Thursday, November 27, 2008

Dudley Daniel - Father of NCMI

Anyone who follows Rob Rufus's ministry will know the impact that a man called Dudley Daniel had on his life. Dudley was a spiritual father to Rob and continues to have profound influence on Rob - even though City Church International is not part of New Covenant Ministries International. I am always interested in the influences on my heroes because the influences help to shape them become who they are. For example Dr Ern Baxter and Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones both had great impact on Dr Stanley Jebb - my first senior pastor. William Branham had great impact on Dr Ern Baxter. Dr John Stott and Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones had great impact on Terry Virgo and so on.

So over the past few days I have been watching with great interest - "NCMI TV" and in particular a series of interviews conducted by Tyrone Daniel - the current leader of NCMI - with his father Dudley Daniel. They really are well worth watching. In it Dudley shares his heart about where the movement of churches has come from and where he hopes it is going.

Here are the videos:

1. "The Dream".

3. "The Price".

6. "The Faith".

Each video is only about 5 minutes long so won't take long but the spiritual truth is well worth it! These videos have also re-emphasised to me the importance of "spiritual fathers". You can catch something of Dudley Daniel's heart here and it also helps me piece together something of how Rob Rufus became who he is today.

By the way - I do re-recommend an interview with Rob Rufus conducted by Adrian Warnock. They discussed something of NCMI and Dudley Daniel's influence and it's a vital interview for anyone interested in Hong Kong and in Rob's ministry.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

According to Your Faith ... So Be It!!

The last month or so has been quite rough for myself and many Christian friends I'm in contact with. Pete's been struggling with health issues. Both Julie and Lydia have lost loved ones. And I've given short accounts of what's been going on up here in Birmingham. I should add it's coming close to a wonderful conclusion here - God is opening up awesome new doors for me (the dreaded Christian metaphor I know!) that may lead to me being far more mobile across the country which is really great. However one of the things I noticed was the discussion about "warfare" and about the "enemy" and about "attacks".

While no one would deny the presence of spiritual warfare and attack, Rob Rufus brought an important counter-balance to the discussion about warfare and attacks in the most recent sermon of his that I am transcribing - "The Struggle For The Authentic Part 4 - "The Parable of the Sower" - it's certainly made me stop and think!

Here's what he said;

"How many believe that God hasn't called us to be fighting all the time? It's wrong to be in the frontline all the time. Sometimes you have to have a rest and there is a place of peace and certain teaching will lead a Christian to think they are always fighting all the time. I think the devil wants us to believe that too. I don't believe Jesus was always fighting against the demonic. It says the enemy came and then left Him for a "more opportune season". But he left Him and retreated from Jesus after the wilderness temptation.

Jesus said over and over again; "According to your faith - so be it". So according to what you believe - so be it in your life! If you build a theology where every day you believe you are toe-toe and eyeball-eyeball in a fight with the devil, then that is according to your faith and he will be very happy for you to believe that. But I actually feel that according to my faith I dwell in the secret place of the Most High and dwell under the shadow of the Almighty and will not fear the arrow that flies by night or the fowlers snare because the Lord is my dwelling place".

I know for a fact that Rob wouldn't be promoting a triumphalistic sort of life where we drift through happily until heaven - that just isn't real life! And again and again in his sermons, you get the sense that Rob and Glenda (like other Christian leaders) go through trials that we can only dream of. But this perspective is really important. These last few months I have begun to find myself dropping my head lower and lower and wishing for this day of struggle to end. But am I falling into the trap of "according to my (low) faith - so be it?!". The devil isn't going to have a problem in me thinking the day of warfare will never end!

Rob goes on:

"Though a thousand fall by my left hand and 10, 000 by my right hand it will not come near me because I am in the shelter of the Most High. His shield of favour is around me and there are firewalls of protection and He has sent angels, seraphim, cherubim - mighty ministering spirits to me - an heir of salvation! There are times He lets me go through the valley of the shadow of death and His rod and His staff will comfort me. It says though I WALK through the valley of the shadow of death. He leads me through it and I am going to get out! And it's really only a shadow - it's not the substance and the shadow of a dog can't hurt you!

We have got to believe that God has called us to walk in peace and rest. I want to talk to you about that. I am not against psychiatrists and have many good friends who are psychiatrists but many Christians do not have mental health and they are not happy. They are not joyful and are always fighting devils.

They are more concious of the devil than of the grace and love and goodness of God and the favour of God".

