Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Piper Does It Again ...

And I couldn't allow these two really exciting points to go unmentioned before bed! Even while ill, Dr John Piper shows no signs of letting up and 'taking life easy'. He's got a new book - "Contending For Our All" - out that I will SO be ordering! I can't wait for that to appear in the UK. This is the fourth in his biography series that he presents at the Bethlehem Conference for Pastors. He is covering the lives of Athanasius, John Owen and J Grescham Machen.

And secondly he has organised an awesome sounding National Conference following on from Suffering and the Supremacy of God - this conference will be covering "The Supremacy of God in a Postmodern World" and the speakers are David Wells, D A Carson, Mark Driscoll and John Piper himself. As we speak I am working on my finances to see if I can afford to go. Carson and Piper in the same room ... I can't resist!

The Importance of Local Church Leadership.

I been wanting to write some things on the role of Pastor/Teacher for some time. I think sometimes this Ephesians 4 Ministry can get forgotten with the excitement in charismatic circles with the Apostle and the Prophet. Yet I wrote previously that I contend that it was the pastor/teacher who de-railed the Charismatic Movement as was. They have tremendous responsibility! And tremendous challenges! "Be not many teachers brethren, for theirs is the great judgement". I am well aware that sometimes I can give the impression in comments I make on this blog that I am less than impressed with pastors and local churches - so this is an attempt to counter that and show how vital I believe they really are. By the way there is an excellent interview with Pastor/Teacher Mark Dever here ... well worth the read.

In his book, "God's Agenda" Dr Ern Baxter noted eight guidelines for pastor/teachers from Paul's words in Acts 20:18-21.

1. Be an Example Before the Flock.

Paul told the elders; "You know my way of life ... you know after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, serving the Lord". Terry Virgo reminded us at Brighton that Gideon said a similar thing to his followers; "Watch me".

2. Serve the Flock in Humility with Tears.

Ern said; "I found out that it is a very practical thing to be humble. If you're humble you don't compete. If you're humble you don't strive. If you're humble, you're not jealous ... The apostle Paul also speaks of tears. He felt deeply about people ... Paul's care for the sheep was so meaningful that he knew what it was to weep over them and to weep over those who forsook the way of the Lord".

3. Serve the Lord with Honesty and Courage.

He said; "As shepherds of the flock we have our own religious games that we play. If we know that God wants us to bring a word that is going to be hard to give, we adopt the "shun principle" ... the truth is clear. Shepherd - if you're not preaching the word the Lord told you to preach, then you are shunning to declare the whole counsel of God!".

4. Work Hard in the Ministry.

Note this. He wrote; "It is a tragedy that in our day, ministers have become known as playboys, with low golf handicaps and an equally low capacity for hard work. Yes there is a time for leisure and there's a place for pleasure, but we owe God at least as much industrious application in the business of spiritual leadership as a businessman invests in the marketplace".

I am so thankful that my pastor Dr Jebb set such an amazing example in this area. He worked. I remember passing the church late at night sometimes if I was on my way home from a friends when I was a teenager and I would look up and see the light still burning in his office.

5. Live a Committed Life.

Ern said; "Have any of you realised that when God called you into His sevice, He called you to martyrdom? In the early church that was understood. Everyone of the apostles was martyred (with the possible exception of the apostle John), along with thousands of other believers. We don't think of martyrdom today. I want to shock you. Anyone of us may become martyrs before we're through with this decade".

6. Accept Responsibility for God's Sheep.

"Paul had faithfully and uncompromisingly presented the gospel to the Jews and Gentiles alike. That is why he was able to say; "The blood of no man rests on my hands because of deliquence or failure. I have faithfully, night and day, with tears, warned every man".

7. Minister Selflessly.

"To serve God, you have to make an economic adjustment. At one point I made a simple covenant with the Lord. I said, "Lord I'm working for you. I will never lift a finger to make a penny out of my ministry (and I never have). But Lord I expect You to take care of me (and He has)".

8. Be Sensitive: Avoid Ulterior Motives.

I found this part especially interesting!

Ern wrote: "As we find young men who are emerging to enter the ministry, we need to talk to them about celibacy ... Now celibacy is not something you can choose. It's a charism or a gift. However it is a charism that Paul considered valid and necessary for his work. We at least need to talk to young men about the possibility that if God is calling them into a difficult calling, then they should consider carefully the possibility that they may have the gift of celibacy. Of course you know that if you don't have the gift of celibacy if you can't keep your hands off a woman. That is why the Bible bluntly tells us that it's a good thing to marry rather than burn with passion (1 Cor 7:9).

I know young men who are pure, who have the gift of celibacy and who are serving God in very difficult situations in ways that they couldn't do if they were married. The ministry is a very high calling".

I have not heard any call to celibacy for years. The call I grew familiar with in recent years was to hurry up and get married. Yet noone noted that Paul said it is better to not be married! So I am hugely encouraged tonight in what Ern wrote.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Blogwatch ...

I realised that it has been a while since I noted what I've been watching in the blog world and passed commentary on it - this was mainly due to my fevour in the last few months to get more of Ern Baxter into print (this website is devoted to him after all) and less of Dan Bowen. Like most bloggers I do have an exhaustive list of the sites I like to follow and read them each day to see if anything new has been put forward - by the way, if you're an IT illiterate like me, the Blue Fish has got a nifty thing on his links that tells you when a particular blog has been updated. Very handy! Saves minutes of loading up a blog - only to be disappointed.

So ...

1. Bob Kauflin of SGM has been wondering whether there is a place for announcements in the church. He accepts that long dull notices (or confused badly organised notices I would add) can be one of the most effective ways quench the Spirit. A useful post. We at Full Faith Church however would be horrified at the thought of "email notices, internet notices, announcements on a screen or newsletters" as his pastor Josh Harris suggests. You will find a sample of our notices here which will demonstrate how seriously we take this integral part of the worship. (*For the more serious blogger - this is tongue in cheek*).

2. Two of my close friends, Jonathan Skipper and Luke Wood rejoice that "they are not dead yet". Mind you - that was the last post we heard from them, so I hope that they are not praying the one prayer that Elijah didn't get answered ... guys - you need to hear Terry Virgo on this! Seriously though ... hope you guys are okay and look forward to reading your blogs when life gets a little less manic!

3. Reconstructionist and Gary North-fan Dave Skipper has birthed a new blog that we are looking forward to following. He promises he is not a "crack-pot revolutionary" ... but rather a believer in the guaranteed victory of Jesus Christ over all His foes. A promising stimulating read.

4. Pyromaniac has shut himself down but re-birthed himself in a group blog, following recent popular trends. His reasons? Cessationism just doesn't seem fun anymore.

5. Together for the Gospel continue to be ... together. I've been doing an audit since they began on their most popular and over-used words.

"Excellent" - 4

"Serve you" - 4

"C.J" - 9

"Sports" - 7

Do I have too much time on my hands or just a psychological interest in the words men use?

6. The Charismatic (or Continuationist) versus Cessationist war seems to have either reached an uneasy detente. Was it because continuationist after continuationist said they didn't want to play anymore or Pyro was to blame for keeping the whole thing stirred up. Either way it's been carefully and amazingly documented here by an SGM-er. In the silence, I do wonder what each side had in mind as to the specifics of victory ... did the continuationists think that victory would be Pyro or John MacArthur suddenly breaking out into tongues? Or, God forbid, a subjective prophetic word? Did the cessationists think that victory would be a uniform call for gifts to stop being manifested? Not that there's anything wrong in a debate - I've loved it! But I guess we all now go on doing, what we've been doing and believing what we've been believing. Unless our scribe has found someone who has walked over to the 'other side' and has actually been persuaded by the arguments? I think the most helpful observation in the debate came from Sven who pointed out that we've all missed the place of eschatology in our disagreements.

7. In light of the release of blockbuster "Brokeback Mountain" blogger Scott has some very helpful remarks to make on that hot potatoe of all hot potatoes - homosexuality. He notes:

"The hideous treatment that many Christians inflict upon those who openly express their homosexuality — which I simply cannot understand and which I cannot tolerate as Christian behavior".

I would attest to this. Yet he notes very wisely that this subject must be seen in it's context, namely that: "until we embrace sex as something for marriage designed by God for childbearing and childrearing, which is accompanied by pleasure but not designed solely for pleasure, there is simply no rationale for a traditional Christian belief". Let us hope that other influential Christians hold to this sensible calm view in arguing - not reverting to the kind of hysteria that I have been familiar with.

