Thursday, October 28, 2010

Joyless Christians - A Sin?

Dave Bish wrote an excellent blog post that really got me thinking today - called; "How come new Christians are so full of joy and then that fades?". He said;

"Confusingly and foolishly and bewilderingly the Galatians swap faith in the gospel word and hence life in the Spirit for works of law and flesh. For religion and do-it-yourself living. What happens? Joy disappears. Life fades, and you get the kind of phenomenon that we observe happening as a Christian apparently "matures" and we pat them on the back for getting over their early enthusiasm and getting on with joy-so-deep-you-can't-see-it".

That really reminded me of my past. I remember when I was baptised in the Holy Spirit up here in Birmingham while I was at university and I went back home to my church in Dunstable bubbling over with the wonder of new life in the Spirit. I couldn't WAIT to tell my friends about what I had experienced and awesome I found God. Many of my peer friends were fascinated but I'll never forget attending a pre-service prayer meeting and I heard Stanley Jebb - my senior pastor and hero - pray quite angrily like this;

"Lord we pray against the excesses of youthful exuberance".

I am sure he meant it in the best sense but I took it very personally to heart and felt it was a personal attack on me just because I had an experience he was busy telling my church did not exist. Crushed I went to see one of the elders who were responsible for my care - and shared with him what had happened. He smiled at me benignly and said; "Ah yes it's great to be enthusiastic but you will grow up and mature". The implication - as Dave said - that I would essentially become miserable and dull and boring.

I love the way Dave ends the blog post and echo it whole-heartedly;

"Paul's word to us would be let's start with the gospel and grow up with the gospel, please don't poison new Christians, or older Christians, with the filth of religion and effort - what good is that? - let the gospel change lives, let the Spirit change lives, help one another with that by walking one another back to the gospel, loving and bearing with one another rather than rushing people to something that has an appearance of godliness but nothing more than a veneer. Win hearts to Jesus rather than to a miserable lifestyle".

It isn't particularly mature or God-glorifying to be miserable for the sake of it. In fact I rather think the Bible says it's a sin. Of course we should not be ridiculously and falsely happy all the time. Life brings pain and hurt. But abounding joy? Surely that is a characteristic of life in the Spirit. And that and that alone will glorify God by grabbing the attention of the world.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Quotes from Glory and Grace Conference 2010!!

I was so blessed and encouraged today to receive an email from Paul Ellis - a fellow grace guy who is actually AT the conference in Hong Kong. I admitted to him I had been feeling wretchedly sorry for myself wishing I was in Hong Kong and was so buzzed to hear that it was going well. Paul said there are some absolutely sterling messages coming from the conference so I cannot WAIT to get typing and transcribing!

Paul guided me to his Facebook profile where he is posting some of the key quotes he hears. Here are some;

‎"God requires perfection and nothing less... Unless you have a perfect high priest, you're finished!" - Rob Rufus G&G10)

“Trying to prove you’re free (by skipping church, not praying etc.) means you’re not free. This spirit of independence discredits the grace message.” ~ Rob Rufus (G&G10)

“Jesus doesn't hate religious people. Religious people put Jesus on the cross and He said, ‘Father forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing. We have paranoia in parts of the grace movement with people reacting to anything that looks like law or control. One line in a song and they walk out. Don’t hold your leaders hostage. If we’re easily discouraged or judgmental, then we’re still in bondage.” ~ Rob Rufus (G&G10)

"Jesus believes in you! “Your life is not essentially changed by who you believe in. Your life is changed by Who believes in you. When someone recognizes you, it empowers you. It’s not the lesser recognizing the greater. But when the Greater recognizes the lesser, supernatural power is released.” ~ Rob Rufus (G&G10)

Pete Day and I agreed that since we touched the grace movement in 2006/7 the powers of hell have been relentless in trying to discourage, discredit and make us believe that God is not answering His promises, is not good, is not kind and life generally sucks. I love this reminder from such a portal of heaven that God IS good, He IS kind and He IS answering His promises!

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Call to the Ministry - by Dr Stanley Jebb

I find Dr Stanley Jebb's latest blog post incredibly interesting - for some years I deeply believed that I was called to "the ministry". I actually had a very vivid dream I still remember well in which I was walking down a country lane with Dr Stanley Jebb and turned to him and gripped his arm and said; "Stanley - I MUST preach!". So the call to the ministry is one that is very much on my heart.

However it is interesting to me that Stanley Jebb sees the problem as; "There are some men available, but not enough to fill all the vacant pastorates. Besides, not all the men are suitable, for one reason or another". I remember being at the Westminster Conference with a friend of mine in 2001 when Stanley Jebb was speaking. And during one of the discussions, some of the elders there said the same thing; "WHERE are the young men?!". My experience as one of those "young" men is slightly different. My experience is; "WHERE are the fathers!?".

And by that I mean that I have encountered many young men and women eager in fact desperate to be used by God in ministry for Him and His church but there is a massive lack of spiritual fathers - men like Stanley himself or Terry Virgo who have the ability to father, nuture and love those young people. The three main churches I have been involved with in my life has not been positive at recognizing and using that willingness to be used. I think Sovereign Grace Ministries in Bristol was by far my worst experience. I foolishly thought that being part of a church plant would be a massive opportunity to be used and made my intentions clear that I was so keen to be available. That was seen by the leadership as "pride" and so I was ignored for 2 years.

