Saturday, February 25, 2006

Top Ten Sermons - # 5 - Unknown Yet Known - G. A. Mangun





The fifth sermon that lodges in my mind and spirit is one that I have increasingly had on my mind particularly for the last couple of years. As time passes on and I move out of that category of a "young preacher," I am beginning to wonder if I (and my peers) have a responsibility to the past.

Our times (the last decade) have made an incredible assault on some long held core doctrines. Even some of our traditions have been taken to the gauntlet which I cannot say is all bad. I am more than willing to admit that there have been some abuses and abused in the past particularly in areas that one would refer to as "standards." In looking at some of those abuses that occurred, it appears to me that our foundation has to be the Word and not preference. Yet, if one is not careful, the swing back in the other direction in trying to correct the abuses and ignorance, there will be a drastic overcorrection. This overcorrection may not affect the current generation but the one that follows will find itself greatly lacking. The wise man is quite aware that there are ditches on both sides of the road and he must stay out of both. That is why that I found this message was so crucial to me at the time that it came around.

George Barna, who is not a theologian but rather a sociologist, has crept in among evangelical minds and his statistical analyses have created havoc among pastors. In fact, Barna's work has found time among many seminary curriculums. Instead of learning how to efficiently follow the pattern of prayer and ministry of the Word, pastors are being forced into the mode of organ grinders with it's matching monkey. Cultural trends and societal elements are not the overarching parameters for church growth, personal evangelism mixed with prayer and fasting are.

Periodically, one must find the place where he stands. If adjustments are necessary, then they should be made accordingly. However, one must also understand that progression can just as easily be digression if it is going in the wrong direction.

In my frank estimation, Barna, if one takes much stock in his stats, is forcing many pastors to become entrepreneurs instead of being men of God who weekly preach the Word. Accordingly, the trend that one faces is the transition of the pastor into a CEO who must spend energy building a kingdom that sometimes is worlds apart from the Kingdom. This message from Bro. G. A. Mangun really forced me as a young man to begin to make necessary adjustments as to where I would in 30 years. Most importantly, where would the church that I had been called to serve. . . . where would it be?

The Occasion: Because of the Times, Alexandria, Louisiana (1999 or 2000). I have to say that this conference has meant more to me than any event that I have ever attended. It washes things out of me that have collected over the course of the preceding year and then it fills me with passion, purpose, and vision for the coming year. I have not missed BOTT since my first one in 1988. When I was at TBC (1989-92), this conference was not particularly endorsed so I had to save all of my absences since my trek was considered "unexcused." Later on, when the adminstration changed, I ran into Bro. Kilgore one night in the G. A. Mangun center passing out twenty dollar bills to the current students. That pretty much sums up the story for me. . . . . A day late and a dollar short!

So much has been developed in my life at BOTT that all of the money I have invested there over the years has been well worth it. I have stayed up half of the night discussing hopes, dreams, visions, and longings with other young men after the services at BOTT (Brent Rashall, Mike Patterson, John Boone, Tim Kelley, Sean Libby, and others whom I cannot remember right now.)

The Preacher: G. A. Mangun, Bishop of the Pentecostals of Alexandria. I cannot say that I have the honor of knowing Bro. Mangun on a personal level, although I wish I could say that I did. I have shook his hand a few times and he has prayed for me once (a fantastic story surrounds that which I may blog one day).

Honestly, I must admit that I had always allowed Bro. Mangun to live in the shadow of his son, Anthony Mangun, and his wife, Vesta Mangun. Even though, I have heard both of them say publicly that neither one of them could carry his briefcase, that thought just did not connect until after I heard Bro. G. A. preach this message at BOTT. In addition to that, the DVD of his life (available at www.thepentecostals.org) totally changed my thoughts about Bro. Mangun. That is not to say that I had negative thoughts about him, the thoughts that I had very neutral. No More!!!! There have been times that I have felt the battle pressing me a bit and I would watch this DVD and it was amazing in it's ability to encourage and inspire me to go another round.

The fasting, prayer, hunger for revival, discipline, and soul-winning efforts that are displayed on the DVD have caused me to view him as a modern day apostle. The effects of Bro. Mangun's ministry and influence will not be discovered until we stand at the Bema.

At the time that Bro. Mangun preached this message, there was a lot of saber-rattling going on particularly among some younger "progressives." At issue particularly was the appearance of the revival at Brownsville and the Toronto Blessing. Sometimes, one can get so incredibly overwhelmed with all that is going on "out there" that it can create a lot of self-doubt and second guessing. That is sort of the setting that found us (or maybe just me) that year at BOTT. Did we need to make some changes to really have revival? That question was answered in an incredible way that evening.

The Message: Unknown Yet Known. Not only did Bro. G. A. Mangun have a grip on the doctrinal issues of the day, he begin to walk through the history of his own calling and what had been his response to all of the issues.

For me, it shored up a greater tenacity on the apostle's doctrine. I had a grip on it, but it just got much tighter. It also gave me great insight as to what could happen if you would commit fully to your purpose and reach for God with every thing inside of you. I must confess that I am not there yet, but I am further down the road than I was then. In fact, I am further down the road than I was just last year. It is a constant work in progress.

At the end of the message, Bro. Wayne Huntley issued an incredible challenge to those who were less than 35 or 40. Whatever age group it was, I was in the crowd. Then Bro. Huntley asked all of us to stand who fit that age bracket and he gathered some elders to pray over that crowd of 3000 or so. While it was all going on, I looked up to the platform and saw men like G. A. Mangun, J. T. Pugh, James Kilgore, T. W. Barnes, and numerous others and was awed by their faithfulness that they had lived out over the years.

I made some personal commitments that day that to this day I have continued. By the grace of God, I will continue those until I am taken out by way or rapture or death. I hope that we all understand that we have an incredible debt to the past and to our heritage.

Gracious God. . . . . Give us the wisdom of the elders and help us to hold in the proper esteem that they should be held in. . . . .

The book that Bro. G. A. Mangun recommended was the Timothy and Titus commentary called "Guard the Truth." Worth your time.

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