By the way - Al Mohlers debate is worth reading on this - here's the transcript. He took part in a debate on the "Larry King" show around the time that "Brokeback Mountain" was released. There were openly gay participants in the debate, and Mohler's graciousness in dealing with them was commendable, while holding to truth.

And finally ... Emerging Church leader Brian McLaren leaves his church and takes on an itinerate role. This will enable him (I'm sure to many orthodox evangelicals dread) to write more books.

"The Church! The Hope of the World!".

Just a short entry because I've just worked a night and my bed is calling! I've still been reading "God's Agenda" by Dr Ern Baxter and have been so blown away by the doctrinal revelation there - of his view of the 'bigness' of God and of the People of God - His Bride, the Glorious Church! It was quite a blessed night because in tandem with that I was listening to that awesome DVD of interviews with Terry Virgo - so my two favourite giants of the faith both speaking at the same time! (By the way I do keep my eye on the kids as well!) This is the kind of business that I needed to be on, to ensure me that this most remarkable amazing weekend, where God has so powerfully invaded my life does not become just an emotional blip - but a solid on-going leap in my love for the Church and relationship with it. I'm on my way out of the wilderness!

One of the things that most impressed me was the foreword written by Ritch Carlton - Ern's Administrator. It reads as quite a testimony to a man obsessed with the Church:

"This is the carefully thought out, studied out and prayed out understanding by a man who had seen the results of most wild-eyed ideas as they came and went. He walked through the squalor of Christianity as it has been demonstrated in the twentieth century. He was a witness to Christianity's divisions - from the inside and the outside.

With disappointment he cried, "Where is the Church?". He knew that the Church is God's instrument in the earth to declare His glory and righteousness. He loved the Church. At this stage in his life, Ern Baxter was now looking at things from the other side. He was looking for the "Church" at the end of his life and felt he had found very little of its biblical definition in function or what it was meant to be.

Above all else Ern still believed that God had a purpose for the Church in the earth that would be realised in ultimate and complete victory".

Sunday, January 29, 2006

"He Who Is Able to Do More ..." - Church Today!!

Woww!! Yep, this is going to be another "Woww" entry! Maybe some who read yesterdays entry thought it might be just an emotional reaction to a great sermon. I must confess I woke up slightly cynically when my alarm went off. But God was there! And He was excited! So off we went to Bridge Community Church, Bradley Stoke (Newfrontiers) - and its just ten minutes down the road! I must admit another overdose of Kalms was required - the fear was niggling. But as soon as we entered, we just felt overwhelmed in love and acceptance. The people were glad to see us! The leaders had remembered me from last night and make a point of coming over which meant so much!

As soon as the worship started, I just knew that my fears were groundless - God by His Spirit was powerfully present, and back came the tears! Amazingly the same themes were there from last night. A lady brought an incredible prophecy that spoke of: "I am the God who walks among the crowds. I am walking among you, waiting for your touch - your look". Benign? Trivial? Not to me!! It was life changing! Once again God was saying that I was welcome among His People - the People of God! The songs were simple and so powerful - and God added to the picture that I mentioned last night concerning the wave. I saw a picture of a child sitting in the sea splashing and trying to make the tide go further up the beach. Then I saw a surfer riding a huge wave. God said that for 4 years I have been that child trying to "make" His Spirit go further. But suddenly I knew that I didn't have to - that His Spirit was moving already and my call was just to ride it.

So sometimes I didn't even sing - I couldn't for my tears! I was just so grateful to be in a place where His Spirit was so welcome! God dealt with another thing that Terry Virgo mentioned last night - that of fearing the look in the eyes of people who were running. We were flooded with people who were so kind wanting to chat to us and I suddenly realised that they weren't looking and judging! They were too taken up with being amazed with the grace of God! Suddenly I don't have to be afraid of people - and I realised I didn't have to shut my eyes tightly as soon as worship began. I wasn't being holy - I was hiding! We were quickly "drafted" into a cell - which was EXACTLY what I needed!

The sermon was just great too - they have just started a series through 1 Corinthians and we were reminded that we are a Christ-Dependent Community. That means we are i) A Holy Community. ii) A Spirit Filled Community. iii) A Persevering Community. The sum-up was simply "Be What You Are"!

I think God's final act of grace in this area was when I got home and dug out my off-duty at the hospital to see what my shifts were and for the up-coming month I have virtually every Thursday (cell) and Sunday (church) off!! How AWESOME is our God?!?!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

"But if All Prophesy ... The Secrets of His Heart Are Disclosed; and so He will Fall on His Face And Worship God". (1 Corinthians 14:24, 25).

Tonight marked the finale to Terry Virgo's visit to Bristol on his "God's Lavish Grace" tour and WHAT a finale it was. It has been proved to me unquestionably that Terry Virgo is a prophet - and he DOES indeed know the secrets of my heart! I realise that is a somewhat outlandish statement that some have devoted hours to trying to disprove, so to prove my claims - here is a full report of what happened in Bristol tonight.

While Terry Virgo remains my number 1 hero, I was not at all keen on going to the meetings held over the weekend, due to the presence of certain church leaders I was afraid to be in the same room as. So I went tonight with a group of close friends under a certain amount of duress and with an overdose of Kalms. We went in and sat near the back, and then the worship started ...

It was led by the gorgeous and ever-stunning Lou Fellingham and without any warm-up, she led us directly into the Presence of God. While I was greatly affected by the first few songs, I was aware that I was "trying" too hard in worship. And suddenly God was there and spoke to me so powerfully telling me that I must learn to ride the wave rather than try and create it. It was God's business to send the wave of His Spirit's Presence. And such Presence is a blessing that we are simply to soak in, rapture in, bask in and enjoy.

But alongside that I began to notice that the worship and the prayers and the prophecies that were given all carried a theme; "Nothing can pluck you from My hand ... My life is hid with Christ on high ... All our shame and history gone!". I knew what God was on about! That I had allowed the same men I was so afraid of to become giants and strongholds in my life - that their assessment of me; "A sinner and hopeless" - had become the assessment that I carried over myself

Then Terry got up to preach ...

His text was 1 Kings 19:1-16. And this made me slightly suspicious. He was going to preach on Elijah hiding in a cave. The last time I went to the amazing Bradley Stoke Newfrontiers church, they preached on Elijah hiding in a cave and left me with the challenge: "What are you doing here Dan?". So I knew as he read his text that a "NOW" word was coming.

One of the things I love listening to is Terry praying. Being such a man of prayer, he (like my pastor Stanley Jebb) has the unique ability to teach something of his intimate relationship with the God he adores while he is speaking to him. His prayer went like this: "You know how to keep in your hand, those you have called ... Bring renewal, recovery and restoration into Your grace ... Give us a revelation of Your style".

He introduced Elijah by noting that while he is famous for his boldness - this text shows that indeed as the NIV says; "Elijah was a man like us". This cave incident is just after Carmel and Elijah had undergone an extraordinary transformation. What happened to him? Terry suggested that self-preservation had taken over and he took his eyes off God.

So his first point was: 1. How Did It Happen? Note once again God allowed me no warm up. This is the point where my jaw dropped, my heart began pounding and my eyes filled with tears. He suggested that the first thing that may have obscured Elijah's vision of God was his handling of rightous anger. This is a delicate area in the Bible, for we are told to "Be angry yet do not sin". There is a right way and a wrong way to do it and there may easily come a point where rightous anger is replaced by my anger. (*Note this*) You may have left a church because church leaders did something to you which was wrong ... and you know you were right. Yet you allow this anger to consume you and in that simple step you have stepped out of the Presence of the Spirit and something has soured your soul - and you lose your simple and beautiful joy in the Lord.

Another thing, Terry noted, that could have allowed Elijah to take his eyes of the Lord was to suddenly be in the public gaze. Public vindication came on Carmel - and he was famous! Yet sometimes it is too easy to look for appreciation as to what we did - rather than God's glory. There is indeed something exciting about the anointing of God - the favour of God, and it can allow us to take our eyes off the Lord and look to our own fame and our own ministry.

Thirdly Elijah could have been emotionally and utterly exhausted. So many things can drain us that we don't often realise. Disapointment can exhaust us and you cannot just ignore it! You must take that broken promise to God - the Psalms are full of it! If you carry disappointment and delayed promises and don't do something with them, then something begins to erode in your soul. It can be disappointment with church. Related to that can be self-disappointment. We can be so generous to others but very hard on ourselves! Beware of being disappointed with yourself.

