Friday, February 10, 2006

A Bit of History ...

I was interested to find the following blog and a comment left on it. The lady who wrote it was discussing the broader question as to what exactly is a charismatic, and a gentleman left a comment who has a great deal of interesting history to impart re: SGM - where they have come from and where they may be going. It's particularly interesting because he was in Covenant Life Church from before they even were. Well worth a read - please note, any emphases are mine that I have noted of particular interest:

"I was in C.J. Mahaney's home church (Covenant Life Church, nee Gathering of Believers 1978) from 1981-2000, and in its predecessor teaching-meeting, so maybe I can add something to this discussion.

CLC grew out of a full-blown charismatic teaching ministry called TAG (Take and Give) in the D.C. area, which ran from the mid-to-late 1970s. C.J. Mahaney and Larry Tomczak became the young teachers, as TAG outgrew Lydia Little's living room and moved from one school auditorium to another before maxing-out at over 2,000 participants & finding its Tuesday-night home at Christ Church on Mass. Ave. in Washington, DC.

Mahaney was a former high-school class clown, pothead and college dropout who was radically saved after being busted for possession of illegal substances. Tomczak, from an industrial immigrant family in Cleveland, had come to Washington DC with plans to become an AFL-CIO labor organizer. However, his life was changed after stumbling into a black church and being confronted about his spiritual condition by an elderly man. At TAG there was enthusiastic worship, a wide mix of people ranging from high-school hangers-on to all denominations of the churched, including Catholics (I saw some dancing nuns back in those days of joyful worship).

The Holy Spirit was present and did baptisms, healings and deliverances. There was excitement and tons of youthful energy. The centerpiece was the teaching, however, which was full of humor but focused on turning scriptural truth into real-life, everyday practice.CLC was started because Mahaney and Tomczak were being given truths by the Lord that are now taken for granted in much of US Christendom: emphases on belonging to and ministering through a local church of committed believers; small groups as the core unit of the church; family-oriented focus including practical teaching of the Christian roles of husband, wife and child; personal holiness and integrity among leaders and laity; discipleship and development of spiritual giftings, as pastors train the members to do the work of ministry, rather than doing everything themselves. The existing churches had no such vision, so a teaching fellowship turned into a church.

CLC and Terry Virgo's New Frontiers International have been close friends since those early days, with leaders visiting one another's churches and conferences, and input from the late Arthur Wallis another strong influence on both streams. As CLC became successful in the '80s at pursuing its vision, cassette tapes spread Mahaney and Tomczak's teaching literally around the world. People began coming to Maryland from around the USA to join CLC, which grew from a few hundred in the early 80s to over 2,000 around the year 2000. In the mid-to-late 80s, CLC started planting churches in other cities (Tomczak's Cleveland being the first), and some churches began joining the church-planting ministry, called People of Destiny International (PDI, now Sovereign Grace Ministries).

During this time, CLC and PDI began writing their own worship songs, filled with scripture-based themes, to reflect the movement's vision and understanding of the gospel. Though New Frontiers picked up on these songs, until just the last few years the rich & creative PDI music has been a hidden jewel.The transition from charismatic to Reformed was gradual but real, as Mahaney and the PDI leadership (Tomczak, Brent Detwiler, Steve Shank and others who were pastoring PDI churches) continued to develop their theology. Over the years, PDI rejected the prosperity gospel, the word-faith gospel, the therapeutic-faith gospel and other fads that tended to diminish the authority and holiness of God, the inherently sinful nature of man, and the individual's responsibility for his own actions and response to the gospel. By the early 90s, however, the Reformed element was beginning to kick in, with more emphasis on the Puritans' and Jonathan Edwards' teachings, and a sudden emphasis on the Puritan teaching of "indwelling sin" rather than a victorious, power-filled faith which had previously shaped the culture.

