Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Tide is Turning ... But Do We Know What's Coming?

I was woken up this morning about half past four with a really powerful dream. I dreamt that I was kind of hovering about the Brighton coastline and that I saw the image similar to the one in the photo. A tidal wave was speeding across the sea and moving towards Brighton itself. I began praying as I was biking into work about what it meant.
I think what the Lord was impressing on me was that I have spent a bit of time discussing Terry Virgo's question; "If the tide is turning - what should be our response?". But I feel like God was saying that we need to up our expectation of what this turning tide will be! Some of us see the tide turning as a gentle lapping up the sand. I think God has something far far bigger in mind! I think this turning tide is going to bring devastation on a scale like we have never dreamed before!
My latest transcript project (alongside "The King and His Army" of course - which I am near finishing) is an awesome sermon of Ern Baxter's called; "Ditch Diggers Revival". His text was a passage that I have never dipped into before. 2 Kings 3:15-20. Elisha gets the three kings to dig ditches in preparation for the water that God would miraculously send. Ern awesomely taught that the water would come but if the ditches were not dug then the water would quickly flow away and be lost. Ern said that in his life span he has seen revivals come and go like water without ditches dug and his plea was that the church sit up and take notice and begin digging! I hope to publish this soon here on this site.
I think that sermon theme fits in with Terry's question. We could sit back and wait for the tidal wave to come if God has indeed promised it. But if we do not prepare the wineskin and dig the ditches or whatever metaphor suits you - then we will become known as another generation that squandered the move of the Holy Spirit and let it go. And who knows whether we will see the Spirit move again in our lifetime? A generation sat at the Dales Bible Week in 1976 listening to Ern Baxter teach on the "Kadesh Crisis". He said this that the tragedy was that the Israelites didn't go into the land and died in the wilderness because of unbelief. Ern's plea was that those at the Dales didn't do the same. I wonder if they did.
I don't want to be another casualty who steps back from the thing that God is calling us to and says, "We are not able" when God's assessment was, "You were not willing!". I don't want to be sent back into the wilderness to die when the land is waiting to be taken and giants of Islam, Materialism, Capitalism are waiting to topple! I want to see that promise come to pass;
"As SURELY as I live - ALL the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord!" - Numbers 14:21.
The tidal wave is coming - are we ready for it?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Blogspotting - "Write What You See".

Just a short one ...

1. As ever my friend Mark leads the way in technology and Ern Baxter! He has made available his collection of sermons online and available for download here! He has taught me how to do this and now that I can get my audio cassettes onto my laptop, I too will be progressively doing this with my collection. While I will still gladly offer CD's to anyone interested, this may be a useful and more immediate resource for those who can't wait for the post or who are limited by space.

2. Dave B has written an excellent piece on "Choosing Leaders". He begins by presuming that they are Christians (although we may not be always able to take this for granted). He then argues that five aspects are essential. 1. Character (Titus 1). 2. Convictions - committed to sound doctrine. 3. C U Vision (We could read Vision). 4. Church - need to be rooted in one church. 5. Common Sense - People are different and that's okay!

I realise that this was written with CU Committees in mind but I think it's an excellent piece especially in light of recent tragic events like Ted Haggard. I was reading the discussion that followed Tim Challies posting of the event and in sifting out most of the legalistic babble that inevitably follows such a public fall, there were some good points concerning the responsibility of leadership. One person wondered whether church leaders are too young and should there be a case for ensuring that especially senior elders are older men. Ern Baxter would have agreed with that and I am inclined to agree. Younger men may be able to offer According to Dave's list, I know I wouldn't qualify for leadership! I think I'll be staying safely in the back row!

3. Luke Wood has some interesting background on a "Church Planting Day" in my sister's city - Southampton. Although I haven't (yet) been called by God to join the plant here it is so exciting to keep up to date with news from around our awesome family of churches. 30 people are coming from Winchester Family Church (the sending base). But most exciting of all! Luke will be at the Planting Day with his new initiative - Newgen Books. Awesome books at bargain prices. It's worth going for the books alone!

4. And finally ... I've been incredibly challenged by prophet Matthew Ling from a sister family of churches. He wrote an article called "See What You Have". I've been feeling really worthless and useless for God and His Kingdom recently. Newfrontiers has so many gifted people and I feel like I'm more of a burden than an asset. This article was a rough challenge from a prophet and just what I needed! The conclusion?

"Here's the secret - never say that the little you have is nothing - you will lock up the power of God to impact your situation. Learn to see the little as the seed for a miracle. Be like the widow who had "just a little oil" or the boy with "just 5 loaves and 2 fish" or the woman who said "if I can only touch the hem of his robe".

Don't ever deny what you do have, but confess that our God is a God of increase, a God of multiplication: if we say we have nothing it doesn't matter how many times you multiply it you still have nothing! But God wants to work a miracle through your little thing - so see it for what it is - the seed to a miracle!"

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

"We're definitely in Lord of the Rings time, not Hobbit time".

I am constantly on the look out for prophetic voices that help define the state of the age in which we live. Such defining and insight from God helps focus our prayers and our corporate activity in the Church. Many will remember Don Baker who brought some very helpful insights and history to this website as he was a member of Covenant Life Church in Washington from 1976 to 2000. He has become a hugely respected friend and although I don't get to speak to him as often as I'd like (due to his huge pressures of home teaching!), I value his emails greatly. In a recent discussion, he said the following and it stuck with me.

