Posts filed under ‘Supernatural’
For those of you who enjoyed Christine Sine’s advent video from yesterday’s meanderings, she posts a comment here that directs you to further advent opportunities on her site. Find her comments HERE which include the link.
I have been trying to, in some abbreviated way, recap the Convergence Summit just concluded here at Trinity. For those of you who attended, my goal is to keep you thinking about what you heard so you can put it into practice in your personal life. To those who were not here, I hope to encourage your understanding and perhaps get your attention to these concepts so you will study further. By the way Summiters, all the audio from the Summit is now up on the Trinity website. Find it HERE. Click the online course button and then you will need the user name and password you were given during the school. If you have forgotten it email me or call the church. A great big thank-you to Stacey for the hours spent in putting these teachings on the website.
Now to Bob. How does one describe this man? The information on his website is helpful and you can find it HERE. But that information does not measure the heart of the man. Here is how I see him: he is a father and a rebel. He is a leader and an agitator. He is compassionate and angry. He loves the Family but detests the institution that has stolen the ekklesia. He is a conundrum wrapped in an enigma (who said that?). What I mean is he defies most labels or at least is not like anyone you know who has that label. He is one of the earliest leaders in the Charismatic stream but wouldn’t claim any membership in it today. He practically started the discipleship movement but when he talks about those days he seems to be repenting of his involvement. His passion today is the Kingdom and is an articulate but often strident proponent of the idea that everything relates to, leads to, is about the Kingdom or it is nothing. Kingdom, I think he would say, is not something to be anticipated it is what everything in life is about, right now.
His work on agape love is ground breaking and at the same time so obvious and right we ask ourselves how we missed it. Agape is always behavioral. When we are made children of Father God, His agape is implanted in us so we now can choose to do a hurting world good. For example Bob writes: To love (agape) God is faithfulness to God, to myself and to my neighbor (Matthew 5). So I will keep my promises and commitments irrespective of what it costs me personally. When I am unfaithful to my promises, He gives me His Own faithfulness. When I encroach upon others, I am asking for their forgiveness. When encroached upon by others, I am freely giving my forgiveness. This is Kingdom agape. I give unqualified love and unlimited forgiveness. When someone sticks a gun in my back and robs me I thank the Father that I had something they wanted. Thank you Lord that I was robbed and did not do the robbing. In the Kingdom we find a freedom and absence of all that is self-motivated and self absorbed.
This, Bob says, is the most demanding and expensive aspect of the Kingdom that we could ever imagine. Unqualified love and unlimited forgiveness.
Well, that is a short introduction to this man and his understanding of Kingdom and agape. If you have inclination to dig deeper into the truth revealed to him, pick up a copy of his book, Agape Road. You can find it HERE.
Tomorrow some more Bob Mumford.
More on the teaching by Tim Johns on Spiritual Fathering and Family. See yesterdays post for information on Tim.
What constitutes a Spiritual Family. There is a lot of talk in churches these days about being a family but calling something a family doesn’t mean it is one.
- A true spiritual family is covenantally connected at the heart and mind. This means the basis of their relationships is the cross of Jesus. Acceptance, forgiveness, love, mercy, grace in relationship is not based on performance but choice. In other words my acceptance of you or forgiveness of you or extention of grace towards you is not dependent on your behavior but on the reality of our relationship as Family.
This way of relating is so different than most churches I have experienced (Greg writing here). Most decisions in “church” groups are based on political norms and discipline for the common good as opposed to handling failure and sin in a committed family relationship. (my comments are in italics)
Tim goes on: Families do not accept or reject on the basis of performance. Relationships involve deep commitment, sacrifice and care. Conflicts are resolved through communication covered in grace. Gossip and slander are unacceptable.
- A spiritual family has a clear set of values, vision and mission. Goals and strategies come from God and are delivered to the group leader (Father). All family members own the same set of core values that flow from a God given vision and mission. This is what creates oneness and unity.
- A true spiritual family has identifiable Spiritual parents who have accepted the responsibility of giving an account for the members of the Family. There is long term commitment to the family because of calling and Sovereign joining together, not because of a paycheck. (…ask yourself how long your spiritual leader would be committed to you if it was not their job.) Spiritual parents lead by example and do not influence through control or manipulation. They are not abusive of dominating. (How many church decisions are made by people who use their titles to exert control?)
- Spiritual family creates atmosphere and opportunity for all members to grow in character, gifts, callings and responsibility. There is no ceiling of growth on the family members. (hard to do this with churches that have huge populations of people who drift in and out on a weekend with nothing more to tie them to the “family” than the personality of the up front guy)
- A true spiritual family laughs and plays together.
- Differing opinions and ideas are encouraged because a Spiritual Family is trying to find group ownership not buy in.
- True Spiritual Family exists for something and someone outside itself. It is committed to losing its life in order to find it. So the Family feels a responsibility and call to the young, the poor and the unreached in the nations. (How many of us can honestly say the “family” we are part of exist to fulfill a call to those outside of our group?)
- Spiritual families pool their resources and money in a sacrificial way through their tithes and offerings in order to worship God and achiever the vision and mission that was mutually agreed to.
Sadly, I fear few of the groups we gather in are really Family. Some are closer than others but most don’t even understand the concept. I might try to develop some questions that will help us determine if what we are part of is true family or just using the title. Tim does such a great job of communicating what a Spiritual Father or Mother looks like and what a Spiritual Family is about. I hope to write more on this subject in the days ahead. It is critical for the advancement of the Kingdom, because it is Kingdom. Check his website for articles that contain the above information and more HERE and ways to connect with Tim and Janet HERE.
