Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
It occured to me that John Bunyan may have a point in how he wrote 'Pilgrims Progress'. Remember that Pilgrim met the Cross early on in his journey towards the Celestial City and it truly was an event. It was there that his burden fell off and rolled down into the open and empty grave. Pilgrims life was indeed changed by his encounter at the Cross but he rose up and walked on. It was at the Celestial City that he would meet the Lord Jesus Christ. And just so with us. Jesus died once and for all - we will never again see Him hanging at Calvary. When we see Him finally on that glorious day we will see Him crowned with glory and honour seated at the right hand of God the Father! Let's pray that the eyes of our hearts be opened to get a glimpse of that now - that the heavens split like Stephen and we see Him!
Thursday, December 25, 2008
I wasn't going to write anything necessarily unless I really felt inspired to. I don't like following customs very much - and I must confess I don't particularly like Christmas Day because I think a lot of sight has been lost about the true meaning of the day. I heard an early sermon by my former pastor Dr Stanley Jebb and he commented how little Easter Sunday and the celebration of the Resurrection - the most glorious moment of all history - is celebrated compared to Christmas.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Well the Bible does - and therefore I do. But the way that current churches practice discipline does not greatly impress me - it seems to be done in legalism and from a desire to control rather than "gently restore". But before we finish that post - I wanted to make draw attention to Bill Johnson and the way he has made comments about Todd Bentley. It was after-all a comment about Todd Bentley that started this train of thought so it is well within context.
What is no secret is the Todd Bentley-haters who disapprove of the man and his ministry - we all know what they believe. They haven't stopped calling for his blood since he first walked on stage - tattoos and all. I am sad to admit that I think this moral fall was exactly what they were hoping for. A comment about Bill Johnson made by one of his fellow pastors caught my attention. Kris Vallotton said:
"The only trouble I have seen Bill in, in 31 years is when he refuses to treat people the way they deserve and he believes in them the way they don't deserve. And then when they fall, he refuses to treat them the way that their fall requires and he wants to believe in them again".
That impressed me! My first thought was: "THAT is the kind of pastor I want .. and have never had". A kind of spiritual father who acts like God Himself and refuses to treat people the way they deserve and in the style of 1 Corinthians 13:5 takes no record of wrongs. So here is what Bill Johnson said regarding Todd Bentley - it's in 3 parts:
It's well worth watching in entirety. I think the teaching component is awesome for everyone who has some form of responsibility in their churches - this is how a Christian CAN be dealt with. Why do so often we take it so personally if fellow Christians fall? I must admit my first reaction when I heard about Todd Bentley was "Oh no ...". Did that mean I was wrong to be hugely interested in Lakeland and what happened there? Not at all! I've heard and seen enough by way of testimony from personal friends and over the God TV to know that God was most certainly at work!
Todd Bentley certainly isn't the first Christian leader to fall into sin and do so publicly and I am sure he won't be the last. The thing that I am considering is this: what brings more glory to God and His Church? Christians gathering like vultures nodding their sage heads and saying; "Ah well - he had tattoos and piercings - what do you expect?". Or Christians who stand up like Bill Johson and weep over their brothers and sisters falls and yet KEEP on believing in them and are prepared to do WHATEVER it takes to see them restored to full fellowship and encounter with God?
Let me take a moment to comment personally. Pete's recent wonderful post: "Just get over it?" made some reference to my personal experience with church discipline. I haven't made a secret that I still believe that those particular church leaders were wrong and unbiblical to act the way they did. But I think God has brought me on far enough since then to appreciate what they did do - that they were courageous enough to attempt to do something they surely knew would be unpopular but because they believed it was right. I can see now that they did what they did because they were honestly concerned. But genuine motives can't be an excuse forever.
Bill Johnson sets an awesome example of what it is to be a real pastor - a real spiritual father. Let's learn and follow!
Saturday, December 20, 2008
I don't know why but I always feel like Christianity sees Rob Rufus as a bit of an "extrem-ist". That his teaching on New Covenant grace is "dangerous" and nigh-on antinomian. I am sure that Rob himself receives far more vicious attacks than I can even dream of from Christians. But what shouldn't really shock me is that Rob is so careful to unpack his teaching from the New Testament and yet why are those of us who he has persuaded on grace feeling like we have to defend ourselves?