And that is the challenge - are we more concious of the devil's work and actions than we are the love and goodness and favour of God? I am persuaded that rather than investing my time in reading psycho-therapy books and going to therapeutic counselling meetings, I would be far better suited to reading, immersing and saturating myself in the grace and favour and goodness of God. Once again I am reminded of why Rob is so determined never to move on from preaching New Covenant grace! Because it's not just a crazy motif to weep over with pseudo-tears and build an icon to outside your church. It's a life-changing historical moment when the curtain was ripped in two!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

John Piper on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

In these exciting thrilling days of signs and wonders and miracles and outpourings of the Spirit that are occuring all over the world - it's important that certain fundamental truths are not forgotten. Hebrews calls one of those fundamental truths; "The Doctrine of Baptisms". Water baptism isn't one that I've ever had problems arguing or felt the need to defend. I was brought and raised up in a Baptist church - so adult believers baptism has never been a problem for me. Whereas most who have followed my blog for some time will know that I had need to work through what the Baptism of the Holy Spirit meant biblically due to a drastic change in doctrine and practice at my home church.

I was interested therefore to read John Piper's sermon of the week that was sent to my email. He brings a larger and wholler perspective - refusing to immediately jump into the "What" and "When" questions. Here are some of the more important points he raises:

What Does Jesus’ Baptism with the Holy Spirit Mean?

So what does it mean? What does John the Gospel-writer have in mind when he tells us what John the Baptist says in verse 33, “This is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit”? What does baptism with the Holy Spirit mean?

1) The Holy Spirit Comes Through Jesus

First, it means that from now on—now that God has come in the flesh—the Holy Spirit will come to people through Jesus Christ. The Spirit came upon Jesus and remains upon Jesus, and therefore Jesus is the one who gives the Spirit (John 15:26). The Holy Spirit will not do his redemptive work apart from Jesus. Jesus will be the means by which anyone receives the Spirit. Whatever saving work the Spirit does, he does because of Jesus. The Spirit does not flow like a fluid through the world unattached to Jesus. Everywhere he moves he moves with Jesus and for Jesus. That’s the first thing it means to say that “Jesus baptizes with the Spirit.”

2) Jesus Immerses People in the Spirit

Second, it means that Jesus immerses people in the Spirit. That’s what the word baptize means. There are pictures in the Bible of the Spirit being poured out. But when the idea of baptism (that is, dipping or immersion) is brought in, the point is that the Spirit is poured over us to such an extent that we are enveloped in him.

The point of this image is that the Spirit becomes profoundly and pervasively influential in our lives. When you are immersed in something, it touches you everywhere.

So when John says that Jesus is going to baptize with the Spirit, he means that the day is coming when the lives of God’s people will be plunged into the life of the Spirit with profound and pervasive effects.

3) Baptism Signifies All That the Spirit Does for Us

Third, what are those effects? Now here we could let ourselves go straight to the debate about whether the term “baptism with the Spirit” refers to a second blessing in the Christian life sometime after conversion marked by speaking in tongues, or whether it refers to the point of conversion. But I don’t think the way that question is posed will help us yet.

As I have tried to let John define for us what he means by baptism with the Spirit, it seems to me that the term is a broad, overarching one that includes the whole great saving, sanctifying, and empowering work of the Spirit in this age. I don’t think it is a technical term that refers to one part of the Christian life—say conversion, or speaking in tongues, or a bold act of witness. It is the continual, and sometimes extraordinary, outpouring of the Holy Spirit on God’s people. It immerses them not just in one or two, but in hundreds of his powerful influences.

In other words, if you are not born again, one way to describe your need is that you need to be baptized with the Spirit. That is, you need to be plunged into God’s Spirit with the effect that you will be born again and come to faith in Christ. If you are born again, but you are languishing in a season of weakness and fear and defeat, one way to describe what you need is to be baptized in the Spirit. That is, you need a fresh outpouring of his Christ-revealing, heart-awakening, sin-defeating, boldness-producing power. Every spiritual need that we have before and after conversion is supplied by Christ immersing us in greater and lesser degrees in the Holy Spirit.

So I don’t take baptism with the Spirit in John as a technical term for one experience of the Christian life, but as a general term for all that the Holy Spirit does for us because of Christ.

There are some points that even a great like John Piper doesn't quite persuade me on. I am familiar with the argument to try and "unify" the baptism of the Holy Spirit into one great Christian experience that all believers are by necessity automatically included in. I'm not sure that's how the Bible sees it. There's enough in the Gospels, Acts and the Epistles to suggest to me that the Baptism of the Spirit brings particular graces from God that should be sought and asked for from the "Father who gives the Holy Spirit to those who ask".

Nevertheless John Piper's conclusions still bring a vital perspective to correct what many traditional Charismatics and Pentecostals may have been guilty of in promoting "a second blessing".

Jesus: The Ground and Goal of Baptism in the Spirit

So back to John the Baptist. John says that Jesus will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. Now we see why that is a great tribute to the greatness of Jesus. It’s not just because Jesus is the ground of all the good that the Spirit does in us and for us. If Jesus were not first the Lamb of God who takes away sin by dying, he could never be the baptizer who gives the Spirit by rising. But he is not just the ground of the Spirit’s work.