"We're definately in Lord of the Rings time not Hobbit time. I think it's far more important for us to be out DOING "the stuff" of God rather than debating about it on the Net. The unsaved, and the saved-but-ignorant-of-God's-powerful-love-and-wisdom, need to be guided into authentic experiences with God in real life. This is far more important than our winning Internet debates with a small band of adversarial believers. To paraphrase James, we can write about our faith (on the Net) for fellow believers, or we can demonstrate our faith by actual preaching and living the power-filled Christian life in real life, among both believers and pre-believers".
What then can we learn from the Lord of the Rings, if we are indeed in "Lord of the Rings time?".
1. "I Come Back to You Now At the Turn of the Tide".
For those who are not as avid a fan of Tolkien as I, a word of explanation. This quote was said by Gandalf the wizard after he was re-birthed following his battle with the Balrog. "Turn of the Tide". It sounds remarkably similar to Terry Virgo's words doesn't it? I have already tried to begin addressing the question, "If the Tide is Turning, What should be our response?" here and here. When Terry first brought out his book, the idea of surfers obviously sprang to mind as they are a key group who depend on the tide turning. I read a few websites that give advice to them and was very struck at how like the prophets they are. A great deal of their time is spent watching and waiting and the prophets in the Bible are often called "Watchmen".
Those who do not watch and are resigned to a negative pessimistic eschatology will not even notice the spiritual tide turning, much like those who sunbath on the beach and can often get caught by the tide creeping on them. Let us not be caught unawares! If God is going to move and the tide is going to turn, let us be poised to catch the mighty wave and go!
2. "For Frodo".
This was shouted by Aragorn, the king of Gondor right at the end. The scene was hopeless. He had led the small army to the black gates of Mordor which had opened showing an 100, 000 strong army of Orcs and behind them, the forbidding tower of Barad-dur. In Peter Jackson's film, the scene is gripping. It seems that Sauron is speaking to Aragorn maybe tempting him and those watching Aragorn seem fearful. Aragorn turns his head and smiles with tears in his eyes and says simply, "For Frodo" and then charges alone into the Orcs - prepared to die for his small friend who is currently attempting to climb Mount Doom to destroy the Ring.
I mentioned recently Greg Haslam's definition of vision; "Until you find something to die for - you are not really living". Do we have something to die for? And I mean really die for? What was it that enabled Jim Elliot and his friends to walk fearlessly to their certain deaths as documented by the book, "Through Gates of Splendour". If Greg is right then I fear that many of us are not really living. Once again I passionately believe that it is a positive eschatology that could potentially fire many of us to be ready to die. If we see no end for the Church other than it is going to go out with a whimper and Jesus Christ will return to save us from the advancing hordes of hell, then why bother dying a martyrs death? On the other hand, if we believe that as Revelation states, the blood of the martyrs actually cry out to the Enthroned Lamb for Him to arise and act - what a difference! Do you have something you would die for?
3. "End? No the Journey Doesn't End Here. Death is Just Another Path ... One that We Must All Take".
This scene is where again all looks hopeless. Gandalf and Pippin are with the besieged Gondorians in Minas Tirith. Pippin says, "Is this the end Gandalf" and Gandalf began to speak of the beauty and glory of the white shores of Tolkien's description of heaven. It encouraged Pippin enough to fight again once the Trolls broke through the gates of the second level of the city.
Richard Baxter's, "The Saint's Everlasting Rest" is one of the most precious books that I own in my library. Furthermore it is one of the most unique for incredibly enough there are very few books about heaven and the eternal life that awaits us. I said in my last point that it is a vision of an advancing Church that could inspire us to be prepared to die, but surely we must have a clear vision of what happens after death, if our martyrdom is to be fearless. Consider this quote from Richard Baxter;
"It cannot but be comfortable to think of that day, when we shall join with Moses in his song, with David in his psalms of praise, and with all the redeemed in the song of the Lamb for ever; when we shall see Enoch walking with God; Noah enjoying the end of his singularity; Joseph of his integrity; Job of his patience; Hezekiah of his uprightness and all the saints the end of their faith. Not only our old acquaintance, but all the saints of all ages, whose faces in the flesh we never saw, we shall there both know and comfortably enjoy. Yea, angels as well as saints will be our blessed acquaintance. Those who now are willingly our ministering spirits, will willingly then be our companions in joy. They who had such joy in heaven for our conversion, will gladly rejoice with us in our glorification.
Then we shall truly say, as David, I am a companion of all them that fear thee; when “we are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels; to the general assembly and church of the first-born, who are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant.” It is a singular excellence of heavenly rest, that we are “fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.”
How utterly awesome!! The fact that we shall join the "great cloud of witnesses" is just one small aspect of heaven. Time does not even permit me to ponder on meeting God Himself. But imagine mingling with the greats of history and what they have to say to us. I cannot wait to meet some of my more contemporary church heroes! Will Ern Baxter berate me for this website and for reproducing his ministry I wonder? Or will he have much to say that I missed out? How will it be to meet Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones and to probe into his amazing mind and to learn more of his insights into God?
I am so grateful to Don Baker for this insight into our present day situation and I feel that it fits in perfectly with Terry Virgo's insights in "The Tide is Turning" as well as Rob Rufus's feeling that God is on the move. Don concluded his email to me; "I think rather it will be the signs-and-wonders/intimacy with God/prophetic word/24-7 prayer people whose aggressive prayer and Spirit-led actions bring down enemy strongholds and reap a worldwide harvest". If we truly are in a "Lord of the Rings time" then we cannot and dare not spend exclusive time in our libraries debating the finer points of theology that will not work to save the lost. People are dying! They need a real Church that is truly "the dwelling place for God in the Spirit". Let's go build His house and get out and bring people in to fill it!
Thank you Don!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

"If the Tide is Turning - What Should Our Response Be?" - Part 2.

You may remember that Terry Virgo posed this question in the latest Newfrontiers magazine here. I wrote on Saturday that my deep feeling was that our concern should be our readiness for revival, and I quoted Ern Baxter who spoke about travelling with William Branham. Ern felt that the beginning of Branham's trouble began when he moved out of his gifting as a healer and into teaching. In other words - know our calling and stay in it! This must be vital if the tide is on the turn.

I hadn't noticed this before writing my last blog on this, but Rob Rufus also spoke of prepared wineskins in his One-to-One with Nigel Ring here. Rob said;

"It would require people to look at wineskins to avoid another charismatic movement that will run for a while then burst. Those who have been faithfully establishing wineskins for years need to start looking with expectation that they have not laboured in vain. Others will need to be looking at Scripture and to people who have built according to a Biblical pattern. This is the time to prepare for this visitation by building proper Biblical government and pattern into the church. A Biblical wineskin embraces three elements:-

• Biblical authority structures which is proper government, based on what the Bible teaches, not on democracy.

