Monthly Archives: March 2010

I’d Like to Prophesy…But* (Part 8)

A Updated Rerun Series

Click on following links for: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6 and Part 7.

What is the price for rising above entry level prophesying?

4. Love

Fourteen or so years ago, I was invited to fellowship with some men at a breakfast meeting.  I sat next to a youth leader and across from another youth leader.

The two talked back and forth about the struggles they had with motivating young people to live for Jesus. Each inquired how the other’s youth meeting was handled. Both replied about having structured meetings, but still, they wondered aloud, what else could they do.

“Why don’t you teach them to love the presence of the Holy Spirit?” I said, barging into the conversation.

“Oh, I’ve tried that, but it’s a lot of work,” said the youth leader, sitting across from me.

“Did the kids enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit?” I asked.

“Oh, yes,” the man replied. “They loved it.” He paused, then added, “But it’s so iffy, you know? So, I’d rather have a more structured meeting.”

As soon as possible, I offered my apologies and left the breakfast table.

His answer caused me to become so distraught that tears flooded down my face. Passersby stared at me, wondering what my problem was. I didn’t care.  Every part of me ached.

“Jesus, the church doesn’t care about Your presence or You. They only care about their programs,” I cried. “And to be honest, Lord, I don’t like Your church much and would rather have nothing ever to do with it.”

Now, to be honest, my agony came out of wounds and hurts from bad experiences and rejections by other Christians and churches. It certainly wasn’t the fault of that particular youth leader; he was innocent. It’s just that his words lit the fuse of my inner powder keg.

From that day onward, the Lord worked on me. He used hammers and chisels welded by people and the Holy Spirit to break up the hardness in my heart. To Him, it was personal because my lack of loving His church was an affront to Him. And the process was lengthy and not pretty.

You see, Jesus absolutely loves His church. His church is His all-consuming passion. He loves the least and the greatest members in it. He sees the church as His Bride, and guess what? He is head over heels in love with her.

Today, I love the church, the Bride of Jesus. His work was painful, but effective in me.

Here’s some advice to you: if you have any problems with other Christians, such as Pentecostals or Charismatics or Fundamentalists or Evangelicals or Snake-handling sects or whatever, I suggest you ask the Lord to give you a deep, dying on the cross type of love for all of them.

This suggestion will save you time and pain.

By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:35)

(Continued in Part 9.)

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What is Your Option “A” for Healing? (Part 1)

I heard Dr.Lester Sumrall tell the following story about a  miracle he witnessed while attending a Smith Wigglesworth meeting:

The evangelist, Smith Wigglesworth (1859 – 1947) preached his message to a large crowd gathered in the auditorium. Afterward, he prayed for a long line of sick people.

Wigglesworth’s style was to walk up to a sick person and ask in a thick cockney accent, “What’s up?” Next, the person would explain his illness. Then, Wigglesworth would pray for the person.

On this particular night, as Wigglesworth moved along the line of people, he came to a man lying on a hospital bed with a doctor attending him. Wigglesworth stopped and looked at the strange scene. “What’s up?” he asked.

The doctor looked up. “My patient has stomach cancer and is near death. His last request was to come to your meeting,” said the doctor. “At best, he has only a couple of hours left before he dies.”

“Look out, man,” said Wigglesworth, indicating with his hands that the doctor needed to back away from the patient for a moment. The doctor obeyed.

Then, Wigglesworth forcefully hit the sick man in the stomach with his fist while proclaiming, “Be healed in Jesus’ name.”

The sick man curled up on the bed. The doctor stood up. “You’ve killed him!” the doctor screamed. “You’ll be sued by the man’s family.”

Wigglesworth looked at the doctor. “Shut up!” he said in a gruff voice. “He’s healed.”

Then, Wigglesworth turned his back on the doctor and the patient and continued on down the line to pray for the next person.

Sumrall stated that he and the whole audience had their eyes glued on the doctor and his patient, rather than watching Wigglesworth. The doctor frantically held his stethoscope to the patient’s chest, but the patient showed no life at all.

After a few minutes, the patient sat up in bed and swung his legs over the side of it. Then, he raised his hands in the air, worshipping God, and walked toward Wigglesworth who was busy praying for people, farther down the line.

The man’s hospital robe was open in back and his bare butt could be seen by everyone. No one laughed or said anything as they watched the man walk up to Wigglesworth and tap the evangelist on the shoulder.

