Don’t question authority

New Beginnings Christian Center

Photo By D. Brian Burghart

New Beginnings Christian Center, 155 E. Glendale Ave., Suite 14, Sparks, has regular service at 10:30 a.m. Sundays. For more information, call 323-2435.

I’ve written before about how doing this column/review takes on kind of an otherworldly feel—even mistakes feel somehow guided or fortuitous. It’s an occupational hazard of dealing with the metaphysical, and it happened again this week.

Hunter and I headed out to visit the Living Waters Christian Fellowship, 155 E. Glendale Ave, Suite 19, Sparks, and ended up at the New Beginnings Christian Center, 155 E. Glendale Ave., Suite 14, Sparks. I’ll admit it; we were rushed because of a clothing malfunction, arriving about 10:29 a.m. for the 10:30 service, so I guess I was distracted. We were cheerfully greeted by a young lady, Monica, at the door, and headed straight into the sanctuary. It wasn’t until Monday morning that I realized I’d ended up in the wrong church.

The room was fairly small, no décor on the walls, about 100 purple padded seats. There was a projection-styled screen at the front, a drum set, keyboard and saxophone, a few potted plants, a medium-large bouquet and a lectern. Elegant in its simplicity, it looked new—it actually opened on Sept. 16, 2007. About the only thing that stood out was the fact that there were boxes of Kleenex at the end of every other row of chairs. I’d done a cursory investigation on the web of Living Waters, but the vibe of this space didn’t really match up with my image from the site, which perhaps should’ve clued me in to my mistake.

Then Associate Pastor Mike Glenn introduced himself to me, explaining that the senior pastor, Mark Dawkins, would not be there. I attributed my surreal, fish-out-of-water feelings to the fact that some of the people I was expecting to see from the website weren’t there that morning.

The service’s organization was typical non-denominational Christian: A few songs, performed by the keyboardist and a visiting saxophone player (who may have been Glenn’s son) rather than by the congregation, followed by announcements, leading up to Glenn’s sermon. I’d call the music “smooth jazz spiritual,” mellow, relaxing and soulful.

Glenn’s sermon focused on the innate authority born-again Christians have to order their spiritual lives through Jesus’ name. He used Ephesians 1:15 as the jumping off point. The passage discusses the powers bestowed upon Christ by God, which are in turn given to Christians through Christ’s death and resurrection as long as those powers are used in Jesus’ name: “Don’t think you can run amok and still walk in the authority of Jesus.”

He made the point that this power refers specifically to the spiritual realm, drawing from Revelation 12:7-10. “You don’t have authority over other people,” he said. You have authority over the spiritual enemies of your soul. I don’t have authority over Trish to say, ‘Trish, go do this.’ That’s witchcraft.”

There were a few other points. He talked about one-third of the demons falling into hell after the battle with God and one-third still living on Earth, and he talked about the husband having authority over the wife—that led me to believe this is a traditional and fundamentalist congregation.

Finally, he spoke about the powers inherent in Jesus’ name. “What’s in a name? What’s in The Name?” Authority, power, boldness, righteousness, deliverance, salvation and healing were among the attributes he listed.

“You have all the authority in the name of Jesus resident in you,” Glenn said. “You have to speak in your authority, people.”

I consider myself lucky to have stumbled into this small congregation. This group would have passed totally unnoticed through my radar if not for the guiding hand of fate. From what I saw, people who like a fundamentalist view of Christianity and a Bible-based, charismatic spirituality would enjoy this group.