Category Archives: Spirituality

Billy Bray: The Lively Methodist Preacher Who Had a Lifestyle of Thanksgiving

BillyBray2
This Week in AG History–November 24, 1957
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Mon, 24 Nov 2014 – 4:19 PM CST

Billy Bray (1794-1868), the fiery English Methodist preacher, spent the first 10 years of his adult life far away from God. A miner by trade, he was a drunkard and lived a riotous life. After narrowly escaping death in a mining accident in 1823, he began to think about eternal matters. After reading John Bunyan’s Visions of Heaven and Hell, he accepted Christ as his Lord, left behind his destructive ways, and became active in a Methodist church.

Billy Bray was an earnest young convert. He aimed to tell everyone he met about the gospel and how God changed his life. He soon became an evangelist and was known for his spontaneous outbursts of singing and dancing during his sermons. Few preachers of his era could equal his reputation for genuine joy and thanksgiving to God.

It was quite fitting, then, that the Pentecostal Evangel would publish an article about Bray for Thanksgiving in 1957. The article’s author, Raymond L. Cox (a noted educator with the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel), used Bray’s testimony to illustrate why Christians should praise the Lord:

“Someone asked, ‘Billy Bray, why do you praise the Lord so much?’ The Cornish coal miner who had turned preacher eyed his questioner incredulously. Bray was astonished that such an inquiry should escape the lips of a Christian brother. ‘I bless the Lord constantly,’ he replied, ‘because my whole life is brightened by praising God.’ ‘But why must you do it aloud?’ queried the man. Billy answered, ‘I can’t help praising Him aloud. As I walk down the street. I lift up one foot, and it seems to say, ‘Glory!’ Then I lift up the other, and it seems to say, ‘Amen!’ And they keep on like that all the time I walk.'”

Cox recounted that Bray brought “his cheerful Christianity into the most desperate and dismal places.” He comforted those who were suffering and dying and spoke words of faith into situations that seemed hopeless. “The former Cornish coal miner was indeed a chronic praiser,” according to Cox. “The bells of blessing chimed constantly in the steeple of his soul. And often, although his voice was far from beautiful according to concert standards, Bray would be found going his way singing some hymn joyously and heartily.”

Billy Bray started life in a non-descript family of miners in England, but he ended life as a down-to-earth preacher who is remembered for bringing a joyful gospel message to countless thousands. The catalyst for his life-change was a near-death experience, which caused him to reassess his life priorities. He accepted Christ and spent the rest of his life cultivating a thankful heart that overflowed with praise.

Why should Christians praise the Lord? Cox suggested that the answer to this question is illustrated in the life of Billy Bray: “Praising God for our blessings extends them, Praising God for our troubles will end them.”

Read the article, “Why Praise the Lord?” by Raymond L. Cox, on pages 4 and 5 of the November 24, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Elijah in a Cave,” by Ruth Stewart

* “A Lesson in Thanksgiving,” by Robert W. Cummings

* “The Greatest Gift,” by David W. Plank

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangel, click here.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org

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How to Tell if a Revival Movement is in Decline


This Week in AG History–September 29, 1957
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Mon, 29 Sep 2014 – 4:30 PM CST

“Has the twentieth century Pentecostal revival reached the zenith of its spirituality and usefulness, and is it now doomed to fade as a potent force from the modern spiritual scene; or do greater glories still lie ahead?”

This question was posed by Assemblies of God missions leader Melvin Hodges in a 1957 Pentecostal Evangel article. At the time, the modern Pentecostal movement was about 50 years old. Pioneers of the movement were passing from the scene, and memories of the early revivals were fading.

Hodges noted that previous Protestant revival movements originated in “deep spirituality, holiness and a sense of destiny.” However, they each “lost their fervor and one by one settled down to take their places in the ecclesiastical world as yet another denomination.”

He looked further back into church history, drawing parallels between the early church and Pentecostalism. “The New Testament Church,” he wrote, “gradually lost the purity and power that characterized her apostolic beginnings, and became adulterated by worldliness, greed and paganism as she increased in numbers and influence.” Would the Pentecostal church likewise stray from its biblical ideals and become corrupted by the world?