Fourthly perplexity can drain us. Understanding of a disaster can bring endorsement but perplexity can lead to fear. If we understand why God does something and allows something then we can see the bigger picture. But fear can consume us and allow us to take our eyes off the Lord and look to ourselves.

Terry drew special attention to verse 3 of the text: "He left his servant". He asked the question - why did Elijah leave his servant? It is a bad sign when you don't want the eyes of the people who used to run with you to look at you anymore. (*Note - another jaw dropping moment*). You used to come to church and now you're withdrawing because you don't want to be with people anymore. You fear what they see.

So Elijah goes out to the wilderness - a place of total condemnation and he prays the suicide prayer. (*I prayed the suicide prayer last Sunday*). We fear to wake up - we hate the morning because we fear what it will bring. But this is the only prayer that Elijah didn't get answered! Hallelujah! He has run out of gas and runs into grace.

2. Recovery and Renewal.

God doesn't condemn Elijah - but neither does He ignore him. There is no answer from heaven to the suicide prayer. Firstly God lets him sleep. We must build rest into our quota! Secondly He brings him food. Now note this. When Elijah acted in obedience, he was taken to the Valley of Kidron and a raven brought him food. When he was running away in disobedience and fear, an angel came and ministered to him and fed him. The awesome grace of God!

So Elijah goes to Horeb - or Sinai - the Mountain of God. He went back to the place where God first met him. That is an excellent step for us - we must get back to the things we first knew were true. If you are a Christian, you've got some history! You know that there's a God - you have promises and prophecies underlined in your Bible. He is the Lord! He is wonderful! Didn't God promise wonderful things to you? Will you come back tonight? God's answer and way of recovery comes to him via a question: What are you doing here Elijah?

Terry noted that when we are despondant, we like and tend to lose our identity. Yet part of recovery is taking responsibility for our identity. The question ended: "Elijah". Elijah! My servant! We haven't ceased to be the person that God wanted us to be just because we run into the wilderness. Come back and repent - and you will find that God's plans for you haven't changed. You get a display of God's authority - ALL things are possible!

Yet startlingly enough, sometimes the greatness of God isn't where you are, and note that the Lord came to Elijah in a gentle whisper. This is the heart of the whole recovery. God comes in tenderness. God isn't like human employers - He rescued me because He delights in me!! "Delight" isn't defined well in the dictionary but in a thesarus, it says; "laugh, smile, get a kick out of, hug oneself, purr (!!!), rave, bask in, wallow, enjoy, have fun, relish, entoxicate, ravish!".

"One glance of your eyes, my sister, my bride!" - from Song of Solomon. Imagine! Just once glance from us, the people of God, is enough to thrill God's heart!

THAT is the place of ultimate recovery, even more than the fireworks display. Just to hear Him say; "I love you!". Then He waits eagerly to hear if we respond! Unchanging love! Where is the joy that we used to know?

Terry ended by telling a story that I have heard before of his son who walked away from the Lord. And Terry and Wendy gave themselves to true spiritual warfare to 'get him back'. And the Lord heard and answered, and one night his son came in and there was a Bible sitting on the table. He put it down and couldn't stop reading it! He knew he had to get some sleep due to work tomorrow and told the Lord so. The Lord's response: "But we haven't spoken for ages".

At this point I lost all control I had left. The awesome, amazing, unchanging love of God! That we aren't told off or rebuked or condemned for being away from God for that time - but His response is: "But we haven't spoken for ages!".

And then finally Elijah got a new commission. He was to rise and go and anoint kings, and anoint Elisha - his disciple. God wanted another like Elijah! Failure didn't equal disqualification in God's eyes! Terry challenged me (well it felt like me, because he was looking at me!) - Who am I discipling? There is a job to be done. There is work that He has for me. And I can get up and leave my cave of safety, because GOD IS FOR US!

So what? ...

That's all very well you might say, its good to have an emotional response to these sort of events, but what of tomorrow? I managed to get speaking to the local Newfrontiers church leaders and have re-committed myself with a vengance to going back. I must go back! Part of keeping myself in the grace of God is being with His people and where His Spirit is present. And I'm excited - THATS an emotion I haven't felt connected to church for a year! I'm excited - because my Lover is going to be there! And He is excited that I'm going to be there (so Terry says!).

And secondly I have realised that my anger towards certain church leaders was masking fear. Anger is a bit more butch than fear isn't it. I am (or was) afraid of them and what they could do to me - fearful of their assessment of me (a sinner) . But what Terry's made me realise tonight is that my life is hid with Christ on high! And that their assessment of me doesn't matter one bit - because God's assessment of me is: "We haven't spoken for ages!". I am one excited guy tonight. And I've realise that there's no probation period. God isn't going to make me "prove" myself by having to clean the church toilets for 5 years before I get to do something for Him (although there's nothing wrong with cleaning toilets - I used to do it!). But that His Commission for me stands - He has work for me to do!

A friend of mine noticed that I used to send "WOWWWWWWWWWWW" emails quite a lot a while back - just glorying in the grace and wonder of God. And she noticed that there hadn't been any for a while! Well Nicky ... this one is just for you ...


Birmingham SU "Disfellowships" Birmingham CU.

P.C gone mad or Conservative Evangelicals Getting Their Just Desserts?

I've been following the story of my old Christian Union with some interest and concern. It's attracted international interest, even getting a comment from Al Mohler. BUECU (Birmingham University Evangelical Christian Union) has had it's bank accounts frozen - some £4, 000 - and been officially removed as a recognised body by the Student Union after some problems with their constitution. The Times puts the problem as this:

"Members claim the actions have been taken against them after they refused on religious grounds to make “politically correct” changes to their charitable constitution, including explicitly mentioning people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered".

The official UCCF website puts it slightly differently but essentially the same:

"The Students Union at Birmingham University wanted to impose one of their own leaders onto the CU executive, open membership to people of all faiths and beliefs, and instructed the Christian fellowship to change its constitution. The Guild raised concern at the words "men" and "women", as it could be seen as excluding transsexual/transgender persons."

The CU have been advised to take the SU to court unless their funds are released.

I have an interest in this story because I went to the CU during my nursing training (1997 to 2001) and was Prayer Secretary on the Exec in 1999 so when I heard about this story I read the constitution again. Clause 5.1.1 restricts membership of BUECU to those who; "declare their faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour, Lord and God. And understand and commit to the four aims of the CU". Those four aims are found in Clauses 3.1.1 to 3.1.4. Are they restrictive? Yes. But surely consistency has a place here. Would not Muslim societies, or Jewish societies or 'special interest' societies such as Jehovah's Witnesses demand similiar beliefs as part of their membership? (Although Guild President Richard Angell promises that all such groups have open membership criteria).

By the way - the PC-obsessed Student Union seem to anxious to protect the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered students at Birmingham University - yet I wonder if they have made a visit to the LGBT website. THEY restrict membership to: "anyone who self-defines as LGBT". I don't think you can get more restrictive than that! Although I cannot imagine anyone from BUECU been overly keen to join their membership.

The other problem identified has been the electing of the Executive. It has been practice for the out-going Executive to nominate members of the CU and then an AGM elects them. Clause 12.2 allows the out-going Exec to invite nominations from the membership "if they wish to". I don't recall that ever happening!

So ...

What's the big fuss? Well on the one hand, this seems to me to be breathtaking authoritarian and outrageous behaviour by the Student Union. They are being totally inconsistent. They must either freeze the accounts of ALL student groups who do not conform to this "open" policy in all matters - or they should apologise to BUECU and for heaven's sake give them back their money before this hits the courts.

The other thing that bothered me IMMENSELY was that it seems from the Guild minutes that their meeting with BUECU was taken in GERMAN! When asked why, the individual concerned said it was done "to see if anyone would read them". Upon a show of hands, it seemed only 5 people were fluent in German and had read them. This seems in extremely poor taste and is nothing short of disgusting behaviour particularly as a large amount of money is at stake, to say nothing of the 100+ strong feelings of the Christian Union.

On the other hand this blog has been following the story as well and some of the comments it has attracted do present the other side of the coin. One chap pointed out that this is NOT a unique event. He said:

"Durham CU has been unafiliated with their SU for several years. Warwick CU is also starting some sort of a process to reafiliate with it's SU. Both of these were kicked out/forced to leave due to similar reasons that the Birmingham guild decided to suspend their Evangelical CU".

