Category Archives: Spiritual gifts

Churches: Fellowships Without Fellowship (Part 9)

Using Chapter 24 of the Book of Matthew as our End-Times timeline, we read that the Anti-Christ will commit the abomination of desolation in verse 15.  This was prophesied by Daniel and Jesus tells us to understand his prophecy about this event.

Will believers and the Church still be on the earth at that time? Yes, because Jesus will not return for the Church and believers until verses 30 and 31.

Now, there are timelines in the Book of Revelation, but they’re not always chronological, according to chapters and verses. Some of the text is out of order and must be lined up with other books in the Bible.

Okay, with the above words as guidelines, what will be one of the church’s biggest problems in the End-times?

He [the Antichrist] causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, 17 and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. 18 Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666. (Revelation 13: 16-18)

After the “abomination of desolation” takes place, the Antichrist will persecute and kill Christians and Jews. His biggest weapon to bludgeon people into obeying him and his government will be the “mark of the beast.” No one will be able to buy food or medicine or gasoline or whatever without the mark.

Can Christians just rely on His grace and take the mark of the beast, while tossing a wink toward God? You know, Daddy loves me anyway, right?

Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. (Revelation 14:9-10)

I am an eternal security believing Christian, but because of my fear of the Lord, I would never want to cross the line against these verses nor would I suggest others to do it. What might eventually happen to believers? I don’t really know nor am I interested in finding out. Just obey His words!

So, what can believers do to protect themselves?

(Continued in Part 10…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)

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Churches: Fellowships Without Fellowship (Part 6)

 

Continuing with Wolfgang Simson’s 15 Theses from his book, House Churches That Change the World:

9. Return from organized to organic forms of Christianity

The “Body of Christ” is a vivid description of an organic, not an organized, being. Church consists on its local level of a multitude of spiritual families, which are organically related to each other as a network, where the way the pieces are functioning together is an integral part of the message of the whole.

What has become a maximum of organization with a minimum of organism, has to be changed into a minimum of organization to allow a maximum of organism. Too much organization has, like a straightjacket, often choked the organism for fear that something might go wrong. Fear is the opposite of faith, and not exactly a Christian virtue. Fear wants to control, faith can trust. Control, therefore, may be good, but trust is better.

The Body of Christ is entrusted by God into the hands of steward-minded people with a supernatural charismatic gift to believe God that He is still in control, even if they are not. A development of trust-related regional and national networks, not a new arrangement of political ecumenism is necessary for organic forms of Christianity to reemerge

10. From worshipping our worship to worshipping God

The image of much of contemporary Christianity can be summarized as holy people coming regularly to a holy place at a holy day at a holy hour to participate in a holy ritual lead by a holy man dressed in holy clothes against a holy fee.

Since this regular performance-oriented enterprise called “worship service” requires a lot of organizational talent and administrative bureaucracy to keep going, formalized and institutionalized patterns developed quickly into rigid traditions. Statistically, a traditional 1-2 hour “worship service” is very resource-hungry but actually produces very little fruit in terms of discipling people, that is, in changed lives. Economically speaking, it might be a “high input and low output” structure.

Traditionally, the desire to “worship in the right way” has led to much denominationalism, confessionalism and nominalism. This not only ignores that Christians are called to “worship in truth and in spirit,” not in cathedrals holding songbooks, but also ignores that most of life is informal, and so is Christianity as “the Way of Life.”

Do we need to change from being powerful actors to start “acting powerfully?”

11. Stop bringing people to church, and start bringing the church to the people 

The church is changing back from being a Come-structure to being again a Go-structure. As one result, the Church needs to stop trying to bring people “into the church,” and start bringing the Church to the people. The mission of the Church will never be accomplished just by adding to the existing structure; it will take nothing less than a mushrooming of the church through spontaneous multiplication of itself into areas of the population of the world, where Christ is not yet known.

12. Rediscovering the “Lord’s Supper” to be a real supper with real food

Church tradition has managed to “celebrate the Lord’s Supper” in a homeopathic and deeply religious form, characteristically with a few drops of wine, a tasteless cookie and a sad face. However, the “Lord’s Supper” was actually more a substantial supper with a symbolic meaning, than a symbolic supper with a substantial meaning. God is restoring eating back into our meeting.