I say again - I think the church needs BOTH! It does need those eager and willing to be called. But it needs secure and mature fathers in the faith who can gladly disciple and nuture and teach and use. One other point - essential to any "call to the ministry" is a recognition and appreciation for the Ephesians 4 Ministries. Prior to 1990 - Stanley Jebb used to teach very wisely that it is wrong to expect all to be poured into the mold of pastors. There are different gifts and different ministries - apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.

Here's the blog post;

Call to the Ministry
By stanleyjebb

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. (2 Chronicles 16:9).
So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land that I should not destroy it, but I found no one. (Ezekiel 22:30).
He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor… (Isaiah 59:16a).
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest. (Matthew 9:36-38).

Some months ago I was in conversation with a former President of a major denomination about the difficulty of finding a suitable pastor for a vacant pulpit. We agreed that there is a dire shortage of suitable men. There are some men available, but not enough to fill all the vacant pastorates. Besides, not all the men are suitable, for one reason or another. The few excellent men available are quickly settled into a pastorate Some of the men who have made themselves available are already in a pastorate but want to move. Either they want to leave or have been asked to leave their present position. Some of those men may be very able and sound and have good reasons for wanting to move. In the case of others it raises a question in the minds of those responsible for finding a pastor. The Scriptures cited above suggest that, in a sense, God Himself is looking for men suitable for His service. In considering this shortage it is worth asking the question, what are the necessary and the desirable qualities in ministers of the Gospel? This is how I see these matters.

1 A definite call from God.

Some would deny this. A few months ago when I mentioned in a discussion this need for a call a prominent evangelical minister retorted that there is no difference at all between the call to be a minister and the call to be a dentist . Another evangelical minister said to me, ‘The only call in the New Testament is the call to be a Christian. There is no such thing as a specific call to the ministry.’

Now granted that we use the word ‘calling’ in a general way to describe any person’s job, and therefore every person has, in that sense, his or her ‘calling’, is there really no difference? The Scripture does use the word ‘calling’ in that general sense in 1 Corinthians 7:20. But is there no difference between the sacred ministry and any other calling? Surely the vast majority of people in what we may term ‘secular’ employment actually choose their vocation. While in school or college they consider the various options and select the one that most appeals to them. In some cases they may have had that goal in mind from childhood, perhaps following in a parent s footsteps. It is certainly possible that in a very few cases their particular vocation was impressed upon them by God, but that is surely rare. It is certainly possible that a person may feel that God has specifically called them to be a dentist or a dustman, a farmer or a fisherman, but the impression one gets is that most people choose their vocation. Please note that to be doing one s job as to the Lord and serving Him in one s chosen calling is not the same thing as to be called by God in the first place to do it.

But for a man to choose the Christian ministry as his option without any sense of it being God s will, would seem to fly in the face of biblical teaching. Normally the ministry chooses the man, or the Lord does! Let me stress that I am not seeking to deny that a person may strongly feel that God led them into a particular ‘secular’ employment, but merely seeking to make clear that the call to the ministry is a definite and distinct calling, different from other ‘callings’.

Consider the Biblical evidence.
In the first place, we are told quite clearly in Hebrews 5:4 concerning the Old Testament priesthood that ‘no man takes this honour to himself, but he who is called by God.’ John the Baptist was ‘a man sent from God’ (John 1:6), and Jesus said to the apostles, ‘You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit…’ (John 15:16). Again, in Ephesians chapter four we read that the ascended Christ ‘gave gifts unto men,’ and ‘He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers’. In Acts chapter Thirteen we read that ‘as they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”’ Clearly that was not the call to salvation, but a distinct and definite call to ministry. Of course there are several ‘callings’ in Scripture which are common to all Christians, such as the call to salvation, the call to holiness, etc (e.g. 1Cor. 1:1-9). But the calling to an Ephesians four ministry is not common to all Christians, for Ephesians 4:11 states that it is only some that are so called. This calling may not come in a dramatic way. In fact one of the striking features about those called to ministry in the Bible is that each call to ministry seems to have been distinct; Moses, Gideon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Paul. Only the fishermen friends and brothers seem to have been called in a common way to be Christ s apostles.
Now if it is being taught that there is ‘no difference at all’ between the call to be a dentist (or any other work) and the call to be a minister, which means in effect that you can choose to be a minister if you like, is it any wonder that there are men in the ministry without a sense of definite call from God? And is it any wonder that, if the idea of a distinct call from God to the ministry is denigrated, men do not expect to hear it or, if there are a stirring within them from God, His voice is ignored as being an erroneous suggestion?
Jesus looked with compassion on the multitudes and said to the disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the labourers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into His harvest.’ (Matthew 9:37,38). Surely that passage implies that labourers are specifically sent by God into the harvest? But why bother God with such prayers if there is no definite and distinct call into the ministry? Why not spend our energy in persuading men that they should choose that vocation? The answer to the dearth of ministers is to earnestly beseech God to send forth labourers, and to expound the Scriptures so that God may use such preaching to call men.
James M. George in his chapter on The Call to Pastoral Ministry writes:

The call of God to vocational ministry is different from God s call to salvation and His call to service issued to all Christians. It is a call to selected men to serve as leaders in the church. To serve in such leadership capacities, recipients of this call must have assurance that God has so selected them. A realization of this assurance rests on four criteria, the first of which is a confirmation of the call by others and by God through the circumstances of providing a place of ministry. The second criterion is the possession of abilities necessary to serve in leadership capacities. The third consists of a deep longing to serve in the ministry. The final qualification is a lifestyle characterized by moral integrity. A man who fulfils these four qualifications can rest in the assurance that God has called him to vocational Christian leadership. [Rediscovering Pastoral Ministry, John MacArthur, et al, Word Publishing, 1995, p. 102].

