Serving Truth After It’s Expiration Date

truthThe beatitudes end with this thought:

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you”. Matthew 5:11-12

As Christians we are to be a truth telling people. We believe in capital T truth. We believe that just as there are God designed laws that govern the physical world there are God designed laws that govern the moral world. We believe that there are absolutes that govern moral choices and that these do not change according to the majority opinion of our society.

Because we believe in absolute moral truth our explanation of our faith has always been concerned with explaining “the truth”.

Until recently our message has usually been accepted or rejected on the basis of whether or not what we said was “the Truth”. This is somewhat obvious but there is something we need to understand. The credibility of our message has, until recently, depended upon a commonly held cultural assumption; that moral truth [absolute truth] exists.

Until recently, there has existed the belief that absolute right and wrong moral choices exist, in other words, that “sin” exists. For Christians sin is a big issue and so forgiveness of sin is a big deal. And so we explain our faith in terms of forgiveness of sin. So far so good.

But, what happens if moral truth is no longer accepted?

What happens if our society no longer believes there is any such thing as “the truth” when it comes to morality? What happens if the idea of truth is removed from the discussion?

This is what we see happening between Jesus and Pilate [the Roman governor who judged Jesus]. “Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a King. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

“What is truth?” Pilate asked.” John 18:37-38 Pilate dismisses the idea of truth and the discussion ends.

What happens when we try to tell people they need to be forgiven because they have violated God’s moral law but they don’t believe there are any moral laws [just social conventions that change with public opinion]? At the very least they think we are old fashioned and they ignore us or, depending on the issue, they accuse us of being judgmental. At worst we are accused of being “haters”, the moral equivalent of racists.

None of this is new. Being misunderstood comes with the turf when attempting to speak an unpleasant truth to anyone about anything they don’t want to consider, but the problem is much greater than just being the bearer of an un-welcomed word of correction.

The foundation of the discussion has changed.

We come out onto the playing field of discussion with our football equipment on. Our heads are covered with the helmets of truth. We are ready for some serious head to head contact – truth on truth! What we find is that the field we thought was a football field is actually a soccer field and the other team is dressed for a soccer match. Of course they think we are out to get them, look at how we are dressed!

THE GAME HAS CHANGED! THEY THINK WE ARE OUT TO DESTROY THEM!! [Stayed tuned for the next post – the answer in part 2]

God prophetically spoke to Bob through a significant vision

Does God speak through visions to guide us? Listen to Bob describe his experience with divine visions to guide him in God’s best for his life. As a young Christian, Bob had a difficult decision to make and this video will be very helpful to believers of of all ages. How do we recognize a vision is from God and not our own imagination. This video and our book, Reluctantly Supernatural; In an Age of Reason, will give you lots of tips. Enjoy now as Bob shares how he received a significant vision from God that gave him direction.

Are You People Angels?

What happens when you come back to your home church and tell them about the field trip to the mall?

They want to do it too!

So, ditto the whole experience. I teach for a weekend and then the next weekend we go to the Food Court at one of our local malls. It was about three weeks before Christmas and the malls were busy. We needed some kind of helpful introduction to shoppers. This is what came to me, “If you could have anything you wanted for Christmas from God other than the usual presents and gifts, what would it be?”

A few people blew us off, but most of them thought about the question and answered with surprising vulnerability. One woman told me that she had been estranged from her adult daughter for years and longed to spend a Christmas with her. An older man told me that his health was bad and he didn’t have enough energy to be with his extended family. Others told of problems at work and with family relationships.

In each case we had an opportunity to pray for them. All those who answered the question were open to receiving prayer as well. We spent the better part of a day praying for people.

I wonder if any of you readers are thinking, “Nice introduction to praying for people, but what does this have to do with prophecy and the supernatural?” Good question. Let me answer that question by saying something about prayer.

Much of the time prayer is little more than us asking God to give us what we want. This is fine as far as it goes, but the Bible tells us that Jesus is before the Father in heaven right now praying for us and for the lost. [Hebrews 7:24–25] I take this to mean that whenever I go to pray for someone, Jesus is already praying for them. If this is true, then I have a choice between praying my prayer for this person based upon my assessment of their needs or waiting and listening to the “voice” of God to tell me what Jesus is praying for him.

Whose prayer has the best chance of being answered?

I approach every prayer this way; ask them what they need and then wait on the Holy Spirit with the expectation that He will tell me how to pray His prayer for them. In other words, prayer can be an opportunity to use a revelatory gift to direct our prayers. And these prayers tend to be more powerful prayers than those that come from our own minds. So, this is what we do. We listen to the need and then we quiet ourselves and wait for God to communicate His heart and mind for the person.

My prayer partner and I were taking a break from praying for strangers, so we sat down and had a coke. A past church member came by and sat beside us, asking us what we were doing at the mall. I began to explain how we were praying and prophesying over strangers. While I was explaining all this, two women were sitting to my left. I noticed that they were listening closely to everything I was saying. I turned to them and asked if they would like prayer. They said yes!