Also during this time, CLC became not only the home of the movement, but also the home of a new PDI pastors school to train pastors for current and future PDI churches. PDI also began publishing People of Destiny (now Sovereign Grace) magazine, and a series of small books on discipleship, small groups, and other topics. These publications got the movement's ideas known to even more people, leading to more growth in the PDI churches and more established churches' joining the movement.

As it grew, PDI's focus seemed always to be on the utterly practical, rather than on impressing anyone outside the movement. When questions needed to be answered regarding how to build a church building, how to organize children's ministry, etc., CLC pastors would visit other churches in other movements (Cho in Korea, Vineyard in Anaheim, CA, etc) to learn from the successful. It seemed that 20 years spent in obscurity, working out their message and methodology, made it possible to emerge in the last few years as something that suprised many people.

In the 90s came a chapter that I wonder if Sovereign Grace would even like to talk about today. In 1994, C.J. Mahaney visited a New Frontiers-related church in Missouri, which Terry Virgo was overseeing personally following a pastoral replacement. As Mahaney began to preach a sober message on the sad ending of Solomon's reign, "holy laughter" began to break out in the church. Mahaney could no longer continue speaking, as the entire congregation was hit with the same renewal that currently was underway in Toronto, and being dispensed by Rodney Howard-Browne. The renewal affected both NFI and PDI, and throughout 1994 renewal -- what PDI called "a time of refreshing" -- held sway at CLC and other PDI churches. The high-water mark came at the Memorial Day 1995 Celebration conference in Indiana, PA (theme "Passion for His Presence"). In addition to prolonged periods of worship before the main evening meetings -- punctuated by powerful prophetic songs -- personal ministry was done after one evening meeting. As at Toronto or other renewal spots, the Holy Spirit came in power, and bodies were on the floor by the hundreds as prayer ministry produced laughter, tears, shaking in most of thoese receiving prayer (including myself).

Though there was never any official public pronouncement given, it appeared that PDI began distancing itself from the Toronto-associated renewal after John Wimber expelled TAVC from the Vineyard in December 1995. While in 1994 and 1995 Mahaney was defending the renewal from its critics, including Hank Hanegraff, within a couple of years a PDI pastor, Craig Cabaniss, stated in a public debate that PDI had chosen "Geneva" (i.e., the Reformation) over "Toronto" (the current renewal/revival, and all the negative connotations associated with it).

By 2000, when I left CLC for a smaller church that was more open to the ongoing move of the Holy Spirit, any participation in the 90s renewal had been officially forgotten, and there was a total emphasis on the Cross of Christ, the writings of C.H. Spurgeon, and on identifying and rooting out "indwelling sin" in each member. There was, to me, an unhealthy, guilt-producing, emotional reminder, nearly every week, of how awful our sins were that nailed Christ to the cross. What was unhealthy, to me, was that we were always left at the cross, whereas the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus rose again (having conquered death and sin) and now sits at the right hand of God -- full of authority which he now shares with redeemed men and women for whom sin is not a continuing stumbling block, but something that should be less and less frequent in a maturing believer's life.

So like the Vineyard, PDI (renamed Sovereign Grace early in the 2000s -- after co-founder Larry Tomczak had been forced from leadership in a dispute over whether he had properly overseen his family) had been established following one charimatic renewal, but had then gone on to reject the following charismatic renewal, instead turning back to a 500-year-old foundation in the Reformation. Yet PDI/SGM continues to want it both ways: to have charismatic "distinctives" such as believing in the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and charismatic-style worship, while embracing Reformed theology and rejecting the charismatic wing of US Christianity.

Today, SGM identifies with Baptist pastor and author John Piper (who, BTW, believes the gifts of the Spirit are for today), and anti-charismatic John MacArthur, while still maintaining contacts with Virgo's NFI (which has maintained more openness to Toronto-associated signs-and-wonders ministry), and having nothing to do with any ministry clearly recognized as charismatic. All this to say that C.J. Mahaney has not suddenly become a "reformed charismatic." What *is* sudden is the SGM movement's sudden appearance on the "radar screen" of the church, now that his and his wife's books, plus those of grafted-in Joshua Harris, have become Christian bestsellers. In addition, areas in which PDI/SGM were once too out-there for many (local-church & small-group emphasis) are now popular, and SGM has over 20 years of experience to share.

