Monday, July 21, 2008

No-One Else Dared Join Them!!

Well we're safely back in Birmingham - landed at half past one and noticing the temperature difference! It's been quite a week and there's lots to reflect on and tell. Thanks to all who took the time to leave comments - I know there's a bit of diversity of opinions on comments. I for one really appreciate them - even the angry anonymous ones ... who I note has been suspiciously quiet lately. Does that mean I am becoming an "acceptable blogger" or has he given up?! Anyway that aside it's been an interesting week in the UK so I see.

Brighton

I was very interested to read what happened at the Brighton conference last week - most of the talk of course centred around new Christian celeb Driscoll (like Luke, I too switch from calling it "Together on a Mission" to mainly just "Brighton conference"!). There are of course the obvious very well-documented reports which I am sure most are aware of. I, myself took particular interest in Mark Heath's comments - an opinion I always trust. Also worth reading is a question I have pondered quite often ... what other guest speakers would be a helpful input to the conference. As I guessed they would - my parent's pastors made the trip down to Brighton to hear Driscoll and brought an SGM opinion to what they thought of the conference.

Terry himself shared a more personal view about Driscoll and what he enjoyed about the contribution that he brought to the conference. Joel Gill wrote two posts so far - here and here. Finally Ant Hilder summarised the conference in just one blog - useful for those of you who don't have the time to read post after post on session after session (plus I was instantly attracted to the fact that here is someone who shares my obsession with McDonald's McMuffins ...).

Lakeland, Florida.

It was quite hard having no access to God TV and not knowing what was going on in Florida! I made-do reading Todd Bentley's latest book; "The Reality of the Supernatural World". More of that to come in a later post! Julian Adams wrote an excellent blog post on Florida. He said;

"I sit writing after having watched some of the Lakeland Outpouring with evangelist Todd Bentley. Man alive, God is moving and using him powerfully. So many healings and God encounters. I have felt the spill over effect of impartation connected to the revival. My friend Richard Maybury prayed for me after returning from Trevor and Sharon Baker’s ministry at the Dudley Outpouring in Birmingham. Since then I have begun to see some exciting miracles and healings".

On the other slightly more cynical hand, I am a subscriber to Evangelicals Now and the latest edition was waiting on the doorstep when I got back. Lakeland, Florida has become enough of an issue for them to address - always a sign that something is here to stay! The review of Todd Bentley's ministry was written by someone called Steve Ridgeway and I was disappointed that once again it was written by a cynic who clearly hasn't taken the time to really investigate what is going on in Florida and has seemingly written his review based on the scare-mongering websites and You-Tube videos rampant against Todd and Florida.

He slates Todd for not preaching the Bible. "While Bentley does occasionally appeal to the Bible when teaching publicly, the appeal is always superficial". But in rather a pot-kettle-black scenario the reviewer also does not use Scripture convincingly to stake his claim as to why Todd Bentley is not within the boundaries of Scripture in his opinion. (Other than quoting Galatians 1). Coming from "Evangelicals Now", I suppose we should not be surprised that he does not like the references to angel Emma and also the manifestations accompanying the healings and signs and wonders.

Interesting point though ... the obvious question to me goes unanswered in this review called "The Gospel of Todd". Is this of God? Is it of the flesh? Or is it of the devil? The reviewer doesn't comment on the authenticity of the healings happening in Florida but merely concludes we should be "gravely concerned" with Todd Bentley ... if we are "discerning" that is ... how I am growing to hate that word when it is used in a context such as this.

It's All About the Church!

The theme throughout these links is the Church! Even disagreements, I notice, are about how best the Church should be. I was thrilled therefore to be taking notes from Rob Rufus's Sunday evening Miracle Healing Weekend - probably one of Rob's best sermons yet - and to hear him deal with something rather obvious from the book of Acts.

"None of the others dared join them".

How is it at your church? Or your conference? Or your family of churches? Or your denomination? Do you make it easy for people to join your church? Rob commented on this verse;

"I am talking about the power of God coming to you to absolutely flood you and equip you and anoint you to walk in His Presence to release you into a new dimension of walking in His Presence from tonight. People in our midst who are sick tonight can get healed while that is happening.

