Showing posts with label Holy Spirit. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Holy Spirit. Show all posts

Thursday

Decently and In Order


“On the day Pentecost was being fulfilled, all the disciples were gathered in one place.  Suddenly they heard the sound of a violent blast of wind rushing into the house from out of the heavenly realm. The roar of the wind was so overpowering it was all anyone could bear!  Then all at once a pillar of fire appeared before their eyes. It separated into tongues of fire that engulfed each one of them.  They were all filled and equipped with the Holy Spirit and were inspired to speak in tongues—empowered by the Spirit to speak in languages they had never learned! …

When the people of the city heard the roaring sound, crowds came running to where it was coming from, stunned over what was happening, because each one could hear the disciples speaking in his or her own language.  Bewildered, they said to one another, “Aren’t these all Galileans? … Yet we hear them speaking of God’s mighty wonders in our own dialects!”  They all stood there, dumbfounded and astonished, saying to one another, “What is this phenomenon?”

But others poked fun at them and said, “They’re just drunk on new wine.”

Peter stood up with the eleven apostles and shouted to the crowd. “Listen carefully, my fellow Jews and residents of Jerusalem. You need to clearly understand what’s happening here.  These people are not drunk like you think they are, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning.”

This [Acts 2, TPT] is what happened at the first gathering of the saints after Jesus left for Heaven. That was quite a meeting. Functionally, it would be hard to distinguish this “church service” from a riot in the streets. This was not tidy.


By the Law of First Mention – this being that first meeting where the Holy Spirit shows up – this meeting is our standard for when the Holy Spirit shows up in our midst.

This is the Scriptural precedent for 1 Corinthians 14:40: “All things should be done decently and in order.” [RSV]

This is what Holy Spirit considers “decently and in order” when he comes among us.

Let everything be done decently and in order. 




Anointed Worship: What Does That Really Mean?

I had an interesting revelation recently. I’d like your take on it. This might be a little convoluted, so follow close here. This took me down unfamiliar paths; perhaps they’ll be new ideas to you as well.

I was worshipping in the morning, and I was using a track from one of my favorite worship bands. The track was a very popular worship song: everybody and their bass player has covered it.

I found myself drawn into that place of intimate worship. I was thankful for such an anointed song to help lead me into the place of the sacrifice of worship. 

And it began to dawn on me that yes, there was an anointing here, but it wasn’t on the song. Hmm. Yes? Tell me more. 

I considered for a while the possibility that some songs might not carry an anointing on them, but people using the song for anointed purposes still produces an anointing.

That didn’t quite fit right. Why would this song be anointed, and that song not be anointed? (Yeah, I know: there are answers for this, but that’s not the path my meditation took this morning.) Might the anointing on a song vary with the anointing on the songwriter? Or the anointing present during the songwriting.

Then I recognized a feeling in my spirit: That’s not the right path; you’re getting distracted. (Have you ever played “hot & cold” [“You’re getting warmer…..”] when your parents or someone hid something for you to find? We did that with Easter eggs. This was like that.)

So I backed off and just listened in my spirit, watched to see what Holy Spirit might be highlighting for me.

After a bit, I realized that while He uses songs, it’s not songs that He anoints. Hmm.

The infinitely personal Spirit of the Immortal God doesn’t anoint melodies or harmonies with His presence, nor lyrics, though he’s quite happy to use them all. He doesn’t anoint the guitar solo, or the percussion mix, or the click track. It’s not the song’s arrangement, or the engineer’s mix of the song or use of equalization and reverb that carries God’s presence. Neither is it the choice of instruments nor the choice of microphones. It’s not the physical CD, or the data of the .mp3 or .wav file that He anoints.

God anoints people. God’s anointing is on people (and Biblically, you can make a case that he’s not all that particular about which people, believers or not), not on people’s tools. My tool is mine; God doesn’t typically anoint my stuff. God anoints what’s his: you and me.

I’m still working through the question of whether God anoints the tasks that we do; for the moment I think not, that His anointing is on people as they do the tasks, but the jury is still out on that one.

And here’s where it gets personal. This means – if I’m understanding His heart correctly – that when I sense God’s anointing on a worship song, as I did in this morning, that I’m mistaken.

I can think of a couple of directions that could go:

  • I’m pretty sure that very often what I mean when I say “It’s an anointed song,” is that I’m remembering experiencing His anointing while engaging Him with that song in times past. Our emotional memories are really powerful, and it could be those emotions I’m remembering.

  • Or when I experience an anointing in the context of a song, it may be that my own spirit (and perhaps my soul, too) is trained, conditioned to quickly and smoothly enter into the place where I experience his anointing. I can think of worse conditioned responses.

  • Closely related to the above, I think I’ve experienced times where my spirit is so thirsty that it leaps with joy at the barest hint of an opportunity to worship my Creator/King/Lover, and I mistake that leap toward Him for His anointing. I guess this one speaks to the quality of my private worship times. I confess, I love it when my spirit leaps to worship, but it is a sign of lack of spiritual nutrition in my life. Hmm.

  • Since I’m trying to be honest here, the possibility also exists that I’m deceived, too. It is a real possibility that when I experience something associated with a song which I’ve used for spiritual purposes, that I’m actually engaging a religious spirit. Let’s be honest, there is a lot of manipulation that happens in some times and places where we worship God. Looks like I need to keep my discernment ears on.

  • Or something else may be going on.


But God’s anointing is on people. Not tools. 

Saturday

Gifts from Father, Son & Holy Spirit

This is not - as will be obvious - a complete teaching; this is a subject that will swallow whole books in one gulp. This is just some raw material, looking at the subject from a viewpoint different than I've heard before.