• Biblical vision which involves going to the nations and involves reaching the lost, seeing an impact into the marketplace.

• Biblical values - how we do it, with integrity, humility, with team, accountability etc".

And the result if we can do this? Rob concluded; "This is to see the glory of God come into the nations that multitudes can be saved". I'm so encouraged that some of the preparation Rob is calling for rests heavily on my heart and I've written about it. For example;

Biblical authority structures - Here we have the importance of church leadership and authority. Churches will never be able to hold and sustain the longed for flood of revival without Spirit anointed, Word orientated men of God! I think that current events involving Ted Haggard's fall make the need for an Ephesians 4 Team Ministry model even more important. Did God ever intend men like Haggard and Roy Clements to be isolated at the head of large churches with noone to be accountable to, and to have noone who would care for them?

The need is desperate for apostles who "love to build the church through church planting and overseeing the early stages of growth". We need prophets who "love to build the church through hearing God's word of encouragement and guidance in season and passing it on". How can we survive without evangelists "to build the church through proclaiming the gospel and seeing people saved and added to the church"? And of course the pastor/teacher who need to shepherd and care for the flock while grounding them in biblical truth.

Biblical vision - My hero Greg Haslam, pastor of Westminster Chapel in London defined vision in the following ways; "People won't even cross the road for a little vision - but they will go to the ends of the earth for a big one ... Vision is sanctified dreaming ... Until you find something to die for - you are not really living ... Visionary people need to seek out other people - preferably with a bigger vision who will fire what they believe". I am amazed how many church leaders, churches and groups of churches are visionless and I do think that their "eschatology shapes their ecclesiology" as David Holden said at Brighton 2000.

One of Ern Baxter's greatest strengths was that he was a man of vision. I think the greatest expression of that vision can be found in the quote at the side of this webpage. It is from "Thy Kingdom Come" - the closing address to the Kansas City Shepherds Conference, and quite possibly his greatest sermon ever. His vision? "the entire universe acknowledging that Jesus Christ is Lord - to the glory of God the Father!".

Biblical values - well I mentioned last Thursday that Terry Virgo was preaching at Church of Christ the King last Sunday. We made the long trip down to Brighton to hear him and as usual he was sooo worth it. The worship was led by a young guy called Jos and was awesomely gospel-centred. Terry's message was, amazingly enough, one that he preached when he came to an All Saints Night at my home church, New Covenant Church, Dunstable (now West Street Christian Centre and Baptist Church ... or something) in the 1970's.

It was entitled "Come With Us and We Will Do You Good". You can get the CD from CCK here and I can't recommend it highly enough. Why? Because in that sermon is contained many of the values that are essential for a wineskin that could hold a mighty move of God. The statement comes of course from Numbers 10 and Terry asked of it a few questions. Who are you? Where are you going? Why are you so confident? These are all issues that we must be content with as the People of God if God is going to add to us in revival!

That all being said, there is a tension to be held. The wonderful Hillsongs church had a great song that carried the line, "I'm not satisfied to have the form without the power!". David Holden addressed this at "Together on a Mission" in Brighton in his outstanding session. He spoke of the evangelical tendancy to "dial down" on the Holy Spirit when things aren't quite as they should be. Ern Baxter was absolutely clear on the vital need for the baptism of the Holy Spirit (and of course revival). He said;

"I think I have found that in my best experiences (and I am more a teacher than a methodologist) but I think what I have found is the simple rule of sowing and reaping. That I reap what I sow. What I preach is what I get. And if I address my congregations constantly out of a Trinitarian base and show the significant importance of the Holy Spirit, I have to first generate a hunger in men and women that makes them know that the Holy Spirit is not an optional Pentecostal bonus.

That the Holy Spirit is mainline standard equipment for a New Testament Christian. Then the question of them coming into the Holy Spirit becomes very existential because as you are dealing with each person, you are dealing with them as a person and God will direct you differently on how you bring them in and I’ve could tell you a whole load of stories about that. I’ve had them receive Him in my kitchen and in my living room and sitting in cafes and everything else. But the thing that gave them the hunger to press in was the fact that I made the Holy Spirit so absolutely essential to them that they knew that they couldn’t live another day without Him. We have made the Holy Spirit a Pentecostal luxury. And it’s not – it’s the heart of Christianity."

So let our prayer be that the tide continue to turn! But let's be poised to catch it and go!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Ern Baxter on CD!

I hope I can be forgiven for some excessive enthusiasm at what is definately a first for me! Today I managed to get Ern's message; "Thy Kingdom Come!" onto CD and it works!! This is all thanks to my dad and my brother-in-law for their advice and help.

My excitement is due to a number of issues. Just as when I managed to convert all my ministry videotapes of Ern Baxter across to DVD, I am all too aware that much of the audiotapes and videotapes are now at least 30 years old and are in danger of wearing out. Getting the masters copied will, I hope, preserve them from being continually played! Secondly of course most stereo systems in cars and homes are mainly equipped with CD draws and audio players are becoming rarer. And also the whole process of copying is much easier as I can copy all the audio messages onto my laptop and then copy a CD off when someone wants it.

So here below is the list of many of the messages that I have. If any appeal to you, then please do email me and I would be happy to send you ... a CD!!

1. “The King and His Army” Series from the Lakes Bible Week 1975.

Note: This was the series of sermons referred to by Terry Virgo at Brighton 2004.

- The Head and Shoulders Man.
- The Decline and Death of the Head and Shoulders Man.
- Transition from One King to Another.
- The Army.
- From Hebron to Zion!

2. “Where Are We Going?” Series from the Dales Bible Week 1976.

- Session 1 – “A Crisis Beginning”.
- Session 2.
- Session 3 – “Miraculous Living”.
- Session 4.
- Session 5.
- Session 6.
- Session 7 – “The Land, Located and Described”.
- Session 8.- Session 9 – “The Kadesh Crisis”.

3. “The Priestly Clothing” Series from the Anglia Bible Week 1983 (also available on DVD).

