Monthly Archives: September 2018

Churches: Fellowships Without Fellowship (Part 2)

 

Why did God pour out the ten plagues on Egypt?

It all began almost thirty-five hundred years ago with Moses having a burning bush experience. It was there that God said, “I have seen the oppression of My people and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. So I have come down to deliver them out of their bondage and bring them to a land flowing with milk and honey.”

Moses eventually accepted His calling and headed for Egypt.

When Moses arrived in Egypt, he met with the elders and told them how God was going to set the Israelites free. The elders rejoiced, bowed their heads, and worshipped God.

That jubilant attitude by the elders and the Israelites lasted until Moses walked into Pharaoh’s court and said, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘Let My people go.'”

“Ain’t no way, Moses,” said Pharaoh, “I’m not setting 600,000 male slaves free.”

Next, Pharaoh persecuted the Israelites and beat the officers who were in charge of the Israelite slave workers. Because of the spirit of anguish and cruel bondage, the Israelites no longer listened to Moses.

God did what only God can do, He poured out a powerful anointing on Moses, so that he could confront Pharaoh with boldness and speak truth to the Israelites, which they would listen to and obey.

Over several weeks, God poured out ten plagues on Egypt: blood, frogs, lice, flies, disease on Egyptian livestock, boils on man and beast, locusts, darkness, and death of the first-born. Each plague was aimed at a particular Egyptian god.

Finally, Egypt and its gods were plundered and destroyed by the Lord God of Israel. Pharaoh and the Egyptians said to Israel, “Leave or we will all be dead!”

But God was not quite done yet, He led the Israelites to the Red Sea, which became a trap for them when Pharaoh changed his mind. Pharaoh and his whole army soon followed and drew near to the Israelites.

What did Israel do?

They panicked and said, “Oh dear! Our God is not big enough! We should have lived and died in Egypt as slaves rather than trusting in God.”

But even so, God destroyed the Egyptian army in the Red Sea.

The Israelites danced and sang a new song to the Lord.

Hallelujah!

So, why did God pour out the ten plagues on Egypt?

Yes, the plagues obviously convinced Egypt to let the Israelites go free, but a second reason was that God wanted to set the Israelites free of their desires to ever return to bondage again.

Yet, when the times got tough, Israel always thought about returning to the bondages of Egypt and its cruel gods.

Ah, but there was also a third reason for the plagues.

“Return to Me, O backsliding children,” says the Lord, “for I am married to you…” (Jeremiah 3:14)

Israel was the Lord’s bride, He loved her, and wanted to have a deep relationship with her. He hoped to remove every one of her lovers so He would be the apple of her eye.

Who else is is known as a bride of the Lord?

(Continued in Part 3…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)

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The Apostles: Men Doomed to Die (Part 7

praying

The university auditorium was packed to capacity for the debate between Dr. Hiram Love, author of Gays Are Holy, Too, and Paul Simon, a Christian businessman. The middle-aged businessman was a last-minute replacement for a noted Christian apologist who suffered from the flu.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we welcome you to tonight’s debate,” said the moderator. “The topic for our debate, Is Homosexuality A Sin, seems to be a hot-button subject in our state right now with the Prop 8 vote and its follow-up lawsuits. The format for our debate is that each debater has thirty minutes to put forth his views on whether or not homosexuality is a sin. Then, in the second hour, the two will go head to head in a point and counterpoint match up. Dr. Love won the coin toss and will go first. Dr. Love, are you ready?”

Dr. Love nodded and walked to the podium. His herringbone sport coat with brown leather elbow patches added a professorial look to his thick frame and bearded face.

“Do you know how many times Jesus mentioned homosexuality was a sin in the four Gospels?” said Dr. Love. He paused as his blue eyes scanned the audience, as if looking for an answer. Then, he added, “Not once!”

A short titter raced through the audience.

“That’s right, not once,” said Dr. Love. “Wouldn’t you think that such a supposed vile and abominable sin as homosexuality would have at least been mentioned once by our Lord? He mentioned divorce as a sin. He mentioned greed and idolatry. But not once did he mention homosexuality.”

