"According to the Prophecies that BY THEM You May Wage the Good Fight" - (1 Timothy 1:18-20).
I have to join the ranks of many writers for being silent during the last week or so. Alas I cannot look to a newborn baby as my distraction, or a growing involvement with church ministry, and I certainly am not making a significant decision to write less. No - my excuse is far more insignificant. My wisdom tooth has been growing into the tooth next door for a number of months now and 2 weeks ago the pain hit EXCRUCIATING levels. I finally caved and found a dentist who presented me with a £2, 000 bill for sort outs throughout my jaw. How ironic - that I spotted John Piper's "Suffering and the Sovereignity of God" in my last post!
However once again I have been benefiting from a series by Terry Virgo called "Half Time Team Talk" that a friend very kindly sent me. They are simply OUTSTANDING! Terry referred to the talks in his 'Firstline' in the Newfrontiers magazine - March/May 2004. The basis of the talks came from a prophecy that John Groves brought to the Leaders Conference in Brighton in 2003. Anyone who heard it will remember it. He prophesied that God had brought the movement to a 'half time talk'. It was time to prepare for the second half! Terry admitted in the talks that it was a unique and unusual approach to present an exposition of a prophecy, but that did not downgrade the power of these messages.
His first message was breathtaking. 1. Remember Who You Are! The fact that we have been brought with a price, that we have significant apostolic and prophetic foundations. We mustn't neglect or forget these.
The second message was 2. Play to Your Strengths. This message significantly gripped me and I listened to it several times. It reminded me a bit of a section I read in J K Rowling's fourth Harry Potter book, "Goblet of Fire". Potter is expected to take part in a very difficult challenge and receives some advice from one of his teachers. The teacher says, "Play to your strengths". Potter replied, "I haven't got any". "Excuse me" the teacher growled. "You've got strengths if I say you've got them". Terry Virgo's teaching followed similar lines. He asked questions such as:
"Do you believe the promises? Are you making sure that you are seriously Bible based? Are you making room for the Holy Spirit? Are you walking in tenderness and harmony? Are you part of a church that is committed to prayer and intercession? Could it with integrity be called ‘a house of prayer’? Are you genuinely an apostolic and prophetic community committed to world mission?"
His third message was 3. Watch Out for the Opposition! The battle is not going to get any easier in the second half. We must, therefore, be on our guard and understand that there are genuine risks. Although our salvation has been made secure through the blood of Jesus and the pledge of the Holy Spirit, nevertheless we can make shipwreck of our ministry and lose our reward. So don’t be deceived by your very cunning adversary. Your enemy is cruel. He cheats.
4. On the Attack! This struck a chord in my heart. So much of orthodox evangelical christianity speaks of "defence" and more passive terms of evangelism. This terminology seems to be often held alongside a more negative eschatology. Terry's teaching couldn't be more far removed from that. It was more along the lines of "I will build My Church and Hell's gates will not prevail!". He said;
"One of the most significant parts of the prophecy we received was to say that although we had laid the groundwork of a good ‘first half’, if we were going to win this game, we needed to be in far more attacking mode. We need to move forward ... Some more creative squad players need to be summoned from the bench and brought into play! ... We need to play the game more in the opposition’s half. For instance, praying for the sick should be more in the context of attack than defence. So often our battles with sickness take place when the opposition invades our territory instead of our boldly taking the promise of healing through the name of Jesus into enemy territory".
5. Play the full 90 Minutes! This was a real address to character. He spoke on spiritual authority with such an outstanding tension between license and legalism. He is clearly appalled with anything that smacks of heavy shepherding - speaking on the vital importance of never overruling someones conscience. But also our leaders are not to be blind to sin or to immorality.
"We must repeatedly get renewed, and press on enjoying the Spirit’s constant empowering presence and refreshing grace. We must continue being ruthless in dealing with personal sin, rather than lazily accommodating our failures".
And finally 6. A Final Word! He said:
"As we run to the pitch, God has called us not to a game but to a battle for the lives of men and women. Nations are still waiting to hear the gospel. Other nations that once represented ‘Christendom’ need re-evangelising and to be rescued from cynical, sad secularism".
Once again Terry gripped me with something he said in his closing prayer. He was speaking of dreams and visions. He said;
"Our message is that the dead are being raised". This is something I want to reflect more on tomorrow - because there is a whole train of thought coming!