Birds of the air

Be aware, be alert against of people who ” ….. resorted either to words of flattery or to any cloak to conceal greedy motives or pretexts for gain” (1 Thessalonians 2:5 Amp).

Someone posted this video to alert believers of ‘wolves in sheep clothings’ in a recent incident of the loss of confidence in church leadership  – how spiritual appearances and aspirations can cloak the true motives of certain christian workers and ministers.  While the assertion is debatable, definitely Jesus warned about the ‘birds of the air’ that have perched in the kingdom of God, distracting, distorting and deceiving the branches.

Keep the birds out!!

A similar video about the antics of counterfeits and imposters is found here 

 

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Touch Not the Lord’s Annointed

“Whatever we say and if God is real, we will be held accountable for every word and rain on ourselves blessings or curses. No matter what.. Don’t touch God’s Anointed… Else we will end up like Saul. let God deal with His Anointed.. A warning to all who refuse to heed the Word of God.”   (bold italics mine)

The above is taken from yesterday’s entry in an on-going discussion on the departure of a key member from the CHC saga  (http://mrslightnfriends.com/) (Also see ‘Who is Speaking the Truth’ in this blog)

Apparently this phrase was attributed to the ‘Shepherding Movement’ (initiated by Derek Prince, Bob Mumford, Don Basham, Simpson, Ern Baxter — also known as the “Lauderdale Five”).  The ‘Lauderdale Five’ spiritual giants regretted and closed the movement after they realised how their noble and pure intentions on ‘Covering and Accountability” were being abused by leaders. The error of interpretation and application continues today (see the books referenced below), and personally I have been presented with this ‘teaching’ a few times.

Is the verse valid for all instances of feedback or comment about leadership; or could it an evidence of insecurity, heavy shepherding, domination or inflexibility.  Hal Miller wrote much on ‘Leadership and Authority’, one of which is found in http://www.home-church.org/voicesdocs/authorty.html

So how do I understand the verse ‘touch not the Lord’s anointed’?  Nowadays, the cyberspace is a good source of teaching, e.g.   http://www.letusreason.org/Pent47.htm

“David who was shepherd boy was anointed before God took away Saul’s position. David refused to touch Saul physically but it didn’t stop him from telling everyone the truth about him publicly.

David not raising his hand to touch (harm physically) God’s anointed is used in 1 Sam.26:9,11,23. Look at 1 Sam.26:11: tells us that David would not stretch his hand out to touch him (harm him);

‘Post-charismatic?: Where are We Now? Where Have We Come From? Where are We Going?’  By Rob McAlpine

‘What Happened to the Fire?’ by J Lee Grady (1994)

Motives and methods in ministry

1 Thessalonians 2 paints a picture of Paul as Christ’s minister, model and mentor.

1 Thessalonians 2:But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts. For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God.10 You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; 11 as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, 12 that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.”

The Master, His Mandate, His Message. The minister, his motive and methods

v4 – Paul is so captivated and riveted by the Master Who saved and sent him that his sole purpose in life and ministry was to please HIM (see blog on “Jesus cannot be displaced or misplaced”).  And God could attest to Paul (v4, 5, 10) as a minister, to the message Paul delivered, and to the ministry he was involved in and methods he employed.  He was devout, just and blameless.

Paul was transparent in his motive – only to please his Master Who tests his heart.  Paul not only declared his motive verbally, his motivations and methods were also visible (v10 ‘you are witnesses’).  Other people are great mirrors, especially those close to us.  For those who have leadership roles and responsibilities, then it would be the members and followers.  On the other hand, members could be so enamoured by the leaders and become short-sighhted and deluded, especially when the motives, message and methods are rationalized, justified, distorted and explained away (‘flattering words’).  When followers or observers comment, the tendency is to shut off those who defer, and to disparage the feedback.  Or to use the false authority invested upon leadership to control and intimidate – “made demands as apostles of Christ“ or twisting the scripture – ‘Touch not the Lord’s annointed’.  I deem feedback to be positive as it can spur me on to re-think / review my position, and to search deep to surface issues to the light.  A parachute will only work when it is open.

