Archive for August, 2000

Tainted Sacrifice

On two occasions during the praise and music part of our service I have
undergone an intense experience which I believe to be a message from
God.

As the music flowed around the church, as people clapped and sang and
praised the Lord, I felt an invisible shell harden around me. The music
was beautiful but it couldn’t touch me. As I experienced this a great
sorrow filled me and tears came. It dawned on me that this was what God
was feeling at that moment. People were making music and praising Him but
it did not touch His heart and that left Him sad.

I wondered why and it grew clear. Praise and worship music is meant to be
a sacrifice. And God can’t accept a tainted sacrifice. Cain’s sacrifice
was refused by God because his heart wasn’t in the right condition. Jesus
also told us that if we come to the altar with our sacrifice and remember
that we have something out of harmony with our brother, then leave the
sacrifice there, go and be reconciled with our brother, then return and
offer the sacrifice. Also the church as a whole is in a state of
lukewarmness. Many are mistaking a lively, dynamic service as being
somehow able to make up for a complacent apathetic week of Christian
living.

People are not being honest and real through the week, are not mending
damaged relationships, are living in intentional sins, and then expect to
walk into Sunday service and praise God for His goodness…..and expect to
have that praise accepted!!!!

We should be challenging our churches to get real with God before we
bother with Sunday music. God is not currently accepting the praise of
many, because they are offering tainted sacrifices.

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Fighting for His Truth, not my opinion.

I believe that to be Christian one must follow Christ. This doesn’t necessarily mean following peoples interpretation of Christ. The apostles had different ideas of who Christ is and what He was doing. Despite this they were all following Him. They were all His apostles, his ambassadors.

With there beliefs rooted in the law, prophets and writings they still came up with different ideas of what the Messiah should be. Was Simon the Zealot ignoring scripture when he shared his tent with Matthew the tax collector. Were these men of Israel ignoring the law of God when they allowed sinners to cry at Jesus’ feet. They put aside the human laws they had built in their heart so they could follow Him. The hang ups that people had were understandble but still petty.

The western world has rejected Christ because people have fought to control to minds and hearts of people through fear, guilt, politics, and witchcraft. They recognize the hypocrisy rampant in the ranks of those who claim to follow Christ. They are confused by so many voices telling them “this is the way”. How can anyone know what the truth really is?

The sin of our self righteousness, of our unholy crusades has alienated millions from the gospel. We get bogged down over whether women can be senior pastors, whether “seeker sensitive” is a legitimate church model, or speaking in tongues is the sole evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

We don’t care that much when we violate God’s law, but we sure get up in arms when someone violates our law.

We rightly accuse the world of its perversion, but the world doesn’t know any better. Christ didn’t call the world salt and light. The church is His salt and light, and if darkness is rampant, it isn’t the fault darkness. It’s a lack of light.

It is for these reasons that I don’t participate this multi sided civil war that the church engages in.

I will take up spiritual arms against those I know that twist and distort the gospel. I know these people by their fruit, and I am careful to recognize the difference between human offence, and dark spiritual fruit.

In a round about way I am saying there are times to stand for what is true. But it is imperative that your standing for the truth, not just your version of it. There is precious little I truly know about Jesus and the Gospel. I am ready to follow Him and let Him replace my heart with His heart, my law for His law.

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God Exists

I hate to say it, but people are dumb. I don’t understand how people can come to the conclusion that God doesn’t exist. It’s amazing how our society elevates science to the point where theories become facts. How people will blindly believe what someone puts in a text book, but refuse to believe in God because it requires faith.

I have a friend that thought the mapping of the human genome somehow proved that God didn’t exists. That if we could map the genome, the next obvious step would be the creation of our own life forms.

