Monthly Archives: November 2009

Lord, Why Not Call Bill Instead of Me? (Part 6)

Click on following for earlier articles: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 Part 4 and Part 5.

And He summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs and gave them authority…(Mark 6:7)

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples…(Matthew 28:18-19)

When Jesus sends His apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, He gives them authority. But what can this authority be used for?

In the New American Standard Bible,  the English word authority appears in 75 verses of the New Testament. Fifty-nine times, the word is translated from the Greek word exousia (Strongs’ #1849).

Behold, I have given you authority [exousia] to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. (Luke 10:19)

For even if I boast somewhat further about our authority [exousia], which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be put to shame. (2 Corinthians 10:8)

Never once in the fifty-nine verses where the Greek word exousia is translated into the English word authority does the context of the verse imply that a person can wield authority over a believer’s life. Not once!

But rather the authority in these fifty-nine verses  is limited to being used against demons, sickness, disease, all the power of the enemy and to build up or encourage believers. That’s it!

Now, if you’ve done your math, there are sixteen other verses not covered in the above explanation, right?

For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed – God is witness – nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority [baros, Strongs’ #922]. But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. (2 Thessalonians 2:5- 7)

If you lift verse 6 out of context in the above scriptures, it looks like the apostle has authority to impose a burden on believers. But if you read all three verses, you see that Paul is making the point of why he can’t impose a burden. He is a nursing mother to his children.  The Amplified Bible states it this way:

…though we might have asserted our authority [stood on our dignity and claimed honor] as apostles (special missionaries) of Christ (the Messiah). (2 Thessalonians 2:6)

Here is another often-quoted authority verse:

These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority [epitage  Strong’s #2003]. Let no one disregard you. (Titus 2: 15)

The Greek word epitage is translated authority in this verse, but it really means commandment or mandate; and it may or may not be backed by the power of the Lord.

Almost all of the other verses where the word authority appears in the New Testament, refer to a nation’s government exercising authority and wielding power over its citizens. The major exception is the following:

For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority [kyrios, Strong’s #2962] of the Lord Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 4:2)

Thus, scripture states that the authority of the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher is not to be wielded against a believer. But instead, the authority is to be used against Satan and to encourage believers. And also, at times, the Lord may give special authority to people for carrying out a task.

So, how was I set free from the prison with a steeple on the roof?

(Continued in Part 7)

Advertisements

4 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Christians, Church, church planting, Emergent Church, Faith, Gifts of the Spirit, God, grace, Home Church, jesus, Kingdom of God, Prayer, Prophecy, reformation, Religion, spiritual warfare

Lord, Why Not Call Bill Instead of Me? (Part 5)

Click on following for earlier articles: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

You put up with it when they make you their slaves, take everything you have, take advantage of you, put on airs, and slap you in the face. (2 Corinthians 11:20 NLT)

It’s one thing for pastors to misuse their authority, and thereby, try to control believers. But it can become devastating when a person with an apostolic or prophetic anointing misuses his authority – knowingly or unknowingly – to control Christians.

One of the most  extreme examples of a person misusing a prophetic anointing is Jim Jones. His name is forever linked to the words: Jonestown Massacre.

In my case, the prophetic bondage I suffered was certainly not on the scale of a Jim Jones, but still, it was devastating enough for me.

As I wrote in Part 4, I attended a little church for four years. A husband and wife were the pastors. One had a prophetic anointing and the other an apostolic one; both had strong gifts.

But the problem was that they had control issues, especially over people with callings. They saw us as gems for their personal ministry which they envisioned as being national in scope.

For me, they believed I would be their Silas, a prophet who would minister in the churches they hoped to plant. (Later, I discovered this important point: they were even praying and prophesying this vision over my life in their personal prayer times. Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!)

When they would talk about their vision for me, I’d say, “I don’t think that’s what the Lord has in mind for me. But of course, if it is, I’d certainly be open to it.”

All of this came to a head one day when I had a disagreement with them. We agreed on a meeting for that evening.  To prepare myself,  I spent the afternoon praying and fasting, and had a strong prophetic word for them, especially the husband.

They asked me to speak first. As I finished reading a verse of scripture and was ready to give the prophetic word, one of them interrupted me by speaking in tongues. And then, the other interpreted it.

The tongues and interpretation felt like machine-gun bullets, ripping through my guts. Whatever anointing I had for the meeting with them was blown apart. I was destroyed.

