Apostolic and Prophetic – Calgary Trip #4

Well, we finished up our two days of ministry in Calgary tonight (Tuesday and Wednesday). It took four days to do two days of ministry, however. So, for both Dennis Cramer and myself we will have invested 4 days of our lives in the ministry that the Lord wanted us to do here in this great city of Calgary. He flies out at 7 a.m. leaving the hotel at 5:30 a.m. I fly out at 12:05 (noon) and leave the hotel at 10:00 a.m. However, I have a great deal of work to accomplish before I leave the hotel for the airport so it will be an early morning as most of them are these days.

Tonight the ministry was simply the prophetic. Denny was released to minister almost from the start – although we had some worship ahead of his time to minister. Afterwards, I was able to connect with 4 men whom I felt I could help to work through their callings as prophesied over by Denny.

Noah – and his call to birth a network of churches. Jonathan and his call to seriously impact his world – after overcoming some ‘religion’ that still hangs around him so that he will be free to flow with God and live supernaturally. Ryan whose call to be a prophet (and more) was recognized publicly tonight and whom Denny connected to me prophetically. Last but not least – Neal whose calling is to be a five-fold evangelist. Exciting times ahead for all four men – much for them to learn and much needed to help them to grow. I feel I have a mentoring role to play in all four.

With Ryan it will be a two-way street as he has a well developed Market Place Ministry and since last October’s Word over my life from Dennis Cramer about market Place Ministry I have been looking to connect with others who are doing it. He is away from Friday onwards for two weeks in Japan on a prayer mission….then maybe two weeks in Israel (still tentative) – so it may be August before I have personal contact with him again. However, we are going to keep in touch via laptops and emails.

This is much of what an apostle does. He is less up-front than a prophet – although we do teach and minister prophetically from the front at times and rather regularly. Prophets do it almost exclusively. However, I as an apostle, feel most comfortable behind the scenes – contacting, networking, building relationships, equipping, training, mentoring, releasing and yes prophesying one-on-one. So, I have four more men to work with. Five if you count the local pastor William – and I do count him in as his apostolic calling will need much training and mentoring. More reasons to stay connected to this new church plant and to be back-and-forth over the next few months to extablish a pattern of involvement.

I expect my involvement will be substantial for many years to come.

It has been fun to work with Denny as an apostolic-prophetic team. The real team work was behind the scenes – morning meetings together to sense what God was doing and saying the previous day and planning for the current day. Lunch meetings with leaders. Spiritual preparation later in the day and then the services. Then meetings with leaders and others after the services late into the night.

So, many hours discussing what we see and sense and coming to some agreement about the spiritual dynamics we are working with – then communicating this is a positive and uplifting way to the leader(s) of the local church. A real week of stretching and growing as we developed team skills when we are both so accustomed to working solo in our ministries.

There will a number of further discussions as we continue to work with this local church and I run things past Denny by phone and e-mail as I will be much more hands-on then he will be over the coming year. So, an opportunity – a very good one – to sharpen our skills of team ministry and to see how our different callings can most effectively work together.

Oh No, Not Again!- Calgary Trip #3

We held our first service last night. Definitely not our first meeting as I have been in constant meetings since my arrival on Monday afternoon. The pace has been good. I get to be by myself from 6:00 to 9:00 in the morning (intimacy time with the Lord – shower and shave). Then from 9:00 to noon with Dennis Cramer talking about the day before (debriefing), and about his ministry and changes he is seeing it go through and/or my ministry and what I am sensing God doing as I learn the ropes of an apostolic trans-local ministry. Then a lunch meeting with the pastor – usually ending around 3:00 p.m. followed by some preparation time for the evening meeting and a shower and fresh clothes ready to meet the people.

We are picked up at 6:45 for the 7:00 p.m. service. The service goes to 10:00 p.m. Dennis Cramer goes back to his hotel and I meet till well after 11:00 with the leadership to speak to them, answer questions, and tell them what, as an apostle, I am sensing, seeing and hearing. Last night I was back in my hotel room at 11:50 p.m. Some unwind time and then roll into bed around 1:30 with the alarm set for 6:00 a.m.

That’s a normal day when I am on the road – the joy of this trip is being with my friend so the mornings are taken up talking shop but because we are on each other’s advisory council we share ideas, direction, plans, and our hopes and dreams.

This morning Denny and I went for breakfast and talked about last night’s meeting. Part way through an older gentleman sitting by himself right behind Denny stood up and approached our table. He did not introduce himself or state the nature of his interruption. He simply asked for our email addresses as he “would be contacting us”. Instantly we thought – now we are going to be fined or arrested for talking about Jesus in a restuarant. I mean they are everywhere – Swiss Chalet, Denny’s Restaurant… But, he was just wanting to get us involved in a world-wide scheme on the web that produces 70%+ profit for those investing. Another multi-level marking scheme which is illegal in Canada.

I gave him my card and I hope he contacts me as I will get to share with him the Gospel and see if I can help him to understand it and come to know Jesus. He has a good heart however – for when I went to pay the bill for our breakfast he had already done so for us. Bless him, Lord!

Quiet time right now as I wait for Denny who is up in his room showering. Then over to the service and a great night of Holy Spirit ministry followed by another meeting with leaders before going back to my hotel room.

