Monday, April 26, 2010

By Your Underlining Shall Ye Know Them ...

I always know if a sermon is going to be a fair one, a good one or an AWESOME one by the amount of bold and underlining it receives! I listened to a sermon today that got LOADS of underlining and bold - and it was by Pete Greasley - senior pastor of Christchurch in Wales speaking at New Word Alive. It was so good I actually transcribed the whole thing. Before I post some of my notes (I don't want to post the whole thing as I am concious that I had to pay for the download from the NWA site and don't want to rob any of their income) - I just want to apply a prophecy that Rob Rufus gave recently.

"I have a word of prophecy for someone here today; you have become cynical and sceptical and you feel it is normal and acceptable because of legalism in your past and the religious church world that you have rejected. You don’t almost feel that church is relevant anymore and so you are sceptical and cynical. And the Lord says in a loving way; “You feel this is okay because the religious world and legalism is so bad that you now can live cynically about church”. The Lord says; “The reason you are cynical is not because of the religious world – it is because you don’t believe totally the gospel of pure grace".

I'm tired of being angry at SGM. I'm tired of the whole "SGM-thing". I was the only family member not to be invited to a family birthday party this month. The reason? Because my parent's SGM pastors were there. That hurts.

But I don't want to be in the place where I am cynical and skeptical because I don't believe in the gospel of pure grace! So I listened to this sermon of Pete Greasley's primarily because I was interested to see what he said at New Word Alive and how often he said; "My friend C J" (only once for the record). But I ended up being floored by the pure grace preaching that came out of his expounding of Psalm 103. Grace from SGM?! Yep.

There may be some who have been hurt by SGM (and there are thousands I know of) who refuse to accept that "can anything good come out of SGM". I know - I was one of them for quite a few years! But the thing about being in a desert is that when someone offers you a glass of water - you become remarkably "unfussy" about who you accept it from. Many of us are in a legalistic desert and are hungering for "pure grace" preachers of the Word of God who don't mix law and grace - but unveil the Gospel in it's glorious truth.

I have to say thus far - in my estimation - Pete Greasley is one such guy. Here's why (and as I said - these are my notes. The download is only £1 and I do recommend it strongly to everyone!);

The context of Psalm 103:

"You look into 2 Samuel 7 and you see this wonderful situation with King David where he is made king and he is suddenly carrying this responsibility and he is also pumped up with what he is going to do for God. You have this situation where he is pacing the floor and calls in Nathan the prophet ... !”. Then God comes and speaks to Nathan and says; “David, I took you from the sheepfold when you were nothing and I took the initiative and I brought you this far (past grace) and I have kept you – all your life has been soaked in My grace to you (present grace)”. And then He says;

“David – you won’t build Me a house – I will build you a house. It is not about what you are going to do for Me – it is about what I have done, what I am doing and I will do for you”.

THAT is what this Psalm is about. So I have five points – five ways that we see grace outworking in this;

1. Essential Grace.

From there he opens the whole Psalm up and this is a man amazed by grace. Staggered by it! He looked at essential grace – who God is. A W Tozer says in his book; “The Knowledge of the Holy”;

What comes to a man’s mind when he thinks about God is the greatest thing about him”.

When you imagine how God considers you – when you really on your own and not at a conference in your home – have you ever pleaded; “Don’t quit on me. Am I even looking like a Christian? What kind of a man am I? What kind of life do I lead?”. How does God see me? So often I imagine God as being austere and disappointed. To be honest – I would be disappointed with me. I am disappointed with me.

I know you know these things but to know it here in your head and here in your heart are two different things. You know whether you feel it in your heart here and experience and live and apply it – when you mess up.

2. Merciful Grace.

Whatever happens to you – if you are in Christ – I do not deal with you according to your sin. Jerry Bridges says in your best day you are not beyond the need for God’s grace and on your worst day you are not beyond the reach of God’s grace.

Here’s the good news tonight – because of Christ and because of what He has done for us there is never a day – the worst day of your life (and I hope it has been) – the day you know you have messed up worse than anyone and you think “How can this be?” – You are NOT beyond the reach of God’s grace and because of Christ He does not deal with you according to your sin. He does deal with sin – but He does not deal with us.

He is not even saying from the north to the south and thank God for that! That is a long way! You start at the South Pole and walk north; sooner or later you will come to the North Pole and end up walking south again. You start walking east? You will never start walking west.

Not getting grace so it impacts us and changes us. David wants us to get it, feel it, live it and be amazed by it!

3. Compassionate Grace.

I have got three grown up children now and they are all grown up and doing their thing. For most of you, you won’t get this yet because you are not parents – when you become a parent you will feel this and it will impact you. You will know that there is NOTHING my son or daughter can do. They may disappoint me and may at times grieve me. But there is nothing that will stop me passionately loving them, caring them, sacrificing for them – THAT is the kind of grace we experience that David is talking about.

We have got to feel this. This is one of the problems we have in some evangelical/reformed circles;

We GET the doctrine. But the doctrine doesn’t GET us.

It is not enough to hold to this and see the Fatherhood of God. God wants us to experience and know this – to know we are adopted into His family through Christ and this is how He looks at me – as a Father and to experience and know this.

4. Understanding Grace.

(v14) – “For He knows our frame and remembers that we are dust”. He know at times we fail and He knows at times we fall. He knows that we are not yet sinless. He remembers we are dust! We spend our lives trying to remember how good I am and trying to remind everyone else about how good I am.

5. Unending Grace.

How can all this Psalm be ours? You know how! But I will tell you – it is ours because God in love sent His Son to die on a Cross for you and me. It is ours! We look at this Psalm from this side of the Cross – not that. We don’t come to that point and think; “Forfeited!”. God is just! He proclaimed His Name to Moses and proclaimed mercy and the desire to forgive but justice!

To grow in Christ means to be more amazed at what He has done for you!

It is scandalous! Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones said if you are preaching grace RIGHT then people will accuse you of making it too easy. I hope you leave here and say “No this is too dangerous – he said it is all free! He is saying you can live like we like?”. I hope you thought that! Because if you haven’t ever thought that – then you have never got it! They accused Paul of that – and he says; “By no means!”. Doctor used to say if you are not accused of that, then you are not preaching grace!

The biggest issue is not what you do – but what He has done for you and living in the good of it!

Pete then ended the message with one of the most amusing analogies I have EVER heard - and having a nurse's rather darker sense of humour, it tremendously appealed to me. He was appealing to the listeners to preach and hear the Gospel daily. He said;

"If you want to reach people with the gospel then feel it, live it, love it! If you are not like that – restrict your diet and eat the prune juice of grace until you are just flowing! If you are blocked up with religion then feed yourself the gospel!

In this day and age - we do not have the right to be "fussy" where we drink of the Gospel of grace. The Gospel is too important and too life-changing. We need to drink of every life-saving drop we can get! Or at least I do - and I resolve to. And I for one am so glad I heard this amazing message from this amazing servant of God today.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Humour Among My Heroes!!

I demand quite a bit from my heroes - anointed Spirit-filled teaching, signs and wonders are always a massive bonus, well-read, well-stocked libraries. And humour! Ern Baxter was probably the first of my heroes to make me realise that you could teach with anointing and power and yet bring the house down with laughter. But it is a rare gift. There are two extremes at large in the church. There are quite a few teachers who feel they "have" to be humerous and therefore crack jokes that frankly aren't funny. And there are those who are probably more honest, know they aren't naturally funny and don't try to be.

I really enjoyed one of Terry Virgo's latest Tweets;

"We fly to Israel today but will we be able to fly home next Tuesday or decide it's good to be here and set up 3 tabernacles?" - 6:34 AM Apr 20th via Twitterrific.

And of course - Rob Rufus. Scott always said that if Rob wasn't an apostle/prophet/pastor/teacher (whatever he is!) then he could and should be a stand-up comedian. He certainly ranks alongside Ern Baxter in being able to make sides ache with laughter! Here's an example of my favourite;

I dare not frequently disagree with Dr Martyn Ll0yd-Jones - but maybe tentatively do here when he said;

"The man who tries to be humorous is an abomination and should never be allowed to enter a pulpit".