Almost 3 weeks ago now we finished a tremendous 10 days of Kingdom teaching, relationship building and intentional mentoring with 75 students from 15 states and 3-4 foriegn countries. Our ministry school here at Trinity is called Convergence because out here in this little Western Oklahoma Kingdom outpost there is a coming together, a merging of Kingdom thinkers and thinking, Kingdom life, Kingdom relationships and Kingdom ministry melding together supernaturally. Trinity is becoming an intersection for radical, revolutionary ideas and action, coming together to produce, gather and learn, stratagize, relate as Family under a covering of love and acceptance and be deployed around the nation to build apostolic Familes advancing the Gospel of the Kingdom in workplaces and Faith communities of all kinds. It is a supernatural expression of Kingdom Life and Values that converges here in Sayre but moves out to start “Kingdom fires” every where we go.
Starting today and concluding who knows when, I want to recap some of the teaching from our Convergence Summit. For those of you who were able to be here it will be a good reminder of what we were taught but it will also wet the appetite for other readers who crave the Kingdom gospel, even some who don’t know that is what you are looking for.
I had thought of doing this in the order we received it out here but I think I will do it as the Spirit reminds me of some of the key thoughts expressed by the various “Fathers” who shared with us.
I will start with Tim Johns because I have been thinking a lot about the things he said and the radical nature of it. Tim and his wife Janet are part of a community of Kingdom people in Kansas City called the Rock Tribe which is, as I understand it, an intentional gathering of people to live in community (and in a community) to live out Kingdom values and Kingdom reality together so as to impact those they live among. You can find more about Tim and Janet HERE and the Rock Tribe website HERE.
Tim has so much important to say he could have literally been our guide for the whole 10 days. No doubt we will bring Tim and Janet back for an extended time focused on his gifted insight into God as Father and what it means to be a spiritual Family.
Today and tomorrow I want to post some key bullet points from Tim’s understanding of Spiritual Fathering (and Mothering) and Family. The word Father means source. The Heavenly Father delegates authority and responsibility to natural and spiritual parents to be conduits of His life. Spiritual parents release life, protect life through self-sacrifice so as to help others mature and fulfill destiny. Parents exist to serve offspring not the other way around. (think about that pastors/elders/parents) True parents are resources of life to others and as a result produce fruit in offspring that is evident everywhere.
What does a healthy Spiriutal Father or Mother look like?
- Spiritual Fathers/Mothers are the communicators and guardians of Biblical Kingdom values. They model and train out of their own character and values and create ways to birth these values and character in their “children”.
- They birth in their children God inspired faith vision.
- They birth and raise spiritual families through new births and spiritual adoptions.
- They create an atmosphere where family members can be mentored and matured, encourage all members of the family to reach maximum potential.
- They create a culture where people find love, encouragement and value.
- They creat and enforce realistic boundaries. They discipline in love for growth and maturity to be formed.
- They cover their families in prayer.
- They model godliness and Kingdom lifestyle.
- They impart spiritual gifts, blessings and help gather resources for the family vision.
- They rally the family to love and serve children, youth, poor, widows, orphans, unreached people in the nations.
- They create an atmoshere of love, acceptance, forgiveness, mercy, kindness, humor and fun.
- They train and model Kingdom covenant life. They are not professional ministers, hired church workers, who maintain a pastoral persona, moving from church to church to further a career.
- They are accountable to other spiritual fathers and mothers. They are easily corrected, admit their sin, failures and weaknesses, and work hard to improve themselves for the sake of the Family.
That is enough for one recap. Tomorrow I will write what Tim has to say about what constitues a true spiritual family. Just because a group calls itself a church or spiritual family does not mean it is one.
Might be worth your time to evaluate the leadership of the group you are connected with in light of this excellent evaluative material.
Until tommorow (or late tonight or the next day or…).
I had just sat down at the computer this morning to begin writing a post about the recently completed Convergence Summit when the phone rang and a man from the Trinity family was calling to invite me to ride along as he went to check on some cattle west of Sayre. Honestly, when he called I didn’t recognize the voice so agreed to go not really knowing who I was going with. Of course when he arrived it was Ronnie, a friendly man who I have been getting to know at church on Sunday and who, along with his wife Carol, had invited us to a Thanksgiving dinner, we were unable to attend. He is responsible for about 1500 head of cattle spread out on land all over two counties here in Western Oklahoma.
After the usual conversation about family and recent activities, we discussed the cattle business with a fairly lengthy discussion about AI, which stands for artificial insemination. I now know a lot more about cow cycles, bull sperm and utensils needed to AI a cow then I thought I wanted to know. Ronnie has been involved in it all of his life, and truth be known, he is a self taught cow gynecologist. It was really fun and the next step is to join him for a day of actually artificially inseminating a few cows! Fun times here in Western Oklahoma.
But Ronnie is a lot more than just a cattle man. He is a God-man. He has been through some really tough days in his business life and his family life and the Father has poured some good stuff into this rancher’s heart and mind. I asked a lot of questions, heard his story, and mined some really good truth from him and along the way I heard the Father speak clearly to me about some issues that have troubled me for 3 years.