It is possible for me to promote a noble motive, more so when I need others out there to support me, to work with or for my vision and objective. (I am reminded of what Walt Henricksen said – to serve is to help the other person fulfil what God has placed in his heart, not to get the other to serve the leader’s vision). Paul knew this too, he said “For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness—God is witness” (v5).  Paul went on – “Nor did we seek glory from men”.  Even starting out sincerely to serve Jesus, I could be distracted, duped and deceived by self and satan (birds of the air) in my service.  It begins with a man whom the Lord calls, and blesses with a ministry which grew into a movement, but could become a monument.

Paul served His Master, and sacrificially ministered to others (v4, vv7-12)

He was a mother – nourishing them with the milk of the word when they were babes in Christ, nursing them when they were hurt and harmed, and nurturing – protecting and perfecting them to grow to full maturity.

He was a father – modelling the life of Christ in all His attributes, working out the fruit of the Spirit, mentoring them as they grow and glow in the new creation life, and maturing them into the fullness of Christ.

I guess that the mandate Jesus gave Peter was also delivered to Paul.  Feed my lambs (like a mother), feed my sheep (like a father).  Feed, not fleece (‘covetousness’}.  Minister, not manipulate (‘cloak’).

Who Is Speaking the Truth

This morning a newspaper report pointed me to the blog above. Within, the blogger had an entry “Deception, Witchcraft & Sorcery” and appended material from Derek Prince.  (There was another sad entry – that’s how I came across this blog – about a dear brother leaving his church.  It is also about other dear brothers who are covered and cleansed by the blood of Jesus.)

My take on this – we must be vigilant not to let the ‘birds’ infiltrate into the church, influence our thinking and teaching, our values (next blog on ‘The minister, his motives and methods’).  This dear brother wrote –

‘what I’ve been seeing and tolerating – wrongful labelling, quick to take credit and to pass the buck, betrayal, slander, ingratitude, denial and lies, manipulation and control, greed, pride, hypocrisy, abuse of authority, practice of favoritism and different standards.  it is exacerbated when it is perpetrated by top leaders, including those who taught us that the Word is supreme and that obedience to the Word equals loving God.  Leadership cannot be measured by words but by action.  Nobody qualifies to lead, or to preach what he cannot practise in real life.  More than anything, these are foremost issues of spiritual and moral significance. I realize these are strong words, but nevertheless I do believe no one has to be afraid of speaking the truth.  Otherwise we are in bondage to man and their man-made rules.’

I further googled and found 4 pdf by Derek Prince on the same subject.  Deception comes from within the church! It is so easy for us to be naive and gullible when scriptures are quoted by qualified, gifted and dedicated believers.  I don’t doubt that there is truth spoken by all, but I just need to be discerning.  (This reminds me of a 3 part sermon in print given by D Prince warning his fellow workers in 1996 on ‘Protection From Deception – Navigating Through The Minefield Of Signs And Wonders”.  I can forward it to any who writes in to Pilgrimgoinghome@gmail.com)

The birds of the air

I have heard and read (even from foremost theologians) that the “birds’ which came to rest in the mustard tree (parable of Jesus) are needy people who take shelter within the church.  It was not until I read from a Messianic Jew that the key to understand this parable had already been given by Jesus in the first parable of the Sower, the seed, the soil, and the serpent (deceiver).  The birds have come into the church!!  People who make decisions for the believers can be the source of doubting God (not of faith), distraction (anything else apart from Jesus), distortion (of God’s true teaching in His words), and deception.