Maybe I can excuse my humorous heroes because I think they don't try to be funny - they just naturally are!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Awesome Blessings from Hong Kong!!

Most who know me will know that I tend to go on quite a bit about what I am currently passionate about. Some call it flighty. Others suggest it at least avoids the error of lukewarmness! However on my recent Easter visit back to Bristol my parents commented that I don't talk as much about Hong Kong and City Church as much as I used to. This was true. Last year was a pretty terrible year and part of that was a series of disappointments with Hong Kong that I don't need to go into. But Pete Day and I spoke about this when we met recently and agreed that we CANNOT allow our personal disappointments to stop us from receiving the downloads of glory teaching that come from City Church International and Rob and Ryan Rufus in particular.

So recently I have been working slowly but surely to get back into listening to the sermons and also start transcribing again. And WHAT a blessing it is! I've only transcribed two sermons this year so far - Rob Rufus on; "Imperfect Faith Can STILL Bring You Face to Face with Jesus!" and have just finished today an incredible sermon by Ryan Rufus called; "Activating the Prophetic". It is this sermon I particularly want to draw attention to because I learned so much from it.

Ryan split the sermon between some teaching on the prophetic - and then moved into actually prophesying. He said that it was only in the "demonstration of the prophetic" that more prophetic activity would be birthed. I must confess he had a point - I've heard countless academic sermons on the prophetic by men such as Sam Storms or Wayne Grudem. But hearing someone prophesy is incredibly stirring - that's why I love hearing Terry Virgo or John Groves prophesy so much.

Ryan taught that prophecy brings edification, exhortation and comfort.

"Edify – that is what the prophetic does. “Edify” means “House” and “To build”. Or to “build the house of God”. The prophetic word is to build the house of God. It speaks mainly about the present. Edifying is building up the house of God in the now.

Exhort – which is “one side” and “a calling to”. To exhort someone and come alongside them and is prospective – for the future. To put courage and strength in someone for the future.

Comfort – is the same word as exhort but is in retrospect. For trials experienced and the prophetic can bring comfort to them. It takes away pain and grief and brings explanation and strengthens those people.

The prophetic therefore speaks to the past, present and future".

Essentially the key thing about the prophetic is that when we prophesy the words of God - we are actually speaking CREATIVE words of life! Ryan spoke about how actually vital it is to prophesy over our own lives in private in our secret places - and Rob Rufus (who got up to speak briefly after Ryan) said the same thing - that Rob manages to survive demonic oppression and turmoil by prophesying truth and creative power over his life. I was so challenged - I think in our evangelical desire to be "decent and in order" - we haven't tested the full power of the prophetic gift to it's fullest. Why else would Paul the apostle COMMAND us in the New Testament to desire spiritual gifts ESPECIALLY prophecy?

As I mentioned Rob Rufus got up to speak briefly after Ryan - and ended up prophecying. And while typing and listening - I experienced yet again one of "those" moments when 1 Corinthians 14 was fulfilled and the "secrets of my heart" were exposed. Here's what Rob prophecied;

"I have a word of prophecy for someone here today; you have become cynical and sceptical and you feel it is normal and acceptable because of legalism in your past and the religious church world that you have rejected. You don’t almost feel that church is relevant anymore and so you are sceptical and cynical. And the Lord says in a loving way; “You feel this is okay because the religious world and legalism is so bad that you now can live cynically about church”.

The Lord says; “The reason you are cynical is not because of the religious world – it is because you don’t believe totally the gospel of pure grace. Those that believe the truth are set free by the truth and people who understand that the church of Jesus Christ is very precious to Jesus – even if she’s got problems, even if she’s got the law there still, even if she has bondages – she is PRECIOUS to Jesus”. And the criticism of His church and His body is not the truth and the Lord breaks off you this day – that cynical spirit and releases unto you a spirit of faith to believe the true gospel of grace and to love the body of Christ in ALL the church throughout the WHOLE world!”.

I admit freely I have struggled with cynicism towards the church (and Sovereign Grace Ministries churches in particular) thanks to my experiences in Bristol. But this prophetic word undid me and exposed what I have been doing. I have defended my cynicism and suspicion thanks to that unpleasant experience with those SGM church leaders - but actually the issue is - I DON'T believe the gospel of pure grace properly! The church - the whole church - every part of it (yes including those belonging to C J Mahaney and Mark Driscoll) are part of the beloved Bride of Christ and will be part of the end-time glorious church!
I am so thankful for the true prophetic word that reveals your heart! It does so lovingly and without judgement and truly and definately sets free! I really urge everyone who shares an interest in the prophetic to read this sermon transcript from Ryan.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

"God's World Purposes" by Dr Ern Baxter

I wanted to make another short book by Dr Ern Baxter available called "God's World Purposes". This book(let) was a collation of three remarkable and classic sermons by Ern called;

1. The Gospel of the Garden.

2. The Gospel of the Land.

3. The Gospel of the Kingdom.

It is of constant puzzlement to me why these remarkable sermons are not more widely available and my constant prayer that someone with more financial resource and capacity than I can do this. There are some unique teachers that God blesses the earth with - and Ern Baxter was most definately one of them. Prophetic, insightful - a man who walked close with his God. Of course he was human - and made mistakes. That hardly needs even be said. Pete Day and I were discussing Ern recently when we met in London and agreeing that hints of legalism and law did creep sometimes into his sermons.

But this trivalent series is key - particularly for our day and our age. The Word of God states that the earth is groaning waiting for the "sons of God to be revealed". Whatever interpretation may be placed on that - I believe (and Ern believed) that the church needs to get it's act together and begin knowing it's identity. When we know who we are - then we will start behaving as we should.

Enjoy the document; "God's World Purposes" by Ern Baxter (let me know if it doesn't open!).

An Investment ... or Sheer Irresponsibility?!

Well I have a confession to make - must be related to my "indwelling sin" and that wretched "old man" that just won't quit and die ... ;-)

I was very excited when I first heard about the magnificent series of DVD's that Wayne Grudem has produced. It is a series of 16 DVD's with over 16 hours of teaching on them. Grudem essentially teaches on key aspects of the Christian life in his Systematic Theology such as;

1. What is God like?
2. What are angels and demons?
3. What is the resurrection?
4. What are justification and adoption?

And so on. I've struggled with the price (£80) in my mind but finally yesterday decided to take the plunge and go for it. Men like Wayne Grudem are rare and gifted teachers. Grudem has the unique gift of teaching on systematic theology but for some reason when he teaches on what many may feel are "boring" topics and many other teachers lecture on with little result other than imparting information - Grudem always seems to bring a sense of the manifest Presence of God.

This most certainly happened when I've heard him speak twice at the "Together on a Mission" conference in 2003 and 2006. He spoke in 2003 on "Biblical Manhood and Womanhood" (a subject I tire of often) but there was an amazing sense of God's Presence there when Terry Virgo got us to sing "There is a Day!" afterwards. The same thing happened again when Grudem spoke on the Person of Christ at Brighton in 2006. Grudem certainly speaks with anointing.

I figured that the only other way to be able to get to hear Wayne Grudem speak in this length and depth would be to either follow him across the globe (costing thousands in airfares) or enroll at Phoenix Seminary in Arizona (also costing thousands). £80 seems rather a bargain in comparison! Effectively I get to go on a Systematic Theology course in my own apartment!

Others have already reached the same conclusion clearly - Tim Chester among others has brought the series and reviews it here. I will hopefully be reviewing aspects of interest as I listen to the sessions when I can!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Dave Holden Blog!!

I just absolutely have to draw attention to one of (in my opinion) the unsung heroes of Newfrontiers - Dave Holden. For a couple of years Dave hasn't spoken at "Together on a Mission" - I'm at a loss to understand why. I greatly appreciate and value Dave's preaching. He speaks so simply and so easily to understand but with such profound anointing. So I always tend to be on the watch hoping that Dave comes our way - but alas, as yet, I still hope!