Someone else suggested the CU should sue for membership in the LGBT forcing the Student Union to see the stupid inconsistency of their actions. Another commentator said:

"The situation in Birmingham is regrettable, but from what I've been able to find out it doesn't seem as if either party had been particularly proactive about seeking out the core issues and explaining them articulately. Hopefully it'll be resolved soon, but both sides are going to have to be willing to listen carefully and consider compromise".

I do worry that BUECU shouldn't be so quick to take the matter to court. I fully appreciate that there is an amount of money that has been illegally frozen, but the Times religious reporter pointed out that normally there is often a lot of caution when giving interviews for fear of the generated headlines. She pointed out that interviewing the SU President was a "dream" because he had no such fears. I would guess that similarly they would have no such fears in combatting the action in court, with aid from Evangelical-hating lawyers I have no doubt.

Whatever the outcome, I suspect it will not benefit the Christian Union in the long term. I have signed a petition to the University authorities and don't regret it. I think this has been handled terribly. A number of commentators have questioned the suitability of such a close relationship between the SU and the CU. I realise that there are huge implications such as not being able to meet on campus as well as financial implications - but if Evangelicals are going to make their stand on orthodox doctrine, then I think we must be willing to pay the price. It seems UCCF are funding a number of loans to help BUECU through this disaster (I suspect they are the ones urging the CU to deal with it in the courts as well) - maybe their money and time would be more well spent in helping establish the CU outside of and apart from the SU. Just a thought.

PS: Apparantly it is not just BUECU falling foul of the PC-mad SU. The National Blood Service were banned from advertising at the Birmingham Freshers Fair because they won't allow homosexuals men to donate blood!

Friday, January 27, 2006

"God's Agenda" by Ern Baxter - it's arrived!

Much thanks to Amazon and to Gavin for putting me on the trail of this awesome book. As it is Ern, I put most of my day on hold and have been reading it intensely! I was particularly interested in some detailed points he made on Ephesians 4 Ministries. I always knew he believed in all of them continuing today - however it is always exciting when one's heroes expound on their beliefs! Here is what he had to say:

"So the apostle is one who goes. He's mobile. The prophet is also one who goes. He is mobile because he should be with the apostle. Let me just drop this in your head - I believe in prophecy. In fact I believe in prophecy so strongly that I grieve over its misuse. This whole age is to be marked by prophecy! Both the Old and the New Testament declare, "and your sons and daughters shall prophesy" (Joel 2:28, Acts 2:17). This is a prophetic age and we have all kinds of prophets around the country who feel that there needs to be a prophetic movement.

We don't need a prophetic movement. We don't need an evangelistic movement. We don't need an apostolic movement. We don't need a pastor-teacher movement. What we need is a God-movement.

Prophets will never function normally without the oversight of apostles. Whenever you have prophets cooperating to become something in themselves, they are violating God's very clear-cut order. "And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets ...". The apostles Paul didn't say first and secondarily just to waste words. He was saying, "This is the order".

What about the evangelists? The evangelist is a "goer" too. He is to go into all the world and preach the evangel, the good news. The Bible doesn't say that the evangelist is to go into all the churches and hold campaigns. The evangelist belongs in the world. The apostle, prophet and evangelist are church planters.

How do these apostolic teams work? First they go into a virgin area. If an evangelist understands his job right, he will travel with an apostle and a prophet. He'll blast the stones out of the quarry and then he'll say to the apostle; "You build the house".

Apostles can be terribly... (I was going to say "boring") Why? Read the passages that talk about Paul going into the synagogue. One passage says; "And he went into the synagogue and spake boldly for the space of 3 months disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God" (Acts 19:8). Paul argued and debated with people hour after hour for three months! Apostles are long-winded. Apostles are not exciting people especially. Why? They have the most difficult job of building the house and putting it together.

An apostle is a master teacher. The apostle is the answer to God's construction intention in the earth. Now when the apostle, prophet and evangelist went into virgin territory - whereever it was, they planted churches. They did this in every place they went!

You will search the Scriptures in vain to find an apostolic company ever going back to the same place where they had planted a church to do the same work over again. If they went back to a city or a house church they went to encourage the Christians there, but never to plant it again. Why? Once the men plant a church then the second phase of evangelism sets in ... the body making an increase of itself. When the apostolic company in the Book of Acts left a city where they had planted a church, they left the city church in charge of elders".

So ...

I find this chapter very encouraging and amazingly prophetic in regards especially to the high quality teaching on Ephesians 4 Ministries that I have heard coming out of the ranks of Newfrontiers. I am suspicious that Dave Holden has read this book in light of his message on "Apostolic Mobility" at Brighton 2003 with Ern's particular use of Dave Holden's favourite word: "Mobile"! But more usefully I think both Ern and Dave Holden focus on the reason of Ephesians 4 Ministries, that often gets overlooked in the controversy and debate - that they are present to plant churches and take the gospel to the ends of the earth!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Why Having a Theological Library May Make You Unpopular With Your Pastor.

When I first began to collect theological books and develop a thirst for knowledge, I always thought that desire would win me an instant friend with my pastor. After all - that was what he did full time! However I soon began to realise that Dr Jebb, my pastor was (and is) actually an extremely unique man because he alone encouraged his young men to build their libraries - all of the other pastors I have come into contact with didn't seem to like the fact that I loved books (Al Mohler says we should have conversations with our books - I like that but I want conversations with living people too!). That really puzzled me and upset me. Should I stop reading? Should I stop collecting books? Should I take up ... horror of horror ... sports instead so that I can try and discuss the football results with him instead of excitedly telling him about my latest commentary only to see his face harden?

I've always had a deep love for the Bereans - I like them and the principle that they eagerly tested everything that the apostles taught against Scripture. To me that seemed very wise and a practice worthy of emulating, therefore I wasn't initially too keen on Mark Heath's article questioning their nobility. Outrageous! Mark being cautious again?! However when I began to weigh his article against the context of my books isolating me from a succession of pastors, I began to see that the problem was not the books - but rather my pride that I didn't even know I was there. The disapproving look that might have been on my face when I sat listening to yet another plagarised sermon. The careful avoidance of any sign of thankfulness for the sermon when in conversation with the pastor.

In other words ... what price orthodoxy? It seems to me that if I am truly Berean in my reading of the Scriptures I will see that God's hatred of pride seems to outweigh His being impressed with a collection of theological books and some knowledge of the original Greek text. Even more scarily it seems to me that Jesus Christ, while commending the ability to discern and weigh, actually promises the church at Ephesus that unless they return to their "First Love" their lampstand shall be removed.

Yet again there is a vital tension to be held here - and pastors, we need your help. If you promise to talk to us about books and theology sometimes, we will do our utmost to mortify our pride. And together as the people of God we will strive never ever to lose our first love and if we do - to get it back as soon as possible.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Spiritual Leadership.

Just a few more reflections on "What makes a Spiritual Giant?". I was really challenged and encouraged by two comments left - firstly that we should consider whether the Lord still works in an Old Covenant fashion by using individuals since we are in the age of the Spirit who has been poured out on all flesh. On one hand, one could argue that He does not - we are indeed (as my esteemed commentator said) a "royal priesthood, a holy nation". But on the other hand, I would argue that I think He does use individuals purely because they are available. "I looked for a man to stand in the gap and there was none". Terry Virgo taught from the story of Gideon that God seems to begin with individuals and from them, the army is built. So I guess I should have added "Availability and Openness" to the Spirit of God to my categories of leadership.

Secondly Jul argued, oh so perceptively, that a spiritual giant does not necessarily equal fame. Just because someone writes a book or gets invited to conferences does not mean that in the eyes of God they are spiritual giants. A good reminder! Let's not judge by human standards but divine standards. I think on the Day of Judgement there are going to be a few surprises where the unsung and the unknown maybe, just maybe exalted and rewarded above and beyond some conference speakers. Jul said quite rightly that the spiritual giants are already out there - planting churches and being ready to lay down their lives already for the glorious Gospel.

And in conclusion - John Piper has written an excellent article adding to some of the points that I outlined by Terry yesterday. I love some of the points he has thought of. Here's a few:

1. Restless

Spiritual leaders have a holy discontentment with the status quo. Non-leaders have inertia that causes them to settle in and makes them very hard to move off of dead center. Leaders have a hankering to change, to move, to reach out, to grow, and to take a group or an institution to new dimensions of ministry.

