Archive for February, 2010

26
Feb
10

Proof

As this blog progresses it is my prayer that God will use it to strengthen and empower the faith of followers of Christ and to draw those who have not yet believed to Him.  I will use any and every resource, media tool, literary source, quote, song, testimony, website, Scripture and Spirit-led encounter in order to accomplish that goal.  I hope He uses this beautiful video as more than a sentimental expression of emotion, but as a varifiable Truth within your heart.  May He take the evidence of His reality and make it proof to you today.

26
Feb
10

A Man Fell In a Hole

I have  posted this video on my blogs before.  It is so simple, and yet so profoundly true that I feel compelled to repost it from time to time.  My prayer today, is that someone will view this and ask the One who lowered Himself down to rescue us from an inescapable death, to lift them up into the Light and save them.

26
Feb
10

Supernatural Power: For What Purpose?

“But Peter replied, ‘May your money be destroyed with you for thinking God’s gift can be bought!'” -Acts 8:20 (NLT)

By the time we arrive in the eighth chapter of the Book of Acts in the Bible, the new Church is well under way, expanding and growing, both in numerical and geographic influence. Disciples are spreading out all over the region, giving evidence of the power of God and the truth of the gospel of the Kingdom through proclamation and through signs and wonderous miracles. People by the thousands were hearing, seeing and experiencing the truth about the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the power of His Holy Spirit that raised him. They were believing and being baptized and being incorporated into the Church at an astounding rate.

It is a picture, frankly of how I believe it could and should be happening in this modern day. I do not believe, nor do I read anywhere in Scripture that the power of the Holy Spirit would diminish or cease to operate or to be available by faith to the believer as the Church has developed throughout history. I have personally seen evidence of that power and have faith that all of the gifts of the Spirit are still available for use through the Church for the glory of God and building up and good of the Body of Christ and for the extension of His Kingdom. It has not always been this way for me, and I have only recently arrived at these beliefs in my own personal walk with the Lord. It is precisely because of my inexperience in these areas and because of my own enthusiasm to see and experience more of it, that that same Holy Spirit has caused me to pause and consider my own motivations and desires with respect to the actualization and use of His power. And, in that statement lies the reality….it is not My power or gifts, but His and they are to be utilized and are provided only for God’s own purposes.

This is where the Bible account of a fellow named Simon enters the equation. Simon was a magician. He was an illusionist and apparently a remarkably skilled, talented and convincing one. His reputation was well known and the people in his realm of influence knew him by the name “the Great One—the Power of God.” Kind of the same way we still remember the performing act of Harry Houdini as, “The Great Houdini.” The guy was popular! He had the power to entertain and was convincing in his art and this is how he made his living. That is, until a disciple of Jesus named Philip rolled into town and accomplished works of wonder that made Simon’s look like just another parlor card trick.

People were healed from all kinds of maladies and afflictions. Demons were cast out, the blind received sight, crippled people got up and walked, and people’s lives were transformed by faith and were baptized into the embryonic body of believers. The power of God fell on that region of Samaria with such amazing effect that even Simon himself was astonished and was persuaded that this was authentic stuff and not some magic trick. The magician found himself a part of the crowd following Philip and his entourage around as God continued accomplishing signs and wonders. Acts 8:13 tells us that Simon was so affected that he himself “believed and was baptized.” But, that was not good enough for him….Simon was more interested in the power of God than the God of power.

By the time Peter and John were dispatched from Jerusalem and arrived in the region to impart the Baptism of the Holy Spirit to the new followers, Simon had already formulated a plan in his mind as to how he could gain personal benefit from this great gift. Little did he realize that this was the great chopper of ears that he was about to approach with what was essentially a bribe to recieve a “jump to the front of the line pass” to have access to the use of this amazing power. O fcourse Peter responded with typical Peterness. I can almost imagine him walking forward to within inches of Simon’s face and taking an imposing stance as he said, “May your money be destroyed with you for thinking God’s gift can be bought! You can have no part in this, for your heart is not right with God. Repent of your wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive your evil thoughts, for I can see that you are full of bitter jealousy and are held captive by sin.” Simon, in turn, still looking for an easy way out or in said, “Pray to the Lord for me [emphasis added], that these terrible things you’ve said won’t happen to me!”

