Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Proposal

He did not use an airplane writing with smoke in the sky, there was no glimmering rock in a glass of champagne, I was not being serenaded by a string quartet, nor were His words scrolling across the jumbotron.  No, this most extravagant gesture was not so cliché…
He chose the setting to be beneath a hill of scorn, surrounded by criminals, pinned to two cross beams by hardware that more closely resembles tent posts then nails, adorning thorns, and wearing only His own blood and the saliva of those who put Him there.  This was where He chose to ask.  This most excessive expression of love which none can match.  Shivering as the blood drains out of Him and from the weightiness of this spiritual burden He has elected to take upon Himself... with great effort and excruciating pain He presses upon the peg which fixes His feet to the cross, just so He can take the breath to ask me the question… “will you marry Me?”  
How can I deny Him?  Surely there will never be a lover so exquisite, so passionate or zealous for me for this world has not known affection such as this ever before.  Our engagement: unlike any other as He washes away my filth and beautifies me with His scented anointing oils.  What a joyous engagement!  His ring of promise is not a golden band upon my finger (which can be easily lost or removed), oh no that is insufficient for Him!  Instead He has etched this blessed assurance into my heart and sealed upon my arm for all to see that I am blissfully betrothed to the greatest lover of all time!  Our wedding shall be beyond comparison as the heavens will marvel as God Himself marries me!!  Oh such a sweet love this is, I cannot withhold my answer from Him, my kinsmen redeemer, my beloved… so with great exuberance I look deep into His blood-stained eyes and say “YES!!!”

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Seeker Sensitivity

I believe that a grand indicator of the spiritual condition of the American Church is found in the seeker-sensitive movement.  Before I begin, let me state that the Lord will bless His Church however He can, in order to fulfill His purposes in the Earth.  Even as this is the case, we must be cautious not to mistake His blessing for His flawless approval.  Any and every ministry I have known on this earth is (or has been) flawed in some way (a good historical account of some of the Lord's most blessed ministries is Gods Generals: Why They Succeeded And Why Some Fail).  I am not targeting any specific ministry with this blog, only reproving this ministry approach in general.  That being said, let's drudge on.

First, a seeker-sensitive church is a baby.  Since the message presented every Sunday must apply to new believers (since they are the focus) there is almost never any depth to the sermon.  Hebrews 5:12 "In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!"  Those who have been believers for any amount of time are no longer being fed (and as  they are spiritually malnourished, their lives rarely produce the fruit the Lord has called them to).  So there is no such thing as spiritual growth in such a congregation when they meet together. When people have to bring their lost friends to Church to hear the Gospel, it means they aren't witnessing.  A pastor that cannot train his congregation to evangelize is "giving them the fish" rather than "training them to fish".  Not to mention, with this approach, the seeker sensitive model requires building growth.  Since people cannot witness for themselves (and need a pastor to do it for them) the Church has to grow in order to account for the growing number of lost people entering it's doors.  If this were the Lord's idea of evangelism He would have been building synagogues on the hill tops instead of sending out the disciples (Mt 10).

Next, it simply isn't the Biblical model of a Church.  The "seeker sensitive" movement in the church in Corinth was just to pray in tongues in private and prophesy to new visitors (1 Cor 14:6).  Paul expressed his desire that the entire congregation would be prophesying (1 Cor 14:31)!  We have become so concerned about making sure not to offend people that the Church has lost sight of the fact that THE CROSS IS AN OFFENSE (Gal 5:11).

So what about cultural relevance?  The seeker sensitive movement has brought more than culture into the walls of the church, but brought worldliness itself.  A message that is pleasing, easy to respond to, rarely convicts, and applies vaguely to all things.  How horrifically universal.  We are not OF THIS WORLD (John 17:16).   Well what about "becoming all things to all people"?  Paul became all things to all people in his external cultural adherence when he was witnessing! He was referring to his external customs (Jewish customs, gentile customs, the learned, the weak, etc.) not spiritual doctrine, nor was he referring to a church (or The Church for that matter).  His cultural relevance never watered down the message of the cross.

My encouragement is that rather than presenting sermons that please the ears of the audience, present palatable or general messages on patience, our efforts would be better utilized by training up individuals to witness as Jesus did: publicly, with signs and wonders as testimony of the Truth.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Miracles to close out 2010!

Okay, let me start off the year with thanksgiving for what the Lord just did in the last two weeks. As a side-note, my wife and I do actually offer burnt offerings of Thanksgiving in our fireplace according to the Word (we present a grain offering of flour kneaded with milk, frankincense, oil... and salt it). If house-cat was an acceptable animal for sacrifice, I would gladly offer up our little "destroyer of carpet" but I digress.

The following have all happened in the last two weeks. In our weekly prayer service, we prayed for pain to leave a woman's neck and it left (although some stiffness remained) and we prayed for her leg and it grew out (about 1/4 of an inch). Then I had a chance to pray for her husband who had pain in the bend of his arms and the pain was 100% healed in both arms!

My wife's car had broken down and we had taken it to the mechanic. They tried to force the engine to turn over with a cheater bar and the bar bent. We went to clean out the car and I suggested we pray for the car to start. We prayed… it didn’t start… we prayed… it made a sound but still didn’t start… we prayed… the car started! The mechanics were stunned! It was fun explaining to them that prayer started that car.

Lastly, a friend and I were walking around the mall praying for people. As we tried a product he had a word of knowledge about the salesman's back hurting from a football injury. We prayed for it and it was healed! Then I had a word about temporary shoulder pain that "came when stressed", he had it. So we prayed and were believing it was also healed (he will test it next time he's at the gym). Then my friend had a word about him being a singer and by the time we left this young man's life was drastically affected!

Thank you Jesus for letting us minister to people for healing and words that spoke to their hearts. We ask for exponential increase of miracles such as these and more in the future! Happy New Year everyone, may God raise your expectation of Him and fulfill the promises of years past in 2011! Be blessed in Jesus name!