I still can’t completely wrap my brain around the Trinity. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three, and yet they’re one. Not just “One with three aspects.” Not just “Three in perfect unity.” Really three. Really one. Weird. Cool, but weird.
But as I get to know Him/Them, I find that they have three different personalities as well. And the gifts that they give are different as well.
The most common gifts that we talk about are the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 12, there is a list of His gifts:
7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: 8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the samea]">[a] Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. .
Note that these gifts are manifestations of the Spirit. Just as the gifts that you give reflect the person you are as a giver, so these gifts reflect the person of the Holy Spirit. As manifestations, these are things that happen when the Holy Spirit manifests, or shows up, in our lives. There is no discussion of us “having” these gifts; instead, He has them, and wherever He is, they’re likely to show up. In you, for instance.
In Ephesians 4, there are gifts given by Jesus:
7But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8This is why it[a] says: "When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men."[b] 9(What does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions[c]? 10He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
The passage is talking about Christ, and then it says “It was he who gave” these gifts. These gifts are people, they’re for a purpose, and – like the manifestations of the Spirit in the passage above – are for the church. Again, these are not gifts that we might have, but gifts that we might be, and they’re very goal oriented: to prepare God’s people to reach particular goals, goals which are a whole study in themselves.
Not to be left out, in Romans 12 God Himself gives His own group of gifts.
…God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his[a]faith. 7If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
These gifts – sometimes called “Motivational gifts” – reflect how Father God has created us to function. These are the only gifts that we “have” and we are instructed to use them, and to use them in a particular way, implying of course, that we could use them in a different way. These gifts are resident in us, part of our makeup, built into us by the grace of God, and as a result of the measure of faith that He’s given us. As faith can grow, so can our effectiveness in these gifts.
Note that some gifts have analogs in all three lists, like prophecy, others in two lists, like teaching, and others in only one, such as giving.
While those of us who have been in the kingdom since the days of the Jesus People will find this old and redundant, there is a new generation rising into maturity in the church that mostly has not been schooled in these subjects. I'm thinking that it's time we review the subject.

Thursday

Mid-Course Correction Going On

If you’re an observer of the church, you’ll notice something interesting: God is leading the emerging generation of believers differently than the path the generation that’s finishing their race ran on.

Even now, if you ask about priorities for the people of God, believers in the “over 40” age group will talk about theology, and the need to have all the theology right. This group talks about the Bible as the authority, though they often live as though the Sunday sermon is the real authority. (Note: “over 40” is just an approximation: some 30-year-olds belong in this group, and some 60-year-olds belong in the other.)

But if you ask believers in the “under 40” age group the same question, they won’t mention theology. This group is more focused on “How can I change the world?” and they expect to refine their theology along the way. This group also regards the Bible highly; the Bible, interpreted by the Holy Spirit, not by the pastor’s sermon, is the real authority.

The curious thing is that the second group, rather than the first is actually more Biblical: this is the model used over and over in the Book of Acts: “He said preach the good news to the whole world! Let’s go preach somewhere that nobody else has preached yet.” In fact, it has been said that Apostle Paul’s method of being led by God was something of “bumbling around in the Spirit until something happened!”

Regardless of which group you find yourself in (I think of them as the “Get The Theology Right” group and the “Change the World” group), this is not suggesting to you that theology is not important. It is of critical importance. But theology is not more important – or more urgent – than obeying the Word.

As I’ve been reflecting on this, I realize that, being in the older age bracket, I’ve been assuming that the theological questions have been the right questions to ask. I’m changing that opinion.

Curiously, when given instructions by God to go do something (such as “Go into all the world and preach the good news of the gospel”), it is the servants who insist on getting the instructions exactly right. The response of sons of the Kingdom is more along the lines of “Hey, good idea. Grab the debit card and let’s go!”

Since many of us in the older group, who have valued theology so much, are finally understanding so much more about our status as sons, not as servants, and since we’re teaching the younger believers that they’re sons, not servants, I suppose we should not be surprised that they’re making the choices that sons make, rather than making the choices that servants make, as my generation has done (much to our embarrassment).

As I’m learning more about my identity as a son, not a servant (why did nobody tell me this decades ago???), I’m coming to value the perspective of the second group more. I admire their willingness to take risks, I admire their eagerness to follow God’s leadership, and I admire how much they’re getting done!
  
I’m going to think more carefully about how to continue my ministry before the Lord.




Counterfeits in the Kingdom

One of the signs that says to me, “Hell is scared,” is the immense quantity of spiritual forgery going on. 

Nobody in their right mind counterfeits $3 bills. What gets counterfeited are $20 bills and $100 bills. Why? Because they’re the most valuable.

There is more value tied up in US $20 bills than all of the other American bills combined, except the $100 bill. And of course, there is more value tied up in the US $100 bill than all other US bills combined!

When things are valuable, they are counterfeited. When they are meaningless, they are not counterfeited.

And it’s not just the “most valuable” things that are counterfeited. Nobody counterfeits ten-thousand-dollar bills. That’s silly. The bills exist, but they are so very rare, that they stand out. And there are so few of them that all together, they aren’t worth as much as $1 bills.

No, people counterfeit what is valuable, and they counterfeit what the public can regularly expect to use and handle.

In the Kingdom, nobody is counterfeiting God’s work in Genesis 1. That’s too very rare, and let’s be honest: it’s hard to fake that. And nobody is (seriously) counterfeiting the Cross of Christ. Yeah, people have themselves crucified every Good Friday, but nobody believes they’re Jesus: it’s obvious that they’re fakes. Besides, that particular counterfeit leaves the counterfeiters dead, and it’s hard to make a profit when you’re dead.

But the things that Father is releasing, unveiling in this generation, the treasures that he’s giving (has already given) to every single believer: these are getting counterfeited.

God is speaking about sonship, about how we’re legitimately God’s heirs. So the enemy is showing several counterfeits claiming to be Jesus Christ in the flesh. Here’s one: http://nwp.link/1uLEuNa

God is speaking about how hell isn’t what we’ve always thought it was, so these false Christs are denying hell.

God is showing us how weak and helpless the devil really is, so these false Christs are denying the devil himself.