The point here is that there is no limits to what the power of God can do in and through the faithful heart that is right and by the believer who is filled with the Holy Spirit. May I be so honest as to say to you, that I still believe that every miracle we might read about throughout The Bible is still able to be accomplished by God through us to this very day. I believe with all my heart that every gift of the Spirit listed in the Word of God is still active and waiting to be used by the Spirit of Christ in the His followers as part of the Body of Christ, not just on Sundays, but everyday. Further, I believe that every believer should desire them and seek them. But, here is a word of caution that the Spirit has given to me and I feel a responsibility to share with you. We need to examine our hearts for a “Simon” attitude and spirit.

It is awe inspiring to see a miracle. We should be amazed and excited when we see any outpouring of the Holy Spirit’s power, whether it is a healing, or a prophetic utterance, or a spoken expression in a previously unknown language. When the supernatural, manifest power of God by the presence of His Holy Spirit reveals itself to us, the perfectly normal response is to want to experience more of it and to be enabled by the Lord to duplicate the experience and make use of it. The question we must ask is, “Why do I want this power in my life?”
Do I want it because it makes me feel good? Not good enough. Do I want it because its exciting? Not good enough. Do I want this because people will be impressed to see how spiritual I am and they will like or accept or respect me? By far, not good enough. If any of these reasons or any other than for the glory of God and the building up of His Bride is our motivation then, like Simon, we will seek to purchase God’s power, even if not with cash for our own self fulfilling agenda.

Are there modern day Simons out there? You better believe it! All you have to do is turn on the TV to see them. They are pulling rabbits out of the hat everyday and calling it the “Great power of God.” They are finding coins behind our ears all the time, and then making them vanish into their pockets and telling us its the Spirit. So, how do we know the difference? I believe the answer is in Peter’s admonishment of Simon of Samaria: “…your heart is not right with God!” The genuine and very real power of God cannot be earned, it cannot be worked up, it cannot be bought and it cannot be realized apart from God giving it and it cannot be used for any other purpose other than what He commissions it to be used for. Only when our hearts are totally and unconditionally surrendered to His and to His purpose and will, without any question of “what’s in it for me,” then we can fully experience and “have [a] part in this.”

26
Feb
10

Pastor Ed Young & Board of Fellowship Respond to Allegations

I posted earlier today, a report from the news media scrutinizing the financial and moral integrity of Pastor Ed Young of Fellowship Church in Grapevine Texas.  Thanks to one of my readers, Rebekah King, my attention was directed to an answer to that report.  I am more than happy to share it with you all.  On Saturday night following the release of that report, Pastor Young and Fellowship board of directors members, Mac Richard and Dr. John Cross stood before the membership to respond.  I mentioned in my post how such reports sicken me and that it happens to often.  They do and it does.  Far too often the reports are more true than we, in the church are comfortable with.  So when, finally, the answer is one of honor and truth wins out, it must come as a tremendous relief to us all.  The final answer and the most important matter of concern for us all must be that God’s Truth is upheld and that His Bride is protected at all costs.  There are  too many lives precariously balanced on the brink of eternity to falter.

25
Feb
10

Can’t Get Much Clearer…

This is clear Gospel teaching straight out of the Word, the Heart and the Wisdom of God.  What a wonderful expression of God’s plan of salvation from Robert Morris, Pastor of Gateway Church in Dallas, Texas.

25
Feb
10

So That Everyone Gets the Message

“Arise, shine;  For your light has come!  And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you.” -Isaiah 60:1 (NKJV)