Dr. Love spent the half hour laying out the hypothesis that homosexuality was not a sin by what Jesus did and did not mention. He referred to Jesus’ words, the red letter ones of the four Gospels, as the framework for Christianity.

When Dr. Love finished, the audience softly clapped their approval. He backed away from the podium and walked over to his chair on the right side of the stage.

“Mr. Simon,” said the moderator, “are you ready?”

Paul Simon nodded.

The audience checked him out as he walked from his chair to the podium. His short stature, undistinguished features and ill-fitting sport coat were noticed by all. Who let this country yokel in here? The audience collectively wondered.

“Jesus’ main message was about the Kingdom of God,” said Simon, in a stammering voice. “The Apostle Paul further defined the Kingdom when he wrote: ‘Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge themselves in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.”

Simon caught his breath before proceeding, “The apostle Paul also stated that the Kingdom does not consist in words, but in power.”

Next, Simon stepped to the side of the podium and switched on his lapel microphone. Every eye watched him.

“When I was asked to replace the featured Christian debater, I told them I’m not a great speaker so I had two requests. One was for a lapel microphone. And two, I asked to be allowed to demonstrate my position on the Kingdom of God. They agreed to both of my requests,” he said as he walked down the steps of the stage to the audience level.

He walked over to a woman sitting in a wheelchair next to a front row seat.

“Ma’am, would you please stand up?” he asked.

“What?” said the thin lady who looked to be thirty-five years old, “I can’t stand up. I’m totally paralyzed and have been since an auto accident twenty years ago.”

“In Jesus’ name, stand up,” proclaimed the man.

She jumped out of the wheelchair. Then, realizing what happened, she walked and ran and jumped. She screamed, “I’m healed.”

Her parents ran to her and joined the celebration.

Simon turned away from the lady and continued praying for other people. A blind man received his sight. A woman’s lungs were cleared of emphysema. A college football player’s knee was healed. He prophesied over people and prayed for many others.

When his half hour was up, Simon returned to the podium. He turned toward Dr. Love and said, “Let’s see you confirm your teachings with miracles, signs and wonders. If you can’t, then why should anyone listen to you?”

Dr. Love stood up and walked off the stage, not looking back at the apostle of God.

And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest in the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:4-5)

This is only a glimpse of the near future because the end-time apostles will not back down from fights.

(Continued in Part 8…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)

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Prayers for America (9/20/2018)

Unless a person has been in a coma, I’d guess that everyone who has a TV or a computer has heard that Professor Christine Blasey Ford has made allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh who is seeking a Supreme Court Judge’s seat.

Ford claimed that Kavanagh tried to force himself on her and remove her clothes at a drinking party which was held thirty-six years ago. She would have been fifteen years of age at the time and he would have been seventeen years old.

The supposed witnesses as named by Ford do not corroborate her story.

Thus, it ends up being a “she said” versus “he said” assertion by Ford.

If Ford’s claims are true and Kavanaugh is lying, he doesn’t deserve to be a Supreme Court Judge.  But if Ford is lying, she deserves to pay a penalty of some sort.

My prayer today:

Lord, send Your light and truth into the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on Judge Brett Kavanaugh to guide the senators to Your truth concerning these allegations by Professor Ford. (Based on Psalm  43:3)

What do you think and has the Lord spoken to you today?

Join with me on Thursdays to fast and pray for America.

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Churches: Fellowships without Fellowship (Part 1)

 

The Easter Sunday crowd packed the seats in the school gymnasium where the young Four Square Church held its service. The worship team led off with fantastic worship music. One song, Hungry, captured the assembly’s attention, especially its chorus: “So, I wait for you. So, I wait for you.”

The worship team finished as the young, good-looking pastor walked over to the microphone. He clapped his hands in appreciation for the worship team’s efforts. He turned to the assembly, winking an eye at everyone.