2. A Knowledge of the Bible.

This may seem obvious, but, alas! It cannot be taken for granted today. Many men coming from Bible Colleges and University Theological departments just do not know their Bibles. A minister showed me a letter from an officer of one of the largest city missions in this country, in which he gave examples of five candidates for posts as city missionaries who, in a fairly simple and straightforward Bible examination, revealed an appalling ignorance of Scripture. Three of those applicants had degrees in theology from British Theological colleges! A graduate of Oxford University told me that a lecturer in Theology there complained that he found it extremely difficult to get theological students to study their Bibles. When he set them a passage to study they went straight to the commentaries and quoted them, rather than studying the passage itself. This may be a reflection on the churches from which those students came, but sadly one hears of supposedly evangelical churches where drama, testimonies, family services have replaced the reading and exposition of the Word of God. And how many churches have dropped their Bible Study meetings? A minister must know his Bible.

2. Doctrinal Integrity.
If there is a lack of Bible knowledge in the churches today there is certainly also an ignorance of basic doctrine, or at least woolliness about fundamental truths. A man must be sound in doctrine if he is to be a preacher of the Gospel. A leading evangelical minister stated recently that every evangelical minister ought to be able to preach on the doctrines of grace without any notes. In other words, he should know basic doctrines so well that he could preach on them extempore.

3. Preaching ability.
It goes without saying that if a man is to be a preacher he should be able to communicate truth in a clear and compelling fashion. This ability will grow, however, if someone is called. This alone, however, is not enough. Even non-Christians can be eloquent speakers, and many liberal ministers are able communicators.

4. A man of prayer.
The apostles refused to take on other tasks because they insisted that they must give themselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the Word. Notice the order, prayer first. Notice also that they were to give themselves continually to these matters. It is a sad reflection on our churches that few candidates for the ministry today seem to have experienced spending a day, a half-night or a whole night in prayer, still less done this with any regularity. What is even more alarming is that some will confess that they do not have a daily time of prayer and meditation on the Word. Some pour scorn on the term Quiet Time but cannot suggest a better name for it. It is usually reckoned to be wisdom not to destroy something good until you are ready to replace it with something better, and the danger is that publicly denigrating the title of a Quiet Time may result in the practice of it suffering as a side effect.

5. Consecration.

The ministry should be their all-absorbing passion. Like Paul they should be able to say, ‘this one thing I do..’. They may, of course have other interests. It is good for a man to have a hobby, a means of relaxation. But if the hobby, the sport, television, or whatever it is, looms too large in his life so that at times the ministry takes second place, the balance is wrong. Some men today are so obsessed with sport that the ministry seems like an avocation and the sport is what they live for. The hymn, Take my life and let it be consecrated Lord to Thee, must be a reality in a minister s experience.

2. Separation.
This is a contentious issue, and standards and opinions vary widely among evangelicals today in a way that they did not fifty years ago. Worldliness is an increasing problem in Western churches at the present time. But let us take an issue which is very clear; our use of time. It is surely incontrovertible that before the advent of television no man of God would have spent as long in the cinema each week as some ministers today spend in front of the television. Oh yes, we all know that some programmes are informative and interesting, but the vast bulk of television is distinctly unedifying, and much of it is degrading and depraved. It seems to me that one application of Romans 1:31 is that to ‘have pleasure’ (AV) in those who do wicked and depraved things could include being entertained by watching people enact them. That would rule out all the ‘soaps’. But let us assume that a godly minister will not allow himself to be entertained by watching evil perpetrated on the screen. Let us simply draw attention to the amount of time spent watching TV. A recent survey revealed that many ministers spend very little time reading. It is a question of priorities. There are many other smaller issues one could mention such as dress, demeanour, general attitude, behaviour of children, attitude of wife, use of money, etc, which in themselves might not debar a man from ministry, but when added to the more serious matters turn a congregation off, or even more seriously, lead a congregation into worldly ways. By way of illustration, think about buying a second-hand car. If you are getting it for a good price then one small defect that can easily be remedied, such as one cracked wing mirror, or one worn tyre, might not put you off. But if there were many such ‘small’ defects you would almost certainly look elsewhere. It is just the same with ministers. No man is perfect, and one small defect such as a fondness for television, keenness on sport or a less than tidy appearance, might not deter some churches. But if the candidate watches a lot of TV, is very keen on, say, football, is untidy in appearance, his wife uncooperative, his children undisciplined, etc, a church would have to be either very undiscerning or desperate, or both, to call such a man.

3. Willingness to sacrifice.
It is deplorable how some churches treat their ministers. But entering the ministry is for most men a sacrifice in that they could earn more money and live more comfortably in secular employment. A man may have to go to a church that can afford only a small stipend at first, until God has blessed the work and the church has grown. Indeed he may have to take a part-time job as well as the pastorate to support himself, as the apostle Paul did.