Tomorrow morning – a debriefing with the pastor before I get on the flight to Regina. I leave the hotel at 10:00 and the plane leaves at noon. Dennis leaves at 5:30 a.m. with his flight at 7:00. I will say good-bye tonight!

In my next ministry trip blog will try to share my impressions of the church and the services…

Going International – Bible Blog #9

My apologies for this being late – the hotel in Calgary was having trouble with their internet connections for the last 30 hours

The Scriptures:

Acts 2:5-13 Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? “And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? “Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs – we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.” And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others were mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet wine.” Commentary:

We continue our look at the events on the Day of Pentecost – the start of a new harvest of souls on this annual Jewish celebration of the Harvest Festival. The Holy Spirit has been given to the disciples in the Upper Room which was evidenced by visible tongues of fire resting on or over the heads of each person present in the Upper Room. Tongues of fire loosen the tongues of the disciples and they proceed, in their excitement, to praise God and we see one aspect of the gift of tongues in action.

The noise of the Holy Spirit which was like wind attracts those in the streets. These were very religious men (devout) who had come to Jerusalem to worship at the temple and to celebrate the Jewish feast of Pentecost as part of the Jewish religious calendar.

Exodus 23:14-19 “Three times a year you shall celebrate a feast to Me. “You shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for seven days you are to eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the appointed time in the month Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. And none shall appear before Me empty-handed. “Also you shall observe the Feast of the Harvest of the first fruits of your labors from what you sow in the field; also the Feast of the Ingathering at the end of the year when you gather in the fruit of your labors from the field. “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord GOD. “You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leavened bread; nor is the fat of My feast to remain overnight until morning. “You shall bring the choice first fruits of your soil into the house of the LORD your God. You are not to boil a young goat in the milk of its mother.

Now, each of them in the crowd heard the disciples speaking their language. Think this through now:

1> God could have chosen to speak Temple Hebrew which was the common language among these devout Jewish men but He did not

2> God chose, instead, to have His disciples simply praise Him and have it come out in numerous known languages from around the Roman Empire. This could have been the disciples simply praising God in their own language (Galilean dialect) and having their words translated by the Holy Spirit as they hit the ears of the listeners. Or, all the disciples literally speaking different languages that were new to them and not learned by them. This option would be somewhat more confusing just due to so many languages flowing from the ‘platform’ at the same time.
Either way – a tremendous miracle sent to literally impress those who heard.

The reaction to the noise like the wind and the tongues – they were amazed and astonished. Great! But, as we will see later, the reaction soon changes to one of being amazed, greatly perplexed, and then some even mocking what is going on.

The initial reaction was not just that they heard the praises of God and the telling of God’s great exploits from Old Testament times; the reaction was also to the fact that these various languages were coming out of the mouth of Galileans.

Galilee was a rural area of northern Israel around the Sea of Galilee. Those from this district (in our case, as noted a week ago – all the remaining 11 disciples were from Galilee) spoke with a distinct and heavy regional accent and were considered to be unsophisticated and uneducated by southern Judean Jews. So, a double surprise that led to their reaction – astonished and amazed.

This is a good time to bring in a comment from Paul who later would become a disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul states:

1 Corinthians 1:27-29 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.

This God certainly did by having His Son choose his apostles from Galilee – fishermen and tax collectors. Great representation for the Kingdom as they stood before the crowd worshipping God in tongues.

Let’s look at the audience – those attracted by the noise and the worship…

Pathians – people from modern Iran
Medes – in Daniel’s time these people ruled with the persians but settled in Parthia (modern Iran)
Elamites – Southwest part of the Parthian Empire
Mesopotamia – literally means “between the rivers” (Tigris and Euphrates). Many Jews still lived there as they did not come back with Ezra and Nehemiah to repopulate Israel during Daniel’s time (2 Chronicles 36:22-23)
Judea – all the region once controlled by David and Solomon – including modern day Syria
Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia – all districts in then Asia Minor and now Turkey
Egypt – Alexandria, a city in the north of that country, had 50,000 Jewish settlers and the country was just about the same as today’s modern Egypt.
Libya around Cyrene – west of Egypt along the coast of North Africa
Rome – the capital city of the empire which also had a sizable Jewish population from 200 B.C. onwards
Proselytes – Gentiles who converted to Judaism. INTERESTING – that the Jews in Rome were really serious and very active in seeking converts
Cretans – Men from the Island of Crete (off of the southern coast of Greece)
Arabs – Jews living south of the country of Damascus among the Nebatean Arabs (Galatians 1:17)

They all heard the disciples praising God in their own languages – a miracle in itself. They heard words describing the mighty works of God – God’s wonderful deeds.

The disciples were probably rehearsing (as Old Testament leaders did) the things that God had done for His people (see Exodus 15:11; Psalms 40:5; 77:11; 96:3; and 107:21). Such praises were normally heard in Jerusalem during festival times – even on the streets as was the case in our story.

As we close our look at these verses – we see that Luke again notes the reactions of those listening … Amazement and greatly perplexed. They really did not have a clue what all this meant and so they ask “What does this mean?” This creates an open door for Peter to answer that question by explaining the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of the Old Testament and their religious system. (tomorrow’s blog begins a look at this ‘sermon’.)

