Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

Today I plan on attending the Memorial Day parade in Holliston, MA; a little town not too far from Boston. We'll probably park the car at St. Mary's, arriving early enough to get a shady seat on the bench in front of Fisk's Variety Store. My wife's family and friends will be there.

There will be the distant sound of a High School band and the crackle of police walkie-talkies. The kids will wave flags and have red, white, and blue balloons. It's a lot of excitement for a small town.

As the parade nears our vantage point across from the Superette, with blue lights flashing, Charlotte's uncle John will round the corner onto Route 16 in his patrol car; clad in his Ray-Ban's and a proud smile, and he'll blip the siren signaling the last few pedestrians to clear the parade route. Behind him the rumble of a 30's something-or-other roadster, and the clickty-clack of a Ford Model-T will be drowned out by the applause of those of us lining the sidewalks. A round of cheers for the WWII vets, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War and those in the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The wizened faces of nameless historical figures, once young and vibrant, will ride by full of military pride. Before us, a chapter in the history of the US will fade into the distance as the Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts and Brownies round the corner.

It happens every year.

I think about the parades of my childhood, remembering the white Chevy Biscayne convertible carrying the WWI vets. My dad was one of them. A proud WWII and Korean War vet with two purple hearts paraded past his family.

Today my thoughts are as real as the crackle of gun fire during a 21-gun salutes. Taps plays over and over in my head.

I still think of all those the had once lay dying on the battle field so that I could live and work, worship and pontificate online as I see fit.

I wondered how many cried out to God before making the ultimate sacrifice? How many were going to be in Heaven with me? What if they hadn't served and lost their lives? Would I still be free?

I remember my father's wake like it was yesterday. There lay the body of a man who spent most of his life as a disabled vet. He nearly died, not once, but twice for his country. Sargent Rice from the DAV came that day, to honor my dad. I can hear her voice, "Sargent Johndrow, I salute you." And they closed his casket forever.

Whatever you think of this country, I promise you, there are those that have given their lives so that you can read this blog. Honor them today by giving thanks for your freedom - if you have it.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday Ramblings - Unanswered Questions?

Today I have some unanswered questions. Some of these keep me awake at night, and others make me chuckle to myself.

- How come we let teenagers live past 13?
- How come air conditioners can only be put in when it 80+ and taken out when there is snow on the ground?
- If it is tourist season, how come we can't shoot one?
- Why would we want to drill oil when we could use electricity for cars?
- What year did Jesus think it was?
- Why does the president support policies that only 1/3 of the country wants when more than half voted for him?
- If Christians believe the Bible, why do so many think their thoughts and feelings are a better moral guide?
- Do Christians believe that the chicken came first - after all God did create the animals first, right?
- If all those psychics know the winning lottery numbers, why are they all still working?
- How come so many Christians think that money is the root of all evil?
- Why would anyone want to know how many calories are in a McDonald's Big Mac?
- Why would someone want to be called a Christian that doesn't believe the Bible?
- Why do drive-thru ATMs have braille?
- Why do men get married hoping she'll never change, and women get married thinking I can change him?
- If Lost was political satire, who was Ben?
- Why is there a light in the fridge and not in the freezer?
- If con is the opposite of pro, then what is the opposite of progress?

- If drinking and driving is illegal, why do bars have parking lots?
- Why do toasters always have a setting that burns the toast to a horrible crisp no one would eat?
- Can atheists get insurance for acts of God?
- If 7-11 is open 24-7 and 365 days a year why do they have locks on their doors?
- What do people in China call their good plates?
- If most car accidents occur within five miles of home, why doesn't everyone just move 10 miles away?
- How come when you are driving through a neighborhood looking for an address, you turn the radio down?

- Why would Jesus have died on the cross for doing good things?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What's for Desert? The Reality of Dry Times

The desert is a pretty popular topic in the Bible. I found well over 300 references to the word. The desert is an interesting place, dry and desolate to some, something to be endured by others, and to one with a keen eye, teeming with life.

This week on Kingdom Bloggers, we wrote about doubt, and the desert usually is not far away. We wrote about that HERE.

We know that Israel, although lush in some areas, is arid in others - the same is true of life. If we look at the biblical/spiritual events that take place in the desert, I think that we will see the parallels to our own lives. Here are some attributes of the desert that we should be aware of.

There is life giving water in the desert:
Genesis 16:7 The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert.

God can be with us in the desert:
Genesis 21:20 God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer.

God can get our attention in the desert:
Exodus 3:1 [ Moses and the Burning Bush ] Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert.

God can give us a ministry in the desert:
Exodus 4:27 The LORD said to Aaron, "Go into the desert to meet Moses."

God can be worshipped in the desert:
Exodus 7:16 Then say to him, 'The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to say to you: Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the desert.

Sometimes the end of the desert is where the miracle happens:
Exodus 13:18 So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea.

We must trust the Lord in the desert. Numbers 20:1-13
Numbers 20 [Water From the Rock] 1 In the first month the whole Israelite community arrived at the Desert of Zin.

God will carry us in the desert:
Deuteronomy 1:31 and in the desert. There you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place."

God will protect us in the desert:
1 Samuel 26:2 So Saul went down to the Desert of Ziph, with his three thousand chosen men of Israel, to search there for David.

Our attitude in the desert matters:
Psalm 78:40 How often they rebelled against him in the desert and grieved him in the wasteland!

God is the one that transforms that desert:
Psalm 107:35 He turned the desert into pools of water and the parched ground into flowing springs.

God cares for us in the desert:
Hosea 13:5 I cared for you in the desert, in the land of burning heat.

God sometimes sends us to the desert for refining:
Mark 1:13 and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan.

The desert can be a dry and lonely place, a place where we may grow weary. It is also a place where we can use the faith we have so often claimed to have.

Ezekiel 37:4 Then he said to me, "Prophesy to these bones and say to them, 'Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD!

I used to think that the desert was on for believers that didn't really understand the gospel message, but today I see it as part of the walk - sometimes a very long walk.Moses was there. What must Paul have thought when he languished in prison? What about Joseph at the bottom of the cistern? David as he was pursued by Saul? Jonah while in the belly of the whale?

For many of us that found abundant life in the Charismatic Renewal, the Toronto Blessing, or the Revival at Brownsville, or some other place where we felt close to God. It has been awhile since we really had a chance to be be deep in the river of God.

It even rains in the desert.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Dog is God Spelled Backwards - and Dog is Man's Best Friend

What made you believe (or what would make you believe) in God?

Faith in God, or belief in the Bible don't come easy in a scientific world; one filled with new discoveries and plausible theories. Christians often site proof texts and archeological finds, but the truth is that all of these discoveries have been refuted - with or without science. For many, the biblical fact that God says He is, is enough proof.

Well, it wasn't enough for me! The Bible, a seemingly rambling collection for random writers and styles was no match for my intellect, reason and personal logic.

For this Christian, there are only three things that make me certain of God's existence, and the validity of Christianity as described in the Bible.

1 Peace Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding. Unless you have experienced it, the peace of God - the biblical kind - is one of the most amazing gifts from the Heavens. In my life it has over powered panic and anxiety attacks, brought solace in desperate places, and provided insulation from situations that were completely beyond my control. Better and more filling than any drug, godly peace allows me to rest, to function in the face of trial, and be refreshed in my soul far more than a 2-week vacation in the tropics.