Jesus is also the goal of all that the Spirit does in us and for us. He immerses us in the Spirit, and no one else can do it. And then the one in whom he immerses us witnesses back to Jesus and glorifies Jesus. Jesus is the ground and goal of the baptism in the Spirit.

All Things from Jesus and for Jesus

So the ultimate point of John’s testimony is that, under God the Father, all things are from Christ and all things are for Christ, including even the Holy Spirit.

The main reason we need the baptism of the Holy Spirit—the great outpouring of the Spirit, the great immersion of every part of our lives in the Spirit—is because God’s aim in every part of our lives is the glory of Jesus Christ. Is your life magnifying Christ in every part? If not, pray, as I do so often, for a fresh, fuller baptism in the Holy Spirit. O Holy Spirit, come. O risen Christ, for your great name’s sake, grant us a fresh baptism in your Holy Spirit.

Whatever your view about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit - surely anyone who truly has a heart aflame for God can't help but utter "Amen" to that!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Does Anyone Listen to What They're Singing Anymore?!

Okay this might be one of those points that could sound like a small moan ... maybe. But I hope my point will come across. It was prompted by the purchase of the latest Brighton "Together on a Mission" worship CD - "Salvation's Song: 2008 Live worship from TOAM & Mobilise". It's always hard to listen to a live worship CD and "connect" to the sense of worship there when you weren't actually at the conference yourself. I always find Newfrontiers live worship CD's the easiest to try though - because I've been to more conferences than not, I can imagine pretty well what it was like. But would I rave about it? Because you've probably figured out I am one of those people who can't be lukewarm about anything - I love it or I hate it! Whereas this CD - I'm lukewarm. I love some of the songs (more later) ... I always love Lou Fellingham and Simon Brading's wonderful worship leading ... but ... I don't have the memories to bring it to life!

The one song that has confused me somewhat is Lou Fellingham's recent; "Once I was dead to You (Promised land)". And here's where the whole "hymnody" musing arose. The song (while sang beautifully by herself and the gathered thousands) has the line in it:

"Through Your suffering, I’m forgiven, Pressing onward to the promised land ... His name is Jesus, sent from Heaven, To take us homeward to the promised land".

I have to ask - why did the Fellinghams chose the words "Promised Land" to describe what they clearly mean as heaven? Because in doing so they have abandoned a clear fundamental restorationist type of Old Testament teaching (absolutely central to Ern Baxter's Dales Bible Week 1977 series) and have adopted a more popular but misguided conservative evangelical type - seen in hymns every now and then. Essentially that teaching - as Lou Fellingham sings - is that the "Promised Land" is a spiritual type of heaven and our eternal rest.

But as C H Spurgeon asks:

"It has generally been considered, that the passage of the Jordan by the Israelites is typical of death, and that Canaan is a fitting representation of heaven. We believe that in some sense it is true, and we do fondly cherish the household words of those hymns which describe our passing through Jordan's billows, and landing safe on Canaan's side; but we do think that the allegory does not hold, and that Jordan is not a fair exhibition of death, nor the land of Canaan a fair picture of the sweet land beyond the swelling flood which the Christian gains after death.

For mark you, after the children of Israel had entered into Canaan, they had to fight with their enemies. It was a land filled with foes. Every city they entered they had to take by storm, unless a miracle dismantled it. They were warriors, even in the land of Canaan, fighting for their own inheritance; ...

But when we cross the river of death we shall have no foes to fight, no enemies to encounter. Heaven is a place already prepared for us; out of it the evil ones have long ago been driven; there brethren shall await us with pleasing faces, kind hands shall clasp ours, and loving words shall alone be heard. The shout of war shall ne'er be raised by us in heaven; we shall throw our swords away, and the scabbards with them. No battles with warriors there, no plains besoaked with blood, no hills where robbers dwell, no inhabitants with chariots of iron.

It is "a land flowing with milk and honey;" and it dreams not of the foeman of Canaan of old. We think the church has lost the beauty of Scripture, in taking Jordan to mean death, and that a far fuller meaning is the true allegory to be connected with it".

Does it really matter you may ask? It's "poetic license" and it makes the song sound nice. Well how about I give another example from the more cessationist side of things before drawing my conclusions.

I remember shortly before I left my home church in Dunstable, the new pastor (and successor to Dr Stanley Jebb) was receiving rave reviews from most of the congregation mainly because he was choosing "lively choruses" during the worship - whereas for the last few years in Dunstable, the worship had been restricted to hymns. But I was rather staggered when he proceeded to preach a sermon from 1 and 2 Samuel about Saul prophecying with the prophets - and drew an application from that, that the gift of prophecy did not and could not exist today ... and closed and asked us to stand and sing; "I Hear the Sound of Rustling"!