- Session 1 – “A Kingdom of Priests”.
- Session 2 – “The Linen Breeches”.
- Session 3 – “The Coat of Fine Linen”.
- Session 4 – “The Robe of the Ephod”.
- Session 5 – “The Ephod”.
- Session 6 – “Strange Fire”.

4. Ern Baxter Classic Sermon Collection.

a. “Thy Kingdom Come” – Kansas City Shepherds Conference 1975.
b. “The Government of God” – Kansas City Shepherds Conference 1976.
c. “The Spirit and the Word” – New Covenant Church, Dunstable 1991. (also available on DVD).
d. “Life on Wings” – Fort Lauderdale, Florida 1979.
e. “The Gospel of the Garden” - 1987.
f. “The Gospel of the Kingdom” - 1987.
g. “The Gospel of the Land” - 1987.
h. “The Hour of the 4th Watch”.
i. “Sitting at Jesus’ Feet”.
j. “The Meaning of Covenant” – Bob Mumford Recommended Tape.
k. “The Restoration of Divine Structure and Authority”.
l. Baking Cakes Without a Word.
m. “The Earth Is the Lords!”.

5. The Adam/Christ Analogy Series.

- Session 1 – “Pauline Epistles”.
- Session 2 – “Sin”.
- Session 3 – “The New Man”.
- Session 4 – “Old Man/New Man”.
- Session 5 – “Romans 6:6”.

6. The Cross Series.

- Session 1.
- Session 2.

7. “Things Most Surely Believed” Series.

- Consequences of Violating God.
- Chief Shepherd and His Sheep.
- Discipleship and God’s Kingdom.
- Satan’s First Attack on God.
- Creation Began With Authority.
- Qualifications of a Shepherd.
- Responsibilities of a Shepherd.
- When Shepherds Fail.
- Authority and Trinity.
- Christ’s Mission Is to Restore.
- Disorganisation Is Progressive.
- How the Church Must Function.
- Autobiography and Introduction.
- How Satan Attacks All Men.
- Shepherding Through the Bible.

8. Laying Church Foundation Series.

- The Prayer Life of Jesus.
- Love Not the World.
- How to Avoid a Nervous Breakdown.
- Biblical Role for Young Men.
- God’s Word is Supreme.
- Christ’s Body and the Church.
- But As For Me.
- Purity and Peculiar People.
- Approaching God.
- Restoration through Resurrection.
- The Business of Living.
- Can God Use You?
- The Glory of God’s Plan.
- Fight the Good Fight.
- The Power of the Father’s Love.
- Saved by the Law.
- Jesus’ Church – Getting In.
- Jesus’ Church – Staying In.
- The 7 Loves of John 14.
- Growing Up in Christ the Head.
- Sitting at Jesus’ Feet.
- It’s God’s Church Not Ours.
- On Communion.
- Clean Out License and Legalism.
- Saints in the Wrong Places.
- Leaders and Loyalty.
- Shrivelled Saints.
- The 7 Characteristics of Jesus.
- Cleanse Ourselves!
- Baptism is a Foundation Stone.
- A Peculiar People
– The Church.

9. “The Serving Community” – Anglia Bible Week 1982 (single message only).

10. Series at New Covenant Church, Dunstable 1991.

- History Making Prayer. (also available on DVD).
- Order.
- The Cross.

11. Series at the Life in the Spirit Conference, High Leigh 1991.

- “The Kingdom”.
- Pastoral and Prophetic Insights Part 1.
- Pastoral and Prophetic Insights Part 2.

12. "The King, the Kingdom and the Holy Spirit Conference".

- Calamitous Compromise.
- A Serious Imbalance - the Neglect of Resurrection.
- The Kingdom of God.
- A Serious Neglect.
- The World, the Kingdom and the Church.
- The Kingdom and the Trinity.
- Doer of the Word - Part 1.- "Ye do Err because ye know now the Scriptures of the Power of God".
- Doer of the Word - Part 2.-Revelation and the Holy Spirit.
- Three Discourses.

13. The Risen Christ's Gifts.

- Tape 1.
- Tape 2.
- Tape 3.
- Tape 4.

14. Prophecy Seminar.

- The Prophets and the Promise Past.
- The Prophets and the Promise Present.
- The Prophets and the Promise Future.

15. The Kingdom of Truth.

- Kingdom Confusion.
- Kingdom Controversy.
- Kingdom Aspects.
- Kingdom Purpose.
- Truth Defined.
- Demonstration of Truth.

16. The Power and Purpose of Praise.

- The Power and Purpose of Praise.
- Prayer in the New Order.
- Reasons for Praising the Lord.
- Saints and Celebration.
- The Church and It's Mission.

17. Preaching.

- Nature and Goal of Preaching.
- Preparation for Preaching.
- Manner of Preaching.

18. Keys of the Kingdom.

- How to Get In.
- How to Stay In.
- How to Grow In.

19. Ultimate Triumph.

- Prophesied in the Old Testament.
- Inaugurated in the Gospels and Acts.
- Consummated in the Epistles and Revelation.

20. Apostolic Church Planting - Acts 19 and 20.

- Tape 1.
- Tape 2.
- Tape 3.
- Tape 4.

21. Timothy Sessions.

- The Holy Spirit is Christ.
- The Holy Spirit is Christ - Part 2.

22. Revelation 4 and 5.

- Part 1.
- Part 2.

23. Foundations of the Faith.

- Foundations - Their Place.
- Repentance - Their Place.
- Sin and Repentance Foundations.
- Faith Foundations.
- Baptism Foundations.
- Baptism Foundations Part 2.
- Baptism Foundations Part 3.
- Laying on of Hands Foundations.
- Resurrection of the Dead.
- Resurrection of the Dead Part 2.
- Eternal Judgement.- Eternal Judgement Part 2.

24. Individual Tapes.

- The Law of the Spirit.
- Peter's Prophetic Miracle Walk.
- What On Earth Is God Saying About Discipling the Nations?
- The Glorious Church Will Be Holy.
- "Ditch Diggers Revival".
- A Serious Imbalance.
- Restoring the Glory.
- Sitting at Jesus Feet.
- Where is God Taking Us?- Kingdom Pressures.
- Baptized Intelligence.
- Word and Spirit.

