First the Blade
© 2019 by Larry Nevenhoven
Building Mustard-Seed Faith (p)
As far as churches go, the church building was not much to look at. The paint had peeled off its white clapboard siding and covered the ground with white flecks. The roof sagged. The sidewalks and steps had huge cracks. The small sanctuary seated a hundred and thirty people − at best.
During a four-year period in the late 1980’s and early 90’s, I attended that small Charismatic church. Its membership never surpassed thirty members, and for many Sunday services, just ten or twelve people sat in the pews.
Regular services were held on Sunday mornings and evenings, and of course, a Bible study on Wednesday nights. Every morning at 7a.m., there was a prayer meeting for revival in the city.
The city’s food pantry for needy people was located in the church’s basement. Most of the food items came from Second Harvest (now called Feeding America). The church also received a monthly stipend from the 700 Club to cover costs of the program.
Finances were always a problem for the church. The members were poor and there were not enough of them. Maintenance and repairs for the church building were always put off until something happened. We then all chipped in enough money to fix the problem.
The church’s pastors were an older couple. The wife was the head pastor and the husband was an associate pastor.
Okay, do you have the picture? Small church. Few members. Little money. Two pastors.
Yet, if Christians in the area needed a prophetic word, they came to the church. The pastors prophesied, I prophesied, and so did most of the other members. Any person who asked for prayer would leave with numerous prophetic words for his life. This happened all the time.
How could there ever be a problem with a group which had such strong prophetic gifts and who supposedly heard the voice of God?
The two pastors had apostolic callings with a vision for forming a network of churches. They hoped to plant new churches and add existing ones to the network. All would be under their apostolic guidance.
This sounded exciting enough at the time, but the two pastors had a chink in their vision: me.
The two pastors heard numerous prophecies spoken by various people about my life and had spoken many themselves. They interpreted all of my personal prophecies to mean I would be a part of their team. They wanted me to be their Silas, a prophet who would encourage and strengthen the brethren in their network of churches.
Their vision for my life did not match the one I had for me.
I shared with them what I believed the Lord wanted me to do, but they told me I was deceived. These conversations never ended well and usually one would say, “Larry, you need to really seek the Lord about your life. You don’t want to be deceived, do you?”
Why didn’t I just leave the church?
Part of the problem was the mixed-up pastoral authority teachings, which I believed at the time. These teachings taught that all believers needed to be submitted to a pastor and under his/her authority or be out of the will of God.
There was another side to the pastoral authority teachings. This one taught that because the pastor was the shepherd and head of the local church, the Lord would first speak to the leader about what a member should do with his life. This particular teaching was an offshoot of the Shepherding Movement.
I eventually knew I had to confront the pastors about their control issues in my life. A meeting was set up to air our differences.
I fasted and prayed ahead of time and had scriptures and prophetic words for them. But as I began speaking to them, one of the pastors spoke in tongues and the other one interpreted the tongues. As this happened, I felt a suffocating power overwhelm me so I felt drained and afraid. Along with the fear, I became confused.
The meeting ended with me submitting under their authority and wondering what had happened to me. So, I sought the Lord.
The answers did not come quickly for me. I struggled in the church for the next few months. A woman from another city eventually knocked on my apartment door one evening. She said the Lord had sent her to pray for me.
After she prayed, the fear of the two pastors left me and my spiritual eyes were opened.
You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed. (2 Corinthians 11:4 NLT)
The spiritual gifts are awesome tools given to us by God for the common good of all people. They contain the power of God and are distributed by the Holy Spirit.
But sadly, sometimes the prophetic gifts are not from the Holy Spirit, and may be from a familiar spirit or a lying spirit or another spirit. This is not a game. It’s an all-out war.
The last thing the enemy wants is for us to boldly walk in faith. To stop us, he will take advantage of every opportunity to derail us.
We need to have our faith built up so we understand there is only one mediator between man and God. His name is Jesus.
(Continued…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)