For those who are not aware of the chorus - "I Hear the Sound of Rustling" was a very popular chorus that was sung during the Charismatic Movement at the Dales and Downs and our own Anglia Bible Weeks. The lyrics included a charismatic theology (that the new pastor of my home church had just spent half an hour trying to dismantle!) including words like this;

"The Spirit of the Lord has come down on the earth
The church that seemed in slumber has now risen from its knees
And dry bones are responding with the fruits of new birth ...

And all around the world the body waits expectantly
The promise of the Father is now ready to fall
The watchmen on the tower all exhort us to prepare
And the church responds-a people who will answer the call
And this is not a phase which is passing
It's the start of an age that is to come ...

A body now prepared by God and ready for war
The prompting of the Spirit is our word of command
We rise, a mighty army, at the bidding of the Lord
The devils see and fear, for their time is at hand ...".

I personally love the song! But there again - I believe fervently in restoration! Why on earth were we singing that chorus after an essentially cessationist sermon in a reformed evangelical functionally cessationist church?! Can that be called "poetic license" too?

And here again we come back to my problem. Are we really listening to what we are singing? One of my favourite historical books charting the Charismatic Movement (or more accurately the Restorationist Movement) is by Professor Andrew Walker and is called; "Restoring the Kingdom". Professor Walker made the point that in his opinion Graham Kendrick was probably the most influential "theologian" of charismatic life in the United Kingdom - purely through his choruses and his songs. So on the one hand songs DO matter! But then on the other - do they?

I must state my profound admiration for SGM and in particular Bob Kauflin at this point. I've made no secret of the fact that I have many problems with some of their ecclesiology. But thanks to songwriters like Bob Kauflin - SGM are 100% consistent in what they believe and in what they sing. I could be wrong but I doubt you will find an SGM-written song promoting a theological viewpoint that they don't believe in. I remember years back Mark Altrogge wrote a number of restorationist songs (because we sang some of them back in Dunstable in the days before I had even heard of C J Mahaney or Larry Tomczak!). I doubt they are sung anymore in SGM circles - and again I applaud the consistency with the changes in theology.

So back to the song that started this "moan" - Lou Fellinghams; "Promised Land". I suppose in the grand scheme of Kingdom New Covenant life - it really doesn't matter whether I sing a song about heaven being like the Promised Land or not. But I think C H Spurgeon has got the ultimate and final point. Are there going to be giants in heaven with cities to take? I sincerely hope not - if Scripture is to be believed. So why then are we singing about it? Does it signify a drift away from Newfrontiers traditional restorationist beliefs or is it really as simple as the line fitted the song quite well? Or does no one really care?!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

For Those Whom the Traffic Lights are Red ...

I've been texting Pete Day a bit about this - so I do hope it will make sense. If anyone reads it and am not sure quite what I am on about then do feel free to ignore and move on! Essentially the thought for this blog was prompted by a comment that Rob Rufus made in one of his more recent sermons - "The Struggle For The Authentic Part 3 - Qualifications For The Blessings - Faith or Works?" - about how things have been very tough for the Rufus family and for City Church International but recently;

"When I woke up this morning I felt that the air was clear again and the pollution of darkness and oppression had evaporated and lifted off us. I don't want to be weirdly spiritual but the very natural atmosphere has had the pollution blown off it. Then every traffic light driving here was green and God was saying; "It's a green light - it's a go-ahead! ... Sometimes in God things aren't a coincidence - there is a prophetic significance".

Just after listening to that portion of the sermon, I had to drive to a night shift and was thinking absently about what Rob said until I came to realise that every traffic light I was coming upto (and there are a lot in Birmingham) was RED. Every light! Rob said that some things aren't a coincidence - I couldn't help but think each and everyone of my red lights weren't a coincidence because they were changing so frequently just as I drove upto them - and then staying red for what seemed like an obscene amount of time! If that wasn't bad enough, my car proceeded to break down on my way home from a night shift and needed water in the radiator.

So what I found myself thinking was that if God was saying to Rob Rufus through his green lights - "It's a green light - it's a go-ahead!" - what was He saying to me through every light being red?! Initially I was quite down-cast and found myself unhelpfully drawing comparisons between myself and Rob and Hong Kong and feeling that all-too familiar sense once again of condemnation creeping over me and that all-too familar voice; "Rob is a great man of faith - you'll never be like him! What?! You reckon you can even stand in the same room as Rob!? You're pathetic" - and so on and so on. I think most will know what I am talking about.