2. Optimistic

Spiritual leaders are optimistic not because man is good but because God is in control. The leader must not let his discontentment become disconsolation.

3. Intense

Spiritual leaders must go out alone somewhere and ponder what unutterable and stupendous things they know about God. If their life is one extended yawn they are simply blind. Leaders must give evidence that the things of the Spirit are intensely real. They cannot do that unless they are intense themselves.

6. Energetic

The world is run by tired men, someone has said. A leader must learn to live with pressure. None of us accomplishes very much without deadlines and deadlines always create a sense of pressure.

13. A dreamer

Leaders can see the power of God overshadowing the problems of the future. This is a rare gift – to see the sovereign power of God in the midst of seemingly overwhelming opposition. Most people are experts at seeing all the problems and reasons not to move forward in a venture. Many pastors are ruined by boards who think that they have done their duty when they throw up every obstacle and problem to an idea that he brings. That's cheap. Hope and solutions are expensive. The spirit of venturesomeness is at a premium today. 0, how we need people who will devote just five minutes a week to dream of what might possibly be. The text says that old men will dream dreams. How sad it is, then, to see so many old people assuming that their age means that now they can coast and turn over the creativity to the young. It is tragic when age makes a man jaded instead of increasingly creative. Every new church, every agency, every new ministry, every institution, every endeavor, is the result of someone having a vision and laying hold on it like a snapping turtle.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

"Let the Nations Feel Your Rain!" - Ken Gott, Stoneleigh 1997

I have been listening to Ken Gott's two messages to Stoneleigh when he was the guest speaker and in particular his first message; "Resurrecting the Promises of God". It isn't a classic expository message by any stretch of the imagination - but in terms of power, it is extrodinary! I had goosebumps while he was getting the gathered thousands to do the "Rain Clap". All in all though it really stirred me again with a passion for revival - to see God come and drench His people. And of course as I have mentioned before, leadership - heroes are vital to keep such a move of God going.

I think any who read recent comments by a blogger should be justifiably stirred and maybe even offended - but definately bothered that there seem to be few to replace the greats of the past. Is Joshua Harris really all that our generation has to offer? Are the organisers of the up-coming Together for the Gospel conference really 'giants of the faith' as the same blogger thinks? Are they the models we should be looking to? So my thought processes have been busy for the last few weeks thinking about; "What Makes a Giant of the Faith?".

Rather than come up with my own thoughts, Terry Virgo's message to Stoneleigh 1998 deals virtually with this exact topic. It was the last of his 3 messages entitled: "Gathered Together as One Man". He spoke firstly of how leaders and therefore potential giants of the faith must:

1. Lead by Example.

Terry said; "Zerubbabel and Joshua were leading by acting. They were leading by building - they were among the people. Gideon said one day, "Watch what I do - you do the same". That's how Gideon - the Spirit of God was upon him - brought forth a new kind of army. He stood with them, he was one of them - he was in the battle. And so we are looking for leadership that is doing the stuff - leading from the front. You find it in the book of Acts. You don't just find them telling the people to pray. You find that the apostles are devoting themselves to prayer. It is good to imitate godly people. Imitate their faith - watch what they do".

2. Submissive to Scripture.

Terry said; "In other words these leaders were themselves subject to Scripture - subject to what God had said, therefore they were worthy of being followed. They didn't say, well we're going to go with every new trend and fad. They used to believe that - Paul believed that, but we've come out of that - we reject that. We reflect modern society more. No, no. We must be suspicious of that kind of leadership. These leaders were subject to what Moses had set out. Those who are teaching the Bible - teaching honest truth, actually have the blessing of God upon them and lives are changed when the Spirit of God is active. So that is the kind of leadership we want that is submitted to what God has revealed. Its God-breathed".

3. Power Encounters or Faith Encounters with God.

Leaders should have words and promises that burn in their hearts - their own encounters with God that they live with. This is what makes them leaders; this is what makes them anointed leaders rather! God has come to them! The Holy Spirit is upon him! God has touched him - God has sown promises in his heart! God has called him like Moses or Samuel or any other biblical leader! They have encounters with God and are given promises from God that shape what they do with their lives.

Leadership must know deep in its spirit that you have with you a God who can look at a mountain and say - that mountain before you is a plain! Why? Because you are the Lord's anointed! And we must know that! We must have leaders who know they are rightous as a gift, but also know that mountains will become plains! Why? Because we are the called of God!

Leaders who know God will be able to go to enemies and say; "Go - we're coming through! We're coming through!". That's going to happen dear friends! I prophesy that over you tonight!

4. Someone Who had a Revelation of the Place of the Anointing of the Holy Spirit!

"Its not by might, nor by power but by My Spirit says the Lord".

Terry said; "It is important that we know what it is to go on drinking in the Holy Spirit. The enjoyment of the continual flow of the Holy Spirit is so very important to us - to keep drinking in the fresh oil - keep receiving - keep receiving! So we are looking for leaders and churches that are constantly sons of fresh oil. Not old oil! Fresh oil!

5. Open to the Ministry of Other Gifts.

Terry said; "They were open to the ministry of other gifts! When the prophets came to the work that Ezra and Zerrubbabel were carrying out, the work came alive!! Now in your church - do you have prophetic, visionary ministry coming in to you? Prophets who come and inspire you with faith again! That's God's provision! We're not simply meant to have a local pastor and that's all there is to it. He's trying to be an evangelist and a prophet and all things to all men. The Bible speaks of many ministries and these prophets stimulated them to action again - because they were open to the prophetic.

Is your church open to the prophetic? You must be saying; "God please send us prophets!". God help us believe for and see the flourishing and releasing of prophetic ministry in our ranks that change the situation by their coming!"

So ...

Rather than being pessimistic that Joshua Harris seems to be the only giant of the faith around in our generation or moaning that all giants of the faith seem to live in the USA, I think that we should be stirred to rise up and take the baton. Terry reminded us at Brighton last year that God can use weakness. The only thing He can't use is unbelief. To me the gauntlet is laid down - God wants men to stand in the gap and stop bemoaning the death of our heroes. And in this sermon that I've quoted, I think there is a marvellous template for leaders to apply to their lives. Have I had a power encounter with God? If so, when was the last one? Am I constantly drinking fresh oil? Or was my last oil back in the 1990s? Am I submissive - totally - to the Scriptures? Am I an example that I am willing to let others look to?
I Agree With Peter Masters?!?!

Good grief, what is the world coming to. For quite some time, it has been common knowledge that some men (interestingly enough, who's surnames begin with the letter "M") rile me. A lot of stuff that they say is guaranteed to make my blood begin to boil - and is usually dead cert for a rant. While I have a deep love for C H Spurgeon, and an equal love for the Tabernacle bookshop (although Geneva Books in Clapham is better), I don't think I could ever be classed as a Masters fan. Psychologists would put that down to an early diet of Masters quotes from the pulpit of my home church and books being rammed down my throat like his one on the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Anyway I was just racing through the "Together for the Gospel" website (yes, another "M") and I saw that Mark Dever met Peter Masters yesterday. And this was what Peter Masters had to say on "unity at any cost".

"Dr. Masters was also concerned that associations of different Christians together not undermine what he referred to as "the ministry of warning." He (correctly, I think) noted that when Christians associate together there is a great pressure against disagreeing. This, he thinks, is quite dangerous. NOT that there should not be associations, simply that we must especially guard this ability, in order to faithfully fulfill our ministries".

I couldn't agree more! It is a very difficult balance to correctly hold and I think one that depends on us being able to know how to debate graciously, lovingly and with a sense of humour - yet be able to walk away at the end of the debate knowing that we love and worship the same Risen Saviour and Lord. I must pay tribute to the Christians in the USA who (I think) have managed this far better than us here in the UK. The fact that Drs Grudem and Gaffin can share a conference platform is a tribute to this.

It is encouraging as well that Dever seems to agree with Masters on this. One of my voiced observations on this up-coming conference in April is the question, what exactly will be discussed and taught if all differences and disagreements are left outside at the Brazen Altar?

Maybe this conference will actually teach us in the UK a valuable lesson in how to disagree and yet remain united. I for one will be following the Question and Answer sessions with the panel of speakers with particular interest. I think these sessions often reveal more about the "behind the scenes" feelings and thoughts more than the presented talks!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

An Unapologetic Restorationist!

