Minggu, 23 November 2008
GETTING LOOSE FROM A RELIGIOUS MIND
A few years ago I worked closely in ministry with a young man named George Johnson. George had only been converted for a short time when he received the baptism in the Holy Spirit and began to move freely in spiritual gifts. He soon became an ardent soul winner and an effective minister of the Gospel.
One thing that caught my attention was his absolute freedom from religion. He didn't use the "churchy" phrases or the King James English. He didn't weigh everything to see if it fit into his denomination's doctrinal statement. He never attended Bible school or seminary. He didn't change the tone of his voice when he prayed in public, but talked to God with honor and respect just as he would talk to a close friend. He had more liberty and power in his ministry than I did in mine and I had been a minister for 20 years before he ever became a Christian!
Over a period of time I became aware of many areas of my life in which I had become "religious minded." It had built so slowly and subtly within me that I had not realized what was happening to me.
I had been a Baptist for many years but I had always seen myself as being more open-minded than most of my brother pastors. However, I soon discovered that I had a Baptist mind. I looked at things as a Baptist does and not necessarily as God does.
As I sought the Lord in prayer and in His Word, He began to teach me about the perils of a religious mind.
It was a religious mind that blinded the Pharisees and made it impossible for them to recognize God when they came face to face with Him in the person of Jesus Christ.
It was religion that drove Saul of Tarsus to persecute the very God he was seeking to serve.
It was in the name of religion that Jesus was crucified; "Blasphemy!" cried the religious leaders, "Crucify Him!!"
It was the religious mind that was disturbed and angered when Jesus healed a woman on the Sabbath Day, whom Satan had bound for 18 years.
King Saul became religious when he spared King Agag and the fattest of the cattle. The prophet thundered his disapproval, "Does God have as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as He does in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than to sacrifice and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry." (I Sam. 15:22-23)
We can never substitute religious works for simple obedience. To God there is no difference between "religious things" and "secular things" because "all things" concerning our daily lives are naked and open to Him, and at every moment we are either in the center of his will or we are doing our own thing in the strength of the flesh.
The brazen serpent which was at one time an instrument of God's deliverance, became a snare to the people when they lifted it up and burned incense to it. (II Kings 13:4) If we try to program the present move of God or reduce it to a formula to use later, we are lifting up a brazen serpent. We must flow with what God is doing now! He has not led us to burn incense to memories of the past, but continue to flow with the River of Life that is flowing now!
Man tends to build monuments to spiritual experiences and deify doctrine rather than to feel comfortable with a simple walk with God in the Spirit.
On the Mt. of Transfiguration after a tremendous spiritual experience, Peter said, "Let us build three tabernacles!" God rebuked Peter's "good idea" and then underscored the one thing that is needful: "THIS IS MY BELOVED SON . . . HEAR HIM!"
Don't marry your church, your denomination, your Bible, your books, your tapes, your orthodoxy, your own understanding! Your Husband is Jesus! Worship Him!
Suppose I got all enamored with my wife's letters, her pictures, her clothes, her cooking, her sewing, and never spent time with her? We must never lift up a brazen serpent of worship, prayer, fasting, church attendance, tithing, witnessing, giving, or working. These are only channels of deliverance and communion. They are not God!
The spiritual mind is God's answer to the religious mind. "He that has ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches."
"Corban" was a religious word in the time of Jesus. It meant "An offering to God, in fulfillment of a vow." The phrase was often used to avoid fulfilling the obligation of children to their parents. If a person said "Corban", it meant that he was no longer obligated by law to help his parents because he had dedicated his material wealth to God. Jesus said to the religious leaders of his day, "And many things like this you are doing." (Mark 7:11-13)
Peter' s religious observance of a past word from God would have made it impossible for him to go to the home of Cornelius if he had not changed his mind and said "Yes" to present guidance. (Acts 10)
God is shaking me loose from strictly formulated doctrinal positions, neat formulas, air tight theologies, iron-clad rules, rituals, laws, and principles, and is crowding me into a corner. And when I get fully and completely and helplessly crowded into that corner there will be nothing there except . . . me and Jesus!
A Declaration of Unity
I belong to everything that belongs to Jesus and everything that belongs to Jesus belongs to me! It's not us and them. It's just us! There's only one Body of Christ, and the problems of the church, the whole church, are our problems, for we are the church and we can do more united than we can do divided! So let's unify, simplify, and multiply!