As I limped home that evening, I cried out to the Lord. “Lord, You have to help me. I want to obey the rulers You have placed over me, but right now,  I’m confused. And I don’t understand what’s going on.”

So, how was I set free from this prison with a steeple on its roof?

(Continued in Part 6.)

6 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Christians, Church, church planting, Emergent Church, Faith, Gifts of the Spirit, God, grace, Home Church, jesus, Kingdom of God, Prayer, Prophecy, reformation, Religion, spiritual warfare

Lord, Why Not Call Bill Instead of Me? (Part 4)

Click on following for earlier articles: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give an account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable to you. (Hebrews 13:17)

In 1987, I really thought the Lord was promoting me when He directed me to leave a large liturgical church and attend a small Charismatic one. Ouch! How naive I was!

At the first church service, I thought, freedom at last. Now, my calling will come forth as it should, amongst people who understand prophetic callings and the gifts of the Spirit.

The following four years of my life were spent at this small church,  giving hundreds of prophetic words and praying hours upon hours at the altar. That’s the good part.

But the ugly side is I took so much correction and so many rebukes that after a while I could no longer discern what was from the Lord and what was not. I was confused.

Once, a prophet noticed my attire. “You are called to be a man of God; and a man of God needs to always wear a suit or sport coat every time he comes to church,” he said, pointing his finger at me.

Clothing pleases the Lord?

Another respected prophet lambasted me during a special meeting. “You are not called to be a prophet, but instead, you are called to just give the oracles of God,” he said.

Talk about adding confusion to my life, this prophetic word certainly did!

A prophetess said, ” Larry used to be a good prophet, but he doesn’t pray enough anymore.”

At the time, I was getting up at 3:50 AM, praying for two hours and then heading over to the church for another hour of prayer. All of this took place before I went to work, laboring at maintenance and construction for 8 hours. Then, I came home and studied.

Not praying enough?

An elder with his nine-year old daughter stopped at the one-room apartment I was renting because of my marital separation. He looked at the shabby, 10′ x 7′ room, and then said to his daughter, “This is what happens when you disobey God!”

Disobeying God?

I received corrections on my clothing. On my prophetic style. On my teachings. On my preachings. On my finances. On what books and teaching tapes I listened to. On whether I should submit every teaching I gave outside the church to the leadership beforehand for their approval or not. On this and on that. On everything.

Can you guess what scripture was always used to validate my corrections? Good old Hebrews 13:17.

Now, none of these people were mean spirited. They actually believed they were doing the will of the Lord for my life. Plus, they were victims of bondage, too.

And it was the worst type of bondage.

Prophetic bondage!

(Continued in Part 5)

9 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Christians, Church, church planting, Emergent Church, Faith, Gifts of the Spirit, God, grace, Home Church, jesus, Prayer, Prophecy, reformation, Religion, spiritual warfare

Lord, Why Not Call Bill Instead of Me? (Part 3)

Click on following for earlier articles: Part 1 and Part 2.

For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his generation, fell asleep…(Acts 13:36)

Not too long ago, a young girl was suffering through her first night working at the pizza delivery store where I work. She was nervous and self-conscious. And worst of all, it was Friday night. We were busy!

My manager brought her to me. “Just listen to Larry on the phone and do it the same way,” said the manager to the girl. Then, the manager left.

The phone rang; I picked it up. I greeted the customer,  introduced myself and entered the name on a computer. Then I added, “So, where have you been, we’ve been waiting all evening for your phone call? What’s your excuse?”

I continued throughout the whole phone order in this light-hearted banter. When I finished, I looked at the young girl. She broke down crying. “I can’t be like you. That’s not me.”

And of course, she was right. She needed to be herself.

This experience illustrates a major problem with us American believers, and probably most western ones.  Christianity desires standardization. We want cookie-cutter callings, stamped and approved by some well-respected college, Bible school or mentor.

Wait a second! I’m not against all Bible schools or mentors, okay? Just maybe 90% of them; but at least, this allows some leeway in my thinking.

“Why?” you shout.

“Good question,” I reply.

Who mentored Charles Finney, William Booth, Maria Woodworth-Etter, Evan Roberts, Billy Sunday, William Seymour, John Lake, Aimee Semple McPherson, Smith Wigglesworth, Jack Coe, Kathryn Kuhlman and hundreds of other pioneers? No one! Each sought the Lord and brought forth a special uniqueness, unlike any other,  for his or her generation.