“We dare not ignore the lessons of history,” Hodges warned. He identified three characteristics of a declining revival movement: 1) a diminishing hunger for God; 2) a lack of concern for holiness; and 3) the loss of the sense of mission and destiny.

While spiritual decline over time is likely, Hodges suggested that it is not inevitable. He admonished readers to rediscover the deep spirituality common among early Pentecostals: “Let hunger for God to be reawakened in our hearts. May a walk in holiness, worthy of our vocation, be our goal, and let us consecrate ourselves anew to the fulfilling of our world destiny in the plan of God.”

If Pentecostals draw close to God and commit themselves to His mission, according to Hodges, they “can face the future with confident expectancy that the future holds still greater revelations of the glory of God.”

Read the entire article, “Danger Signals” by Melvin Hodges, on pages 4 and 5 of the September 29, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Taking Christ to the People,” by R. J. Carlson

* “The Silence of the Trinity,” by P. T. Walker

* “The Living Dead,” by Oswald J. Smith

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangel, click here.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org

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Get Ready for “The Coming Revival” — Dr. Charles S. Price’s Prediction from 75 Years Ago!

Price
This Week in AG History–July 15, 1939
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Mon, 14 Jul 2014 – 4:26 PM CST.

Dr. Charles S. Price (1887-1947), an Oxford-educated Congregationalist pastor, used to mock Pentecostals. He had accepted Christ as a young man but then slid into theological liberalism, replacing biblical truths with the latest cultural fads.

In 1921, Price attended evangelistic services held by Pentecostal evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson. McPherson had advertised that there would be prayer for the sick, and Price intended to expose her as a fraud. Price instead was convinced by the reality of God’s presence and the healings that he witnessed. He rededicated his life to the Lord, was baptized in the Holy Spirit, and went on to become a leading Pentecostal evangelist and author.

In an article published 75 years ago in the Pentecostal Evangel, Price predicted a powerful forthcoming revival and encouraged “the faithful few” to be prepared for this move of God that “will break even the most calloused hearts.”

The text of Price’s prophecy is below:

The Coming Revival

“Of one thing we are very sure. There will be a full restoration of the apostolic gifts and the full power of Pentecost before the coming of the Lord. To the faithful few who are true to God, to the overcomers, to them that place their all upon the altar of a full consecration, God will pour out in the fullest measure the power that was given to the disciples on the day the Church was born. We believe that there will be miracles of healing, supernatural manifestations of God’s mighty power, that will break even the most calloused hearts. There will be another outpouring, this time a cloudburst of the latter rain. We not only feel it in our Spirit, but the Word of God corroborates what we feel. Be true, my friends; keep tight hold of His hand. God has some wonderful things in store for you.”

Read Price’s prediction on page 5 of the July 15, 1939, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “My Jubilee Sermon,” by P. C. Nelson

* “The Prayers of the Prodigal,” by John Wright Follette

* “What Wonders Hath God Wrought,” by H. A. Baker

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangelclick here.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org

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Review: Called of God, But…I Lost My Compass

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Kruger, Joan with Dr. Burdette Leikvoll. Called of God, But…I Lost My Compass. Overland Park, KS: iCross Publishing, 2014.

Veteran author and Assemblies of God minister Joan Kruger has written a new book, Called of God, But…I Lost My Compass, that challenges and encourages pastors to be true to their calling. Assemblies of God General Secretary Dr. James Bradford, in his endorsement of the book, wrote the following:

“Spiritual leaders face a bewildering array of forces, pressures, expectations, and personal issues–making them vulnerable to exploitation by the enemy.  As a result, too many have lost their internal compass and been knocked off course.  Joan Kruger addresses the supreme challenge of maintaining pure devotion to the person of Christ while being involved in the demanding task of doing the work of Christ.  She writes with honesty and yet compassion.  The Spirit’s cry for Christ’s under-shepherds comes through her writing with clarity and conviction.  May this book help you and the pastors you love stay authentically true to their ordination covenants.”