Real peace is not the kind that you have when all things are going well. No, it is peace in the face of trial. It is peace in the storm. Some times God calms the storm, other times he calms that one in the storm.

The peace that surpasses all understanding is evident to those around us as God handles difficult situations that cause others stress. It is peace when we lose a loved one, peace when we lose a job or have an accident. It is peace in the face of cancer - for it is the peace that only God can give. It transcends our emotions, anchoring our spirit.

2 Power -  The Kingdom of God is power - creative power. The supernatural realms operate outside of time and are eternally active. Their impact on the natural is nothing short of miraculous. Once you have seen x-rays that showed a lump one day, and after prayer were clear that next, you start to see things differently. One you have seen a demon cast out, and then done it yourself, you start to get the point.

Most Christians that I know pray what they want, but the ones that are successful (God answers their prayers), pray want God wants. To know what God wants, one must be listening to God and not relying on their own thoughts and feelings.

If we are truly in relationship with Christ, then we are not spamming Heaven with prayer requests, we are saying amen to the will of God. Hearing His voice, and being a vessel for the anointing is the only winning combination. Otherwise healing prayer, and any answered prayer for that matter, will start to seem very random, and the power of God will seem rare - as scare as a spring in the desert.

Isaiah 10:27 It shall come to pass in that day
That his burden will be taken away from your shoulder,
And his yoke from your neck,
And the yoke will be destroyed because of the anointing oil.

Only God's power and anointing can draw a man's heart, speak to a man's spirit, and produce Kingdom fruit - broken yolks.

Power was coveted in the early church by both Christians and sorcerers. Paul ran into them in Acts 8:9 and 13:6.

Without power, Christianity is just another empty philosophy.

3 Love - 1 John 4:8 God is love. The evidence of the Kingdom is love - sacrificial love. There is not greater love then a man that would lay down his life for another.

Hollywood has emotionalized love to the point that we cannot even see it as an action. Love is what we do, not what we fell. Love is kind, forgiving and longsuffering - even when we don't feel like. Even the evil can give good gifts to their children, but only God can give good gifts to all of mankind.

Love that would die for another - even for an enemy is the bar that Christian must meet. Jesus said that other would know us by our love, our sacrifice, and the joy and peace we bring others - even those that are unlovable.

I find it interesting that Paul describes real love in the midst of his treatise on the spiritual gifts and their use in the church. The two, love, and the use of gifts is meant to be inexorably tied together to share the love of God, and to meet spiritual and personal needs of those we are in contact with.

How about you, what is it that make you know that God is real? Or what would He have to do to prove himself to you?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Healing Part 2 - You Are Part of the Process

Healing is one of those supernatural happenings, that for those that are without faith, it is hard to grasp. And I hate to say it, is hard to grasp for believers sometimes too.

I once went to an Anglican healing service in the early 80’s. There was a woman there that wore hearing aids. She went to the altar for prayer. Her hearing was restored and she no longer needed the hearing aids. Her priest and I were talking about it – me, I thought it was amazing, wonderful and exciting! He said this, “well, if she thinks that she is healed, than that is all that matters.”

If doubt is where we start, then we need to look at the word of God. How is it that we can go out into all the world with the Gospel, and God will do nothing? Is Christianity only about getting folks past the sinner’s prayer, or become members at a social club of like minded folks? I think not! Salvation by faith is the doorway to the Kingdom. The purpose of Christianity is to advance the Kingdom, not just add new converts.

Jesus said that we should pray like this: Matthew 6:10 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

My question is this, if there is no sickness in Heaven, than why don’t we believe that we need to pray that it is so on earth as it is in Heaven?

As born again spirit-filled Christians we have access to the gifts of healing (1 Corinthians 12:9) which are part of the Kingdom inheritance we have here on earth. We have been sent, (Matthew 28:16), and given power (Matthew 10:1). Is there something I am missing? Well other than the fact that we need to get out there and do it. God gave the ministry of healing to you and me. Those that got healed in the Bible “went” to Jesus.

And in case you think it was just the apostles and Jesus doing the work – that’s not true.

Luke 10:1,9,17: After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. [Jesus said] Heal the sick who are there and tell them, 'The kingdom of God is near you.' The seventy-two returned with joy and said, "Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.

In Mark 9:38-40, the apostles were upset because they saw a man who was not an “apostle” casting out demons in Jesus' Name. But Jesus told them not to stop them.

The purpose of healing is not just for healing, but it is meant as a sign to prove that God is real and the word of God is true – even the parts that can’t be proven here and now. Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is at hand, that means that we should be able to connect with it here on earth in some of the ways that we can in Heaven – “as it is in Heaven.” And I would add if we are not, then we need to look at where our faith is.

John 14:11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. 12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. 15 "If you love me, you will obey what I command.”

How can we disobey God by not believing in the miracles and the healing, and still say that we love Him?

Jesus did not withhold healing from those that asked for it. He healed them all (Matthew 4:23-24) (Matthew 8:16) (Matthew 9:35) (Matthew 12:15) (Matthew 14:14) (Matthew 14:35-36) (Matthew 15:30) (Matthew 19:2) (Matthew 21:14) and He still doesn’t.

I do hope that you are thinking differently about healing. Remember that healing is a ministry – a set of gifts given to you and me to share lavishly on those that we love (which is everyone). It is your responsibility to get with God, and pray, dig in to the Scriptures, and find some sick folks.

John 15:15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17This is my command: Love each other.

I often think about this. If no one prays for the healing of the sick, then no one can get healed. Then I think about the healing that I have seen at my own hand, and even more so at the hand of others. I was once at a meeting in Virginia, and there were 3 reporters there. They intended to expose the "false" faith healer. There was a man there the first night, he was scheduled the next day for a lung transplant. It was obvious he was scared - but he received prayer. Shortly after he jumped from his chair and shouted, "I'm healed." The minister had him run laps around the sanctuary, which he did. The audience stood and cheered.

The reporters, a writer, a photographer, and a cameraman were all saved during the meeting! "At least believe the miracles!"

The next night a little girl deaf from birth (her whole family got up to testify to the fact) had her hearing restored. She was talking on a cell phone with th minister. She kept holding the phone n from of her with a puzzled look - what is this strange thing happening? She said her first word in response to the question, "who has healed you?'

"Jesus!" she said.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Healing - The Wonder of God's Hand Part 1

Healing in the Christian Church seems to be another one of those areas where the lack of good teaching seems to be tough to come by. It is, for some, part of the mystery of faith, while for others; and on the other end of the spectrum, a right . As usual every one has their favorite verses. Here is probably the most popular.

Isaiah 53:5 And by His stripes we are healed.

The question then becomes this, does God heal the physical body, and if so, why not everyone?

If we take a closer look at Isaiah in context, many scholars think that it is a “spiritual” healing – salvation. The passage includes griefs, sorrows, iniquities and transgressions. And I am pretty certain that you can see the purpose of the crucifixion; or atonement in this passage.

The problem with the above inference is this.

Matthew 8:16 When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick , that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.”

In Jesus, according to Peter, there is the physical healing available to us in the same way there is spiritual and emotional or soul healing.

