15 Ways My Pentecostal Upbringing Has Shaped Me…for the good

Posted: June 6, 2008 by Rick Hogaboam in Discipleship/Sanctification, From the Heart, Pentecostal/Charismatic Interests, Worship
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John Piper recently posted on his blog some reflections on Fundamentalists and why he doesn’t despise them (http://www.desiringgod.org/Blog/1251_20_reasons_i_dont_take_potshots_at_fundamentalists/). I was inspired by such to reflect on my own spiritual and theological journey in Pentecostalism. Here are 15 reasons why I am grateful for my Pentecostal heritage:

15. I learned that prayer was not merely a monologue in which we throw up our petition and thanksgiving, say “Amen”, and be on our way…but rather a dialogue that may be accompanied by fasting, “pressing in”, shouting; and then silence as we await God’s response to our hearts.

I pray expectantly and quiet my soul before God, eager for His reply.

 

14. Worship was more than extolling God’s transcendence, awesome though that is, but was also a participation in His eminence and nearness. The nearness of the Triune God would be manifested in our worship as the Spirit would minister to our hearts.

I not only look up in worship to the throne of God, where Jesus is seated, but also hold out my hands in eager anticipation of His Spirit’s presence.

 

13. The Pentecostal Pulpit didn’t depend upon humor, life stories, contrived emotions, or polished intellect, BUT manifested what Paul stated to the Corinthian Church:

1Co 2:1-5

(1)  And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom.

(2)  For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

(3)  And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling,

(4)  and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,

(5)  that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

– I not only do exegesis in the text of Scripture in sermon preparation, but also fall on my face in prayer, seeking the Spirit’s approval and validating power over the preaching of the sermon.

 

12. Child-Like faith was preferred over a knowledge that “puffs” up. This doesn’t mean that growth in Scripture was avoided, but rather speaks of the disposition of one’s heart when coming to Scripture.

I come to Scripture, not seeking some knowledge that will elevate me over my peers, but rather to be shaped, humbled, and broken from adult pride and made like a child. If my Bible reading doesn’t lead to doxology and praise, then I have read it no differently than Satan himself.

 

11. We supported missionaries who were risking their lives to save people form hell and their stories inspired me to also share the Gospel among the lost around me. My youth group not only played games and had “fun”, but also fasted and raised money for missionaries abroad.

I love missionaries to this day and consider them my heroes in the faith.

 

10. If the Biblical Hymnal, the Psalms, speak repeatedly of lifting hands, clapping hands, bowing down, and crying…then such expressions are proper, fitting, and exhort us to worship God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength.

I worship with all of my being because He is supremely deserving and delights in the sacrifice of my body in worship…the yielding of my bodily members to the praise of His name.

 

9. Everyone has been gifted and has something to offer for the edification of the whole body of Christ. Ministry was not confined solely to the “ordained”. This fostered humility, for even the elderly grandma with no high school education was empowered by God to edify me, as also was the child. 

– I am jealous for the prayers, encouragement, exhortation and reproof from my flock…all of them.

 

8. While growing up as a young teen, I received four “words” or “prophecies” or “promptings” from four different people on four different occasions. The message was one and the same and is being fulfilled in me today.

– I zealously seek Spiritual gifts for the intended purpose of edifying the body of Christ. God has graciously ministered to others through me with “words of knowledge” and “words of wisdom”. I will not go into detail for risk of appearing boastful, other than to say that God has spoken to others in rather remarkable and undeniable ways…in which I respond: To God be the Glory!!!

 

7. There was an awareness of a real Satan and real demons who sought to devour us daily….and a real Jesus, who was more powerful and able to help us in all times of need. Prayer was constantly offered for God’s grace to aid the afflicted in their struggles.

– My sanctification is accompanied by proper recognition of my own sinfulness in the flesh AND a sober watchfulness of Satan’s devices.

 

6. We prayed for the sick and distraught every single Sunday. We believed God loved such people and modeled through Jesus how the continuing body of Jesus should respond-with love and faithful prayer.

– I therefore love the sick and afflicted and seek to pray in expectant faith for their healing and restoration.

 

5. Whether on Sunday or at youth group, Bibles accompanied most everyone and they would remain open throughout the sermon. Bible memorization was zealously modeled to the youth.

– I therefore read my Bible most everyday as if eternal life was at stake in each word of the text of Holy Scripture.

 

4. God’s holiness, though not to be fully attained, was zealously sought after. “Be holy, for I am holy” was vivid in mind and heart. Sin was hated and despised…holiness was loved and sought after.

– Though many mockingly accuse Pentecostals and Fundamentalists of being legalistic and out of touch with culture…I continue to embrace most elements of Pentecostal piety and see more good in it than those who seem to feel at home in this world.

 

3. Our Church would have a weekly prayer meeting on Saturday nights. We believed that many wonderful things were wrought through prayer and that we had not because we asked not.

I believe that God has sovereignly ordained prayer as means for His actions in our life and the world. Jesus prayed, taught us to pray, and it is therefore important to pray. I sadly admit that I have not seen another congregation pray together with the zeal that my Pentecostal brethren modeled.

 

2. My Pentecostal youth Pastors and senior Pastor loved Jesus, loved the Bible, loved to worship, and cared more about my eternal soul than they did about entertaining me. They encouraged me to seek hard after God, prayed often for me, and constantly exhorted me.

– I am forever indebted to these faithful men and seek to minister with the same passion and zeal as was modeled in them.

 

1. – God saved me as a child in the Assembly of God Church. Though I do have some theological differences with this denomination, I am indebted to the wonderful people in the Pentecostal movement and continue to hold their friendships dear and continue to befriend people in this movement. I am not ashamed of my Pentecostal heritage and am grateful for God’s providential hand which saved me through such a church. I would still say to this day that I align with 90% of Pentecostal theology and philosophy of ministry. It is still in my blood. I am grateful that it is. There is much more to be gained and emulated from Pentecostals than to be despised and discarded.

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Comments
  1. Todd Mason says:

    Rick, As someone who is reformed and charismatic myself and who currently attends an AOG church, thank you for your kind words for the denomination. When I hear you describe your past in the denomination I feel that we have lost some of that today. I didn’t grow up AOG like you did but my wife did, and it sounds much like how she would describe things. Also, from Item 12. “If my Bible reading doesn’t lead to doxology and praise, then I have read it no differently than Satan himself.” Amen brother.

  2. thesouldoctor says:

    What a testimony to the sovereignty of God! I love Penetecost and the writing of those who embrace the doctrines of grace just fuels my fire in the faith when I read it. At times it can make you quite miserable when people do not preach the scripture and all the motivational speaking behind the pulpit that is alien to scripture makes me sick and grieved.

    Like you, I do not depise the pietism of certain groups-I think we should be wise, circumspect and practice godliness. I am beginning to meet more people who love the doctrines of the Reformation in Penetecostal circles. God really is at work.

    I love this: I therefore read my Bible most everyday as if eternal life was at stake in each word of the text of Holy Scripture. Oh God may that be so for me!

    God bless you!

    Stephen

  3. Thanks you guys for your feedback!!! It has been encouraging. I really wanted to let everyone know that I embrace more of my Pentecostal heritage than I despise. It seems that such was John Piper’s intent about Fundamentalism. It is really easy to look at all of the negatives and fail to recognize much of the good.

  4. Thanks for sharing your experiences with a Pentecostal background. I was aware of many of things you talked about, but some were very pleasant surprises.

    Speaking of pentecostalism and things of the Spirit, I found this very interesting article about an Amish man leading a “healing revival.”

    Blessings.

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