I was thrilled today to find that Dave Holden has his own blog run at his home church - New Community Church in Sidcup, London. He blogs as he speaks - simply yet profoundly.

A couple of blogs I want to draw attention to;

1. Writing about the Newfrontiers Prayer and Fasting event and the focus on Revival, Dave said;
" One more thing, I still believe in the importance of the restoration of the Church. My passionate prayer is that restoring the Church is not an end in itself, but is actually vital for revival. Maybe the last 40 years of restoration has all been key, for when revival comes, the church will be able to contain, channel and overflow the power of revival in an unprecedented way, which will result in amazing lasting fruit to the glory of Jesus".

2. This blog in particular awakened such a hunger and an ache within me. WHY, WHY, WHY is this attitude so rare in Christian leaders particularly in the United Kingdom? Dave wrote about "Encountering God" and said;

We held an Encounter God evening at NCC. For some time now we have felt that we do not have enough time to just wait on God and minister to one another in the things of the Spirit, so we set aside an evening to do just that. It was a wonderful time and people turned out in great numbers.

It's great to be in a church where so many want more of God. Many were refreshed in their experience of God, many more moved on in gifts of the Spirit as they were encouraged to bring words over others for the first time. We had the privilege of leading several people into the baptism in the Holy Spirit. It's such a joy to see people being overwhelmed by the Spirit for the first time and reminds me of the importance of laying hands on people to receive as well as giving them the time to really breakthrough".

3. Another subject close to my heart - Dave wrote a blog on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I've noticed that many cautious charismatic churches are now watering down the active Presence and power of the Holy Spirit. They are calling themselves "continuationist" - a subtle but definite change. Rather than identifying themselves as churches that practice and believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, they are simply identifying that they believe the gifts of the Spirit have "continued". Dave writes;

"We continue to encourage folk to contribute in all of our meetings and to expect God to use them in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. As more and more "Charismatic" churches seem to have less and less gifts operating in their public meetings and performance rather than participation seems to be the way thing are going, I want to make an impassioned plea that we continue to stay biblical and truly "charismatic " by having more participation and less performance.

Gifts are wonderful. They are not optional and they are vital for enhancing our worship of Jesus, encouraging the members of the church and for impacting the unbeliever with the reality of a living God. 1 Cor 12-14 makes little sense if the expectation was not to have the operation of the gifts in our regular meetings".

And finally - and probably for me most importantly;

"It's time for more Holy Spirit activity, not less. So let's expect more gifts to be in operation".

I really look forward to being able to benefit from Dave Holden's incredible ministry through this blog and will be following it closely. New Community Church in Sidcup have a couple of other blogs related to the church - one in particular worth a read is;

"Sermon Q and A Blog" - a chance for listeners to text in their questions to the preachers.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Word ... Spirit ... Word .... Spirit - IS there a balance?!

I'm an unashamed charismatic. I used to say I'm a behind the scenes reformed Christian (i.e. some reformed doctrine bothers me). So I like the term charismatic calvinist at the moment (but that may change soon!). Whatever the labels - the fact is that I love and appreciate the Word of God and I honour and desperately need and love the Spirit of God. But I do struggle to find that "tension" that Ern Baxter used to speak about.

I probably have far more books in my library than I care to count. And frequently want more! I am currently wrestling with my conscience and my wallet being HUGELY tempted by Wayne Grudem's awesome DVD collection called "Christian Beliefs". It is a mighty 16 DVD collection of hours of Wayne Grudem speaking on vital Christian doctrines. I'm sure I will give in at some point soon!

But I must admit the "Word" part of me was positively dribbling at these three videos of Wayne Grudem speaking about Phoenix Seminary where he lectures. If I had unlimited resources I would love nothing more than to come over to the United States and take full advantage of that incredible rich resource of teachers! I think the key is that we don't need to become a "Grudem-ite" or a "Piper-ite" or a "Macarthur-ite" or a "whatever-ite". I remember someone describing it as enjoying a selection of cakes at a buffet. You take the slice you like the look of and move on. Why not the same with teachers of the Word of God?!

Here are the videos;

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Can the WORLD teach the CHURCH something?!

Historically the church tends to believe that they are the one with the gospel message for a world that needs to hear it. And that's right (in a sense). However I want to go out on a limb and suggest that if the world does something well - then is there any reason why we should not consider it and take it on board?

Background Thoughts

Chris Welch and I have been thinking a bit about Ern Baxter and his prophetic message to the Dales Bible Week 1976 and "going into the land". Chris was thinking about the role that apostles/prophets of the 1970s were equipped for the church. In essence - were Ern Baxter and Terry Virgo and Bryn Jones and so on actually even ready to lead the church? It's a fair question. I think the church is LONG overdue getting away from the "one (or maybe two) church pastor - many member" model. It scares the hell (or heaven) out of me that there are STILL church members who govern their lives by what their church pastor says - and if asked would state that they believe he does stand in the very stead of God (for them).

Does the Church Needs 'Command and Control'?

I have spent all day on an intensive training course in relation to my current Emergency Planning work. We were being trained to be "Loggists". For those who aren't familiar with this term, let me explain;

In major incidents (such as terrorist attacks, large vehicle crashes involving civilian casualties, floods and so on) all the health services have what are called "Commanders" who are usually Chief Executives and senior staff who will be making decisions throughout the incident. This can be quite a lengthy process. For example the 7/7 bombings that London suffered in 2005 required Commanders making strategic decisions for some weeks.

And EVERY decision they make MUST be logged by a "Loggist" - who during the major incident are effectively joined to the Commander at the hip!

But it was the background to commanding Major Incidents that intrigued me. The United Kingdom has a "Gold-Silver-Bronze" command structure in an emergency. Here's what they do;

1. Gold Commander - Strategic overall control of the operation and is usually the Chief Executive of a service.

2. Silver Commander - Tactical control of the operation - will usually be senior officers such as medical consultants or Chief Operating Officers of hospitals. Will be located near scene and able to feed information back to Gold Command.

3. Bronze Commander - Operational control of the operation - will be on the scene directing emergency services - such as fire or ambulance senior officers.

So here's where my rather random thought processes fit together - why can't the same processes work in a church situation? Maybe they do in some situations. But why are so many church pastors endowed with being "Gold-Silver-Bronze" commanders all in one? I know that it is difficult to compare major incidents such as bomb explosions with church life (although maybe in some churches it isn't so dissimilar!). But let's take some examples - local and national;

  • Say it is discovered in a local church that a couple are having serious marriage difficulties. The wife is cheating on her husband with another man in the church. In most "usual" churches - this will go straight to the church pastor who will be expected to become marriage counsellor as well as potentially invoking church discipline. Is that church pastor gifted to do this? And should he? Or she? If the Gold-Silver-Bronze command approach is applied then the church pastor/lead elder could potentially be "Gold" offering advice where appropriate. An elder could be "Silver" involved in discussions and advice and help and a cell leader could be "Bronze" spending time with the hurting couple.

Say that an international family of churches suffer a serious crisis when a key church in a country begins preaching what is perceived as heresy or doctrinal error. In most "usual" situations the father (or apostle) of the family of churches is often involved and called upon. But what if the same Gold-Silver-Bronze command approach was applied? The apostle does not necessarily know the day to day situation in that country's key church. But a "Silver" leader in that country may - and can make decisions while feeding back points for prayer and decision to "Gold".

Would this not only free up the "Gold" leaders to continue making strategic decisions for the on-going growth and the health of the on-going church or family of churches while releasing perhaps more junior and inexperienced leaders to take decisions and become involved in potential "crises. I firmly believe that the church (universal) MUST mobilise more leaders. If we are indeed going "into the land" then there are so many issues that we have not even dreamed of facing - particularly in the Western world. Here's a few that occured to me;

1. The threat of martyrdom - what if a church faced the certainity of execution if they continued meeting and spreading the gospel? Who decides whether to continue regardless or back out, re-group and re-plan?

