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.
Church history is replete with stories of how ‘natural minded’ men seek to control the work of the Holy Spirit with bureaucracy and red tape. Another such story came across my desk per a dear friend. The explosion of church planting and missionary work in the early days of America are filled with stories of sacrifice and uniqueness among the circuit riders who blazed trails across this country to take the gospel to every man in horrid conditions. Both Methodist and Baptist missionaries traveled in difficult conditions and with God’s Spirit to plant thousands of churches among the unreached in our great land.
When we get too ‘big for our britches’ we begin to think more in terms of organization instead of organism. This shift has been the death of many movements of the Holy Spirt within Christianity. Here is another sad story of how organization can kill the Holy Continue reading
If I was Satan, the way I would divide believers in America is to force them to define their fellowship by the political party rather than by the gospel. Come to think of it, that is exactly what he has done. For the most part, Caucasians affiliate with the Republican party and African Americans affiliate with the Democratic party. It has become the Shibboleth of our Culture. Rather than standing for God’s Word and the truth He revealed in it, we sell our soul and divide from brothers over political party affiliation.
Christians give their allegiance to Christ and His Word… not to a political party or social institution of human ideals. It is a shame that most churches in America are known as right wing or left wing branches of Republican or Democratic demarcations. We should be know as Christ followers–period. That is, men and women of the Book. Continue reading
Nothing is more serious than speaking about sin and the Lord’s offer of redemption to those who will believe the gospel. After all, the message of Christ crucified is the only hope of humanity. Equally so, nothing is more joyful than when a person surrenders to Christ and experiences the new birth in Jesus. That joy is above and beyond simple emotion as the heart of the believer is overwhelmed by God goodness and forgiveness.
Here is an observation from my experience of over 30 years of ministry.
Those who are serious about the gospel will also have a robust ability to laugh and experience joy! It is not an either/or reality. The most joyful men I have had the privilege to know where also the ones who were very serious about the truths of Scripture.
Society always seems to attempt to force believers into the false belief that seriousness about God and joy of life are mutually exclusive. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Maybe this opinion is a result of what we see in many evangelical circles. Continue reading