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Monday
Jul302007

Thoughts on my Israel trip

(View all photos here

Going to Israel was the fulfillment of a 37 year old dream. When I first heard God's voice in 1970 I wanted to know everything I could about the Person behind the voice. I knew someday I would visit Israel and God's hometown, Jerusalem. It finally happened.

After a night in Tel Aviv we were off and running on an itinerary that would test all of us. Everywhere we went we had ample opportunity to be overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of revelation of our God and His glory. It was immediately apparent that we had to gather the revelation quickly because the bus was leaving for our next destination. And the next... and the next.

wailing_wall.jpgAfter two days it was time to go to Jerusalem. As we drove up the rise to Jerusalem I suddenly began to quietly weep, sensing that I was finally "home" at my Papa's house. I was going to dine with Him, and that's exactly what happened. The next few days were a buffet of sumptuous experiences too numerous to fully explain, but will provide a lifetime of memories.

The best part of any trip anywhere in the world is the people. My trip to Israel was no different, but this time it was specifically about the Person. He graciously, gently, but persistently revealed Himself no matter what I was doing. I walked where He actually walked and saw things He actually saw. The times where it wasn't certain made no difference; the principles where the same. The Way, the Truth and the Life were with me no matter where I went.

On Sunday I got a chance to share a little bit about this. I am so grateful to all who prayed, to all who supported me financially and to all who truly love me. As I grow in Him and learn to love more adequately I am always humbled by the generosity of God and my fellow man. I pray your investment will pay interest and dividends in the days ahead.

I encourage anyone who would hesitate for a moment to go to Israel to do it... don't even think about it. You will be changed forever. I promise.

And, one last thing. If you fly, even a little, purchase a 1st Class Sleeper. Trust me.

Love,

Pastor Chris

Sunday
Jul152007

Israel Security Warning

Please pray for the safety of all Americans both living and traveling in Israel. The US State Department has issued a warning to Americans to be watchful for suicide bombings targeting Americans and American owned businesses.

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3425324,00.html

Friday
Jul132007

Getting Ready for Israel

It's very strange...going overseas and no itinerary for speaking, praying for people or leadership training. I leave for Israel in three days and nothing is being required of me when I get there except to receive. That's rare. And, I'm looking forward to it.

I've wanted to visit Israel for over forty years. I'm not much of a "tour" person, but this time it's appropriate. There is so much to see in a very short time (ten days) so a tour works well for an introduction to Israel. My prayer is that I'll soon I'll be able to return and go specifically to places the Holy Spirit guides me to and learn what He wants me to learn about Him.

I'm also praying the four days of convention are worth the time...I'm not really a "convention" person either. But, I'm optimistic about this one due to the location and the time in history. And, being a Foursquare pastor I should know where our leaders are leading us. And, every convention day we'll be touring in the afternoons so that's a plus.

If it sounds like I'm not too excited don't let me give that impression. I am extremely exicted, but there is a seriousness to this trip. In my spirit I anticipate many revelations of Him while I'm there. Personal revelations. Personal ministry to me. Personal healing. Personal freedom in new arenas. I can't imagine walking where Jesus walked and not being overwhelmed at times by intimate revelations that bring me closer to Him.

I hope to have internet access daily so please check in often to see what's happening.

Friday
Jun292007

Casting Out Demons

For the past five weeks I've been teaching on casting out demons. The level of interest in this part of Christ's ministry is growing and the need is greater than ever. I'm up to Part V and next week we begin a time of practical "hands-on" ministry. (All sessions will be available for download soon.)

The church I was raised in taught that the ministry of casting out demons was not needed anymore. Many prominent radio and TV preachers teach the same thing. Apparently they've either never been overseas of they live a very sheltered Christian life. Jesus commanded His disciples to cast out demons. He has never rescinded that command. Jesus said:

Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in My name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. - John 14:11-13 (NIV)

You'll notice that anyone who believes in Him will do what He has been doing, and even greater things. What had Jesus been doing? He was doing exactly what His Father told Him to do:

  1. Preach the Good News
  2. Heal the sick
  3. Cast out demons
  4. Raise the dead 

Just before Jesus ascended into heaven He commanded His disciples:

Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." - Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)

We are to teach new disciples everything that Jesus taught His first disciples.