But there was also a second group having a reaction – mocking what they see and hear and don’t understand. They don’t ask a question – they make a judgment call -“They are drunk” and yet, as we will see, it was only nine o’clock in the morning.

APPLICATION:

Let’s go with the obvious application. We are to be out in the world (neighbourhood, work situation, and every other place on the planet called Earth) letting others know of the great things that God has done. God has called us to be His witnesses and He has empowered us to do that in a supernatural manner – with words and power which He then backs up with miracles, signs and wonders.

Now, we need training to do this effectively, efficiently and biblically. And, if you were trained a decade ago the way you now witness is outdated as society has changed so drastically that methods must be constantly upgraded and updated. Remember the message never changes – but the methods we use to proclaim that message must.

However, having said that – the training that Christians need should include how to articulate the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Most Christians know enough Gospel to be saved or born gain but not enough to tell someone else the story and lead them into salvation. So, believer, find a church that will teach you to present the Gospel and take you out to do it until they are sure you know how to do it right – and without all the cultural baggage.

As well, believers need to learn to speak the language of the people. Christians spend so much time talking to themselves that they really have little clue how to talk normally with non-believers. With my work on the streets and in business establishments I found, at the beginning, that I needed to switch my language away from “Christianese” to the language of the people I am talking to – business language, street lingo, whatever.

Of course, for me personally, I have since had trouble keeping some of this language out of my sermons on Sunday because I spend more time talking about Jesus to non-believers than talking to believers most week. So, on Sunday my ‘dominant language’ naturally surfaces. I get some fairly negative reactions from the Christians when this happens.

And, here is the trick – keep doing this regardless of the reaction. That’s what the early disciples did. If they receive the message work with them. If they reject the message (remember they are not rejecting you) then move on and find someone else to share with. Your task – my task is to fish. God’s job is to convict and bring them to the foot of the cross.

So, I need to be constantly upgrading my skills as a “fisher of men” and becoming the best fisherman I know how to be.

Freedom of Speech – Calgary Trip #2

So, we are having a business lunch at Swiss Chalet Restaurant here in Calgary. The pastor we are working with William whose last name is Dennie, Dennis Cramer – international prophet from the U.S.A. – and myself. We have been eating and talking. The conversation has been about the service tonight, the plans for the service and what is happening re. worship, introductions, and general format. And, we have been talking about what the Holy Spirit has been revealing to Dennis Cramer and myself about this young pastor and his 5 month old Church plant.

Dennis Cramer and I had actually had an earlier meeting where we had been thinking out loud about this two day visit here in Calgary. So we had entered this lunch meeting prepared to share, direct, express concerns, and give some guidance. It was a good meeting and was flowing very well in fact and we were able to share what we were sensing and feeling prophetically and it was very well received. In fact, I believe it was an excellent, healthy three way sharing that was honouring God.

Then an elderly woman with a foreign accent in the booth directly connected to ours – behind Dennis Cramer and myself – taps him on the back and tells him that there are other people in the restaurant and that they are not interested in hearing us talk about God. She was not being polite – in fact, she was being extremely rude. She interrupted a private conversation and basically told us to shut up as they could overhear what we were saying without even trying and she did not appreciate all this talk about God.

But here is the clincher – she says: “If you want to talk about God go to a church and talk about God.” And, she was dead serious. We were so astonished and actually could not believe what we were hearing. Not being sure we were catching the drift of her meaning and message to us we asked her again what her concern was. We asked her to repeat what she had said and she did. I was right – she was telling us that we had no right to inflict our conversation upon her and her fellow diners and that if we wanted to talk about God we should go to a church and do so. It was not conversation fit for a restuarant setting.

The logic here is amazing, isn’t it? This means if you are sitting behind me in a restaurant and talking about hockey I should be able to turn to you and tell you that your conversation is offensive to me and that if you want to talk about hockey then go to a hockey rink and do so. Or gardening should be talked about only at a garden center. At Tim Horton’s you can talk about coffee and at Swiss Chalet you can only talk about – you got the idea – chicken!

Well, Dennis Cramer and I were rattled and could not believe what we were hearing. More so when we realized that this lady was more than serious and was willing to cause a public commotion in this restaurant. Dennis turned and politely stated that it was his (our) right to talk about anything we wanted to at our booth in a public restaurant and that we were sorry she thought differently.

That seemed to be the end of things until a lady in the booth on the other side of us turned and stared at us. It was obvious that she too was not happy with our conversation. At this point the pastor went to pay the bill and we got up to leave. I calmed Dennis down a bit while we waited on the parking lot and then we went to Tim Horton’s to finish our conversation. The pastor said that while he was paying for the meal this second lady had gotten up and approached the booth with the first lady who had confronted us and that they were talking.

Folks, I hold a lot of business meetings in restaurants and coffee shops all over the U.S.A. and Canada and so I can tell you that we were not talking too loudly, we were not being arrogant, we were not even talking about the Gospel and saying that non-believers would spend eternity in hell. We were having a planning meeting for the services for the next two nights and then giving prophetic and apostolic input into a young man’s life.

