Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Where are the Prophets???

Where are the Prophets?
This is a question that has haunted me for years. I’ve been in a number of church contexts, but seldom have I seen churches where the ministry of the prophet was not only tolerated, but welcomed and viewed as essential.
I get the people who buy into cessationism, rejecting the continuing work of the Holy Spirit displayed in Acts, and along with it the continuity of Ephesians 4 callings other than evangelist, pastor and teacher. (although I vehemently disagree with this position). What I don’t get are the so-called Ephesians 4 ministries that appropriately see the need for apostles, but prophets are nowhere to be found. Where is the consistency in that? Anyway, over the past year, the Lord has blessed me with friends who are prophets, and I’ve also enjoyed the ministry of other men with prophetic mantles. One experience that stands out to me happened back in the Fall of 2008. Newfrontiers USA held an Acts 13 Conference with a theme of apostles and prophets working together. During that conference a man named Julian Adams delivered a penetrating word on “The Prophetic Ministry of the Church”. This message had a profound impact on my understanding of why a number of church situations I had previously been involved in seemed to have no remedy. It also helped me to understand the burden I’ve carried in my heart for so many years. (More on this one day).
So without further setup, I urge you to follow this link to listen to Julian’s sermon. And as always, I welcome your feedback on specifically how the Lord used it to speak in your life, and what you will do as a result.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Apostolic Preaching

If you are a regular with this blog, you know I am currently making my way through "In the Day of Thy Power" from Arthur Wallis. His godly, biblical insight is a refreshing salve in a religious atmosphere of easy believism and "corporate Christianity". This work is having an enormous impact on my vision and perspective on the work of the Lord, and as a result, my prayer life. Along the way there are sections that are simply too irresistable to not share, so here's the latest.

I'm currently in Chapter 6, "Distinctive Features". In this chapter discussing revival, Wallis refers to 'apostolic preaching':

"It was said that Charles Finney in dealing with souls had a fixed principle never to tell a man how to get right with God until he could not longer look him in the face. Only when his conscience had been so thoroughly awakened that he hung his head in shame over his sin, did he consider that he was ripe to be told the way of salvation. We may say that Finney went too far, but do we go far enough? It is vain to urge men to go to the Physician so long as they remain unconvinced that they are dangerously ill. A Puritan writer, Thomas Goodwin, remarked in this connection, "Traitors must be convicted and condemned ere they are capable of a legal pardon; as sentence must be pronounced before a legal appeal can be made.". When we try to foist a pardon on the rebel who has not been apprehended or convicted, we invite him to trample it underfoot."

Later Wallis talks about "anointed preaching":

"It was said of Gilbert Tennent, a contemporary of Jonathan Edwards, and mightily used in the New England Revival, "He seemd to have no regard to please the eyes of his hearers with agreeable gesture, nor their ears with delivery, nor their fancy with language; but to aim directly at their hearts and consciences, to lay open their ruinous delusions, show them their numerous, secret, hypocritical shifts in religion, and drive them out of every deceitful refuge wherein they made themselves easy, with the form of godliness without the power.... His preaching was frequently both terrible and searching." (Prince's Christian History)."

... and of Christ-centered preaching:

"It will be seen that these features constantly emphasize what has already been remarked, that revival does not lead us forward to fresh stunts or unexplored methods to make the gospel more atractive and acceptable, but back to the old and often disused paths of apostolic evangelism. Would we be ready for revival? - then let us "ask for the old paths, where is the good way and walk therin" (Jer 6:16). Where the Spirit of God is in complete control there is an inevitable return to the simple methods of the first century, and great is the surprise of many to discover that they not only still work, but that they still work the best. They are in fact the only channels capable of carrying the mighty rivers of blessing let loose in revival."


Friday, April 17, 2009

If We Start with the Bible...

My friend Doug Robinson in Cleveland sent a link for this sermon last night. My wife and I have spent the morning listening and were blown away! Francis Chan communicates everything I believe about BEING the church as opposed to "having church". Already, since passing this on to my closest friends, a pastor friend of mine here in Charlotte is strongly considering playing this Sunday morning.

You can watch the sermon here. A church promotional video and Francis Chan's announcements are at the beginning of the video, so the actual message begins at about 22 minutes in.