Bryn Jones' son questioned quite understandably the distinctives we hold to and whether we are true restorationists or more simply just charismatic evangelicals indistinguishable from the Vineyard or Baptists. If the great man's son is asking the question, then I think we can feel no shame in examining what we believe! So I have begun reading Bryn Jones' excellent 'magnum opus' again, after some encouragement from my new found friends (Gavin and Hugh also Roger Aubrey) in 'Ministry Without Borders' (formerly CMI).

I forgot how much I enjoy reading a passionate visionary who isn't ashamed to be confrontational in his beliefs. John Owen and C H Spurgeon got away with it, with the Roman Catholics hence Bryn Jones is in excellent company. This was my favourite quote to consider. Disagree if you will, but wonder why you do?

"Communicating the life of God effectively to our world requires that we look at ourselves and ask these specific questions: Are we the Church Jesus gave Himself for or some poor twentieth century replica of it? Are we doing things His way or our own? Sadly the suggestion that we ask these questions is often met with such sharp retorts as; 'Lets not argue about Church government or methods, we are all seeking the same goal - the gospel to the whole earth. Let's concentrate on that rather than on any 'form' or 'structure; that is of minor importance. It's the power of God that matters.

On the surface this statement might appear reasonable, perhaps even magnanimously all-inclusive but is it biblically accurate? Is God unconcerned with how His Church is built?

When God told Moses to build a tabernacle, He printed its blueprint deep into His servant's mind and soul; Moses was told to build it 'according to the pattern shown' (Ex 25:40). God's requirements concerning divine materials, measurements and ministry reveal a divine concern for detail. The fact is NOTHING about the tabernacle's construction was left to personal opinion; it was not to be done just any old way.

Thankfully we can confidently say that God is infusing His people in this generation with a renewed sense of the divine mind and capturing their hearts with His purpose. As Moses' heart burned with a desire to build what he saw on the mountain, so many of God's people today are aflame with a passion to build according to His plan in their generation. They are the repairers and restorers of our time".

I love that. It is commendable and proper that there is a degree of unity around the gospel, but ever at the back of our minds should be - what gospel? How do we decide what aspects of the gospel are 'disputable' and can be left aside so that we can stand together? Could it be that God is actually bothered about some parts we are leaving out? Such as how to build and spread His Church? So Ger, I want you to know that I'm still a restorationist! And I've got your father to thank for it. Not only for his only significant ministry but also for being responsible for bringing Ern Baxter across to this country to head his heavyweight views to my restorationist theology!

The Neglect of Resurrection.

In my previous post listing the number of audiotapes of Ern Baxter available, a guy called James commented on an outstanding series of sermons available called; "The King, The Kingdom and The Holy Spirit". Ern presented them to Covenant Ministries International when he last came to the United Kingdom in 1991. The first sermon in that series touches on a topic that is extremely close to my heart, and is something that I realised I haven't referred to in a while.

Michael Green said of the problem:

"Much Western Christianity has concentrated too much on the Cross, symbolising the suffering, weakness and sorrow of our earthly existence ... Charismatic Christianity on the other hand has concentrated too much on the Resurrection, on the transcendental power of the new life, its signs and wonders and excitement. A realistic Christianity will hold equally fast to both".

That would most definately be my experience, hence I am not interested in isolating the Resurrection to the exclusion of the Cross - but rather achieving a more balanced view of the whole Gospel in my own life, thought and experience. Therefore Ern's sermon brings an incredible amount of wisdom and illumination.

Ern said:

"The Cross is negative therefore producing a negative Christianity. Cross without Resurrection is nothing (1 Corinthians 15). Richard B Gaffin (Professor of Systematic Theology at Westminster) wrote that Reformed Christianity has tended to feature the Cross to the neglect of Christ's resurrection".

As a classic examples Ern quoted Charles Hodges' extensive Systematic Theology in which he devoted four pages to the Resurrection as comparted to 127 on the atonement! Similarly W G T Shedd passes directly from a study of vicarious atonement to regeneration - Cross to Regeneration. Louis Berkhof also discusses the Resurrection in 4 pages, then moves onto a lengthy treatment of the atonement in 136 pages. A H Strong deals with the Resurrection in 4 pages while 60 pages were devoted to the Cross and atonement. W B Pope (the famous Methodist theologian) in his 3 volume gives 53 pages to the atonement and 10 to the Resurrection.

On the other hand, Dr I Howard Marshall wrote that the fundemental place in salvation history must be assigned to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote that: "Only the Risen One makes possible the Presence of the Living Person and gives the Presupposition for Christology". Ern quoted Richard B Gaffin again saying; "The Religion of the New Testament is a religion of Resurrection".

Ern went on to say:

"The entire New Testament was written from the perspective of the Resurrection. The Resurrection may be called the major premise of the early faith. The first recorded sermon was a proclamation of the fact and significance of the resurrection. The all-important thing was that Jesus had been raised from the dead.

The resurrection provided a vantage point in which to understand the entire Christ event of His death. Without the Resurrection the death of Jesus Christ would have been a senseless and obscene tragedy. It was the Resurrection which invested Calvary with meaning and not vice versa! If there had been no Resurrection there would have been no value in the Cross - nothing more than an act of heroic love. But it would have failed to achieve it's goal. There should be no fear that a resurrection-centred faith and theology might eclipse the glory of Calvary".

G Campbell Morgan said; "It is His resurrection from the dead that demonstrates the infinite mystery of His death".

To quote Ern again: "The bottom line is that you don't experience the fulness of Christ until you allow that He went back to send the Spirit".

Let me quote that again: "The bottom line is that you don't experience the fulness of Christ until you allow that He went back to send the Spirit".

Let me quote that once more!: "The bottom line is that you don't experience the fulness of Christ until you allow that He went back to send the Spirit".

THAT is why I am concerned about neglecting the Resurrection! And that was Ern's bottom concern too. Ern Baxter detailed a clear transition:

"Incarnation > Impeccable Life > Vicarious Death > Victorious Resurrection > Triumphant Ascension > Permament Enthronement > Outpoured Holy Spirit > High Priestly Ministry > Second Coming".

Ern said: "There is the Christological sequence that we must held in proper tension". And my concern is that for the last 3 years I have heard of nothing but the vicarious death so this is something that I am seeking to rectify.

At the risk of sounding like a Newfrontiers fan, I am so grateful for some of the awesome songs coming from their ranks that perfectly reflect this tension. They do not minimise the Cross by any stretch of the imagination (the last live worship album from Brighton was entitled; "The Power of the Cross", but they go on to speak of the Resurrection, the Ascension and the outpoured Holy Spirit. Here are my favourite two to close. I think Ern Baxter would have approved of them.

In Him I have believed, on this my hope now rests
That Jesus Christ is risen from the dead!
The all-surpassing joy of knowing Christ my Lord
The former things, I count them all as loss
Called out of darkness into Your goodness
We are Your children, chosen in Christ!
Now in Your family, heirs of the promise
To Your purpose on the earth I give my life

A people born of God, united by Your call
One faith, one Lord, one Father of us all
Joined with bonds of love, and planted in Your house
We worship You with hearts and lives poured out
Let us go on in the power of Your Spirit
Taking Your gospel to all the world!
Declaring Your wisdom, our great commission,
That Jesus Christ has come to save the lost!

Whatever trials may come, in faith, Lord, help us stand
For righteousness and justice in our land
What fear can hold us now? We run toward the prize
Our lives already crucified with Christ
Through every nation, Your kingdom advances
Who can extinguish this spreading flame?
Through tribulations, we’ll stand on Your promise:
I will build My Church and hell will not prevail!’

And on that final day, the citizens of heaven
Called out to be the new Jerusalem
In multitudes will bow before the throne of God:
One nation called from every tribe and tongue
Great celebration! The glorious union:
The Lion of Judah and the pure, spotless Bride!
All of creation waits for this moment
All your promises fulfilled in Jesus Christ!

Kate Simmonds 2004 Thankyou Music

The greatest day in all of life,
Is not right now but years gone by
When Jesus came into the world,
Our lives were bought at a great cost
When You became our sacrifice
And bore God's wrath for our offence.

And when I see the cruel cross
I contemplate how much it cost
The Holy One to suffer for me
The Lamb of God the Innocent
You bore my guilt and punishment
My ransom's paid and I'm forgiven.