Divine Appointment Prayer
Father, give me a divine appointment today with someone who is hungry for God, or sick, or in need, and give me grace to minister the love of Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Living to Give
Father, make me a generous giver today! Show me where to give, what to give, how much to give, and let all my giving bring glory to the name of Jesus.
The law demands, demands demands, but gives me neither feet nor hands
Now Grace and Truth are better things, they bid me fly and give me wings!
Selasa, 11 November 2008
Poverty - Roots and Fruits
The Sound of Poverty - I want to suggest a simple axiom that will help us understand why it's hard to let go of poverty in both theology and practice. "If we believe we're inherently sinful it's nearly impossible to believe that God would want us to be successful in promotions or finances or influence or mountains." Success would simply be a platform for greater levels of sinfulness. To make this point stick, I want to share a couple of paragraphs I received in a newsletter this week. Listen to the tone.
Worshipping Success - Though you may find it hard to believe, there is an addiction more subtle and more powerful than either drugs or pornography. It’s older than prostitution, more prevalent than alcohol, more addictive than cocaine. It doesn’t discriminate between male and female, black or white, young or old, rich or poor. Its strength is greater than all other addictions combined. It’s as rampant in the Church as it is in the world. It leaves the body unscathed but destroys the soul. The vast majority of people addicted have little if any understanding of its power or perils.
The history of the worship of success dates back to Lucifer, the rebellious archangel who wanted to relegate God to a subordinate role and take the ‘top gun’ position for himself. This desire for success soon spread throughout the earth like a cancer, reaching its pinnacle with mankind seeking to build a tower and to make for themselves a name. What a contrast in attitudes we find between Genesis 11 and 12. Chapter 11 exposes man striving for recognition, while chapter 12 we find God promising humble Abraham that He would make his name great.
We could also add a verse:
People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 1 Tim 6:9-10 NIV
Why Choose Poverty! - Both the exhortation in the paragraphs and the Paul's warning have their place. However, what we've received in our hearts from an overemphasis on those warnings produced a foundation for poverty in our lives. Those words are so strong that we would never risk success at the possible expense of our salvation. We view ourselves as too sin-oriented to ever trust ourselves with success. We dial our initiative back to just waiting for God (or someone else) to do something so we can flow with it. Our only goal is to stay in the boat - no walking on water.
Responsibility is Key to Spiritual Success - We've often heard that it's easier to get God's people out of Egypt than to get Egypt out of God's people. It's very true. Israel wandered 40 years in a desert that could have been crossed in a couple of weeks at a leisurely walk. The "slave mentality" left the people wanting others to do everything for them. They wouldn't take responsibility; they stuck with their programming to: 1) do as they were told, 2) expect someone else to take care of them, and 3) complain about the whole process.
Slaves will not fight for themselves or for God; they cannot be trusted in spiritual warfare. Although Israel was armed with the weapons for battle when they left Egypt they didn't have the mind for it. Sadly - that describes the present, passive state of many believers today. We have the armor, but not the attitude.
When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, "If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt." 18 So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle. Ex 13:17-18 NIV
Caleb had a different spirit. He was willing to take responsibility to inherit his land. He was anything but passive. He didn't expect anyone else to fight his battles for him even when he was 85.
But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it. Num 14:23-24 NIV
So here I am today, eighty-five years old! 11 I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I'm just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. 12 Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day. Josh 14:10-12 NIV
Maturity Is? - Contrary to popular belief, spiritual maturity comes when we are willing to say yes to success. We're not called to be monks; we're called to take mountains! We not only have to agree to the possibility of success, we have to take the steps to make it happen ourselves. This may surprise you, but God will not hand your inheritance to you until you have the stomach to kill some giants and the ability to manage finances. Yes, it's yours in the will of God, but God is waiting for you to show some initiative. That's how real spiritual maturity works. The idea that God does it all while we believe and pray and obey is simply a false concept rooted in poverty theology... Good for slaves - bad for Kings.
It's your responsibility before God to manage your inheritance and make your dream come true. Slaves will wait and murmur and try to sound spiritual doing it; you cannot. You are a steward of the dream in your heart. God expects you to use wisdom, management, finances, business plans, and take some risks to make it happen. His favor will follow your initiative. You won't get guidance on every detail. God has left many decisions to your free will. How specific is, "Be fruitful and multiply"? You're created in His image to have dominion over the earth and you carry His will in your heart.