So, my question: Whatever happened to freedom of religion? What ever happened to free speech? Whatever happened to our Mosaic society in which we live were all cultures and religions are accepted? Whatever happened to the right to talk about what you want to at a booth in a restaurant where you are paying for the meal (and thus, in reality, renting the booth)?

My question: Would she have been as quick to say something if we had been talking about deviant sexual behaviour? Or if we had been sharing some of the latest gossip about young Hollywood types? How about if we were talking about tattoos and piercings? Would she have spoken up if we were speaking about any other topic other than Jesus and His Church – the supernatural gifts and the great things that the Holy Spirit has planned for a young leader and a young Church? I think not.

My question: Does the anti-Christ spirit operate in and through pleasant looking grandmother-types who just happen to be sitting in connecting booths in a Swiss Chalet?

Tongues, Tongues and More Tongues – Bible Blog #8

The Scripture:

Acts 2:1-4 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.

Commentary:

The day of Pentecost was part of the HARVEST FESTIVAL (Leviticus 23:16) also known as the Festival of Weeks (Exodus 34:22-23). It is celebrated 50 days after the Passover. On the Passover Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with His disciples giving the Passover Meal from their days in Egypt new meaning under what was to become known as the New Covenant. Jesus then is crucified (Good Friday) and raised from the dead physically (Easter Sunday) and appears a number of times to a number of people for 40 days. Then He ascends into Heaven and 10 days later we are at the Day of Pentecost – 50 days after Passover.

It is significant that Pentecost was part of the annual celebration of the HARVEST FESTIVAL. Jesus said that His disciples would receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon them – and He does just that in this passage from Acts, Chapter 2. The purpose of the power was that the disciples could become witnesses to the resurrected Jesus. Power to witness means souls being saved in the Name of Jesus and thus a new harvest being celebrated here on this special day. The Holy Spirit comes upon them and the harvest of souls for the Kingdom begins.

The disciples are effective and efficient in soul winning right from the start. Wow! And remember, Jesus said: “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men”. So, here is the beginning of the fulfillment of the promise made three years earlier.

They are still gathering together in the Upper Room where they had first met the resurrected Jesus and where the last Supper had been celebrated. They are “staying in Jerusalem” until they receive the “promise of My Father”. They are holding a prayer meeting which is now in its tenth day. The Church was birthed out of a prayer meeting.

Heaven opens and the Holy Spirit is sent. He comes into the Upper Room first like the sound of a rushing mighty wind. Wind had long been a symbol of the Holy Spirit and a way, inadequate as it may be, to understand the Spirit (Ezekiel 37:9-10; John 3:8). The whole house (not just the Upper Room) heard the wind and felt the effects of the wind. You can always tell when God is in the house. Then tongues of fire fall on each one. These are not literal tongues of fire – but, again, a representation of the Holy Spirit’s presence. This second supernatural indicator touched each person (rested on their heads) to let them know that the Holy Spirit had been sent to every believers – not just an anointing for the prophet, priest, or king as it was in the Old Testament.

Fire also represented, in the Old Testament, the presence of God. We see this in Exodus 3:2-6 for example.

The angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. So Moses said, “I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.” When the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said also, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

There are a number of other symbols or representations of the Holy Spirit – the dove (as when Jesus was baptized by John in the River Jordan) and oil, just to mention two others.

Everyone in the Upper Room was touched by the fire and empowered as He came upon them. This is known as the baptism in the Holy Spirit – a second encounter with God after your initial encounter of salvation. The Holy Spirit comes to live “in you” when you are born again; the Holy Spirit comes “upon you” when you are empowered through the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. This should be the norm for all believers. Sadly it is not!

The disciples also prayed for a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit daily. We see this in places such as Acts 4:8; Acts 4:31; Acts 6:5; and Acts 7:55. Paul talks about this a number of years later:

Ephesians 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit…

The disciples – now empowered – spoke boldly of the resurrection of Jesus and the Kingdom of God and the need to repent and turn to the Lord. And the harvest began – 3,000 souls were added to the Church that day. But, we get ahead of ourselves and the verses we are looking at.

They all spoke in tongues. A supernatural utterance in a language they had never learned and did not know. In this case it was known languages. I suspect Peter spoke in his native language of Aramaic and as it reached the ears of the men listening that day the Holy Spirit’s power translated into each person’s own local language. This is what we refer to as proclamation tongues – where you are proclaiming the resurrection and Lordship of Jesus and a language other than your own is spoken and/or heard.

There is also the gift of “public tongues” as listed in 1 Corinthians 12 which is used and heard in worship services – always followed by an interpretation. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 14:1-7 that this tongue needs to be interpreted (also a gift of the Holy Spirit). When a tongue with an interpretation is spoken you have heard God’s heart for the people assembled – just as you would if someone stood up and prophesied in the language of that group. Tongues and interpreation of tongues is equivalent to prophecy.

There is a third “tongue” and this is your own personal, private prayer language. Paul comments – pray in the Spirit, pray with my mind – and so we can allow the Holy Spirit in us to pray through our spirit to God who is Spirit (John 4) and thus pray according to the will of God without interference. Every believer who is baptized in the Holy Spirit receives the gift of a private prayer language. This can be a known language or a heavenly language – Paul writes: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels” (1 Corinthians 13:1).