25. The Image of God Series.

- Man and Creation - Statement of Fact.
- Man and Creation - Elaboration of Fact.
- The Corrupted Image.
- The Composition of the Image.
- The Physical Image.
- The Express Image.
The Charles Simpson Leadership Conference 2007!

Sorry things remain quiet around here blog-wise. Internet connection still isn't up at home so I can only blog at the hospital or when I go in with Scott to university. Rest assured I am still as busy as ever transcribing "The King and His Army". My dad and I have also achieved something of a breakthrough with my mission to convert Ern's audio messages from tape to CD!

We are working with a programme called "Nero" which looks great for ironing out poor sound and echo. I have managed to record the whole of "Thy Kingdom Come" - Ern's awesome message from the Kansas City Shepherds Conference onto my laptop. I am now working on editing it and hope to get it onto CD over the weekend. I am told I will get quicker as I get more au fait so I will keep you posted.

My main aim for this brief update was to say that I received information about Charles Simpson's Leadership Conference in April 2007 next year! The theme is "Resolving Conflict" and the speakers are Charles himself, Bob Mumford and Ken Sumrall (in the picture above). It is my hope to go. I think being at the conference with men who knew Ern so intimately could be an awesome spiritual experience.

Hope to resume normal blogging soon!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

"If the Tide is Turning - What Should Be Our Response?"

In his Firstline article from the latest Newfrontiers magazine, Terry Virgo asked this extremely relevant question. It is my hope in this blog to consider that question and to use Ern Baxter to begin to try and answer it. When change is in the air and prophecies of promise begin to occur, the atmosphere is rich with excitement and expectation but I wonder if the danger is that consideration isn't given to how to sustain the hoped for move of God that may be coming. Or to put it Scripturally - is the wineskin ready for the longed for wine?

During the end of his ministry and life, Ern Baxter spoke of a weariness with seeing revivals flow and ebb and a deep longing for a sustained move of God that comes, revolutionises the society in which we live and leaves a deep effect that lifts the church up into a higher dimension of fellowship with the Spirit of God along with a deep impact on the unbelieving community in which we live. If we are truly to benefit from the prophetic teachers that God has gifted the community with, then perhaps this warning needs to be heard.

The answer that I think could form part of the answer to Terry Virgo's question comes from the transcript of the series, "The Priestly Clothing" that Ern preached at the Anglia Bible Week 1983. Ern's text was Leviticus 6:13 and he was speaking on Aaron's sons - Nadab and Abihu - coming into the Presence of God and offering "Strange Fire".

"Nadab and Abihu’s Sin.

What did they do? They placed unholy fire in their censors and laid incense on the fire. Now let’s talk about that for a few moments. The KJV says they offered “strange” fire. I’m not going to turn to it but I’ll give it to you – in chapter 9 and v24 and Leviticus 6:13 we have the story of what happened. Are you listening now? When this was all ready to God – God supernaturally ignited this fire. There was a supernatural fire that ignited this altar and the order of God was that it was never to go out. Now to bring incense in from this altar which incidentally – listen now – the incense which was brought in from here, all the way through here on certain occasions – morning and evening and offered here on this altar – that was the prerogative of Aaron.

Now Nadab and Abihu did two things wrong; 1. They usurped their office. It was not enough that they were ordinary priests; they tried to fill dad’s shoes. Can I pause there and make an observation and I do this with considerable pain. I travelled with William Branham was probably the most gifted of all the healers. His supernatural gift was absolutely astounding and astonishing and 100% accurate within its boundaries. But William Branham always fancied himself as being some kind of a Bible teacher, and he left a bad legacy of error. The Bible says you are to remain in your calling. God has given you a calling and He has given you a measure of grace. When you find out what your measure is, you stay in that measure. When a miracle worker tries to be a Bible teacher or a Bible teacher tries to be a miracle worker you’ve got problems because God didn’t call a miracle worker to be a Bible teacher and vice versa. When they cross over the boundaries of their calling, they’ve got to deal with the God of their calling.

How many understand what I’m saying now? This is solemn business. When I travelled with William Branham, well meaning friends of mine would says; “Oh brother Ern wouldn’t it be terrific if God gave you brother Branham’s gift?”. “No” I said, “I don’t want brother Branham’s gift! I don’t think I could handle it. I like my own gift. I know what I am, I’m happy with what I am. I’m just a Bible explainer and exhorter and I’m just happy with it. I don’t want his gift”. But you see they were already baiting me! The suggestion was, well have you tried it? You don’t try a gift – you exercise a gift! A lot of people try gifts – you’ve got to have one, before you can use it. You don’t get the same effect by simulating. Now Nadab and Abihu were not Aaron. Well why do you want to be Aaron if you’ve already got an obvious gifting? Already they’d be anointed – their earlobe, their big thumb and their big toe. They were anointed to walk with God in their calling. That’s the meaning of the blood on their earlobe, thumb and their large toe of the right foot. To hear His voice, to do what He says and to go where He wants you to go because the blood is on you! And the anointing oil! Not only the blood brought to do it, but the anointing to enable you to do it. And that’s all you’re to do! Stay in your calling.

That wasn’t all. When they were going to do what they shouldn’t do and that is to go in and offer incense on this altar which was the prerogative of their father and not their prerogative. Instead of taking the supernatural fire off this burnt altar which was part of the divinely ordained liturgy, they went over here and got some fire probably from one of the big boiling pots used for boiling the sacrificial meat. They got ordinary fire that man had kindled. And they brought that incense in, usurped father Aaron’s place and brought in strange fire. As they were about to offer it on this altar – fire came out from God and consumed them.