Wigglesworth turned around  and looked at the man. “Well, man,” proclaimed Wigglesworth, “you’re healed. Give the Lord all the glory.”

Then, Wigglesworth continued to pray for sick people in the line. He paid no more attention to the man while the man danced around with his arms in the air, praising the Lord for his healing. All the while, the man’s bare rump was exposed to the audience.

Smith Wigglesworth and his ministry are exciting examples of the gifts of healing, the gift of faith and the gift of effecting of miracles at work in a person’s life. He himself believed and taught that any believer could perform the miracles he did.

Just before Smith Wigglesworth died in 1947, he said, “In the future, it will be harder to heal people by the power of God because the people of today have so many other options to choose from.”

(Continued in Part 2)

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I’d Like to Prophesy…But* (Part 7)

A Updated Rerun Series

Click on following links for: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6.

What is the price for rising above entry level prophesying?

3. Faith

One of our Father’s frustrations with Israel in the Old Testament was the nation’s lack of faith in Him.

“Yes,” they would proclaim, “God showed up at the Red Sea. And yes, He fed us with manna in the wilderness. But this time is different, how can we trust Him to help us now?”

Over and over again, Israel turned its back on God and sought comfort and help from idols they could see and touch. Finally, God allowed Israel to be removed from His sight and its people were scattered to the winds.

Why?

For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. (Hebrews 4:2)

Sadly, faith has taken an unfair hit in the last few years. So much so, that any person who mentions that Christians might need to increase their faith risks being labeled a “faith nut”. Someone to be ignored and castigated by other believers.

Part of this may be due to the Word of Faith Movement’s overemphasis on prosperity and healing. And part may be due to the overemphasis of love in our modern worship songs.

But mostly, I believe that, like Israel, we believers are not really sure God will show up and help us in our times of need. After all, we prayed, and yet, our car was repossessed or our home was foreclosed on or our marriage ended in divorce or a loved one died.

So how can we trust God now?

I have been there, done that, bought the t-shirt and sang the song. But yet, when the divorce happened, when the vehicles were repossessed, when the loved ones died, when the apartment’s management tossed us out, when the dumpsters became a source of food and when all the friends left, who could I trust?  Who?

A man in the midst of a horrendous trial said it best:

Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him… (Job 13:15)

Yes, when you stand up to prophesy, the Holy Spirit may not show up. You may look and feel foolish. Others may point and snicker at you. Maybe, even the whole city will ridicule you aloud.

Scripture terms this as presumption on your part. It is not a sin and God will not hold it against you. He will correct and work with you on your mistakes.

Yet, having a prophetic word in your mouth and being prompted by the Holy Spirit to speak it, but then not doing it because of fear (lack of faith) is a sin. One which will hinder your walk with the Lord.

…let us prophesy in proportion to our faith. (Romans 12:6)

(Continued in Part 8)

*I have used the word prophesy in a general sense to denote prophecy, words of knowledge and words of wisdom (1 Corinthians 12: 8-10).

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The Death of Christian Influence on Politics in America (Part 10)

Click on following links for earlier articles: Part 1Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8 and Part 9.

In Evangelical Christianity’s foray into political activism over the last thirty years, who has changed who? Have we Christians changed American culture or either of the two political parties? Or have the culture and political parties changed Christianity?

To me, the answer is obvious.

Instead of our hearts being circumcised by political activism, the American church has been carved into little pieces by political activism’s flint knife. Right wing Christians. Red letter Christians. Republican Christians. Democrat Christians. Moderate Christians. Black Christians. White Christians. Etc. Etc. Etc.

American Christianity today, like Israel, has arrived at the Jordan River. Moses, in the form of our old ways, is dead; we can no longer depend on him. We need new Joshua’s who are willing to lead us Christians and help us roll away the shame of our slavery to systems which have miserably failed us.

And at this point in history, America can not afford to have a divided Body of Christ.

…Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand. (Matthew 12:25)

If we place all of the agonizing political issues which divide the Body of Christ on one side of a balance scales, its total weight will not offset what is about to hit our nation, especially on the West Coast. Terrorism!

When the first bombs explode in our malls and bodies, young and old, are writhing in their death throes, no longer will we focus on what divides us, instead we will focus on one thing: survival.

But if we Christians are divided now, how will we be able to unite and give hope to the suffering people in our midst when tragedies are happening all around us? We won’t!