Listen to this selection of quotes from Dr Lloyd-Jones:
"Christians are people who have been declared righteous by God, who know that justification is by faith only, and that God 'justifieth the ungodly' (Romans 4:5). They believe all Paul's arguments in the first five chapters of Romans. This is how Christians think of righteousness; not little details here and there but this whole matter of their standing before God and the declaration of God that He "accounts" them as righteous".
Twice Dr Lloyd-Jones mentions the "declaration" of God. We - formerly sinners - have been "declared" righteous! So why are Christians so generally unaware of this "declaration"? If we had to go through the gruelling experience of being in court but yet hearing the exhilaration of the judge declaring - "Not guilty!". Surely we would remember that moment for the rest of our lives? Yet here God the Just - the ruler of heaven and earth - has declared the same - "Not guilty!". So WHY does most of Christianity act as if we are?
Dr Lloyd-Jones goes on to add that it is not just a "declaration" but that we are "clothed".
"Not only that, Christians believe that they have been clothed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ, that God has put this "robe of righteousness upon them" (Isaiah 61:10). They know they have been born again, 'born of the Spirit'. They now belong to the realm of righteousness, whereas before they did not".
So when God looks at us - He sees us as clothed in Jesus Christ's righteousness and there is none more perfect or acceptable than the Son of God! Now most Christians would say they do not have a problem with the justification issue. Most will accept and admit that we are justified by faith and when we accept Christ as our Saviour, we are indeed clothed in His righteousness. It seems to me that the problem comes when we talk about sanctification.
That's when the law seems to creep in along with discussions about spiritual disciplines, attempts to be "more righteous", the whole issue of indwelling sin and the "old man". Dr Lloyd-Jones makes an excellent point on this matter:
"Here is a man who has a conception of righteousness; he wants to be rid of everything that is wrong; he wants to be wholly right, he is interested in holiness".
That is Rob Rufus's key point when it comes to sanctification and it seems to me that's where the issue of divide comes. Many Christians who criticise Rob Rufus and the danger of "a license to sin" seem to be of the opinion that Christians by and large want to sin. Or more often - "My old man wants to sin". But Dr Lloyd-Jones insists that a man who has a conception of righteousness "wants" to be rid of everything that is wrong! He "wants" to be wholly right!
I have to say for myself - I am by far from being perfect. I sin and fall and make mistakes pretty regularly. I've been a first-class legalist and tried all manner of things to "stop sinning" - even to the extent of cutting myself (rather like the priests of Baal), going to self-help Christian groups and talking about how hard it is. But nothing has worked! Yet despite all that - I have always, ALWAYS had the deep agony that I want to be rid of everything that is wrong. I WANT to be right! So this quote of Dr Lloyd-Jones is a huge encouragement to me. I am clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ because I want to be rid of sin!
I find Lloyd-Jones final comment quite interesting and am not quite sure what to make of it:
"Do you see the point? The righteous are unconcious of their righteousness. That is the glory of their whole position. I trust I am making this clear to you. Christians are righteous in themselves because they have been brought into the kingdom of God and the realm of righteousness".
I'm thinking aloud here. If we went and spoke to non-Christians and asked; "Are you aware that you are unrighteous?" - I wonder what they would say. Unrighteousness of course is a Christian term. But if we explained the concept as clearly as Christians seek to understand righteousness - would they really be "concious" of the daily experience of being unrighteous and far from God? I doubt it. So does it make sense that we too as Christians are unaware of our righteousness? Thinking of the Old Covenant foresights - the blood on the outside of the house in the land of Egypt - was on the OUTSIDE. I am sure the Israelites wondered if the blood would suffice as the angel of death passed over. But the blood was on the outside - just as the righteousness we are clothed in, is on the OUTSIDE.
