Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Fire and Rain


Hosea 6:2-3 (Contemporary English Version)

“In two or three days He will heal us
And restore our strength that we may live with Him.
Let's do our best to know the LORD.
His coming is as certain as the morning sun;
He will refresh us like rain renewing the earth in the springtime.”

It seems that new opportunities have come in the aftermath of defeat. Since last week’s election I’ve been asked to apply for a seat on the city’s human relations commission. I completed the application and must now wait on the city to approve me or someone else for the vacancy. I’ve also had lots of calls about forming a grass roots coalition, the one I alluded to in my interview with KVOE and the Gazette on election night. I’ve requessted, and gotten, IRS approval to form a collation. Tomorrow I’ll be meeting with Professor Michael Smith at the university to go over the nuts and bolts of forming and growing the Coalition to Advance Reform for All Emporians (C.A.R.E).

My hopes are high!

The wellspring of that hope is my faith. I believe that God wants change, that He wants the best for this city. That’s more than enough to sustain me.

There is a significant revival going on at the church I attend. Attendance at Victory Fellowship Foursquare Church has nearly doubled in the last year. The thing I find amazing is that we’ve become very attractive to the same types of people who were attracted to my city commission campaign – the disillusioned, the disappointed, and the disenfranchised. The fire and the rain are falling!

I’m just about half way through Harvey Cox’s book, “Fire from Heaven.” Professor Cox, who gained fame as one of the proponents of the “God is dead” theology back in the sixties and seventies, has had a change of heart. The source of his hope is the incredible explosion of the Pentecostal movement that began with the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles at the turn of the twentieth century. From that humble beginning a movement that is now a half a billion members strong has swept over the world. Cox believes it rivals the Reformation in its impact.

What is it that’s so attractive about this movement to so many? Cox put it this way:

“As I have pondered these questions from a more pedestrian perspective, it has occurred to me that there is also another way to think about why the movement has had such a widespread appeal. It has succeeded because it has spoken to the spiritual emptiness of our time by reaching beyond the levels of creed and ceremony into the core of human religiousness, into what might be called ‘primal spirituality,’ that largely unprocessed nucleus of the psyche in which the unending struggle for a sense of purpose and significance goes on.”

In laymen’s terms, the Pentecostal movement, in its multitudes of expressions, has hit a central nerve in the disillusioned, the disappointed, and the disenfranchised. It’s a movement filled with life and expectancy, shaking the status quo. This movement of the neglected subculture has had a profound impact on the sociology, politics, and spirituality of the United States, Latin America, South America, Africa, Russia, and Asia. Yet, as Cox noted, there is no memorial, no great cathedral, no man-made marker acknowledging its Azusa Street roots:

“A carved plaque with an occasional bouquet of cut roses is hardly the memorial those early saints would have wanted. Instead, the Azusa street memorial is something they could never have foreseen. It is a spiritual hurricane that has touched nearly half a billion people and an alternative vision of the human future whose impact may only be in its early stages today.”

The movement is not without its problems. Here in America the biggest of all has been gaining too much respectability.

In its formative stages Pentecostalism was attacked because it embraced racial harmony and integration. It was also derided because its practitioners spoke in tongues, danced, and prophesied. Respectable folk called them “holy rollers.” Religious scholars called them un-learned, or ignorant. Things are different nowadays. Success has, in some cases, led parts of the Pentecostal movement from being a vibrant subculture to becoming a sadly stagnant branch of the mainstream they’d left a century earlier.

This is much like politics in America. Actually, it’s even closer to home. It’s much like the politics here in America’s heartland. The status quo has been acceptable here for some time and we now bear the scars purchased by that benign neglect. There’s a lot of suffering going on here in idyllic Kansas. The politicians and the city fathers can deny it all they want, but the signs are everywhere.

But, while the powerful and influential deny the reality, a new, living reality is emerging to contest the status quo. The dry bones are beginning to rattle. In time there will be sinew and flesh rising from the ranks of the disillusioned, disenfranchised, and disappointed. The fires of spiritual and social revival here in Emporia have been kindled. The waters of refreshing have spilled over the banks. The current reality is not enough to satisfy. To paraphrase Dr. King, “We won’t settle any longer for the stale bread of the status quo we’ve been fed, nor will we be satisfied with the spoiled meat of benign neglect.” The time for change has come!

1 comment:

Jim Baxter said...

Phil,
Imagine how these truths and events will impact in the short days ahead. The Holy Spirit is in control. Praise the Lord! JFB

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Letters
Santa Maria (CA) TIMES 4/6/07

NOTICE:
April 2007AD

1. The Shroud has now produced three-dimensional images of a body moving in space. Please seek your own trustworthy sources of verification. vincit veritas

2. The scientific world of physics is now undergoing a revolutionary
change: a paradigm shift of universe proportions and implications.

Sir Isaac Newton would not be too surprised. Joel 3:14 kjv

Have a truly Happy Resurrection Day!

semper fidelis
Jim Baxter
Santa Maria, CA

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