To be honest, our generation does not need another Finney, Booth, Etter, Roberts, Sunday and so forth.  Not at all. We need callings of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher who are totally new and will reflect what Jesus wants done in our age.

And this can not be carried out by standardized, cookie-cutter methods where one size fits all. It must be unique for each person, guided by the Lord and suited to the uniqueness of the individual.

My personal beliefs on training people for their callings is much like General William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army:

Here’s a Bible. There’s a place on the floor over there where you can pray. Tomorrow morning, you will be out on the streets ministering and preaching to people.

Would people make mistakes under my system? Yes; maybe lots of them. But all the problems can be talked out over supper at the end of the day.

Oh! And by the way, this is the way the early Christians did it. They called it church.

(Continued in Part 4.)

11 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Christians, Church, church planting, Emergent Church, Faith, Gifts of the Spirit, God, grace, Home Church, jesus, Kingdom of God, Prayer, Prophecy, Red Letter Christians, reformation, Religion, spiritual warfare

Lord, Why Not Call Bill Instead of Me? (Part 2)

Click on following for earlier article: Part 1.

As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man named Matthew, sitting in the tax collector’s booth; and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And he got up and followed Him. (Matthew 9:9)

Matthew (also known as Levi) was a tax collector. Because of his profession, the Jews considered him a guttersnipe, an outcast, a reject and probably one of the last persons in the world God would ever choose to be a disciple.

None of this deterred Jesus. Why?

It states, Jesus saw a man named Matthew. By this, scripture indicates the Lord saw who Matthew was at that time and who He could become in the future. Thus, Matthew’s calling was based on his upside potential, not on his then present spiritual condition.

Bingo! This is the basis on how the Lord calls people to be His apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers…on their upside potential.

As for me, my calling from the Lord came through a nighttime vision. In it, I was standing at the rear of a packed auditorium. I had trouble at first seeing why there was such a crowd because of the tall people standing in front of me. Finally the people sat down, and I was able to see the stage and the person standing upon it. It was me; I was ministering to the crowd.

Okay, I knew I was called to preach or teach or something. But how? I had no clue!

At the time, I was a two month old Christian, living in a small Iowa town and attending a Catholic Church. I listened to Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, R. W. Schambach, Marilyn Hickey, Malcolm Smith and others on the radio and read piles of books as fast as I could.

But there were no strong prophetic voices nearby. No one who could understand and encourage me with the problems I was encountering on an almost daily basis. I felt like a sheet hanging on a clothes line, blowing whichever way the wind blew.

Thus, I made mistakes. Yikes! Lots of them!

One morning, I was jogging outside on the streets of the town where I lived. As I ran, I said, “Lord, why didn’t you call Bill instead of me? People like him and he doesn’t make the mistakes I do.”

Have you ever seen a New York Stock Exchange ticker tape, where a corporation’s symbol and number of shares move across a narrow screen? Usually, it’s in black letters on a white background. This is how the Lord spoke to me.

The message ran from right to left across my mind. It said: “I called you because you are enthusiastic, zealous, determined and have a big mouth.”

Now, if you think about it, the Lord’s four reasons for calling me would also be the same reasons He would call anyone. Right?

(Continued in Part 3.)

12 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Christians, Church, church planting, Emergent Church, Faith, Gifts of the Spirit, God, grace, Home Church, jesus, Kingdom of God, Prayer, Prophecy, Red Letter Christians, reformation, Religion, spiritual warfare

Lord, Why Not Call Bill Instead Of Me? (Part 1)

prayer_homeIn early 1994, I attended a friend’s funeral in Illinois. What was so unusual about this funeral is that I had two encounters with the Holy Spirit while I was inside the church. The one experience, I wrote about in My Journey Out (Part 12). This is the other one.

My parents and I walked up to the church together, but just as I was ready to open the door and go inside, I head a low voice behind me. “Larry, is that you?”

I turned to see a friend whom I had not seen in twenty years. “Yes, it’s me. How are you, Eugene?”

We spent a few minutes talking and promised to talk more after the service. In the meantime, my parents had gone on ahead without me. When I finished, I walked inside.

Because it was a small church, there was only a center aisle which led directly to the pulpit; and of course, pews lined each side of the aisle. The casket stood at the front of the aisle and was closed. Some pictures of my friend sat on it.