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

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Churches: Fellowships Without Fellowship (Part 5)

Continuing with Wolfgang Simson’s 15 Theses from his book, House Churches That Change the World:

5. The church has to become small in order to grow large.

Most churches today are simply too big to provide real fellowship. They have too often become “fellowships without fellowship.” The New Testament church was made up of small groups, typically between 10 and 15 people. It grew not by forming big congregations of 300 people to fill cathedrals and lose fellowship. Instead, it multiplied “sideways,” dividing like organic cells, once these groups reached 15 to 20 people. This then made it possible for all the Christians to get together in city-wide celebrations, as in Solomon’s Temple court in Jerusalem. The traditional congregational church as we know it is by comparison, a sad compromise, neither big nor beautiful, an overgrown house church and an undergrown celebration, often missing the dynamics of both

6. No church is led by a pastor alone.

The local church is not led by a pastor, but fathered by an elder, a man of wisdom and engaged with reality. The local house churches are then networked into a movement by the combination of elders and members of the so-called fivefold ministry (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers), circulating from “house to house,” like the circulation of blood. Here there is a special foundational role to play for the apostolic and prophetic ministries (Ephesians 2:20; 4:11-12). A pastor (shepherd) is an important member of the whole team, but he cannot fulfill more than a part of the whole task of “equipping the saints for the ministry,” and he has to be complemented synergistically by the other four ministries in order to function properly.

7. The right pieces – fitted together in the wrong way.

To do a jigsaw puzzle, we have to put the pieces together according to the original pattern, otherwise the final product, the whole picture turns out wrong, and the individual pieces do not make any sense. In the Christian world we have all of the right pieces, but we have fitted them together in the wrong way, because of fear, tradition, religious jealousy, and a power and control mentality, just as water is found in three forms – ice, water and steam – so too the five ministries mentioned in Ephesians 4:11-12 – the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers – are found today, but not always in the right forms and in the right places. They are often frozen to ice in the rigid system of institutionalized Christianity; they sometimes exist as clear water; or they have vanished like steam into the thin air of free-flying ministries and “independent” churches, accountable to no one.

Just as it is best to water flowers with the fluid version of water, these five equipping ministries will have to be transformed back into new – and at the same time age-old – forms, so that the whole spiritual organism can flourish and the individual “ministers” can find their proper role and place in the whole. That is one more reason why we need to return to the Maker’s original blueprint for the Church.

8. Out of the hands of bureaucratic clergy and on towards the priesthood of all believers.

No expression of a New Testament church is ever led by just one professional “holy man” doing the business of communicating with God and then feeding some relatively passive, religious consumers, Moses-style. Christianity has adopted this method from pagan religions, or at best from the Old Testament.

The heavy professionalization of the church since Constantine has been a pervasive influence long enough, dividing the people of God artificially into an infantilized laity and a professional clergy, and developing power-based mentalities and pyramid structures. According to the New Testament (1 Timothy 2:5), “there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” God simply does not bless religious professionals to force themselves in between Himself and His people. The veil is torn, and God is allowing people to access Himself directly through Jesus Christ, the only Way.

To enable the priesthood of all believers, the present system will have to change completely. Bureaucracy is the most dubious of all administrative systems because it basically only asks two questions: yes or no. There is no room for spontaneity and humanity; no room for real life. This may be all right in politics and business, but not the church. God seems to be in the business of delivering His church from a Babylonian captivity of religious bureaucrats and controlling spirits into the public domain, putting it into the hands of ordinary people who God has made extraordinary and who, as in the old days, may still smell of fish, perfume or revelation.

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

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Churches: Fellowships Without Fellowship (Part 4)

In his book, House Churches that Change the World, Wolfgang Simson stole a page from Martin Luther’s reformation playbook and wrote a 15 Theses for the house church movement:

1. Christianity is a way of life, not a series of religious meetings.

Before they were called Christians, followers of Christ were called ‘The Way.’ One of the reasons was that they had literally found the way to live. The nature of the church is not found in a constant series of religious meetings led by professional clergy in holy places specially reserved to experience Jesus. Rather, it is the prophetic way followers of Christ live their everyday life in spiritual extended families, as a vivid answer to the questions that society asks, and in the place where it counts most – in their homes.

2. Time to change the ‘cathegogue system’

The historic Orthodox and Catholic Church after Constantine in the fourth century developed and adopted a religious system based on two elements: a Christian version on the Old Testament temple – the cathedral – and a worship pattern styled after the Jewish synagogue. They thus adopted, as the foundational pattern for the times to follow, a blueprint for Christian meetings and worship which was neither expressly revealed nor ever endorsed by God in New Testament times: the ‘cathegogue,’ linking the house-of-God mentality and the synagogue.