 
Ever see two bulls in the same pen? They paw the ground. They huff and stomp the ground. They challenge each other and finally end up slamming into each other. The biggest and baddest one gets the herd, but the other one often ends up with something that will be ultimately important to him…he learns…he gains experience, for the future.
That’s how it was when I first met Joe Carr, my dear friend and pastor of The Message, a new church plant in Leland, North Carolina. Oh my did we slam heads! Why? Because I was just emerging from my own vortex of religiosity, churchianity, traditionalism and intellectualized belief. Joe had already been there, taken his wounds and had emerged refreshed, healed and ready for war with the Enemy. Joe challenged me. He challenged my theology. He challenged my systematized orthodoxy. He challenged my faith. Joe Carr was a challenge for me the way that he is a challenge for others, because Joe has been challenged by the Holy Spirit within him. He long ago made the decision to answer that challenge and to answer the call to more than the mundane, and the traditional and to pursue with wild-eyed abandon the higher places of service where Christ was already at work.
When people ask me about Joe, my usual response is, “He makes my head hurt.” He causes my head to ache, not because I slam it into his anymore (I quickly learned better), but because he inspires me to think on a level about God, the Gospel of Christ, the Kingdom of Heaven, and the power of the Holy Spirit in ways that I had never concieved of before I met him. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Joe is that he draws and attracts people, not to himself but to his Lord Jesus and introduces us to Him, not only as the Suffering Savior, but as the Conquering King of Kings. And, he does this in the most humble of manners and never with arrogance or bluster.
Now Joe, along with another of my dearest and best friends Paul Tyndall, is about to embark on a brand new adventure in the Kingdom of God. They are planting a new church. If I know anything about Joe and Paul (and I’m pretty sure I do), this is going to be a thing of nothing less than sheer excellence. This is going to be a thrill ride! Not a roller coaster kind of ride, because they go up and down. The Message Church is going to be a intercontinental missile launch straight up into higher atmospheres and with such g-forces, that hearts will speed up and heads will spin. This going to happen, not because of their considerable talents and giftedness, but because of what they believe about the Lord, His Bride and His unimaginable power, and how He can transform lives and heal bodies, hearts and souls.
Want to see a preview of what all of this is going to look like? Do a Google of the signs and miracles of the Bible, print out the list, and then go read about them in the Word of God. Hold on Leland! Everyone is going to get The Message!
25
Feb
10

Approved!

“Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” -Galatians 1:10 (NLT)

I enjoy being liked by people, don’t you?  I like being likeable.  Whenever possible, I like pleasing people and being a pleasant, pleasing person.  I don’t want people, when they see me coming, to find an excuse to leave or to dread an encounter with me.  For most of us, this is a reasonable and normal inclination.  But, if I might be completely transparent for a moment, it hasn’t always been this way for me. 

You see, until recently, with the help of some strong friends, my wife and some really wise spiritual counsel, my own inclination to enjoy being liked was anything but reasonable or normal.  Instead of  finding simple enjoyment from having a people pleasing nature, I discovered that for me, it was an obssesive need.  Because of this, I found myself being a man of extremes.  Either I would do absolutely anything in order to be liked and accepted, or if that acceptance and approval was not forthcoming, I would turn into the most unlikeable person imaginable. 

Ultimately, what I have discovered (and am still in process of discovering) is that my problem stemmed from not being comfortable or content with who I was.  Ironically, this fact was painfully obvious to almost everyone, except me.  I didn’t really like the man staring back at me from the mirror each morning, so in order to compensate for that I found myself constantly jumping through all styles of hoops to get everyone else to like me.

Now, all of this is more involved than I am eluding to here and had to do with areas of my past, but the most effective remedy was not merely psychological or emotional, but spiritual.  I figured the man I saw, was the man that the rest of the world saw and since I had to work so hard to accept me, the rest of the world needed to be prodded into acceptance too.  Then I was forced, by most practical definitions of the term forced, into seeing myself through the eyes of my Heavenly Father, and I discovered something astounding.  He doesn’t just like me and accept me…He loves me.  And do you know what a reasonable person will do for a person who loves them?  That’s right…whatever’s possible to please that person.

And how do we please God?  By trusting Him.  With EVERYTHING!  The writer of Hebrews says it this way, And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6 NIV)  I never really had faith that I was liked, loved or accepted by anyone, because I continually had to work so hard to get them to.  Best way to please God?  Accept and trust that He really does love us, and to prove that, He sent the One He loved most as a sacrifice to ensure that His love for us is secure and available.  If God really does love me that much just for who He says I am (and He does), what difference should it make to me if I am acceptable to anyone else?  That kind of love can’t be bought, earned, cajoled, or worked out.  It simply is because He simply is….LOVE! (1 John 4:8)