Ronnie’s marriage broke up 10 years or so ago (he has since married a great lady named Carol) and Ronnie stood for that marriage for 7 years. He had heard the Father tell him that his life and marriage would be restored and so he waited, prayed and passed test after test, believing he and his then wife would be reconciled. Then his ex-wife remarried, devastating Ronnie and causing him to question whether he heard the Father right when he heard Him promise reconciliation. Crying out to God he asked “did you not promise me that my marriage would be reconciled?” The Father said, “I promised restoration not reconciliation, there is a difference.”
Right then I knew I had heard something really important for my own life. I have been believing the Father for full reconciliation of my ministry, even to the point of one day standing on the platform of the church left behind and preach again to the people I shared life with for nearly 17 years. I believed we would one day put all the pain and loss behind us and bring us all back together again to do ministry. But nothing in my experience or what I could see gave any hope to what I believed God had said.
What I realized, as I sat conversing with Ronnie, is that I had, like he had, been expecting reconciliation when what God had promised was restoration. I know there are various ways to define or view these two words but I realized the way I have been viewing them was like this: I expected, wanted, hoped to be reconciled to the church I had served for so long and the relationships between us truly healed. Reconciliation as I viewed it was horizontal renewing of broken relationship and returning to the place and position I had once held.
But what the Father was promising was restoration, a vertical healing of my heart and the restoration of a lost calling to Kingdom leadership. I was hoping for my lost ministry to be returned to me and a reconciliation of relationships, but what the Father had promised me was personal restoration to wholeness and then to ministry.
In fact restoration is what has taken place. I am in a place of spiritual and emotional wholeness and serving in a place of ministry where I am trusted, valued and appreciated. Reconciliation on the other hand has not happened.
What the Father showed me in Ronnie’s pickup, in a cow pasture in Western Oklahoma this morning, was that restoration has taken place because He is the One in charge of that process, while reconciliation may or may not take place because that process is largely driven by human beings, who can choose it or not. God does not force His will on people. There are human decisions that drive reconciliation but restoration is a miracle of a loving Father.
After my visit with Ronnie I know a lot more about AI and a whole lot more about what the Father has been doing the last 3 years. Interesting what you can learn out in a pasture full of steers and heifers. Thanks Ronnie!
One of my goals for this site is to have guest bloggers share some of their thoughts with my readers. Today is the first of what I hope will be a regular feature on The View From the Juniper Tree.
Tyler Johnson is a unigue young man. His passion for the Father and his determination to walk out what it means to advance the Kingdom is amazing and inspiring to me. He has an unwavering conviction that the …blind (will) see, the lame (will) walk, the lepers (will be) cured, the deaf (will) hear, the dead (will be) raised to life and the Good News (will be) preached to the poor… (Matthew 11:4-6) This strong and confrontive conviction has opened him up to criticism and rejection, but he remains undettered. I love that about him. He is a good friend and a son in the Lord. The Family needs his voice!
Tyler is married to Christine and last August 10th they welcomed baby Joshua into their home.
According to Jesus, one of the most serious things we can do is blaspheme the Holy Spirit by attributing the Holy Spirit’s works to the devil. He said that it was the only sin that was unforgivable.
I know a lot of study has gone into trying to understand such a strong statement, and that there are many views of what Jesus could have meant when He said this. But nonetheless, I am starting to understand what He meant, at least in part, though I have never before heard the following view taught.
It is a very serious thing when a person sees what is good and calls it evil. I wonder what it will be like for that person the day they stand before God and His angels to be judged. Will they see God, or will they see satan, disguising himself as an angel of light?
I am starting to understand that people who see that which is good as evil, people that attribute that which is God to satan, hold to this observation tighter than anything in their lives. They clench it with a fist so tightly that their knuckles turn white. No amount of talking to them will change their mind. They are willing to cut off relationships for it, willing to divide churches over it, willing to crucify other’s lives over it. It is so very important to them.
The logical prerequisite to forgiveness is to acknowledge that what you have done, was wrong. But they aren’t wondering in the least bit if what they are doing is wrong, let alone then taking the leap of humility to ask for forgiveness. Because these people hold to their belief about something being evil with such tenacity, they never allow themselves to be forgiven. This is why Jesus said it was the unforgivable sin. It isn’t that God won’t forgive them, it is that they won’t allow themselves to be forgiven.
We know that God forgives any sin, even rape and murder. But God won’t force a person to ask for forgiveness for something that person does not acknowledge to be wrong. This is why attributing the things of the Spirit to the devil is very dangerous. You begin to sit in judgment on God Himself, and because you have judged God, you will not go to Him to ask for forgiveness. You become so proud in your certainty that you are right, the possibility of asking for forgiveness becomes impossible. God would forgive a person for blaspheming the Holy Spirit, but the people who commit this sin don’t want to be forgiven. As a result, forgiveness becomes impossible.
The Pharisees, the most studied in religious matters of the day, completely missed God when He came to the earth. They mistook Him for a normal man, or even worse, a tool of beelzebub. They didn’t just reject His words, they took it into their own hands to kill this man, because He contradicted their belief system so violently. And yet, He was God.
I look at the world today, and I ask myself who looks most like the Pharisees. Who is the most studied in the bible? Who deems morality as the highest aim? Who has their rituals down to an exact science? It is many who claim to be Christians.
Sometimes I wonder if our religious customs, studies, and social events actually take us further away from understanding who God actually is rather than bringing us closer to Him. That was the case with the Pharisees, while the woman caught in adultery learned through her sin, that He is a kind and loving God.
I have a hunch that things aren’t as they seem, and that if Jesus showed up today (which is more than plausible), many of us would not recognize Him. Let what is of God, be from God, and what is from the enemy, from the enemy. God, give us eyes to see and ears to hear and know the difference.