But the focus is to see the power of God released on people. (Acts 5:13) - Because God was so awesome in their midst that people were frightened to casually join that early Church. There was such a density of the concentrated power of God that carnal religious enquirers couldn't handle it! They would freak out! It was too awesome and they didn't join a Church that had such an awesome Presence but God added to their number every single day those who are believing and being saved".

The sermon transcript will be available soon. But it raises a really important question that I've been thinking about all this week. What kind of Church are we building? What are the priorities? Is it the Presence of God? Or is it something else? Are we building a Church that is built around the idea of God - but a Church that doesn't actually KNOW God and His Presence?

16 comments:

Don said...

Welcome back!

Thanks for the updates on Brighton, etc., and for the exposure to Rob's latest. I'm so happy to see him referring to this verse, because it's one of the few passages in the early Acts chapters that I've never heard directly addressed.

Rob, of course, does a great job -- the "religious" couldn't handle it; not only could they not handle the teaching, they couldn't handle the manifest presence of God. (If so many people are against it, 100 years after Asuza Street, how much more in 1st-century Palestine, which hadn't witnessed the power of God for hundreds of years?

07000intune said...

So how do you do that Dan? You get back...presumably work is screaming at you to get back in...yet you still find time to produce this unflustered complete resume of 2 totally different places, like you've been hanging around by your computer at home all week. Have you been teleporting back and forth without telling us? Welcome back anyhow.

Dan Bowen said...

Thanks Don and Chris!!

So great to read your comments ... its incredible the risk you take every time you hit the "publish" button and think, okay have I crossed any lines here!? But I hope so! That's what spending time with Rob Rufus speaking in my ears all week does for you!

How do I do it!? Ah I wish teleporting was the answer! How cool would that be?!

Don, Rob says something absolutely staggering to those of us who are perhaps used to conversative formalistic churches where the Presence of God is cautiously welcomed but contained. He calls it "boring!!". It really made me sit up and take notice ... where do we set our boundary of acceptance for what God can come and do?

I wonder if the Spirit is waiting for a Church, a people who are prepared to set no limits, no boundaries ... just a passion for Him!

07000intune said...

There's a graduated scale somewhere between Evan Roberts lying nose down on a podium and not daring to do a thing until the Spirit says so, and St Paul's Cathedral, London.
.......................
I call Church which is run from heaven the order of Melchizedek.
I haven't fully developed this, nor chased up the details....
but new Physics (remember my Physics teacher parents) shows us that a huge part of what we call reality is made up of particles which just turn up out of nowhere then disappear at a gazillionth of a second later. We live our entire lives under the illusion that there is something consistant and firm out there that we can rely on...which ofcourse for daily purposes gets us by, but the truth is so much more weird. And if our physical reality is like that, exactly how weird is it that we run Churches as if there is no Melchizedek order....as if there is a spiritual set order of things we rely on for ever and a day.

Don said...

"Boring" is the key word, Dan. Imagine how boring many of our services are to God, who gets so little true worship in them.

You said "I wonder if the Spirit is waiting for a Church, a people who are prepared to set no limits, no boundaries ... just a passion for Him!"

TACF was like that when I visited in the '90s. John Arnott was willing to put up with a fair amount of confusion and untidiness, because he'd shut down a previous move of God and then repented of such fear-based actions.

When I was at a TACF conference in '97, during one teaching session the Spirit came over a group of people sitting toward the back. The laughter got louder and louder. John Arnott remained in his seat, continuing to watch and listen to the speaker -- who continued speaking as if totally unperturbed. I think he may've made some humorous comment to acknowledge what was going on, but clearly took no offense. Eventually, the laughter died down without external intervention.

I was left amazed and delighted -- how many Spirit-filled pastors would have let such a ruckus continue, trusting that God was truly in control of the *entire* meeting -- and that God could be at work through *both* the speaker and an active anointing among the crowd??

It really challenged and broke my own paradigm of "order," and increased my awe of God and respect for an experienced, yet trusting-in-God, pastor.

