On a recent vacation trip with my wife, we visited the Billy Graham Library and museum in Charlotte, NC. It was fantastic! Throughout the visit, the message of the gospel was penetrating, convicting, and refreshing. Being a pastor in my 52nd year of life, and realizing that the sand in my hourglass of time is getting low, I cried and rejoiced at the same time observing the brevity of time and the importance of making every moment count. Kudos to the BGEA for their superbly built and God-honoring museum.
There is so much that could be discussed, but I want to mention the last thing viewed during the tour of the site. It was the gravesite of Ruth Graham, Billy’s wife who passed away in 2007. Ruth grew up in China as one of the children of medical missionaries, married Billy after meeting him at college, and was with him as his dear bride for over 60 years. She had the front row seat of the life of a man who preached face to face with more people than anyone who has ever shared the gospel. Continue reading
Saturdays are special to most people. It is the day of relaxation and hobbies. A day to sleep late or do yard work. A day to play with the kids or watch a movie. However, do not forget about your pastor. For those seeking to have a ‘live coal’ from God’s altar to communicate with the congregation, it is a day of spiritual battle and wrestling to get completely settled with the mind of the Lord for the messages the Holy Spirit has laid upon his heart.
Enjoy your family, friends and day off. But through it all, remember that your pastor is in the battle of the week. He has a target on his back as the enemy comes to discourage him, get him off track, or confuse his mind about what he is planning on sharing. He has worked on it all week, on his knees in prayer, and with pencil in hand. Take moments throughout your day and send up a prayer for him. What to pray? Good question. Continue reading
I get many testimonies from the front lines of church planting in rural India. They are filled with stories of the Holy Spirit’s work similar to what we read in the book of Acts. The Lord is just as committed to reaching men and women that are looking for truth as He has always been. After all, Jesus is the “same yesterday and today and forever.” (Heb. 13:8) Thank God He is, and here is a story I recently received that demonstrates the Lord’s tender care for all people, regardless of where they have come from. The lady being baptized in the photo is Rati, who wrote this letter to me.
(Names and villages changed for security reasons) Continue reading
The subject of being led by the Holy Spirit to speak into the life of another person (prophecy or prophetic ministry), can be very detailed and involves many subjects. One of the important subjects that comes to bear on this topic is Divine Guidance, and this involves learning to distinguish the promptings of the Holy Spirit from the promptings of a foreign spirit or even our own spirit. Any person using the gift of prophecy or prophetic sharing should seek to get grounded in the biblical guidelines about its operation and use great wisdom and caution concerning it.
The Apostle Paul instructed the believers at Corinth,
“Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.” (1 Corinthians 14:1)
There are many underlying subjects that must be mined from God’s Word in order to grasp prophecy maturely and in balance. In this article, I will give some simple guidelines that may help answer questions about prophetic ministry. It is important to know that these guidelines are are built upon many other subjects and are not ‘stand alone’ points.
There are many over-lapping issues between various gifts. The word of knowledge, discerning of spirits, word of wisdom, and prophecy have that over-lapping element. Within these 4 gifts we “know something” from the Holy Spirit. The real question is “What do we do with it?” Continue reading
The power of the gospel is not limited to the written words of the Scriptures only. The Lord promised to pour out the Holy Spirit upon all flesh. (Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17) One of the most powerful promises that Jesus left for His followers is that He would speak and His sheep would hear His voice. That promise has been true down through the centuries since He walked the shores of Galilee. Jesus still speaks…and His sheep still hear His voice! (John 10:27)
Working among the rural areas of India, our PROJECT INDIA church planting team confronts many situations from atheism to pantheism, and from Islam to Hinduism. One such opportunity came to light recently as revealed in this testimony sent to me from a lady who was raised a Muslim. I’ll let you read the testimony she sent to me. (I have changed her name for security reasons. The capital letters in this message are the ones she added. This is the letter in its entirety.)
“Hello, my name is Herra, a follower of the Muslim religion. I had never heard about Jesus. Since I born and brought in Muslim religion and a traditional family, I was never allowed to hear about the other religions. The last few years my family has gone through much suffering and poverty. We were not able to bare it anymore and so we made plans to die by drinking poison. Many times we prayed to our Muslim god ALLA, BUT WE RECEIVED NO ANSWER from him.