Now, I do not recommend Christians asking the Lord whether a particular friend (or relative) makes it into heaven or not. What if you don’t like the Lord’s answer? What can you do about it? Complain. Pray him out of Hell. Depart from the faith. Your options are nil. So, it’s best to leave questions like that unasked and understand it was between the Lord and your friend…and not you.

But I did not heed my own advice this time. I asked the Lord over and over on the trip home from Iowa if my friend had made it into heaven.

As I approached the casket, a voice spoke to my heart. “Your friend is not in the casket. He’s with Me.”

I could have shouted and danced. I was so happy.

Then, at the casket, I turned left and headed toward a reception line with my friend’s wife, children and family. As I slowly inched forward, a tremendous grief came over me. It was overwhelming.

I began crying and wailing and whooping aloud. I was out of control. There was nothing I could do to stop myself. I wanted to die!

When I finally reached my friend’s wife, she consoled me. “Oh Larry, he’s out of his pain now.” She continued on and on. Finally, she introduced me to her sons and my friend’s sisters.

The whole time I cried and blubbered aloud. What an embarrassing mess I was!

Then, as I headed toward where my parents were sitting on a pew, the grief lifted. I was somewhat normal again.

Sitting next to my mom, I asked the Lord, “What was that all about?”

A gentle voice spoke to my heart: “Your friend was called to be a prophet and he did not make it into his calling. What you felt was just a fraction of the grief I feel when a person does not make it into his divine calling.”

For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. (Romans 11:29)

(Continued in Part 2.)

13 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Christians, Church, church planting, Emergent Church, Faith, Gifts of the Spirit, God, grace, Home Church, Inspirational, jesus, Kingdom of God, Prayer, Prophecy, Red Letter Christians, reformation, Religion, spiritual warfare

“My Journey Out” (Conclusion)

moses-parting-red-sea4

Click on following for earlier articles: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16 and Part 17.

As with most walks with the Lord, my journey out of the traditional church system has not been a straight line. There have been a few left and right turns along the way.

One such detour happened in the fall of 2001.

Honey was selling furniture in Yorba Linda, California, and a Christian couple invited her to attend their church for a Sunday service. She wanted to please them and felt we both should go.

Now, the couple’s church was the mother church for a denomination which is famous for worship music, casual dress and laid-back style. The denomination’s founder had recently passed away and another had replaced him. And to be honest, the denomination was one which Honey and I usually searched out in the many cities we had lived in.

So, I was eager to visit the church.

The couple greeted us at the door and led us inside the sanctuary to where they were sitting. As we sat down, the husband leaned over and said, “The new pastor mentions finances a little more than our founder did. It’s probably because the church has dropped from 5,000 in membership to 3,500. ”

My antenna went up, as did the hairs on my neck.

The service began with worship music, followed by the taking of the offerings, a few prayers, and then, the pastor strolled to pulpit. He was forty-ish, dressed in Dockers and had a pleasant voice.

“I was going to speak on prayer today, but I felt a pressing need to speak on a different subject,” he said, looking around the sanctuary.

Now, what subject do you think had jumped over prayer to the top of his sermon docket? Was it salvation? Or healing? Or love? No, no, no!

It was finances!

The pastor explained how the church had just spent millions of dollars to purchase a parcel of land next to the church for planned expansions in the future. The additional expenditures increased the church’s total debt to $13 million. $13,000,000.

“As always,” said the pastor, “our goal is to help the poor, but until we pay off our debts, the poor will have to be put on the back burner. Then, when the debt is retired in twelve years or so, we will be in a strong position to help the poor and others.”

Yipes! Yuck! Yowie!

Now, you might be thinking this left turn experience is the exception for the traditional church system, right? Sadly, not so!

The Barna Group which is known for their extensive surveys on Christianity and churches has conducted yearly surveys on church finances. Their findings for all of the Protestant churches in America are that 85% of the tithes and offerings are spent on mortgages, construction, salaries, building upkeep, special programs and miscellaneous. Less than 10% is given to the poor or foreign missionaries.

For me, this last church experience was the dot at the bottom of the exclamation mark after the words, “Pull the plug!

(Starting Monday a new series will begin on the callings. Stop back if you’re interested.)

9 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Christians, Church, church planting, Emergent Church, Faith, Gifts of the Spirit, God, grace, Home Church, jesus, Kingdom of God, Prayer, Prophecy, Red Letter Christians, reformation, Religion, spiritual warfare