“Maybe by now,” he said, “you’ve realized that we’re a little different from all of the other churches in the city…”

The pastor continued on, but I did not hear a single word he said for the next five minutes or so. I was in a different zone, one where the Holy Spirit had my full attention.

“No, this church is not any different than the others,” said the Holy Spirit. “Not one bit different than any of the other churches in the city. If you were, right now, attending a Catholic Church or a Baptist Church or a Pentecostal one or any other church in the city, it would be no different than this one. You would still be sitting here like a bump on a log listening to a head frog croak at you. Your only input into this service will be the check you toss into the offering plate when it is passed under your nose. Is this the church Jesus hung on the cross and died for?”

I sat there, stunned by His words. I wanted to weep. I wanted to run. I wanted to vomit. I wanted to quit, but I did nothing.

Afterward, I told Carol about my experience. She sighed and stared at me.

“You’re sure different, aren’t you?” she said. “I really like this church and now this happens.”

Just so you know, the Holy Spirit was not referring to doctrines at the various churches. If that were the case, each would be different, but instead, He was referring to the wineskin, the particular format, which all traditional churches follow in their churches. They are all basically the same, in that there are definite separations between the active few −the clergy −and the passive many −the laity −who sit in the seats and pay for the privilege to do so.

********

I hurried down West Broad Street in my Ford pickup truck, carrying Toyota parts to a mechanic who needed them right away. As I drove along, I had a graphic vision.

Do you remember iron lungs, which polio sufferers used during the 1950’s? They looked like large cylindrical metal tubes and encased polio victims, helping them to breathe via a pressurized airflow system. The bulky machines filled entire hospital wards during the height of the polio epidemics.

In my vision, the American church system was terminally ill. As a last ditch effort to save its life, the whole church system laid in a white iron lung, gasping for its every breath. The long power cord, attached to the rear of the unit, meandered itself through other electrical cords to a unique power source: money. The life support system was plugged into bags and bags of money.

I stared at the strange sight and then a thundering voice interrupted my thoughts.

“Pull the plug!” proclaimed the voice.

Carol and I prayed about my vision that night. We felt we needed to leave the traditional church system.

Our decision to not attend churches sounds easy now, but at the time, it seemed like we were the only people in the whole nation walking away from churches. A little research on the Internet revealed hundreds of thousands of Americans had done the same thing over the previous years.

Still it was not easy to break our church attending habits. We were used to sitting in pews on Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings, Wednesday evenings, and whenever the church doors opened.

A well-meaning pastor once took me aside and gave one of those lectures no one likes to hear.

“Larry, you need stability in your life and for your marriage,” he said, shaking his head at our nomadic life. “No one will ever take your prophetic ministry seriously if you don’t settle down. You need to settle in a city and find a good church to park yourself so others will take you more seriously. Please, seek the Lord on this advice.”

This vision blew any thoughts about obeying his words out of the water.

(The above excerpts are from my memoir, The Hunt for Larry Who, an Amazon eBook.)

If my two experiences are really from the Lord, what is His eternal purpose in all of this?

(Continued in Part 2)

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Prayer for the Church (9/18/2018)

Christ Church Stellarton

Photograph of Christ Anglican Church, Stellarton, NS. Taken the morning of October 28, 2005

Does God require a believer to vote? And if the believer votes, is he/she required to vote for conservatives only?

Somehow, I found myself stuck in this conversation with some other believers last week. The conversation looped around until it landed on my non-voting stance. (You can see my reasons for not voting here)

The conversation continued on and on about my non-voting stance until I mentioned, “Hey, I fast and pray for America every Thursday. Why don’t you join me so we can truly make a difference in our nation?”

The conversation died.

My prayer today:

Lord, help the American Church return to its dependence on changing our nation through Your Spirit and not through our flesh. (Based on Galatians 3:3)

Join me on Tuesdays to fast and pray for the American church.

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The Apostles: Men Doomed to Death (Part 6)

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“Been there! Done that! Bought the tee-shirt!” should be the slogan printed on shirts worn by apostles.

Why?