I hope that these quotes bring a degree of amazing authenticity to what Rob Rufus is saying and preaching. He isn't just some radical who is trying to bring license to sin. Rob is a serious man with a serious heart for the Church world-wide. And his vision is that if we would understand our true standing clothed in the righteousness of God then we would see it as a dramatic step. Rob said this in a recent sermon:
"The devil is not attacking us for the grace message - he's attacking us for where the grace message will take us. He understands that the revelation of grace is the access into the 10/10 glory. Out of the control spirit. Out of guilt. Out of condemnation, fear, rejection and into a constant sense of God is for us, no matter what".
Let's make every effort to be Berean-like and not dismiss teaching just because it disagrees with our experience of the past. Our one unifying heart - across the world - is that we become more like God. Surely our interest must be the best and most biblical way to do that! And while I know that Dr Lloyd-Jones and Rob Rufus may disagree on many issues - I am so thrilled that here on this most important of issues, they stand as one!
Monday, December 15, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
However while I've been socialising with my parents we have had some very interesting chats mainly centered around the gospel of grace and legalism. One such conversation was provoked by a Christmas newsletter I was rather distressed to find, pick up and read from someone. The individual wrote:
"The recent debacle of the so-called "Lakeland Revival" under Todd Bentley and his subsequent fall from grace should have jolted some Christians into thinking seriously".
The writer then went on to recommend two books - one of which was edited by C J Mahaney entitled; "Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World". So the question that I put and we discussed at some length was this phrase: "Fallen from grace". What does it mean? Christianity traditionally uses it against Christians who have sinned morally in some way. But as Rob Rufus among others shows quite clearly - to use the phrase in such a way is totally unbiblical and misleading.
"Fallen from grace" is found when Paul writes his letter to Galatians in Galatians 5:4 and he writes:
"You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace".
Paul is writing - as is well known - to the Galatian church who began in the true gospel of grace and ended up in a gospel of works. He did not have any commendation for them and was extremely angry. So the apostle Paul does not apply the term; "Fallen from grace" to Christians (such as the Corinthians as one might think) who have fallen morally. Rather he sees legalistic Christians who are seeking to be justified by law - THEY are the ones who have fallen from grace.
In writing to the Corinthian church (who had fallen morally as is well known) Paul at the start of both letters (1 Corinthians 1:3 and 2 Corinthians 1:2) actually uses the phrase: "Grace ... to you"! A well-known old hymn speaks of the wonder of what happened at the Cross of Christ to our sin:
"My sin, 0 the bliss of this glorious thought - My sin, not in part but in whole - Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more - Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, 0 my soul!"
So has Todd Bentley "fallen from grace"? By no means - rather I hope and pray that at this moment he has found that underneath are the "everlasting arms of grace" and that his beloved Father will not let him rest until he is back in God's will for his already remarkable life. May Todd Bentley know this Christmas that "grace and peace" is coming to him and the question from heaven is: "Don't you know that you are light?".
The question is rather - are such legalists aware that by attempting to gain approval with God through the keeping of the law that THEY are the ones who have fallen from grace? May they too re-find the wonder of their first love when they realised that it: "Is BY GRACE you are saved - THROUGH FAITH and that NOT OF YOURSELVES - it is the GIFT of God".
I can't resist ending this post without quoting from my new Dr Lloyd-Jones book: "Authentic Christianity - Acts 7". A lot of the discussion that I've so enjoyed and benefited from was about how we work through sanctification now we are justified. We discussed the pros and cons of "accountability groups". We talked about the Puritan view of "Mortifying sin" and generally the whole question - how do we grow more like Jesus Christ? Should I be going out and buying these books on "Worldliness" that teach me about modesty and what clothes I should wear? About music and what singles I should listen to and buy? Dr Lloyd-Jones presents a powerful and refreshing alternative:
"What does Christianity offer? Is it an exhortation to you to live a better life? Is it the business of preaching to tell you; "Stop drinking. Stop committing adultery. Don't do this and that. Try to pull yourself together. Read good books. Get a little moral uplift. Gradually make yourself a better person"? A thousand times - no! That is no message: we cannot do it!".
The thing I love about Dr Lloyd-Jones - like any expert clinician - is that he does not tell you what not to do and leave you floundering. He presents the correct view.