4. Godliness.
Godliness is a general term for a way of life that is God obsessed. Some years ago the writer was at a conference and sitting next to the Principal of a well-know Bible College. In conversation it came out that we were seeking to train men for the ministry in the church I was pastoring at the time. I remarked that my aim was to produce men of God. To my astonishment the Principal remarked. ‘Oh, that s impossible in Bible College. The students are so bolshy, wanting their rights, and so on.’ What are things coming to?

5. A stable home life.
In the qualifications for an overseer in I Timothy 3, two out of the seven verses refer to the candidates family life. A minister has to set an example.

These are some of the issues the present writer considers essential for a call to the ministry.

Live Streaming from Grace and Glory Conference - Hong Kong!!

For those of you who don't know - the "Grace and Glory Conference" is going on right NOW in Hong Kong - and I was excited to get the following group email from Ryan Rufus (Founder of New Nature Publications). Follow the link if you can and let's have second best after being there in person!

"Hi guys
We've decided to stream the rest of the Glory and Grace conference! Already it's been such an amazing time with heaps more to come!!!

Tonight (Monday) at 7:30pm (GMT +8)
Andrew Wommack

Tuesday at 10am, 2:30pm, 7pm (GMT +8)
Rob Rufus, Fini and Isi De Gersigny.

Here's the link: (refresh (F5) a few times if you get an error message)
Would love you to join us!

Ryan Rufus
Pastor @ City Church International

Founder, New Nature Publications

Sunday, October 17, 2010

"The Purpose of the Second Coming" by Bob Mumford

This afternoon I was hugely irritated when our internet broadband, television and phone went down thanks to Virgin Media - from 12:00 to 20:00. However I decided to use the time profitably and type up a New Wine Magazine article from 1974 by Bob Mumford on the Second Coming of Christ. I find this issue one of incredible significance - because it seems to me that the church uses the 2nd coming as an "escape hatch" when things get tough. Rather than fighting and becoming militant about what we believe in - many look to the skies and say with a sigh; "Ah well - Jesus will come soon".

As Bob Mumford clearly shows - the second coming of Christ was never meant to be the escape hatch for the church. He may have written the article in 1974 but I still think the teaching carries much truth for today. Here it is;

"The 2nd Coming is more than a divine rescue mission

As a serious and eager seminary student, I was assigned the research topic of “The Second Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ”. I was taken aback when reading in one of the massive reference volumes I was using, “Every serious student of prophecy would do well to remember that no one has ever accurately interpreted scriptures which pertain to future events”. The experiences of the following years have proven that admonition to be exceedingly accurate. As a result, I have spoken little about prophetic events and above all, felt the necessity not to be dogmatic. I should however make it clear from the beginning that I hold to a literal, visible return of Jesus Christ in glory (Acts 1:9-11). I also believe that the usual dispensational and popular teachings concerning the rapture, marriage supper, tribulation etc have been grossly misinterpreted and soul-ishly interpreted. As we approach the end of the age, pre-, post- and mid-tribulational interpretations that accompany them will undergo major adjustments. There will be many facts and events and texts that we should have seen but in reality did not. These new ingredients will modify much of our understanding concerning prophetic events. As the prophet Hosea explained, “Then shall we know if we follow on to know the Lord” (Hosea 6:3).

A simple illustration of the prophecies and events of Christ’s first advent will serve to illustrate what I mean. It was written about the origin of the Messiah, “Out of Egypt I have called My Son” (Matthew 2:15). “That He was born in Bethlehem” (Micah 5:2). “Yet He was from Nazareth”. Can you see the impossibility of accurately interpreting all the biblical facts in proper perspective until the circumstances of His birth were known? How could the readers of the prophecies possibly understood that His parents were from Nazareth and that was to be His home? And that due to a decree for taxation, Mary was taken by Joseph to Bethlehem where Jesus was born? Also, that being warned in a dream not to return to Nazareth the family of Jesus fled to Egypt where they were later led to return? How clear it seems to us now, but how confusing to the prophets and prophetic interpreters prior to the unfolding of the events.
Anyone browsing casually in a religious bookstore will quickly be overwhelmed by the overabundance of printed material of different theories and interpretations about the 2nd coming. Even the general attitude and approach of the Scriptures can seem confusing. The time of Christ’s return is unknown (Matthew 24:36-42); but the concept of imminence (that He may come today) has always been a truth held dear to the heart of the church (James 5:8). On the other hand, examination of many scriptures tend to give us another view; that certain events, such as spiritual maturity in the church, world evangelism, establishment of His government and kingdom etc must be accomplished PRIOR to His coming. This seems to exclude any possibility of immediate return.

Bible truths are often set in opposition to each other – like parallel lines – which act as balancing factors in the life of the church. “Behold I come quickly” is balanced by the command; “Occupy until I come”. These parallel lines can only meet in the infinite Creator.

Purpose of His Coming.

It will not be my purpose to examine the reality or circumstances of His coming but to try and shed some light on the purpose of His coming. We cannot dwell on the entire purpose of the 2nd coming but rather examine what I feel to be one major purpose of His coming.