So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them,"Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion... Gen 1:27-28 NKJV
PS: You're going to experience a few setbacks along the way. It's OK. Keep going. Learn from your mistakes. Take responsibility for your success in the Kingdom.
John & Sue
Senin, 03 November 2008
by Various Authors www.revivalschool.com
"The greatest wisdom on this earth is holiness."
- W.S. Plumer
"We fear men so much because we fear God so little. One fear cures another. When man's terror scares you, turn your thoughts to the wrath of God." - William Gurnall
"Temptations, when we meet them at first, are as the lion that reared upon Samson; but if we overcome them, the next time we see them we shall find a nest of honey within them." - John Bunyan
"Making heaven on earth is our business." - William Booth
"If your faith can't be tested, it can't be trusted."
"When filled with holy truth the mind rests." - C.H. Spurgeon
"If we look carefully within ourselves, we shall find that there are certain limits beyond which we refuse to go in offering ourselves to God. We hover around these reservations, making believe not to see them, for fear of self-reproach. The more we shrink from giving up any such reserved point, the more certain it is that it needs to be given up. If we were not fast bound by it, we should not make so many efforts to persuade ourselves that we are free."
- François Fénelon
"Is what you're living for worth Christ's dying for?"
- Epitaph of Leonard Ravenhill
"One life to live
and soon it will be past.
Only things done for Christ
will ever truly last." - unknown
"Some people complain that God placed thorns on roses, while others praise him for putting roses among thorns." - unknown
"Actors speak of things imaginary as if they were real, while you preachers too often speak of things real as if they were imaginary."
- Thomas Betterton
"Pray hardest when it is hardest to pray." - Charles H. Brent
"Don't be afraid of tomorrow -- God is already there." - unknown
"Your character is who you are when no one but God is watching you."
"The Sunday morning service shows how popular your church is.
The evening services show how popular your pastor is.
Your private prayer time shows you how popular God is!"
- Leonard Ravenhill
"And When I am dying,
how happy I'll be,
If the lamp of my life
has been burned out for Thee."
- Author Unknown
"The men that will change the colleges and seminaries here represented are the men that will spend the most time alone with God. It takes time for the fires to burn. It takes time for God to draw near and for us to know that He is there. It takes time to assimilate His truth. You ask me, How much time? I do not know.
I know it means time enough to forget time." - John Mott
"When thou prayest, rather let thy heart be without words, than thy words without a heart." - John Bunyan
'If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the Word of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Him. Where the battle rages there the loyalty of the soldier is proved and to be steady on all the battle front besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.' - Martin Luther
"If you don't plan to live the Christian life totally committed to knowing your God and to walking in obedience to Him, then don't begin; for this is what Christianity is all about. It is a change of citizenship, a change of governments, a change of allegiance. If you have no intention of letting Christ rule your life, then forget Christianity; it's not for you." - K. Arthur
"Our murmuring is the devil's music." - Thomas Watson
"Upon a life I did not live, upon a death I did not die; another's life, another's death, I stake my whole eternity." - Horatius Bonar
"Preach abroad! It is the cooping yourselves up in rooms that has dampened the work of God, which never was and never will be carried out to any purpose without going into the highways and hedges and compelling men and women to come in."
- Jonathan Edwards.
"No sort of defense is needed for preaching outdoors, but it would take a very strong argument to prove that a man who has never preached beyond the walls of his meetinghouse has done his duty.
A defense is required for services within buildings rather than for worship outside of them." - William Booth
"The true man of God is heartsick, grieved at the worldliness of the Church...grieved at the toleration of sin in the Church, grieved at the prayerlessness in the Church. He is disturbed that the corporate prayer of the Church no longer pulls down the strongholds of the devil." - Leonard Ravenhill
"One hundred religious persons knit into a unity by careful organization do no constitute a church any more than eleven dead men make a football team. The first requisite is life, always."
- A. W. Tozer
"It is God's way to let ministers try all their strength first, and then He Himself comes and subdues the hearts they cannot."
- Jonathan Edwards
"A man full of hope will be full of action." - Thomas Brooks
"We have the truth and we need not be afraid to say so."
- J.C. Ryle
"Finney preached, and sometimes the whole congregation would get up and leave! That's good preaching." - Leonard Ravenhill