Like Stephen, those that get a hold of the revelation of Jesus often offend those around them that are still stuck in the old way of thinking about God. Relationship is nearly impossible with these present day Pharisees, because they are convinced that deep inside, you, like Stephen, are evil. They see that which is of heaven as being from hell, and everything about your demeanor is incorrect in their eyes. They disagree with you, abhor you, and will even throw stones at you, because their drive is to rid the world of that which is not of God.
If they only knew who God was and what He does. Then they would throw their stones in the right direction.
Thought I might get a little more discussion on my post from yesterday. One of the bigger hit days in a while but only a couple of comments. That isn’t really unusual.
As I said yesterday, many of the words we use to describe what we are, are either words that have lost their true meaning or they are words that are loaded up with meaning that is either incorrect or misleading, and so if I give myself a label for where I am on the theological spectrum, right away people make assumptions and jump to conclusions.
There is no question I have drifted out of the stream I was raised in and served in for most of my life. That stream has a lot of labels attached to it like, cecessionist, dispensationalist, Calvinist, fundamental, Baptist… These are all good words and when used appropriately they mean some things that are important and valuable in a Kingdom way. I have good friends and family who would claim many, if not all of those labels, and because I no longer claim those labels, they are pretty sure I have lost my way.
In the stream I used to swim in the word Charismatic was not held in high esteem and for that and other reasons I don’t like the label because for many it communicates some things that are not true and communicates some other things that are misleading. I do believe that all of the gifts mentioned in the Bible (including the gift of tongues and subsequent baptisms in the Holy Spirit) are very much for today and I believe that our Father speaks to us in ways in addition to the written Word and that there is much greater freedom in the Spirit than I ever knew and that “without faith it is impossible to please Him…” and that the enemy hates us and therefore serious spiritual warfare is absolutely essential to walk out our spiritual journeys, among other things, but for many those beliefs are lumped, along with some other stuff into a stream called Pentecostal or Charismatic and there are things about those labels that leave me as cold as the dispensational label.
While I find myself much more attracted to the Charismatic stream today than I am the dispensational stream, (make that a lot more) there are some things about this stream that concern me, things that I began to notice as I watched the mess that evolved out of Florida and seem to find root in a lot of these places where a claim is made that the “anointing” has come.
Here are a few concerns:
- Everything the Spirit does, must point to the Father and to the Son. There is no hierarchy in the Trinity, They are not in competition with each other for attention. While I love “getting blessed” the Spirit is not here to bless us, or to provide power encounters, He comes to bring us into relationship with the Father and with the Son. Power and blessing are by-products of entering into relationship with the Father and to make us able to live and act like Jesus.
- Seeking to be blessed and having power encounters tend to send us on an unquenchable search for greater blessings and more power. Again, I love to be in the center of things when the Spirit comes with power and I will never step out of the way of blessing but that is not all that “walking in the Spirit” is about. I not only believe in the gifts of the Spirit I believe in the fruit of the Spirit. What I love about my friends Dennis and Diane, who routinely see the power and the blessing of the Spirit, they are day by day walking in the fruit of the Spirit, especially humility, in relationship with people who know them well. That’s the kind of place you will always find the anointing.
- One of the most important subjects I learned in seminary was called hermeneutics and I am teaching what I learned about basic, appropriate Bible interpretation to my students here in Convergence. Why? Because, while I think my old stream is too tight with interpretation, in general the Charismatic stream is too loose. The Old Testament and New Testament are not in conflict, one interprets the other. There is a place for spiritualizing the text and much truth is mined from seeing the Old in light of the New but there is a whole lot of junk that is run out there through over typing and over shadowing that violates every standard principle of Biblical interpretation. Making the written Word say whatever you want it to is not a good thing. The Holy Spirit really did intend to make a point with what He caused the writers to put on paper.
- I already touched on this one but I want to write it again, in a little different way. The Spiritual journey was never intended to be about what we can get. It has always been a faith that flows outward. It is about what we can give not what we get. The greatest weapon of our warfare is not power but weakness, weakness that flows out of giving to others, especially giving to the poor. The best way I have seen to break the enemies hold over people is to give ourselves to them, in love, no matter how un-lovely, until the enemy has to let go. Here at Trinity I have watched the enemy’s tactic of meth addiction broken simply through the power of love and acceptance far more than I have seen it broken through a power encounter. If it comes through a power encounter I will take it, but that is not the usual-love, acceptance and forgiveness is what breaks through most of the time.
- While there may be times when travelling to Florida, or Toronto, or wherever to get in on some special move of God is a good thing, it seems to me it should be a rare thing. Mostly those things are celebrity deals where most of what is worshipped is a person or a happening. I just don’t get the celebrity attraction, or the idea that the anointing is floating around out there until some person can call it down for a season. As i said in the previous post. The real work of the Spirit in healing, blessing, breaking, releasing, setting free, and other wonderful blessings, happens day to day in the place you have been sovereignly placed. The anointing is on our house and we need to learn to live under it with our neighbors, the poor, the broken, the addicted and those who hate us, right here, right now. Trying to find out where the anointing has fallen just doesn’t seem like God to me. Humble walking it out with those who know us best does.
I love where I am today, even though I don’t love everything about it. What I am contending for is reality, truth and expectation played out in my living room, our gatherings and in all my relationships. There is no need to manufacture anything, twist anything or long for anything. We just need to walk it out, everyday in relationship. The anointing will fall.