Now here’s an interesting thing dear people. 2. They had the right incense but the wrong fire and they were the wrong people. What is the right incense? Well the right incense is the content of our worship. You can read about that incense in Exodus chapter 30 verse 34 to the end of the chapter and I haven’t time to talk to you about it other than to say that God told Moses that this incense was to be made from God’s recipe and that it wasn’t to be used for man. It was specifically for God. Now I talked to you a little last night about prayer. I simply need to say to you that the content of our worship and approach to God must come from the Word of God. It must be divinely ordained incense. I can’t develop this other than to say I shudder as I hear what some people bring into the Presence of God in the name of worship, in the name of prayer – yes and in the name of praise. Some of the carnal, ungodly shenanigans that are done presumably in the Presence of God to worship God are not the incense of God’s divine recipe.

Now they had the right incense but the wrong fire. What is the right fire? Well the right fire is the supernaturally once-for-all kindled fire that shall never go out. For us in the New Testament it’s having access to God by the Holy Spirit. God is seeking those to worship Him who will worship him in spirit (that’s the right fire) and in truth (that’s the right incense). One more thing they did and then we’ll talk about it and close. When they took that incense – the right incense, but the wrong fire – they came in father Aaron’s place. Do you know what they were doing? They were coming in their own name. Aaron was the only one who had a right to come. Now what does this mean? Why is the Bible so insistent that we come to God through Jesus Christ? Why is that? Because I cannot come to God apart from Jesus Christ. They tried to come to God apart from Aaron. The only way incense on the altar had any meaning to Nadab and Abihu and Ithemar and all the rest of them – the only way that had value to them was through their high priest. When they tried to bypass their high priest they were killed. You and I only can come to the Father by Jesus Christ – there is no other way.

Okay now let’s go to verse 9. I’m not going to say this categorically happened but its very interesting to me that v9 came so quickly after this awful event. It says; “Now the Lord instructed Aaron; ‘Never drink wine or strong drink when you go into the Tabernacle lest you die!”. I’m just going to make this suggestion. God will correct me in that day if I’m wrong – maybe sooner. I’m going to suggest that perhaps Nadab and Abihu had been drinking strong drink maybe in the celebration of the great inauguration – the fact of their great placing and nobody is more vulnerable to this kind of thing than men and women who are in positions of leadership. It can go to your head! Being a leader can be heady wine.

I want to say something to you. Specifically male leaders – you will have an attractiveness that God gives you because He wants you to attract people for His glory and you can make the awful mistake of thinking; “Look at all these people coming to me after I preach and pray for the sick. Look at them all coming. My there must be something wonderful about me”. And you take their gratitude and their adulation and that’s why ministers are constantly getting into trouble because they don’t realise that their attractiveness is not for the purpose of self-aggrandisement but it’s to the glory of God. I am suggesting that Nadab and Abihu probably in the excitement of the great inauguration day violated the rules of sobriety and that’s what led them to take strange fire, to usurp father Aaron’s place, take incense in and to die before God.

You say ‘What do you think strong drink stands for?’. I think strong drink stands for any stimuli that you and I permit in replacement for the Spirit of God. I remember in my native Canada a certain minister who was a very eloquent unregenerate minister and they said he was especially good in the pulpit, he was a man with a certain gift of languages but in the pulpit he was tremendous. They eventually fired him because they found out that he demolished a fifth of Scotch every time he got up to preach and that loosened his tongue and he was eloquent! He was full of the spirit. (*laughter*). Now I didn’t say that to illicit a response of humour. Primarily it is humorous but it is tragic. ‘Be not drunk with wine wherein is excess BUT’ – you see that’s just not a plain command without a reason. ‘BUT be filled with the Spirit’. Wine stands there for any false stimulus.

Have you noticed today that our whole society is dependent on false stimuli? Alcohol – drugs – sex kicks – aberrations – perversions – distortions – pornographic entertainment. They are so bereft of the one true source of enthusiasm and right stimulation that they have to turn to the one thing that killed Nadab and Abihu. How many are hearing what I’m saying now? I don’t want to put you under bondage but I’ve said enough things this week that you understand, I am saying to you that when you’re coming to the Presence of God just like this – you’re coming into assembly. You’re coming in with the community of God’s people and you better come in prepared and then live in the light of the supernatural Spirit of God, feed upon the anointed Word and offer your supernatural praise to a supernatural God. You don’t need false stimulus for that! There’s enough light from the menorah and there’s enough energy from the Word to give you all that you need to raise holy hands and magnify God. You don’t need to be stimulated by false stimuli – certainly not strong drink or anything else".

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Pondering Life on the Web ...

It's been a while since I've done a blogspotting thing. That doesn't mean that I haven't been looking but there hasn't been much that has stirred me to write a blog if I'm honest. Does that mean that the internet is descending into meaninglessness? Or I'm just not quite as easily irked as I was? I hope that it suggests that I am choosing my words more carefully as we are accountable for everything we say and do and type.

So this isn't going to be a classic 'blogspotting' piece (whatever that genre may be) but more a snapshot of what I'm doing, where I'm going and what I'm reading - some of that includes blogs of course. Do feel free to pass on by to more worthy material such as Ern Baxter!

Terry! Well another 'Luke and Dan special'. Terry Virgo is preaching at Church of Christ the King in Brighton! Some may wonder why this is worthy of mention - but as I can make out, the last time Terry preached at Church of Christ the King was quite a few months ago. He is incredibly busy understandably fathering a growing movement like Newfrontiers so I suspect the times that he is home in Brighton and preaching may become rarer. Fortunately CCK have an evening service! So we'll be travelling to Brighton to hear him and through him the God-entranced vision he lives.

The Newfrontiers Magazine Online: This outstanding magazine that I reviewed a few days ago is now available online here. Okay I might be slightly biased, but I have yet to come across a magazine that stands for so many of the passions that I treasure. The commitment to Word (Reformed Doctrine) and Spirit (Charismatic Life). The commitment to taking the Gospel to the Nations. The commitment to the local Church. It can all be found here! I forgot to mention that the One-to-One this issue is with Rob Rufus. It's a fascinating insight into a man of God that I can't wait to encounter again.

Andrew Fountain: I've got Luke to thank for this discovery. It seems Andrew Fountain is part of Newfrontiers Canada in a church called 'Newlife Church'. What impressed me beyond belief is that I think he has the most in-depth reviews of all of the sessions from "Together on a Mission 2006". They are here. I'm guessing he's listened to the CD's unless Prof McGonagall got him a time-turner. The standard has been raised most certainly for live-blogging "Together on a Mission 2007"!