Our response is not to get all excited that there is yet ANOTHER false Christ. They’ve been around for millennia, and there will be more. Yawn. Our response is not to tell everybody about why this false Christ or that false Christ is actually false. Neither is our response to declare that just because there is a false Christ, therefore all Christs are false, and then deny that Jesus came in the flesh. (Don’t laugh: there are many who have done this!)

Our response is the same in this situation as it is any other time the false is declared: we focus on the real.

If the devil is parading false Christs, we fix our eyes on Jesus, the real Christ.

If the devil is raising up false healings and false miracles, we become skilled in wielding the healing gifts, the gifts of miracles that come from the real Holy Spirit.

If there are New Age mystics who talk about being transported to other places, whether spiritual or physical, either in their own spirits or actually in the flesh, then we press into these gifts (all of which are described in Scripture) and we learn what Father is releasing to his children today.

Bottom line: if the devil is leading people astray, we drawer closer to God to be led by Him (and not by our reaction to the devil) into what is true.

What does the Word say?
Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. … But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. – [1 John 2:18-20 NKJV]


Our response to the antichrist spirit that is pretty busy in the culture around us is the anointing from God, to know what he knows, and (since he’s talking about experiential knowledge, not book-learning) to practice what we know from Him.

Let’s follow God, shall we, wherever he shall lead us.

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False Teaching, or False Signs

The New Testament speaks time and time again about false doctrine, false teaching, false shepherds. We don’t really pay a whole lot of attention (as a larger community) to these issues, which the Bible emphasizes pretty heavily.

The Book mentions “false signs and wonders” only ONCE, but that’s the thing that gets the attention. And the definition has been expanded: “If you experience _____ during your intimate times with God, that’s a false sign! It’s of the devil!”

Bah!   Er... “No, that would be in error!

The false teachers that those apostles were warning us about had one thing in common: they wanted to add some form of “works” to the message of grace. It came in various forms:

§         “Obey the Law!” (Or “Obey this part of the law.”) or
§         “Don’t eat meat!” (or some other dietary restriction) or
§         “Respect these Jewish holidays!” (or “…these new [age] holidays”) or
§         “Don’t drink alcohol!”

Fundamentally, the false things that the New Testament writers were warning us about generally were limitations to the freedoms that Jesus brings his people into! It was exactly this context into which Paul writes, “do not submit again to a yoke of slavery!” and he goes on in that context to say, “I wish that those who are troubling you would even mutilate themselves.” (See Galatians 5; it’s really quite graphic.)

This was the greatest danger to the new Church, and the one that so much of the New Testament epistles were specifically written to combat: that there would be people come into the congregations (called “savage wolves” in Acts 20:29) who would want to draw people away our freedom in Christ.

By contrast, we have very large numbers of congregations, where the leaders teach their favorite part of the Law (note that I did not mention tithing!), or about all restrictions about what good Christians should or shouldn’t do. Often, they preach an even more restrictive law to their leaders.

And many of them are warning their followers against what they’re calling “false signs and wonders,” but is really just brothers & sisters getting free. 

Freedom. What a wonderful thing when we experience it. It’s jumping and dancing and celebrating; it’s shaking and falling over and being rocked by love; it's worshipping with abandon; it’s healing the sick and casting out demons; it’s falling in love with the person of Jesus. 

This is what we were made for! This is exactly why God said, “Let us make man!”: we were made for relationship!
  
We're warned against these things, as if they were “false signs.” Nah. It's just freedom. And freedom is our goal.

I don’t understand why this is sticking in my spirit so strongly today. Perhaps someone needs “permission” to hunger for God (if it matters, you have permission!). Maybe you’re asking why all the “Do this, don’t do that” rules are not fitting you well. This would be why: they’re not for you!

It’s easy: It is for freedom that Christ has set you free! Do not submit again to a yoke of slavery!

And maybe let me know if I was writing for you today? 


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The Vision of the Wooden Spoon

The vision began with a quiet stream, in a quiet, green meadow; it reminded me of Narnia for some reason: that peaceful. The stream was wider than one could jump across, and deeper than you’d want to wade across, and its flow was smooth and fairly fast. All in all, it was a very peaceful environment. The birds were singing.

Then a giant hand appeared in the sky, holding a giant wooden spoon, the kind of spoon that people use in the kitchen to mix cookie dough. The spoon dipped into the stream and stirred.

For a while, nothing much happened, except the stream became more turbulent from the spoon’s motion. After a minute or two, the stream darkened, and soon I could see things in the muddy stream: old tires, boots, cans, bottles, sticks and stones, jars, bags of rubbish. The hand with the spoon withdrew into the heavens.

I was kind of appalled. This had been a peaceful stream, in a beautiful meadow, and now it was full of trash and garbage and muck and mess. Well, actually, the peaceful stream had always had the trash and muck and garbage and muck and mess, but it had been lying hidden in the mud on the bottom of the stream. Now the stuff was out in the open.

The vision continued, and the stream kept flowing, and then I saw it: the garbage was flowing downstream with the flow of stream. Some of what had been stirred up came to the top of the stream, and was carried far downstream, out of the picture. Other things, heavier things, were carried a little ways downstream but they settled back to the bottom of the stream. Soon the stream was clear and peaceful again, but I knew that old tires, discarded shoes, bottles and cans were still there, lying on the bottom of the stream.

The hand with the spoon appeared again, and stirred the water again, and again the stream darkened with mud, again tires, discarded shoes, bottles, cans, and other detritus were stirred up, and again they floated various distances downstream.

The cycle was repeated several times, until eventually, the stirring from the almighty spoon did not bring up muck and garbage.

The stream returned to peace, but it flowed smoother, faster, than it had before, and I realized that it flowed cleaner than it had before. The garbage on the stream bed had settled under so much mud that the stream flowed smoothly over it, but still the garbage had polluted the stream.

Now the stream was actually clean.

I believe that this is what Father is doing in some of our lives. He’s stirring things up in our lives, and it’s uncomfortable. It’s easy to be appalled or offended at what he’s doing, because he’s good at what he does. Things are being stirred up, memories, habits, relationships that have been in our lives are being stirred up from the dark depths of our lives, and brought into the light.

