Saturday, January 27, 2007
I had been in some other Browne Meetings and wanted to go. I decided to make the trip.
For you who don’t know who Rodney Howard Browne is you may remember him as the Laughing Evangelist. Well, he didn’t laugh much. He pretty much was droll. But his meetings always included outrageous outbreaks of laughter. Why? I don’t know. Joy in the Holy Ghost I guess.
What I do know is in those meetings people responded. I went to two of the nights he was there.
The second night was on a Wednesday. People were howling with Holy Laughter. He was preaching as best he could. It seemed out of order but in a real way it was more orderly than any liturgical service I had ever attended in my younger days. To say you hadda been there is an understatement. And to say that Rodney Howard Browne’s ministry is or has been controversial is also gross understatement.
In fairness I will post an article that will be very critical. I know what people say. But, I always watch for fruit not form. I have seen lots of fruit (even in my own life, I was deeply touched in a Browne meeting when I was Slain in the Spirit for over 90 Minutes). I have never ever been the same. So, when I see and read these critical things I just smile and turn the page. My experience trumps your theology all day long.
When the altar call came, several hardened prostitutes came forward. Several drug addicts and dealers. And some others who would never have darkened the conventional church door or sung a hymn. They needed something real. They needed something that would touch the lostness of their soul.
The pregnant irregular atmosphere of joy in the Holy Ghost during that meeting spoke to the hungry place of sorrow in their lives and they responded with turning from sin and repenting. I know this seems out of line to the people who insist on telling God how to do what he does. They would be offended by Jesus making a mudpie of spit and dirt and smearing on some poor blind man. Sorry Jack. Jesus isn’t impressed by your need for conformity or conventionality.
And it wasn’t what brother Browne said. I don’t know for sure if he spoke or not. I only know that when the power of the Holy Ghost was strongest he gave the call to the altar and people RAN. RAN. RAN. No need for 5 choruses of “Just as I am”. They RAN.
What was that? The Holy Ghost atmosphere was doing the evangelizing. They had all heard it before but not with the permeation of the Joy of the Lord.
One other story. My Son, Tim, lived in Sacramento California for several years. During that time he was invited by some men from a bible study to come to Rock Church with Pastor Nathanial Wilson. The music was good, even great. The preaching was good, maybe even exceptional. People were friendly. That’s true of most decent churches today.
What was different about this was a spirit of expectancy and joy. He (Tim) said that during the singing, during the preaching, during the testimony times on a Sunday Morning or Night people would get up and shout. Some would sit on the edge of their chairs and cheer the preacher or choir or band on. And some would just get up and run a couple laps around the church.
He said that not everyone did this, but some did. He mentioned one, Tom, who was so excited. He had been in horrible sin. Repented and was so completely sold out that he couldn’t contain himself.
Tom, now 15 years later is a pastor of a large church in Washington State. I’ll bet that’s a happening place.
Tim said that every Sunday some of the most hopeless people would come to church. The music would play, the preacher would preach and BEFORE the end of the service people would RUN to the altar and repent. They would baptize them on the spot.
What made the difference? The Holy Ghost Atmosphere. People were hungry, thirsty, wounded and believed that there was an answer in Jesus. When the atmosphere was just so, they would respond.
This isn’t anything you can create or plan for this You can however squelch or stop it’s flow. The key to doing this is having someone fully sold out and able to flow in the Holy Ghost leading the direction of the meeting. If they are there things happen. If a reserved controlled and timid person is leading or trying to lead nothing will happen. So these things are rare.
This is not emotionalism, although it causes people sometimes to become emotional, this is not manipulation, even if one tried it would fail, it is not only among the down and out, I have seen this reaction with millionaires and CEO’s of large companies and leaders of cities. This is what happens when man gets out of the way and the flow of the Holy Ghost begins to happen. It changes people. No one can be in the presence of the Lord and remain the same. Isaiah didn’t. Jacob didn’t.