Sheila said...

Dan, I see you are home safe and sound. I pray you "run in the strength" of the word/vision you were given, and the rest you had, for many days. As always - in response to your desire to travel and see friends - the door is open here in Tennessee.

My husband went to Lakeland. He sat under Todd's preaching. I saw and heard the same messages he sat under live - I saw them on GodTV. There were several small places (not large, heretical, glaring phraseologies), throughout Todd's sermon, where I easily saw that Scripture was mis-interpreted...but my primary gift is that of "teacher". (oh - how to be careful and wise and gentle?)...so the teaching there is exhortive, faith building, exciting...but is not meant to become necessarily doctrinally foundational. This Lakeland outpouring is not a teaching outpouring.

It is a healing outpouring. It is a presence of God outpouring. No need to make it more than it is, OR LESS than it is. No need to search out perfection. Not every "i" is dotted, not every "t" crossed.

I'll get my theology more carefully than just Lakeland, to be sure. Lakeland isn't the source for a crash-course in hermaneutics. But my cancer-ridden sister in law just may get instantly healed...and thus, come to Christ for the first time in her life. (We are encouraging her to go. She lives in S. Florida.)

I *do* believe in a few "bedrock" things...I'm not sure where the Physics thing is going. I'm trying not to hear "Woo-Woo" music on that one! (Please know - I picture us all at a round pub-table, sharing drinks of our choice, rowdily and happily discussing, much as CS Lewis of yore did. I am genuinely smiling when I say, "Uh...you are losing me with the poofing-particles-bit. Please do elaborate, because I want to understand." )

I promise, Mr. Physics, in my mind's eye, you are laughing with me, not at all offended.

And in the same breath, I will propose a toast to wildly imaginative Christians. I am one. I also believe, though, that my boundaries are set in pleasant places, and some things are, indeed written in stone - some truths just won't be poofing about.

Dan Bowen said...

Well Sheila ...

Anyone who doesn't believe women can teach need to think again. That was a really awesome summary of what is going on in Lakeland. I do agree with you - I don't think there is foundational, doctrinal teaching coming forth - but why should it? That is the job of the local church and anyone who is expecting or demanding such teaching, needs to re-evaluate their view of what the local church is there for.

One of the things that HUGELY encourages me and thrills me about Todd's ministry is that he is so PRO the local church. He isn't into building up a superstar ministry and drawing all attention to Florida. He constantly speaks of his vision of seeing this outbreak across the nations. He constantly speaks about seeing the anointing transferred.

Todd Bentley believes in the local church. And that's a good thing.

I so pray that your sister-in-law gets to go to Florida and see the power of God in it's reality. She needs a miracle. She doesn't need more dry, dead doctrine coming from men who have given up believing in a God who intervenes in time and space and who DELIGHTS to heal!

I hate cancer with a passion. It robbed me of my beloved grandmother, my beloved grandfather, my second mother, friends. I HATE it! May she be the first of many who are already seeing cancer demolished and defeated and driven out of their bodies with a violence of the Kingdom of God.

I've seen cancer treated medically with the violence of surgery and of chemotherapy and am horrified that Christians are debate whether to trust in a God of healing, miracles, signs and wonders!!

Phew ... rant over! I long for the day when I feel the anointing of God fall on me to be able to utter an authoritative word of command and see cancer banished from my beloved friends.

07000intune said...

If I don't know what I am talking about, how can I expect others to!!! Just for a laugh, pick on an arty type, or down to earth help others type, and deliberately
begin talking about that propulsion unit thing from a few weeks back, or some abstruse-sounding physics thing...but you must use the word physics...then watch the other person and see if you can make 2 seconds without their eyes glazing over.
I am basically a spaced out muzo, so imagine what I endured growing up with physics teachers. Can you start to see why I came to the Lord?
........................
What I think I was saying now I've turned off the new age music...only joking...
is something like this.

Every(???) major advance has come completely out of left-field. Things have been going along quite nicely...then a bastard child turns up from nowhere, who turns out not to be a bastard child, but born directly of God. His Name is Jesus.

