Pray for Cec


Earlier this week, Cecil Murphey, the well-known and highly prolific Christian author, lost his home to fire. Even more tragic, his son-in-law perished in the blaze.

Many Christian writers today consider Cec their mentor. He’s helped dozens of writers get their start in the biz. Few in the authorial ranks have amassed the wealth of wisdom Cec possesses.

Please take the opportunity this weekend to pray for the Murphey family in the midst of this doubly-tragic loss.

Leonard Ravenhill


Leonard RavenhillMatt Self over at The Gad(d)about, besides having the common sense to pick drums over all other musical instruments, also has the brains to quote Leonard Ravenhill. Good for Matt. The American Church needs to hear more Ravenhill.

If you haven’t been around Cerulean Sanctum very long, you’ll get to know Ravenhill soon enough. He and A.W. Tozer are the “patron saints” of this blog. No one in the last century wrote blistering words like Tozer and no one preached with more fire than Ravenhill. That they were friends in real life is the icing on the cake.

I don’t do a lot of imploring on this blog, but if you’ve never heard Ravenhill preach, I implore you to go to and check out the Ravenhill section at this link (with videos at this link).

Ravenhill was more than a preacher, though; he may have been the last true English-speaking revivalist with roots that went back to the Welsh Revival. He passed away in 1994, and one of the greatest losses in my own life is that I mismarked a calendar and missed him preaching at a local church. He passed away not too long afterward.

Yet he lives on in his teaching tapes, and most of them are incendiary. Not only did Ravenhill handle the Scriptures in a way unmatched today, but he could draw parallels and bring two disparate Biblical concepts together like no other preacher I’ve ever heard. He not only knew the ins and outs of the Bible, but hundreds of hymns, too. Best of all, he had a solid understanding of how the charismata work today. He was the total package. Listening to him is so convicting I find it hard not to keep from rending my clothes and pouring ashes on myself. If you want to know that “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” may have sounded like to Jonathan Edwards’ listeners, check out few of the highest-rated Ravenhill sermons on, especially those before he was slowed by a stroke in the mid-1980s.

God knows that we need another like him to rouse the Church in 2006.

And though it’s a shame to limit the breadth of Leonard Ravenhill’s wisdom to a few zingers, I’ll end with some of his more pithy statements:

The only time you can really say that ‘Christ is all I need’ is when Christ is all you have.

If Jesus had preached the same message that ministers preach today, He would never have been crucified.

A popular evangelist reaches your emotions. A true prophet reaches your conscience.

The last words of Jesus to the church (in Revelation) were ‘Repent!’

A true shepherd leads the way. He does not merely point the way.

Your doctrine can be as straight as a gun barrel…and just as empty!

John the Baptist never performed any miracles; yet, he was greater than any of the Old Testament prophets.

I doubt that more than two percent of professing Christians in the United States are truly born again.

Our God is a consuming fire. He consumes pride, lust, materialism, and other sin.

There are only two kinds of persons: those dead in sin and those dead to sin.

[Concerning the darkness that has enveloped most of Christendom:] When you’re sitting in a dark room, you can either sit and curse the darkness, or you can light a candle.

Children can tell you what Channel 7 says, but not what Matthew 7 says.

Some women will spend 30 minutes to an hour preparing for church externally (putting on special clothes and makeup, etc.). What would happen if we all spent the same amount of time preparing internally for church, with prayer and meditation?

Maturity comes from obedience, not necessarily from age.

What good does it do to speak in tongues on Sunday if you have been using your tongue during the week to curse and gossip?

The Bible is either absolute or it’s obsolete.

Why do we expect to be better treated in this world than Jesus was?

Today’s church wants to be raptured from responsibility.

Testimonies are wonderful. But so often our lives don’t fit our testimonies.

[Concerning one of the new movements in the church that was causing a stir among Christians:] There’s also a stir when the circus comes to town.

My main ambition in life is to be on the Devil’s most wanted list.

You can’t develop character by reading books. You develop it from conflict.

When there’s something in the Bible that churches don’t like, they call it ‘legalism.’

We can’t serve God by proxy.

We must do what we can do for God before He will give us the power to do what we can’t do.

There’s a difference between changing your opinion and changing your lifestyle.

Our seminaries today are turning out dead men.

How can you pull down strongholds of Satan if you don’t even have the strength to turn off your TV?

Everyone recognizes that Stephen was Spirit-filled when he was performing wonders. Yet, he was just as Spirit-filled when he was being stoned to death.

If a Christian is not having tribulation in the world, there’s something wrong!

[Concerning the fixation that today’s church has with numbers, with growth at any price:] The church has paid a terrible price for statistics!

Any method of evangelism will work if God is in it.

Church unity comes from corporate humility.

You can have all of your doctrines right, yet still not have the presence of God.

