John Wesley’s Prophecy

FUMCLogoWrittenWithout a doubt, John Wesley was one of the greatest influences within the history of Christianity. His passion, vision and organization was second to none in expanding the kingdom of God through missionary efforts and church planting. Wesley’s writings and pattern of church planting have had a huge impact on many leaders for over two hundred years, including myself. The stories of circuit riders blazing the trail of early American history are legendary. And yet within his vision of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, Wesley was well aware of the dangers that would attack his work if natural minded men slipped into the church and turned it into a dead society.

Five years before his death Wesley wrote,

“I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America. But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out.” (‘Thoughts Upon Methodism,’ 1786.)

These words seem to be prophetic. United Methodism is on the verge of becoming a spiritually dead form of religion. Its present leaders have moved so far away from God’s Word and historic Christianity, that the general conference will consider changing the moral code of Scriptures to embrace homosexuality as a legitimate lifestyle, and opening up the practice of performing and blessing homosexual marriages in United Methodist Churches. You can read about it on the UMC official website Here and see the prominence of it Here. Continue reading “John Wesley’s Prophecy”

Confession of a Free Christian

Hands raisedMost people hates boxes. They require everyone to fit someone’s narrow view of reality and thought. We find this true in Christianity also. Thank God for sound theology and boundaries of historical thought concerning the person and work of Christ. However, the enemy seeks to divide believers by using self-appointed ‘heresy hunters’ who cause divisions while claiming to protect evangelical orthodoxy.

The Lord calls us to freedom in Christ, freedom in worship, freedom in the power of the Holy Spirit. As a free Christian, we are at liberty to worship God free from the narrow thoughts of man as long as our doctrine and practices are within the boundaries of the Holy Scripture. What does a “Free Christian” believe. It can vary, depending on one’s level of study, influences, or maturity. One thing for sure, the Scriptures will have the final say on all matters of faith and practice. For me, here is my confession. Continue reading “Confession of a Free Christian”

God Seeks a Prophetic People

Prophetic PeopleThe 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 “God Seeks a Prophetic People”

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit–Discernment or Rejection?

Holy Spirit, Not by mightEveryone seems to have an opinion about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Christian publications, television, conferences and denominations are filled with thoughts, discussions and positions about them. There are usually two sides to this issue. On one side we have wild-eyed false prophets claiming to exercise the gifts while they manipulate and control gullible and ignorant believers. Then on the other side we have spiritually dry intellectuals holding conferences to proclaim that the Holy Spirit doesn’t operate like He did in the New Testament and teaching that all who claim to operate in gifts are under the power of Satan and are not genuine Christians. Wow…are those our only options?

It is easy to get into some dramatic and wild arguments about whether some of the gifts have “ceased” or whether all remain. Discussions about neuter nouns and modifiers in the Greek are all fascinating as men perform linguistic backflips in order to deny God’s gifts for today. (No one would read through the New Testament and arrive at the position that gifts have ceased. It only comes about with linguistic gymnastics by those scared of or predisposed against them.) Equally ridiculous are the silly presentations of the so-called ‘Word of Faith’ cronies making the gifts up under their own carnal desires rather than submitting to God’s Word. (No one would read through the Scriptures and conclude that the charlatans we see on religious TV are under the influence of the Holy Spirit. To do so only comes about through lack of discernment.)

LifeWay research did a survey a couple of years back asking Southern Baptist pastors, “Do you believe that the Holy Spirit gives some people the gift of a special language to pray to God privately?” 50 percent of SBC pastors said “Yes” and 43 percent said “No” while the Continue reading “The Gifts of the Holy Spirit–Discernment or Rejection?”

Evaluating The Value of Modern Mission Trips

Cross and the WorldIn the mind of American Christians, the thought of modern missions usually consists of people dropping $2,000 or more to fly to an overseas mission field and teach kids how to comb their hair or kick a ball. However, it usually includes very little that reflects biblical missions. We leave the field with smiles and tears, but with very few conversions. We come home with the joy of having gone, but with the realization that a lot of money was spent for very little return of spiritual fruit. It seems it has become more about us…about appeasing our conscience over the lack of sacrifice we make for the gospel with our life of luxury. Instead of embracing the cross with all of our life, we offer one week out of the year to do ‘missions.’