The 1966 Ecumenical Lausanne Conference had just conjectured pretty much the end of Christianity by 1990, when in 1967 the Holy Spirit is poured out into every major denomination worldwide. From nowhere.

So by 1974 a lot of us in England hadn't a clue what to do next. We knew that pursuing a "renewed denominational" course pretty much had nothing to do with the larger perspectives of Isaiah and other scriptures...so what on earth should we do???...when out of nowhere came this old preacher talking about "The Land" by the name of Ern Baxter. There wasn't even a framework that he could speak into. God even had to invent that on the spot using giant cattlesheds like Harrogate.Oh and angel sightings were reported in all the local newspapers.

The physics bit was simply to say that far from being a strange thing, this is actually how atoms themselves work. Particles appear from nowhere and go pretty much nowhere, but somehow the whole of the rest of the structure of our daily reality depends on the sudden appearance of these weird oddities. (Quarks,charms,leptons...no really this is not Glastonbury, this is Harvard physics)
The Bible says that God sustains everything by His Word of Power. Also we, although we like to think we do,do not live by bread alone but by every (Living Rhema) Word that proceeds (left-field) out of the mouth of God.

Sheila said...

I **love** it. You'll do, Mr. Physics...you'll do. To be honest, a few of the books on my shelves are titles such as "The Fabric of the Cosmos" by Brian Greene, Schroeder's "The Hidden Face of God", George Schafner's "The Arithmetic of Life" (which is far more a science book), and other titles I shan't bore you with. I have a great love for thinking such as yours - though I don't always thoroughly grasp it, the poetry of it transports me. I have always wished Stephen Hawking was a flaming charismatic. Alas, he is not. So you'll be a lovely replacement for him - the Lord hath need of thee, my friend!

Please never be offended with me...my sense of humor is the dark side of my force. It is the point at which my particles do the Electric Slide. They eke across all boundaries. I'm forever pulling them back, making them behave. My pastor-husband is often startled. I am safe being myself with him...he is quite unstumble-able.

A toast...to the LEFT FIELD!

Don said...

Sheila,

You said so well: "the teaching there is exhortive, faith building, exciting...but is not meant to become necessarily doctrinally foundational. This Lakeland outpouring is not a teaching outpouring."

This has been the point I've been trying to make in conversations for weeks now. You rarely get the whole enchilada through any single ministry, but the heresy cops ignore their own lacks while expecting their enemies to do all things perfectly (and in order!).

Speaking of your Dark Side: saw a bumper sticker recently. It read:

COME TO THE DARK SIDE...

... WE HAVE COOKIES! :-)

07000intune said...

Wow..thanks for those book titles Sheila...may dip into them.
Don't know anything about electric slides.
...........................
Love the cookies bumper sticker. I love the cartoons in Prospect magazine here in the UK...wish I had some of them to hand to share

Sheila said...

Um, the "Electric Slide" is a dance...it is a benign sort of shuffle-step-with-a-kick, but tons of fun. Don, I NEED a bumper sticker like that. Hilarious!

07000intune said...

If Todd Bentley ever gets to read this, or any people near him to pass it on, I have a message about teaching. Todd,don't ever get seduced back away from your calling to do exactly what the Spirit is saying by people calling themselves teachers in the Body of Christ. Behind a lot of these comments is a lying spirit that is saying "Come on be reasonable!!!". If for one instant you allow yourself to go with these voices without checking them out with God's Spirit meter which is in Philippians4:7 His Peace which is "the umpire...(literal)which guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."
I say this with the full authority of experience.I am that man.I have sat in that room in Petersfield in someone's house listening to Isobel Chapman who wrote "Arise and Weep". And I have wept. Why? Because if you are familiar with that book, here is a woman who was born again in the order of Melchizedek. She was mightily anointed to bring incredible deliverances....then she was seduced!!! By the English left-brain lobby, who said "Come on , be reasonable!! Get some Bible teaching!" When I saw her she was like a drowned rat. She had lost all her anointing. The light had gone from her eyes. The gleaming sense of triumph in the eyes of the one with her...which said it all. "We have trained her. She is ours, my preciousss".