Once, someone said that his church pastor felt that people might get jaded if they partake of the Communion memorial of bread and wine weekly.  Hence they do it monthly, and because of the packed program list for the Sunday Service (worship singing, announcement, message etc).   So I asked “How often does your pastor speak?”; “How often does the church pass the offering bag?”  I wondered aloud “It would be great then if the offering is made once in a while, people will definitely give wholeheartedly and not grudgingly, and if the pastor speaks once in many weeks, people would always look forward eagerly to the freshness of the sermon, instead of feeling jaded by the same speaker.”

No, when we keep Christ central in our church life, He brings freshness in all ways, always.  His life and death, His imputed righteousness, His abundance of inheritance etc is for us to remember and appropriate.  That is why He only spoke about this (in the first person, directly) many many years after he ascended, to the Corinthians about remembering Him in the memorial feast.

Keep the birds out.  Beware of distortion and deception from within the community of God’s people.

Once Saved, Always Saved?

Once, over lunch, a brother asked what is my view on OSAS.  I shared Jesus’ question to Peter from John 21 – “what is that to you?”.  I answered that normally the person who asked this question is already ‘walking’ in the faith, and likely has someone else in mind or is wondering about this ‘doctrine’ or ‘teaching’ often raised by others.

I re-directed the question to him and asked if he has any issue with his own assurance of salvation at that moment, and would like to study this issue with him personally.  Jesus had said “…. what is that to you? You follow Me.”

Very often, OSAS is conjectural for the person who raises the concept.

And often too, we approach OSAS with our own understanding of the many aspects of salvation, with different definitions and reference points for this beautiful and bountiful; broad and multifarious gift.

Before I label another as not subscribing to OSAS, I need to fair and even-handed, and seek to grasp how the other person define the various words and the reference points he is working from.  One can be discussing the position of the believer in salvation while another the process of salvation, and another the product of salvation and much more.  Hence much misunderstanding could be avoided if I seek to be wise and mature in my quest for HIM WHO IS my SAVIOUR, SOVEREIGN, and SUFFICIENCY, and superlatively so, beyond all that I can ASK or THINK.

Who is sufficient to fully encapsulate our inheritance, the working of the exceeding greatness of His power (Ephesians 1).

God’s love and truth for us is profound, immense, boundless and beyond comprehension.

How do I understand salvation from Ephesians 1:14 “until the redemption of the purchased possession”?  Is it mine now, or it is not my experience until … 

What about Hebrews 9:28  “to those who eagerly await him he will appear a second time, not to bear sin but to bring salvation.”?  Does it mean that I am not saved now until Jesus appears to bring salvation to me?

So I need to understand how each person define the terms, and the terms of references he uses when discussing or teaching from the Bible.

So when I listen to David Pawson talking about OSAS in 6 parts on Youtube, am I going to label him or should I have listened carefully, grasp the definitions he used, and then realize that indeed God’s love and salvation is so beautiful, bountiful and boundless for my finite mind.

As I wrote in a previous blog –  “Who is sufficient to reduce the revelations of God in 52 Sundays sermons, in a book, in an article? Somehow, somewhere we will miss out certain aspects of His heart and mind. It is just like an individual looking at the glorious and magnificent facets of a flawless polished diamond – it is sparkling yellow, no it is shining blue, no it is dazzling crimson, no it is glittering red …….”

And the need for me once I have ‘accepted’ the Lord Jesus as my Saviour, to continue on to abide and abound and grow and glow in Him instead the folly of championing OSAS and ignoring or blacklisting those who exhort others to work out our salvation with fear and trembling and ‘seem’ to be teach that works and fruit-bearing must be the product; bearing fruit from the root.

P/S   David Pawson mentioned that he wrote the book “Once Saved Always Saved?”; while Kendall wrote a similar book “Once Saved Always Saved” without the ?   So, what are the frames of reference both are writing from, how did each define all the terms related to salvation?

For me who subscribe to OSAS!, it is not incompatible with OSAS?