But as I waited on God I actually began to find a quieter but more insistent voice speaking and it was speaking words of hope and words of comfort. And He was saying things like; "The light is red just before it turns green. The night is blackest just before the dawn" and the sense that I was receiving was not that the red lights were condemning lights telling me that I was useless and my life was never going to go anywhere - but rather that this was a time to wait on the Lord and renew my strength and mount up with wings as eagles because the lights were about to change.

So if anyone else feels like me that their life is in a "red zone" at the moment, I hope this will be something of a comfort to you. God is absolutely and utterly 100% sovereign and each portion of our lives are carefully planned out and approved and set by Him. Nothing happens without His say-so. Even a sparrow cannot fall from it's nest without our Father knowing about it - how much more will He care for and love those He has appointed, predestined, called, justified AND made righteous?! Those traffic lights will turn green soon ... and when they do we will speed off all the faster because of that time of waiting on God! It's never a waste!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Faith!! I Can Move a Mountain!!

The line of this blog comes from a wonderful Hillsongs songs that I have loved for years. The concept of faith is something I am only recently getting my head round. Here's the song by the way!

I think I always used to get rather depressed at Jesus' words; "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed ...". My conclusion? My faith is smaller than a mustard seed! But Rob Rufus's wonderful Kingdom teaching has opened my eyes to the glorious realisation that faith is something imparted to us from on high! I'm in the middle of helping transcribe one of Rob's more recent sermons; "The Struggle For The Authentic Part 3 - "Qualification for the Blessing - Faith or Works?" - and Rob brought this powerful definition of faith;

"Faith is a supernatural ability to connect with a living God with confidence. Faith is the substancein your heart of the things that you are hoping for and it is the evidence of what you cannot see. Faith has evidence - faith is not a blind leap into the dark. Faith is a leap into the light based on supernatural substance and evidence inside your spirit given to you by the Spirit of faith - the Holy Spirit.

When faith rises up in your spirit you have the substance to manifest your hope and what you are hoping for starts happening and the goodness of God starts happening around you - but you need faith for that ... Today we will pray that the spirit of faith will rise in everyone of our hearts to believe the good news of the message of grace and that what the enemy intended for evil over the last 2 weeks is going to be turned around so powerfully for our good - that we will come into a more delighting place of confidence in the grace of God than ever before".

I love that last particular phrase. That's faith! I've hinted at the last month or two of hell that I feel I've been going through - ending up with me currently being on anti-depressants. I always grew up with a deep suspicion of anti-depressants. Such was the deposit of legalism in my church history that my gut feeling was if I resorted to anti-depressants then I didn't have much faith in God. John Piper was quite helpful in getting me to agree to my G.P's request. But all that aside - the question that I'm sure anyone and everyone who goes through times of trial must ask is "Why?". As I mentioned before - God doesn't seem to want to talk to us about our circumstances but our destiny.

That aside, I've been searching my heart as to why on earth I have spent the last year of my life working somewhere that has ended so sourly. Why has the chance to spend time with those vulnerable and needy children come to an end and it's become nigh-on impossible for my health to be in such a place of negativity? I don't have any answers ... yet! But I love what Rob Rufus said;

"That what the enemy intended for evil over the last 2 weeks is going to be turned around so powerfully for our good - that we will come into a more delighting place of confidence in the grace of God than ever before".

That's destiny. That's something that I can feel my faith stirring towards and for! I know I am not the only one who is struggling in life so I hope this is a post of encouragement. We know that all things work together for those who love God. That's not just one of those rosy verses that look nice on your mother's fridge. That's reality!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Singing Rob Rufus!!

This post came to me rather spontaneously - and I've learnt to listen and think when those spontaneous thoughts come. Many people think of Rob Rufus as being primarily a preacher and a prophet but some who are perhaps newer to Rob's ministry don't realise that he is a very adequate musician and singer as well. "Singing prophecy" is something that is new to my Christian walk and I must admit to certain misgivings when I first encountered it. I believe the first time I heard a sung prophecy was by Bob Kauflin in conjunction with C J Mahaney. Being honest - I thought it was odd and couldn't see the Scriptural justification for it. I don't know if both men still do that anymore but my experience with the sang prophetic went on and I began to hear it at the Brighton "Together on a Mission" conferences.

And then of course Rob Rufus himself. I must admit Rob's sung prophecies have had profound spiritual influences on me. I love music - not being a musician in any sense of the word (!) - I still deeply love music and have found it's an amazing gift of God through which He speaks and moves. So what I've tried to do in this post is gather together clips of the times that Rob has sung prophetically - or he has just sang! I do apologise for the quality of the clips. I'm not quite sure how else to get them on the blog other than using my camera phone. But I think despite the lack of quality - the impact still comes across!