When I was in Washington state a few weeks ago, someone close to me asked this question: So, are you a charismatic now? My answer was something along the line of; if by charismatic you are asking if I believe all the gifts (charis) are for today, then the answer is yes. If by charismatic you mean do I throw myself on the floor, knock people down, point my finger at people and yell BAM! BAM! Then the answer is probably-no.
If you read this blog much you probably already know where I stand on many of the issues that are often relegated to a stream called Charismatic or Pentacostal so I won’t write more here on the specifics of my convictions related to healing, prayer language, subsequent baptisms in the Holy Spirit. Those subjects are covered in detail elsewhere in the archives of this blog. It is enough to say I am for anything authentic that arrives via the ministry of the Holy Spirit. I want it all and I want a lot of it.
But frankly, I don’t really like any of the labels available for those of us who choose to follow Jesus and take our direction from the written Word and the revealed Word. I don’t really want to be called a Christian, doesn’t really mean anything. I already know what you think I am if I call myself a charismatic, so that label doesn’t work either. Fundamentalist, well, don’t even go there, even though almost all of us agree on most fundamentals of the faith. Baptist, Methodist, Evangelical Free, Presbyterian, Assembly of God, Foursquare, I have good friends and family in all of those denominations but I would rather not be labeled any of those.
The Church is in trouble. Sure there are some good groups meeting out there and of course, the church you attend is really good but to most of the world church people are crazy, gun toting, homosexual hating, money grubbing, empty headed rascals who abuse women, claim healings and miracles that never happened to increase the offering and other sordid and assorted junk. Of course if the culture thinks these things about the church, they are probably correct to one degree or another.
Events of the last few months in Florida and other places has raised my concern about these issues to a higher level than normal. Some of us just don’t want to claim any of the labels preferring to do what we are called to do in relative obscurity so as to impact the most in the most relevant and Kingdom way.
I am afraid, terrified actually that unless some very hard changes take place in our faith communities, whatever you call them, we are going to be totally and completely irrelevant within 5 years.
What follows are a few places to start making changes, whatever label you carry.
We must reclaim…
- The priesthood of all believers. The “church” at it’s very best is a collection of brothers and sisters bound together in a Family of peers. Any other view than that creates a hierarchy of gifts and levels of leadership that distort the reality that we all have equal access and equal authority in this Family. While I agree with the Apostle Paul that we need more Fathers and less teachers, just like in the natural family the Spiritual family needs Fathers and Mothers who know that nurturing, affirming, loving, enabling, caring… always gets the job done quicker than anything else. The whole concept of ruling elders is bogus and creates the environment that has destroyed our credibility in the world.
Hierarchy is always damaging to relationships because it removes the beauty of mutual submission and service which God intends for our relationships. To define our Family relationships through the lens of mutuality rather than by government and hierarchy would change so much of what is wrong with church as we know it today.
We must reclaim…
- The headship of Jesus. Apostolic leadership of the kind we see so much of today, undermines and usurps the headship and authority of Jesus. While there are those who seem to want to set themselves up as national and international spokesmen for the rest of us, there is no such assignment in the Family. Overseeing (a much more accurate and pleasant term than ruling (eldering) always and only occurs within relationships between brothers and sisters in a Family setting.
I am fully on board with the five-fold ministry concept the Apostle Paul gave us in the Ephesian letter but it too is designed to be a grassroots leadership. Even those apostles, prophets, teachers who travel to equip groups in other locations there must be an authentic, ongoing relationship to a local community of believers with the goal always the release and empowerment of that Family. Anyone who claims some sort of Apostolic authority abuses it when his or her goal is anything other than Kingdom advancement through relationship.
We must reclaim…
- Family as the incarnational expression of the life of Jesus in a local setting. Where is the outpouring now? Upon whom has the anointing come? Let’s go to Florida and get in on that, or North Carolina, or Toronto, or wherever the latest and greatest is ongoing. If Lakeland taught us anything, it taught us that ministry removed from a local context of Family relationships is not grounded in reality and can easily be faked and completely devoid of the Spirit.
I know when the Spirit moves here and I know when the visible expressions of the Spirit are real because I know the people, I live day today with those who invite us into the Presence. The purpose of living in a Family relationship that is authentic, open, honest, consistent, day to day is so that the expression of gifts is not centered in one man or woman but flows from the Spirit into the House where it is exercised in the context of relationship. The practice of spiritual gifts is not a platform event. Rather than the authority of the pulpit or platform, the authority of the Spirit is demonstrated and can be witnessed in the character of the person and the evidence of the fruit of the spirit in the life of not only the person leading the gathering but those who are relating to the needy out of their own authentic and obvious need. Enough already of the travelling “power” preacher who climbs the platform stairs to strut his or her stuff.
Why is there such a pursuit of special events, special places, and special ministry? Why do we run here and there trying to get in on “some of that”? In the quest for the next great movement, outpouring, revival, or happening, an appreciation for the normal christian life is lost. The unrelenting search for the extraordinary fosters a disdain for the ordinary. There is little or no glamor in the day to day walking it out with brothers and sisters but there is real power, authenticity, and credibility.
We must reclaim..
- Giving to the poor as the test of authenticity. The abuse of the tithing principles by many Christian ministries and the “sowing the seed” concept that one ups tithing is disgusting if not downright larceny. The way to decide if a ministry deserves your support is the degree to which that ministry is committed to the poor. It is a disgrace the way many ministries use spiritualizing techniques and bogus calls for cash to fleece people who live their spiritual lives outside of relationship. Don’t give money to anyone who does not have a proven record of helping the poor. Not just talk but real, verifiable ministry to the poor. If fact I question whether you aught to give any money to any ministry you are not in significant relationship with. The abuse of money in christian circles is horrible.
