Monthly Archives: March 2009

Swimming Upstream: “Squandering Time Or Not”

“What do you do to relax?” asked the doctor.

“I play golf,” replied Doug.

“Oh, golf can be relaxing. How often do you play?” said the doctor.

“Never!” said Doug, “and what’s bad is that I’m going to have to cut back.” (Multiplicity, 1996, movie starring Michael Keaton and Andy MacDowell.)

Using time wisely has always been a touchy point for us Christians. Should we go to a movie this afternoon and enjoy ourselves while people are suffering in Fargo? Or what about the starving children in Rwanda? Or the imprisoned believers in Tibet? Shouldn’t we just stay home and pray for everyone?

Basilea Schlink, the founder of the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary, dealt with this issue in one of her many books. She tells how she visited the Louvre in Paris. Walking by the works of Michaelangelo, da Vinci, Rembrandt, Raphael and others, she felt guilty and miserable. How could she possibly enjoy herself while so many people were suffering throughout the world?

Now if you haven’t heard of Basilea  Schlink, check her books out. This German lady was a woman of deep prayer, as in six to ten hours a day.

Schlink states that she was finally set free from her misery and guilt when she understood in her heart that she was no longer living under religious Law, but rather, she lived under grace and was led by the Spirit.

Most of us have heard this simple truth over and over. And yet, how many of us really believe it?

Swimming Upstream appears at this blog site on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s  a little of this and a little of that, all written  to encourage and exhort believers in their Christian jouneys.

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Swimming Upstream: “Count The Costs Ahead of Time”

Recently, I ran across two accounts of major church movement leaders reacting to their critics. One wrote a letter in which he pointed out the unfairness he had suffered from all of his critics. Most of whom have been Christians.

The other leader lashed out at a Christian reporter who criticized his handling of a matter. Their comments have continued back and forth.

No doubt, both leaders have been hurt by their critics’ attacks. And sadly, both have defended themselves out of inner hurts and wounds from all of their past battles with critics.

A friend of the letter writing leader posted the letter on his blog and asked for comments. What did people think?

I commented this way:

I’ve always admired the way Kenneth Hagin handled his unmercifully cruel critics when reporters called him for a reply to a book or magazine article that lambasted him or his ministry. His standard reply was, “No comment. God bless them.”

Isn’t this the way Jesus handled his critics?

What do you think happened to my comment shortly after it was posted? If you guessed it was deleted in a New York second, bingo! Go to the front of the class.

Admittedly, I disagree with some of that church leader’s positions, but I would have given the same comment to Honey, our children and everyone. Why?

If you have a calling to pioneer a new revelation and truth to the Body of Christ, guess what? You will have critics… lots of them. Some will be from your family. Some will be from your church family. Some will be your friends and neighbors. Some will just not like you for no reason at all. They will travel out of their way to beat on you like a drum. It will hurt. Count on it!

But within your calling is everything you will ever need to run the race Jesus has set before you. There will be enough grace, faith,finances, miracles and whatever to stand in the midst of every fiery furnace. And if that’s not enough, Jesus will invite you into His fellowship of suffering where He will heal all of your hurts and make you whole again…everyday if needed. It’s an open door.

So, make up your mind. Count the costs ahead of time. If it looks too tough, don’t pick up the baton for your calling. Let someone else run the race in your place. Just sit on the sidelines out of the way, keep quiet and don’t complain.

Swimming Upstream appears at this blog site on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s  a little of this and a little of that, all written  to encourage and exhort believers in their Christian jouneys.

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Prayers Needed For Cindy and Family

If you have looked at the news lately, then you’ve probably heard that Fargo, ND, is teetering on the edge of a major calamity. Flood waters are expected to crest above 41 feet and stay there for days. (Floodstage is 18 feet.)

Cindy Hanson and her family lives there. She is an active commenter on this site and a great poetess. You can follow her updates on the flood at her site.

Take the time to pray for Cindy and her family.

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Swimming Upstream: “Deliverance For Rick and Others”

One of the reasons I don’t struggle with depression is that my parents were encouragers. They always believed in me, always patted me on the back, always told me I could get the job done. They still do this today, and both are in their mid-80’s and their little boy is now 63 years old.

For years, I took my parent’s role in shaping my character for granted… as in, don’t all parents do this?

My blinders were ripped off when I met Rick. All through his childhood years,  his mom said to him, “You’re worthless! You will never amount to anything!”

Over and over, she repeated this mantra, until they had the power of  prophetic words on his life. He ended up fulfilling her prophecies by spending seventeen years in prison for drugs and robberies.