My take on healing is this; our physical healing is included in the cross but is not guaranteed at this time. HERE is a more exhaustive exegesis of the above passages.

If we are to embrace healing, it is a good idea to look at sickness, its causes, and the process or ministry of healing in the church. Here are some of my thoughts and Scriptures as we look into one of the most incredible experiences available to Christians and those they love.

- Sickness is caused by sin. (Job 2:7-8) God allows sickness just as He allows sin, but He is not the cause. In Genesis it says that we were created in God’s image. If sickness is part of the package, then God would become sick as well. If Adam and Eve needed healing, I suppose that “very good” would also include sickness. God doesn’t get sick, and Adam and Eve didn’t get to enjoy the fruit of sin until they committed it.

Humankind was exposed to diseases and deterioration by sin which is separation from God. The aging process is mentioned. Rom 5:12 "Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned."

The Jews not only believed this, they taught it. John 9:2 His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"

But sin is not the only reason that people become ill. Sure, smoking and drinking, overeating, and lack of exercise can all be tied to illnesses that cause death as well as some deformities in the unborn. There are however; some things that are not caused by sin.

John 9:3 "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.

- Illness is considered a curse. (Deuteronomy 28:21-61)  Curses can be an affliction (caught), or disease passed down through the generations (generational curses).

Exodus 34:7, "Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting (punishing) the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation."

Acts 10:38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

The Greek word here for "under the power of" is katadunasteuo which literally means "to exercise dominion against” or oppress.

- Illness is part of the demonic realm, and sometimes those afflicted are oppressed and other times they are possessed. This is true of both physical and mental illnesses (for which there are often physical causes).

Of course there are many instances of demons being cast out in the Bible. Some times they control the victim, and other times they make them ill.

- Our forgiveness for others, or better yet the lack of it, can cause illness as well. The two seem very closely related in the scriptures. There are some Christian healing ministries that focus directly on this issue.

If Jesus healed them all on a certain occasions, do you think that it is possible there were occasions when He didn't heal anyone? I do.

There are a number of ways that Christians pray for the sick. Some of the methods are the laying on of hands, anointing with oil and yes – even dirt and spittle! What matters is that we have faith, and listen for God.

“Spamming” people with evangelism tracts, praying for healing, and other forms of religious duty produces far less positive results then conferring with God about who, when and where.

I’d like to end this first blog about healing by saying that I once had a fellow that worked for me. One day a customer of mine came to the office while I wasn't there. He called me on my cell to ask if he could pray for her on company time. He said that she seemed upset. Of course it was fine with me. She said that she had been diagnosed with melanoma and that she had a spot on her ear. The doctor had told her that they would be removing it along with a good size portion of her earlobe. My friend simply laid a hand on her shoulder and said a simple prayer asking God to heal her. She paid her invoice and after a few minutes she left - it seemed nice - but uneventful.

After every one had left the office the phone rang and I let it go to the tape answering machine. I could hear a woman’s voice, she seemed very excited. Why? The cancer had fallen off about and hour before as she was washing her face. She checked with the doctor and was completely healed. She never had the surgery!

As with prophecy, our beliefs, fear, and lack of faith will keep us from receiving what God has already paid the price for. If you read that many accounts of healing in the Bible including Moses, Peter, Paul, John, Jesus and Elijah; to name a few, you'll see that those that got healed, came to these men, or to a place where they were. The healing of God did not go out and find the people.

There are few requirements to pray for healing. You need to be born again and full of the spirit, have faith, and have s a sick person around.

Monday, May 17, 2010

So You Want to Prophesy?

I don't think a blog can teach you to prophesy anymore than I believe that you will be born again just because you read the Bible. I do believe that there are some prerequisites or steps that you can follow if your heart is for the things of God, that should help you get in the ballpark. I can assure you that everyone that prophesies by the Spirit of God (as opposed to being a diviner for the Devil) fills these requirements.

- One must be born again - truly born again. (John 3:16, Rom 10-9-10)

- One must be filled with the Holy Spirit. I suppose there is some debate about this, and when and how it happens. I believe that sometimes it happens when we are born again, and other times it is a separate experience. No one doubts that Paul was converted on the Road to Damascus. (Acts 9:3-8) Paul, however; received the filling of the Holy Spirit at a later date. (Paul was born again after the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost (Acts 2, and filled wit he Holy Spirit after he was converted.).

Acts 9:17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit."

 For another account, here is a great one. (Acts 10:44-46)

- One must earnestly desire the gift - and because the Bible says that you can all prophesy, things should go well -

1 Corinthians 14:1 (AMP) EAGERLY PURSUE and seek to acquire [this] love [make it your aim, your great quest]; and earnestly desire and cultivate the spiritual endowments (gifts), especially that you may prophesy ( interpret the divine will and purpose in inspired preaching and teaching.

- well if you are not in for the ability, but to love your church family, and your enemies. As a prophetic person, you will be called to prophesy over, and for, the enemies of God.

The folks that seem to have the greatest ability to prophesy have cultivated a deeper and more inmate relationship with Jesus. They are passionate about him. This is not a hard-and-fast rule - but an observation. Of course a donkey can prophesy if need be.

It seems that for some to really get going, they may also need an impartation from someone that is able to give the gift. (Romans 1:11) This has been my personal experience. Even Elijah imparted not only his gift, but a double portion to Elisha.

2 Kings 2:9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, "Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?" "Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit," Elisha replied.

Before you get launch out on this endeavor - I suggest that you read 1 Corinthians chapters 12, 13 and 14 as though they are one chapter. One of the problems with understanding the Bible sometimes, is that the chapter divisions cause us to see things in parts when they are meant as a whole.

I want to strongly recommend that you share your possibly divinely inspired predictions and things that you feel like you "know", with another Christian. Skeptics hate what I call 9/12 prophets. "Yeah, I knew the World Trade Centers were coming down. Now I am letting you know." Well, my question is this: Why didn't you tell everyone on 9/10? Also write them down and keep track of your accuracy. And finally remember, that what you speak, if it is negative, can become a curse. (James 3:9) New Testament prophecy should be a blessing and an edification.

Once you have established a track record, then there are lots of other things to look forward too. I will get to those somewhere along the way.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Pitfalls of Prophecy and the Spiritual Gifts

As I thought about prophecy in the church, I realized the two major barriers to incorporating it and the other gifts into our everyday life, are unbelief and fear.

Unbelief is a big problem for many Christians – not just in prophecy! It comes from a number of sources, but ultimately it is the devil trying to tell us that God is not able to do what He says He will in the Scriptures. We often take the doubting Thomas story to the extreme. Trust me, if you were Thomas, you’d have much more faith than the average American Christian. You may remember the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead.

John 11:16 Then Thomas (called Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him." 17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.

We all know how the story ends. Lazarus was raised from the dead by Jesus. How about you, have you seen someone raised from the dead – I don’t mean revived at the hospital, but dead four days!? Of course Thomas was there when that Gaterenenian Demoniac was set free, the storm was calmed, the water was turned to wine, and he was one of the guys watching bread and fish multiply before his very eyes as he distributed it on the hillside to 5,000 men and their families.

Thomas heard Jesus prophesy about what He must suffer, and the Kingdom to come.