We must reclaim…
- The truth that the next outpouring and the next and the next will take place in… I am pretty sure that the next great revival will not occur very far from my little place in Western Oklahoma and your little spot in Wisconsin, Washington, Texas, California… It will come in the process of sharing life together, praying for one another, encouraging one another, living the spiritual life together, and learning the incredibly abundant potential of the power of the Holy Spirit in the middle of a Family committed to one another and committed not to some man or woman but to the preeminence of Jesus Christ.
The next revival will occur because we have understood the heart of the Father for all of His creation and begin to authentically express His love in our communities, sharing both our spiritual gifts and our possessions with those who don’t yet know Jesus. I am fast coming to the conclusion that the only way to verify the authenticity of signs, wonders, and miracles as a testimony to Christ and His work of redemption and restoration is when it takes place, not half a continent away but in the place I have been called to live.
I really don’t know what label to throw on myself these days. I don’t like any of them, except one–FAMILY.
There I finally got that off my chest. I would love to have some good discussion on this stuff.
This will be the last meanderings that originates from Sayre for a couple of months. We are leaving in a couple of days to make the 2000 mile drive to Washington. Probably won’t have much internet service along the way so posts may be few and far between. I think the break will be good for me, probably you too!
Item one. Traci, Brandon and the boys decided to stay an extra day so they are still here. It has been a really good time for all of us. A really nice place to stay, here on the Trinity ranch, some really good times of conversation, playing with the boys and watching them play. You can check out Traci’s blog to get the details and some pictures here. They will leave early in the morning to head back to Utah. They are anticipating a move back “home” to Washington by the first of July and so there is much happening in their lives.
Item two. June is one of the better months, from my perspective. Our 36th wedding anniversary is on the 9th, I made it to my 58th birthday on the 10thand then yesterday was Father’s Day. With the kids here an anniversarycelebration was put on hold but we did celebrate the birthday with friends and then it was really special to have my girl with me for Father’s Day. Brad called and we had a good conversation and I felt blessed to have two really great adult children, two of the very best in-law adult children and 4 special grandsons with the fifth grandchild on the way. Being a father is maybe only exceeded in joy, by being a grand-father.
Item three. Something really good from Kamp Krusty, right here. This is one of, if not my favorite blog. This guy gets it, related to the institutional church, pastors, relationships and honesty, especially honesty. He writes wth humor, sensitivity and sometimes some well placed anger. If you haven’t wandered over to the Kamp, take a few minutes and read this.
Item four. Don’t care much for golf and almost never watch it, but while I have been writing this I have had the tv on with no sound and watched Tiger Woods win again in extraordinary fashion. If there is another athlete alive today with more courage, grit, determination, skill, gifting and whatever else it takes to be great, than Tiger Woods, please let me know who it is.
Item five. Andy was cleaning his desk this morning while we were having a visit and handed me a six year old copy of a Jon Wimber PowerPoints he had some where on his desk. I am not sure the website is still active but it is still up and you can find it here. Since I can’t find the link I thought I would just type the devo in here so you can read it: I love the little anecdote concerning David found in 2Samuel 16:5-12 when he is travelling with his army. There’s a man on the side of the hill kicking dirt and throwing rocks at him. The soldiers want to go up and kill the guy. “Shall we go get him?” they ask. David answers them (and I paraphrase) “Oh no, better not. It’s probably the Lord.” I just love that because it probably was.
The Lord is allowing this fellow to vent his wrath, for whatever reason, but David saw the hand of God in it. David saw that all this indignity was something that God had willed for him to bring him into a better, more harmonious place with God.
Perhaps he was learning a thing or two about mercy; the text doesn’t say. Certainly he had the right, authority and a power to kill that man. He was the king. You don’t kick dirt on the king. But he accepted it as the hand of God and perhaps learned something from the Lord as well. It’s in that kind of acceptance that we get some of the greatest understanding.
I wasn’t in the stream that carried John Wimber to such extraordinary impact on the Kingdom, but no one influenced contemporary worship in the church more than John Wimber and no one understood what it is to walk in the pure supernatural reality that is our destiny, quite like he did. I just read his autobiography a few weeks ago called The Way it Was (by his wife Carol) and I felt a sense of loss for what I missed, but also felt a strong sense that the anointing that was on John Wimber is now there for all of us who will not fear man but will be free to see the things that are not as though they were and say “…it’s probably the Lord”.
Have a great week.
Someone asked me these questions the other day; “why the emphasis on tongues?” “Isn’t the Holy Spirit about more than tongues?” Good questions, both. The emphasis is because it is quite new to me, and I am wanting to work the “theology” out for myself and since I am appropriately convinced they haven’t ceased, then there must be value to the practice. Of course, the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are much more than one manifestation.
Having gotten to a place in my Spiritual journey where I am not encumbered with denominational or employment pressures to hold certain positions on any Biblical doctrine, I am trying to sort out these “controversial” subjects in a way that will enhance my walk in the Spirit. When the whole of the Biblical teaching on a subject is so weighted in one direction, when a good hermeneutic is brought to the reading (ie:let the text say what it says), I don’t believe it is honest to dismiss this teaching because it is uncomfortable or controversial. By the way, there are many “non-Pentecostal/Charismatics” (poor labels) who do not buy into the cecessionist teaching, prominent in the denominational structure I was raised in. (Reformed, Baptist pastor, John Piper being one, of note.)