1. Rob's Prophetic Song over Hong Kong.

This clip has to come at the very top of my list and I posted it back in June of this year. Rob sang it during City Church International's "Miracle Healing Weekend" and it is packed full of vision and hope and fire for the city of Hong Kong. It gives a glimpse into the fact that Rob isn't in Hong Kong simply for personal gain or for financial benefit. He's there (and City Church International is there) because of the motivation of love for Hong Kong.

2. A Song of Worship Inspired by Grace!

This short song was sung at the beginning of Rob's message; "The Blood - Substance or Shadow?". I say it's short because it has just two verses and a very simple chorus but it's simply profound. Absolutely magnificent in simply being a song written by a man who's life has been changed forever by the grace and wonder and majesty and Presence of God. And this song of worship - everytime I hear it - it challenges and provokes my heart to reach out and seek God to draw closer to me also - to desire His Presence.

3. Prophetic Song from "Glory and Grace Conference - Hong Kong".

This short clip begins with a bit of music from the worship team and then Rob sang a very short few sentences but I so vividly remember being there at "Glory and Grace" in Hong Kong when he sang it. It was such a prophetic statement of truth - but it wasn't just words alone. So many times I have heard prophecies spoken and even prophetic songs sang and felt very little. They are so empty when the Spirit of God doesn't brood in weighty glory on the words He wants His Church to hear. This clip can't even convey how the glory cloud filled that place!

So there's a few already. This is a post I hope to add to - so if anyone knows anymore recordings where Rob has sung prophetically or other then please let me know and we can add to this. Why am I doing this? It's not to exalt one man. Rob would never want or allow that. It's meant to be a motivation and a prompt (mainly to myself) to see how the Spirit of God can touch and use men and women to utter forth the truths of His glory. I can't sing - but I've got a voice and I must utter forth what He says!

Above all that - I hope - I really hope that listening and hearing these songs bring an awesome sense of God's Presence to you as you hear them.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Dave Devenish Hit By the Power of God!!

I love, love, love watching people touched and struck by the power of God. I have been watching some ministry videos while I've been off sick from work and this particular main session of David Devenish's at "Together on a Mission 2007" was particularly awesome to me. The notes are available here. It so reminded me of the power of that conference and the way God fell upon us - and made me hungry for more! It also occured to me how preaching - the best preaching - contains a prophetic element to it. Even Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones attested to the fact that the Holy Spirit fell upon him at times during his sermons at Westminster Chapel.

I don't tend to speak that much about David Devenish but I do have a profound love and respect for this man. Many church leaders and so-called "apostles" don't really fit the New Testament model because they don't stray far from the safety of the Western world and the riches of the church at which they are based. David Devenish seems to be constantly somewhere deep within Eastern Europe or the Russian states faithfully proclaiming the Gospel of power. Yet while he is a man of the Word of God - the Holy Spirit powerfully rests upon him and it is always somewhat nerve-wracking experience wondering what and when he might break into prophecy during his preaching!

Not hearing Dave Devenish preach this year at Brighton was certainly something I greatly missed - you cannot fail but find your faith lifted by the world vision that he presents. If anyone's interested in hearing more of Dave - then here's some links to more sermons that he has given at times. In this day and age we need speakers like him!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Ern Baxter on "The Old Man"

I found this very interesting transcript from one of Ern Baxter's series of sermons; "The Adam/Christ Analogy". During the sermon he spoke about the "Old Man" from Romans. Why do I quote him? I don't even presume to imagine that Ern Baxter is seen as an authority who will persuade those who doubt Rob Rufus's stand on the issue. However for me it serves to personally amaze me at the similarity in theology and teaching between these two heroes of mine and to men of God. Here's what he said;

"Our 'old man' is not something that is in us, it is something in which we are".

You don't have an 'old man' in you. Having said that, I have to prove it don't I? Well what does this have to do with the corporate? We will get to that. You have to realize how important the Corporate is. You see this whole matter of unity isn't just something nice. It's something mandatory! We have to come at it from God's side not our side. Not from holding ecumenical meetings. We have to find out what it is all about from God's Word.

In Romans 6:6, let's assume for a minute that you have got an "old man" in you, dirty, rotten, nasty fellow in there. He's in you! It says; "Our old man was crucified". In the English, we do not have a corresponding tense to the Greek aorist tense. The Greek aorist tense is simply this;

"It declares that something happened in time, once for all, never to be repeated - the effects of which continue".

Our old man was crucified! Now whatever that old man was; whenever it was crucified; it was crucified once for all - never to be repeated. Now let's be very logical about this; if that "Old Man " in you was crucified, at sometime back there, "he" was crucified! When a person was crucified, what happens to them? They die! If you have an old man in you - and there was some point in time when he was crucified - he's dead! Very dead! Right? If he was dead, dead then you don't have an old man in you because he's dead! He isn't there!