Now by Your blood You've overcome
The victory over sin is won
So tell me death where is your sting?
A greater day is drawing near
When on the clouds You will appear
To fetch Your bride and take her home.

So when I see the open tomb
I realise I'm raised with You
Forever now seated in heaven.
Before Your throne for endless days
We'll worship You and sing Your praise
And cast our crowns down at Your feet!

Evan Rogers 2002.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Audiotapes of Dr Ern Baxter.

I have had an increasing number of email enquiries over the past few weeks as to whether I have any audiotapes of Ern Baxter's ministry and what exactly I do have. Therefore I have sorted out my boxes and compiled a temporary list for any who are interested - I hope this is helpful. Note this is temporary! At the moment my theological collection is spread between my home and my parents home so I am sure there are quite a few tapes of Ern's that I have yet to add.

Do email me with any specific or particuar request. Some people ask about cost. I take the easy route out and leave it to you - i.e give whatever you want or not! My passion is to get Ern Baxter's ministry out at any cost.

If you are based in the USA then I would recommend getting in touch with the following ministry that are recommended by Charles Simpson's Ministry website.

"Broken Bread" Tape Library
12138 Arrowwood Avenue, Baton Rouge, LA 70818
Lyvonne Goza (225)261-7677

They are fantastic and very helpful! And ... my New Year's Resolution (as well as to finally get to visit the Ern Baxter Memorial Library) is to get copies of ALL they have on Ern!

1. “The King and His Army” Series from the Lakes Bible Week 1975.
Note: This was the series of sermons referred to by Terry Virgo at Brighton 2004.

- The Head and Shoulders Man.
- The Decline and Death of the Head and Shoulders Man.
- Transition from One King to Another.
- The Army.
- From Hebron to Zion!

2. “Where Are We Going?” Series from the Dales Bible Week 1976.

- Session 1 – “A Crisis Beginning”.
- Session 2.
- Session 3 – “Miraculous Living”.
- Session 4.
- Session 5.
- Session 6.
- Session 7 – “The Land, Located and Described”.
- Session 8.
- Session 9 – “The Kadesh Crisis”.

3. “The Priestly Clothing” Series from the Anglia Bible Week 1983.

- Session 1 – “A Kingdom of Priests”.
- Session 2 – “The Linen Breeches”.
- Session 3 – “The Coat of Fine Linen”.
- Session 4 – “The Robe of the Ephod”.
- Session 5 – “The Ephod”.
- Session 6 – “Strange Fire”.

4. Ern Baxter Classic Sermon Collection.

a. “Thy Kingdom Come” – Kansas City Shepherds Conference 1975.

b. “The Government of God” – Kansas City Shepherds Conference 1976.
c. “The Spirit and the Word” – New Covenant Church, Dunstable 1991.
d. “Life on Wings” – Fort Lauderdale, Florida 1979.
e. “The Gospel of the Garden” - 1987.
f. “The Gospel of the Kingdom” - 1987.
g. “The Gospel of the Land” - 1987.
h. “The Hour of the 4th Watch”.
i. “Sitting at Jesus’ Feet”.
j. “The Meaning of Covenant” – Bob Mumford Recommended Tape.
k. “The Restoration of Divine Structure and Authority”.
l. Baking Cakes Without a Word.
m. “The Earth Is the Lords!”.

5. The Adam/Christ Analogy Series.

- Session 1 – “Pauline Epistles”.
- Session 2 – “Sin”.
- Session 3 – “The New Man”.
- Session 4 – “Old Man/New Man”.
- Session 5 – “Romans 6:6”.

6. The Cross Series.

- Session 1.
- Session 2.

7. “Things Most Surely Believed” Series.

- Consequences of Violating God.
- Chief Shepherd and His Sheep.
- Discipleship and God’s Kingdom.
- Satan’s First Attack on God.
- Creation Began With Authority.
- Qualifications of a Shepherd.
- Responsibilities of a Shepherd.
- When Shepherds Fail.
- Authority and Trinity.
- Christ’s Mission Is to Restore.
- Disorganisation Is Progressive.
- How the Church Must Function.
- Autobiography and Introduction.
- How Satan Attacks All Men.
- Shepherding Through the Bible.

8. Laying Church Foundation Series.

- The Prayer Life of Jesus.
- Love Not the World.
- How to Avoid a Nervous Breakdown.
- Biblical Role for Young Men.
- God’s Word is Supreme.
- Christ’s Body and the Church.
- But As For Me.
- Purity and Peculiar People.
- Approaching God.
- Restoration through Resurrection.
- The Business of Living.
- Can God Use You?
- The Glory of God’s Plan.
- Fight the Good Fight.
- The Power of the Father’s Love.
- Saved by the Law.
- Jesus’ Church – Getting In.
- Jesus’ Church – Staying In.
- The 7 Loves of John 14.
- Growing Up in Christ the Head.
- Sitting at Jesus’ Feet.
- It’s God’s Church Not Ours.
- On Communion.
- Clean Out License and Legalism.
- Saints in the Wrong Places.
- Leaders and Loyalty.
- Shrivelled Saints.
- The 7 Characteristics of Jesus.
- Cleanse Ourselves!
- Baptism is a Foundation Stone.
- A Peculiar People – The Church.

9. “The Serving Community” – Anglia Bible Week 1982 (single message only).

10. Series at New Covenant Church, Dunstable 1991.

- History Making Prayer.
- Order.

11. Series at the Life in the Spirit Conference, High Leigh 1991.

- “The Kingdom”.
- Pastoral and Prophetic Insights Part 1.
- Pastoral and Prophetic Insights Part 2.

12. "The King, the Kingdom and the Holy Spirit Conference".

- Calamitous Compromise.
- A Serious Imbalance - the Neglect of Resurrection.
- The Kingdom of God.
- A Serious Neglect.
- The World, the Kingdom and the Church.
- The Kingdom and the Trinity.
- Doer of the Word - Part 1.
- "Ye do Err because ye know now the Scriptures of the Power of God".
- Doer of the Word - Part 2.
-Revelation and the Holy Spirit.
- Three Discourses.

13. The Risen Christ's Gifts.

- Tape 1.
- Tape 2.
- Tape 3.
- Tape 4.

14. Prophecy Seminar.

- The Prophets and the Promise Past.
- The Prophets and the Promise Present.
- The Prophets and the Promise Future.

15. The Kingdom of Truth.

- Kingdom Confusion.
- Kingdom Controversy.
- Kingdom Aspects.
- Kingdom Purpose.
- Truth Defined.
- Demonstration of Truth.

16. The Power and Purpose of Praise.

- The Power and Purpose of Praise.
- Prayer in the New Order.
- Reasons for Praising the Lord.
- Saints and Celebration.
- The Church and It's Mission.

17. Preaching.

- Nature and Goal of Preaching.
- Preparation for Preaching.
- Manner of Preaching.

18. Keys of the Kingdom.

- How to Get In.
- How to Stay In.
- How to Grow In.

19. Ultimate Triumph.

- Prophesied in the Old Testament.
- Inaugurated in the Gospels and Acts.
- Consummated in the Epistles and Revelation.

20. Apostolic Church Planting - Acts 19 and 20.

- Tape 1.
- Tape 2.
- Tape 3.
- Tape 4.

21. Timothy Sessions.

- The Holy Spirit is Christ.
- The Holy Spirit is Christ - Part 2.

22. Revelation 4 and 5.

- Part 1.
- Part 2.

23. Foundations of the Faith.

- Foundations - Their Place.
- Repentance - Their Place.
- Sin and Repentance Foundations.
- Faith Foundations.
- Baptism Foundations.
- Baptism Foundations Part 2.
- Baptism Foundations Part 3.
- Laying on of Hands Foundations.
- Resurrection of the Dead.
- Resurrection of the Dead Part 2.
- Eternal Judgement.
- Eternal Judgement Part 2.

24. Individual Tapes.

- The Law of the Spirit.
- Peter's Prophetic Miracle Walk.
- What On Earth Is God Saying About Discipling the Nations?
- The Glorious Church Will Be Holy.
- "Ditch Diggers Revival".
- A Serious Imbalance.
- Restoring the Glory.
- Sitting at Jesus Feet.
- Where is God Taking Us?
- Kingdom Pressures.
- Baptized Intelligence.
- Word and Spirit.

25. The Image of God Series.

- Man and Creation - Statement of Fact.
- Man and Creation - Elaboration of Fact.
- The Corrupted Image.
- The Composition of the Image.
- The Physical Image.
- The Express Image.
Together For the Gospel Begins To Blog.