2. The "flowing in" of the nations - as promised in Isaiah. Many of us have already experienced prejudice and fear from established churches when some of the "taboo" struggles we face have been shared. For example Sovereign Grace Ministries have demonstrated they seem to particularly struggle (and over-react through harsh discipline) particularly with church members sharing that they struggle with homosexuality. If the nations are going to "flow in" then there are a LOT of homosexual people that are coming in! Who will be deciding and guiding church leaders to stop panicking and over-reacting by excommunicating every church member who confesses they are dealing with this?

3. This is partially related to number 1 - but I don't believe it is far off before public preaching of the gospel is banned in our countries (possibly coming in under religious hatred laws). Again - what and how are churches going to respond to this? Are churches simply going to back down? Or face jail over this? Or could we re-strategise and consider other ways of spreading the gospel but within the law (such as cyber-church)?

These are just random thoughts prompted by an incredibly interesting training day I had - but I wonder if this is a step in the right direction towards Ephesians 4 Ministries serving the glorious church by surging forward to fulfill the mission we are on.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Apostolic Teams in Restoration Magazine

I found this interesting article in one of the Restoration Magazines about the apostolic teams of the 1970's to 80's. The three main key ones of course in the United Kingdom were Terry Virgo, Tony Morton and Bryn Jones's teams.

Something occured to me - a challenge to our generation. Thank God for the Tony Mortons, Bryn Jones and Terry Virgos that were gifted to us by the risen Christ. Two of those men have been taken out anyhow. Who is rising up to take their place? Thank God that Ephesians states that the risen Christ gives these gifts to the church and there is no hint of an end to that giving until His glorious return! The question is - are the church recognising and welcoming those gifts?

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Forgiveness Doesn't Mean Wimpness

One thing you should know about this blog is that I never promised or will be the "perfect Christian" - because I'm not. There are plenty of those about - I hardly need even mention them. Just reading them makes you ache to be like them because they seem so together and so "Christian". I on the other hand am real - and promise to always be real. If I'm rejoicing and celebrating - then I'll write about it. If I'm struggling - then I probably won't write but will after I've picked myself up. If I'm livid - then I'll write about that too.

And today - I'm livid. I had a pretty rubbish weekend struggling with various family issues back in Bristol (ever tried cooking an Easter roast dinner on your own with just gas hobs while family are at SGM church?!). And today brought a culmination of issues that have been grumbling at work to a head. I left work feeling like I am being manipulated emotionally and professionally by a whole host of people and being lied to - which I hate.

It left me thinking - what is really the difference between the world and the church? I've been lied to, manipulated and bullied by both church and world. What marks us out? What distinguishes us? I'm hoping to have a meeting with a key SGM leader here to finally deal with the messes of the past and lay them to rest and am actually really, really encouraged and daring to hope - he seems so gracious and so kind. But am I being foolish - are we really meant to be naive and gullible and get hurt again and again by manipulative people who take us for fools? Or are we meant to go to the other extreme and be cynical and bitter and untrusting and ungenerous? Or is there a balance to be found?

I know there is a balance - and am really trying to find it in my own life. I love people and hate hurting anyone and generally try to please everyone. I suspect the balance is to be found in the Person of Jesus Christ. But my point is - I don't think forgiveness means we have to be gullible. I like this "Girls Aloud" video performance of their song; "Control of the Knife". It's ironic that Cheryl Cole sang this (we think) as a warning to her husband Ashley. The line goes;

"You tricked me once - I won't let you trick me twice".

Here's the video:

I find Cheryl's face fascinating. Did you miss it in the video? Here it is again;

That is a girl I wouldn't mess with! And I think Jesus was a Man that you wouldn't mess with either! So here's hoping to getting the balance right one day - but for now ... I'm just angry. Church pastors (tending towards legalism) and NHS bosses ... beware!

Monday, April 05, 2010

I Love History!!

I am so excited and grateful to my dear friend Nick Cameron for posting these forgotten photos of the Bible Weeks that we as a church used to enjoy - and in particular our visits from Ern Baxter. Brings back so many memories - I wish at times I had been born earlier!

This photo is of Ern Baxter standing with the New Covenant church elders when he visited in 1991.
This was Stanley Jebb introducing Ern Baxter at the Anglia Bible Week in 1984 - Ern was speaking on the "Priestly Garments". The transcript of the messages is available here.

Spinning Plates!!

I guess I would be one of the most unlikely people to post a video of C J Mahaney. While I was at home over the Easter weekend I was discussing with my dad the processes by which my family ended up in Bristol and at SGM - and we remembered that it was actually I who made contact with the mother SGM church in Newport and started events rolling for them to move from Dunstable. I guess that is something I am going to have to live with for the rest of my life. However at the time back in 2001, the only front we had seen of Sovereign Grace Ministries was C J Mahaney speaking at Stoneleigh Bible Week in 2000.

Pete Day and I were discussing the key seminar that Mahaney gave at the Bible Week (it felt like a main session) on "Grace and Legalism". During the seminar Mahaney acted out an incredibly dramatic presentation of a legalistic Christian. I have yet to see someone better it with such drama, humour and flair. I hope that this is still the case within SGM.

Here it is;

Imperfect Faith Can STILL Bring You Face to Face with Jesus - Part 2

Just before Easter I posted the first half of this sermon of Rob Rufus's - he preached it in November last year in Hong Kong. The fact is that we are indeed facing a war. And I am increasingly convinced that the war is NOT to give into lust or anger or other "sins". I am increasingly convinced that the war is to give into bitterness and disappointment against God - and ultimately to lose our faith in a loving and gracious and passionate God. The devil simply uses those temptations - because he knows that if we as Christians do fall in those areas, we will most likely think that God is angry or disappointed with us. And then his job is accomplished.

But if we can hold on resolutely to the finished glorious work of the Cross - that when God promises; "He is no longer holding our sins against us" - that He means it, then I suspect that the devil has lost probably his only weapon. Why are we as Christians so determined to believe that God is constantly angry or unhappy with us?

Here is Part 2 of the sermon;

"Quickly go to Romans chapter 3:3-4. “Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be true and every man a liar”. What is so important today is that we need to see there is a difference between facts and truth.

So many people in the church are believers in theory. But the reality is that the administration of their life is closer to a practical atheist. There is very little in these Christians lives that you have to say they are solving problems through faith. They are solving their problems by “what is” and are dealing with “what is” by “what is”. So they are multiplying their problems.

This creates so much controversy and pain and I wanted to deal with this so sensitively and I just don’t have the time. Let me say I am dealing with this from a sensitive heart.

The fact is that you may have sickness in your body. The truth is that by His stripes - you WERE healed. The fact is you may be in financial debt - the truth is that at the Cross He has ALREADY redeemed you from the curse of poverty that the prosperity of Abraham may come upon you. The fact is that you may have sinned and done something seriously wrong - you may have failed God - that is the fact. The truth is you are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.

There is coming a defining and dividing dispensation in our time of the people of God who chose to be wrapped up in the facts or be wrapped up in the truth. If you focus on the facts then you will chose the things that are to nullify the things that are. But if you focus on the truth then you will chose the things that are not to nullify the things that are. You will seek the covering presence of the cherubims and the glory to get into the Presence of the God who calls things that be not as though they were.

I want you to look in John chapter 8 very quickly. Any fact that does not line up with the truth of God’s Word is a fact waiting to be nullified by the things that are not. I want you to look quickly at John chapter 8. I want to show you that Jesus constantly spoke about the two worlds - the superior world of heaven and the world that is from below that is temporarily corrupted by satanic deception. Satan has a system of politics, economics and education of doing things and God has a heavenly system of doing things and He says - let Your kingdom come, let Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. When we begin to get into the world’s system, we begin to try to deal with problems of what is - by dealing with what is.