Instead, we will stand and point fingers at each other and say, “I voted for McCain. It’s your fault, not mine!” Or, “I voted for Obama. It’s not my fault!” Or, “I voted for Palin.” Or, “I voted for whomever! Don’t blame me for these deaths!”

You see, whatever is in our hearts will eventually come out of our mouths at the most inopportune times. And instead of the tragedies being the American Church’s finest hour, it will be our worst nightmare. A time of shame and impotence.

So, what do I propose?

We Christians need to reopen the wounds of the Vietnam War and ask forgiveness of the divisive sins we allowed to come into the Body of Christ during the 1960’s.This will be heart wrenching, but it needs to be done.

Not only that, but we also need to ask forgiveness for the millions of deaths which were caused to innocents living in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia when America broke all of its promises when we pulled out.

As I stated earlier, for me, the answer is obvious.

I am getting off the Christian political merry-go-round.  No longer will I consider myself a Christian conservative values voter, instead I will join that faceless group known as “non-voting Christians“. And I will use my time and energy to build unity with whomsoever I can.

Your decision is up to you, but remember this: the clock is running. And the bombs will arrive soon enough.

(Conclusion)

A new series begins on Wednesday.

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I’d Like to Prophesy…But* (Part 6)

A Updated Rerun Series

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

What is the price for rising above entry level prophesying?

2. Grace

Jeffrey Dahmer, the convicted serial killer of seventeen men and boys, was bludgeoned to death on November 28, 1994. Afterward, a local pastor stated that Dahmer was a born-again Christian.

An enraged newspaper columnist wrote the following about Dahmer’s born-again status. “If God saves wretched monsters like Jeffrey Dahmer, then I want nothing to do with God. Nothing at all…ever.”

Of all of God’s attributes, grace has to be the “ugliest duckling” of the bunch. After all, how could a just and holy God save a guilty, wretched monster like Dahmer? Or for that matter, how could God save a guilty man like me?

For the first eight years of my Christian journey, I did not link grace to the prophetic gifts. I just figured God chose me because He knew I would be His workhorse willing to pray, study and fast so that I could be the best prophetic voice possible.

Though I knew grace was defined as unmerited favor, I assigned grace to the Baptists. They were the “grace guys”, not me. I was a prophetic machine-gun with a hair trigger and the safety off.

But sadly, my prophetic words often had some legalism attached to them. Are you wondering how that was possible?

A pupil is not above his teacher, but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher. (Luke 6:40)

The teachings I studied and the church I attended, all put grace on the back burner. It was there, but not in a significant life-changing way. Thus, my beliefs contained a legalistic tilt to them rather than a grace-filled one. More than a few, “Thou shalts” and “Thou shalt not’s” flowed out of my mouth.

Then, I started hanging out with an older couple, Marion and Morris. They were solid grace-filled believers; and soon I wanted their revelation of grace for myself.

Yet, it was not easy for me to change. I had a mountain, seven years high, filled with legalistic teachings which needed to be overturned within me. So, what did I do?

I sought the Lord. I memorized and meditated on scriptures over and over again. Until one day, a divine revelation flooded my inner being, erasing my past teachings on grace. I knew that I knew that I knew that my life, my calling, my prophetic words depended on the Lord’s grace, and not my own works.

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them… (Romans 12:6)

Many of  you probably know accurate prophetic voices who do not agree with me on my grace teachings. And yes, I would agree this has been true up to the present.

But there is a New Wind Blowing in America, and it is my belief that now a believer has to have a positive revelation of grace to rise above their present prophetic level.

(Continued in Part 7)

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The Death of Christian Influence on Politics in America (Part 9)

Click on following links for earlier articles: Part 1Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7 and Part 8.

To save time later, let’s get all of our excuses for Christianity’s lack of political influence out in the open here at the start.  And then, let’s have a coordinated crying session, okay?

1.  The mainstream media (newspapers, magazines and network television) is liberal and anti-Christian.

2. Hollywood is liberal and anti-Christian.

3.  The Judicial System and most of the other federal departments are liberal and anti-Christian.

3.  University professors are mostly liberal and anti-Christian.

4.  America’s elementary, middle and high school systems are mostly liberal and anti-Christian.

If you have other excuses, tack them on; then let’s begin boohooing and lamenting the hopeless situation we Christians are in.