So with this posting I will bring the subject to a close. I am confident that I am reading the Scriptures correctly, that the manifestation gifts, including speaking in an unknown language, are still for today and I am also confident that the Bible teaches there is a second experience with the Spirit, after the Spirit seals us at conversion, that is out of the ordinary. Not just an inference from having believed, but an experience one can look back on and say “I know the Spirit has come into my life because “this” happened. In five of the six places where the Spirit falls in the book of Acts, and an experience follows, that experience is speaking in an unknown language. (See Kingdom.13 and .14)
When I was preaching on a regular basis, I would finish writing a message and ask myself questions like these: “So what?” “What is it I want these people to remember?” “To take with them?” “What difference should it make in the listener to have heard this message?” I think answering those questions made me a better communicator and helped my listeners to get the point, more often than not.
So after 2.5 posts on the subject of speaking in an unknown language-”So what?” Here are a few things that answer that question for me:
- As the Apostle Paul concludes his teaching letter on this subject, (1Corinthians 14:39) He writes: “…don’t forbid speaking in tongues.” Perhaps you or I can refuse a gift, but you go against a direct statement of Scripture when you forbid it to be a part of some one elses experience with the Father.
- Often what it means to truly “walk in the Spirit” seems strange or weird to us. If it is really out of the ordinary, makes little logical sense, is hard or humbling, it is probably God. He uses the “foolish things… to confound the wise”.
- We are to “stay in step with the Spirit”. Staying in step has to do with obedience and when we are open to receive from the Spirit what He wants to give us, we obey and when we obey we get more.
- Speaking in tongues builds us up (1Corinthians 14:4) We all need our spiritual batteries recharged and apparently manifesting this gift provides recharging. Jude 20 “…build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.”
- There seems to be two types of praying: with the mind and in the Spirit. Praying in the Spirit is, according to Paul, speaking to God (1Corinthians 14:2). Getting ones mind out of the picture and praying the language of angels (1Corinthians 13:1) provides a direct link to the Father that forming words in the mind does not.
- The supernatural is a draw to the “yet to believe”. See Acts 8.
- Praying in the Spirit brings a protective covering from the enemy’s attack. In Paul’s teaching on the armor of God in Ephesians 6, he concludes with this statement: …and pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. Cover yourself with the armor but add to that armor, praying in the Spirit.
- When I do not know how to pray and am weak in body and mind Romans 8:26-27 tells me the Spirit, Himself prays for us when we don’t know how or what to pray. It goes on to say that the Father understands what the Spirit is saying through us, so as to bring us into harmony with the will of the Father.
- It was the desire of the Apostle Paul that all in the church in Corinth would speak in tongues (14:5) While some take that to mean not all did speak in tongues, it might also mean that the Apostle, writing the words the Spirit chose for him to write, is longing for all of us to enjoy the benefits of a spiritual language.
There are other Scriptures that answer the “so what” question and there are other benefits to speaking in an unknown language but I will stop with these. I am certain I have crossed a line for some of my readers with these posts and I am also certain that for others who read the Juniper View, I have not gone far enough.
But in what way have I been unfaithful to the Biblical text or brought a faulty hermeneutic to this teaching?
With a desire to be faithful to the whole of the Biblical text related to the sign gift of “speaking in tongues” I am attempting to look at most every mention of the subject in the Scriptures. Unfortunately, this subject remains almost as controversial and polarizing in the Family as it ever has been, and I am painfully aware that what I do here will not change many minds on this subject. However for those who seek a balanced Biblical discussion of the subject, I think you will find it here. In Kingdom.13 I used eight verses from Acts and 1Corinthians, with brief commentary and I will do 13 more verses from 1Corinthians in this post. In a later posting I will try to write why I think speaking in tongues matters in the advancing of the Kingdom.
If you have not been reading these Kingdom posts you may benefit from the whole of the argument presented in the entire series. You will find the archives for this series here.
9. 1Corinthians 13:1: If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
Whether one speaks in a known language or in the language of angels, (which I assume is a reference to speaking in tongues) and does so in an unloving way it is a waste of good air. This is not an injunction against speaking in an unknown language any more than it is an injunction against speaking in a known language. It is a simple statement that says, when you speak let it be covered in love.
10. 1Corinthians 13:8: Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.
So much of the cessessionist argument falls and rises on this verse and the way they interpret the meaning of “perfect”. Those who believe the gifts have ceased, of course, think “the perfect” is a reference to the closing of the “canon,” that is the completion of the list of 66 books that comprise the Scriptures as we know them. That has always been a huge reach for me. Would it not make more sense to see the “perfect” or “perfection” as a reference to Jesus and His return to rule and reign on the earth? That seems more consistent with the other gifts mentioned in this verse and with the context of the entire section? Consistency in interpretation would require knowledge and prophesy to cease as well, which seems silly since Paul later in this chapter encourages everyone to prophesy.
I don’t disagree that tongues is a temporary gift, needed only under the imperfect conditions, prevalent on earth today. This also explains why Jesus never needed the gift of tongues (an argument used against speaking in tongues) since His mind was perfectly pure and because He lived in perfect communion with His Father at all times. I am not Jesus and I need a lot of help to stay in full time intimacy with my Father.
11. 1Corinthians 14:2: One who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men, but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries.