Unfortunately much of the popular teaching that centres on events in the world that will preceed the coming of Christ (i.e. wars, famines, natural disasters, the rise of the antichrist and satanic activity) has tended to make us believe that Christ is coming back to snatch the church out of the world just before it self-destructs! For the cataclysmic-minded believers it has become a divine rescue mission to save the persecuted church in it’s last gasp. If we examine the 2nd Coming in the light of the purpose of the church, the bride of Christ and her mission on the earth, it takes on a very different meaning. The coming of the Lord Jesus is the consummation or completion of God’s plan for the church through the ages. It is a victory celebration rather than a rescue mission!

As the Apostle Paul speaks of the Lord’s coming in 2 Thessalonians 1:8, he writes of a fiery judgement that will come upon the world. Then in verse 10, he speaks of Christ’s coming as it will relate to the church. He says; “ ... He shall come to be glorified in His saints”.

The concept of a spiritual coming in the saints prior to His physical coming for His saints is overlooked by most people.

Paul clearly teaches that Jesus is coming for a bride that is “glorious ... not having any spot or wrinkle or any such thing” (Ephesians 5:27). This is Christ revealed in the saints. This same theme is carried on elsewhere in Scripture. Galatians 4:19 reads; “My little children of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you”. Acts 3:21 states; “Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world begun”. And James 5:8 admonishes us; “Be patient therefore brethren until the coming of the Lord. Behold the husbandman (God) waiteth for the precious fruits of the earth and hath long patience for it, until He receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stabilise your hearts; for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh”.

Many of us have been given the idea that Christ’s coming is what defeats the foes and establishes His kingdom. Jesus said however that all power (authority) had been given to Him in heaven and in earth; and because of that we were to go into all nations and disciple them. Rather than thinking of Christ’s coming as an event that accomplishes His purpose in the earth, let us consider His coming as God’s consummating His eternal purpose by that very event.

Concerning the purpose of His coming, Bakers Theological Dictionary says,

“So Jesus’ parousia (coming) is not the decisive event of the gospel; it is rather the inevitable sequel of the decisive event which took place with His death and resurrection. The time of it’s occurrence does not matter so much as the fact that it’s occurrence is assured!”.

Sequence of Events:

It is this inevitable sequence of events which begins with His death and resurrection and sees Him establish a kingdom on the earth (His revelation in the saints) that is consummated by His visible return for the saints. At this present time He is in the process of establishing that spiritual kingdom in the earth. Psalm 110:1 is one of the verses most quoted by New Testament writers. It speaks even to the casual reader that there is a purpose to be accomplished by Christ being seated at the right hand of God the Father. “He (Christ) will sit there until ...”. I make your enemies your footstool”. A similar theme is carried throughout the New Testament ... “Until” ... the redemption of the purchased possession (Ephesians 1:14) ... the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6) ... the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 6:14) ... the harvest of tares and wheat (Matthew 13:30) ... we all come in the unity of the faith (Ephesians 4:13). The same Psalm is quoted in Acts 2:35. “Until I make thy foes thy footstool”. This expresses Peter’s understanding of Psalm 110:1. Jesus ascension to the right hand of the Father would continue until something that that approximated Christ’s victory in the human situation had been accomplished here on the earth.

There is a present kingdom just as surely as there is a future one. But the kingdom of God must be proclaimed, received and established in some degree prior to the coming of the King of that kingdom to rule. Matthew 24:14 teaches us this much.

Does it seem incongruous to believe that the body, which is His church and bride be won, sanctified and prepared before He comes for her?

Is it not logical to assume that the kingdom in spiritual form be established – literally established – on earth in the saints before God reveals His King and His kingdom? (Revelation 5:10). New Testament grammar teaches us that His coming (parousia) is to be a revelation (unveiling) of Jesus Christ. Somehow and His own spectacular way, God will reveal Jesus His Kingdom and church and bride by the events of His parousia.

The Place of the Church:

Whatever God has yet to do in the earth, He purposes to do it through and by means of a militant church, an advancing kingdom, a united body which is rising to the challenge!

“Thy people will be willing in the day of thy power” says the Psalmist in 110:3. The years of spiritual warfare, evangelism, missionary endeavour, combined with the present global outpouring of the Holy Spirit, cause me to know that God is setting the stage to consummate His purpose in the earth by the revelation and return of His King – which has been delayed ... until!
Let’s turn to the book of Revelation for a glimpse of what I am trying to express.

“Behold He cometh with clouds and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him; and all the kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him” (Revelation 1:7).

This is the literal return of the One who was taken in the clouds (Acts 1:9-11). What an unveiling of God’s eternal purpose in Christ, His Son! What a sudden consternation and embarrassment to the world which has rejected God’s Son and abused His church! What joy and triumph for those who belong to Him – for those called according to His purpose! As the writers of Hebrews says; “ ... and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation”.
Whatever the unique turn of prophetic events or unexpected developments in the church or in the nations; those who have come to see the purpose of His coming, will not be preoccupied with dates, signs or dispensational charts or attempting to place the label of antichrist on a world figure.

In Revelation 22:17 we find these words;

“And the Spirit and the bride say come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is thirsty come. And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely”.

