Spirit by studying the word that Jesus used in John 14 – 16 to introduce the Holy Spirit to His disciples, the word “Parakletos”The early translators of the Bible (Wycliffe, Luther, KJV) chose to translate the original Greek word “Parakletos” into our word “Comforter” and had valid reasons for their choice. It’s really quite an interesting study. Unfortunately, because of the ever changing evolution of words, their word choice has caused today’s readers to miss out on so, so much of who the Holy Spirit is and what He has been sent to do.

In reading through the various translations, you will find that many translators have replaced “Comforter” with words like “Friend” (The Message), “Someone to stand by you” (J.B. Phillips translation), and “Helper” (Moffatt Translation). In my reading and studying my translations, I have found twelve different words. (Be sure to check out the Amplified Bible’s translation.) How could there be twelve (or more) different words? The enormity of the Holy Spirit and His Father’s assignment makes it impossible to pack the entire meaning of the Greek word “Parakletos” into one single English word. It is like trying to squeeze a size 38 inch waist into a size 32 pair of jeans. One single word can’t capture all that Jesus was saying to His disciples about the Holy Spirit. Each and every one of these translations is needed because they shed a different light of understanding about the Holy Spirit.

Here is the reason for this challenge. A greater revelation of who He is will bring about a greater depth in your relationship with Him which will then create a greater dependence upon Him. The greater the dependence, the greater the demonstrations of His presence and power. Can you see how important this is? This will be a GREAT investment of your time. Do it … you’ll thank me for this suggestion!

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22 May The “Formula” for Maximized Ministry

In a day where the church is driven by formulas, let me share a can’t miss “formula” for filling a church to capacity, seeing altars lined with penitent sinners, having walls covered with no-longer-needed braces and wheelchairs, experiencing unprecedented worship where the people are passionate participators and not unengaged spectators, and inviting glorious demonstrations of the Holy Spirit’s presence as seen throughout the Book of Acts. I’m taking this Book of Acts “formula” from a book that is a classic Christ the Healer written by a man that was mightily used of God in the area of miraculous healings, F.F. Bosworth.

“A Spirit-filled and praying Church produces an atmosphere in which
it is easy for God to work and hard for the devil to interfere;
because this atmosphere is the Holy Spirit Himself,
who is more than a match for the devil.”
~ F.F. Bosworth

Let me show you a Book of Acts example of this “formula” being put into practice. In Acts 16, Luke writes of a “service” where Spirit-filled men (Paul and Silas) filled their church auditorium (prison cell) with prayer and praise. What were the Book of Acts results? God miraculously demonstrated His presence, captives were set free, and many were saved and water baptized. That’s my kind of church service.

The results are guaranteed. Without reservation, I can promise that following the Book of Acts “formula” will bring about Book of Acts results. Get ready for a shaking that will impact all of those in your ministry (be it a Sunday school class, children’s church/youth service, or adult worship) who will then change a generation that will change a city, state, nation, and world.

The Holy Spirit is ready. Are you?

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15 May Put Your Passion on Display

A few weeks ago, I was on an airplane sitting beside a stranger for one eternally long flight. After the usual small talk, he asked me about my occupation. (Big mistake!)  It wasn’t long into the conversation that he commented about my passion for seeing a move of God sweep across our nation. Recently while attending a luncheon, I sat across the table from a beautiful young couple that were children’s pastors in a tremendous church. Again, after just a few minutes of talking about the need for churches to allow the Holy Spirit to be Himself, they too commented about my passion. If this was a support group, without shame I would stand up and say, “Hello, I am Billy Burns and I am consumed with a relationship with the Holy Spirit and unrelentingly passionate about passing this love for the Holy Spirit on to the children, youth, and adults in churches around the nation.” I so desire that it be said of me what was said of Peter in Acts 5:28, “Behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine.” I want this passion to be so visible that it spreads to all those around and, before long, individuals and churches and cities will be joining together with me proclaiming “TODAY is the day of the Holy Ghost” and seeing Him demonstrate His presence.

There is so much that I could say about the importance of having this kind of relationship with the Holy Spirit. I will limit myself to just sharing that those around you desperately need to see someone that is filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit and is putting their passion on display. That is the only way that you will fill your Jerusalem with your doctrine.

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