Jesus says here - in John chapter 8 and verse 23; “I am from above, I am not of this world”. If you go to verse 28, Jesus said; “I am the One I claim to be … but speak what the Father has taught Me … He has not left Me alone”. That is the key theme of what I want to talk about in the coming weeks. He has not left me alone. “The truth will set you free”. What will the truth set you free from? It will set you free from the facts. Are you wrapped up in the truth of God’s Word or are you wrapped up in the facts? Now we are not to deny the facts - we have to face the facts and recognise that they are there. But we are then to look on the things that are unseen and get wrapped up in the truth.

It is not a waste of time to be lying on the floor soaking under the manifest glory of God - it is not a waste of time to go into the secret place and let God love you and manifest His glory over you and saturate you so every cell in your body is vibrating with eternal life, divine virtue and divine quickening of your mortal body so that God can then do the things that are impossible to do.

I wonder has God really called us to have faith for miracles? Or has He called us to have faith to surrender our whole life to come under His hovering Presence? Because when you want to have faith for miracles, it puts all the pressure on you to have faith. If all you are saying is; “God I know I can have faith for Your manifest Presence” - then the God who does miracles does the miracle.

I can’t do the miracle and neither can you. What do we need to have faith for? His hovering Presence. God has to come out of the invisible and manifest tangibly. No miracle can happen unless the Presence of God manifests tangibly in reality so that your very physical body can feel His Presence. Go to Jeremiah 32. Jeremiah 32 is God’s announcement of the superiority of the New Covenant. Most of you have heard me read this and quote it but I want to read it again. Verse 40. We no longer earn or deserve the blessing, Jesus Christ earned the blessings on our behalf and redeemed us from the curse of the law that the blessings may come on our lives through faith and faith alone. So Jeremiah 32:40 says; “I will never stop doing good to them”. How long is never? Does never ever run out? “I will rejoice …”. The Hebrew word means; “To turn and twist with deep emotions of ecstasy and joy in doing us good”. V41 again.

Let me put these two verses together - then the will of God is to NEVER stop doing you good! 24/7 every second He wants to do you good! How does He do us good? With rejoicing! So if He never wants to stop doing you good then it means that He never wants to stop dancing with deep emotions and twists and turns and ecstasy in doing you good. The greatest fun God gets - is doing you good!

Why do so few Christians feel a consciousness that the Creator is not remote and a distant deity but He is a very engaged Being that is literally dancing over me and you with ecstasy and deep feelings of wanting to do us good and never will stop doing us good? How come that is not reflected in the life of the church?

I think it was when Jesus said - your traditions have nullified the Word of God. I don’t think people believe this. I don’t think people have the faith to surrender to the covering Presence of the God that calls the things that be not as though they were. I think people have got caught up in rituals and religion and ceremonies. Religious principles and protocol - but have we got caught up in revelation and eternal intuition and insight into this God dancing over you all the time? We have been told that when God manifests over us it is a sovereign initiative and there is nothing you can do about it and He will just come. Now the gifts of the Spirit operate as the Spirit wills but I am not talking about the gifts here today. Jeremiah 32 is not God talking about the gifts - it is God talking about Himself dancing over you all the time!

Some of you have heard my account of when I went to Brighton two years ago and I was invited to be the main speaker at a conference for about 5000 leaders. The weekend before the conference Terry Virgo invited me to come to the church he is based at that he has planted - it is quite a large church - and minister Sunday morning and Sunday night. So I preached Sunday morning and came back Sunday night and it was packed out. People had come from all over and they had brought lots of sick people and I preached again in the evening but realised I had to pace myself because I had to preach seven times in the week to thousands of people. At the end of the evening service I thought I had to get out of the door and then saw this long queue lining up and the first one had crippled hips and I just knew that it was not going to happen. I couldn’t do it. Someone said “Will you come over?” and as I am walking over I suddenly felt over my physical body, my head and everywhere the dancing God. He was wanting to rejoice over doing me good and anyone that got into my radius.

Any time you watch a DVD of an evangelist or a preacher and see someone bringing them out of the wheelchair with boldness and no lack of confidence - anytime you see that, don’t think that is their natural temperament. They are under something. I am tired of ministering to broken lives if I am not under something. It is just flesh and religion. “Come out in Jesus Name!”. “I am not coming out”.

As I got closer I could just feel the intensifying dancing of a God who just wanted to do me good and anyone around me - this God of perfect love. I walked up to the first lady and I said; “Lady what do you need?”. That’s all I did. I didn’t put my hands on her or pray and I felt this all around me. She started to describe her symptoms and about 30 seconds into her describing the symptoms (I had said nothing - just fixed my eyes on her) she started shaking. I hadn’t prayed for her, hadn’t said “In the Name of Jesus” or put my hands on her and she started shaking and vibrating and then she falls over! I just was standing there listening to the symptoms. A minute or two later she got up and her hips were totally straight. I said “Next!”. 20 people - about 8 out of 10 - the exact same thing happened. I never prayed for them - it was effortless! I didn’t have to speak! While giving me their symptoms they were healed!

I think that is closer to the Jesus ministry than what I see. Mark chapter 1 He walked into the temple and a demonised man started screaming. “Aaagh why have You come before our time?”. He hadn’t preached yet! Shut up - and come out. They marvelled at His authority.

In Eastbourne in southern England quite recently I went to speak at a conference there with Glenda and Millie was there. On the last night I was tired. The pastor came and in the large hall there was a bunch of people there who had the worst crippling conditions I had seen. I know if you are trying to get cripples healed and that thing is not over you - it is shocking. You are trying to pretend you know what you are doing but you don’t have a hope of getting them healed! You can go through the religious formulas and pretend something has happened but everyone with the know-how knows that nothing is happening. It is almost disgusting and discrediting the real ministry of Jesus!

So I walk over there and as I get closer the dancing God comes over me. Suddenly I am not Clarke Kent - I am now Superman. But it is not me! As I am walking it is getting stronger and stronger and I see this woman who is crippled and as I get closer and closer the demons start screaming; “Aaagh leave us! Leave us!”. Literally! And they are out. They are gone. She topples over and gets up healed. Everyone I step towards are healed. Many of you saw the DVD I brought back of dozens of people. One lady was so crippled she couldn’t pick up her child - and her husband had to leave his career to look after her children full time. She went down under the power and the next morning she came dancing into church.

How many of you think this is the love of God - how many of you think it is shocking and disgusting that we do not see more of these things?

Because of the traditions of men! Let me tell you honestly and vulnerably - I have been doing this for 30 years. I want to tell you what I have just described today has only happened to me maybe about 100 times. I have daily anointing! I am not talking about anointing here or the gifts of the Spirit but God coming. Actually He is not coming - He is always there. But why isn’t He always manifested? He said I will never stop doing you good - I will rejoice and dwell to do you good! If I can come under the dancing God all the time then maybe you and me can start approximating the promise of John 14:12; “Anyone who believes in Me .. And even greater works”. Acts 10:38 said that God anointed Jesus with power and He went about doing good and healing ALL. If Jesus could go about any time of day, any second if anyone touched Him in the crowd, anyone that asked for healing, He could give healing on the spot!

I suspect that Jesus walked under the glory Presence of the Father all the time! The religious world has told me that any time He comes and does that it is just a sovereign mood of God. I think you and I have got something to do. I am now convinced that the will of the Father by the witness of the Spirit in my heart - the inheritance of every person that says Jesus is my Lord are meant to walk for most of our time under the manifest Presence.

I have said before that you wouldn’t be able to get to sleep it is so powerful. If you have never experienced this I wish I could put it on you today because you can never describe it - you don’t know what it is like to walk up to crippled people without that and know the fear that comes over you. The terror of knowing you are going to disappoint them. You have no idea what that is like if you havent done it. Neither do you have any idea what it is like when you are moving towards them and He comes over you - there is NO fear just utter, reckless boldness! You just know that nothing can get in the way, just an invincible sense of God over you.