I look at it a bit differently. I see the human genome as a 4bit programming code. In that code is the blueprints of life. Doesn’t this provide some evidence that this code is the product of someone’s design. If you see a cave in the mountains. It’s form is random and it seems to serve no particular purpose its quite plausible that it happened by chance. If you see a cave, with perfect rounded edges, and you find the blueprints for the cave inside and the cave matches the blueprints exactly, wouldn’t think you think someone designed it. Add 100 billions years of random structural changes in the earths crust you aren’t going to get a perfectly designed cave with the blueprints inside.

In fact the dna of the simplest living organisms is much more complex than a cave. The chances life forming by chance is 10 x 10 about 50 times to 1. You can 60 Billion years of chances, and its still not going happen. This is just to make a one celled organism, imagine the chances of a human being evolving from that.

I’m a web programmer, so I know what “code” is. People make code. Code doesn’t happen by itself. Sometimes I might have wished it did.

I learned something else about genetics on a secular television show this weekend. We share 99% of our dna with chimps. Our DNA doesn’t make up who we are completely. There is something that makes us human that isn’t found in our genetic code.

A friend was sharing a story about one of her relatives. She was in a third world country and was very ill. Her stomach kept getting larger and larger. The doctors didn’t know what was causing it. They had her in for surgery so they could get a better idea of what was causing the problem. This women prayed fervently for the Lord to heal her because she didn’t want surgery. A bright light appeared in the room. A man appeared and started to rub her stomach. It made some strange noises. When the man had left the woman was healed! Her stomach had returned to normal. The doctors returned to her and found her praising God! They joined in!

If there is no God, how can you explain that? Was it the power of her mind? There is no solid scientific evidence that proves the mind can do such things. There are sponanteous healings that don’t involve the christian faith but that doesn’t mean God doesn’t bless those He chooses to bless. The gaps in science are filled with blind faith by those who choose they would rather not acknowledge the truth. People say, well we just haven’t learned how that happens yet. People do exactly what they accuse religious people of doing. They make up things to explain the things they don’t understand. I don’t have to make up anything, I see the truth right in front of me. There is enough evidence for a willing heart to see!

How many people have to be healed through prayer before the world will believe. How many people have to be changed by God before the church will believe.

I believe.

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Living Outside the Church System

I’ve grown tired of dealing with peoples misconceptions about my particular genre of Christianity. I look upon church institutions with a healthy amount of mistrust and with a general disdain for their self serving nature. It’s not that I necessarily mistrust the people in these institutions. I believe that most Christian institutions serve themselves more than Jesus. That doesn’t mean I don’t believe that there are sincere believers doing the work of the Lord in these institutions. Some institutions are a lot better than others.

For me the church system, or the Christian religious system has become in some ways a non issue. In general I neither support it nor oppose it. It is a non issue, my concern is people, regardless of whether they are in the “system” or not.

I used to be very involved in the system. I recognized the faults of the system and wanted to become an agent of change. It was frustrating because you can’t effectively build upon a shaky foundation. I see 4 main things that power this system. Jesus is one of them. He’s in there and through some miracle seems to work through His people regardless of where they are. The other 3 aren’t so great.

  • Politics / Human Opinion
  • Religious Tradition / Religious Success
  • Witchcraft / Spiritual Power other than God

I have to admit I’m borrowing a little from Rick Joyner’s “cord of 3 strands” that binds the church. Some institutions are powered more by Jesus than the other big 3. I don’t think I’ll ever find any kind of organized Christianity that doesn’t carry some sort of baggage around with it. Someone once shared with me “It is possible to have a perfect church, until you add your first member”.

A few years ago I decided that I wasn’t going to risk succumbing to the big nasty 3 in the system. I wasn’t going to put myself in place where the system would tempt me to compromise my principles. I’m glad I made that choice. At the time it was very clear to me that God used me far more in casual situations rather than in formal ministry programs. The more I was in the system, the more I felt frustrated, stymied, and even oppressed.

I abandoned my ministry career, and the amount of true ministry that occurred in my life soared. I’ve never stopped attending worship services, and I have become involved in different groups. I do it strictly as a volunteer. I preach, teach, write, lead small groups, and I maintain “theheresy.com”. I build genuine relationships that are based on love and trust. The church has many purposes, they are fulfilled much more successfully in my life by trusting in God. There are no boring church meetings, no political intrigue, and far less pursuit of religious successes.