As one who longs for His coming, but also sees the purpose of His delay, the Lord began to say something to me from this verse. When the Spirit and the bride say; “Come ... Come Lord Jesus” = it will be then that those who are sensitive to that which the Holy Spirit is saying will know that His coming is in fact very near. The Spirit and the Bride are now saying; “Unity ... plurality ... submission ... obedience”. The Spirit is seeking to draw us – each of us – into a belonging – a kind of spiritual community if you will. All of these words plus the quickening pace of the pain and peril of the day in which we live, cause me to listen carefully to hear a cry – not just teaching – but a cry in the Spirit among the beloved that groans and sighs. This cry when heard and interpreted will say; “Come, oh come Lord Jesus – the Spirit and the bride are ready – come Lord Jesus!”. When we hear this, sense this, perceive it among the beloved, it is then that we can know that His purpose for delay is nearly completed. The bride has made herself ready. The Holy Spirit who was given to present her faultless before Him in her wedding garment agrees .... “Yes she is ready! Come Lord Jesus!”.

“He which testifies those things saith, surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so. Come Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Transcripts Go Multi-Lingual!

I began transcribing initially as a personal activity I enjoyed and then began to realise that transcripts could serve a purpose in that some people who didn't have the time to sit and listen to audio sermons could read them. My two favourite preachers and heroes for transcribing are Ern Baxter and Rob Rufus as many know - mainly because of their prophetic commitment to Word and Spirit as well as their passion to see the gospel spread across the nations. I can never fail to listen to a sermon of theirs and come away untouched!

However of course I am aware that there are limitations on how far such published transcripts can go as I am not fluent in languages. Therefore it was a tremendous joy and excitement to me to begin emailing and get to know a fellow Rob Rufus and grace-lover called Bryan. He has very graciously and kindly copied one of my transcripts into German! It is now available here on the Rob Rufus blog that I have neglected for far too long.

The sermon was a monumental series called "Established in the Gift of Righteousness" that Rob preached in Hong Kong last year. It was of such help to me in working and training my mind to rid itself of 29 years of legalism and a series I need to read again and again! So I am so thrilled that German-speaking people can now begin to enjoy this sermon too!

Expecting God to Come!!

The last few blog posts have been sharing personally about my current spiritual walk and my battle to re-discover the "first loves" of a relationship with God in Jesus Christ. My personal feeling right here in the UK at the moment is that I don't "see" much happening in the spiritual realm. I think Simon Cowell - the famous music mogul - summed it up personally last night in the UK's biggest music reality show - the "X-Factor". He was explaining why he chose quite a colourful act and he said;

"I think the world has become a boring place over the last few years ... I'm just so bored!".

I agree! The world is boring. It is full of misery, depressive news and dreary endlessness. Of course Cowell seeks his excitement through new and exciting acts - because frankly there's not much more excitement seen around in the church! Or is there? My thoughts fly automatically to my hero - Ern Baxter - and his prophetic statements on the church. Even though he lived, preached and died in the 20th century I still believe he is one of the most prophetic preachers on the church to walk this earth.

Terry Virgo wrote his special conference edition for the Brighton Leaders Conference in 2004 and it was about Ern Baxter. Here's the complete document. Terry wrote;

"Ern's expectation was just as Saul's kingdom collapsed so would the religion that regarded the Bible contemptuously, explained away it's unique authority and inspiration and failed to honour the activity of the Holy Spirit".

There is a move abroad I think to lay emphasis on the unique authority and inspiration of the Word of God. But I still think many churches fail to honour the activity of the Holy Spirit - simply by rendering Him redundant. It's not so much that Christians purposefully blaspheme Him and His work. It's just that church life has adapted swiftly to coping without His manifest Presence. As R T Kendall used to say - if the Holy Spirit was completely withdrawn from the church then 90% would carry on as normal.

Terry closed his Firstline article by saying;

"Welcome to our Leadership Conference where we intend to celebrate Biblical Christianity, honour the King and welcome the Holy Spirit. Let's gather full of anticipation that God has so much more to show us and so much more to accomplish in our day".

Sadly this expectation is unusual in so many conferences these days - and even more sadly next year will see the last Newfrontiers Leadership Conference in Brighton. Here's a few other conferences around the world that seem to lack this active anticipation of both the Word and the Spirit;

" ... Teaching is central to this conference ... Most of all we gather as pastors, around God’s Word, to celebrate the glorious gospel".

"These are times when we gather ... (to) sit under the teaching of godly men".

"They began a conference which occurs every two years and aims principally at encouraging other pastors to do the same—to stand together for the gospel ... The goal of these friendships, conferences, and networks is therefore to reaffirm this central doctrine of the Christian faith".

4. A little closer to home, the local head SGM church Christchurch held a conference called "(Co)mission" and they;

" ... gathered to enjoy the gospel of grace and be stirred by God’s passion for church planting".

5. Alternatively of course - the outstanding "Glory and Grace Conference" in Hong Kong happening this month;

"Whilst our focus is not on miracles but on Jesus, this conference will see far more miracles than any other Glory and Grace we have experience before! There will be greater impartations of freedom and assurances to access and activate the treasures of the unsearchable riches of Christ in an effortless administration of His grace".

So what's your point you may say? My point is if there is no expectation for God to actively visit His people during these times then it's most likely He probably won't. If conferences gather to "situ under teaching" then all they will hear is teaching. Don't get me wrong - I love teaching. But I'm so hungry for His Presence that I find I can't commit my scant resources to going to a conference where that expectation is not present. I've got thousands of sermon tapes at home where I can "gather to hear teaching". I want to feel His corporate manifest Presence!