All who have been praying for C J Mahaney to start writing something a little more regularly on the blog stage have had their prayers answered. The four organisers of "Together for the Gospel" have begun a site! It's quite a tightly run ship - no comments are allowed apart from those by the four men. Should be interesting to follow - even for those who aren't intending to go to the conference.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Spoken Word Vs The Written Word.

Or ... The Audiotape - Revolution or Curse?

"The Charismatic Movement grew on the power of recorded speech" - Derek Prince's biographer.

The main vision and passion of this website and indeed my life is to transfer the spoken, recorded word of Dr Ern Baxter into print. Therefore some brief consideration should be given to the purpose and use of the audiotape as compared to books and the written word.

Or in other words, why am I spending so much time transcribing tape after tape as I am?

The History of the Audiotape.

Derek Prince's biographer noted that the 'compact cassette' was first patented in 1964 and popularised in the early 1970's - right at the time the Charismatic Renewal was beginning to swell and grow across the world. It became standard practice for Bible teaching, conference ministry and prophecies to be studiously recorded and distributed throughout the churches involved in the Charismatic Movement. Wendy Virgo wrote in her book; "The Stoneleigh Experience" that Nigel Ring would be present throughout many of the Bible Weeks both at the Downs and Stoneleigh recording prophecies on his dictaphone to ensure they were not lost. Indeed in Derek Prince's biography it was noted that it became a joke among Charismatics as to how a man's holiness was measured by the amount of sermon cassettes he had lined up in his home.

In Other Words ...

"The Cassette defined Charismatic Culture".

Benefits of the Spoken Word.

1. It is Accessible.

Many busy church members who have careers or jobs do not simply have the time to sit down with a book and read it and absorb it. The cassette tape enabled the message to be heard in commuters cars, while a housewife was cleaning and cooking or even when one was gardening.

2. It is Affordable.

Many quality hardback books are becoming more and more expensive with the average Banner of Truth book ranging from £15 upwards. More scholarly commentaries cost even more - sometimes upto £75. The cassette tape has traditionally always costed at most £3. This means that anyone - practically anyone - can afford it and ensure the material spoken is preserved and heard again and again.

3. It is Ascendible.

The cassette tape often preserves the "live atmosphere" of a meeting that is not always possible in a book format. Particularly in the heady days of the 1970's when the Charismatic Renewal was at its height, thousands of tapes of the Dales Bible Week and other conferences would go flying around the world. When listening to a tape, you can almost picture yourself present and there, and something of the spirit of the meeting is preserved.

Cons To the Spoken Word.

1. It is Easily Forgotten.

While the audiotape is easily accessible, it is often possible to hear a particuarly moving quote or outstanding point and if one is involved in other activities, it is sometimes almost impossible to re-wind the tape and hear the quote again. Or when re-accounting the message to friends or family, it is sometimes very hard to remember the exact quote made.

2. It is Easily Lost.

Despite the advent of the CD, it is still extremely hard to identify and find material on the tape that one wishes, whereas in a book - the pages can be flipped and the quote traced and found.

3. It is Easily Destroyed.

Audiotapes unfortunately do deteriorate with time and re-playing. While we are very grateful for the CD and the added bonus it brings, it is unquestionable that it is a massive project to transfer much of the material from the Charismatic Renewal of the 1970's onto CD or MP3's. Therefore there is a significant risk that much material may be lost from that particular moving of God.

Yet Books ... !

My friend Jonathan has already referred to the vital place of books in the life of the Christian. Indeed there is much about concerning how as Christians we MUST read. Pastors even more so. C S Lewis wrote; "The only palliative is to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds and this can only be done by reading old books".

My favourite sermon of all time on this matter is by C H Spurgeon. It can be found here. This is the most memorable quote:

"Some of our very ultra-Calvinistic brethren think that a minister who reads books and studies his sermon, must be a very deplorable specimen of a preacher. A man who comes up into the pulpit, professes to take his text on the spot, and talks any quantity of nonsense, is the idol of many. If he will speak without premeditation, or pretend to do so, and never produce what they call a dish of dead men's brains — oh! that is the preacher.

How rebuked are they by the apostle! He is inspired, and yet he wants books! He has been preaching at least for thirty years, and yet he wants books! He had seen the Lord, and yet he wants books! He had had a wider experience than most men, and yet he wants books! He had been caught up into the third heaven, and had heard things which it was unlawful for a man to utter, yet he wants books! He had written the major part of the New Testament, and yet he wants books! The apostle says to Timothy and so he says to every preacher, "GIVE THYSELF UNTO READING."

The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men's brains, proves that he has no brains of his own. Brethren, what is true of ministers is true of all our people. YOU need to read. Renounce as much as you will all light literature, but study as much as possible sound theological works, especially the Puritanic writers, and expositions of the Bible. We are quite persuaded that the best way for you to be spending your leisure, is to be either reading or praying".

I conclude by noting that while audio cassette tapes have a vital part in the Christian world, and we thank God for them - I do not think that books will ever be rendered obsolete. Indeed I wonder whether there is any other way of preserving a preachers ministry properly without writing.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Ern Baxter in "Secular Humanism - Man Striving to Be God".

This is going to be a half book-review, half re-print of some more of Ern Baxter's writing. I found this book quite by accident by doing a search on Amazon. It was originally published by New Wine and Integrity Publications (of which Ern was a director) and it is essentially a compilation of various authors including R J Rushdoony and Howard Carter and of course Ern himself.

Like much of Ern's ministry, the book is still prophetic today in many aspects. The book defines humanism as: "The attempt by man to rule his own destiny totally apart from the sovereignity of God". It's warning is obviously that the church must beware lest humanism creep into our ranks. I am worried it is already here and in, so the book deserves even more readability.

R J Rushdoony opens the book by talking about humanism as 'the world's second oldest religion'. He then goes on to detail principles of humanism; first the issue of lordship. "Man is the lord, his own god". Secondly humanism sees man as the property of man. Thirdly the source of law in any philosophy or religion is the god of that system. Therefore if the Lord God of Scripture is our God, then biblical law is our law. Fourthly humanism stresses man's experience, reason, authority or will - not the Lord and His Word. Fifth humanism believes in self-justification. Sixthly in humanism man seeks to make the world in terms of his own word.

So to Ern Baxter. Rather unsurprisingly he takes an optimistic, victorious view of the situation rather than getting down about it and writes on the "Ultimacy of God's Government". His chapter is, in essence, an unpacking of Psalm 2. He begins by asking; "Why is the world in turmoil and so full of unrest?". Or more biblically accurate; "Why are the nations in uproar and the people devising a vain thing?". The answer? Humanism.

He said; "It is fallicious to consider the struggle between scheming humanists and God the Supreme as a conquest between equals, the outcome of which is in question. Many Christians who should know better are paralysed by the fear of humanist conquest and divine defeat and so succumb to passive despiar. The psalmist invites us to look up and see the one 'that sitteth in the heavens'.

The enthroned Jehovah was the source of the psalmists hope. The ultimacy of God's victory and government is assured!

God surveys men's petty plottings with sovereign contempt. He laughs at the pompous petulance and childish conduct of creatures challenging their Creator.

Ern Baxter Defines "Mount Zion".

It is significant that God specifies exactly where He has installed His King. It is upon 'Zion, My holy mount'.

Zion is a special place with distinctive associations. It was that part of Jerusalem which was considered impregnable and was held by the Jebusites. God's Presence, God's King, God's covenantal people were all concentrated on Mount Zion. Zion was more than a geographical locality.

It was a combination of divinely designed ingrediants which made it not only the city of David, but the "city of God". It also pointed to a larger, new-covenant city whose inhabitants would be 'from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues".

The decree determines that the Sovereign Son shall have universal dominion. Since 'the earth is the Lord's and all it contains, the world and those who dwell therein' and inheritance is the natural right of sonship, then all that belongs to Jehovah is the inheritance of His Son-King".

In Conclusion ...

The book is relatively short (about 90 pages) but the content in it is just outstanding. It is worth reading for Baxters and Rushdoony's chapters alone. The authors are not blindly victorious in terms of ignoring the fact that evil will indeed increase as per the promises of Christ in Matthew, but they also fervently believe that God's promises are that His Kingdom SHALL reign where'er the sun doth it's successive journeys run.