For all the money, all the photos, all the hype, what do we really have to show for modern missions? Where is the revival?

Maybe we need to re-evalutate our mission trips and begin getting serious about what they should be in light of the pattern we see in Scriptures. Maybe we need less expensive ‘mission trips,’ and more gospel centered mission ministry. That is, trips which have purpose of equipping believers and reaching people with the gospel through street evangelism and church planting. Trips where fruit of conversions are the focus, and leaders are equipped to mentor believers, instead of just games, toys and western ideas of what outreach is about. Continue reading “Evaluating The Value of Modern Mission Trips”

The Least of These…

childrenprayingDownward mobility. Yes, it flies in the face of those chasing the American Dream. God has never been impressed with our fancy clothes, shiny cars or elaborate homes. He has bigger concerns…the purity of our heart. Why? Because that is where He desires to live and rule. The heart of man is His chosen place to dwell and govern the affairs of life from. He could have chosen any place in the universe or beyond to dwell. And yet, He chooses to dwell in our hearts when we surrender to Him through faith!

It is easy for all of us to get caught up in the rat race of stuff, stuff and more stuff. Accumulating things we don’t need with money we don’t have for egos we shouldn’t hold. But, what if we discovered that the way up is down?

What if Jesus actually meant these words?

“And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth Continue reading “The Least of These…”

Holy Who? – Inviting the Holy Spirit Back into Our Gatherings

Every Sunday morning millions of believers gather in various places around the world for church. However, without the presence of the Holy Spirit they are only club meetings, gossip sessions or fashion shows….but they are NOT Church!

Jesus left the Holy Spirit in charge of the church when He ascended back to the Father. He called men into leadership, but He charged them to do nothing, except wait, until the Holy Spirit took His rightful place among them.

Times have changed, but the Scriptures have not. When we read the New Testament we are driven to our knees in prayer for the same work of God to take place in our generation. We wonder how, when and where the Lord will do it again. We read about revivals from various lands and previous eras, and again we wonder how, when or where will the Lord do it again?

I’m convinced we are asking the wrong questions. Instead, we should ask, “Who?’ Who empowered the saints in the Book of Acts to spread the Gospel with such exponential Continue reading “Holy Who? – Inviting the Holy Spirit Back into Our Gatherings”

The Seduction of the Pulpit

Probably more so than any other generation, there is a strong seduction to the pulpit. The attention, the technology, the lights and the production are all part of the paraphernalia of this addiction. Do it correctly, with some worldly advice and techniques, and leaders can easily have a cult-like following of gawkers who substitute popularity for purity, foolishness for faith, or entertainment for excellence. It is the ‘drug of choice’ by many ‘young guns’ in the church world.

**(I’m not referring to the piece of furniture we call ‘pulpit,’ but to the position of leading. It exists whether someone uses a stool, chair, table or music stand.)

What does this seduction look like? What are some of the earmarks of this addiction? Glad you asked. Here are a couple of them which my older and mature fellow Elders will recognize.

  1. Must have the Sunday Morning Service – The addict lives off of the fact that the crowd came to hear him preach. It gives him value. Yes, the TV and radio broadcasts always feature the same man. (Few escape this one.)
  2. When not present, pipe in messages via internet or live streaming – This is how the megachurch can become the biggest drug dealer. It allows the addict to continually get a fix by over-inflating their importance.
  3. Talk about you and your family’s adventures instead of Scripture – It’s the church’s version of ‘Ozzy and Harriet’ or ‘My Three Sons.’ After all, people need to know about your ‘smoking hot wife’ or your ‘funny little kids’ every week–NOT. Continue reading “The Seduction of the Pulpit”

Has the American Church Missed it?