My initial reason for writing this blog post was to re-introduce Ern Baxter's prophetic ministry and to re-publish some of his writings and think about some new transcripts. But I got distracted by this theme of "conference expectation". That translates surely into our day to day life - if we don't expect God to come in active Presence then the question is will He?

Let's increase our hunger for more of Him! Even though hunger pangs hurt so bad at times - the pangs are a sign that our hunger can be filled by God!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Unblocking Old Wells

As you will see from the last couple of wells I have been working through remembering and re-discovering my personal relationship with God that I have allowed the stresses and business of life to erode. Yesterday was a glorious rediscovery of just how easy it is! And a glorious reminder of the wonderful free grace of God - that you do not have to pay penance to a sulky God because you have been away for so long but actually as soon as you turn to Him and seek Him and Him alone you find His arms are open wide.

I wanted to build on that today. It was a frustrating day because I was geared up to work tonight but the night shift got cancelled in the end. So I took to reading through some of my dusty old sermon notebooks. I am so, so grateful that we were taught to take notes as children in church! There is so much amazing truth there. For example I found notes from a sermon preached by my senior pastor Dr Stanley Jebb in Dunstable on 3rd May 1998 on "The Church in Thyatira". Here are the notes:

The promise of God that really caught my eye was from verse (v26). "He who overcomes, I will give unto him power over the nations". Stanley Jebb comments on the verse;

"It seems that there are those who are faithful who will be given responsibility and authority".

It seems to me that God is promising something amazing here! If we are faithful - if we hold on and keep believing and do not allow the cynicism of life to erode our faith in Him then we will be given power over the nations - to further advance the Kingdom of God of course. I think Stanley was typically too cautious in his interpretation of that verse. Jebb allows for "responsibility and authority" whereas the verse mentions; "the nations". Whatever the case this is an exciting promise! And one we must not forget! Another reason to hold on!

I hope to share more promises or discoveries from my notebooks as I find them! It is good - even in a "day of small things" when nothing much seems to be happening there is a right and appropriate time to go back to the pile of stones in the Jordan and remember the great works and the promises of God!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The Ease of Access!!

If you happened to be in my part of suburbia in Birmingham this afternoon you would have heard something like squawking coming from my apartment. No - it wasn't a cat being strangled. It was me singing along to worship songs for the first time in a while. It hasn't been easy at all "connecting" with God over the past year or so. I don't know why - I think I've been praying and expecting "something" to happen and got incredibly frustrated and cynical when "it" (whatever "it" is) didn't!

So today I got home and was thinking about this issue - of the silence of heaven. I've been emailing my friend Pete Day in London about this. We both agreed that if this - the status quo - is all there is, then frankly what is the point of staying alive? We might as well enter into a mass suicide pact now and get to heaven so it's all over! I should add I said that - not Pete.

I don't quite know what or Who but I decided in the quietness of my own home to start playing some of my favourite but too-neglected worship songs. The one I played reminded me oh-so painfully and oh-so wonderfully of the Brighton Newfrontiers Leaders Conference in 2007 when Rob Rufus was speaking. It was one of my favourite songs by Matt Weedall;

Jesus Christ has made the way to the Father-heart of God,
He became the sacrifice, He fulfilled the covenant - crucified for us.
Jesus high and holy priest, He has satisfied the law,
Living out the perfect life, bearing all the wrath of God - on the cross for us!

I stand redeemed, righteous and clean! Washed in the blood of the Lamb!
No guilt remains! I'm unashamed to stand before my King!

Now the Spirit testifies, that we're children of the light, set apart to worship God,
Through the death of Jesus Christ - who was raised to life!".

An amazing thing happened - just as the music started I felt the experience of God that I have missed so desperately. It was just so ... easy! Hence the rather tuneless but enthusiastic singing. I spent a really happy hour or two just singing through many of my favourite Stoneleigh Bible Week and Newfrontiers worship songs with a few Hillsongs thrown in for good measure. God felt so close! I just couldn't understand again how easy it was.

That's why this song is so full of truth - because the explanation is all there. Here's my train of thought;

1. It is MEANT to be so easy because "Jesus Christ has made the way".

2. It is MEANT to be an amazing encounter because it is "the Father-heart"! Not the "Father's law".

3. It is MEANT to be free because He "has satisfied the law".

So - I ask - why do we so persist in trying to add costs into that? Why do I automatically feel that I should pray or ask forgiveness that I have been away so long or run to read my Bible or sing louder to impress? It's meant to be free! He satisfied the law! I didn't!

4. It is MEANT to be complete, total and final!

The song says; "I stand redeemed! Righteous and clean! Washed in the blood of the Lamb! No guilt remains!". So why as a people washed in the blood of the Lamb with no guilt - do we spend so much time talking about sin? Why do we spend so much time "trying"? Something occured to me while enjoying this wonderful encounter with God.

Am I right is saying this;

The greatest act of worship is to enjoy freely the lavish gift of grace and greedily take it with no strings attached.

The greatest act of blasphemy is to try and add or justify that free, no strings enjoyment through acts of "sacrifice".

Why do we find it so hard to let ourselves enjoy God?