Here are some facts about Bible teachers currently in the Body of Christ. They are intelligent, usually middle class, well-educated people who got their position by applying 2-3 years of left-brain training to the classification of aspects of Bible truth. They have studied the equivalent of the Dewey system(Library classification) but instead pigeonholing Divine Truth.

They have no more right to be in these positions than a headmaster has the right to run a group of churches and call himself an apostle. Most of our British housechurches are run by middle-class professionals.Terry Virgo wheeled out an ex-football trainer at last year's TOAM, who was talking about the importance of "stressing the saints" to challenge them to win more souls.I was restoring a piano at the time. I think my jaw just hit the keyboard.After all the beautiful revelation that Terry has brought,
its effects are so minimal that in order to get something to happen, he ordains someone just out of football training?

3rd level teachers are of a totally different order. They mix revelation, with lots of Bible knowledge, with POWER. To say how few of them there are...one that springs to mind is Eldred Linden in the IMA an organisation that I have discussed previously.(http://www.ima.cc/ )Things happen in the Spirit when he teaches.
Most 2nd level Bible teachers that I meet regularly are no different from 1st level Bible teachers. They have just had an experience with the Holy Spirit at some time, and this somehow qualifies them to teach in the new churches.

WRONG! If it was that simple then a young man with A grades in every subject who was baptized in the Spirit would at some time have been allowed in a teaching pulpit after 6 years in a Bible College.
Those that have read before, know I am talking about me. And the reason I have not been asked is that people instinctively know I am not interested in our current pattern of teaching in the Body of Christ. There is ONLY one type of Biblical teaching and it has one end: labouring to see Christ actually formed in other people. Just reading out screeds of head knowledge facts to other people is not teaching...it's reading out catalogues!

07000intune said...

Freudian slip
Arise and Reap by Isabel Chapman
ISBN-13: 978-0551013643

Dan Bowen said...

Chris,

"Here are some facts about Bible teachers currently in the Body of Christ. They are intelligent, usually middle class, well-educated people who got their position by applying 2-3 years of left-brain training to the classification of aspects of Bible truth. They have studied the equivalent of the Dewey system(Library classification) but instead pigeonholing Divine Truth".

That's something very worth pondering seriously. I've had the unfortunate experience of challenging two Bible teachers in the past about something they taught from the pulpit. The first was at my home church in Dunstable and he was using the text where Saul prophesied with the prophets to go on to apply the "fact" that the gift of prophecy did NOT exist today. I asked how he could justify that - and was told that HE was the Bible teacher and when HE preached the Bible, HE was speaking the words of GOD!

And yet such Bible teachers turn around and express concerns with prophet and prophecy!

I wonder in many so-called seminaries and colleges today how much teaching is given to true anointed preaching and the difference between that and just pure academic dissemination of information.

Don said...

Glad you like the bumper sticker, folx, and if I see it again, I'll try to read the tiny print to see who sells it.

Chris, I agree completely with you:

"I am not interested in our current pattern of teaching in the Body of Christ. There is ONLY one type of Biblical teaching and it has one end: labouring to see Christ actually formed in other people."

It's all about transformation: us transformed into the very image of Christ, by beholding him in the Spirit and submitting our "flesh" to the ongoing process of crucifixion *and* resurrection. That's the goal of Father God.

I wonder how many transformed people we'll meet in the next life, who never even owned a Bible in their lives -- but yielded their entire beings in trust to God, to allow Christ to be born and matured in them through very difficult experiences orchestrated by our Father. Their heads may not have been filled with Bible knowledge, but the living Law was written on their hearts by the indwelling Spirit of Jesus.

Regarding "3d level" teachers: currently there are so few of these people, we must make do with what's available, and ask God to teach us primarily within our own hearts, through the Word coming to burn in our hearts, and through the iron-sharpening-iron process of fellowship with other trusted individuals. I believe, however, that the young generations now living and being born will be populated with many more "3d level" teachers than is present in our own, older generation.

But it's still not too late for us, Chris! God can still infuse and use us!