Many pastors criticize me for taking the Gospel so seriously. But do they really think that on Judgment Day Christ will chastise me, saying, ‘Leonard, you took Me too seriously’?

You can know a lot about the atonement and yet receive no benefit from it.

If the whole church goes off into deception, that will in no way excuse us for not following Christ.

You never have to advertise a fire. Everyone comes running when there’s a fire. Likewise, if your church is on fire, you will not have to advertise it. The community will already know it.

Advertising Ashes


Man on fire

You never have to advertise a fire. —Leonard Ravenhill

Are you growing increasingly distressed by the worldly attempts by many churches today to market their church? Does the latest church fad sweeping the nation leave you cold? Are you growing nostalgic for "the olden days" when a preacher would walk into the pulpit and by the unction of God set the place ablaze?

Now that everyone in the United States has a blog—it seems like it, doesn't it?—I read an increasing number of sites that are advertising that they have the solution to whatever the Church's problem is. We all know what the problems are. Just a glance at the Top 25 bestselling Christian books in your local Christian bookstore will tell you:

  • Your church needs better marketing.
  • Your church needs to understand community demographics better.
  • Your church needs to have purpose/mission.
  • Your church needs to be relevant.
  • Your church needs to be authentic.
  • Your church needs to reach out to whatever group of people it's failed to reach in the past.
  • Your church needs to be concerned with end-times prophecy.
  • Your church needs to have a better men's/women's/youth/children's ministry.
  • Your church needs __________.

In a charismatic age, when even the crustiest Presbyterians are raising their hands in worship, how is it that we have forgotten the only thing the Church needs? Why have we forgotten the Holy Spirit?

You never have to advertise a fire. That's the answer to all these books clamoring for attention, trying to get you to buy to find out the "Super Secret Christian Formula" that will suddenly take you, your family, and your church to the absolute pinnacle of Christian experience.

Yet nothing draws people like a fire. You see a fire, you immediately start wanting to linger, to see what is burning, to watch what happens next. Fire evoke memories of stories told while camping, the community around bathed in the amber glow of timelessness and wonder. Fire heals, cleanses, and illumines. It spreads and envelops.

If there is any one characteristic of the Church in America in 2005 it is that for all our bluster, our bestselling fixes, and our introspection over the failure of believers to rise above the secular mire, no other answer can come but that we need the fire of God poured out on us.

John Eldredge, bestselling author of Wild at Heart, claims that men find church boring. David Morrow recently wrote Why Men Hate Going to Church. I have the simple answer for that: they are not encountering the Holy Spirit in the churches they attend. Someone who regularly attends a church that is filled with people overflowing with the Holy Spirit and who experiences the Holy Spirit in power in those meetings will NEVER be bored and will NEVER hate gathering.

But this is not most churches.

Ever heard of the aviator cults? These were primitive people who lived in remote areas untouched by modernity. As aviation grew, these tribal people started seeing huge, unusual birds in the sky. They were a sign. And some of those tribesmen were startled when a metal bird descended from the clouds and tall, white people emerged from their bellies. These people were like the gods themselves. So when the gods got back into their metal birds and flew away, the tribesmen were compelled to erect effigies of them and the odd bird they came in. Totemic planes built of reeds were set up in hopes that the gods would some day return and bless the people. This persisted for generations.

Today, our churches resemble aviator cults. We have a vague memory of generations ago when God showed up in our churches in power. But as time goes on, the story breaks down, the reason for it becomes muddied, and we start dancing around trying to make the aviator gods return. Churches do this in a variety of ways. Most churches entertain, rely on clever marketing campaigns to put posteriors in the pews, or scour the demographic data to tailor their message to what the neighborhood wants to hear. They advertise the ashes of the fire that might have once burned brightly, but is no more. They'll sculpt the ashes into amusing shapes and toy around with the properties of the ashes until they've mined all the ashes are worth—but on reflection, the ashes remain ashes and the fire is eventually forgotten.

You never have to advertise a fire. The Holy Spirit's fire in a church will obliterate whatever feeble gains a marketing campaign can create. The Holy Spirit's fire in a church catches in the community and changes lives profoundly. The Holy Spirit's fire cleanses, renews, and empowers.

For all too many churches today, there is no fire, only ashes. This is the dirty little secret that no one can utter. And when the Sunday service is over, it's the nagging doubt in every person's mind as they walk out wondering why they feel so empty even though they just spent all that time in church.

Everything besides the Spirit will fail to change this condition. The Christian pundits out there are misdirecting people into thinking there are other ways to get there, but there aren't. Only the Spirit of God satisfies. And once you have the Spirit, all that other dross is burned away.

It's time to stop pretending. For too many the Holy Spirit has become a dim memory in a dim church filled with dim people. God, send us your Fire!