And the reality is that much of what he’s stirring up is garbage: shame, embarrassment, memories of foolishness, of sin, histories of unwise choices, character weaknesses. It’s easy to resent these coming to the surface after how many years of being hidden in history.

But he’s bringing them up in order to wash them away, in order to remedy the issues. Trust him. Have hope, rest in the confident assurance that he does know what he’s doing, and that he’s working for good in you, for the purity that we really have wanted. He’s answering our prayers.

We can trust the spoon. More specifically, we can trust the hand wielding the spoon.


Borrowing an Anointing in Rizal Park

There’s a principle in prophetic ministry: even people with no real prophetic gifts can prophesy when the Holy Spirit is present and manifesting that gift. The clearest example I can think of is King Saul, and it hit him twice: in 1 Samuel 10, and again in chapter 19. When he was around prophets, King Saul flopped on the ground and prophesied. “Therefore it became a proverb: “Is Saul also among the prophets?”

It appears that it happens with other gifts as well. I’m not really gifted as an evangelist, but let me tell you about one time that I was numbered among the evangelists. There’s no great lesson in this; it’s just a testimony.

Some years ago, I was part of a YWAM evangelistic outreach in Manila, the Philippines. If ever there was an organization with an evangelistic anointing, they would be included on that list.

Coming into this “Outreach,” I’d been praying for an anointing for whatever I was going to do. I was assigned to be one of the “street preaching” team, and occasionally part of the drama team. Everybody was on the personal evangelism team.

My friend Connie was there. Connie is an evangelist. She looks across the restaurant and you can hear the sobbing break out. (OK. That’s an exaggeration. A little bit.) She has flaming red hair, and she lives up to it.

One afternoon, we were sharing testimonies of what God had done, and Connie shared this story: she’d led a college student, we’ll call her Kim, to faith early in the outreach, and now, she was discipling her; they met every afternoon after Kim’s afternoon college classes.

The second day, Kim shows up an hour early: it turned out the college professor hadn’t shown up. Connie asks, “Does that happen often?” “Yeah, fairly often.” Connie’s eyes sparkled. “May I go with you to your class tomorrow?”

So Connie accompanies Kim to class, and sure enough, the professor doesn’t show up. And now Connie has a captive audience of 30 college students. She stands up, calls for their attention, and launches into the good news. As she was finishing, before she could ask “Who wants to believe in Jesus?” the professor comes in, sees someone else – a white woman! – speaking to her class. Of course she demands to know “What is going on here?”

Connie says, “Just a moment, please. I’m almost done,” and explains that they need to believe, but rather than praying with them, she instructs those who want to follow Jesus to speak to Kim and tell her.

The next day, Kim brought 28 other students with her to be discipled in the ways of Jesus.

I heard that story, and I’m thinking, “I wanna be successful, too!” so I ask God for effectiveness in evangelism.

The next day, we take an outreach team to Rizal Park, downtown. The team outreach was structured in four parts: three songs, one drama showing the gospel, a 3 minute “sermon” presenting the gospel, and Bam! Everybody splits up to share one-on-one with someone, hopefully leading them to faith.

I didn’t really know what I was doing. My attention was drawn to one old guy, in a group of old guys, seated on some planters. I asked his permission, and then shared the basic gospel story with him again. In those days, some of the people really wanted to please foreigners, so I explained the gospel, and then I outlined the costs of following Jesus. Twice. And he was old, so I had to speak up while I did it, so he could hear me. He kept looking down, as if the ground were more interesting than what I was saying.

When I couldn’t put it off any longer, I asked, “Would you like to follow Jesus? Would you like to give your life to Jesus?” And for the first time, he looked up, he locked his eyes on mine, and he said in a shaky, but strong voice, “Yes. Yes, I will follow Jesus.” 

I cleared my throat, and prepared to lead him in that great Evangelical theological pillar, the Sinner’s prayer, but before I could get started, the guy next to my guy looked at me. “Could I follow Jesus, too?” Oh! Oh, yes!

And then the next guy tugged at my sleeve, and pointed to the three guys with him. “We’d like to follow Jesus, too.” And then several more guys sitting on the next planter over, asked if they could as well.

I shared the gospel, quite hesitantly, actually, with an old guy that wasn’t interested. But rather than judge him myself, I kept going. That afternoon, I led nine men in the sinner’s prayer, and then introduced them to a local pastor who was traveling with us.

It’s my opinion that it worked because I was “under the influence” of a group that had a substantial evangelistic anointing. And because I was faithful to do what I really didn’t feel like doing.

When I returned home to the USA, I was, I confess, rather impressed with myself. I headed out onto the streets of my city one Saturday afternoon, fresh from successes like that one (and yeah, there were others).

And I “shared the gospel” with a whole bunch of people. Actually, I attempted to share the gospel, but they saw me coming, and dodged me before I could talk with them. I didn’t lead a single person to faith. Actually, I didn’t even have a serious conversation with even one person that whole day.

I’ve ministered under that anointing again since then. I joined the Full Gospel Businessmen in a booth at the regional fair, and watched God move powerfully. I joined with some gifted evangelists in the same city where I had failed, and watched God move semi-powerfully, but way better than I had done by myself.

Nowadays, I teach people, if you want to move in what I call “the juice,” then go be with someone who has what you want. If you can join them in ministry, then by all means do, but if you can only stand next to them, and learn from them.

For myself, it’s only worked when I’m with them. But when I’m with people who are evangelists, I can exercise that gift. And when I’m not, I’m embarrassing. 



Sunday

Regarding Physical Manifestations,


Freaky Physical Reactions


If you attend a charismatic or renewal service, you’re likely to eventually come upon a scene which has left many people with questions: late in the service, when people are praying for folks, some people start freaking out, physically reacting. Some stand (or lie) quietly twitching, almost vibrating. Others jerk violently and even thrash about. Some shout, moan, roar or make other, less-describable noises. I’ve heard some roar like lions, others bark like dogs, and I’ve heard the clucking of a chicken.