Because the phrase aptly describes the apostles’ journeys into their callings and throughout the length of their callings.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Corinthians 1: 3-4)

As a young Christian, I remember another believer saying to me in a hushed, reverent whisper, “You know, that person is called to be an apostle.”

How awesome! I thought at the time.

To be honest, I was flabbergasted at how glamorous the word apostle sounded to my ears. It seemed to be the height of the Christian pyramid. The top hierarchal rung. The creme de la creme of callings.

Of course, I was naive and had no understanding of callings at all, and especially that of an apostle. But since then, I’ve studied and learned a few things.

You see, the apostle is specifically prepared and trained ahead of time by the Lord to help the Body of Christ journey through treacherous, tough times before they take place.

How does the Lord prepare His servants – the apostles?

If your guess is that the training is carried out in nicely lit, air-conditioned rooms while sitting comfortably on soft cushions and listening to qualified lecturers at an ivy-towered university overlooking a quaint village, then I have bad news for you. You’re wrong!

For each apprentice apostle candidate, the Lord has specially designed circumstances which will simulate the treacherous, tough times which awaits the Body sometime in the future. These circumstances come filled to the brim with frustration, stress, and humiliation.

The apostle candidates are sort of like dirty clothes shoved into a gigantic automatic washer, going through one desperate, ruinous cycle after another. The candidates’ heads are held under the water most of the time, with a few short breathing breaks between dunks.

All of this continues until they are finally rinsed and brought out to dry. This may take years, but along the way, many will drop out of the program to sit on the sidelines.

Now, while this divinely orchestrated training is happening, the rest of the Body of Christ looks on and scratches their heads. “What’s wrong with those losers? Why don’t they get with the program? They don’t seem to have a clue about faith,” they murmur to each other.

But when the treacherous, tough times hit a nation, it will be these losers – the apprentice candidates – who will step forth as apostles and confidently proclaim: “I know that our God will bring us through these bad times. Just follow me because I have discovered the correct path for us to walk on.”

(Continued in Part 7…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)

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The Apostles: Men Doomed to Death (Part 5)

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Close your eyes and visualize what you think an apostle should look and act like. Do you see him or her like a classy CEO of a corporation, barking orders to underlings? Or like a authoritative general? Or like a prestigious national leader?

We probably all have opinions about apostles.  Some of our beliefs will be based on our cultures and some on our church traditions or teachings.

But how did Paul visualize his calling of apostle?

For, I think, God hath set forth us the apostles last of all, as men doomed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, both to angels and men. (1 Corinthians 4: 9 ASV)

…we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now. (1 Corinthians 4: 13 NASB)

Not exactly what you had in mind, right? But consider this: our English translations paint a much rosier picture of the apostle than what Paul really visualized when he wrote these verses in his original Greek writings.

Paul actually saw the apostle as a person who was considered by the world as the lowest and worst possible criminal, much like an Adolf Hitler or Idi Amin or a brutal serial killer. A person who the world would not have one drop of pity or empathy for at all.

And if possible, the world would capture the apostle and place him at the end of long procession that would pass by crowds who would taunt, spit on, throw rocks at, dump refuse on, and whatever to belittle the apostle. Why? Because the apostle, in the judgment of the world, deserved this abuse because of his calling.

The long procession would eventually parade itself into an arena where the apostle’s death would be the main attraction for the world’s spectators – and also for angels.

The apostle’s death, as visualized by Paul, would not be a beheading or a firing squad or a hanging. No, those types of executions would be much too civilized for a culprit as evil as the apostle. Instead, wild animals, such as lions and tigers, would be sent into the arena to tear and rip apart the apostle. All the while, the world would be looking on and enjoying the bloody spectacle.

Okay, get the picture?

Now, how would you feel about having an apostle, like the one Paul visualized, come to your church? Would it bother you that the world, maybe your friends, relatives and neighbors, would think of him as an evil criminal? Would you like being linked to his name and assumed to be just as guilty as the apostle because of your association to him?

(Continued in Part 6…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)

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