What's interesting to me is that in rejecting the Toronto-Brownsville style of renewal, PDI/SGM led to the birth of other very successful ministries. Lou Engle and Che Ahn, now leaders at Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena and other related ministries, were both part of TAG and CLC from the earliest days. They moved to Pasadena after Ahn had a dream in which a black man called him to California, much like Paul's dream that led him to Macedonia. Ahn started a PDI church there but was eventually forced out of the movement -- events that Ahn refers to obliquely in his 1998 book, INTO THE FIRE. Ahn and Engle continued to minister in the LA area, however, and when the 90s renewal hit the Vineyard churches, both were radically changed. Locating Harvest Rock Church at Mott Auditorium in Pasadena allowed Ahn to welcome the Toronto and Brownsville streams to California, and HRC hosted a number of Catch the Fire conferences since the late 1990s. Both men went on to found The Call and related youth/revival movements, including a new prayer-based ministry in Washington DC focused on social justice.

Meanwhile, after Tomczak chose to break with PDI rather than continue submitting to a potentially never-ending period of correction, he was welcomed at Brownsville AG and became a member of the teaching staff at their revival school of ministry. He now pastors Christ the King church in Atlanta, and has published books that explore themes he has been advancing since the 1980s -- divine appointments and being a spiritual pioneer".

21 comments:

SJ said...

V v interesting. It's so important to have men and women who refuse to forget history and are prepared to share. We can benefit so much from it. Just a question though ... you shared that Terry Virgo's message has really wrapped things up for you with the past and your unpleasant experience with SGM - why do you still investigate and read these things?

Baxter's Boy said...

A good question. Ralph Waldo Emerson said; "Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding".

While it may have been an unpleasant experience, it was still part of my life for 2 years or so and I want to understand the mentality behind what went on.

Ollie boy said...

Fascinating stuff ... like the guy said - you won't hear that story in such clarity. Really feel like some pieces have slotted together in understanding SGM.

nwood said...

"Tomczak chose to break with PDI rather than continue submitting to a potentially never-ending period of correction" ... I'm sensing this may have been something of your experience?

Anonymous said...

I'm intrigued but somewhat disturbed by the seeming dichotomy between "Geneva" and "Toronto" - surely if these people are truly desirous of Word and Spirit united, it can be seen as "both"? I'm positive that Virgo and Newfrontiers International wouldn't see themselves as choosing Toronto's Renewal over Geneva's Reformation?

An extremely insightful account though.

Mark Heath said...

Fascinating stuff Dan

jul said...

Yes, that's very interesting. Some of it I have gathered in bits and peices over the years. ( There does seem to be a bit of a slant, as the person writing is personally involved and obviously has personal opinions on events that may not have been fully open to him. ) However, there is much truth I can see, especially the part about the doctrine of indwelling sin. The Spirit has been really putting it heavily on my heart lately to pray for our particular church ( a 'model church, and one of the bigger ones) for revival. Though we believe God is calling us to Newfrontiers, we'll still be here for at least 6 months or so. This church is still my concern, and I love the people and pastors in it. And it's only fair to remember that it wasn't always like this. This cooling off and tendency toward legalism is very subtle and could happen to any church and any believer. I personally feel convicted about my self-righteous and apathetic willingness to watch it all happen without doing a thing. Please pray for me and my husband, any of you who feel so inclined, that we will fast and pray on behalf of this church, and repent for our part in the present state of things. Also pray as we will be having another meeting with our pastors soon and we want to be able to humbly and powerfully bring up some of these concerns, which I know they share. Pretty much every powerful move of the Spirit ends up a dying denomination one day. We need all the strong healthy new testament churches we can get. Maybe some of you will also hear the call to do warfare on behalf of Sovereign Grace Ministries. Sometimes the reason Satan interferes so much with a work is that he's afraid; he sees the potential that we miss for lack of faith.

jules said...