A New Blog! I'm always eager to find new blogs that will be worth regularly reading. This blog is by Billy Kennedy - the leader of Community Church, Southampton. It's a large charismatic church that I have visited once and was very blessed when I went there. It was great to see that Billy met up with Terry Virgo recently. He said that Terry was concerned that he was okay with Newfrontiers planting into Southampton - which Billy assured him he was. That kind of knocks on the head the scaremongerers favourite gossip that Newfrontiers barges into cities thoughtlessly. Looking forward to seeing what he has to write.

Sam Storms Most Influential Books: Commissioned by Justin Taylor, Dr Storms has put together a list of what he considers to be the most influential books in evangelicalism. He seperates out the list into two - what are the most influential books and what should have been the most influential books. John Piper made Number 1 of his "should-haves", Wayne Grudem polled Number 3 and Jack Deere made Number 10. It's an interesting question - what books have influenced me the most - aside from the Bible? Or you? And why?

The Amazing Library! This is where I digress from blogs for a moment. My friend Pete and myself have just invested in this. It's essentially a parcel of 36 CD's with over 1, 000 books on them in Acrobat Reader form. Historically I am pretty anti having books on CD-Rom. I like books to sit on my bookshelf and be accessible that way. I like the look of books. I just love books! But I couldn't deny that these CD's will open up a whole army of material that would take me years to buy. From what I've read so far - it's more than surpassed my expectations! Worth taking a look any bookophiles!

Reformation Day: This symposium shows that quite a few people got pretty excited about this day. But it was Luke's blog that really got me excited. I don't see the point in re-visiting church history for history's sake. So Obadiah Sedgewick liked to wear woollen socks in bed ... how will that help us win the lost and take the Gospel to the ends of the earth? Luke wrote;

"We can expect Him to do the same in our day. As we look for the church to be fully restored we can wait expectantly for God to move and restore us that much closer to His norm. I believe He will do it. I believe He is doing it ... Hear that? It is possible. We will see the Church restored, the expression of Christianity changed around the world and God glorified through a glorious, triumphant Church!".

And Finally ... Jonathan Edwards on Angels.

Does anyone remember "A God-Entranced Vision of All Things"? During Dr Sam Storm's message; "Joy's Eternal Increase", he set out a challenge. He said that hardly anyone had looked into what Jonathan Edwards had to say on the subject of the angelic. I decided to take up the challenge and see what I could find. Here's a sample:

The Angels Demonstrate the Order of God: (Works, Volume 2)

"The design of God in thus ordering things, is to teach and show that he is all, and the creature nothing, and that all exaltation and dignity belong to him; and therefore those creatures that are most exalted shall in other respects be least and lowest. Thus, though the angels excel in wisdom and strength, and are advanced to glorious dignity, and are principalities and powers, and kings of the earth, yet God makes them all ministers to them who are much less than they, of inferior nature and degree. Thus, also, the saints who are most exalted in dignity are servants to others.

The angelic nature is the highest and most exalted created nature; yet God is pleased to put greater honour upon our inferior nature, viz. the human, by causing that the Head and King of all creatures should be in the human nature, and that the saints in that nature in Christ, should be in many respects exalted above the angels, that the angelic nature may not magnify itself against the human; and the man Christ Jesus, that creature who is above all, owes his superiority and dignity, not at all to himself, but to God; viz. to his union with a divine person".

The Angels Demonstrate the Rule of God: (Works, Volume 2).

"So they are a kind of princes under God, over such and such parts of the creation, or within such a certain sphere ... God hath concealed the particular spheres of the angels’ dominion and ministry, that we might not be tempted to idolatry. They, therefore, that worship angels under a notion of such and such angels having a superintendency over such particular persons or affairs, intrude into those things that they have not seen. It is not reasonable to suppose that the angels are called thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, merely for the honour they have in their great abilities and excellent qualifications, for the words do properly denote rate and authority".

The Angels Demonstrate Christ's Supremacy: (Works, Volume 2).

"(The Angels) were dependent on the sovereign grace of Christ to uphold them and assist them in this service, and to keep them from ruining themselves, as the fallen angels had done; by the fall of the angels, especially of Lucifer, the greatest, brightest, and most intelligent of all creatures, they were taught their own emptiness and insufficiency for themselves, and were led humbly in a self-diffidence to look to Christ, to seek to him, and depend on him, in whom it pleased the Father that all fulness should dwell to preserve them. So that they all along hung upon him".

That's a pretty appropriate place to end. "To look to Christ ... and to depend on Him".

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Good Foundations: Repentance by Dr Ern Baxter.

I began to touch last week on the vital importance of good foundations in the Christian life, when I was writing about the latest volume of the Newfrontiers magazine. Terry Virgo wrote in his Firstline;

"It could be argued, of course, that everything changed on the great resurrection morning when Jesus conquered death for ever, or perhaps on the triumphant day of Pentecost when the powerful Presence of God was poured out on the waiting disciples. New creation began! The long awaited eschatological kingdom was inaugurated!".

Beginnings matter! The old picture is of buttoning up a shirt. If you get the first button wrong then it doesn't matter whether all the other buttons are in the right hole, the whole shirt will be uncomfortable to wear. This was a passion of Ern Baxter's heart and he wrote the following article on "Repentance". I found it in a second hand copy of "Vintage Years - Selected Articles from New Wine's first decade: 1969-1979". So over to Ern:

"Before we discuss the subject of repentance, we first need to stress the importance of good foundations in the Christian life. Most of the problems we encounter as Christians and many impediments to our personal growth derive from our failure to have laid sound foundations at the very beginning. If we were to ask, most believers would probably say, "I've laid a good foundation" and yet in talking to those same people about repentance, it's amazing that most know nothing about it. Whoever brought them to the Lord failed to give them a sound beginning.

"All Have Sinned".