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Glory and Grace Conference - Hong Kong - 2010

Following information from Hong Kong:

"The Glory and Grace Conference 2010 is nearly upon us! We are very excited about this time and believe that it's going to be our best conference yet, with strong friendships and alliances being made and deepened; new strength and vigor coming to those who have been pressing forward in this great race, and greater doors of influence and momentum being opened up! I've sent you all the promotional posters and registration link as we would hugely appreciate if you could promote the conference within your sphere's of influence. Please stir people to come and to expect new levels of revelation in grace and insights into the glory of God.

This is the registration link with all relevant information:

Speakers: Rob Rufus -
Andrew Wommack -
Fini and Isi de Gersigny -"

Monday, October 04, 2010

Be Prepared!

Many will be familiar with the Boy Scout motto; "Be prepared!". I spent today at Police Headquarters in Birmingham. The government is holding it's Party Conference in the city and we were warned that terror attacks were likely. So I was asked as a trained loggist to support some of our health commanders to monitor events. I started at 07:30 and finished at 18:30. It was an odd day because NOTHING happened! Aside from a couple of protesters and some police investigations all went quite safely. I walked home however with an odd sense of "disappointment". Does that sound weird? What I mean is that I spent all day in a state of readiness for something that didn't materialise.

Much of my current Emergency Planning role developed out of the terrible events of 9/11 and the terror attacks on the USA. I am told that prior to 9/11 there was little planning and readiness in place and so most of the response on that day was learned on the job. Two forms of response - one was reactionary and probably a bit messy. The other involves excessive planning for an event that may not take place. I find that I get incredibly frustrated with the second. It's not I am hoping for terror attacks to take place. Far from it. I just am quite an impatient person. I like to put in the appropriate amount of planning and then see the event take place.

I was walking back from Police HQ today through Birmingham and I remembered seeing a University tower and some prayer warfare I did back in my student days 10 years ago - praying against territorial spirits. It reminded me - what happened? I was eroded down by well-meaning Christians telling me that "that" didn't really work. Do I think that there are still demonic powers very much in control over Birmingham? Most certainly! All that has changed is my level of faith and response and expectation that God will and can do something! I reflected on why I've found myself in an Emergency Planning job that seems to focus so much on the negative. Could it be that it's because I've spent so much of my life hoping for an act and move of God that hasn't (yet) materialised?

The Bible speaks much of the day of "small things" and speaks again of the sovereign timings of God - and I do believe that. But I want to make a case for the day of preparedness being over. I don't believe it is healthy to spend the majority of our lives in prepared readiness for an event that doesn't come to pass. It just drives you mad. We must passionately throw ourselves into being prepared for a revival of massive proportions in faith that God must and can see His Word and His promises fulfilled. All the historical greats say that God loves being "sued" for His promises. Did He say it? Well then He must have meant it!

I believe the church has spent so so long being prepared that we have forgotten what we are preparing for. I loved the Lakeland Revival and the heady days on God TV where we saw spiritual life. I know that Todd Bentley raised eyebrows and many criticised him - but what those days did was raise our faith to remember; "Oh yere! God heals!". Even if some claims were exaggerated - the issue of healing was on our agenda! And it needs to be again. There is nothing more dangerous and more potent to kill the life of the church I think that the status quo - the "mess we are in".

We are prepared Lord! We are ready! We are hungering - we are aching. Do it again.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

A New Day - a new direction?

I've been taking an unplanned and yet helpful break from blogging this last month or so. Unplanned because I don't really like the dramatic statements of some bloggers. I've always seen blogging as "writing down what you see". My understanding is to be honest -
If I'm not seeing anything in particular then why write just for the sake of it? So I've been doing quite a bit of thinking about my life and my relationship with God and where I've come from and where I'm going.

A key point about starting this blog was out of anger and frustration and hurt.
I had been thrown out of my parents church in Bristol unjustly and noone seemed interested in hearing my version of events.
I had a rude, cursory email from the SGM regional leader telling me I was wrong but he would "graciously" talk to me if I wanted. Unsurprisingly I didn't. So I wrote. It wasn't an easy thing to do and made me still unpopular with C J Mahaneys fans who think he can do no wrong. Then a few months ago I met with those leaders along with Pete Day and tried to put the past to rest. The meetings themselves were a real answer to prayer. I was welcomed back to church effectively ending the excommunication. I haven't been yet but will. I haven't heard another word from the SGM leaders making me wonder if
I've been filed in the "case closed" box!

But my point is that major part of my life is effectively dealt with and things are so so good with my family. It's great having that sense of peace that even though I wouldn't choose to go to their brand of church - that division is healed!

So that's the past.

Another aspect to my blogging has always been to focus on looking and hoping for God to act in mighty works of revival and to see
His Kingdom advance. I honestly confess to struggling to keeping faith in His sovereign
timing. The touches of heaven such as at Brighton or in Hong Kong have
almost made it worse! If I had never experienced the "not yet"
I would have settled for the "already"! But I know there is
more! I've seen and heard the undeniable touches of God! I've
heard the prophetic!

So I am seeking to stir myself to rise in faith again. Whether that is by getting
to transcribing Ern Baxter or Rob Rufus or trying something else - who knows! But if the status quo is it
till heaven then why don't we all end it now!? Because
I can't cope with life as it is. We need God to come down and make His Name famous around the globe!

So watch this space! The journey isn't over yet!