So, are you a charismatic now?

September 24, 2008 at 1:54 am 6 comments

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.


Entry filed under: Authority, Belief, Bible, Charismatic, Christian, Christianity, Church, Culture, Faith, Family, Friendship, Holy Spirit, Institutional church, Jesus, King Jesus, Kingdom, Kingdom Gospel, Kingdom Life, Miracles, Revelation, Supernatural, The Father, Theology.

Monday morning meanderings. Vol.57 So, are you a Charismatic now? Part 2

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. thenonconformer  |  September 28, 2008 at 5:52 am

    spiritual gifts is not the only thing the devil blinds many people to

  • 2. sumi  |  September 25, 2008 at 10:20 am

    It is way too late for me to read with comprehension, much less to comment with any clear thoughts. 😀

    I’ll be coming back to read this soon though, because what I have read so far looks really interesting.

  • 3. A Son  |  September 25, 2008 at 2:41 am

    Hahaha. I prayed BAM BAM over about 200 people this last Sunday after I preached, and God broke loose. I never thought I would pray those kinds of prayers. But you know what, it got the job done. People encountered God.

    Even little 2-4 year olds were just going out in the spirit….without any pushing I might add….and staying motionless on the ground for 15 to 30 minutes. Little kids don’t do that unless they are asleep, and these were wide-eyed. Then suddenly they would hop back up (once they could move again), and jump back in the prayer line for more. People at the church told me they hadn’t had that happen before.

    You know me greg, and you know my past. I’m not a BAM BAM guy. But when the power is flowing through you, sometimes all you’ve got is “BAM BAM.” You want it all? Get ready for stupid prayers like BAM BAM. Love you.

  • 4. Brooks  |  September 24, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    Hey Greg,

    Isn’t it interesting how folk just have to be able to stamp you with a label? People here in Israel are having the same issues trying to figure out who we are what to call us. Heck, we’re also trying to figure out what to call ourselves and if is even necessary to know. I don’t particularly care for labels though. Ya know, people had the same problems with trying to figure out what and/or who to call John the baptist.

    I agree with the things you say we need to reclaim. The church has grossly fallen away from the ways of God and the results are what we see in the news today. One thing more though that I would add is:

    Jerimiah 6:16 Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.

    Sadly, the church has stated; “we will not walk therein.”

    Obedience is key. None of us are yet perfected but we must strive to adhere to the words of the Master, “if you love me, keep my commandments.”

    On the subject of “Family”. I have mixed feelings about what this really looks like or is supposed to look like. I used to claim that my “spiritual” family was stronger and closer to me than my “natural” family. Today…..I’m not so sure of that. Our spiritual family was close to us as long as we believed and practiced the same as they did. But once we began moving toward the “old paths” we began seeing the ties of the spiritual family unwinding. One of the interesting phenomenon’s about this occurrence is the people that were the nearest to us are the ones who stopped communicating and the ones we weren’t really that close to are the ones who are still calling and writing. And the most obvious lesson about “family” in this journey is that so far our “natural” family are still as close as ever. They may not agree nor understand our journey, but they are still as committed as ever before.

    We have much to learn and we are trying to stay pliable and teachable.

    Pass our love to Linda.

  • 5. amanda  |  September 24, 2008 at 9:01 am

    well when i am not so tired and can think a little straighter i would like to think i can offer some insights. for now suffice it to say, you are dead on in the many ways that we (followers, Christians, believers,etc) are in serious danger of becoming almost completely ineffectual because we are SO hobbled by those who have more access to media outlets, and just plain SHOUT louder. i believe that Father wants us to evanglelize but not in ways that the Church would have you believe. you don’t always need to go to Nigeria, Sudan, Siberia, Costa Rica, (name of destination here) when we can simply BE at home (warts and all, cuz i am FAR from the perfect example i would LOVe to be) and try to show the way to those who surround us, be they loved ones, co workers, acquantices, or our baristas. i for one am tired of seeing some of these glaze over when i say anthing in passing in regards to Father. i don’t like being painted with the same brush as some of these loudmouths.
    i could go on but …

    Thanks again Greg for a thought provoking post.
    glad you’re back

  • 6. kaylee  |  September 24, 2008 at 3:43 am

    Hello! Nice to read a big, FAT, post from you again. 🙂 I didn’t know you got back to OK so fast. We only just cris-crossed the panhandle, so a visit just wouldn’t have fit into our tight traveling schedule. Bummer! However, I just went to Lancaster today and saw the beautiful Amish Farms! I bought some apples and tomatoes. I hope I can go there sometime with you and Linda.

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