Based on what we hear in this sermon, I believe the Lord would want us to ask Him, "what are you calling me to do?" After asking Him that question, I'd love for you to post His answer to you under comments.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Source... and End of Revival

My reading of "In the Day of Thy Power" by Arthur Wallis continues to stir me to seek the Lord for revival. So I could not resist the temptation to share another very provocative portion of this book with you. This comes from "Distinctive Features", Chapter 5 of "In the Day..."

If we asked some who have truly believed, "Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye believed?" (Acts 19:2) they would have to confess, "We don't know about the Holy Spirit", or "We thought that He was the same as Christ". How seldom is that gracious unseen Presence truly recognized, relied upon, or given His rightful place in the church which He established. How often is He grieved and hindered because the people of God prefer human organizations and the methods of the world, to that which costs more than money to secure - His own gracious presence and power. But revival ever brings a fresh emphasis upon the person and work of the Holy Spirit. It is a time when believers thirst and are filled, and when the Spirit Himself reasserts His rights, and is given the reins in the worship and service of the church.

So revival has its repercussions even in the realm of the Triume God. It is a time when the rights of humanity give way to the rights of Deity. "God is not only the source of revival - 'Wilt Thou not revive us again?' - but He is also the end of revival - 'that Thy people may rejoice in Thee' (Ps. 85:6 A.V.). Revival comes from God and leads to God, that He may be 'all in all', and that man may learn that of himself he is nothing" (Philip Hughes). Here is the transcendent effect of all revival, and the fulfilment of its highest purpose: "The loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be brought low: and THE LORD ALONE SHALL BE EXALTED IN THAT DAY" (Isa. 2:17) If we have a jealous desire for the glory of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, should we not all be thirsting for revival?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Revival... or Bust!

"The world of mankind has not advanced by evolution but by revolution;..." P.V. Jenness

It is good to be back with you again. Time permits from posting as much as I would like. There is so much the Lord is doing in, through, and around me in this season of life. I hope to share some of those developments in the very near future.

I continue to marvel at the chorus of hunger and thirst for the Lord that the Father is stirring among His people. So many people are so tired of just going through mindless (and Spiritless) religious motions. In that atmosphere there are a few options. We can choose the path of bitterness and cynicism and reject "the church" altogether. We can also be so jaded, faithless and discouraged that we just keep "riding the treadmill", in hopes that someone will just pull the plug and let us off. The optimum choice is to choose the path of Revival and Restoration. We can choose to be thermostats rather than thermometers. We can lay hold of the Lord and not let Him go until...

Along those lines, through Terry Virgo's writing's I've been turned onto the works of Arthur Wallis. I've read "The Radical Christian" several times. (the link for this entire book is to the right under "OK New Forest") Now I'm reading "In the Day of Thy Power". What else can I say but "wow!" Here are just a few short samples that stirred me a great deal today from Chapter 4 of this book, "This is the Purpose":

"Revival as a method of God's working may be justified from the standpoint of divine strategy, first to counteract spiritual decline, and then to create spiritual momentum."

"... in times of spiritual declension there is perhaps nothing more calculated to stay the rot, wean the heart from earth and attract it to heaven, and produce spiritual steadfastness than to experience such a mighty work of God. Again and again, spiritual situations and conditions that seemed beyond recovery have been transformed by such a working of the Spirit. One recalls the pithy definition of revival as "the inrush of the Spirit into a body that threatens to become a corpse"! (D.M. Panton). If counteracting spiritual decline was the only purpose achieved by God in such seasons, His method would be abundantly justified. It is after all but the sound military principle that the best method of defence is attack."