Having known that God’s grace and salvation is full and total, it would delightful rather than derisive and disapproving of those who exhort us to mindful of our works and discipleship.  Ephesians chapters 1-3 delineates our riches and position in Christ, and 4-6 follows up with our responsibilities and progress in Christ.  So the first verse in the second section goes on to exhort us “to live a life worthy of the calling I have received ..”  (Eph 4:1).

Proof Text

Bible Verses that are positively charged do empower and encourage.  However there are those who warned about the emptiness and illusion of realities and truth when certain passages are quoted out of context.

Hence, we need to discern whether certain passages are

– promises from God

– precepts from the Scriptures

– proverbs which distills life’s experiences, generally true but not absolute truth

– prayers desiring God’s blessing and favor

– preferences that are personal and desirable

– positive thinking, as popularized by NV Peale,

– possibility thinking as popularized by R Schuller; introduced into the church

– presumptions that God has spoken to me and will fulfill His words

Ronald Dunn in his book ‘The Faith Crisis’ wrote:

“Many well-meaning Christians confuse the key of faith with counterfeit keys, keys that bear a remarkable similarity to faith but are actually look-alike replicas.  Often what they judge to be faith is in fact presumption, or wishful thinking, or selfish desire, or some form of positive thinking.  And when these bogus keys faith to open the doors of God’s promises, some conclude that they are not of the ‘chosen few’ and abandon any hope of living the life of faith.”

While proof texting has been leveled at most pentecostals and charismatics, the approach has indeed brought a fresh wind that God can be trusted and God cannot lie.  It has propelled Christians into the realms of spiritual power, miracles and wonders and vibrant personal living.  Many evangelicals would seek to deconstruct the WOF teachings.  Personally what we need is reconstruct some of the earlier WOF teachings.

To quote Gordon Fee –

“One must ruefully admit that evangelical Christianity by and large does not expect much from God,” he notes. “Most Christians’ expectation level when it comes to the miraculous is somewhere between zero and minus five. Even though evangelicals often pray, ‘If it be Thy will, please heal so-and-so,’ they would probably … faint if God actually answered.”

(this is my first ‘cut’ posting on this subject.  will edit and polish up on this as I shift through the subject and organise my thoughs)

“God freely give us all things” Romans 8:32

The sermon this morning was on prayer.  My pastor briefly refreshed last week’s theme on 3 John 2, and went on to point out how God knows our needs before we ask (Matthew 6:8).  If that is true, then why does God want us to pray?  Can’t he just provide for our needs and not require of us to ask Him?  God, as with our salvation, do not want to force Himself upon us – He wants us to seek and desire what He wants to give.  Well that makes a lot of sense.  And prayer need not be long, be showy, be ….. substantiating with scriptures throughout.  We ended with the congregation praying the prayer of Jabez.

We were also guided to meditate on Romans 8:32

32 “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”

If the Lord gave us Jesus, surely he will freely give us all things!

There was the implication that “all things” includes Health and Wealth which humankind all need and desire.  This is so smooth, so reasonable – just like many teachings and themes popularly followed by the Word of Faith proponents. As I sat listening, I wondered whether the text a ‘proof-text’ often cited by the WOF?

Returning home I read Romans 8.  Could the “all things” in context referred to eternal and enduring inheritance like no condemnation, the Holy Spirit, sonship, hope, justification, glorification etc

Romans 8 is best understood in the context of the epistle, of the church in Rome and what the believers were going through.

And the emphasis on Health & Wealth in the “all things” in Romans 8:32 definitely is an attractive and compelling good news.

Then I suppose we need to be consistent.  What about the “all things” in Romans 8:28 – do those things refer to good things?

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Hence, I need to be discerning.  Is the WOF teaching a promise, a presumption or a preference?

Do I love Him, worship Him and follow Him for the ‘all things’ that He gives – H&W, or I love Him in spite of my health and my wealth, knowing that ‘all things’ work out for good.