Unbelief also is a form of pride – “I know more than God,” and “I know more than the scriptures” – it is a form of arrogance. In our lack of faith, quite a few Christians don’t believe that God does much of anything; Many are just hoping they are good enough for Heaven.

Imagine if we had the same kind of doubt about Heaven as we do in the use of prophecy?

I once watched a group of psychics and skeptics on Larry King Live. There was a Rabbi that was convinced that the whole idea of “knowing” anything about a person you had never met, was a random set of leading questions. First he should have known the use of the gift can be powered by the devil which is a form of divination or witchcraft, or God which is prophecy. As a Jew, he would have studied the the law and the prophets in training to be a Rabbi. Religion is confusing, isn't it?

During the show, there was a female caller and the Rabbi started with his leading questions and was quickly at a dead end. No one was impressed. There was a woman psychic on the show who took over, She knew a lot about the caller – number of children, things that she was struggling with and a number of other things. There were no questions, just factual statements made by the psychic. Even Larry King was dumbfounded.

Church, Satan's counterfeit was amazing to Mr. King, just think what might have happened if it was God?

My point is this, this stuff is for real. Prophecy and words of knowledge and wisdom are meant to be part of the functioning of the Christian life (1 Cor 12). Just as the Old Testament Kings, even Saul, had prophets, we should have gifted revelatory folks in our midst.

I know another group of folks that do prophetic dream interpretations at places like Borders. It is their form of evangelism. What they found doing this ministry shocked them. About 30% of the folks that came were Christians from denominations and churches where prophecy was prohibited because of unbelief and dispensationalism. And worse, some of them admitted having success in horoscopes and other forms of divination!

People are hungry for the supernatural, and if the church won't give it, many of them will settle for the devil.

Fear of the supernatural runs the gamut in the church global. I once took some friends to a very intense meeting. The anointing of God was flowing in prophecy, healing, words of knowledge, salvations and the word preached was amazing. Every altar call bore fruit for the kingdom. My friends were taken back by the “not so church as usual” atmosphere. The minister called one of them up to so that she could lay hands on him and pray – he refused.

I spoke to him after, and he said it was just too scary but he said the presence there was so real and that he had never felt that before. My only thought was how do we go to church week-in-and-week-out and not have the presence of God?

If we look at the life and ministry of Jesus, He confronted people. He never said "be blessed, thanks for coming." Whether is was the calling of the 12, the woman at the well, the woman taken in adultery or healing the centurion; after Peter hacked off his ear; the night Jesus was taken into custody. He dealt powerfully and lovingly with those he came into contact with. Prophecy was just one of the ways He did that.

Prophecy is a gift for loving others, and being Jesus to them. It is not for the pleasure of the one that prophesies, nor for the pleasure of the one receiving the word. It is for the pleasure of God, and one of the ways in which He speaks to us. It is directive and personal. Prophecy creates destiny for us. It is a creative word; speaking that which is not, as though it is. How do we live without it?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Here Comes the Judge - How Do We Know It's God?

If you are like me, once you have seen a real prophetic person minister, you wanted to see what God would say to you. Think about it, there are lots of decisions to make in your life, and you’ve asked God for wisdom but you still have lots of decisions to make. Well, join the club. As we walk out our salvation, we come to many crossroads; it’s a natural part of life.

I think the perceptions of most church folks, when it comes to the prophetic, fall into one of the following categories.

-1 That it is ancient history – I haven’t thought about God sending some one to speak over me.
-2 I know there is prophecy, but it is rare, not very personal. And it’s too general.
-3 Prophecy can only be encouraging so anything negative is not God.
-4 It happens, but it won’t happen to me.
-5 It’s been abused and misused – therefore it is really just too much trouble.
-6 Prophecy is a way of life for the Christian, and should be for the church.
-7 The supernatural gifts ended with the apostles deaths - LOL!

Well, I am a 6! But I have been 1 through 5 at some point in my walk. I have never been a 7.

I am going to assume that you are interested in what a prophecy is, or what it might be like. HERE is a story about my first one. HERE is a story about another one and how all that turned out.

First, prophecy can be as simple as a Bible verse that is made personal and meaningful to you. My wife and I went to hear a speaker, and while he was preaching he said these words. “You, did you know, you are in the Army of God?” (1 Chronicles 12:22) And as he said it, he pointed to my wife. It was personal, and powerful. It was God speaking to her.

Other times I have seen a much more direct and accurate form of prophesy. There are those called out of an audience by name. This was by men who did not know them at all, just to speak destiny in some sort of missions. I had a pastor that was originally from Iceland and the prophet couldn't pronounce his name, so he spelled it! He prophesied his brief US pastorship, and a move back to his home country. The prophecy took about 6 years to come to pass, but every word was perfectly accurate.

So, what would you do if God had someone speak a word over you? Run out and make it happen, be so skeptical that it would be meaningless, or fall somewhere in between? They are good questions don’t you think?

Here are some steps and suggestions for judging prophecy and prophetic words whether they are for you personally, for your small group or even your church. And yes, Virginia, some folks still prophesy over nations.

-1 Write it Down!
Most meetings that I have been to, the words are recorded to hold the minister accountable, as well as provide the recipient with a record of what God is speaking to them. In more intimate settings, this is not always the case. Whatever the situation, write down everything! Think of it like a personal Bible passage – you’d want to get every nuance of the utterance, and prophesy is the same. If it's God, you'll want to pull it out every so often.

Jeremiah 36:2 Take a scroll and write on it all the words I have spoken to you.

Once the “word” is written down, you take away the inflection and accent of the speaker. Some prophetic people have a personal style of delivery. Jeremiah, for instance, was the “weeping” prophet. Others in the kingdom have some odd deliveries which can be somewhat distracting. I know one fellow who sings them over you. The music is beautiful, but it is hard to hear both the music and words. Just remember the water sometimes tastes like the pipe.

-2 Check the Scriptures!
As you read it over, check to make sure that the word does not contain any scriptural contradictions. I would dismiss a word if it was going to take me consciously committing a sin, to have it come to pass. Scripture is the final authority and anything that contradicts scripture must be rejected.

Does the word exalt and glorify Jesus? (John 16:13-14; Rev. 19:10) Does the word edify the church?
But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men (1 Cor. 14:3) And some times there is comfort in coming clean and repenting.

Beware, just because a word makes you feel uncomfortable, doesn’t mean that God is not intending for you to grow into it. I taught my kids math in anticipation that they would one day go to college.

-3 Check with God!
Look for the inner witness of the Holy Spirit. If you are accustom to having a witness to the things of God, it is a good test. If you have no experience with prophecy, what you heard/are reading may in fact, not be something that you are interested in partaking of.  (Col 3:15) But I assure you, just because you don’t want to marry a pastor, or be a missionary in Guatemala, doesn’t mean that God is setting you up for a change of heart. I’m just saying. Be sure to highlight any conditions. IE: God will, if you will. If you don’t do your part, God doesn’t have to do His part, now does He?

-4 Track Record and Character!
Who is it that gave this word to/in the church, or spoke it over you? Do they have a track record of accuracy and humility? A good pastor, instead of worrying about abuse - he will build a file on the prophetic person recording his words, there accuracy, and the ones that come to pass. It shouldn’t take long to see what type of gifting and anointing prophetic people have. Beware, not all prophetic people are of the best character (nor are pastors, and evangelists!). Do not discount the fact that God can use a donkey to deliver a word of needed.