Monday, April 6, 2009

Seeds of Revolution: A Preamble

As I have more diligently prayed about this site, I’ve sensed the Lord leading me to go beyond documenting what the Father is doing in our church, church planting family and the body at large. Call to Revolution is an extension of a prophetic message. The purpose is to spread that message and trust the Lord to ignite the vision he is renewing in His people to pray into Revival and Restoration.
I believe Revival is a Sovereign work of a loving God who will answer the cries of His people in His time for an extraordinary outpouring of His Spirit in power. But even as we pray for true revival, we all must be about the work of Restoration. In most cases, the work the Lord wants to do cannot be contained in the “old wineskins” most of us attempt to walk within.
For those of you most familiar with this site, or those who know me best are aware that my life has been profoundly impacted by the ministry of Terry Virgo, especially over the past 18 months. Much of what the Lord has been teaching me over the years was written about in his book “Restoration in the Church”. If you have not read it, please order it today and begin reading what I believe is an apostolic and prophetic blueprint of what the Lord is doing around the globe. In fact, the first major value of Newfrontiers, the church planting ministry Virgo pioneered, is “Restoring the Church”. Implicit in this value is the conviction that we’ve drifted off course and ceased to be who He’s called us to be and walk in the way He’s called us to walk.
But before we get into structure, let me make one thing crystal clear. First and foremost we need more of JESUS! There’s an abundance of religion and church in our land, but the compelling and passionate life of Jesus is not so easy to come by. One scripture the Lord has consistently stirred in my heart is in Matthew 5:6. He says:
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
As I meditated on this during a late night prayer walk moments ago, the Spirit of the Lord prompted me with something powerful, that a hunger and thirst for righteousness is… hunger and thirst for JESUS! Jeremiah 33:16 says ‘The LORD is our righteousness” It is He who we hunger and thirst for. And I believe this is THE plumb line for everything we are and do as true followers of Jesus and as churches. Everything should revolve around getting more of Him!
Now I must meddle. This means our highest pursuit should not be a consumer oriented approach to church. What should draw us to a body of believers above all else is a clear sense that God is there and that above all else there is an insatiable desire and pursuit for MORE OF HIM! This should begin with the leadership of the church. If you’re where you are simply because of good preaching, or the children’s ministry, or the youth program, or any other program for that matter, or all of the above, you may have given up your birthright for a bowl of soup… a lukewarm one at that.
What was the Psalmist captured by in the temple of old? Was it the building or the ceremony or any human element? No! He was preoccupied with one thing!
Psalm 63:1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.

His soul was desperate for the Father, for his power and glory! That was the only true source of his satisfaction. He FOUND God’s power and glory? Have we? Or are we simply content to “go to church”? Does God really show up, or do we just go through the motions and find contentment in “doing church”? I would argue that most of us American Christians live lives that are supernaturally deficient. And I would go a step further and contend that most of us live lives that are even substandard by OLD TESTAMENT standards! Look at the story of God’s people and how God’s hand was so clearly visible in their journey, visible to them… and to the unbelieving world around them. (Remember the fear of God Israel’s neighbors experienced after hearing of God’s mighty works on behalf of His people?)
Now I don’t know about you, but I want much more of this in our midst than I currently see. People who know me have probably heard me express a longing for genuine, authentic New Testament life that looks more like that revealed in the book of Acts. I believe the Lord wants to do just that, but the gentlemanly Holy Spirit will not force that on us. We can be content to live with “what is” and most of the church world will walk in lockstep with us, or we can dare to boldly ask, and seek, and knock, until heaven’s glory falls upon us so we can truly walk out the life of Jesus so the world can see Him.
In Acts 1:1, Luke tell us in the previous book in his name he recorded “all that Jesus began to do and teach”. Isn’t it fitting that this kicks off the story of the church? The church is the continuation of the life of Jesus! He called us to continue that life IN US! That’s where the essence of Restoration begins. We must set our sights there. What was his life? Was there teaching? Yes. Was there discipleship? Yes. But it wasn’t words alone. Our Savior came in power! Jesus walked in the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit… the same Holy Spirit He gives to His church to empower our mission.
Do these words burn in your heart? Do you long to see God’s glory fall: in our prayer closets, in our small group meetings, in our Sunday gatherings? If this is your passion, cry out to God and begin asking for this, with people who share that desperation. I love when Paul spoke of false teachers troubling the church in Corinth. Paul sought the Lord for the opportunity to come to set things straight. He was ready to walk in the authority the Lord gave Him. Did he threaten to come and debate theology with these men? A thousand times no. He said this:
For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power (I Corinthians 4:20)
With that, there’s really nothing more to say other than this. I want to see the Lord reveal His glory in our midst and show us His power, and I’m not willing to settle for anything less. How about you?