A powerful move of the Holy Spirit in an atmosphere of expectation and freedom will cause sinners to repent. That’s true Holy Ghost Evangelism. Not by power, not by might but by My Spirit saith the Lord.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Then what of repentance? What of those who are drawn, convicted of their sin and come to repentance. This happens when they are aware of the lostness of their state. Something made them aware of being lost, something drew them to Jesus. A baby can't repent, be drawn or convicted. This happens only when the Holy Spirit draws them. Usually at a moment of crisis. A moment when a person is open. Holy Spirit driven evangelism takes place when people are ready and being drawn to Jesus by Him. We waste our time trying to evangelise people outside of that circumstance.
Let's go back to the Bible. Jesus was dealing with some cranky disciples in John 6 after having fed 5000 people. He says to a mass of followers:
John 6:44 For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up.
He was saying, what called you, what makes you think you are or can be saved? A person cannot be saved unless the Holy Spirit in a given moment is in that moment drawing, convicting, and convincing a person of salvation in Christ and God’s desire for that individual to be saved (which is, in fact, saving “faith”). A person cannot be saved at any given moment, but only in those moments when God’s grace, the work of the Spirit drawing, convicting, convincing, is happening. If the Spirit is not doing this work, a person cannot come to Christ. Then as the Holy Spirit opens the door faith must arise. It's a gift from God.
Then there is the passage that we all know so well:
Ephesians 2: 8-10
8For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. New American Standard
8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. New Living Translation
But grace is “resistible”—a person can either receive or resist the grace that creates conviction, repentance, and faith. As moments of opportunity to “believe” happen as people are placed (or place themselves) in the means of grace, and the Spirit of God brings conviction, repentance, and is creating faith—people can choose to cooperate with what God is doing or not. However, if they choose not to cooperate in that given moment, there is no guarantee another moment—the moment in which God is drawing, convicting and convincing—will happen again.
This is the act of obedience by a person to the call and prompting of the Holy Ghost. To resist is commmitting the sin Against the Holy Ghost so many fear. This cannot be the result of some act of parents on a child's behalf. This can only be a continuing progressive working out of our salvation thru fear and trembling as we obey. We must walk a road and make choices. WE walk the road, no one can walk it for us.
"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
The danger is teaching people that they are "OK" because they were baptised or confirmed or made a decision for Jesus at some crusade or signed a card in the back of a Bible Tract or prayed a sinners prayer on with Brother Buddy on TV. It is a narrow gate of grace and must be entered thru repentance after the Spirit brings conviction. Jesus warned about these kind of deceptive teachings of false salvation:
"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Matt 7:15-20
Even those who look Godly, even those who accomplish the very highest works of God are subject to being deceived. It takes humility and a fear of God driven by a consequence of an eternity without him to keep our spiritual eyes open. This is not light loving. Repentance and conviction of sin must cause every man no matter how high and mighty his calling to tremble before God in fear of slipping into ease and comfort without even as a minister of God.
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' Matt 7:21-23
Of course some would use this verse to say that Prophesy, Casting out Demons, and Miracles are not desired by God. The opposite is true. The Lord uses them as examples because in his eyes they are things that he wants his servants to be doing as he did.
Jesus did exactly that when he was on this earth.
"And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him". Acts 10:38
Devil Oppression means sickness, poverty, despair, trouble, pain, demon pressures, and the need for a miracle. That's what Jesus did. That's the answer to the little Wristband that says, WWJD. That's what we are supposed to do. We must do it in purity and by the anointing empowerment of the Holy Ghost as God is With US.
If we find a person who is in pain, let the Holy Ghost call them, then help them find the solution to the problems they are having by finding Jesus. Lead them, do a prophetic act, cause them to start down the narrow way to salvation. Don't let them have any hope in anything other than the shed blood of Jesus. Don't let them depend on traditions, baptism, confirmation, communion, the sinners prayer, or anything except REPENTANCE; a turning around and turning toward Jesus. Then get them Baptised in Water and filled with the power of the Holy Ghost. Disciple them, teach them well, help them find the way. That is the great commission in action. There is power in the truth of God's mighty word but it falls on dead ears unless the Holy Spirit first opens them to hear----
----the Evangelistic Power of the Holy Spirit.