APPLICATION:

It is interesting to note that the Church was praying when it was birthed or brought into existence. Prayer must be the foundation of everything the Church does and is… Prayer must surround all our activities and our work for the Lord.

And, Jesus has now empowered His followers to “go fishing”. He said, right at the start of His ministry, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men”. Here He is empowering them for just that. I once read, in a book by Bill Hull (a Nazarene pastor) this statement: “If you are not fishing, you are not following!” I believe that with all my heart.

Christian – you need to find a Church that will train and disciple you in the skills needed to witness to the lost. You need to learn how to give your testimony in a relevant and practical way. You need to learn well the Gospel – so well, that it flows naturally from your heart in every opportunity you are given. You need to be about your Father’s business of “seeking and saving the lost” (Luke 19:10). No more excuses for you follow Him who was and still is THE Fisher of men and wills that all men, everywhere, be saved!

There are two things you can do on earth that you cannot do in Heaven when you get there. Two things – sin and win the lost. Guess which one the Lord would have you do while still here on the face of planet Earth?

Pastors – Your Office or Your Study?

Since when did pastors begin to have an office? When you think of the “good old days” which were not so old and not so good – the pastor went to his study, not his office.

Now, this may not seem like a big thing but it really is! Going to the office means phone calls, paper work, mail, appointments, planning, scheduling, trouble shooting issues and concerns, finances, reports, and other administrative duties too numerous to mention.

But let me mention – were we trained for these things? No! Did we sign up for these things when we felt called into the ministry? No! Are we good at these things? Not usually! Do we want to do these things? Of course not! But, we say “someone has to do it.” And, we mentally write it off as ‘ministry’ by someone’s twisted definition of ministry.

What we need is a return to the “PASTOR’S STUDY”. Those in ministry need to get out of bed early – I mean early – and go into his or her study right away. Alright, if you are older like me, make a pit stop first and grab a coffee. But – to the study you go! There you read your Bible, study your Bible, read commentaries, read good books that have depth and substance (if you can find any) – including some of the older classics (Christian and non-Christian). You pray, seek God’s face, listen for His voice, talk with him about upcoming sermons and teachings… Then, when He dismisses you, go shower and get ready to face the world.

If the “world” is your office. Go to it! If it is out with your people – drink more coffee! If it is witnessing to the lost and dying (and you must be doing this too) – speak up! Whatever form your afternoon and evening may take – just do it! (I borrowed that from God – not Nike, by the way). BUT, first spend your mornings with God in your study.

Why? Because all ministry arises out of relationships; especially your relationship with God. In Mark 3:13-14 Jesus appointed 12 that they might be with Him (in the “study”) and that they might go out and preach (in the “office”). But, the busyness of ministry often short-circuits the time in the study and our intimacy. And, the feeling that if you are not productive (anyone know the definition for that word?) then you have not earned your keep and have no right on the face of the planet.

A thought: Is prayer and time spent with God not productive?

Maybe if we were less busy being productive – and busier spending time with God – we would, in the long run, accomplish much more than we do now. We would, for one thing, be doing it all with a better attitude. We would be (secondly) less stressed out. Thirdly, we would be doing it by the power of the Holy Spirit and not walking in the power of the flesh.

But it takes discipline and will-power to stay out of the office and to keep the office out of your mind while your body is absent from that location. It takes discipline to not answer the phones until you actually go to the office and have finished in the study (my study does not have a phone anywhere). It takes guts to tell your people (who usually pay your salary) that you are simply not available in the morning as that is the time you spend with God. It takes guts to do this because you know that they will be thinking – “Must be nice; why don’t you go out and get a real job like the rest of us?”

Discipline, guts, determination… But it is all worth it as you will be known as someone who “was with Jesus” as the early disciples became known for. And, you will then have a major impact upon the world in which you work – in or out of the office.

It’s time pastors – into the study and on your knees. So, I’m old fashion – I know it – so what? What we are doing now sure isn’t impacting the world in which we live. Maybe it is time to try it God’s way?

Another Day – Another Hotel – Calgary #1

Well, if you are keeping track of where I am and what I am doing by the “Ministry Trips Blog” I am currently in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. That is the next province over from where I live. Time on the flight – 4 chapters in an excellent book I am reading as research for a sermon soon to be written (I hope). Same time zone as where I live – so no adjustments.

Just a hour and bit before I walk across to Denny’s Restaurant to meet with the pastor (who I am here to minister to and with) for supper. So, time to catch a few odds and ends up. Coffee is good – I bring my own, they supply the water.

I’m here until Thursday morning to minister to the pastor and his leadership apostolically. A lot of that work is done behind the scenes just talking and listening (to him and to the Holy Spirit). I will be meeting with his leadership and hearing their heart as well. As well, I think I am the ‘teaching voice’ at the two evening services (Tuesday and Wednesday). During these services Dennis Cramer will be here to minister prophetically as only Denny Cramer can do.