It turned out one of them had just lost her job and would be out of her apartment in three days. Out on the street with nowhere to live two weeks before Christmas! I told them that we would pray for them, but that it was our custom to be still for a few minutes to listen to God to see how He wanted us to pray. I did this and this is what came out; “You have been terribly abused by men. All the men in your life have abused you. What is amazing is that you have never gotten bitter or hateful in all the pain and injustice. Jesus wants to be a spiritual husband to you for a period of time, while your pain heals. He does not want any more men in your life until He has healed your broken heart. When your heart is healed and you can trust again, He will bring the right man into your life.”

Needless to say, she wept through the whole prayer. Her friend kept saying,

“How could you know her so well? This is incredible!” Then we prayed for her friend and I told her how God saw her. I told her of her character strengths and what God wanted to make of her life. When we were done they were radiant with joy. With complete sincerity they asked, “Are you angels?”

It was a hard question to answer because at that moment we were doing the usual work of angels – bringing messages of great joy and encouragement from God.

The next day I was scheduled to man our “free prayer” table in the Mall.

We set up the table right in the middle of the main walkway in the mall. We wanted to make sure that everyone who passed saw our sign. I tried to look harmless and loving. My partner for the day was a guy from church whose wife thought it would be good for him to go out and experience a few supernatural spiritual gifts. He was a willing neophyte.

To be honest there were not many who took us up on the free prayer offer… until… a middle-aged couple were walking toward our table. I saw that they saw our sign and they saw that I saw that they saw me seeing them seeing our sign. [I love that sentence]. I could see them hesitate and look at each other. They were both waiting for a buy in from the other. I decided to do a little selling so I said, “Hey, what have you got to lose? It can’t hurt.” So, they came over and sat down. I said, “What would you like prayer for? They said, “We have found our dream house and we really want to buy it, but we haven’t been able to sell our present house first and it has to sell or we lose our dream house.”

What an easy thing to pray for! So, I gave them the spiel about not wanting to pray our prayer for them, but God’s prayers for them – so we need to wait a minute or two. They were fine with that. Nothing came, so I just prayed for their house to sell. In the middle of this prayer a thought came to me; “His ex-wife has been cursing and slandering him.” I had no idea if he had an ex-wife, but I decided to risk it and just give what I was getting.

I told him his ex-wife had been slandering him to his family and at his church and that as a result he was beginning to believe that he could not be a good husband to his new wife [the woman sitting beside him]. As I was speaking his head was nodding “yes” and his wife was crying and saying, “Yes! Yes!” Then I told him that as a result of this cursing and slander he has begun to believe that he doesn’t deserve his new wife and that maybe she is not God’s will for him, and that these thoughts are undermining his new marriage.

At this point they both came apart – they just wept. I went on to tell them that God says, he is a good man and that with God’s help, he is going to make a great husband and have a successful marriage – that they are God’s gift to each other. We rebuked the lies that were trying to destroy his marriage and his intimacy with God.

My partner saw a mental picture of a train half way across a very high railroad bridge between two cliffs. The interpretation came to me – they are in a time of change and transition between the past [the bad marriage] and the future [the new marriage] and that a new stability is coming.

When we were done praying and prophesying over them they were thrilled! This is what they said,

“We live way south of here [about 30 miles] and have never been to this mall before. When we decided to drive all this way to this mall, we didn’t know why we wanted to come here. It made no sense to us, but we just wanted to come here. Now we know why we felt we needed to come here. Everything you said to us is absolutely true! You have no idea what your words mean to us!”

Free prayer indeed!

Great question

resizeDear Mark,

I’ve been looking for a church lately. I’ve been attending a conservative style church because of the Bible teaching the last few weeks. I’ve never been one for the crazy Charismatic services as I think the disorderliness of them Paul would have rebuked, however I’m not a Cessationist, but THIS church is entirely the opposite.

I want your opinion. This morning at this church the preacher in his sermon was boasting of how at their church they love the bible so much & how they’re #1 focus is scripture & biblical knowledge. As a result of these values he explained that this was why they don’t do anything more than hymns, because emotional experience in worship distract people…? I’m trying to fairly represent what he was saying. But it seemed like he was saying that enjoyable music would distract from the message, as it might evoke an emotional response instead of a cognitive one.

I recently had another Christian tell me that they also (at his church) only sing hymns and this individual proceeded to also state that he didn’t need more than hymns because he didn’t need an emotional experience in worship.

Now I would agree, the focus of worship should not be about what feelings or emotional experiences I can get, however I can’t help but interpret these types of sentiments to be saying (in short) that Sunday morning worship should basically be bad enough so as to not engage people in order that they not lose focus on the Lord Jesus or the mental content of the message.

What would you say to those who assert worshiping in hymns is healthy & little more is needed?

How would you respond to this type of attitude?

I’m at a total loss for words as to how to respond. I guess my thought in service when he made the comment was “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind & strength”. I feel like they’re priding themselves on NOT engaging heart & soul during worship….