There it is once again ... left at the Cross with a neglect of the fact that Jesus has actually risen again and is interceding and active in bringing the nations under His submission!

ts said...

hi. i'm on sort of a crusade against use of the term "spiritual giftings." i used the term many times before myself until one day a visitor to our church called me on it. i realized the person was right, and that the word "giftings" is found nowhere in any english translation of the bible. instead we should refer to them as "spiritual gifts."

anyway, i found this post by doing a blogger search for the word "spiritual giftings." it's in the fifth paragraph of this post.

i don't mean to be rude at all, but just wanted to pass on the message so that non-christians don't think we are grammatically challenged!

thanks so much.

Baxter's Boy said...

Hi TS ... thanks for your comment! I couldnt agree more, I think we must pay careful attention to whether our "catchphrases" are truly found in the Word. In my defence I was actually quoting a man in this post so I didn't actually use that term! I do agree though.

Jul ... my respect for your call is so great and please please be assured of my prayer. I am so encouraged that your pastors see the need too you see. Surely our greatest danger is self-satisfaction.

jul said...

I have no doubt of your prayers. I think you have handled these difficult topics with grace and humility. Thanks again for raising concerns that allow the Spirit to use to convict us and motivate us.

Don said...

Well, it's certainly a surprise to discover my half-forgotten comment, posted at another blog, reproduced in full here. It's been very interesting reading the comments here and after some other of your posts, Dan.

I especially appreciate Jul's remarks above, about needing to pray for SGM. I wholeheartedly agree.

While I disagree with SGM about several issues -- some of which others have discussed throughout this blog and its comments -- I can't deny 1) my roots there, 2) the fact that God used it as a powerful "means of grace" while many Christian friends were falling away from the faith, and 3) that many people are astonished by the spiritual and practical riches they discover at CLC and other SGM churches. I have some new friends whose church is looking to SGM for ideas, and are amazed that my family and I left CLC.

But, as CJ used to say, "attend the church of GOD's choice," and that's what I'm doing. While so doing, I also pray for CLC and SGM and ask God to use them as an instrument to reach people -- Christian or not. I believe that their current cozying-up to MacArthur and other Reformeds may be a strategic part of God's plan to take away the Reformeds' fear of all things charismatic, because He has future plans that we don't know about. (Don't forget that MacArthur authored "Charismatic Chaos.")

On to you, Dan. I can fully understand your having to get the SGM experience worked out of your entire being -- imagine what my wife and I went through as we realized we were going to end up leaving, after having been associated with CLC virtually our entire Christian lives. God refused to "release" us for several years, and used that time to reveal, and help me walk through, a number of issues relating to my CLC/SGM experience. There were some relationship threads that needed to play out; I needed to see very clearly that what God was speaking to me He was *not* speaking to CLC; and, above all, He wouldn't release me until I wasn't just "leaving CLC" but "going to" the next place where we could participate, minister and bless the congregation and leaders. It was a "desert" experience of which I could say much, but God was testing and trying my motives and emotions, and continuing to prepare us before sending us out. I was blessed to receive some spot-on prophetic words during that period, which allowed me to wait with Abraham-like faith in God to bring about things that I couldn't see or even imagine.

I believe there are indeed issues about CLC and SGM that should be discussed, but I implore you and others to do so with godly love. For a while I visited a number of Christian blogs in which charismatic and/or postmodern-Christian ideas/leaders were ground up daily like beef in a butcher's shop -- I couldn't believe how (Christian) people tore apart leaders and churches about whom they had no personal knowledge, no desire to bless or help fellow believers.