I find the most annoying part of the whole deal is the stigma that is attached to it. Some people, (who never really knew me in the first place) lookup upon me like I’m some lost soul. It offends my pride. I know how much my relationship with God has blossomed, how much He has changed me, and that I’m following Him in what I’m doing. Often my critics don’t show the same spiritual fruit, so their opinion is often hard to hear. Fortunately I don’t hear it that often.

There are often a lot of misconceptions that surround me. They are

I’m against institutions.
I’m not against them, I think God works through them. He works more successfully through some than others. It all depends on what drives that institution. Is it Christ or is it something else?

I want to start my own little movement with my new and improved gospel.
I just want to follow Jesus. I don’t want to start my own church, I just want to be part of the church. The same church that Jesus started with his death on the cross. The same church that seems to have members in every denomination mankind has ever created. There are sincere believers, everywhere. I am one of them.

I fight against the institutions.
The system is a non-issue. I care about people and the more I know Christ the more His love compels me to serve people. To love people. I complain about the church far less than I ever did when I was in the system. I’m to busy talking about Jesus and the good news of our salvation.

I’ve realized that the only way the church is going to change, is if the people let God change them. The people are the church, and God wants to restore them. This is the revival I seek.

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Restoring the House of God

The church in America is caught between two extremes. On the one side
is the “lukewarm left” filled with religious form devoid of the power of
the Holy Spirit. On the other side is the “renegade right” that claims
to be led by the Holy Spirit but has, at best, only a thin foundation on
the historical foundations of the Christian faith.

A little over a year ago the Lord called me to leave a comfortable job,
sell my self-sustaining micro farm and return to pastoral ministry in a
move that placed me in an independent charismatic church in the center
of the heartland of the U.S. – a church that was terribly filled with
division and bound for extinction. The division was representative of
the groups mentioned in the above paragraph with only a small middle
ground of innocent believers caught in the middle.

Blazing a negotiable middle ground resulted in both larger factions
leaving in hostile anger. Neither side could be well pleased but to the
glory of God I am still at the place and in the position that God placed
me in and the small middle is well, healthy and fruitfully doing the
work of the ministry.

I want to share something that the Lord has been cultivating in me over
the past few years about the changes that are coming to the Body in the
Last Days – changes that are not new waves but are restorative of things
that have belonged to the Body all along.

Twenty years ago I heard Dr. Jack Hyles make a statement that’s stuck
with me for two decades. He was ministering in one of his pastor’s
conferences and said, “The greatest profundity is always found in
simplicity.” And I really believe that if we are going to “walk in the
spectacular of the supernatural” then we are going to have to discover
or rediscover what it means to “walk in the simplicity of lives that are
truly surrendered to God”.

The simplicity of Christianity rests on three pillars. They are:

1. The Pillar Of The Word Of God.
2. The Pillar Of Christian Fellowship.
3. The Pillar of Prayer.

Pillar number one: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a
workman who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of
truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 tells us.

And to rightly divide the word of truth we have to be committed to
reading and studying the word of truth.

Far too many loose cannon balls are rolling around on the floor of the
Church in these Last Days who profess to be authorities on the “things
of the Spirit” but have never spent credible time searching the
Scriptures and weighing their “inclinations and revelations” against
sound and proven theologies resulting in many contrary winds and waves
which are often fanned and stirred by desires for personal gain.
Confrontation often results in accusations of having a “religious
spirit” and avail little in correcting the errors being propagated.
It is essential that we who answer calls to leadership as shepherds of
the sheep know what the Great Shepherd has carefully laid down in the
historical Word and be careful how we make contemporary applications of
it.