-5 Praying It Through!
I don’t know what your prayer life is like, but a prophetic word can supercharge it. I often read mine back to the Lord and then meditate on what He might be saying. The prophecy becomes my prayer script. In the early days, I received some stuff that seemed damn near impossible. But because it had passed test 2 and 3, I had to consider it.

It is often in this step where God may point out some changes that you need to make to line up with the word. If you are going to run a marathon for God, then maybe it is time to quit smoking. You get the idea.

Ask Him to show you if any parts of the word are not from Him and to confirm the parts that are from Him. I have received a few words over the years that were so very much Him - with one sentence that didn’t make sense then, and still doesn’t today. Don’t reject something because of one part. The prophecy is subject to the prophet - and some times they miss things. Pastors preach bad sermons too. Happens.

-6 Life Context!
Compare the word against other things God has spoken to you maybe in prior prophecies, personal prayer times and other forms of godly input. Sometimes prophecies create a burden, other times they confirm one. Is this new, or another nudge in the direction you already know you should be taking?

-7 Wait!
You do not always need to act immediately on a word from the Lord. Sometimes we need to wait for Him; for His timing and for circumstances to present themselves. This is especially true of predictive, directive or calling/gifting words. God, is faithful! He will confirm it to you. He won't call you to do something tht He will not empower you to do. Be certain, you may not feel prepared, but that only means you'll have to rely on God, and isn't' what faith is all about?

-8 Don’t Think, Respond!
We need to respond to God’s word, not carry them out. It is easy to try to conform our lives to a word, when what we need to do is conform ourselves to the image of Christ, and let destiny unfold before us. Do not "read into" the word what you want it to say. I had a friend that was a meeting and his girlfriend received a word about getting married. She thought it was him, but he was dumping her that night,. It was a rough evening for both of them. About a year later she met her husband is very happy - it's  funny to all of us now.

I once received a word about my kids coming to live with me after my divorce. Each time I went to court for a custody hearing, nothing happened. It didn't happen until they graduated High School. It was disappointing at first, but not wrong.

1 Thessalonians 5:19 Do not put out the Spirit's fire; 20 do not treat prophecies with contempt.  21 Test everything. Hold on to the good.  22 Avoid every kind of evil.

There are a few things that can keep you from getting a word or having one come to pass in your life.

Attitude – Bad attitudes about spiritual gifts or the style of the prophecy may hinder you from what God actually wants. And if the word seems like it would take a miracle to get you there, remember God does miracles.

Bad theology - it is wrong to think that there are no spiritual gifts today. There is too much ink in the Bible, too many folks that have the real deal. Think I am wrong? Well, take it up with God and search it out like treasure.

Sin – sometimes personal sin can significantly delay, or in some cases negate your destiny. This is particularly true of addictions and sexual impurity. Sin has consequences. The inverse is also true. Sometimes people that are in sin can still deliver prophetic words that are accurate and godly. No, I don't know why.

Prophecy in church services and gatherings are pretty well covered in 1 Corinthians 12, 13 and 14 - well unless you tore those pages out.

Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge (1 Cor. 14:29)
By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established. (2 Cor. 13:1)

Rom. 8:16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.

And finally: God sometimes allows false or misguided people to speak to test and humble you (2
Chronicles 18). They may speak of great things. They need to be tested. God
sometimes even allows true prophets to give a purposely misleading word (Psalm 18:26).

In the end, it is your relationship with God that will help you judge a prophecy for you, your church, or even the USA.

Be filled with the spirit, love others and earnestly desire the gifts - especially prophecy.

How about you, care to tell us about your experiences?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

God Knows Your Stuff - The Gift of Prophecy

As a body of believers God has given each one of gifts in which to serve each other. We are not all meant to do the same job in the Kingdom. In fact, without others, we may not be able to do anything of real value. Christianity is a team sport with lots of sacrifice thrown in.

For many the church seems as if it is run like a business. And the folks that attend the church are worker bees. They make sure that practical needs of the church are taken care of. Someone has to do the cleaning, the bookkeeping, the pastoring, the counseling and all the rest of the church business.

And beyond all the mechanics of church (which yours truly finds exceeding boring and lifeless), there are supernatural ministries as well. We call these these spiritual gifts. No other religion has spiritual gifts, because no other religion has a living God. I mean in ABC religion, folks don't speak in tongues and heal the sick because there is no power to interpret them or effect healing.

The truth is that Satan probably has more opportunity for supernatural manifestations than God does in many churches.

And for those of you who'd prefer not to have spiritual gifts in church, how else do you make the distinction between Christianity and any other religion? But I digress.

The supernatural gifts and callings present a difficult challenge to Bible believing churches. They don't always fit in a nice neat little box; nor in a program with a workbook.

First, we need to decide if prophecy even exists in the New Testament church (NTC). There are just too many references to it for it to be a no.

Romans 12:6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.

1 Corinthians 12:10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy.

Ephesians 4:11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers.

The next question is obvious, what is the nature of prophecy in the NTC? We are not going to have any new doctrinal revelations, which would be heresy. We are not going to have some change that God has not somehow foreshadowed in the scriptures. IE: a new spiritual gift of wealth for instance.

There are enough verses in the Bible to support prophecy. Here are a couple of verses that illustrate the use of prophecy – of course there are many more.

Acts 21:11 Coming over to us, he took Paul's belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, "The Holy Spirit says, 'In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.'"

Acts 27:33 Just before dawn Paul urged them all to eat. "For the last fourteen days," he said, "you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food—you haven't eaten anything. 34 Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head."

Who can or does prophesy? You all can. (1 Corinthians 14:31) - the key is desiring too. Of course one needs to be born again and full of the Holy Spirit. There is nothing special about those that prophesy. They simply make use of a gift that is available to all born again believers. I find it sad that a lot of believers don't use what is available to them.

Acts 21:8 Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven. 9 He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied.

Luke 2:36 There was also a prophetess, Anna…. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.

The basic essence of the word prophecy means to reset a path. I use the word direction because the church does not need new mandates or doctrines. Those have been set in place by the apostles and prophets. What the church (and individuals) need now is direction. The prophetic voice is one of many ways that sheep should hear His voice so that they can do what the Father is doing.

The question is often raised, what can a prophet tell us that the Bible has not already told us? In terms of cannon law and doctrine, nothing. In terms of direction, everything! The prophetic voice whether via a NT prophet (Eph 4:11) or just a plain old you-and-me type Christian can be essential in reveling God’s direction and planning.

So, what about the OT prophets? Their job was to set a foundation for the law to transform into the new covenant with the sacrifice of Jesus as the central historical event dividing the two. These prophets were held to a strict level of accuracy. According to Paul, not only in his writings, but his own experience, the NT prophetic person is judged by grace – and the believer judges the “word” by the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 13:12 Now (this life) we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity (heaven).

Paul errs in his word of prophecy to those on the ship. Look at the difference between the two statements made by Paul:

Acts 27:10 "Men, I can see that our voyage is going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo, and to our own lives also." (Loss of life? I don't think so, Paul. Keep reading!)