Statistics show a steady decline in the membership of mainline Protestant churches over the past several decades. Also, it is easy to see the hostile and anti-christian bashing which takes place among the social and media elites. What is going on? Is there something simple and systemically amiss with us? Has the American Church missed it?

Several issues could be mentioned in regards to the answers for the questions I raise. However, one area is becoming more and more clear as we watch American politics and fundraising among American Churches. Here is the issue at hand: We have failed to recognize the difference between culture and the Church.

In America, preachers and “christian celebrities” are always discussing social issues to a lost and un-regenerated culture. After all, book and DVD marketing finds more clients among the consumer driven economy by targeting the largest audience. Therefore, our message has lost the clear dividing line between culture and Church. Here are three issues we need to revisit for developing a mission toward the lost to regain the biblical focus of a New Testament Church.

Continue reading “Has the American Church Missed it?”

ReThinking Church, Part 10 – Biblical Leadership

America was born out of the seed of representation and democracy. It has given us the greatest freedoms of any civilized nation. Of course, baggage and error always comes with liberty and freedom, but that is the price for genuine freedom. Along with the secular government given to us by the trials of the forefathers, there is another pattern given to us. Unfortunately, it was given to the Church. That pattern is that the American church, for the most part, adopted the same forms of secular society and imposed it upon the ecclesiology of the church. Many fellowships take a vote from the local members to decide just about everything, or at the very least, have a board of Deacons who run the church on all matters. (physical and spiritual)

Is this the New Testament pattern? Is this the way Paul and the early apostles established leadership in the expansion of the church? Is this the polity we should use in our local churches?

Upon a casual reading of the NT we find the biblical pattern for church government to be quiet different from the American version. Here are the constants we find throughout the survey of the New Testament.

ReThinking Church, Part 9 – Christianity is NOT a Culture

Continuing our look at ReThinking Church, we find another difference between the modern church from the New Testament norm. It is in the area of culture. Today, especially in the West, there is little room between the Church and culture. In fact, the lines are so blurred that when we send out missionaries, they carry the baggage of the American culture and incorporate them into other cultures. (e.g. buildings with steeples, church furniture, meeting times, religious garments, etc..)

What was the position of the Church in the Scriptures? How did they view culture? What can we deduce from looking at their example of handling the various cultures as they were involved in the exponential expansion of the Faith? What did they understand that we miss?

Let’s answer these questions by stating some observances from Scriptures while ReThinking Church and culture.

  • The Faith is a Message – In the NT the Gospel proclamation is never seen in terms of having its own culture or subculture. Christianity is a message we are to proclaim to and among all cultures… to all nations. (Matt. 28:19; Acts 1:8)
  • Culture Not Transferable – Paul and the Apostles did not take their native Jewish culture and attempt to impose it on the Gentiles. In fact, this is part of what the Jerusalem council was all about. (Act 15)  Continue reading “ReThinking Church, Part 9 – Christianity is NOT a Culture”

ReThinking Church, Part 8 – Church Planting is NOT the Mission

Now, before you have a stroke, let me explain. Of course church planting is part of the overall strategy of evangelism and the spread of the Gospel. However, if we count the establishing or planting of a church as the final goal, we miss the heart of Jesus and the example of the Apostle Paul in the book of Acts.

When church planting becomes the mission, several destructive issues arise.

  • Power Play – Fight over who’s boss (Can involve family ties, social clicks, racial profiling, etc…)
  • Satisfaction – We have arrived.
  • Pride – Look what we have accomplished.
  • Inertia – At ease in Zion.
  • Self Absorbed – Can we build a larger building to impress the community. (Of course, the building is always for the ‘Glory of God.’ …sarcasm intended.)
  • Old Testament Paradigm – Come and hear, as opposed to New Testament model of ‘go and tell.’

The above problems, and many others associated with them, is what we see in the majority of fellowships in America.  However, these all contrast the teachings of Jesus and the outworking of His teachings which are demonstrated through the early church, Continue reading “ReThinking Church, Part 8 – Church Planting is NOT the Mission”