He has not had a good day. He was late leaving the first airport, grounded in the second one because of a major storm in Toronto which was his destination, and as I write is running hard to make a connection with Air Canada to make it to Calgary tonight at 11 p.m. His original route was Williamsport to Philadelphia, to Dallas to Calgary. Just a bit different than planned. It will be good to see him when he gets here. For a while it was “if” now it is “when” so things are improving. He has the morning off while I meet with the pastor and go over some incorporation papers and talk to him about his role in Alberta for Life Builders Network – a Network of churches I founded many years ago and still supply apostolic oversight to.

So, a full four days – this one already more than half over. Keep praying that God’s will will be done as we work with William Denny and the people of Kingdom Ambassador Ministries here in Calgary, Alberta.

Casino Jerusalem – Bible Blog #7

The Scriptures:

At this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together), and said, “Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. “For he was counted among us and received his share in this ministry.” (Now this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out. And it became known to all who were living in Jerusalem; so that in their own language that field was called Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) “For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘LET HIS HOMESTEAD BE MADE DESOLATE, AND LET NO ONE DWELL IN IT’; and, ‘LET ANOTHER MAN TAKE HIS OFFICE.’ “Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us – beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us – one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” So they put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias. And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.

Commentary:

There are 120 in the Upper Room – far from the maddening crowd or multitudes that use the follow Jesus when He was ministering, feeding those who followed Him, and performing miracles and healings. How fast the crowd disappears as soon as the going gets rough. First, when His teachings became a bit “strange” and demanding of commitment (John 6:60); secondly, when He was arrested, tried and crucified thus leaving the disciples open to arrest and being put to death.

Peter is taking the lead. Jesus had earlier appointed him to do so and to encourage the others during these tough transition times. He stands and tells the others that the scriptures that they knew only so well had spoken clearly of this situation – where Judas betrayed the Lord.

Psalm 69:25 states: May their camp be desolate; May none dwell in their tents.

Psalm 109:8 states: Let his days be few; Let another take his office.

These were applied to the situation of Judas’ death and thus a vacancy in the total number of original apostles… Peter makes a point of declaring that this was all foretold (prophesied) ahead of time by David but really by the Holy Spirit through David. “The Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas”. David did the writing but the Holy Spirit told him what to write. Paul tells us that “all scripture is inspired by God…” and Peter would agree with his soon-to-be partner in the ministry, Paul.

Was Judas saved? Well, most say “no” and I would agree. However, most say “no” because he is described as a “son of perdition” in Matthew 26:24 and Luke 22:22. But, I would say that none of the disciples were saved at the point that Judas took his own life. No one was saved because the means of being saved was not yet available. To them and us to be saved – Jesus had to die, shed His blood, be buried, be raised from the dead and ascend to the Father to offer His sacrifice and have it accepted. None of this happened till a few days after Judas died. So, no, he was not saved – but neither were the other eleven at that time.

Judas returned the 30 pieces of silver that he had been paid to betray the Lord (Matthew 27:3-10). This 30 pieces of silver is described as ‘the price of his wickedness’. The price received for betraying Messiah was used to buy the Field of Blood. Traditionally, this field is located south of Jerusalem in the Valley of Hinnom, where that valley crosses the Kidron Valley. The soil there was excellent for making pottery so Matthew’s Gospel calls it ‘The Potter’s Field’ (Matthew 27:7-10).

The troubling spot in the story…

In Matthew 27:5 we are told that Judas hung himself. In Acts (above) we are told he fell and split himself open on a rock and his insides spilled out. Dr. John MacArthur states that “apparently the tree … overlooked a cliff; the rope broke or the branch broke, or the knot slipped – and thus a hanging body fell down the cliff, hit the rocks and split open”. He is trying hard to reconcile two stories about the same situation. However, I don’t think we need to do this – two different eye witnesses to the same accident or crime will have somewhat different stories. The same is true here – Matthew and Luke have different accounts and details of the same happening. I don’t have a problem with that.

Peter stands up and quotes Psalm 55:12-15:

For it is not an enemy who reproaches me, Then I could bear it; Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me, Then I could hide myself from him. But it is you, a man my equal, My companion and my familiar friend; We who had sweet fellowship together Walked in the house of God in the throng. Let death come deceitfully upon them; Let them go down alive to Sheol, For evil is in their dwelling, in their midst.

Using these verses Peter reassures the believers that Judas’ defection and the choice of his replacement were and are in God’s plan and purpose. They decided that the “replacement apostle” must have participated in Jesus’ ministry from the beginning and also have been an eye witness of the resurrection. This is because they were going to be representing and continuing Jesus’ ministry on Earth now that He has ascended – and, more importantly, the resurrection was central to apostolic preaching.

Two men are nominated –Joseph who seems to be having an identity conflict. He was also called Barsabbas (Son of the Sabbath) and Justus (Latin for ‘the Righteous’). The second man put forward was Matthais which means “Gift of God”.

They prayer – and drew lots. This was an Old Testament way of determining God’s will in any situation (Leviticus 16:8-10; Joshua 7:14; Proverbs 18:18). Matthais was picked. Eusebius, an early Church historian, claims Matthais was among the original 70 of Luke 10:1.