"What is it then? Well, as you saw, our Lord puts it so plainly to Nicodemus: "You must be born again". That is the message and it is about a miracle. We cannot be improved. We need the miracle of a rebirth, a regeneration, a new nature, a new creation. The God who created us all at the beginning is going to create us anew, make new people of us and here is the hope and the only hope.
The gospel is not the proclamation of a moral reformation".
Or as Rob Rufus puts it - "The Gospel is not about right living but right believing".
"But of regeneration and life in the Spirit. It offers us a new start, a new beginning; it offers us a new power, which is the 'power of God unto salvation'. It offers us power to live the remainder of our lives in this world and at the end it promises us a like conquest over death, a glorious resurrection and an eternity in the Presence of God. It is not ... a moral, ethical scheme; it is not a political scheme; it is nothing less than the re-creating work of the almighty God. It is a miracle. It is supernatural. It is divine action from beginning to end.
THIS is the message of the Christian gospel of salvation!".
Let's never forget that. We all aim I am sure - legalists and non alike - to become more like Jesus Christ. But the fact is that the Bible is very clear in how that can most effectually be accomplished. So people of the Word (if that's what we claim to be) let's be truthful to the Word of God and realise that there is nothing more abhorent to God Himself that attempting to gain a standing with Him by our own works of the flesh.
Sunday, December 07, 2008
Just awesome! I've been drinking in this sermon this week so far as well as scribbling frantically and have heard some incredible insights that the Holy Spirit has shown will potentially mend what doctors, psychologists and medicine cannot in my life! The whole revelation of sonship is one that I am only now struggling to learn as I missed it in my formative years growing up in church life. Regretfully I grew up as a Christian not as a son. But I am sensing this week that the Holy Spirit is saying that NOW are my formative years and the best IS yet to come!
I will be sharing more on that very very soon!
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
The photo that they published was also of great interest to me - it is Ern Baxter standing deep in thought in front of a ministry car for William Branham. The website very honestly makes note of the fact that in his later years Ern Baxter seperated himself from Branham's doctrines yet never, ever (a point I had to argue and battle with some of the elders at my home church in Dunstable who were trying to claim that Ern Baxter didn't support Branham) argued with the verifiable and authentic miracles that he witnessed while travelling with Branham.
Here's a video that I published some time ago - of an interview with Ern where he was discussing William Branham:
Why do I make mention of this? I mentioned yesterday that Rob Rufus provokes me by his relationship and continual encounters with the manifest Presence of God and the resulting signs and wonders that follow the message of grace that marks his ministry. I have found a video on You-Tube of testimonies from Kings Church in Eastbourne following Rob's visit that we were able to be at (Pete, Scott and myself along with Nick and Malcolm):
The difference to me - the unfolding revelation that is clear to me marking us out as different from the days of William Branham and the other healers of the 1950's is that in those days people flocked to those men and women seeking a miracle from them. And God blessed them graciously! But what I feel passionately now is that Rob Rufus among many others have opened up the truths of the Scripture to us to show that we ALL are responsible for seeing signs, wonders and miracles following OUR ministry and OUR witness.
The question is - will we accept that we are the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ and as such are equipped by God the Holy Spirit to go out and make His Name famous among the nations!?
Monday, December 01, 2008
But most importantly of all - I pray again its a chance to just do "nothing" and encounter God in powerful ways. I love this clip where Rob was speaking to the Mobilise thousands last Brighton conference when we were there and he urges that getting away with God is so important.
I love the way that Rob's example is so grace-filled. My life has been full of great men and women of God who have testified to an awesome relationship with Him. But somehow I have always felt condemned and guilty because I couldn't quite match up to their walk with God. Yet Rob Rufus is a different story and I am not quite sure how he does it. He testifies to encounters with God that I can only dream of - yet this motivates me rather than condemns me! I think because his teaching is so undergirded with New Covenant grace - no one can be left with the impression that it's thanks to great scholar-ship or great study or great prayer and fasting but GRACE!!
So I've got great hopes for this week - I hope to return refreshed and full of revelation and new vision for the end of this difficult year and a new year full of hope and promise! Loadsa love to everyone - hope you have a great week. I will try and get to an internet cafe if I can but if not - see you when I get back!