Baptized with Greek pagan philosophy, separating the sacred from the secular, the cathegogue system developed into the Black Hole of Christianity, swallowing most of its society-transforming energies and inducing the church to become absorbed with itself for centuries to come. The Roman Catholic Church went on to canonize the system.

Luther reformed the content of the gospel but left the outer forms of ‘church’ remarkably untouched. The Free Churches freed the system from the State, the Baptists then baptized it, the Quakers dry-cleaned it, the Salvation Army put it in uniform, the Pentecostals anointed it and Charismatics renewed it, but until today nobody has really changed the system. The time to do that has now arrived.

3. The third Reformation

In rediscovering the gospel of salvation by faith and grace alone, Luther started to reform the church through a reformation of theology. In the eighteenth century, through movements in the pietistic renewal, there was a recovery of a new intimacy with God, which led to a reformation of spirituality, the Second Reformation. Now, God is touching the wineskins themselves, initiating a Third Reformation, a reformation of structure.

4. From church houses to house churches

From the time of the New Testament there has been no such thing as a ‘house of God.’ At the cost of his life, Stephen reminded us: God does not live in temples made by human hands.

The church is the people of God. The church, therefore, was and is at home where people are at home: in ordinary houses. There the people of God share their lives in the power of the Holy Spirit, have ‘meatings’, i.e. they eat when they meet; they often do not even hesitate to sell private property and share material and spiritual blessings; they teach each other in real-life situations how to obey God’s Word – and not with professional lectures but dynamically, with dialogue and questions and answers. There they pray and prophesy with each other, and baptize one another. There they can let their masks drop and confess their sins, regaining a new corporate identity through love, acceptance and forgiveness.

(Continued in Part 5…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)

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Prayers for America (9/27/2018)

After Jesus had cast out demons in a blind and mute man, the Pharisees accused Him of using the power of Satan to deliver the man.

Jesus used their words as a springboard to speak a kingdom truth:

Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.” (Matthew 12:25-26)

More than twenty-five years ago, I had a dream and deep impression about the United States going through a civil war at some time in the future. So far, it hasn’t happened, but could it?

My prayer today:

Lord, help Americans to live in harmony with one another, to repay no one evil for evil, to do what is honorable in the sight of others, and as much as possible, to live peaceably with all men. (Based on Romans 12:16-18)

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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The Apostles: Men Doomed to Death (Part 8)

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An apostolic moment in a fictional book:

As I listened to Cat and Ike, my spirit roared like a lion within me. Something like this had happened in the past when the Lord used me for healing people, but now, it felt like it had advanced three or four levels higher. So much so, that divine strength overpowered my human weaknesses. I saw nothing but impossibilities earlier, but now I saw only opportunities for us.

I stood up and looked around at everyone. I had no thought of what I was going to say. It just gushed out of me.

“Four lepers sat in the midst of a disaster long ago and said to one another, ‘Why are we sitting here until we die?’ The four had nothing to lose so they marched toward the enemy’s camp. The Lord amplified the sound of their footsteps, causing Israel’s foes to retreat from the battle site. Thus, defeat was turned into triumph. A group cowering behind walls of safety did not accomplish this victory, but instead, it came about because a few people decided to ignore circumstances and their own weaknesses and do something.

“Now like the four lepers in 2 Kings 7, we have decisions to make: sit here until we die or obey God. The spiritual gifts through Bonnie have comforted us. The prophetic words through Cat and Ike have stirred us up. It seems apparent that God has spared our lives so He can use us in the midst of a terrible calamity for His glory and to build His kingdom.”

I paused to allow the Holy Spirit to guide His people.

“For those who agree with me, we will head towards Ground Zero tomorrow morning. We will leave some people behind to take care of the children and to search neighboring areas for injured people.

“Those who are heading out will carry just a few supplies with them. Nothing heavy. As we walk toward Ground Zero, we will start a church wherever there are hurting people. We can use a house or abandoned buildings for the new church. We’ll gather people into that location to serve and pray for them.

“After the church is established at a site, we will leave two people behind. The remainder will continue onward. We will repeat this over and over until we have no more church planters left.”

The anointing for speaking lifted off me just like that. I looked toward Cat.

“Honey, do we have enough blankets and pillows for everyone?”

She stood up.

“I think so. Let’s go see.”

We went upstairs while the others figured out sleeping arrangements for their families.