People have watched people with that power over them and when they don’t have that power have tried to copy as a formula and have tried to pull people out of wheelchairs and then they just fall on the ground. When you are under that power you do things that you would never do. You are not copying. You are not mimicking someone else under the power - just because God is on you! Maybe it will lift slightly in intensity every now and again so you can relax a bit but I believe it should be there on call so quick! Imagine how your mortal body would be renewed in your youth with resurrection life. The grey hair turned dark again! Cellular regeneration! Rob how do you live in that all the time? You want to know? There are people who lecture in Harvard on how to run a business who have never run a business. You have theology professors teaching on the gifts of the Spirit in seminaries who have never moved in the gifts of the Spirit.

You cannot give away what you don’t have.

I don’t want people giving me information on the Kingdom - I am sick and tired of Bible information. I know the Bible pretty much well from back to front - but my biggest need right now is to learn from someone who has got the goods. It is a sign of hunger that you say you want to know - but to tell you the truth, I don’t really know. I have never met a person who does know. Except One. This is what I suspect He is whispering to me (and I am just giving you my suspicion). Two words; “Total surrender to the Holy Spirit”. Not less of me and more of you. NONE of me and ALL of you! Every part of my life, everything that I am - whatever you want me to do and give up - everything I surrender. I want to be branded by your jealous love and possessed by your jealous love. Rob how do you surrender?

How do you come to that place of surrender? I don’t know but this is what I suspect - you have to become so disillusioned with your failures to get the sick healed and so horrified at the lack of knowledge of the revelation of God chosing the things that be not to nullify the things that are and so horrified with your failure. You have to come to the end of your reputation in the eyes of men and so utterly embarrassed. I think you have to go through pain and try to get the sick healed and misunderstood and accused by those who didn’t get healed that it was your fault and you are a failure. And live with the rejection and misunderstanding. You have to live with the agony and lay on your face at night and say I am a failure in so many areas of supernatural ministry.

Dear Jesus all I have left is my love for You and if you can take that and take something that is not and nullify the things that are then I offer my body and soul and spirit as a living sacrifice that something I have only seen 100 times will become something that happens all the time. That the millions in Hong Kong do not need to be deprived of a church that has fully surrendered. I know not everyone wants to surrender like that. The vast majority of Christians are more caught up in the things that are and more caught up in their careers.

I can't describe to people the pain and rejection I have walked through in the last few months - the rejection involving thousands of people, people we have known for 25 years, the lies and cold shoulders. That could make you paranoid and reactionary and bitter or it can backfire on the devil and precipitate in you a face on the ground, a laid down lover that surrenders all. I live with eternity with nothing and surrender. We have to be emptied of every fleshly delusional arrogance and pride and all controversy against God and come to trust Him. When you sin and make mistakes and lose your temper, you look to God who chooses the things that are not to nullify the things that are. His grace to me is abounding - He will never reject me or disapprove of me - He is for me! What can be against me? He so sees you as precious that He doesn’t want you to have any idols or distractions - He wants you because you are such a jewel and precious. He wants you completely! And we don’t!

We think we have surrendered all but we have had hostility and defences and complaints and pride and self-promotion against Him! But pain takes that away. It either makes you bitter or makes you better. Every time Satan comes, he comes to make you bitter. If you chose to use the things that are to make the things that are then you are going to get bitter. But if you get revelation to use the things that are not and get into the Presence of the Living God who uses the things that be not as though they are then this good God will manifest His dancing over you. And when you walk through a place that place will be benefited because you were there. People in your radius will feel the unseen world touching you.

Close your eyes - He is here now.

Kathryn Kuhlman used to say “God isn’t looking for golden vessels or silver vessels - but yielded vessels”.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Death Could NOT Hold Him!!

A very, very HAPPY and joyful Easter to you all! I am sitting here alone in my parent's house (alone again!) while they go to their church for a shorter Easter Day service. I was hoping to be able to get over to my sister's church in Newport again (after I so enjoyed the wonderful dedication of my nephew) but alas - could not get a lift!

So I am enjoying the sun and peace thinking about this - the most monumental day on the Christian calender. Today was the day when the two Roman soldiers were stunned by the angels rolling back the stone. Today was the day when Mary was asked; "Woman - why do you weep?". Today was the day when (I imagine) the whole of hell trembled as it's demonic lord screamed in absolute frustration and anger because he knew his doom was sealed - the Son of God had risen from the dead!

I don't think there is a better song to sum up today other than Stuart Townend's; "The Power of the Cross". The Cross only has it's power because of today. If Jesus Christ had not stepped out of the tomb in triumph then the Cross would have remained simply a notorious form of execution. But because dawn came on Easter Sunday morning - the Cross for us will now be forever the moment when Jesus Christ obliterated our sin forever and destroyed our identity as sinners! The Cross now becomes the moment when death itself was made a mockery of because it's power over us is lost!

Jesus Christ is risen today and forever - and is not hanging broken on a Cross but is risen seated and ruling at the right hand of the Father on high waiting for the moment when His enemies will be made His footstool by His glorious Bride - the Church! And to accomplish that - He has poured out His Holy Spirit on each and everyone of us to go forth in His royal identity! Saints!

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Three Classic Videos - Downs Bible Week!!

Another feature of me keeping this blog going is the issue of "never forgetting". I was chilled when a decision was taken at my home church in Dunstable to erase all audio ministry tapes that were 10 years or older - essentially all audio tapes that were recorded during the charismatic life of the church. It was hoped that by erasing the tapes that that portion of history would be forgotten (I assume). I took a decision back than to preserve and protect and keep stating the wonderful truths and revelations that God did in the past because they become amazing motivators for us as Christians to go on and believe for more.

I am tremendously grateful in particular to Newfrontiers and Terry Virgo who are so appreciative of the past and the way God has moved. They honour the past and appreciate it - but do not let it hinder their pressing forward into the future. So I was thrilled to find these three videos that have been posted - rare footage of the Downs Bible Week that was run in the 1980's.

Here they are;

If you want to see the way that Terry Virgo, Dave Fellingham, Dave Holden, Henry Tyler and the other apostles of the 80's used to dance - scroll to 6:31!

Unless You Become Like a Child ...

I'd like to take a different take on this "indwelling sin" discussion. We all think we know what God is like and what works best, but if we are truly honest - all we have to go on is our knowledge and understanding of the Word of God and also our experiences as a child. And maybe there is a reason why Jesus said to His disciples; "Unless you become like a child ...". So I took a trip down memory lane and started to think about the many, many times that I was disciplined, told-off, spanked and so on by my parents.

I should add my parents came from the school of thought that you "spare the rod and spoil the child".

So the numerous times that I was spanked, shouted at and generally told off tends to blur for me and doesn't particularly stand out to me. The one caveat is the times that I was punished unjustly when my parents got it wrong. For some reason as children my family all grew up with a rigorous sense of justice - and there was NOTHING that upset us more than the feeling of being treated unjustly. I guess that has still stuck with me - as some church leaders who have "got it wrong" should know!

However ... parents can react in different ways too. And I don't think any grown-up child will disagree if I say that there is nothing more stunning and breath-taking than to see your parent weep over you or your actions. I have seen it rarely that I recall - but the times I have I can recall vividly.

I remember my greatest hero Ern Baxter speaking about a time when as a teenage rebel he came in early in the morning after a wild night out and he saw a light still on under his Grandmother's bedroom door (who lived with him and his parents at the time). He stopped curiously to see why she was awake and heard a soft weeping from her room and heard her praying and interceeding for Ern and his soul. Ern recalled this story probably some 60 or so years later so it obviously stayed with him.

The second piece of evidence I want to give is a prophetic song that I've posted before. It was sung by Rob Rufus in Hong Kong during a special Miracle weekend that City Church was holding. When I first heard the song it made me weep - but more for the vision and passion for the city of Hong Kong. I'm home alone at my parent's in Bristol (they're out at some church function thing) - and I happened to listen to it again. And it was the "Father's heart" that stuck out to me. The words of the song are breath-taking! This is GOD ALMIGHTY - speaking as a Father.