The percentage of people who reacted strangely varied, from just a few, to most of the crowd, and it appeared that their reactions came from different motivations; some appeared more sincere, more genuine than others.

People who frequent such meetings are often completely at ease, even inattentive to the reactions. People who are not from a tradition that includes “physical manifestations” often find those manifestations distracting, confusing, off-putting. Neophytes often come away from these meetings with more questions about the congregation than about the sermon or the prophetic ministry:

  • Why do they do that?
  • Is that God?
  • Can they control that?
  • Are they faking it?
  • That can’t be good for them, can it?
  • That’s not going to happen to me, is it?

Those are good questions, actually. I try to encourage them.

John Arnott pointed out one time that there are many reasons why people react physically in a spiritual environment.

  • Some folks react because God is touching them; it's involuntary, like touching a live electrical wire.

  • Some of them, God isn’t touching them physically, but he’s working on their emotions, and their physical manifestations are simply a symptom of God addressing and healing deeply rooted emotional wounds.

  • For others, it's psychological: they need to feel like they're part of what's going on, or they need to feel loved. For some of these, it's marginally voluntary: they may not know whether they can control the physical reaction.

  • Others are moved socially: everybody is doing this; I need to fit in, so I should too: their reaction is voluntary, though the thinking behind it may not be.

  • Some may be manifesting because their resident demons are freaking out.

  • And there are mentally ill persons among us, who are legitimately reacting for their own reasons, real or imagined.

  • I leave out those who are mockingly “faking it.” I actually haven’t ever met such people, and though I imagine they exist, I have difficulty imagining them sticking around without fitting into one of the other categories.

Among these motivations, are there any of these people that shouldn’t come to God, that shouldn’t bring these needs – spiritual, psychological, emotional, whatever – to God and invite him to work in them? Is there any reason to separate some away from God and permit others to come near?

If we accept John’s observation that these physical reactions come from many sources, we can answer the question “Is this God?” with, “Well, sometimes it’s God.” And we can make that statement without judging the person who is twitching undignifiedly on the floor: whichever of these motivations is making them flop, they deserve a touch from God, they deserve to be loved by God’s people, they deserve to be pastored, not judged, not excluded.

For some people, a touch from God won’t be the whole solution; they’ll also need to replace a lie with truth, and they may need deliverance. But the touch from God is a part of the process, is a part of the healing, and often it makes room for the other components of the healing.

I remember the night that I undeniably encountered really strange manifestations on people as they encountered God – this was the night that a man clucked chicken for twenty minutes as he was praying for me! I saw hundreds of people fall on the floor and flop around like a fish out of water. Afterwards, when most of the flopping fish were through flopping, and had been helped up, had straightened out their clothes and stumbled off to the parking lot, I was talking to the guy running the sound.

I asked him a blunt question: “Do you do that?” “Do what?” he asked. “Do you fall on the ground and flop around like a fish?”

His wife interrupted before he could answer. “Yes! Yes, he does, and I’m glad he does!” Um. Ok. “You’re glad he does that? Really? Why is that?”

“Because the man who gets up off the floor is not the same man who falls down there. God works on him while he’s there, and he always gets up a better man for it.”

She went on to tell me about some of the character issues that have changed, grown, matured, since he first landed unconscious on the carpet, twitching. In my evangelical vocabulary, he was growing more Christ-like while he flopped about on the carpet.

My evangelical mind had trouble with that concept. But I was beginning to be convinced. I really didn’t understand (I don’t claim to understand even now!), but when something I don’t understand brings about the result of increased Christlikeness, increased fruit of the Spirit, then I can’t really argue with it, even if I don’t understand the process by which God works in them. I understand the results even if the process confuses me.

Reactions to the Manifestations

At those same meetings where some people who didn’t participate in the festivities. Some wandered about, wide-eyed, watching what was going on, others clung to their chairs, with the same wide-eyed curiosity. I love watching these folks’ honest fascination with what God was doing.

Others stood, often along the back wall, often with arms crossed, scowling, watching the shenanigans, usually with growing unease. I’ve been this guy, so I know that the mental process behind the scowl is not generally one of approval. These folks may ask the same questions, but with a twist, perhps twisted into a statement, usually a statement of disapproval, judgment, even condemnation:

  • Why doesn’t somebody stop that?
  • That is not God! That can’t be God!
  • They could control that reaction!
  • They’re faking it!
  • That can’t be good for them!
  • That’s not going to happen to me!

Often, they’re rehearsing in their minds all the reasons why this can’t be God. Confusion is replaced by indignation, then anger, and they leave the meeting, usually early, more justified than before, in their opposition to the physical manifestation of the touch of God. Often they’ll write an angry blog post afterwards, justifying their judgmentalism.

Curiously, some of their judgments touch truth in the matter. We’ve already described how some of the manifestations are from psychological or emotional sources, so it can legitimately be said, of some, that it is not God making them shake; some of those could be described as faking it, though I have come to question the need (or benefit) from identifying or judging that. And it’s true: most people (though perhaps not all people) can indeed squelch the reaction (the critics sometimes do that themselves!). But those who enjoy encountering God this way, choose not to squelch the experience. And the statement “That’s not going to happen to me!” is in some measure self-fulfilling.

A Comparison

So I compare the three perspectives: ● Those who twitch and moan (“those who manifest”), ● Those who eagerly watch the manifestations, and ● Those who stand back and judge. (Note: I have been all three of these people.)

One could make a biblical argument to each of these three people for the validity of physical manifestations (referencing Matthew 17, or 28, for example). But it’s my experience that the first group doesn’t need the argument, the second group isn’t paying attention at the moment (but will ask about it later), and the third group can’t be convinced, no matter how biblical the argument.

In my mind, the more important issue is the question of fruit: what kind of fruit does this encounter produce in each of the three groups? Let’s look at them in reverse order:

  • The critics are an easy one: their fruit is bitterness, judgment, and anger. That doesn’t sound like it represents God well. Therefore, I decline to partake of this fruit.