Those who seek to make a case for the ceasing of tongues often say that there is no need to speak with words people cannot understand. That makes sense in this context. When you are talking to people, don’t speak with the tongues of angels. But are we not to speak to God? I would suggest that tongues is a higher form of communication than any human language, since it is a language the Father has designed so we can be intimate with Him and only Him.
12. 1Corinthians 14:4: One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself…
This verse is another used to suggest tongues is no longer needed because it is a sin to edify oneself. But that is not the point here. This is not an issue of pride or self edification in an improper or public way. The gift of tongues enables a believer to build himself up spiritually, which seems to me to be a good thing. It doesn’t negate the need to build each other up, it is simply another means for us to grow up into Christ, which is the goal.
13. 1Corinthians 14:5: I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying. But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking in tongues, what shall it profit you, unless I speak to you either by way of revelation or of knowledge or of prophecy or of teaching?
Is the Apostle Paul’s wishing that all could or would speak in tongues an indication that this is a gift that not every one receives? Since I do not believe that speaking in tongues is the one and only, sign of having received the Holy Spirit, it must follow that all do not receive this gift. But at the same time Paul’s desire for all to experience this blessing makes me think it is a normative experience for most, maybe even all. (See Kingdom.12 for a fuller treatment of the place experience plays in the coming in fullness of the Spirit)
14. 1Corinthians 14:9,13: Unless you speak with the tongue speech that is clear (understandable), how will anyone know what you are saying?…Therefore let one who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret.
In 1Corinthians 12-14 there are at least two “kinds” of tongues speaking going on. Speaking an unknown language as part of an intimate communication with the Father and secondly a way to speak prophetically to an assembly of people when the unknown language is interpreted. This is not an injunction against speaking in tongues privately where there is obviously no interpreter, it is instruction related to the use of tongues in a group.
15. 1Corinthians. 14:14: If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. What is the outcome then? I shall pray with the spirit and I shall pray with the mind. I shall sing with the spirit and I shall sing with the mind.
Here we have the use of a prayer language (praying with the Spirit-tongues) along side praying in a way that can be understand by all who hear (praying with the mind). When praying and or singing in tongues, a person cannot understand what he is praying/singing but the Apostle is not negating the practice, in fact he encourages it.
16. 1Corinthians 14:18: I thank God, I speak in tongues more than you all.
Paul was thankful to God for this gift. Apparently the Apostle was grateful he could speak in tongues so it seems fair to assume, since he is so grateful, he must have used the prayer language often and dirived benefit from it. So, why would we be less blessed?
17. 1Corinthians 14:19: However, in the church I desire to speak five words with my mind, that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.
No one doubts that using a language that people readily understand, while instructing a group is the best method, but the Apostle is not telling us to refrain from speaking in an unknown language. He is making a point: don’t confuse people by using your prayer language to teach people but in this context he is also saying, use your prayer language to increase intimacy with your Father.
18. 1Corinthians 14:22: Tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe, but to unbelievers…
The day of Pentecost is the classic example of tongues being a sign to unbelievers. The disciples break out in tongues because they had just received the Holy Spirit and these folks from all over the world heard them exalting God in a language the hearers understood. The disciples couldn’t understand it but the ones listening sure could and they were drawn to Jesus because of it. That is what the verse says. What it doesn’t say, though many try to make it so, is that it is only a sign for unbelievers.
19. 1Corinthians 14:23: If therefore the whole church should assemble together and all speak in tongues, and some who do not understand or do not believe enter, will they not say that you are mad?
I can’t imagine being in, much less desiring to be in a setting where a bunch of people go off, speaking randomly and boisterously in tongues. I’m a believer and I would think the place was full of nuts, so one who is yet to believe would really be blown up by it. The apostle Paul seems to be reaffirming what he said earlier; don’t use the gift in a public place in a disruptive way, isn’t that why he puts some rules on the public use of tongues? But don’t “throw the baby out with the bath water”. Just because some misuse the gift it is no reason to not be blessed and edified by it yourself.
20. 1Corinthians 14:26, 27: What is the conclusion then, people? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and let one interpret;
Here are the rules, use them! Not more than two or three should speak in tongues in a meeting of the church (that is don’t dominate gatherings of the Family with the use of this one gift), and when there is a “tongue” then wait for the interpretation. By the way interpretation is not the same as translation. Translation is “word for word” while interpretation is “expressing the thought or idea in ones own words”.
21. 1Corinthians 14:39: Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak in tongues.
This conclusion of the Apostle Paul seems pretty clear. We are not to forbid the exercise of the gift of tongues, but if you are desiring a gift, seek for the gift of prophecy more than for the gift of tongues. Why? Because the gift of prophesy benefits others and most of 1Corinthians is instruction about what to do and not do when gathering together. But Paul also clearly says, don’t forbid the gift of tongues!
When you study the plain and simple meaning of these verses it is difficult to make a case that tongues, or any of the other sign gifts, have ceased. The most honest argument against the gift is probably I am uncomfortable with the whole idea, so I am not going to do it or be around it. At least it’s honest even if it makes no sense, given the massive argument the Apostle Paul makes, for the value and joy derived from the use of the gift(s).
These 21 statements are the bulk of the Biblical teaching about the manifestation gifts and in particular the gift of tongues. I am confident that the gift is for today, has value for the believer and is necessary for Kingdom advancement. It seems foolish to try and make something go away through “interpretive gymnastics” that is intended to enhance and advance the Kingdom of God and Its citizens.