Pillar number two: “And let us consider one another in order to stir up
love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together,
as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the
more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us.
Close fellowship with believers is not an option. It’s a biblical
necessity. Accountability is an absolute. I am all for church autonomy.
Autonomy as a corporate body is biblical. Autonomy as an individual
Christian, and especially for those of us in specific positions in
ministry is anti-biblical. Even for the prophetic office. (1 Cor. 14:32)
Autonomy as individual believers is nothing short of spiritual anarchy
and the modern (??Christian??) media in this country has certainly been
a source of fuel for this problem as well as for the
glamorization of ministry. We are called to servanthood and not to
elegant lifestyles.

Pillar number three: “Pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells
us.
Prayer is more than an exercise that we perform. Prayer is the
lifestyle of those who follow Jesus. When we discover the real purpose
of prayer in our lives we also discover that prayer is our purpose. All
else that follows is an outgrowth of lives changed and empowered through
prayer.

Prayer is the common thread that reaches all the way from the upper
room in Acts 1 to the present that has characterized all the men and
women of God that He has used in all the true revivals and reformations
throughout the history of the Church.

Rather than looking for new programs and seminars to busy ourselves and
our people our aim must be to become men and women of prayer – real
prayer – where we are constantly seeking the face of God, continually
searching ourselves for anything offensive in ourselves, and confidently
interceding for those whom the Lord has given us care of – and once
again see the house of the Lord as a “house of prayer” rather than a
platform to promote men and the monuments built by men.

These three pillars are the spiritual vitamins that are essential in
the life of every believer. With them taken in daily measures we grow
strong and healthy in the faith. Without them we are weak, ineffective
and subject to all the devises of the world and of Satan including all
the contrary waves and winds of false doctrine that sound good and look
good but in the end are nothing more than buckets with holes in them.

These are dangerously deceptive days and upon the clear teaching of
Scripture we can only expect the deceptions to increase until the Day of
the Lord. Given to the restoration and process, the restored house of
God in the Last Days will walk in the fullness of the power of God and
resemble the newly initiated house of God in the First Days. The only
alternative to restoration is continued degeneration. Personally, I’ve
had all of the degeneration that I can stand.

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Come Walk With Me

At the beginning of this week, I felt the Lord speak to me and say, “Come
and walk with Me.”

I was excited; wondering what the Lord would be speaking to me,
showing to me, or revealing to me. To my surprise and perplexity,
nothing further happened. I wondered if I had really heard the Lord say
these words to me, and went to Him in prayer.

“What did you just speak to me?” I asked the Lord.

“Come and walk with Me,” the Lord repeated once again.

Once again, nothing further seemed to happen. Each morning, and
throughout the day for the rest of the week, the Lord spoke the same
phrase to me. “Come and walk with Me.”

I have learned by now, when the Lord speaks something to me, to wait
upon that word. So, I waited. And I waited. And I waited. While I
was waiting, I walked. The Lord had asked me to come and take a
walk with Him, so I walked with Him through the Word. I walked with
Him as I watched my children playing. I walked with Him as I sat outside
watching the clouds and listening to the birds calling to each other.

“Come and walk with Me,” I heard the Lord ask me once again.

Once again, I was expecting nothing further to develop with these words.
To my surprise, though, this time, the Lord and I really took a walk.

I saw the Lord and I as we walked down a small dirt road in what appeared
to be the country. The Lord had what appeared to be an old fashioned
scale in one hand. He seemed very solemn and serious, and stared straight
ahead.

“Where are we going, Lord?” I asked the Lord.

“Visiting,” the Lord replied.

“Who are we going to visit?” I asked the Lord.

“My people,” the Lord replied. “My churches.”

In silence, I walked with the Lord.

We came to the doors of a church. A service was in progress in this
church. The Lord and I entered the church and stood quietly in the back.
Silently, the Lord and I observed the service and the people.

The service was loud and the music was playing. The people were singing,
clapping their hands, worshipping and praising. Everything in this service
appeared to be very exciting, and it was obvious from observing the faces
of the people that they were joyful.

I looked at the Lord. “This is a good service, isn’t it, Lord?” I asked.

