Thursday Thoughts


Just a few things I was thinking about or read elsewhere and thought were worth sharing…


Given the hoopla over this “revival” in Florida (which I spoke of earlier this week) and the rise of prophetic ministries across this nation, consider what revivalist Leonard Ravenhill said were the marks of a true prophet and see if any of those characteristics match prophets in today’s modern charismatic movement. (Ravenhill’s comment that “The degree of his effectiveness is determined by his measure of unpopularity” should be a good indicator of direction.)

Also in this vein, with people obsessed with signs and wonders, consider what David Wilkerson authored in his message “A Christless Pentecost: Is Christ Becoming a Stranger in Our Midst?

What is it with people acting like animals at some of these supposed revivals we keep hearing about? Nothing disturbs me more than to hear this kind of nonsense. The late Derek Prince offers some discernment that is much needed but rarely heeded.

Had enough charismatic-bashing from me, a charismatic? Well, how about this for positive spin?

Because I write Christian fiction, I’m all too aware of the traps that such an endeavor poses. It’s very easy to lead one’s readers into a ditch. Tim Challies does a worthy job dismantling the questionable theology of the über-bestseller The Shack.


I’m finding that the latest version of WordPress is much slower than previous versions, not only in the Admin pages, but in loading the blog itself. WordPress dropped gzip compression and their object caching. Without them, this site loaded like molasses, so I restored that functionality and cut load speeds to a third of what they were after the upgrade. I’ve spent several hours trying to optimize Cerulean Sanctum for faster loading.

Firefox 3.0 RC1 is a fine update, but it proved devastating to the way my computer ran. I have an old PC running XP that has 512 MB of RAM (and the cost of 1GB of 168-pin ECC PC-133 DRAM for it is ridiculously high, so I’m stuck with the following issue and solution). Between all the bloatware updates on Windows and most other software out there, my processes were paging, including my satellite Internet drivers, causing them to spontaneously unload when Firefox grabbed all the CPU cycles and RAM. Grr. If you have a similar problem, setting Firefox 3.0’s process priority to “Below Normal” will solve that problem. Don’t understand why the software slams the CPU so hard, but there you go. If the upcoming update of Firefox were a kid, the verdict would be “Doesn’t play nice with other children.”

Creation Care

I’m surprised that no one is looking at the upcoming Beijing Olympics as the cauldron of some future pandemic. You’ll have people from all over the world descending en masse on China—the world’s petri dish for disease. The Asian continent, and China in particular, serves as the birthplace of many communicable diseases, influenza being only the most prominent example. The Beijing Olympics will concentrate groups of far-flung people who normally never congregate and do so in that disease-spawning region. It not only offers the possibility that people dispersing after the Olympics will take disease worldwide, but also that people will bring diseases into the region that may find the environment to their liking, either mutating into something more virulent or finding some combination of factors that encourage DNA-swapping. No matter what occurs, we should keep our eye on this.

I think this is one of the coolest, wettest springtimes I can remember. What does this say about global warming?

On the other hand, scientists are finding that the massive increase in carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere since the 1950s has created ultra-potent poison ivy. As someone who never used to be bothered by the stuff during my years in Christian camping ministry, I can attest to the change.

As an Audubon member (and treasurer of my local chapter), I keep a lookout for birds. My neighbor, the chapter president, and I both note an alarming lack of bluebirds this year after years of increases. Anyone out there seeing bluebirds or noting changes in their numbers?

On the other hand, we have plenty of meadowlarks on our property, a bird that is rapidly dying out due to the overdevelopment of pasture land. This article at Audubon notes other familiar birds that were once common but are now in trouble.

I continues to grieve me how carelessly we trash the world God gave us in pursuit of avarice. On another blog, a commenter lambasted me for my concern that putting in a massive Wal-Mart superstore in my little town would ruin the night sky. He told me in no uncertain terms that if I cared about that loss I should move out of the area. My valid question: Are there any such places left, and if so, how long before they, too, get turned into a strip mall? Sometimes I am just staggered at our willingness to defecate all over our living spaces and think nothing of it. Heck, even dogs don’t do that.

Think deep thoughts this weekend. When we get opportunities to relax, we need to be considerate and thinking people. Christians, more than any other people, must be wise. We know the Source of wisdom, right?

Be blessed.

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!