APPLICATION:

The means of picking Judas’ replacement is not something that was continued pass this spot in the New Testament. This reference to the Old Testament way of determining God’s will is the last mention of this form of “gambling”. Immediately after the Day of Pentecost – Acts, Chapter 2 – they no longer needed to ‘gamble’ to determine the will of God. As soon as the Holy Spirit came upon them and empowered them they were, from that point onwards, guided and directed by the Spirit of God. He is the one Who from this point onwards would direct the Church and individual Christians into the will of God for their lives. They shut down Casino Jerusalem.

Today Christians still put out a “fleece” before the Lord. Remember the fleece in the Old Testament? Gideon in Judges, Chapter 6, puts a fleece (piece of sheepskin) outside at night … in the morning if the dew is on the grass and not on the fleece then God wants him to do such-and–such. Well, he was hard to convince so he reverses the fleece the next night. God met both conditions and so Gideon knew the will of God.

Christians– you don’t need to put out a fleece before the Lord (or draw straws – lots) to determine God’s will for your life. If you are truly born again you have a personal relationship with the Lord and He, by His Holy Spirit in you, is guiding and directing you at all times. Simply, believe this truth and listen to His voice.

And I Don’t Mean Fred Flintstone’s Son!

Bam! Bam! That’s what the ‘evangelist’ (careful with callings and titles) Todd Bentley often says when praying for people and either hitting or drop-kicking them (I am not joking or making this stuff up). It is an unusual style to say the least. So unusual that J. Lee Grady (Editor of Charisma Magazine) comments on it in one of his recent blogs “WEhen Prayer Ministry Gets Violent”

There is a video on U-Tube where Todd Bentley – now known as the “tattooed evangelist” – states (in a sermon) that the Holy Spirit told him to use violent means to heal people.

Could I suggest that this would be contrary to His nature as revealed in the scriptures. As Lee Grady rightly points out:
1> The Holy Spirit is gentle
2> If we minister in the flesh, we will reap the flesh
3> Someone’s going to get hurt – (and, I may add, sued)

Is it not Todd Bentley – correct me if I am wrong – who visits the graves of dead saints – like Katheran Kuhlman and Smith Wigglesworth. While there he touches the graves so as to receive their anointing? He is, afterall, the one who talks to the long ago dead – Paul and King David among others!

Maybe he actually received Smith Wigglesworth’s anointing – for this giant of the faith (pre-Lawsuit days) would hit people as ‘led by the Spirit’ and they would get healed. Would have been interesting to see if they might have also been healed if someone just laid a hand on them gently and prayed quietly in the Name of Jesus. Afterall, it is the Name above all names that is powerful – not some long-dead saints anointing or some specific action.

And, skeptic that I am, how do we know it was the anointing of Smith Wigglesworth or John G. Lake that we received when visiting their grave sites and not just another demon?

If I had opportunity to speak personally to all these modern-day ‘grave robbers’ I would suggest that God is looking for an original voice and not an echo of someone else’s ministry.

And, maybe I am rambling here a bit (but it is my blog so I guess I can do that), but what do non-believers think about these World Wrestling Federation moves? We know what most Christians think of them as indicated by their flocking to the services in Lakeland. But, if Todd Bentley truly is a five-fold ‘evangelist’ he should be focusing the majority of his ministry, time, effort and money on reaching the non-believers with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Maybe the unsaved, in general, can’t hear the message (if it is being preached) because they are laughing too hard at all the antics.

A personal aside:

By the way – I don’t have any problem with having tattooos and believe that “tattooed” should never be a word used to describe someone – including Todd Bentley. I don’t think it is an issue and believe that it is irrelevant one way or the other. I am sure the Church will always be divided into three camps – those who are for tattoos, those against, and the smallest camp – those who think it does not matter one way or the other (my camp).

It is simply a personal preference and, for most people wearing a tattoo or two – a piercing or two – a way to express themselves. 70% of university students have tattoos or piercings. A little over 50% of professionals have them as well – often simply not visible due to the nature of their work or their professional association’s standards. Just because you can’t see them does not mean the person you are talking to does not have one or more of both tattoos and piercings.

And, when our personal opinion is expressed loudly as those against these things often do – you may be insulting the person to whom you are expressing your thoughts. They just might be too polite to tell you what they really think of your ranting and raving and how insulting your comments about tattoos and piercings really are to them personally.

Church, it is time to recognize tattoos and piercings for what they are – a vehicle used to express oneself and a preference re. decorating your body with rings and ink. It is time to major on the majors – and for me that is telling others about Jesus and His gift of eternal life.
That does not make me any more an evangelist than Todd Bentley is one – just someone who is doing His Father’s business which is to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).

And if piercings are such a big issue – maybe it is time to ask the ladies with the pierced ears to remove their earrings and let the piercings heal over. By the way, my wife does not have pierced ears.

Taking the Lord’s Name in Vain – Bible Blog #6

Thanks for joining me in this daily study of God’s Word. I hope and pray that you are benefiting as much from reading them as I am from researching and writing them. Let me know!

The Scriptures:

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. When they had entered the city, they went up to the upper room where they were staying; that is, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James. These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.

Commentary:

This is a somewhat “dry” section of scripture where it is more ‘simple information’ and little that is profound or life-changing. However, all scripture is inspired of God so we do need to look at these three verses and let the Holy Spirit work the truths contained in them into the very fiber of our being. We never know when He may reveal something to us that will be applicable to our individual lives.