“Don’t mistake worship for relationship,” the Lord replied.

I was puzzled by the Lord’s reply.

The Lord walked to the front of the church. I followed Him silently. When
the Lord reached the front of the church, He placed the scale on the ground.
He then took the Word of God and placed it on one end of the scale.
That side of the scale tilted all the way to the ground. Then, the Lord
reached out and gathered the congregation into one of His hands. The
church became like a cluster of grapes in His hand. The Lord placed this
cluster of grapes on the other end of the scale. Nothing happened. The
end of the scale with the Word of God on it remained all the way on the
ground. The side of the scale with the cluster of grapes upon it, remained
all the way up.

Then, the Lord reached out and gathered the cluster of grapes into one of
His hands, and began to squeeze the grapes until the juices of the grapes
ran freely. Then, the Lord picked the scale back up and silently walked
from the church. Just as silently, I followed Him. I was very puzzled about
what had just happened in this congregation.

“Could You please explain to me what just happened in that church?” I
asked the Lord.

“Many of My people have confused worship with a relationship with Me,”
the
Lord began to explain to me. “There are many marriages that have a good
and exciting physical relationship, but when you look closer at that marriage,
you will begin to discover many problems that have been hidden and
concealed by the excitement of the physical relationship in that marriage.
In the same way that many people think a good physical relationship in a
marriage means the marriage is good, just so do many of My people also
mistakenly feel that if they and their congregation has a good worship
relationship with me that must mean all is well with them and their
congregation. This is not always true. Don’t confuse worship with a
relationship with Me,” the Lord repeated to me.

I was still somewhat puzzled and perplexed by the Lord’s words. We
continued to walk.

“Where are we going now?” I asked the Lord.

“Visiting,” the Lord replied. “I have spoken to many of a coming judgment.
A judgment against sin and unrighteousness. This judgment will begin in
My own house, among My own people . It is My Word that will judge
them.”

The Lord and I then proceeded to go visiting. We visited large churches,
small churches, home churches, and churches which consisted at times of
only a husband and wife, or a husband and wife and their children or friends
and relatives. Each of these churches, was weighed in the balance on the
scale the Lord carried under His arm. The churches that didn’t measure up
to the Word of God, were wrung in the Lord’s hand.

Several of the churches the Lord and I visited, when we entered, the
people were prostrate on the floor, weeping. In these churches, there was a
heaviness in the air. There was no music playing, no loud singing. There
was at times much groaning. At other times, there was only the muffled
sound of weeping. These churches always appeared to excite the Lord.
At the same time, even while appearing excited, the Lord would also
appear very gentle and compassionate with the people in these churches
who were lying prostrate on the floors. The Lord would go from each
of these people to the next, laying a hand gently on their head, uttering
small words of comfort to them, soothing and encouraging them.
When the Lord would place these churches on the scale to be weighed,
each end of the scale would be even with the other end of the
scale. After this time of being weighed, the weeping would cease, the
people would get to their feet, and they would worship. There was
something different, though, in the manner these people worshipped
than in the worship of the first church the Lord and I had visited.

These people were always looking up, tears running down their cheeks,
their hands raised upwards. Their worship at times also became loud,
and there would also be music playing. But there was a totally
different spirit in this worship than in the worship of the first church
the Lord and I had visited. What I felt was a spirit of brokenness and
humility.

At the end of our time of visiting, I sat quietly as I thought and
pondered about all that I had seen as I had gone visiting with the
Lord. I felt a peace in my heart, yet also a sort of shamed humbleness
as I thought about what I had learned that seemed to excite the Lord in
a church.

The Lord desires worship that comes from a broken, contrite, humble heart.
Before we attempt to worship Him, the Lord desires that we have a
relationship with Him that begins on our knees or with us on our faces
before Him. I don’t think I will ever again worship the same way I used to
in church, as I will now as a result of having gone visiting with the Lord. I
don’t think I will ever again confuse worship with a relationship with the
Lord.

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