Thursday, November 27, 2008
So over the past few days I have been watching with great interest - "NCMI TV" and in particular a series of interviews conducted by Tyrone Daniel - the current leader of NCMI - with his father Dudley Daniel. They really are well worth watching. In it Dudley shares his heart about where the movement of churches has come from and where he hopes it is going.
Each video is only about 5 minutes long so won't take long but the spiritual truth is well worth it! These videos have also re-emphasised to me the importance of "spiritual fathers". You can catch something of Dudley Daniel's heart here and it also helps me piece together something of how Rob Rufus became who he is today.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
While no one would deny the presence of spiritual warfare and attack, Rob Rufus brought an important counter-balance to the discussion about warfare and attacks in the most recent sermon of his that I am transcribing - "The Struggle For The Authentic Part 4 - "The Parable of the Sower" - it's certainly made me stop and think!
Rob goes on:
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I was interested therefore to read John Piper's sermon of the week that was sent to my email. He brings a larger and wholler perspective - refusing to immediately jump into the "What" and "When" questions. Here are some of the more important points he raises:
Thursday, November 20, 2008
The one song that has confused me somewhat is Lou Fellingham's recent; "Once I was dead to You (Promised land)". And here's where the whole "hymnody" musing arose. The song (while sang beautifully by herself and the gathered thousands) has the line in it:
For mark you, after the children of Israel had entered into Canaan, they had to fight with their enemies. It was a land filled with foes. Every city they entered they had to take by storm, unless a miracle dismantled it. They were warriors, even in the land of Canaan, fighting for their own inheritance; ...
It is "a land flowing with milk and honey;" and it dreams not of the foeman of Canaan of old. We think the church has lost the beauty of Scripture, in taking Jordan to mean death, and that a far fuller meaning is the true allegory to be connected with it".
For those who are not aware of the chorus - "I Hear the Sound of Rustling" was a very popular chorus that was sung during the Charismatic Movement at the Dales and Downs and our own Anglia Bible Weeks. The lyrics included a charismatic theology (that the new pastor of my home church had just spent half an hour trying to dismantle!) including words like this;
And dry bones are responding with the fruits of new birth ...
Saturday, November 15, 2008
"When I woke up this morning I felt that the air was clear again and the pollution of darkness and oppression had evaporated and lifted off us. I don't want to be weirdly spiritual but the very natural atmosphere has had the pollution blown off it. Then every traffic light driving here was green and God was saying; "It's a green light - it's a go-ahead! ... Sometimes in God things aren't a coincidence - there is a prophetic significance".
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
I think I always used to get rather depressed at Jesus' words; "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed ...". My conclusion? My faith is smaller than a mustard seed! But Rob Rufus's wonderful Kingdom teaching has opened my eyes to the glorious realisation that faith is something imparted to us from on high! I'm in the middle of helping transcribe one of Rob's more recent sermons; "The Struggle For The Authentic Part 3 - "Qualification for the Blessing - Faith or Works?" - and Rob brought this powerful definition of faith;
"Faith is a supernatural ability to connect with a living God with confidence. Faith is the substancein your heart of the things that you are hoping for and it is the evidence of what you cannot see. Faith has evidence - faith is not a blind leap into the dark. Faith is a leap into the light based on supernatural substance and evidence inside your spirit given to you by the Spirit of faith - the Holy Spirit.
When faith rises up in your spirit you have the substance to manifest your hope and what you are hoping for starts happening and the goodness of God starts happening around you - but you need faith for that ... Today we will pray that the spirit of faith will rise in everyone of our hearts to believe the good news of the message of grace and that what the enemy intended for evil over the last 2 weeks is going to be turned around so powerfully for our good - that we will come into a more delighting place of confidence in the grace of God than ever before".
I love that last particular phrase. That's faith! I've hinted at the last month or two of hell that I feel I've been going through - ending up with me currently being on anti-depressants. I always grew up with a deep suspicion of anti-depressants. Such was the deposit of legalism in my church history that my gut feeling was if I resorted to anti-depressants then I didn't have much faith in God. John Piper was quite helpful in getting me to agree to my G.P's request. But all that aside - the question that I'm sure anyone and everyone who goes through times of trial must ask is "Why?". As I mentioned before - God doesn't seem to want to talk to us about our circumstances but our destiny.