It would be easy for that to happen here in regard to SGM. While I don't agree with the statement I used to hear at CLC ca. 1998-2000, "I'm too busy dealing with my own sin, brother!" (to look into anything else happening in Christendom), I do believe that very few people are called into the "cult watchers" ministry, but many more *think* they are -- and say destructive things about any Christian leader, book or movement they happen to disagree with. And with blogs, it's so easy to do.

It's obvious from my long post Dan reproduced here, that I think CLC/SGM made a mistake in rejecting open and continuing identification and involvement with the renewal/revival of the mid-90s. Jonathan Edwards called the critics of the Great Awakening men waiting by the river for all the water to go by -- they were waiting for the "offenses" of the revival to end, but Edwards said that they would be disappointed and would likely find only more offenses, not fewer, as the revival continued. So it was in the mid-90s -- there was much to criticize, but oddly enough, the Holy Spirit kept showing up in the error-filled ministries that continued to welcome His presence.

Among those who chose not to be offended but to "press in" to what the Spirit was doing then in terms of His manifest presence, healing and such, Randy Clark's Global Awakening is now training the next generation to take the gospel-plus-healing-plus-deliverance into the developing world, with great success. Heidi and Rolland Baker's IRIS Ministries have not rejected their friendship with TACF and Randy Clark, and have now established 3,000+ churches in Mozambique due to their preaching-with-signs-following ministry to the poorest of the poor. (Heidi was dramatically, totally healed of life-threatening MRSA bacterial infection on the stage at TACF last October, after a month in a South African hospital getting the most powerful antibiotics on Earth, which didn't do anything to the infection coursing through her body.) Heidi has testified unashamedly of the powerful, loving visions of Jesus she has received while at TACF, which have challenged her to join Jesus in claiming the people of Mozambique for His Kingdom and Body.

So I think SGM made a mistake -- but you know what? Contra F. Scott Fitzgerald, there *are* "second acts" in Christian life, and I'm sure that God will continue to use CLC/SGM as long as He wants. The fact that so many spiritually starved Christians are flocking to the SGM message, worship and church lifestyle is evidence that there's a huge need for such in the USA. I could be a nasty critic of that ministry, waiting in frustration for all the water to go by, but instead I've allowed God to move me and my family to a new place (spiritually and otherwise), where we are contributing and enjoying His presence. We're even encouraging the friends I mentioned earlier to check out SGM to fill their recognized spiritual needs. If they happen to ask about specific problems in that ministry, I will be able to discreetly advise them, but I have no desire to poison their water of spiritual refreshment by spitting in it first.

At the same time, however, I'm encouraging hungry young people I know (and some not-so-young) to pursue the bright and powerful flame of the Holy Spirit as He leads in new ways around the world. The young generation wants anything but boring, predictable Christianity, and Jesus is clearly speaking through the Spirit now, saying "Follow Me, be challenged and amazed!" Check out 24-7prayer.com (read Pete Greig's RED MOON RISING), IHOP in Kansas City (fotb.com), Lou Engle's JHOP.org, Randy's GlobalAwakening.org, and other ministries convinced that God wants the 90s revival to be a multi-generational one. I'm so blessed I've been able to find ministries that are preaching aloud what God put in my heart privately over the years, concerning multi-generational ministry and revival in the spirit of Elijah/John the Baptist, as described in the final chapter of Malachi. (BTW, CLC is doing that in their own way, through their homeschool ministry, church school and pastor's school that are training up a new generation of believers instead of squandering the opportunity.)

The most important thing God told me while I struggled with what to do, as CLC diverged from the revival, was this: Matt 11:12 -- "From the time of John the Baptist to the present, the Kingdom of God suffers violence, and the violent take it by force." (KJV) God told me that he wanted me actively, aggressively, fearlessly, to pursue His leading in *my* own heart (how more Reformed can you get?) and obey the sweet Shepherd's voice that I recognized. That I did, as well as I could. Nowadays, "I'm too busy with my own resurrection-life with Jesus" (heh!) to worry much about SGM.