Paperback, 176 pages. $14.95 retail. Order from:
Treasures in Parchment
Joan Kruger
702 Valley View Rd #2
Council Bluffs, IA 51503
wjkruger@q.com
417-459-2631

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Eudorus Neander Bell: Pentecostal Statesman


This Week in AG History–June 30, 1923
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Tue, 01 Jul 2014 – 1:17 PM CST.

Eudorus Neander Bell’s name was not the only thing about him that stood out. Better known as E. N. Bell (1866-1923), he served as first chairman (this title was later changed to general superintendent) of the Assemblies of God. He and his twin, Endorus, learned to work hard at a young age. Their father died when the boys were two years old, and they had to help provide for the family.

A sincere and studious Christian, E. N. Bell felt a call to the ministry at a young age. However, his family’s poverty meant that this calling would be postponed. He dropped out of high school and instead worked to put bread on his family’s table. At times, the only bread he could afford was stale and had to be dipped in water to be edible. Finally, at age 30, he achieved a longtime dream and graduated from high school.

Bell proved to be an adept student. He earned a bachelor of arts degree from Stetson University, attended Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville from 1900 to 1902, and received a bachelor of divinity degree from the University of Chicago Divinity School (then a Baptist school) the following year.

He pastored Baptist churches for about 17 years. Despite success in the ministry, Bell was hungry for more of God. After he heard about the emerging Pentecostal movement in 1907, he took a leave of absence from his church in Fort Worth, Texas, and traveled to William Durham’s North Avenue Mission in Chicago to wait upon the Lord. He prayed expectantly for 11 months, until he received the baptism in the Holy Spirit on July 18, 1908.

Bell described his Spirit baptism in a testimony published five months after the experience: “God baptized me in His Spirit. Wave after wave fell on me from heaven, striking me in the forehead like electric currents and passing over and through my whole being…. [The Spirit] began to speak through me in a tongue I never heard before and continued for 2 hours…. After 3 months of testing, I can say before God, the experience is as fresh and sweet as ever.”

Bell traveled back to the South, uncertain what his next steps should be. He ministered across the South, seeking God’s will for his life. Then, in 1909, God answered two prayers. At age 44, Bell finally married. He also became pastor of a Pentecostal congregation in Malvern, Arkansas. He began publishing a monthly periodical, Word and Witness, which became a prominent voice within the young Pentecostal movement.

In 1913, Bell published the “call” to Hot Springs. Those who attended the April 1914 meeting in Hot Springs organized the Assemblies of God and elected Bell to serve as its first chairman. Bell, a Pentecostal statesman with a pastoral heart, proved a wise choice. He helped to lay the theological and organizational foundation for the young fellowship

J. Roswell Flower wrote that Bell was the “sweetest, safest and sanest man” he had ever met in the Pentecostal movement. According to Flower, Bell was “a big-hearted man” and took time to pray with the sick and tend to other pastoral duties, despite the numerous pressures of his office. He slept little, traveled much, and wrote constantly. He did all this “without murmur or complaint.” Flower noted that Bell looked much older than his 56 years. “He grew old in the service,” Flower wrote. “He had purposed in his heart that he would give all that was in him for the faithful performance of the work that had been allotted to him.”

Bell’s health broke, so he stepped down as chairman in November 1914. He returned to the pastorate but remained active as an executive presbyter and editor of the Weekly Evangel andWord and Witness. He was elected as chairman again in 1919 once he had recovered. He intended to leave office in 1924 and to pour himself into budding ministers by teaching at the newly-formed Central Bible Institute.

Bell’s work ethic took a toll on his health. He literally worked himself to death, dying in office on June 15, 1923. Tributes to the fallen leader were published on six pages of the June 30, 1923, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Early Pentecostals taught that those who truly had Christian love would lay down their lives for one another (1 John 3:16). So perhaps it should not be surprising that the first chairman of the Assemblies of God did just that.

Read tributes to E. N. Bell on pages 1 through 6 of the June 30, 1923, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Many Members, One Body,” by Zelma Argue

* “On the Top of the World,” by Victor G. Plymire

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangelclick here.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org

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What can Pentecostals learn from John Wesley?

john_wesley
This Week in AG History–June 3, 1944
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Mon, 02 Jun 2014 – 5:40 PM CST.

What can Pentecostals learn from John Wesley (1703-1791), the founder of Methodism?