Acts 27:22 But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed.

We all know that the ship was wrecked and that there was no loss of life.

Here is my point, do you have grace for someone that gives you a Bible verse or “godly counsel” that really doesn't apply, one in which you get no confirmation from the Holy Spirit? I hope you do.

Another question that is often raised is place of the Holy Spirit; which is to give witness to Jesus, and connect us with God’s heart and thoughts. This is accomplished by the many roles He plays in the life of a believer: Comforter, Teacher, and Peace giver. What He does not do is replace the need to be part of a body with many gifts. Furthermore; there are at least a dozen ways in which God speaks to us, prophecy is just one of them. The main role of the Holy Spirit is to confirm (teach) us. We need to be taught how to receive prophecy. In fact we need to learn to receive teaching and godly counsel as well! Maybe later in the week...

The nature of NT prophecy is to build up or edify the church – encourage. That does not mean that the message of prophecy is always positive. When Samuel came to David, it was not good news. David’s response was to repent (Psalm 51). This is edifying because the constant message of the gospel is to repent, and be made right with God. That said, prophecy is not the tool of the sin police either. The prophet and those using the gifts must do ALL things in love 1 Cor13. Did you ever wonder why the most important scripture on love comes amidst the spiritual gift discourse in 1 Cor 12, 13 and 14? It wasn’t given at a wedding! It is because the gifts require maturity. And because of the power, it also requires that we first love those that we minister too.

Prophetic utterances can be encouragements, corrections, confirmations, and create new destinies (calls those things which do not exist as though they did). They are destinies that require a response, and some may be conditional. IE: If you do this ___________ God will do that.

I was once at a church and God said through a prophetic voice, if you offer these specific classes you will succeed. They didn’t, and the church lost their building within the year.

And finally, the issue of false prophets – yikes! For God’s sake church, let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater. First, who in your church has a proven gift of discernment?  Are they getting red flags? We need to be discerning.

A false prophet will not always tell us lies. He, like Satan, can turn us from the truth by perverting scripture. It may even sound like real Bible! But in the end, a false prophet leads us away from the Savior causes division.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Don't Touch That Dial! - The Real Proof

I heard a commercial on the radio today. 

Little girl: Daddy why is the sun in the sky? 

Father: Well it is not in the sky, it's very far away. 

Little girl: Why? 

Father: Well if it were closer it would be too hot. 

Little girl: Why? 

Father: Because the sun is made of hot gasses. 

Little girl: Why? 

Father: I don’t know. 

Fade to a commercial about saving for college.

The creationist would say because God made it. And the scientist would tell us all about the Big Bang Theory. Both views are not able to be proven. The Christian says they have faith and that settles it, while the scientist says he has a methodical and logical process – and based on some facts (not all) he can make such and such a conclusion. His logic tells him that if he could go back in time, he’d show you how his hypothesis is correct.

A lot of Christians feel that Christianity is under attack, both in our government, and in a number of other ways. I recently read a posts about “being a Christian nation” and another one about the existence of Hell. I certainly don’t mind controversial subjects, but the more I read, the more I see a pattern evolving. It seems like it is them versus us – and to some extent, I suppose that it is true.

Christians we are at a crossroads. What if there is persecution – real persecution? What if through genetic engineering scientists can actually cause a species to evolve? What if current archeological research shows that one of the gospels is less than authentic? Where will your faith be then?

First, I am not suggesting that scientists will be able to pull off the genetic evolution, nor will scholars be able to reliably dispute the authenticity of one of the gospel accounts. What I am asking is this: What if those subjects become headlines anyway? CNN is going to report on archeological finds attacking Creationism and the authenticity of the scriptures.  Are you basing your faith (or lack of it) on the word of scholars or a true faith God? Even if your research is extensive in the authenticity of the scriptures, and you are convinced that the Theory of Evolution is a farce, and Global Warming is a joke, how will you answer the critics? Whose scholarship will you believe?

Have you seen the trend to rewrite history in a more politically correct fashion? For example, we didn’t buy Manhattan Island from the Indians; we stole it for $24. HERE is an interesting take on that story – the Straight Dope thinks we got screwed and we bought Manhattan twice – stupid politicians are the second oldest profession.

On a more serious note, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (President of Iran) describes the Nazi Holocaust of European Jewry as a "myth". For nearly half a century I have viewed the Holocaust photos; I find this appalling. This same trend will eventually bring the validity of the scriptures under scrutiny from those that are not sympathetic to Christianity – and the biased scholarship will become worse.

The question is this, what will happen to Christianity when the only available scholarship has been manipulated in the same way that news in on a daily basis?

Here are a few thoughts:

First, Christianity survived with no New Testament for nearly a generation.

We are not called to debate God’s existence (The Bible declares it!). Debate is dangerous. Even Paul had trouble with it and he was scholar in both the law, and the religious practices of the Jews.

Acts 9:29 He talked and debated with the Grecian Jews, but they tried to kill him.

Nonbelievers could care less about proof texts from the Bible. Most of the ones that I know, or come into contact with, will not see a Bible verse as “an argument” for whatever point you are trying to make. IE: the existence of God, abortion, gay marriage, heaven or hell the death penalty, foreign wars – and the list goes on and on.

I am not saying that we should not try to answer questions, nor should we mindlessly accept every Christian teaching we hear. What I am saying is that Christianity is not about a debate and who wins the argument.

Eventually, all of our “arguments” will end in the word “faith” – which is not an argument – but the truth. For those that don’t have faith in Jesus, it’s just a cop-up, or circular reasoning.  And add to that, “God said, and I believe it.” And you automatically lose a debate and will likely be branded ignorant.

We are not trying to win the debate, nor are we trying specifically to influence others with persuasive words.

As Christians, Peter said that we are to make a defense for our own faith – not for God, not for others, not for the church, or for Christianity as a whole.

1 Peter 3:15 Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

Giving a reason for the hope that we have, is not a theological debate, it is explaining a difference that others perceive in us. For example, I have been asked “How do you have peace about the fact that your mother is dying from cancer?” My response was simply that I felt that God was in control, and she had received Jesus as her personal savior, therefore; I have peace. With her eternal future secure, and God’s peace allowing me to live each precious moment at a time, it was possible. That doesn’t mean that I was immune to grief or worry, it simply means that my peace was visible to others. And from someone that used to suffer panic attacks, I think it is a pretty big change.

There was another time when I had virtually no cash and a big car repair bill. The gal that I worked with thought I was crazy approving a $1000 repair, yet I felt God’s promise to take care of it. A few days later, He did. The naysayers will say coincidence, but for me, it is the fruit of my faith.

Just a week or so ago, I was at a little church where three people were healed: one of cataracts and the other two of back problems. Two others were not instantly healed, - and no, I don’t know why.

Revelation 12:11 They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.

Church it is unlikely that we will overcome anything without love, and power and telling other about it.

Mark 15 He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well."

1 Corinthians 2:4  My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power.

Without the power and demonstration of the Spirit, we become like every other religion without power. Christianity becomes another philosophy that is subject to error, opinion, and logical scrutiny. Power shown through healing, prophesy, miracles and changed lives proves that God is real, that Christianity is viable, and  gives witness to the unseen eternal blessings we will receive on the Last Day.