3 months back a pastors wife Suvartharani visited our home. She shared her testimony how we could meet the Lord Jesus. And she also shared the powerful and loving message of cross through DVD where Pastor Terry Ivy shared about the love of Jesus. As I was hearing the word, I felt Jesus himself talk to me. Continue reading
I have personally traveled across the top three longest bridges in the United States. They are all in Louisiana. The longest is the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Bridge pictured in this article. In fact, it is the longest continuous bridge over a body of water in the world. The journey across it seems to never end with the ‘plank-plank’ of the tires across the concrete sections of this 24 mile long bridge. It has an eery sound which seems surreal and sobering at the same time. I always wonder at the ingenuity of man to be able to construct such a large bridge.
And yet, there is a bridge that is longer than this–the distant between the heart and the head. It seems to be traveled by few and maintained by even less. Here is a quote from Ravi Zacharias about that Bridge.
“…life has to find a bridge from the mind to the heart. It was a famed archbishop of Canterbury who said that the longest journey in life is from the head to the heart.” ¹
This bridge is a necessary part of building a confident faith and a Spirit-filled walk with Christ. If we only engage the head, it makes us cerebral and dry, giving answers without compassion or empathy. If we only Engage the heart, it makes us over emotional and volatile, giving pat answers without the substance of intellectual vigor. Both extremes create a freakish anomaly in the name of faith. Continue reading
Pharisees hate integration and humility. Why? Because it keeps them from claiming superiority and prevents them from sitting on the throne of their own absolute authority. Today, we see a lot of this in some circles. Sadly, we see this attitude expressed very arrogantly in some Reformed camps. When the present generation fails to understand the wisdom of the previous generation, they always create division instead of biblical unity. True unity depends on two essential elements–the truth of God (the Bible), and the Holy Spirit of God.
If we attempt unity only on the Bible, we are left with the dry orthodoxy of natural minded men holding to propositional facts about God. If we attempt it only with the Holy Spirit, we have existential foolishness apart from any standard to evaluate. True unity must have the Word and the Holy Spirit. The propositional with the experiential. The mind with the heart. The descriptive with the demonstrative. The facts of the message with the living fellowship with Christ.
Dr. John MacArthur is a prime example of ministering from the head without including the heart, the Word without the Holy Spirit, dryness of teaching apart from the living presence of God. He seems to be constantly leading a book promotion tour for his “Strange Fire” release by continually attacking and throwing non-cessationists under the bus of his fundamentalism. After years of watching Dr. MacArthur and reading many of his books, it is sad to see him spiral downward into this pit of hostility. This is especially sad when you watch some of the conference videos and see the laughter, mocking and snickering the speakers express as they toss out everything supernatural. Exposing the false always carries the danger of crossing a line and painting with too broad of a brush.
Thank God for lifting the skirts on the disgusting, manipulative and demonic activities of the majority of Charismatic leaders, especially those we see on religious TV programming. However, when wisdom is not used, those leading the charge will also implicate millions of godly believers who distant themselves from these extremes. The days of dry dogma are over. I know some dear Reformed brothers who minister under the living presence and joy of the Lord. They are not afraid of the presence of the Holy Spirit…in fact they cry out in prayer for it and their ministries are very fruitful. MacArthur and his Continue reading
When believers get serious about walking in the Spirit and following the Lord’s call for their life, they face one of the most dangerous places of their life. That place is not in obeying the Lord, but in how to communicate with those who are called differently or in another direction. We all want freedom and encouragement from others to follow the Holy Spirit’s leadership to us, but it is easy to demean or put down others not called to the same work. We must learn the principle of freedom to you…freedom from you!
If we want others to give us the liberty to respond to the call of Christ upon our life, we must give them the same liberty. If we do not, we will become legalistically assertive with our ‘vision’ and seek to impose it as a standard for all. Our communication will become coercive and over-authoritarian, and fail to display the liberty Christ has given to every believer.
If someone has a call to obey the Lord to do a particular ministry, and it does not violate the truth or standard of Scriptures, then praise the Lord. It does not matter if we agree with the how, when or whats of their calling, that is between them and the Lord. We must grant them this freedom and pray for them as they seek to obey their call with honest hearts and commitment. Every genuine believer is the Lord’s servant, not man’s. Continue reading
Most people prefer summer to winter. There are opportunities to get out and ‘break a sweat’ doing enjoyable things from yard work to outdoor sports. The warmer temperatures and delightful weather seems to scream, “get out and do something.” This is good. However, many times it comes with a sad element that makes me weep for summer.
What is that element? It is the large number of people who seem to completely forget about God and abandon their convictions and commitments. The summer months seem to promote worship of the god of self. That is, families consume their weekends with constant trips of self pleasure and ‘me-first’ activities, while abandoning integration and spiritual growth with their local church. It is heart breaking and sad. It reveals the lack of true spiritual conversion or spiritual maturity among many church members.