5:03PM

Hello,

Suggesting that we not sing songs that provoke an emotional response to toward God is like telling a newly-wed not to speak sweet words of love to his wife because it might provoke an emotional response from her. We are emotional creatures because we are made in the image of God and He is an emotional being. He is emotional/ passionate toward us and He desires that we be emotional/ passionate toward Him.

The Bible is full of images of great tenderness and intimacy.

The Bible is an emotional book because God is an emotional God. I believe that what you are dealing with is the classic evangelical/intellectual fear of “getting carried away”. I deal with this argument in my book “Reluctantly Supernatural in an Age of Reason”. You might want to read it. You can get a free preview when you subscribe to the website here.

To summarize my point; intellectual Christianity often avoids any kind of emotional response to God because it/they fear being “out of control”. This leads to emotional repression that actually stifles intimacy with God. The result is that they know a great deal about God and little OF God.

It would be like reading a biography about a famous person without ever meeting him – a sad substitute for a real relationship. By the way, in saying what I have said about “intellectual Christianity” I am not taking a cheap shot for the sake of gratuitous insult. For years I was one of those emotionally repressed intellectual Christians. Thankfully the Holy Spirit touched my heart and ushered me into a deep Father/child relationship with God.

The experience of His love is the fuel that runs my service to Him. It has brought me into a relational reality with God that touches the whole of my person; mind, emotions, body and spirit. My life was changed forever, and I would never go back. Hope this helps.

Mark

A Waitress Encounters the Supernatural

A few days after the field trip to the mall, mentioned in a blog last week, my pastor friend and I were driving to San Antonio for more meetings. On the way, we stopped at a sports bar for lunch. After we ordered, my friend asked me if I got anything from God for our waitress. I said no, did you? He said he had a thought come into his mind that maybe she has trouble trusting men. I suggested we find out. When she came back with the food I said, “I know this sounds kind of crazy, but my friend here thinks God told him something about you. Would you mind if we ran it by you to see if he really did hear God?” She said sure. Bill said, “I think God told me that you have a serious problem trusting men.” She said, “Absolutely!”

At that moment, a thought came to me and I spoke it to her.

I said, “Right now you are living with a guy, but you are not married. He is very kind to you and he really loves your daughter. You think he may be the one for you and your daughter, but because of the abuse you have received from men you can’t trust him, but you want to.” She said, “Exactly!” I continued, “There is one man who will never abuse or misuse you. He is the perfectly safe man for you. If you get to know him, you will get over your trust issues and be able to trust a man again. His name is Jesus.”

On hearing this she said, “This is amazing!

There is this girl who works here who is always giving me these little books about Jesus! She says I have to get to know him! This is amazing!” I went into counselor mode. I said, “You need to spend more time with this girl and you need to read those little books and you need to get a good Bible that is easy to read.” She said she would.

Here is another example of natural and supernatural gifts working together to bring someone to Jesus.

Her need has created an opening.

Her co-worker has begun teaching her about Jesus. The prophetic words we brought to her brings experiential credibility to the words already spoken by her co-worker. Not only that, but now she has evidence that there is a God who cares enough about her life to send total strangers to tell her about her fears and her need to know Jesus. Wonderful!

Questions for Discussion: Let’s talk about this…

  1. I tear up when I read this. How does this story affect you? What is significant about it for you?
  2. This story illustrates both “natural” evangelism and “supernatural” evangelism. Which are you more comfortable with? Why?
  3. Most of us are more comfortable with “natural” evangelism, yet Jesus and the early church used supernatural evangelism most of the time. What would it take for you to start using supernatural evangelism more often?

Prophetic Teenagers at a Houston Mall

“Our youth group needs shaking up! I want you to come and teach our youth how to hear the voice of God and then I want you to take them out in public to prophecy over strangers!” so said my pastor friend from Houston. To be honest, I was a little intimidated. I had never done a field trip like this before. At the same time, I was excited, so I said yes. Friday night and Saturday morning, I taught the youth how to “hear” God’s communication to us [which will be the subject of later chapters – you are going to love it!].  Continue reading

What is a whole-hearted commitment to God?

Here is a comment from a reader with my reply below:
I now understand your point about supernatural experiences being available to people regardless of the state of their “heart”.  But, due to the problems involved with such experience with, what we might call, less mature individuals, you go to some length to outline concerns about this, and suggest remedies such as Humility, and developing the fruits of the spirit, and other ways to try to avoid using Gods power without having His purity. You even suggest some have walked away from powerful experiences (I do know this to be true) because they are not, as you say,

Continue reading

Supernatural Evangelism during a trip to the Doctor

rom 8A few years ago, my doctor sent me for a radiological CAT scan. I had the procedure and the attending nurse told me to drink water as soon as possible to flush the radioactive dye out of my system. As I was walking across the foyer to leave I saw a young man loading up a water vending machine. I went over and asked him if I could buy a bottle. I bought the bottle and headed for the door. About half way to the door this thought came very clearly to my mind. “Go back and tell him about Me.” Continue reading