That aside, I've been searching my heart as to why on earth I have spent the last year of my life working somewhere that has ended so sourly. Why has the chance to spend time with those vulnerable and needy children come to an end and it's become nigh-on impossible for my health to be in such a place of negativity? I don't have any answers ... yet! But I love what Rob Rufus said;
"That what the enemy intended for evil over the last 2 weeks is going to be turned around so powerfully for our good - that we will come into a more delighting place of confidence in the grace of God than ever before".
That's destiny. That's something that I can feel my faith stirring towards and for! I know I am not the only one who is struggling in life so I hope this is a post of encouragement. We know that all things work together for those who love God. That's not just one of those rosy verses that look nice on your mother's fridge. That's reality!
Sunday, November 09, 2008
And then of course Rob Rufus himself. I must admit Rob's sung prophecies have had profound spiritual influences on me. I love music - not being a musician in any sense of the word (!) - I still deeply love music and have found it's an amazing gift of God through which He speaks and moves. So what I've tried to do in this post is gather together clips of the times that Rob has sung prophetically - or he has just sang! I do apologise for the quality of the clips. I'm not quite sure how else to get them on the blog other than using my camera phone. But I think despite the lack of quality - the impact still comes across!
1. Rob's Prophetic Song over Hong Kong.
This clip has to come at the very top of my list and I posted it back in June of this year. Rob sang it during City Church International's "Miracle Healing Weekend" and it is packed full of vision and hope and fire for the city of Hong Kong. It gives a glimpse into the fact that Rob isn't in Hong Kong simply for personal gain or for financial benefit. He's there (and City Church International is there) because of the motivation of love for Hong Kong.
2. A Song of Worship Inspired by Grace!
This short song was sung at the beginning of Rob's message; "The Blood - Substance or Shadow?". I say it's short because it has just two verses and a very simple chorus but it's simply profound. Absolutely magnificent in simply being a song written by a man who's life has been changed forever by the grace and wonder and majesty and Presence of God. And this song of worship - everytime I hear it - it challenges and provokes my heart to reach out and seek God to draw closer to me also - to desire His Presence.
3. Prophetic Song from "Glory and Grace Conference - Hong Kong".
This short clip begins with a bit of music from the worship team and then Rob sang a very short few sentences but I so vividly remember being there at "Glory and Grace" in Hong Kong when he sang it. It was such a prophetic statement of truth - but it wasn't just words alone. So many times I have heard prophecies spoken and even prophetic songs sang and felt very little. They are so empty when the Spirit of God doesn't brood in weighty glory on the words He wants His Church to hear. This clip can't even convey how the glory cloud filled that place!
So there's a few already. This is a post I hope to add to - so if anyone knows anymore recordings where Rob has sung prophetically or other then please let me know and we can add to this. Why am I doing this? It's not to exalt one man. Rob would never want or allow that. It's meant to be a motivation and a prompt (mainly to myself) to see how the Spirit of God can touch and use men and women to utter forth the truths of His glory. I can't sing - but I've got a voice and I must utter forth what He says!
Above all that - I hope - I really hope that listening and hearing these songs bring an awesome sense of God's Presence to you as you hear them.
Friday, November 07, 2008
I don't tend to speak that much about David Devenish but I do have a profound love and respect for this man. Many church leaders and so-called "apostles" don't really fit the New Testament model because they don't stray far from the safety of the Western world and the riches of the church at which they are based. David Devenish seems to be constantly somewhere deep within Eastern Europe or the Russian states faithfully proclaiming the Gospel of power. Yet while he is a man of the Word of God - the Holy Spirit powerfully rests upon him and it is always somewhat nerve-wracking experience wondering what and when he might break into prophecy during his preaching!
Not hearing Dave Devenish preach this year at Brighton was certainly something I greatly missed - you cannot fail but find your faith lifted by the world vision that he presents. If anyone's interested in hearing more of Dave - then here's some links to more sermons that he has given at times. In this day and age we need speakers like him!