  • The curious observers are easy as well: they manifest genuine hunger, honest questions, eager anticipation, or legitimate confusion. They are willing to listen to testimony and teaching on the topic, but will judge both by what they’ve seen. Most of these onlookers will become participants before long. These characteristics (these fruit) seem to reflect God’s character well; they fit well on his children who are growing and learning. I find this to be very nice fruit.

  • The fruit of those who manifest is harder to classify, because it’s so varied. Some, like my friend the sound guy, have an honest encounter with God and get up changed. Those are easy to discern: that’s God! But some seem to have an honest encounter with God, but develop a fixation on the encounter, missing the God whom they encountered, and these seem to be less changed. I find good fruit in some people, and less desirable fruit in some others.

The conclusion I’m coming to in all of this is this: I like some of what goes on, and other aspects, I’m ready to distance myself from. I have decided that what happens between them and God is really none of my business, none of my business. My business is about being impacted by God myself.

Some may ask, “But what about those who you lead? Don’t you have a responsibility to them? Shouldn’t you warn them?”

This is a good place for a testimony, a story: Some time ago, I took a group of fairly intellectual young believers on what we called a “Field trip.” We visited a church who had a guest speaker that was known for these kind of manifestations. I intentionally did not tell the group what to expect, except to say, “It will likely be different than you’ve experienced before.”

Sure enough, God showed up, and people started falling, twitching, moaning, whatever. Two ladies were convinced that this was fake, but were hungry for God enough to get prayer. They had been convinced that the pastor was pushing people over, and they stood there, braced against pushing, hands in their pockets, as he lightly touched their heads. When he removed his hands from their foreheads (and not before), they both fell down backwards (caught and lowered gently to the ground by people less skeptical than themselves). Twenty minutes later, hands still in their pockets, they woke up, confused as to how they had landed on the floor, but excitedly chattering about their encounter with God during the time they were out.

Another time, I took another young believer to a similar meeting, but the results were different. We talked about it afterwards, and she was indignant: “He pushed me! That’s just wrong!” I probed further, “So you’d say this was not God?” “Well, he sure wasn’t working with God! I landed on my back, mad, because he pushed, and because he wanted so desperately for me to fall down. But while I was there, God said, ‘While you’re here, do you want to make the most of the time?’ and then he showed me some really cool things while I was lying there!”

We concluded that the minister was, for whatever reason, relying on pushing, rather than on God, for the manifestations. But we also concluded that God likes the heart that is eager to interact with him, and is willing to use people’s fleshly and inferior responses in order to reach his eager children.

So in regards to the question of pastoring, my conclusion is this: If I am leading people to myself, then I guess, yeah, I need to have all the answers to all their questions. But if I’m leading people to God, then the measure of success of my pastoring them is this: do they know God well enough to discern for themselves?

Yes, I’m there to help them process the experience, and that’s valuable to them. But my role is not to make their judgments for them; rather my job is to support them in their own encounters with God, and to encourage them to encounter God.


Tuesday

Some Assembly Required

During the Christmas season, the most dreaded phrase to any mom or a dad buying gifts for their family, are the words, “Some Assembly Required.”
Some years ago, I bought something from Ikea for a gift. For two evenings before Christmas, I had my workbench covered with odd shaped pieces of furniture, screws, nuts & bolts, and really odd steel connectors. It was an… um… interesting time.
The most valuable thing in my shop during those nights was a package of papers with the title “Assembly Instructions” on the front. In spite of my innate distrust of instructions (hey, I am a guy!), I found those pages to be very precious while I was assembling a gift was to fall somewhat short of its claim that it was “Easy to Assemble.” There were several parts to the instructions: a list of all the materials that had been included in the package and how they were used, a step-by-step guide to the assembly process, and an exploded view of the finished product.
Think of this: if you had a project where you absolutely needed the assembly instructions, would you want all of the instructions? If you needed to build something that you had never seen before, would you want to have the Assembly Instructions?
In the church, we do this on a regular basis. We read the beginning of our Assembly Instructions and then put even those preliminary instructions away. And then we wonder why this thing called “Church” isn’t working the way we wish it would, not to mention our private lives.
We have been given three parts of our assembly and operation instructions. We’ve not been using all three to their full capacity.
The first part of the instructions is the Word of God, the Bible. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” We must be taught, reproved, corrected and trained by “all Scripture.” We’re usually OK with this one.
But there is more that makes up our instructions. The apostles knew it; they wrote, “…it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us…” when they sent specific instructions to a group of believers in Antioch. I would argue that the rest of our Assembly Instructions are described here: the leading of the Holy Spirit and the counsel of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Speaking of the Holy Spirit, Jesus, who is the undisputed Head of the Church, taught us that the Spirit would “take of mine and declare it to you.” It is not a stretch to infer that one of the things that the Spirit will declare in the church is the leadership instruction of Jesus, or that He would declare instructions from our Lord and Savior to us individually. He was more direct when He declared that the Holy Spirit would “teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all things that I have said to you.”
Jesus modeled the principle: at his baptism, he was led both by the Word (“Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”) and by the Spirit (“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”).
The third part of our instructions is the input of our brothers and sisters, our friends in the Kingdom. Proverbs states it as a principle: “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety,” and “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But he who heeds counsel is wise.” Even when God made you and me, it was in community: “Let us make man in our image…” (emphasis added).
My point is this: if we are going to have better success, either in our personal lives or in our leadership responsibilities with the Body of Christ, then we need to be well and truly led by the Word of God, by the Spirit of God, and by the counsel of Godly men and women.
In many congregations, we are quick to declare that we follow the Bible’s instructions, though in reality, many of us don’t often read those instructions ourselves; we wait for a pastor or teacher or conference speaker or even a Facebook friend to instruct us in the ways of using that instruction manual. But we honor the Bible and acknowledge its authority at directing our private life and the life of the church. We are willing to be directed by the Word, sometimes to the degree that if we can’t find “chapter and verse” to support a statement or plan, then we reject it out of hand.
In other environments, we are quick to follow what we perceive the Spirit to be saying to us, often without questioning whether such “leading” is consistent with the other half of the instructions: the Word of God. My objection is not against being led by the Spirit (quite the contrary!) or even with the concept that His leading is sometimes unfamiliar or strange. My frustration is when we follow such leading without testing that direction against either the Word or the counsel of our counselors.
It seems that in this day and age, God is re-emphasizing relational ministry, re-emphasizing the value of enduring friendship in the Church. Of course it’s easy to see that being led only by the counsel of others is unwise. Adam found this out in the Garden of Eden. His excuse that “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it” didn’t absolve him of blame as he had hoped, and it doesn’t today. “I was only following orders” is never an excuse.
Rehoboam serves as an illustration that we need counsel from leaders, elders (elders in the Biblical sense, not people who merely hold positions in church government), not just our friends and peers. At the same time, I have known congregations where individuals cannot take any initiative unless the “elders” (in the second sense) approve of it, regardless of what the Word and the Spirit say.
Here’s where I’m going with this: many of us – both as individuals and congregations – tend to focus on one of these three ways that God instructs us, and we tend to dismiss one or two of them.
  • Congregations and individuals who highly value the Word of God tend to functionally (not verbally) ignore the process of being either directed or instructed by the Holy Spirit. Some of them value counsel nearly as much as the Word; others overlook it. I find this attitude in congregations often; apart from the members of those congregations, I don’t often see this in individuals.
  • Individuals and congregations who highly value being led by the Spirit tend to value that leading so highly that it is above questioning, either by counselors or in the light of the Scriptures. I see this attitude in individuals and home groups more often than I see it in whole congregations, and the unhealthy emphasis seems to come from injuries sustained by members of the former group.
  • I am aware of a few folks who have difficulty making decisions without researching the opinions of everyone they know. They want the approval of every leader and as much prophetic input as they can find on the subject before taking action. To be fair, we’ve de-valued for so long this aspect of God’s input into the life of the individual and the congregation that there seems to be less of this error.
I propose that we work intentionally toward a relative balance of these three voices in our lives: that we sit under the Word, allowing it to speak to us; that we make time and opportunity for the Spirit to instruct us, and that we cultivate relationship with mature believers and that we invite them to speak into our lives. And I propose that we listen to the input of all three: that we take direction from them and that we learn from them.