Sorry this is so long, but it's wonderful commenting at a blog whose author shares some of my own spiritual DNA. I look forward to reading more interesting stuff -- don't stop talking about Martyn Lloyd-Jones!

Baxter's Boy said...

Thanks so much for that gracious and wise comment Don!! I read it so carefully and will indeed take to heart. I want you to know how many of us so appreciate men like yourself who won't forget the experience and the history that God has seen fit for you to have, but more importantly - to learn from and grow from!

But above all your passion to see more of God and more of the Spirit's work in our day and our generation! Thank you for that!

Wasn't it George Whitfield who pleaded with John Wesley to stop the excesses happening around him, and the reply was - stop the excess and stamp them out and the genuine work gets quenched too? I'm sure Dr Lloyd-Jones said that somewhere!

So thank you so much again!

Don said...

Thanks for your kind words, and thanks for your example of continuing to pursue God wholeheartedly. (Did you ever sing the great PDI song with the line, "To know and follow hard after You/To grow as Your disciple in the truth"?)

I don't remember the Wesley quote exactly, but it sounds right. I've read that many Congregationalist and Baptist leaders in the Great Awakening refused to let their audiences display any outward manifestations despite what they were experiencing inside, whereas the Methodists didn't worry about it much. In the Cane Ridge Revival around 1800 on the frontier, "all bets were off" -- people cried, jerked, fell, and sometimes were mown down by the hundreds like falling trees. (I saw that happen with my own eyes in Philadelphia, 1995, as Frank Sizer ministered. It was like a Holy Spirit "wave!"). The important thing, of course, is never what is or isn't happening on the outside, but what God is doing on the inside.

You know, one of the sad things about many believers' response to unabashed, Spirit-led revival is their majoring on the minors, and missing the entire point. I've talked with people about how both Finney and Wesley witnessed the same kind of unusual "manifestations" in their revival meetings, and been astonished at the reply: "You know, Finney/Wesley was an Arminian." To them, that negated everything good accomplished in the revival under those men, and closed the person off from learning anything from those men's life or ministry. To me, it revealed that the person saying that had never experienced the type of Spirit-centered, life-changing revival encounter that they were negating, by pointing to a theological disagreement with the vessel of revival.

I was at a TACF conference in the late 90s, and during one of the messages a holy-laughter episode erupted on the right side of the auditorium. It spread to around 20 people, and got pretty loud for a few minutes. I kept looking at John Arnott, sitting in the front row, to see what he would do. John not only didn't stop the meeting and tell them to pipe down or go somewhere else, he didn't even look back at the commotion.

With my CLC background, I thought this odd -- surely the man in charge should ensure that everything done in the Spirit was done "in order?" After the meeting, I happened to talk with someone who had more experience with TACF, and asked him his thoughts about Arnott's inaction. He replied that Arnott had stated publicly that before the TACF revival in 1994, the Holy Spirit had shown up before in Arnott's church, and Arnott had shut Him down, in embarrassment and concern for order. But he had later promised God that if He showed up again, he would never repeat that mistake. So, this guy concluded, it's unlikely Arnott would do much of anything to silence an outburst like we witnessed, as long as it was clearly a Spirit-led thing happening.

Now, I didn't agree totally with this -- even as a TACF sympathizer, I think I would've stood up and asked the people to go to the back of the auditorium, or to another area of the church, to continue letting the Spirit minister to them. But! I wasn't the leader, and I certainly wasn't the leader through whom God was -- and still is -- working to do amazing things in His people today.

And of course, what happened during the meeting was that after about five minutes, everyone did calm down and the speaker was not, ultimately, prevented from giving his message. If it was the Spirit, He did what He wanted to do in those people, without totally interrupting the teaching of the Word; if it was the flesh or the enemy causing the commotion, no attention was given to it, and so it eventually stopped. It was a real lesson to me, in terms of trusting God in a risky way, to actually be in charge of a meeting that you'd prayed him to take charge of!