Wesley, an Anglican priest in England, helped to lay the foundation for large segments of the evangelical and Pentecostal movements. Despite living in a nation that identified itself as Christian, he recognized that most people in the nation, and even in the churches, did not have saving faith. He pioneered new evangelism and discipleship methods, which upset some of the religious leaders of his day. He appointed itinerant, unordained evangelists who traveled and preached the gospel. He also encouraged the formation of small groups of Christians for the purpose of discipleship, accountability, and Bible study.

Wesley encouraged each person to experience God’s love. However, he insisted that if a person was truly saved, an experience with God must yield a transformed life. True Christians, he taught, would live holy lives. When the Holy Spirit transformed a person’s desires, this inner holiness would naturally be manifested in outward holiness.

In many ways, early Pentecostals identified themselves in the tradition of Wesley. The June 6, 1944, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel published an article that shared the “secret” of “Wesley’s power.” Three reasons existed, according to the article, that caused Wesley’s ministry to be so powerful.

First, Wesley believed that the Bible was “the very Word of God.” The Bible was the standard for everything, and he prayerfully consulted it for guidance.

Second, Wesley “preached with a living sense of divine authority.” He believed his sermons were given “by direct communication of the Spirit,” based on the Bible, and “applied logically, earnestly, passionately to the hearts of men.”

Third, Wesley “lived and preached in the presence and power of the Holy Ghost.” His deep spirituality was formed by living daily in the presence of God and by developing daily habits of “prayer and song, fellowship and meditation, study and preaching.”

Wesley taught that changed hearts should ultimately change society. He and his followers (known as Methodists) became leaders in social issues of his day, including the abolition of slavery and prison reform.

Read the entire article by Samuel Chadwick, “Wesley’s Secret of Power,” on page 4 of the June 3, 1944, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Direct Answers to Prayer,” by Frederick M. Bellsmith

* “Following Jesus,” by H. A. Baker

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangelclick here.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org

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The Miraculous Healing of Mary Reynolds


This Week in AG History–May 12, 1917

By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Mon, 12 May 2014 – 4:22 PM CST.

Mary Reynolds was an invalid, suffering for seven years from incurable diseases brought on by a nervous collapse. She had ulcers in her throat and lungs, and eating caused great pain. She visited prominent doctors across the country, seeking relief from the chronic pain she was forced to endure. The medical profession seemed incapable of helping her.

Mary was raised in a Methodist family, but she had drifted far away from God. She believed that she was too unworthy to approach God and ask for healing. But everything changed in 1882, when a Quaker minister who believed in divine healing visited her Indiana home and prayed for her.

Mary was miraculously healed, and her healing was the spark that caused every member of her family to accept Christ. Alice Reynolds Flower recounted the testimony of her mother’s healing in the May 12, 1917, issue of the Weekly Evangel. The change in Mary was remarkable. Mary remembered, “I was diseased from the tip of my tongue to the end of my digestive tract.” After being healed, Alice wrote that Mary was “as strong as a young girl.”

Mary heard God speak to her, “Go home and tell thy friends and kindred what great things the Lord hath done for thee.” She visited every house in her Indiana village, testifying about God’s healing power. Up to 30 people each day would visit Mary’s house during those first weeks after her healing. News had spread about the miracle, and neighbors wanted to see Mary for themselves. Mary spent the rest of her life sharing the story of her healing. Mary’s healing served as a visible reminder that God is real and that He continues to provide for His people.

Mary’s daughter, Alice, married J. Roswell Flower. They were founding members of the Assemblies of God in 1914 and became prominent leaders in the Fellowship. On the 35th anniversary of the healing, Alice wrote, “In all these years God has continually met and delivered all of us in some hour of need.”

Read the entire article by Alice R. Flower, “My Mother’s Healing,” on page 5 of the May 11, 1917, issue of the Weekly Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Healed Through a Copy of the Weekly Evangel,” by Fred W. Green

* “A Homely Talk on Healing,” by M. Martin

* “The Remarkable Healing of Dorothy Kerin”

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel/Weekly Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangel, click here.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org

1 Comment

Filed under Spirituality, Theology