But the fact of history and the fact of experience is, whatever makes people sin, continues with us and it's something that we have to deal with. Therefore if that "old man" is in me and he's supposed to be dead - who's that other guy in there giving me trouble?

"Our old man was crucified with him that the body of sin (this is in the aorist tense) might be destroyed. Now if the body of sin is destroyed or made ineffective (and that's my physical body) - because that's what people say; "I have an old man in me and he makes me sin and he sins through my body!" - but the Bible says that old man was crucified, so he's dead and the body of sin has been destroyed, so I don't have a body?"

And if we are Christians we would all be in the grave! If you take it without looking at it closely, it becomes ludicrous; silly. If the body which is spoken of here is your body through which sin manifests itself then then the Bible categorically states that at some point in your past your old man was crucified and your body was "destroyed". Now your body is not destroyed, you are sitting here - unless I'm looking at a mirage - you are here. So what does it all mean?"

"Let me be autobiographical for a moment. I was raised under the teaching that I had an "Old Man". And when I became converted, I had - me. Then there was my "old man" which is seperate from me, which is my sin nature. It is not really me, it is my sin nature. Before I was converted it really dominated me. Now when I became a Christian, I got a "new nature". So now there is three of us in here. I know this because I was taught this. I am concerned because it kept me in semi-defeat for about 20 years of my Christian life even in the ministry!

I was taught that I had this "old man" plus me and then the "new man". Three of us in there. And I am the neutral umpire who decides who operates. And my old man is a disreputable, scandalous, vile, foul, vicious thing living in there - but I got converted and now I got a new man and he lives in there too. One of them wants me to do something wrong and one of them wants me to do something right and I am in the middle here and I kind of arbitrate between the two. So I am caught in this everlasting dichotomy; this on-going tension. Now I believe this, every one in a while to prove my orthodoxy that I have to let this "old guy" have some sort of expression, just to prove I am sound.

I was raised to believe it was not possible to really have complete victory in life and only in death would I have complete victory".

One day I was researching Romans chapter 6 and I decided to look into a commentary. I really didn't like this commentator because he didn't hold to my theological views. I decided I would look at him anyway on Romans 6. As I was reading him, he said;

"Many of my brethren feel that the article of physical death has more power to deliver Christians from sin than the Cross of Christ".

And I slammed the book shut and said; "I never liked him anyway". But the hook was in my jaw. I began to laugh and I saw the logic of what Adam Clark said. Everybody believed that when we die - we are going to move into instantaneous sanctification. I was sitting in my study and I said; "Come quickly terminal cancer that I may enter into sanctification!". You know the more I ridiculed the view that I held, the more I began to see the truth.

That I was saying that terminal cancer or a heart attack could do more to me in terms of sanctification than the Cross of Christ! And I saw how ridiculous this way. I saw how I was constantly downgrading the accomplishment of Calvary and I was imputing to the act of physical death a power that it didn't have.

"In fact - death is the last enemy - it is not my friend at all! It is not a sanctifying power; it's an embarrassing power! It's going to be done away with!"

Well to a cut a long story short ... and a very long story ... I discovered that I didn't have a seperate person in there called an "Old Man". And I tell you something else that does. It gets you off the hook of moral responsibility. I do something wrong and I can say; "It wasn't my fault - it was my old man". So what do I do? I cope out of moral responsibility as a responsible person and I say; "It was my old man!". Now I am doing exactly what Adam did in the beginning. So what are we doing? We are saying; "God it is Your fault! If I didn't have this "old man" then I wouldn't be doing this bad thing". I've got news for you.

"You are not going to be able to blame Him again because you don't have it! You don't have an "old man"! You are in, by nature, the "old man" but there is no "old man" in you! In fact what ever old man is in you is just as old as you. Your old man is you, not something seperate from you".

See when God came to save us, He came to save me not replace me. He didn't come to replace me. He didn't come to put someone beside me and call that "me". That isn't fair. There is just me in there. He came to save MY soul. He came to regenerate MY spirit. To renew MY mind. The Holy Spirit has come into MY life, not seperate from me. For the Bible said; "If anyone be joined to the Lord, he is one spirit with him" (1 Corinthians 6:17).

"Now it is very important that you see that we are members by nature of an Adamic body. And that the "old man" that was crucified was not something in you, but something in which you were and furthermore that the crucifixion of the old man and the destruction of the body of sin is a legal, judicial act which God performed in the Cross".