Although Rick is a believer, he still struggles with the view his mother painted on his life’s canvass. He wonders how Father could love him, why Jesus would die for him and if Holy Spirit will really be his Helper. Rick agrees with the lament the Apostle Paul wrote, “O wretched man that I am!”

One time, I prayed for Rick and saw him sitting on a bunk in a prison cell. He was miserable and sad; and yet, the prison door was open. He just had to get up and walk out into his freedom, but he could not do it.

And to be honest, it”s easy for me to tell Rick that he just needs to trust a little more, believe a little more, pray a little more and study a little more,  and then, he would be free of his past. You know, like me, the one who had loving parents who always encouraged me.

His mom’s words have been millstones hanging around his neck, weighing him down in the sea of life.

But there is good news for Rick and others like him who have suffered from parental abuses. This is their season of deliverance. Jesus has heard their cries and is now sending an army of Elijah prophets and apostles who will fulfill the mandates of Micah 4:5-6

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers…

Swimming Upstream appears at this blog site on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s  a little of this and a little of that, all written  to encourage and exhort believers in their Christian jouneys.

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Book Review: From Eternity To Here

frometernitytohere

Generally, Frank Viola’s books, such as Reimagining Church, Pagan Christianity, The Untold Story, Who Is Your Covering, Rethinking the Wineskin and others have been weighty books for me. I read them slowly with a marker in hand to underline important points. When I finished them, I used them for research only and did not reread them.

This is not the case with his new book, From Eternity To Here. It is a masterpiece. Well-written. Easy to read. Each page entices you to keep on reading, turning the pages and not quit doing so until it is finished. I look forward to reading it again. And again.

Why?

In the Introduction, Frank states that “the book contains three narratives, woven together, to tell the epic story of God’s ageless purpose.”

The first narrative relates “the story of a God who is an ageless romantic, driven by one consuming pursuit” – a Bride for His Son. The second is about God’s desire to have a family and a home.  And the third reveals the Son’s desire to have a visible expression on earth through His Body.

These narratives will challenge, inspire,  inflame and transform your love for Father and Jesus to a higher level. Not only that, it will regenerate your love for the brethren.

Here is one of my favorite quotes:

If you and I wish to know Christ, hear Christ, touch Christ, see Christ, enjoy Christ and experience Christ in fullness, we will find Him in a living, breathing expression of His body. For the church, as God has called it to be, is the visible image of the invisible Christ. The church is the presence of Christ today just as Christ is the presence of God.  As Dietrich Bonhoffer put it, the church properly functioning is “Christ in community.” (From Eternity To Here, pp. 279.)

As usual, Viola cites numerous scriptures and quotes from countless authors to back up his claims, but he does it in such a way that the story is not slowed down a bit. It moves along.

You can buy a copy at your local book store or purchase it at 33% discount for another week here.

From Eternity To Here …  paperback. 315 pages. Published by David C. Cook

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Frank Says

I am reading Frank Viola’s new book, From Eternity to Here, and will write a book review when I’m finished.  But his article, What’s Wrong With the Gospel?, is a great read.

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Swimming Upstream: “Are We There Yet?”

Missional churches. Emergent churches. Permission churches. Organic churches. Simple churches. Red letter Christians. Neo-Calvinist Christians. Liberal Christians. Progressive Christians. Social gospel.

Yipes! Double yipes! Triple yipes!

I am a simple man who loves Jesus. I am not deep or profound. Mention words like hermeneutics or eschatology, and my eyes glaze over, my ear flaps shut down and I’m gone.

So, you can imagine how I am with the new nomenclature evolving out of different sections of the American Body of Christ, right? Not a pretty sight.

Maybe, the best way to describe me is to say that I’m like my daughter was when she was three years-old and the family was going on a long auto trip. “Daddy, are we there yet? Huh? Huh? Just tell me when we’re there, okay? Hey, Daddy, are we there yet? Huh? Huh?”

Why am I this way?

I know when five dollar words are used to explain something as beautiful as the gospel and the Church that we are going to need intellectual eggheads to explain everything to us. There’s no other way around it. You see, most of the rest of the Body (at least 98.2%) have no interest in understanding these terms. They, too, are like my daughter. “Are we there yet?”

But I take heart in knowing this: the American church is in state of flux. Nobody has arrived at the final destination as yet in this move of God.

Then, how will we know when we have finally arrived?

And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him…

Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” So all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down.

Then the fire of the Lord fell…

Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!”

So, get ready the Elijah prophets and apostles are coming! They won’t write boring dissertations, expansive treatises and create weird names. They will act and the fire will fall. Period.

Swimming Upstream appears at this blog site on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s  a little of this and a little of that, all written  to encourage and exhort believers in their Christian jouneys.

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