1 Corinthians 1:19 For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."

 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.

 How about you, are you giving witness to the power?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Refreshing - A Cool Drink - The Living Water

You may have heard that 2 million folks in greater Boston were without potable running water. I wasn't one of them. Where I work, however; was. When I arrived on Monday morning, I never gave a second thought to what I would drink during my nearly 11 hours away from cool filtered water dispensed from my refrigerator.

As I sat down to my computer and opened my email, there was a message from the owner of the company saying that we could not use the coffee pot, ice, or the water bubbler. I was thirsty just thinking about it. We were urged to wash our hands and then use sanitizer (sounds stupid right?).

I thought for a moment about those that were trapped in the Haitian earthquake for days without food or water - certainly I could make it without water for 11 hours.

Then I thought about being trapped for days without the bathroom under some rubble - *snap* time to get to work. There was a gnawing feeling of thirst, even as I worked and talked on the phone. I pounded away at the keyboard but at about 11 am, even a yogurt wouldn't take away the thirst. I finally went and got a can of Coke. I made it until three o'clock when I got another one.

I heard on the radio there was a fist fight over bottled water at a Wal-Mart nearby. I am not sure what I would do for water - how desperate I would be?

As a spirit-filled Christian, I have an endless supply of living water. I think back to the times before I met Jesus, how thirsty I was for something - I didn't even know what. I thought I needed more money, a better girlfriend, my parents to get off my back, a better education, a faster car, more booze, more drugs, better friends - fresh start - I just couldn't fill the emptiness that eventually came. I pondered death, old age, and life in general along with my regular worries as I lay there awake some nights.

And then I met Jesus. It was such an amazing experience that I was totally and completely disarmed by His love. All my arguments, my intellectual “tower of education,” science and logic was torn down in an instant - the instant I first believed. Everything was shaken, and in my heart the river of living water began to flow. There was no sermon, no debate, no sinner’s prayer, and nothing intellectual. As a matter of fact, only a few minutes before I heard three guys talking about God, and it sounded so real I just had to “know” more. Within minutes the Spirit of God filled my heart and it has never been the same since.

It didn't matter that I had heard the best and most “scientific” arguments through my mother's affiliation with Yale, and the world of academia. It didn't matter that I had studied science, and masterfully architected my own system of beliefs based on my impeccable logic - well, up until the death part. I studied the Greeks, the Romans, the Middle Ages church, the Druids, the European Mystics, African Witchcraft, and even some of the Scriptures. I went to churches, synagogues and read about Eastern religion – after all I grew up in the late 60’s. In the 80’s I got in with a cult for a few months (something didn’t seem right)… wow, there are a lot philosophies out there! How could anyone decide?

Being born again is less about thinking, and more about listening to God. It was not the style of this near genius, no, the spirit realm didn't make any logical sense - as a matter of fact - it was a little spooky some days. Every time I thought about what happened that day, I tried to tell my self that it was just an emotionally weak moment when a couple of folks told me that they loved me and so did God. The problem for me was this: whenever I indulged in the moment, I was overcome by an overflowing in my spirit - again. It was a sense without words, yet very real.

Even in my worst times, the Spirit of God was there, the comfort was there, the power was there.
I confess that it took a long time to stop doing stuff that was bad for my spiritual life. In the beginning I smoked and drank. I didn't connect salvation with the fruit of purity in the Bible - it wasn't like everyone around me was being perfect. (The original Adam excuse) Occasionally some well meaning Christian would take me aside and talk to me about my sin. Most times they were nice about it.

As I look back there are a few things that I wish I had done early on to keep the river flowing.
-1 Had better fellowship.
-2 Had valued relationships with other Christians.
-3 Had a mentor or at least someone that took me on for discipleship - still haven't figured that one out.

I know for some, the reality of living water may not make sense, but unless one has experienced it, it is impossible to describe. And as far as I can tell, there is only one way to experience it.

John 7:38 (NIV) Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.

Today I am slowly working towards planting some churches in my area - ones that make the living water flow. We are using the 5-Fold model outlined in Ephesians 4. We value every gifted person, and want to see them released into their destiny. Our hope is that we (the Kingdom) will have disciples that have a double portion of what we have received. The best part – I don’t have to be the pastor!

The living water – it seems to flow much more rapidly when working with others, and not worrying about everything else in life.

How about you, are you thirsty?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Immigration - A Common Sense View With a Little Bible Thrown In

I don't know about you, but I am appalled at the fact that the US government has abdicated from reforming arcane immigration laws that were designed during WW II! Add to that, the protests against Arizona's new law which intends to enforce unenforced Federal Laws. What did the White House expect? It is time to do something, and please, make is sane!

Immigration has been the backbone of a free and prosperous United States since we became a nation. Why can't we make it work?!?

Not one of us wold be here in the US if it were not for the process of immigration. I am a second generation American. My grandfather (mother's side) came over from Ireland to New York in the late 1800's. He worked hard and gained a lot of success in business but lost it all during the cash of 1928. He joined the US Army and was a decorated Captain until his retirement. My grandmother was a southern belle from a well-to-do farming family in Virginia who's family came to America (from England!) on the Mayflower - I am a descendant of Governor Bradford. My grand parents on my father's side immigrated to Upstate New York from Montreal, CA to work at Alcoa Aluminum during WW II.

My family has a rich history both in and out of the US. I bet yours does too.

The United States of America, the land of the free, and the home of the brave, has always accepted those from less fortunate political and economic circumstances, as well as being a place of opportunity for wealth, success and the pursuit of happiness (not the promise!). The transition for most immigrants is not an easy one. Language barriers, cultural differences, and uncertainty plague them. (Uncertainty because there is no guarantee of citizenship, nor a line to get into any longer) Amazingly, many have adapted and become successful and productive citizens. Who hasn't enjoyed the an ethnic meal or celebration? From sushi to coffee, banking to industry, we have cultural influences too many to list - all as a result of immigration.

During the World Wars, it was imperative that we have an easy, and streamlined immigration policy to let the victims of tyranny, war and political unrest come to our country. Beneath the Statue of Liberty, virtually anyone that was able to pass through New York's Ellis Island Immigration office, was given citizenship. But those were times of war. This is when the arcane law of "born on US soil" = citizenship was made law. This was a privilege that was given to those who's parent(s) were legally immigrating to the US. It saved a lot of time in terms of paper work for the overburdened Dept. of Immigration.

Today, and for a number of decades after World War II, foreigners have been able to come to the US both with legal visas, and illegally walking across borders, stowing away on ships and using false documents.

In the illegal alien debate, let's try differentiate between those that come into the US legally, and those that do not. My common sense tells me that someone the "breaks in," should be treated differently than one that gets a visa, and comes legally. One breaking in, should bean automatic deportation back to safe political countries IE: All of South and Central America, Europe, Australia and parts of Asia and Australia. I have compassion for one who escapes genocide or war. Those were the immigrants of the last century. The so called "anchor babies" of those entering the country illegal should NOT be made citizens.

There are many issues for those that come here legally and want to stay - and that is the biggest problem. Of course there are also issues for those that want to come, applying for citizenship from other countries.