Here is the video (it's not great quality - so the words are underneath);

"For I'm turning the hearts of the fathers to the sons,
I'm turning the hearts of the sons to the fathers.
I'm turning the hearts of My people towards Me,
I'm turning the hearts away from things of death.
And I'm turning the hearts to the ways of truth and life,
Yes I'm turning the hearts to My Presence alive!

In My Presence - with your hearts turn to Me, you will hear My voice - so clear and so true, today! Today! TODAY!
Turn your hearts to Me - turn away from misery!
Turn away from unbelief! Turn away from every offence!
Turn away from all bitterness and turn to Me your God!".

I would imagine there is nothing more hurtful and frustrating to a parent (not being one myself) than having a child with a victim-mentality who will not allow you to come near them but winces if you try to hug them or hold them or give them a kiss. Maybe this is something that adoptive parents may experience with a child from an abusive biological family.

Is there really much difference if God has stated; "I am NOT holding your sins against you for I have seen My justice is satisfied because My Son took the punishment for ALL your sins in YOUR place - I have only passion and love and happiness and adoration in My heart for you" - and our response? To sing mournful hymns about being "little worms" and staying deliberately out of His Presence until we feel we have paid penance for our "sins"?

Being in my parents house alone - I sat and listened for a bit at the lit bedroom door of heaven. I feel it's been far too long since I have wrapped myself in the warm embrace of my heavenly Father and I wondered what He is saying about me. I heard soft weeping - just like Ern Baxter's grandma - and I heard something like this;

"Why? Why won't he see that he is feeling rubbish and condemned about nothing? I have put his mistakes and sins as far from Me as the east is from the west. I have chosen to obliterate them from My mind beecause they were obliterated 2000 years ago when You held open Your arms and bled and died for him. Why can't he see that? Why is he letting the lies of the devil through church take him from Me and the love I want to shower upon him? He winces and fears I will hit him or look sorrowfully upon him but all I want to do is wrap him in my arms and love him as a true Father should! When will he realise? When?".

As Terry Virgo put it so well;

"The Cross amazes me and fills me with wonder and worship, praise and thanksgiving! To insist on still calling myself a sinner could not add value to the Cross for me. Indeed, to call myself essentially a sinner actually dishonours the wonder of the gospel".

I may have made many mistakes in my life - some mistakes the church would suggest would disqualify me from ever enjoying fellowship with God again. But I don't intend to let unbelief and unnecessary condemnation keep me from wrapping myself in my Father's arms any longer. Dishonouring the Gospel is one sin I would rather not have to explain when I get to heaven by persisting in calling myself; "the worst of sinners" when Jesus and Jesus alone took that upon Himself 2000 years ago!

Friday, April 02, 2010

Imperfect Faith Can STILL Bring You Face to Face with Jesus!! - Part 1

Over the past year or so I've been struggling to keep up transcribing the various preachers and teachers, apostles and prophets that I love. To some it may not be a big deal - but I should make it clear I always transcribed sermons for my own spiritual benefit. I tend to absorb truth and revelation far better when I type it or write it than merely listening. My hyper-active imagination doesn't listen very well alone. However with my changing jobs, new daily routines and the various other interesting things that life has chucked at me recently, transcribing has been ... hard.

However Pete Day and I were able to meet (another regretfully too-rare occurance) recently in London at his church and we expressed our mutual frustration with life. We re-committed to living and breathing the gospel of grace. Nothing is more vital! My fierce grace-warrior friend Julie made quite a startling statement the other day that really stuck with me. She said on Facebook;

"The devil hardly bothers tempting me with 'sin' anymore...because he knows that even if I give in, I won't give in to condemnation!".

Some may disagree with previous discussions on indwelling sin etc - but what if Julie was right? What if the devil had a SOLE aim when tempting and attacking Christians? What if that aim was nothing to do with luring them into lust or into murder or into homosexuality - or all the other sins that the church loves to hate? What if the SOLE "main thing" of the devil's campaign was to cause Christians to lose their faith in a loving and gracious God?

I felt a key sermon of Rob Rufus's to begin transcribing was one entitled "“Imperfect Faith Can Still Bring You Face To Face With Jesus” that he preached at City Church International in November last year. So many of us believe that to encounter Jesus in manifest glory or to see signs and wonders and miracles following our ministry, we need to have the faith of a Paul the apostle, of a Kathryn Kuhlman, a Terry Virgo or a Rob Rufus.

Here's Part 1:

"Let’s open to 2nd Corinthians chapter 1. I am so excited about this message that I have just got to control myself. We are getting an increasing number of emails from around the world from people thanking us for our stand on grace and some emails you think are exaggerated. The gratitude has shifted from simply thanking me to thanking the people of City Church International. There are tens of thousands of people out there realising it is not simply about preaching a message but a message being embodied and incarnated in a people.

The price you pay to stand for a message of grace when there are anti-grace spirits – grace-hating spirits that want to discourage and confuse us and cause difficulties are realising that the price we are paying is producing life for the churches out there.

There is an apostolic thing Paul speaks about where he says; “We die daily that you may experience life”. We are experiencing life here in abundance but there is a price in our stand that is causing thousands of people around the world to take hope and come out from guilt, condemnation, law and bondage into freedom of grace in Christ Jesus. People are moving from a mixture of Old and New Covenant through the finished work of the Cross into the liberty of the blessing of the New Covenant. So they are getting revelation – a theological revolution. Churches and regions are being changed! Our 5 and a half years has literally impacted nations around the world. I can’t read all of them to you because they speak of details and I don’t want to reveal their names. Years of pressure, performance and guilt – and they all speak about coming into the freedom found in Jesus Christ! And they all mention you guys!

I want to talk about how imperfect faith – even imperfect faith – can bring you face to face with Jesus, into supernatural encounters with the Presence and power of God.

I want 2nd Corinthians to be a foundation to what I say;

2 Corinthians 1:2-4; “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Father of all mercies and the God of all comfort … that we may be able to comfort those who are in trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God”.

Within your sorrow is a seed that becomes the life and key that unlocks other people out of the pain of their problems.

If we don’t understand that the pain we go through and the sorrow we experience are to gain deeper intimacy with the comfort of God, that we would see our calling is to comfort people in their troubles by the comfort we receive in our troubles. If we don’t understand this then sooner or later we will allow our troubles and sorrow to define us. When we allow trouble to define us we become melancholic, morbid and very negative people.

The way to make the devil pay for the trouble he puts on you is to see your troubles as becoming a seed of grace that you can sow into someone else’s life.

Many people are within you that will benefit from the comfort you experience in your trouble and your understanding of the goodness of God to bring that comfort into their lives.

When a woman has a baby, she forgets the pain because inside that pain is a treasure that is given to someone else.

If we forget this then we think that pain, sorrow and difficulties are there to just to talk about all the time. That is like a mother getting off the birthing table and disregarding the baby there and going to the phone and calling all her family and friends and relatives and telling them about the terrible pain she has been through without once mentioning the baby! She has forgotten that the pain is not about trouble itself, but within the trouble is a seed of grace for someone else. In your trouble there is a life-saving seed of grace for someone else.

I have been counselled in the lowest moments of my life by two groups of people. Those who have ideals, never been through trouble or pain and have lots of Bible verses to quote and lots of inexperienced knowledge. When you have come out of their presence you feel worse! The other people bear the scars of pain, disappointment and difficulties and when they comfort you they sow seeds of grace into your life so you are freed up from self-pity, discouragement, deception that was trying to take you out in your disillusionment.

We are a people that don’t teach that if you have faith you will not go through trouble. Paul the apostle went through all kinds of troubles but he said; “These are working for me an exceeding weight of glory! Compared to the weight of glory they are building up for me – these troubles are light and momentary afflictions”. So we don’t say if you have faith, you won’t go through trouble. We are saying if you have faith you will find the God of all comfort in your trouble that will make you a humble, tender-hearted person that will sow grace into other people’s trouble.

