Breathing Lessons: Or, How to Understand Your Pentecostal Friend

Sound familiar?

The church moved by default from Spirit leading to human control. As hierarchies increased, the sense of spiritual spontaneity and divine mystery diminished. How sad. How boring and disenchanting. How un-Pentecostal.

A Spirit-filled faith should be anything but boring or breathless. There are millions of Pentecostal believers around the world who have experienced something they call the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, an infilling experience accompanied by spiritual signs and enablement (such as speaking in tongues). Many believe these dynamic encounters allow them to "practice their breathing." They inhale the life-giving power of the Spirit and exhale a more purposeful and empowered life of service and love to God and others. Pentecostals at their best value the work and the breath of the Third Person of the Trinity in their lives and faith communities. They are compelled by an experience that the late David Wilkerson described as a "baptism in love." They want everyone to experience the fullness of the Spirit. And, for those who have not yet shared this experience they passionately pray.

"Jesus, breathe on your Church again. Help her to breathe in deeply!"

"Come, Holy Spirit . . ."

By the way, Pamela did have that baby. Bigger than expected: 8 pounds, 13 ounces. The birth was natural. No pills. No saddle-block. No epidural. No C-section. Not even a Tylenol. Just lots and lots of breathing, Pentecostal-style.

Note: This column is adapted from a book by Robert Crosby entitled More Than a Savior: When Jesus Calls You Friend.

11/23/2011 5:00:00 AM