Sunday

All Things


Let me tell you some stories.
First story: I was talking with a friend recently, and he told me an interesting story.
This friend is a musician. He lives & works in the California desert, but he had no air-conditioning in his office. Someone gave him one that didn’t work. He described to me how he was encouraged (someone had thought about his needs) and frustrated (so close, but it still doesn’t work!).
That’s when the story got interesting. He was thinking about the AC unit and since he’s pretty handy with fixing things, he was trying to get it to work, but without success. As he was grumbling about his lack of success, he heard the Holy Spirit whispering to him. “Try this” he said, and showed him a picture of some accessories for his monitors: these are components for a sound system. Oh, and he just happened to have that part in his pocket.
He applied it as the Holy Spirit suggested and it worked: impossibly and perfectly, and it has been running for several years now.
Together we chuckled: it appears that God is an expert in HVAC repair. That’s somewhat outside of the box that we had had Him in.
Second story: Another friend was out hunting one recent winter with a buddy. In addition to his hunting rifle, he carried a pistol, but this time he had brought a favorite: one that had been a gift from an important friend who had carried it as an officer in a recent war. During the creeping-through-the-undergrowth part of the hunt, the pistol fell unnoticed into the snow and was lost.
His hunting buddy, a good friend of mine, tells this story: frustrated by the loss of our friend’s pistol, he went back to the same hunting grounds, where he prayed. His prayer was well beyond anything he’d prayed before, but “What’s life without a little stretching?” he said.
“God, you know where that pistol is. Would you please show me?” Before he had a chance to entertain second thoughts about his unusual prayer, he felt a nudge: go this way. He spent a couple of hours wandering through the forest this way and that, following the little nudges that he felt, far from any trail or road. It was unusual enough that he had to work hard to quash both the doubts and the excitement that he felt rising.
Then the nudges went away. Stopped altogether.
“Father, would you please show me where the pistol is?” Nothing. Silence. He prayed several more times. Still nothing.
Frustrated and confused, he turned to head back to his truck, but his toe bumped something. He looked down, and there was the pistol. It was a little rusty from spending the winter under the snow, but only a very little as our friend had always kept it well oiled. As you might imagine, he was pretty happy about finding the gun, but even more excited about his adventure with God.
Third story: Corrie TenBoom tells the story of her father’s watch repair business:
There weren’t many repair problems he hadn’t encountered. But occasionally one would come along that baffled even him. And then I would hear him say: “Lord, you turn the wheels of the galaxies. You know what makes the planets spin and You know what makes this watch run….”
The answers to these prayers seemed often to come in the middle of the night: many mornings I would climb onto my stool to find the watch we had left in a hundred despairing pieces fitted together and ticking merrily.
The other day, I stumbled across a verse that I’ve read a hundred times:
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. John 14:26
In this verse, one of many places that He instructs us on the Holy Spirit, Jesus teaches that He’ll do two things: one is that he’ll remind us of what Jesus has said to us.
But the first thing Jesus says here is that the Holy Spirit will teach us all things. All things.
I’ve been thinking about that recently. The Holy Spirit teaches me all things. That sounds too good to be true.
I looked up “all things.” You’d never guess it, but it actually means “all things.” Strong’s concordance describes it as “all, any, every, the whole”; Vine describes it as “every; every kind or variety”; Kittel says it’s “an inclusion of all parts”; Thayer says, “any and every, of every kind”; Balz says it’s “all things/the All (in the broadest sense).” It sounds pretty conclusive to me.
We tend to think of the Holy Spirit teaching us about spiritual things, or at least about things that the Bible commands us to do: raise our children, love our neighbor, help the poor.
But apparently “all things” includes fixing air conditioners, finding lost firearms and repairing broken watches. That would probably extend to astrophysics, gardening, auto mechanics. I could tell you stories about how much He knows about fixing sound systems!
I propose that we let the Holy Spirit teach us, particularly that we let Him teach us about subjects that we don’t discuss in church. We’ll be far wiser people!