Turn to Mark chapter 5. Let’s bow our heads in prayer – I can really sense the Presence of God here and the presence of angels. When Glenda was getting up to give the announcements I could feel the angelic presence in this room.

“Father we want to thank You for assigning angels to minister in this room – the ministers of winds and fire – we ask they would refresh the people of God. We want to thank You for Your greatest and most wonderful gift – Jesus Christ Your Son. Every spiritual blessing we have is in Christ Jesus. We thank You that every promise you have made to us are YES in Christ Jesus. Holy Spirit we invite You to come and reveal Jesus in this place, reveal Your glory – that we would know that abiding place of intimacy – that we in our sorrows would be able to discover the seed of grace to sow into other people’s lives here in Hong Kong and around the world”.

I want to read this passage in Mark 5 because it is my favourite passage for speaking on the transference of the anointing. But I don’t want to look at it from that point of view today, but a different point of view and I believe some gold nuggets will come out of this today that will bring you into a greater place of intimacy with Jesus Himself. I will draw your attention to certain phrases and words and will comment on them.

(v21); “21 Now when Jesus had crossed over again by boat to the other side, a great multitude gathered to Him; and He was by the sea. 22 And behold, one of the rulers of the synagogue came, Jairus by name. And when he saw Him, he fell at His feet 23 and begged Him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter lies at the point of death. Come and lay Your hands on her, that she may be healed, and she will live.” 24 So Jesus went with him, and a great multitude followed Him and thronged Him. 25 Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, 26 and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse”.

The Bible honours doctors as do we but here it didn’t work for this dear one.

27 “When she heard about Jesus”

That is the pivotal phrase for this message. She had never met Him or been in His meetings, she had just heard about Him.

She came behind Him”.

Also very important – she didn’t come in front of Him to His face. She came behind Him.

“In the crowd and touched His garment. 28 For she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.” 29 Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction. 30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My clothes?”
31 But His disciples said to Him, “You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’” 32 And He looked around to see her who had done this thing. 33 But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him”.

She came behind Him but now was before Him.

34 And He said to her, “Daughter”.

That is identity.

“Your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.”

The Greek is literally; “Go into peace”. “Soterio” – completeness, salvation, protection. Go into peace – you have been made well. God wants to make your emotions, your soul, your spirit, your finances, your relationships well. Go into soterio “daughter”. Your faith has made you well!

35 "While He was still speaking, some came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” 36 As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not be afraid; only believe.” 37 And He permitted no one to follow Him except Peter, James, and John the brother of James".

Very pivotal – only Peter, James and John.

39 When He came in, He said to them, “Why make this commotion and weep? The child is not dead, but sleeping.” 40 And they ridiculed Him.

What does Jesus do with people who ridicule His faith?

“But when He had put them all outside He took the father and the mother of the child, and those who were with Him, and entered where the child was lying. 41 Then He took the child by the hand, and said to her, “Talitha, cumi,” which is translated, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42 Immediately the girl arose and walked, for she was twelve years of age”.

The lady who had the bleeding, had it for 12 years. The little girl was 12. It is not a coincidence.

“And they were overcome with great amazement. 43 But He commanded them strictly that no one should know it, and said that something should be given her to eat”. (chapter 6:56); “Wherever He entered into villages … they begged Him that they could touch the hem of His garment and as many touched Him were made well”.

Now in the previous chapter we saw thousands touching Him and none were healed or experienced what this one woman experienced. The seed of her 12 years of sorrow became a sowing of grace into multitudes of thousands of people that found a way to touch Him differently to the way they had touched Him before. God hasn’t caused any tragedy or trouble in your life – it is the devil behind that. He turns that sorrow into a seed of life that unlocks someone else out of the pain of their problems. She had never met Him or been in one of His meetings. Many who read the gospels (and I have thought this) if only we could have been on the earth when He walked it and could have been in His meetings and heard His gracious words from His mouth or seen His face as He spoke of the love of His Father and the Kingdom coming to earth! Oh if only I could have heard Jesus speak and been on the front row within touching distance!

This lady was in none of His meetings and had never met Him – only HEARD about Him! What could she have heard? Never anything about the Moses law concerning Him. John 1 says the law was given through Moses but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. Leviticus 15 says any woman any woman with an issue of blood is forbidden from going into a public place. The sentence is immediate stoning and Jarius – the synagogue ruler – had authority to exercise that and he was right there next to Jesus. Leviticus says a woman going into a public place makes everywhere she goes unclean and everything she touches she makes unclean. But this woman touched Jesus in her unclean state and was healed! What did she hear about Jesus?

She would have heard that this rabbi was touching unclean people.

Lepers were being touched by Jesus and being healed. Under the law leprosy was considered unclean. Jesus touched lepers and laid His hands on lepers and they were immediately healed. Jesus went into the synagogue where a woman was bound over for 18 years with a demonic spirit and the synagogue rulers were teaching the law to her – and the law was telling her you are crippled because you failed the law. Jesus came in and called her a daughter of Abraham – because 430 years before the Law Abraham was a covenant of grace! He said; “You are a daughter of Abraham – you ought to be healed on the Sabbath day”. He laid His hands on her and she straightened up. She would have heard that Jesus laid His hands on a prostitute called Mary Magdalene and when Jesus laid His hands on Mary, the Bible says seven devils came out of her and she was set free from prostitution. She would have heard some marvellous things.

Now – when the crowd was touching Jesus, why weren’t they healed? Why weren’t they changed or benefited? They hadn’t heard about Jesus the way this woman had heard about Jesus. They would have heard He was a rabbi and was demanding you keep standards to earn and deserve.

But when they found out that an unclean woman actively breaking the Levitical law touched Him and was healed, the multitudes from that day began to touch Him in a different way – and you could say that the seed of her sorrow was a seed of grace that influenced thousands of people to get healed in the very next chapter!

The more people that touched Jesus differently, the more people will see that the seed of our sorrow is becoming a seed of grace to touch thousands of churches around the world and touch thousands of people in Hong Kong. It is very important that people hear about the true Jesus. A lot of people struggle to have faith for healing. I am not sure if I even understand faith anymore. Kathryn Kuhlman had a ministry that got far more people healed and some of the worst crippled people and blind people – thousands of them. She said;

“I don’t understand faith but I know my wonderful Jesus suddenly comes and fills the room and people get healed without me even praying for them!”. I don’t think it’s about faith for hearing as much as hearing about the true Jesus.

I believe this woman had imperfect faith – how do I know that? She came behind Him, not to the front of His face. Under the law you couldn’t see the face of God. Moses said; “God – show me Your glory!”. God said; “No man can see My face and live so I will hide you in the cleft of the rock and will walk by and you will see My hind parts”. She had imperfect faith – she came to His hind parts. She heard about Jesus and touched Him and the next minute she was healed, and the next minute He was calling her to His face. Through grace God in Christ came to reveal His face to humanity. Imperfect faith came to touch His hind parts like Moses. But once she was healed, she was called to His face and when she looked into His face the first thing she heard was “Daughter”. God said “Daughter”.

I also know something very special here – we must understand something. What we say about Jesus. People think I criticise everything that moves under the sun and some have called me a divisive man. Someone has to get passionate! Someone has to get stirred up and a righteous anger because multitudes of mesmerised, hypnotised Christians sit in pews having been sold a bill of lies Sunday after Sunday, century after century with arrears of doctrinal deception about God. We have got people saying that God makes you sick to make you more holy! People want to know why we don’t see more healings – we have got hundreds of years of the traditions of men that have deceived people into unbelief and have misrepresented Jesus. The devil is behind it! “Did God really say?”. I have done all the things wrong and have preached things wrong and have misrepresented God in my past.

But when I came to Hong Kong I was determined to faithfully reveal the New Covenant and the true nature of God where the people of God are in New Covenant and no longer under law and are in 100% grace and grace alone with no condemnation to those that are in Christ. I said I am going to do that God no matter how much I am mis-understood and I am going to hold my line".

Part 2 to follow soon I hope!