Angels are ministering spirits sent to serve God's children (Heb 1:14). They are sent by God. They serve God's people.
The LORD has established His throne in heaven,
And His kingdom rules over all.
Bless the LORD, you His angels,
Who excel in strength,
who do His word,
Heeding the voice of His word.
Bless the LORD, all you His hosts,
You ministers of His,
who do His pleasure. (Psalm 103:19-21).
Angels are created for obedience. They do not have the friendship with God that is opened up to us through the presence of the Holy Spirit. Angels often do not know as much about what is on the Father's heart as we do. They often "excel in strength", far more than they excel in wisdom and decision making.
Angels move between heaven and earth. When they are in heaven, they know what God is doing, because his Kingdom is established there. When they are on earth, they are dependent on other messengers from heaven to keep them up-to-date with what God is doing.
Angels are sent to earth to serve us, but as events change develop, they often do not know what to do next. They sometimes have to wait for our prophetic declarations before they know what to do. When they hear the Holy Spirit's word through us, they do it. They recognise his voice and obey it. They listen to a prophetic word and work to accomplish it. That is one reason why God does nothing without first revealing his plan to his servants the prophets (Amos 3:7).
Speaking in the language of angels is good (1 Cor 13:1), because it helps the angels to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying.
I believe if I read my Bible correctly, that would be the Gift of Tounges.
You can check me out on that.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Three out of every four teenagers have engaged in at least one type of psychic or witchcraft-related activity. Among the most common of those endeavors are using a Ouija board, reading books about witchcraft or Wicca, playing games involving sorcery or witchcraft, having a “professional” do a palm reading or having their fortune told. Conversely, during the past year fewer than three out of every 10 churched teenagers had received any teaching from their church about elements of the supernatural.
We do a pitiful job as a church in preparing our young people for the invasion of the supernatural in their lives. We should be helping them understand and experience the reality of the supernatural by an encounter with the miraculous.
That won't happen in most churches. Churches for the most part hope the supernatural will stay outside. But, our teenagers WILL find a way to tap into it. Sadly, they will be vulnerable to the occult if they haven't been taught and exposed to the real thing thru the manifestations of the Spirit of God.
The result of this avoidance is the counterfeit world of the supernatural looks more real to them than the real world of a supernatural Jesus.
It's no wonder that so many of our churches are tepid. Form of religion, denying the power thereof. We hide our head under the covers and pray it all goes away.
The bad news is, it's not going to. The supernatural is real. We are either going to have a flow of the power of the living God with the manifestations of the Holy Ghost or we are going to have tarot cards, palm readers and Ouija boards invading our young peoples lives. We make that choice for them. Just telling them about it won't get it. They must experience it for real.
Time to get off the fence.
Flying in the face of this generally accepted reality was this part of the Word given that I transcribed:
2007 started off with warm weather. Predictors say it will be warm the rest of the year. As a poke in the ribs to worldly prognosticators, it will be very cold in latter part January and early February. This will cause people to puzzle. There will be a late spring as a result. The words, “How could it have started out so nice and turned so cold”. There is a prophetic meaning in all this.
Now this news report comes out with this excerpt:
Cold weather expected to hit the U.S. Midwest between Jan. 28 and Feb. 1 will now persist longer than previously expected. One model run by meteorologists at MDA's EarthSat Weather Group in Rockville, Md., forecasts "the coldest outbreak in years" for large parts of the U.S. between Feb. 2-6.I'm thrilled when God's Word proves itself over and over and over and over again. I wonder what prophetic meaning we are supposed to get from this?
God will freeze us out til we come in from the cold? I don't know. I'm just the prophet, interpretation is partly your responsibility.
Monday, January 22, 2007
I have written enough on evangelism to choke a pony up till now. This is worthwhile and challenging reading. The work is only half done. More when I get back.