(The above excerpt is from The Day LA Died by Larry Nevenhoven, ©2015, Amazon eBook)

(Continued in Part 9…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)

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Praying for our Children (Part 5)

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An article authored by Ray Hughes in The Morning Star Journal changed my prayer life forever.  Its was entitled The Forgotten Legacy of Sam Jones and told about an almost forgotten evangelist who grew up to be labeled by a Southern newspaper as “the most famous man in America.” Jones was born in 1847, the same year as Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Alva Edison.

The article related how Sam Jones became a hopeless drunkard by the age of twenty-five. His health was wrecked and an untimely death faced him when his dying father made him promise to change. Then the article said:

“Sam declared, ‘I yield, I yield,’ determining right then and there that every remaining step of his life would be an honest effort to fulfill that promise to his father. But Sam’s father wasn’t the only one shouting that day; his saintly grandmother was another. She was said to have read the Bible from cover to cover thirty-eight times while on her knees, applying the promises of God in prayer for Sam’s wayward life.”

Click! The light switched on inside me. I knew that I knew that Scripture was a powerful spiritual tool in praying for people, especially our children.

There is only one book where the words in it are “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and able to discern the thoughts and intentions of a person’s heart.” 

That one book is the Bible.

It should be everyone’s favorite prayer book because what is our biggest struggle in praying for our children? I would guess that it centers on whether God will actually answer our prayers.

And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him. (1 John 5:14-15)

Scripture is God’s revealed will to His believers. Thus, by praying Scripture, we are praying the Father’s will back to the Father so He can move in our children’s lives.

It’s a win/win deal for us parents.

But yet, there is still another benefit of praying Scripture for our children.

Bless the LORD, you His angels, mighty in strength, who perform His word, obeying the voice of His word! (Psalm 103:20 NKJV)

When we pray Scripture for our children, God’s angels are put to work, bringing the prayers to pass in their lives. We can think of ourselves as “spiritual labor bosses” if we pray Scripture, sending angels out to their jobs: our children.

There are hundreds of Bible verses, which make great prayers for our children. You can choose your own as you study the Bible, but here’s a few of the ones I pray along with examples of how I pray them.

The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 NKJV)

“Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart [or hearing heart] to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” (1 Kings 3:9 NKJV)

This is one of my favorite prayers in which I combine the above two verses.

My prayer: “Lord, give  (child’s name) an understanding and hearing heart so that he/she receives the love of the truth and is saved in all situations he/she might face.”

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. (Luke 9:23)

My prayer: “Lord, I pray that  (child’s name) would deny himself/herself, take up his/her cross daily, and follow Jesus.”

Your word is a lamp to my feet and light to my path.(Psalm 119:105)

My prayer: “Lord, I pray that Your word is a lamp to  (child’s name) feet and a light to his/her path.”

Send out Your light andYour truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your dwelling. (Psalm 43:3)

My prayer: “Lord, send Your light and Your truth to (child’s name); let them lead him/her to Your holy hill and to Your dwelling.”

I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Matthew 3:11)

My prayer: “Lord, I pray that You baptize (child’s name) with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:11-12, 21)

My prayer: “Lord, I pray that (child’s name) is not slothful in zeal, but fervent in spirit, serving You; that he/she rejoices in hope, is patient in tribulation and constant in prayer; and that he/she is not overcome by evil, but overcomes evil with good.”

That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering, being conformed to His death. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus(Philippians 3:10, 13-14 NKJV)

My prayer: “Lord, I pray that (child’s name) knows You and the power of Your resurrection, and the fellowship of Your suffering, being conformed to Your death. And that one thing he/she would do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, that he/she would press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.(1 Corinthians 14:1)

My prayer: “Lord, I pray that (child’s name) pursues love, earnestly desires the spiritual gifts, especially that he/she may prophesy.”

So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:22)

My prayer: “Lord, I pray that (child’s name) flees youthful passions and pursues righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all things shall be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)

My prayer:“Lord, I pray that (child’s name) seeks first the kingdom of God and Your righteousness so that all things are added to him/her.”

These ten examples should give all of us a good idea on how to pray Scriptures for our children. All we have to do is read our Bibles and when we see a verse with a promise, pray it for our children.

Praying the word for our children moves our prayers from being passive into being powerfully active with all of heaven working to bring the prayers to pass.

(The above is an excerpt from Praying for the Frozen Chosen: Our Children by Larry Nevenhoven, © 2016, Amazon eBook)  

(Continued in Part 6)

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