Jesus has ascended from Mount Olivet (yesterday’s Bible Blog) with the promise spoken by the angels that He will return to that very place on His second coming. Mount Olivet is located in Kidron Valley east of Jerusalem and, at its top, is 200 feet higher than the city of Jerusalem. The disciples walked from there back to Jerusalem and the Upper Room. Luke tells us it was a “Sabbath Day’s journey”.

The Jewish Sabbath is from Friday night sundown to Saturday night sunset. During this special 24 hours there were rules to follow that did not apply the other 6 days a week. One was that devote Jews were allowed only to walk as far as a “Sabbath Day’s journey”. This was the distance of about 1/2 a mile or 2,000 cubits. This distance was set out in Exodus 16:29:

“See, the LORD has given you the sabbath; therefore He gives you bread for two days on the sixth day. Remain every man in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.”

This distance was derived from tradition based on Israel’s encampment in the wilderness on their way out of Egypt and into the Promised land. When the pillar of fire or the pillar of cloud stopped and they set up camp – the tents farthest out on the camp’s perimeter were 2,000 cubits from the center of the camp where the tabernacle was located. So, the longest distance anyone had to walk to reach the tabernacle on the Sabbath was 1/2 a mile (from the outer rim of the camp to the center). [See also Joshua 3:4 and Numbers 35:5]

Well, they have walked the distance and are now in the city of Jerusalem. More specifically – the Upper Room. This is the same room where they had eaten the Last Supper with the Lord on the Thursday before Good Friday. The same room where Jesus had approached His disciples after His resurrection with one of the first proofs that He was alive.

Then the leaders (apostles) are mentioned by name… Interesting to note the list of names do not match the other lists as found in the Gospels. Here is why:
1> Batholomew – was also known as Nathanael (John 1:45-49 and John 21:2)
2> Judas the son of James – was also known as Thaddaeus (Mark 3:18)

Several other things to note:

James was known as James the Younger or as James the Less so that he would not be mixed up with James, the brother of John who came to be known as James the Greater. (Mark 15:40)

Simon is described as a Zealot. This is probably a reference to his political allignment before he became a follower of Jesus. It was an actual political party (similar to what you find in Palestine today) made up of militants and ‘gorillas’ whose prime purpose was to overthrow Roman domination in Palestine.

It was a “mixed bag” that the Lord had hand-picked to represent Him on the face of the known Earth.

Along with this group of leaders who formed the first leadership team – Luke tells us there are a number of women…
1> Mary Magdalene – the first to see and talk to the resurrected Jesus
2> Mary, wife of Clopas
3> Mary – and her sister Martha (sisters of Lazarus whom Jesus raised from the dead)
4> Mary, the mother of Jesus – the last mention of her in the New Testament
5> Salome
6> Maybe some of the apostles’ wives

Then there are a few others named… the brothers (half brothers) of Jesus (Mark 6:3)…
1> James – who became the leader of the Church in Jerusalem and authored the Book of James
2> Joses
3> Simon
4> Judas – a/k/a Jude – who wrote the book that bears his name

These four were fairly new believers. Eight months previous to this day in the Upper Room John, in his Gospel, mentions their continuing unbelief (John 7:5). So, they are newish converts who are there in the Upper Room praying with the women and the Lord’s apostles.

They are praying – and will be for 10 days (time between The Ascension of Jesus and the decent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost). One might think this was the first occasion when believers would be “praying in the name of Jesus”.

Jesus had told them to use His Name when praying…

John 14:13-14 “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

So, I am sure that as the early Church gathered to pray that they would be praying in, for them, a whole new way. They now had immediate access to the throne room of their God through the shed blood of Jesus (Hebrews 4:16). They now had a powerful new weapon for their work – the name of Jesus. What a revolutionary experience summarized in one simple verse of Chapter One of the Book of Acts.

APPLICATION:

Today we need to be careful that we are not breaking one of the Ten Commandments and taking the Name of the Lord in vain. I believe this is possible to do when we pray. We go wih our list of needs and wants – and pray them out to God and then tack on “In the Name of Jesus” at the end of the prayer time.

In our relationship with Jesus we need to recognize that He is not a magic genie that must do what we ask simply because we tacked His Name on the end of our prayer. He is God and He knows best. He is the “senior” in this relationship we have with Him.

So, when we talk to Him (pray) we should “be still and know that I am God” and listen to what is on His heart and on His agenda for the day. Then, pray according to what you heard and not according to your wish list. Then, praying according to His will and His Word you have every right to add “in the name of Jesus” to the end of that prayer as it truly was something that Jesus asked you to pray and so you know He will be accomplishing it.

1 John states this truth very clearly (1 John 5:14-15):

This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.

First we listen – then we ask for those things He has spoken to us about. This means we are asking “according to His will”. Doing this will leave us with a 100% assurance that what we just spoke to God about is going to happen. Afterall, it was what He prompted us to pray for. It is His will.

To pray anything else or anything less – is using His Name in vain and thus breaking the 3rd of the Ten Commandments.

Just a thought!