If you are going to be fair to yourself, you would do well to read all the chapters. Then, as we bring this discussion in for a landing you will be ready to either argue the point or open a new vista of evangelism for your Church and ministry.
Thanks for the nice comments I have received via email and phone so far. This has been breakthrough in revelation for me. This is what true prophetic teaching looks like. To the one who said, "I have read your blog for years and this is the best work you have done to date". I say thanks and thanks be to God who causes this to happen.
Here are the chapters on Evangelism thus far in order:
Getting it Wrong
Chickens and Eagles
Key to Lost Heart
Before the USA was established pre-1776 Churches were tax funded entities and ministers were supported by the taxes of the gov't and commissioned to be a moral guide and educator for the colonies.
About 100 years ago, with service decline on the rise, some reformers suggested to make the services free of admission or pew rent. This was embraced over time and then the offerings slid more and more to support the services as a result. The down side was that the losers in the equation were the poor and the real missionaries or apostles (meaning those who go out to "become all things to all men").
As the concept of giving slid into just support for the services of the congregation, indulgence became as masquerade for the body of Christ and this is the condition we find ourselves in today. On the other side society could not tolerate a totally blind eye to the poor and so it gave the track for the government programs to be established to at least provide some sense of societal response to the issues that emerged over the last 100 years. People sometimes lament saying 100 years ago the church was care taker of the welfare, and seem to suggest that if we would just go back to the good old days
Ministers are today set up to be essentially appeasers of congregations of like people who come to them by being sold the product of their preaching or ideology and the children's ministry. This is particularly targeted towards the "women folk" who like to have the stability of a perceived better spiritual head than their husband that that pastor represents and the opportunity to have a break from their children for the 2 hours on Sunday so they can get "fed". The result of this kind of almost seductive paradigm is that the Christian divorce rate is passing that of the world.
600 million people in the world today are undernourished.
1.2 billion are overweight
300 million are obese
The most devastating part is the condition of the women who are being overwhelmed with the expectations all around them and the need to keep up, and this is dramatically impacting marriages and the very things that hold us together.
Dave's indictment is worth considering. Can we change it? I don't know. I will do what I can. So will Dave. Maybe after we are both gone and in heaven with Jesus some radical reform will bring the Church in America back to it's purpose. That is if Man and Denominations can stay out of the way.
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Everything the Church has tried to do in the last 20 years probably could be best described as wasted effort in evangelism. The old ways just don't work any more. We used to hand out tracts when giving someone a piece of paper with writing on it was something unique. Today it's junk mail. We are buried in paper. Try handing out tracts on Michigan Ave in Chicago. You'll be arrested for littering as people throw it on the street.
We used to reach people by conducting Bible Studies. People were interested in hearing things they hadn't heard before. This was before 150 channels on TV, and now anyone can be a greater expert than you or me in 20 minutes using Google on the Internet. They might be misled but there is no shortage of explanations or information. People are in info overload.
We used to do it by having crusades. Events. Something that would attract the lost out of curiosity. Some of our forefathers used tents. People came because there was nothing else to do. That doesn't get it anymore. People hardly have enough time to watch American Idol, go shopping for shoes, to the movies, out to dinner or to the club. Mass crusades aren't of much interest to the lost any more. Oh, its ok for reaffirming the backslider but believe me, the lost ain't coming.
Bible Studies, Handing out tracts on the 4 spiritual laws, and having a famous "Evangelist" show up in town is akin to tossing a gospel grenade and hoping for the best. You know the Gospel Grenade: lean back, pull the pin and toss it into a crowd of sinners yelling, "GET SAVED". Or we pull the pin and heave it hollering, "REPENT OR BURN IN HELL". We do this all the time. It explodes. Now and then it gets a tiny result. So we believe that it works. That might have worked a hundred years ago. The Devil has equipped the lost with flack jackets. They aren't as easy as they used to be.