Saturday

Legitimate Ministry

A friend of mine says that “We need to be extremely narrow in our focus of ministry, but extremely broad in our definition of what is legitimate ministry.”
I think he’s on to something.
I was meditating on this recently, and two stories – connected stories – spoke to me on the subject.
The first is the apostles’ answer to the Sanhedran when the were questioned about their work: “We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)
I see this as a standard for how we define our own ministry: we obey God. It’s pretty simple actually. Whatever God tells us to do, we do that.
More specifically, we don’t look to religious leaders (or other people, for that matter) to approve of the thing that God is telling us to do. We have one judge, and it’s not you or me, or the guy down the street leading a lot of people.
I think I might go further: you don’t need their approval, and you don’t need their permission to obey God. If God is calling you to do something, to start something, to take a risk, do it!
(I need to insert the obligatory warnings here: “Don’t be stupid!” “Don’t do it in rebellion.” “Don’t build your own empire.” OK? Let’s move on.)
The second story is in the next paragraph. Let me quote it for you:
34 Then one in the council stood up, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in respect by all the people, and commanded them to put the apostles outside for a little while. 35 And he said to them: “Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men. 36 For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing. 37 After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed. 38 And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; 39 but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it—lest you even be found to fight against God.” Acts 5:34-39
This story addresses how we define the ministry of others. The short version: we don’t. As Gamaliel points out: we can’t always tell if someone is moving in the power of God or in the power of man: wisdom is to step back and Let God sort it out.
But what if we get people going off and starting their own thing in rebellion? Then we have people going off and starting their own thing in rebellion. It’s OK. God is not thrown off by that. As Gamaliel points out, those eventually “will come to nothing.”
God will take care of it. He promised to build His church, and I think He means it.
The danger of course, is that if we take on the responsibility of preventing people from starting illegitimate ministry, then we – who are not omniscient – are in danger of preventing legitimate ministry.
Some said – back in the day – that young upstart Loren Cunningham should not leave the Assemblies of God church where he was youth pastor to start Youth With a Mission (YWAM). In the 50 or so years since then, YWAM has become the largest and arguably most effective missions agency in history of Christianity. Millions of people have come to faith through the men and women of that ministry.
Would you want to stand before God and say “Oops…” for having prevented Loren
from starting YWAM? Would you want responsibility for preventing millions of salvations because you thought Loren was missing God? Me neither.
So my recommendation is that we put our efforts into obeying God. Don’t worry about what others think. Don’t worry about what others do.
Like Nike says: Just Do It.™

The End of Times

There’s a lot of talk in recent years about The End Times. That’s not all that uncommon, I suppose. There was a bestselling series of books on the subject a few years back, and recently, yet another wave of talk on the subject has started.

It seems that such talk is probably normal. I’m told that every generation since Jesus walked the planet has thought that they might be the last generation. Even the 12 disciples (well, the 11; Judas had left by then) got caught up in a Last Days focus:

4 And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; 5 for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” – Acts 1

So Jesus is saying, “Get ready for the Holy Spirit,” the boys’ first thought is “Is this the end times? How soon will the end be?” And like us, they’re asking with the assumption that their view of the end is right; they don’t ask, “Will the kingdom be restored to Israel?” but “Will you restore the kingdom to Israel now?” In their case, the assumption was about the restoration of the kingdom of Israel; in our days, it’s usually about “the rapture” that sucks us out of this planet to live in heaven with Jesus. (I can’t help but think that we might have missed it as badly as they did, but that’s another topic.)

What I really love is Jesus’ answer: “That’s not what this is about boys. This is about power; this is about you being my witnesses everywhere you go, both nearby and far away.”

In His answer, I hear something of a rebuke – or at least a correction – of their fascination with figuring out the end times.

Some time ago, I felt the Lord correct my own focus on eschatology through this verse. It’s like He was saying to me personally, “Don’t focus on understanding the end times. Focus instead on the Holy Spirit. I want you to have His power because you have a job to do. I want you to focus instead on being my witness in this world!”

In other words: leave off the emphasis on The End Times. I’m wasting my time focusing on that. The real emphasis needs to be on my work – our work – here on this planet, among these people in this region.

I recognize that this is clearly specific instruction for me; I wonder if there’s some wisdom for other saints in this correction as well. I’ve often felt that a focus on the end times, particularly a focus on “the rapture”, has led many of us to miss God’s heart.

It’s actually pretty difficult to pay a lot of attention on The End Times in our culture and not come away with a self-centered sense of “Jesus is going to rescue from all this!” (Mike Bickle and the iHop team seem to be doing a good job of avoiding that egotistical error.) Many of the brethren I know who focus on eschatology have turned some or all of their attention away from our work while we are in this world (the “be my witnesses” part) and have focused more on His presumed role of rescuing us from this world.

I keep remembering that Jesus said we need to pray this way: “…your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” In other words, pray that His kingdom would expand here on Earth, that there would be more of us homo sapiens who place ourselves under His kingship. That’s what our focus is supposed to be. (And of course, we’re not talking about a political kingdom, but the increase of His rule in individuals in our culture.)

That means that a fair bit of my prayers – and presumably my attention – is to be on seeing His kingdom expanding in my community. But if I’m focusing my attention on my belief that “Jesus is coming soon!” to swoop down and carry me away from my community, then how helpful can I actually be at expanding His kingdom here? I’m not saying the Rapture isn’t going to happen; I’m saying it shouldn’t be our focus.

Instead, I am proposing that we back off on looking for the end of this age, and that we put our efforts into fulfilling His purpose for us in this age; being empowered by the Holy Spirit and being His witnesses in this world, both near and far.