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Terry Virgo on Ern Baxter at Brighton 2004

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that looking into the past is a tremendous encouragement when it's hard sometimes to see clearly into the future. Looking into the past is a reminder of how God moved before and builds faith for how He will move again and indeed how He is moving - even unseen. It occured to me that it's been a while since I've sorted through my video sermon collection. I'm so glad that I spent hundreds of pounds buying videos at the Stoneleigh Bible Weeks and the Brighton Newfrontiers conferences because there is something special about seeing these key moments in the flesh! (What I would give to see Ern Baxter at the Dales Bible Weeks in the 1970's .... )

Here is a clip from the Brighton conference in 2004. I wasn't able to go to the whole week due to work commitments so Pete had to attend alone. However we were able to get down for the final day - Terry Virgo's closing session and then the evening session; "Does the Future Have a Church?". It was an incredible coincidence that I had just completed my first transcript of "Life on Wings Interviews with Dr Ern Baxter" and had sent it to both Terry and to Stanley Jebb.

There is nothing more thrilling than prophecy that is being fulfilled. That look into the past is an amazing reminder that God spoke powerfully to the Charismatic Movement in the 1970's and we are seeing it come to pass in these days. Jesus Christ said; "I WILL build My Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it!". Ern Baxter frequently used to remind us that statement of Jesus Christ's was not a defensive statement. Who has ever seen gates jump off their hinges and chase Christians down a street? No - this statement is an offensive statement. There is not one gate that can stand against the relentless advance of the Church - not even hell's gates themselves!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Men and Women of Influence!

This has been an interesting blog post in coming. It started when I was puffing away on the treadmill wishing that the 50 minute mark would come quickly! I was watching the National Television Awards on the television and they gave an award to Simon Cowell got an award for his services to television. I actually found it quite inspiring and found myself wondering as I sweated what qualities he possesses to get to where he did. So that started my brain whirring.

Then today I was in Waterstones (ironically looking at self-help books ... more on that later as to why I've brought Joel Osteen's "Become a Better You"!!) and I happened to notice a small booklet called: "Power List 2008 - 100 Most Influential Black People UK". Out of interest I flipped through it and noticed that two pastors are included in the list - one of which is Matthew Ashimolowo - the senior pastor at the Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC) in London. Agree or disagree with his theology, his methods - the fact remains that in a largely secular UK society, a panel of judges decided that he should be included on that list.

I wondered when the list of the 100 Most Influential People comes out - will there be any white pastors included on it? Please don't read anything into that other than what it reads. God is moving mightily among the black churches in the United Kingdom and I LOVE that! I love it when God's moving anywhere. I'm not so sure about other churches - certainly to be included in any lists of influence in the nation. Maybe I stand to be corrected.

It's interesting that my last couple of posts have been about "words". I've thought about the word; "Frustration" and I have thought about "Perspective". And here's the word "Influence". What does it mean?

"... the act or power of producing an effect without apparent exertion of force or direct exercise of command ... the power or capacity of causing an effect in indirect or intangible ways".

It's interesting. The men and women I've mentioned - Simon Cowell and Matthew Ashimolowo among others - have come to places of influence and I guess I always assumed they got there through sheer gut and determination. This definition seems to suggest that there is an element of attaining that place by almost accident! Those of us who are Christians and believe in a supernatural God who manifests in time and space can believe differently - that God positions His men and women down throughout the ages to be in places of influence.

Why are you bothering discussing all this, Dan - you may ask? Because my vision - my dream - my heart's desire - is that Jesus Christ should be made famous around the world. From Hong Kong to San Fransisco. From the North Pole to the South Pole. From London to Cape Town. In every town! In every city! In every nation! You get the idea ...

I'm tired of my God being dished! I walked through the religious section in Waterstones and frankly was pretty horrified. As you will see from the photo - the titles of the books aren't very faith inspiring! And I am sick of it. I want church pastors, apostles, prophets and evangelists to start dominating the lists of the 100 Most Influential People. I read that Bishop T D Jakes has the ear of President George Bush. And quite right too! Church leaders should be having the ears of leaders of nations and giving proper advice. That's influence!

Now I may have caused some shock by mentioning that I've brought Joel Osteen's "Become a Better You". I know Osteen is widely condemned by the evangelical front. To be honest I haven't really bothered to find out why. I wanted to read his book for myself. The reason I brought it was because I've made no secret of the fact that I'm really struggling with depression at the moment and some self-harm. There are a multitude of books out there in the "self-help" section that seem very cozy and cuddly. The evangelical choice of books seem remarkably quiet on mental health. But books like Joel Osteen and T D Jakes seem to be different. They are full of vision, passion, hope and destiny! And that's what I need to read right now. I am sure I will post some comments later!

That was an aside to this post. Influence ... I think on reflection it's something that God will give to those who are hungry and who are ready and who are committed for His glory alone. Who's interests are far above themselves and their own personal gain and fulfilment. Who's goals are more than winning awards for their own hard work or for speaking on conference platforms and receiving the applause of men - but who's single-minded focus (a reason I love Rob Rufus so much) is the glory and manifest Presence of God alone sweeping the globe.

That's what I want! Anyone join me?