We can't talk about repentance without talking about sin. Although sin is a whole different subject, we must touch on it in discussing repentance because Jesus came, "Not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance" (Luke 5:32). "Repentance from good works" is exactly the way that this part of our "Christian foundation" is described. Dead works proceed from moral seperation and for every man outside of Jesus Christ, everything he does no matter what form sin takes in his life, is constituted dead works. Now you may say, "What do you mean 'the form sin takes'?". In the Roman epistle, Paul speaks of at least three kinds of sinners. First are the gross sinners. Most of us tend to look upon these as the "real" sinners - the homosexual, the immoral person, the idolater. The whole gross, senuous sordid mess of improper human relationships that find expression in the carnal appetites constitutes sin to many people.

But in the second chapter of Romans, Paul goes on to say, "Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest, for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things". Those who boast, "I don't stoop to that kind of human behaviour" I would call, "Philosophical sinners", "Academic sinners" or "intellectual sinners". They're too busy sinning with their brains to sin with their bodies, too busy trafficking in Freud and every other kind of literary unbelief to participate physically in sin. All their sinning takes place in their ivory towers.

Then there is a third class which Paul notes; the religious class and this is a touchy area. Paul said, "Behold thou art called a Jew ..." (Romans 1:17) and then proceeded to expose the hypocrisy of the religious sinner. Years ago I talked to a young Hindu man in India who told me that neither tobacco nor alcohol had ever touched his lips, nor had he ever laid hands on a girl. As he listed all the things he hadn't done, he sounded exactly like Saul of Tarsus, "... touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless". But when I pressed the claims of Jesus Christ upon him, his response was to place his list of external moral accomplishments over and above Jesus Christ. Unwilling to confess the intellectual and "sophisticated" sin in his life, he claimed his own "religion" superseded God's prescribed righteousness. So when we talk about the basic nature of sin, we must realise that a sinner is not always characterised by gross sin.

In the New Testament there are 9 Greek words for sin and 21 lists of sin, consisting of 202 defined sins. Eliminating repetitions, we find 103 specific sins listed. Although it is important to view sin as definitive acts specified in God's word, there is a danger that we may fail to deal with the nature of sin. All works of unregenerate man, whether they be gross sinners, philosophical sinners or religious sinners emanate from moral death and are therefore dead works. They are the works of men dead in trespasses and sin. The essential principle of all sin is selfishness, most comprehensively defined in Isaiah 53:6, "All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all". "Everyone to his own way!". The equivalent in the New Testament is 2 Corinthians 5:15; "... he died for all that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves but unto him which died for them and rose again". Isaiah and Paul are in agreement that sin is essentially; "doing what I want in any given situation as opposed to what God wants me to do in that situation". All of us have fallen into the trap.

"Repentance Defined".

Thank God that we have something to take care of sin; it's called repentance. So having made our point that repentance has to do with sin, we want to speak of repentance itself. In the New Testament there are also two words translated 'repent'. One is similar to the first Old Testament word. It means a feeling of "remorse or regret". It comes very close to remorse but remorse is not necessarily necessary. It just means you feel bad. But the other New Testament word, "metanoeia" means, "a change of mind" or "to have another mind". Actually repentance is changing your mind from what you have believed on any given subject to what God has revealed on that subject. "Metanoeia" is also associated with the word "turn" and implies a personal decision to turn from sin and enter into fellowship with God.

In the contemporary approach to the sinner, there has been too little emphasis on repentance. Not only must the sinner change his mind about God, himself, his actions and the world around him, he must also take definite moral action to implement his change of mind, To further define this process, repentance is the informing and changing of the mind, the stirring and directing of the emotions to urge the required change and the action of the yielded will in turning the whole man away from sin to God.

When we approach a sinner let us never be afraid of making him morally responsible for coming to God. The first time I read the writings of Charles Finney, the great revivalist, I closed them and said, "He's a humanist". I resented the fact that he laid moral responsibility upon men. At that time because of my background, I held the extreme view that man was totally incapable of doing anything. This of course is incorrect. Man is capable of hearing the gospel. Man is capable of making the decision, "I will turn to God". What he is not capable of doing is doing it - it takes the grace of God to actually turn him. But he is capable of deciding to do it and he must be held morally responsible for that decision of will by which he says, "God here I am. Turn me and I shall be turned".

We are indebted to Finney, especially for some of his definitions, which are almost in the ultimate. Here is Finney's definition of repentance, " ... it implies an intellectual and a hearty giving up of all controversy with God upon all and every point. It implies a convicion that God is wholly right and the sinner wholly wrong and a through and hearty abandonment of all excuses and apologies for sin". When Finney says, " ... an intellectual and a hearty giving up of all controversy with God upon all and every point", I appreciate his inclusion of "intellectual". Much evangelical preaching assumes you have to cut off your head in order to believe with your heart. But God talks to our minds, we make decisions with our minds. Repentance likewise speaks to the mind. People who say the mind plays no part in conversion ought to have tremendous revivals in mental institutions.

The "conviction that God is wholly right" establishes a significant ongoing principle. If we accept this principle at the beginning of our Christian lives, then in subseqent encounters with God on any issue, He will be wholly right again. Finney also defines repentance as, "a through and hearty abandonment of all excuses and apologies for sin". That means we must honestly face the gravity and depth of our sin, so that we may appreciate the totality of God's clensing grace. Vance Havner, a well-known Christian author, is quoted as saying, "Today cheap grace is being preached and received by cheap faith resulting in cheap Christians".

Before we go into repentance scripturally, there is one other quote from Havner which provides the delicate balance to what we have thus shared so far. "It is no easy matter so to preach repentance as not to discourage truly humble souls or so to proclaim God's forgiving love as not to encourage presumptiousness and carelessness. ". Where is the balance between confronting a man with, "Mister as a sinner you must wholly agree with God that you are lost and undone and you must turn from your sin" and yet letting him know that "God's love is as wide as the ocean and He will forgive all your sins and save you?". That delicate balance is not easy to maintain! We must preach repentance to those responsive to God without sending them away under a burden of discouragement, while at the same time, not stripping the love of God of its demand for moral responsibility so that the same people go away presuming on God's grace".

Next: 14 Reasons for Repentance and Factors Leading to Repentance.