That's right, there is no queue to get into, and not much in the way of requirements. This is one reason that legal aliens become illegal. They languish here trying to get citizenship in an ineffective bureaucracy the has no specific criteria! The parking meter runs out quickly, and it can take years to get an INS hearing. Many have spent their life savings to get here, and hang on burdening family and friends as they wait for the opportunity to become and American. They are told, if you leave, you will never be able to come back.


Why can't we just do the following?
-1 Background check. This can be done as part of the visa process. This way we don't let criminals come here. We have enough trouble with that right here at home.

-2 Have a guest worker program. This allows companies to express their need for x amount of workers. They would have a prerequisite to run ads locally to try to find these workers. They would have to abide by federal, state and local laws regarding worker safety, pay and hours. Companies should be fined big time for hiring illegals.And INS could get their computer system on the web so companies can check credentials real time..

-3 All aliens here on work, religious, and student visas should be photographed and given a picture visa that has an expiration date just like a driver's license right at their port of entry. They can pay for this as part of the citizenship application process. BTW - Many foreigners can only get tourist visas. These are an open door, and need to be monitored.

-4 Learn English - a basic level of understanding is an investment in citizenship, and a tool for success in the US. If you can speak one language - then you can speak English.

-5 Require a clean criminal record - any felony convictions here, and say good bye. Jailing illegals is not a way to build a society.

-6 Required them to pay all income taxes as US employees except social security. But be certain, many will be lower income, and should not be eligible for EIC or any other rebates. Someone needs to run the numbers. Citizenship could be worse tax wise.

-7 A 5 Year waiting period - if all the criteria is met, then let's give citizenship to those that have adapted (not be changed) to American culture. We could make it shorter for military service - say 2 years. We want Americans on the battlefield should we need them.

In response to Arizona's new law, we've just rounded up 596 criminal illegal aliens in the Southeast. Bravo - so let's keep up the good work, while we make progress in other laws that better fit our society.

Regan-esk amnesty is not good for anyone. It teaches people that breaking the law is OK, it burdens us with costs for schools, health care, justice and entitlement programs. Some are already benefiting from these services. It is not fair to those of us who uphold the law, work hard, and pay taxes.

Fixing the mess, even with new laws as I suggested above, is not going to fix much of the current problems. We have let this go on for so long, that we will have to bend, or be seen as tyrants. Here are a few thougths on that.

-1 Deport the criminals.

-2 ID and evaluate all those that have overstayed their visas. This is a tough process, some are land owners, business owners employing Americans, and many have children - some that are in college whom were born here and are citizens!

-3 All should pay a fine for overstaying based on the years they have been here. $500 or a $1000 a year - we need to fund this insanity. I suppose that we will basically have to give amnesty to those that meet the criteria of knowing English, and having a clean record. After all, it is partially our fault they are here and definitely our fault they were allowed to stay here.

-4 Get those working into a guest worker program and fine the companies that hired them.

-5 For those that have entered the country by "braking in" we need to put those that we cannot deport at the very end of the line and fine them. Even 30 days in jail. I am sorry, I can't see breaking up families that have been here for years. Remember, our government allowed this to happen to people. They are not fish we can just throw back.

-6 Those that are married to Americans would get citizenship anyway, let's just move those that speak English and are not criminals through.

America is a great country and immigration is a wonderful way for us to help our fellow man, we just need to get it under control for national safety and economic reasons.

As Christians, when we allow immigrants to be illegal, we cause them to sin, and that is on us as well. It is time to love our neighbors as ourselves.

I am sure that I have missed something - let me know. Think I am wrong, let's debate it.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Manna vs. Wonder Bread - Some More Thoughts

This is the last blog in my little series about the church. If we are going to solve problems, then some folks need to get motivated to do something different. Maybe that's you! The first "something" we need to do is get some vision from the Lord about how to go deeper and become more effective. But before we get all spiritual about this, don't you think there are some verses that we could make our own; mediating on them, and then putting them into action? Here are two that are paramount in turning around the "mother ship" we call church.

Matthew 5:42-44 (NIV)  42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.  43 "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Do I really need to list the enemies of God and the church which includes you? Take a ride through Galatians Chapter 5.

And church, it is time to wake up to a leadership model that brings us to maturity - not in our faith, but in our ability to be effective for the Kingdom of God; carrying out the Great Commission..

Ephesians 4:11-13 (NIV) 11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

So, what if we launch a whole new church model? What if you are an apostle or prophet? Even if you're a pastor, a teacher or an evangelist, then what? So many are not functioning in unity. There are too many para-church ministries that are profitable (who would leave)-- ones that should have been part-of-church. And too many denominations. Do you think we could talk them into splitting the glory?

The difference between a formula and model is this. The formula is a patterned way of working, while a model is a principled way of working. One has rigid steps and methods, the other is flexible and allows for Spirit led input.

There are many loaners out there, people-- well people like me, that care about the Kingdom, and see the American church in disarray. We have tried to plug-in, got our newcomers gift at that door, and now the candy is gone, the coffee mug is lost, and the CD is at the bottom of the pile. Sure, we did the beginner's class, and the spiritual gift assessment... hell, I wrote the the darn thing! What about us? What about you?

Are we spectators or disciples? Are we going to church to get, or to give?

I am wondering if the church will adopt this new way of thinking? Or will what is left of the church as we know it, just go away? What if we start a new work, will we just have another Christian Ghetto? You know, a place where there is limited opportunity, people hurt each other in the name of Jesus - where power, money, and titles become the goal of discipleship? A place where no one really commits to another, they just say hello in the men's room and will pray fr you if you show up at Bible study. Hmmm....

I have a few thoughts - hey, isn't that why you read my blog? In order for this 5-Fold thing to work, we have to get buy-in from someone besides ourselves. Because they are foundational, apostles and prophets need to start linking up and committing to get something going. Make a commitment to local expression in your area. Me, I would try having a small-group that follows the 1 Corinthians 14 format... well just to get things going. We need to be led by the spirit. We need God's vision, not ours. In the process, we need to remember the following principals of biblical Christianity. If we don't, then we are just another sad religion in the Yellow Pages.

-1 Love/Covenant - We are to love people. This is outlined in 1 Corinthians chapter 13. It involves being kind, not making a list of wrongs etc. HERE is more on love.

-2 Power/Gifting - We need Holy Spirit power, and nothing less! I like the Quakers, they only did something when God moved, and otherwise they waited. We need to impart gifts, and receive those that are not like ours. It is about body building, therefore; every part is needed. HERE is more on spiritual gifts.

-3 Teaching - Good biblical teaching is essential. If you can't teach, pray for a teacher! For God's sake, don't rehash a bunch of junk that you read in a book, or have heard over the years. People are looking for manna, not Wonder Bread! We need to address relationship, witchcraft, covenant and so much more.

-4 Mentoring/Modeling - Do you have a gift? Teach someone else how to do it better than you! In the past year, some of my heroes of the faith have died. Just recently one had a serious heart attack, another some sort of gastric infection - it makes me wonder who they have left the double portion to? How about you, who are you leaving a double portion of your gifting to?

-5 Accountability - Can you just stop being a jerk, and let someone love you enough to be involved in your inner most secrets?

-6 Fruit - We need to be fruit inspectors. If those we are in contact with are not feeling connected or loved, than we better take a close look at how religious we are.

Anyone want to join me?
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