You'll notice that Jesus said He would be with them always. He told them before they went out into the world to wait in Jerusalem for the promised Holy Spirit. Once He came they were to go. This is how He went "with them". The Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom! 

That's why casting out demons is really a ministry of the Holy Spirit, just as all the "gifts" listed in 1 Corinthians 12 are. They are manifestations of His Spirit through the body of Christ. This is how Jesus works with the church as mentioned in Mark 16:

After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was taken up into heaven and He sat at the right hand of God. Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed His word by the signs that accompanied it. - Mark 16:19,20 (NIV)

He worked with them and confirmed His word by the signs that accompanied it. Powerful. Glorious. Effective.

Paul said that the Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but power. He warned us of those that have a form of godliness but deny its power. There are millions (if not billions) that need deliverance from the prince of this world. By the power of the Holy Spirit this is possible, first by receiving Christ as their Savior and then having all the lingering effects of Satan's past involvement in their lives done away with. For those who believe and do what Jesus says it becomes a normal part of everyday ministry. Denying it or ignoring it leaves the multitudes in bondage.

Jesus said that we would know the Truth and that the Truth would set us free. But is that what He really said?

To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, "If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." -  John 8:31,32 (NIV)

Jesus said that He is the Truth. He will set us free. He has many weapons at His disposal to accomplish this. One is for us to hold to His teachings and not the teachings of men or of this world. If we hold to His teachings we will be free. One of those teachings (part of His mission and our great commission) is to cast out demons.

All the manifestations of His Spirit are available to all who believe and have been baptized in the Holy Spirit because the Spirit of God empowers them. There is nothing you cannot do as you listen to the Lord and do what He says. Why? Because He is the one doing the work through you as you obey Him. Simple. Don't get hung up on what your "gifts" are. That's a trap. The true gift is the Holy Spirit. He is the Gift of God. Humble yourself and He can do anything He chooses through you.

Tuesday
Jun262007

I'll Do It My Way

Frank Sinatra sang a song called, "My Way" with a line that said, "I did it my way". A significant (and influential) part of the body of Christ called the "Emerging Church" is singing the same song with a slight change: "I'll do it my way".

The Holy Spirit of the Living God was sent by God to lead the body in The Way, His way. Many in the body of Christ, however, are like teens in a "progressive" family that think they have a better idea: They'll lead the way. To anyone that has lived a few years past puberty this is frustrating because mature people know where this leads and how it is going to end up: Badly.

And what a waste of time. Disrespect for those who have gone ahead of us is epidemic and Paul referred to this as "terrible". But, the main reason for this is one of the most devastating failures of the boomer generation: we are not "Fathering" the current generation. Instead of being spiritual Fathers in the Lord we are trying to be "team players" and even worse, "friends". Therefore the "Emerging Church" is looking for Fathers and it's predictable where they are finding them.

The boomers forgot to disciple the next generation and now the current generation is repeating old errors and running after those things that stimulate the flesh but don't follow after the Spirit. There is no discernment and if they don't get some they're being set up for a devastating falling away from God's ways and therefore His blessings. We have not taught them the fear of the Lord. The "Fathers" they are finding are leading them back to Egypt (bondage) and not the Promised Land (freedom).

So, what's the solution? Returning to what Jesus said is a reasonable place to start. Repent. Stop doing what you want to do and find out what God wants you to do. Ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom and understanding so that you may know Him better. Read His Word. Pray and pray some more. Hang around mature, spiritually discerning Christians. Ask questions. Humble yourself. Be a disciple.

What a concept.

If we don't disciple this generation the devil will.