So how do we win the lost? There's only one way left: Stealth, Infiltration. Sleeper Cell Christians. We have to sneak up on them. They aren't going to come to us. We have to get next to them and bring them into the fellowship of believers and only then they will come to Church. We jump the gun on this one badly.
There is a danger in all this: we believe that we have to go out and become buddies with the world to lead them to Jesus. We think we have to become a guy's "best friend" to win him. That is a recipe for disaster. Think I'm all wet? OK, "buddy", What are you gonna do when the Sinner you have decided to get next to so you can earn the right to share the gospel with him wants to go out and chase whores and smoke dope? I mean you're his buddy now. Right? You should go along. Right? Chasing whores and smokin dope for JESUS. Wrong. You have to love him with the exact kind of Love God loves us with. Nothing else. Nothing less.
That's the problem with evangelism strategies that requires us to get next to someone on a friend level to share Jesus most of the time gets to be a case of who's zoomin who. Who's leading who where. Unless you know and understand this truth if you go out to infiltrate the world they will infiltrate you. I have known Good Christian Men and Women led into backsliding sin by trying to lead a sinner out and getting sucked back into the world.
Here's where the rubber meets the road. YOU DON'T HAVE TO BECOME SOMEONE'S BEST FRIEND TO SHARE JESUS WITH THEM.
Wow, I can hear you say, that's heresy. OK, is it? The principle is I can love you as a brother in the sense of a fraternity brother and NOT be your friend in the way most of the world thinks you should be. I can be friendly, but true friendship is rare and should only be given carefully.
In a prior post I talked about the need to love the lost and those in the church unconditionally with agape love. I gave a great number of examples.
The problem is that Christians impose on themselves the burden of thinking they have to love sinners and even one another with Philial (Brotherly) love that is equivalent to being a blood brother born of the same mother and father. That is impossible and not scriptural. Spiritually it works. Spiritually when we are born again we become brothers.
First, lets talk about IN the Church. One of the reasons burnout among pastors is so high in this day and age is that they try hard to be everybody's friend. Go to dinner. Go out, wash their car, fix their plumbing etc. If you are a pastor and you are in this trap I can help.
God has put you in the place of an under shepherd. You have seen a border collie that nips around with the sheep on TV. The Over shepherd tells him, go there, do that and he does. But the over shepherd doesn't expect the collie to befriend the sheep.
That doesn't mean he can't have a sheepling for a friend but few. That's why I said earlier, we should be careful who we call "Brother". Yes, it's true, that we are brothers positionally with Jesus and with each other. But, if you take the word Brother and do the research most of the time it is a warning about someone who calls themselves a brother. There is little scriptural mandate for treating a fellow believer as a brother.
I think the catholic church and the whole monastic environment has caused many people in the protestant church to think we should be like that. Live in unity and brotherhood without any dynamics of relationship. Somehow anything that is less than smiley faces all the time is sin. I don't read that in my Bible. Neither do you.
Oh, and by the way, I have spent time in Monasteries. They don't get along all the time either. Not everyone of the brothers likes each other. It's not sin.
I have a brother. I speak into his life. He speaks into mine. I get upset and impatient with him. He does the same with me because he knows we are devoted to one another. Our love for one another is unconditional and irrevocable. If you choose to have me as your brother or be my sister in Jesus, I will speak into your life, let you speak into mine, get impatient with you and even holler at you. If you become upset and push me away you weren't really ever my brother. I will still love you with the Agape love of God. I must and he empowers me to do so. But I must protect my heart with most of the brethren. Even the word brethren is badly translated here.
So, stop thinking evangelism is tossing gospel grenades. They don't work. Start thinking of evangelism as infiltrating the culture and earning the right out of respect and acceptance of unbelievers without endorsing or participating in the lifestyle they have to lead them to Jesus when they ask. They will.
As a pastor, if you want to avoid being burned out, love all of your congregation with the Love of God (Agape) and have a very few true spiritually blood brothers. Those must be ones you would trust with your very life. Because you are. They will watch out for you and you must watch out for them.