Baxter's Boy said...

Thats such a useful example! I think, like you, my background in a conservative charismatic church would have led me to get irritated at those who were distrupting the meeting and want the leader to 'do something'. But I was gripped by that example of Arnott! Surely the most terrifying thing as a leader who is hungry for God to move in power over your individual church is to think "We've missed the moment!".

I can therefore so identify with his openness. As you said so rightly the danger is that we mustn't allow "anything to go". But I am still seized by that quote from Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones who said, how really REALLY identifable with the Corinthians are we? We must remember that Paul said "Decently and in order" to Christians who were getting drunk and the Lord's Table and uttering un-interpreted tongues! I would hazard a guess that didn't even happen at TACF - therefore our danger is not license but legalism in allowing the Spirit to flow and move in the church!

We didn't experience the Toronto Blessing in our church, because my pastor was an avid opponent of it -even writing against it. He made a point of showing us video clips of the worst excesses. And while I appreciate the protection and love he showed for us, I still felt that I had "Missed the moment".

Some years later when I was at Stoneleigh Bible Week 1999, a guy came upto me and prophesied over me that the Lord would "restore to me the years of harvest the locusts have eaten". I've always held that prophecy as extremely precious to me, hence my deep hunger in keeping watch to see when and if the Lord will move again in revival and refreshing on His barren church.

Thanks so much again! I hunger and love these stories and accounts of the Lord moving on His church and "breaking out" in time and space!!

Do it again Lord!

Don said...

It's not too late, Dan! You can go to Toronto and feast at the table - God's still pouring the wine there. I'm sure it's still happening at 'watering holes' in the UK, as well.

I never attended any of the Stoneleigh conferences, but got (and still listen to with great joy!) the music from 1994-2000 or so, and it seemed obvious that the New Wine was flowing for a long time.

Please remember what I said about Matt 11:12 -- it's so important to pursue the Lord with the unashamed aggression of the guys who tore up Peter's roof. If you are desperately hungry and thirsty for a fresh infilling of the Spirit, then find out where it's happening and GO. Don't wait around for God to come to your neighborhood, sometime in the unknown future. If I'd waited in 1995 (when God dropped that verse in my heart in response to my prayer for direction), instead of following the Spirit's lead and *going* to some meetings where the Spirit was ministering in awesome power, I might have missed a huge part of what God wanted for me.

Do you have ministry times regularly at your church, or at any special meetings?

Baxter's Boy said...

Thats such a fantastic truth! That it's not too late!! Yes my church (praise God!!) are so open to the Spirit, it is such a real thrill. I haven't encountered that openness in a church that I can call my own for years now. They frequently hear words of prophecy and just wait and rest and stop to hear what the Spirit may be saying to the churches. Special meetings? Not so much particularly, but I think with the constant openness to the Spirit that is so precious, I don't miss them so much - but I am always hopeful and longing that the Spirit will come freshly in a new wave of renewal and revival, and knowing Newfrontiers as I do, I really believe they will respond to that.

Don said...

I think they will, too!

Anonymous said...

it appears the author has an issue with indwelling sin, do I understand it correctly that he does not belive that sin is a part of earthly life but instead is completely defeated at conversion?

Anonymous said...

Very interesting discussion....please update.

Anonymous said...

Baxter's Boy said...

So like the Vineyard, PDI (renamed Sovereign Grace early in the 2000s -- after co-founder Larry Tomczak had been forced from leadership in a dispute over whether he had properly overseen his family) had


I certainly hope that what PDI brought up about Larry Tomcak's family oversight was sincere and not an excuse to push him out of leadership since his theology was different than what he wanted.

Having some experience with the group, one sad characteristic I saw of the group was that they wanted "conformance" and no people that questioned things. But as Don has stated God has continued to bless them.