I want to challenge anyone reading this to first be a disciple of Jesus Christ and then ask God to bring you people to disciple. If you have no one to disciple you pray that God will lead you to a competent mentor. If nothing seems to be happening email me and I'll try to help you until God brings the right person.

I know this: until we become disciples and then begin making disciples we face a dim future. But, with God, all things are possible.

Trust Him. Listen to Him. Do what He says. It will go well with you. He knows what He's doing.

And, He knows the future.

Friday
Jun222007

"Emerging" Christianity

This is the first in a series of postings on the "emerging" church.

The "emerging" church is as close to heresy as anything I've seen in the past forty years. That may seem dramatic but hang in there. It gets worse.

I first heard of this a few years ago when a past member of our church emailed me with concerns about the church she was attending. She was very concerned about some new "practices" the Pastor was introducing and wanted my opinion. She began to explain the changes in detail and when she was done I couldn't believe she was describing a church. It sounded more like your basic New Age coffee house only with a sinister twist: everything was being done to "help deepen the member's experience with Christ".

Having grown up in the 60's & 70's my antenna were way up. I have vivid memories of the wave that went through the church called the Jesus People, The Way, Jesus Freaks and the newly formed charismatic movement. I remember the turmoil that pastor's faced and the dilemma of their nice neat-and-folded church members all of a sudden being energized for Jesus. And this was a real move of God. But, as with every move of God, the end slowly comes. People forget why the move happened in the first place and "new" things begin to replace the "old", the things that actually made the movement the movement it was:  The Holy Spirit. And that's what's happening with the "emerging" church.

The Holy Spirit isn't good enough any more.

Before the charismatic move, decades of death had been creeping into the mainline churches, most of which were founded in great moves of God in years past. But, now the Holy Spirit was back! The layperson in the pew had the opportunity to experience God first-hand without the need for pastor, priest, liturgy or anything. It rocked the foundation of organized religion. Welcome to the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Years have passed and now it seems the Holy Spirit isn't good enough any more. People have slumped back into their Christian easy-chair lives and are hungry again for "something" and non-discerning leaders are eager to serve up something "new", which is really something very, very old. And very, very dangerous: the Emerging Church.

How does one define something that at a closer look is a many-headed beast? Here's an example:

"Faith comes by seeing images, touching icons, smelling incense, and hearing chants and liturgical recitations; then the "word" follows. Leonard Sweet calls it 'EPIC culture: Experiential, Participatory, Image-Driven, Connected.' Post-moderns require such stimulation to experience God. Images of Jesus hanging on the cross are very common. So are icons of Mary and baby Jesus.

"The emerging church embraces multi-sensory worship.  Leaders of the emerging church say the ideas and beliefs of the early church fathers (100 AD to 600AD) are important and these teachings from the past will bring spiritual transformation and success to churches in the 21st century.

"Stimulating images that provide spiritual experiences are an essential element of the emerging church. While many are bewildered why their churches are darkening their sanctuaries and setting up prayer stations with candles, incense and icons, the promoters of the emerging church movement say they know exactly what they are doing. Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Fellowship explains: Everything in the service needs to preach - architecture, lighting, songs, prayers, fellowship, the smell - it all preaches. All five senses must be engaged to experience God." (Taken from Faith Undone by Roger Oakland)

Sound familiar? As George Burns once said, "It's been done."

Engaging the "five senses" is a simple swap for the previous engagement of the Holy Spirit. Simple as that. The Holy Spirit is out and the five senses are "in". It makes a discerning man shudder.

And...if you're asking yourself, "So what's the big problem?", you've got a problem.

Returning to the "old ways" to enlighten the church of the 21st century is like going back to horse and buggy to enlighten Toyota Prius owners. It may have some "old world" charm but it won't get the job done. This nostalgic hankering for the past will not enlighten anyone's future. Only the one and only Holy Spirit is capable of that.

So, don't give up on the Holy Spirit quite yet. He hasn't given up...in fact, He's just getting started!

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