“Oh no! Waa! Waa! How can we Christians win? It’s too hard! The cards are stacked against us! Woe is us!”

Do you feel better? I hope so.

Now, let’s check out how successful political activism has been for us Evangelical Christians, using Moral Majority’s 1979 platform as a guide:

Abortion. 50,000,000 dead babies with more being murdered everyday.

Traditional Family Values. Still under attack and losing ground in state by state, lawsuit by lawsuit and legislature by legislature battles.

National Defense. Approximately 3,000 people died on September 11, 2001, and future 911’s are looming on the near horizon with little real security provided by our state and federal governments.

Israel. Support for Israel is at its lowest level since 1949.

Except for the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, Evangelical Christianity’s political activism efforts have been a dismal failure. Of course, there have been a few scattered minor victories here and there, but not enough to stem the tide of our nation’s plunge into a godless abyss.

There will be those who will shout that we Christians just need to “keep on keeping on.” Spend more money backing Christian political activist organizations. Spend more money backing supposed Christian-leaning candidates. Spend more money providing media advertisements and voter information guides for our Christian political ideals. Organize more Christians for political activism. Preach more political activism messages in our churches.

More! More! More! More! More! Always more and more of the same-o, same-o.

But isn’t the definition of lunacy – “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?”

And after thirty years of political activism by us Evangelical Christians, shouldn’t we admit we’re doing something wrong? We have lost our way.

So, what must we do?

(Continued in Part 10)

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I’d Like To Prophesy…But* (Part 5)

A Updated Rerun Series

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

What is the price for rising above  entry level prophesying?

1. Faithfulness.

If you read my testimony, you will discover that a book, Power in Praise by Merlin Carouthers, played an important part in my salvation. Its simple instructions told me how to give my life to Jesus.

But also, the book suggested I ask the Lord for something called the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. I had no clue what this phrase meant, but I figured, “In for a penny, in for a pound.”

So, I went back into the bathroom, closed the door, knelt in front of the sink and said, “Lord, whatever the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is, I’d like to have it, too.”

I got back up, went into the living room and continued reading. Honest, that’s all I did.

Fifty days later, to the day and almost the same exact hour,  I spoke in tongues while driving my car. My tongues, or prayer language, consisted of just four syllables, sort of had a do-re-me-fa-ring to it.

What good can come out of this silly stuff, I thought.

As soon as possible, I asked a friend, “What am I supposed to do with my prayer language?”

“Well, the Bible states that we are to pray without ceasing,” he said. He continued on, but the “without ceasing” attached itself to the walls of my brain.

Thus, I prayed all the time. If I was alone, I prayed aloud. If not, my tongue clickedy-clacked behind my teeth, “do, re, me, fa, do, re, me, fa, do, re, me, fa, etc.”

Now, do you have any idea how boring it is just praying four syllables for hours and hours on end? A whole bunch! But what did I know, right? After all,  I had only been saved two months, and before that, I was an agnostic.

I continued on and on until finally two months later, something broke within me. Out of my mouth gushed a prayer language without end. It was new. It was exciting. I was edified beyond belief.

And with the breakthrough in my prayer language came the unlocking of the other spiritual gifts in my life. Word of knowledge. Word of wisdom. Prophecy. Interpretations. Varieties of tongues. Healing. Working of miracles. Faith. Discerning of spirits. (1 Corinthians 12: 8-10)

Now, the only spiritual gift which I have any real control over is my prayer language. It is up to me to use it or not. All the other gifts are operated “as the Spirit wills.” (1 Corinthians 12:11)

Okay, so what does all of this have to do with prophesying?

In Matthew 25: 14 – 30, Jesus told the parable about a man giving talents to his three servants. One received five, another two and the other just one.

The first two servants labored with their talents and doubled their values. The third servant did nothing with his talent because he was afraid of his master.

Jesus ended the parable by saying:

“Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into outer darkness… (Matthew 25: 28-30)

This Kingdom of Heaven parable reminds us that we need to be faithful with the gifts (talents) He has given us. If like me, you are given just a small gift, labor with it. Work. Study. Use it. Don’t give up. Be faithful.

The Lord will eventually reward your faithfulness and raise you up to a new level.

(Continued in Part 6)

*I have used the word prophesy in a general sense to denote prophecy, words of knowledge and words of wisdom (1 Corinthians 12: 8-10).

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