Papal “Bull”

What is it that makes very intelligent people – both the leaders who have numerous degrees and the people who are not stupid either – believe such utter nonsense?

The Leader-Post (our local daily paper) ran an intem from the RNS (Religious News Service) on Saturday July 12th, 2008… “Damien cleared for sainthood”. Dateline Vatican City.

It seems that the patron saint of those with HIV/AIDS is on the verge of being canonized. Originally Father Damien de Veuster was a Belgian priest in the Roman Catholic structure. I have heard of him as he spent 15 years caring for the lepers on the island of Molokai, Hawaii until he died of the disease himself in 1889. He was quite the follower of Jesus Christ. A wonderful man and a “saint” in the Bible use of that term – as one who believes in and follows the Lord Jesus Christ.

On July 3rd the current pope – Benedict XVI – authorized a decree attributing a second miracle to his intercession. Pope John Paul II had already started this process towards canonization when, in 1995, he declared Damien “Blessed” after recognizing the first miracle.

It seems that a French nun had prayed to the late priest only a few years after his death. She prayed for healing and Father Damien apparently answered her prayer and she was healed.

The second decree in early July of this year was issued because now there is a second miracle declared by the Vatican to be the result of this dead priest’s intervention. A woman in Hawaii with lung cancer had prayed to this priest – who died remember in 1889 – and was healed of lung cancer. The case was actually written up in 2000 in the Hawaii Medical Journal and is now recognized as the second miracle and thus the second signpost on the way to sainthood for this faithful priest.

All that is left now is for the current Pope – Benedict XVI – to write a “papal bull” calling for his veneration as a saint. Apparently this is in the works. And, you will be glad (or sad depending on what you believe) to hear that this priest is already the patron saint of Hawaii and that statues of this dead priest stand in both the U.S. Capitol in Washington as well as the Hawaii State Capitol in Honolulu.

What a bunch of bull -and I don’t mean papal bull either. How do well educated leaders with masters and doctorate degrees actually believe this stuff? And, how are so many well-intentioned and faithful people so deceived by this stuff?

Why are we praying to dead priests? Whatever happened to Jesus who is forever making intercession on our behalf (Book of Hebrews)? I thought Jesus is the One and only Mediator between God and man (the Book of Hebrews)? I understood that He is our Great High Priest (again, the Book of Hebrews) and our Great Shepherd (1 Peter) and thus we don’t need to be praying to some dead priest as Jesus cares for us as a Shepherd does? I thought Jesus told us to pray to the Father in His Name (the 4 Gospels)?

And, I thought the book of Hebrews states that it is appointed unto man once to die and then the judgment? Thus, dare I say it – Damien died, was judged, and is either in Heaven or Hell and is no longer available (nor was he ever available) to answer your prayers. Not his job! He is not God.

It is time for the real Church to stand up and proclaim the truth as found in Scripture. But then, the question remains, who or what is the real Church? Afterall, Charismatics speak with and even receive revelation from dead saints who appear to them in visions, dreams and in the flesh … so even this branch of the Church speaks to (“prays to”) dead saints under the teaching called “The Cloud of Witnesses”. So, that branch of the born again Church is no better than our Roman Catholic friends.

Where is the real Church of Jesus Christ that actually believes the Bible and believes in and stands for the truth as once delivered to the saints (Jude 3)?

Would the real Church please stand up! And do so soon! Many are being seriously deceived and the Truth needs to be spoken – quickly and loudly.

The Three Stooges – Part One

One of the greatest problems in the Church today is what I would call The Three Stooges. These are things that rise up and hit leaders and Christians right between the eyes and often destroy our witness for the Lord. Much like Moe would poke Curly in the eyes while Larry stood by and watched. It is time to stop standing by and watching like Larry did and step up – speak up for the Christian faith as once delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3).

The three of them are compromise, carnality, and character. I will blog about one at a time. Part One – Compromise.

In out attempt to be relevant and to “please people” and reach out and touch our cities and towns we are often tempted to tweak the truth to make it more acceptable. I don’t see Jesus ever doing that. I am reminded of Paul’s comment that we are to please God and not work at pleasing man – because you can’t do both at the same time. I think back to the time that I use to do that – and I’m embarrassed.

I once compromised the truth of scriptures – or didn’t preach the whole truth – so that I could build a big church. My mentor of over 30 years has a favourite saying: It is easy to draw a crowd or run a three-ring circus – but it is difficult to build a Church. He is right. As soon as you have to bring up the other part of the truth you were conveniently ignoring or avoiding or watering down – the people you attracted by being “people friendly” or “guest speaker-special event” centered – will simply leave declaring that you have become legalistic or controlling. When, in reality, you are simply “declaring the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me God” even if for the first time.

We tend today to compromise the truth in three areas – sex, salvation, and scripture.

SEX – God clearly defines sex as being only for one man and one woman committed to oneness through marriage. Try that in a public arena and see how long it flies before it is shot down. In fact, I dare you – try that in your Church and see if it flies. Here where I minister most churches (and church leaders) either accept same sex marriages (it has been legal in my nation for a few years) – some officiating at them (or else risk being taken to court) – or simply ignoring the whole issue maybe hoping it will go away. Seldom will you hear a teaching on the topic because, I suspect, many of the couples in the church are sleeping together when not married, almost all have children before thinking of marriage, and others are into the gay lifestyle. Thus to not compromise on the topic of sex means we will upset many who give financially and thus we won’t have a large church (my own local church is relatively small but it does proclaim the truth without compromise).

In my nation – to speak against the homosexual lifestyle or gay marriages publicly – especially if you use scriptures to back up your teaching – you can be taken to the Human Rights Commission as you are reading “hate literature” and so can be convicted of a hate crime against humanity.

Our local paper had a follow-up article on a Marriage Commissioner who did refuse a gay mariage due to religious beliefs and lost the court case (blogged in May 2008) – his beliefs are not protected obviously under the the Saskatchewan Human Rights Codes (or the national one) while the rights of gays are (more on that in another blog this week – “Born Again Christians Are Not Humans”)

In many churches today there is a serious compromise regarding SALVATION. Ask most Christians and they have absolutely no idea how to be born again – their churches teach “another gospel and another Jesus” as Paul would say. In fact, I would say they don’t even know that they need to be born again or saved as they are taught that God, who is love, loves everyone and that everyone is going to Heaven (Universalism).

But worse still, ask most born again believers what is necessary or needed to be born again (you know, godly sorrow, repentance…) and you will get a blank look because they simply don’t know. They may be saved (and maybe not) but they are clueless how to explain the gospel of salvation to others or lead others to the Lord.

With the gospel according to Oprah and the gospel according to Dr. Phil making major inroads into the Christian faith we need to remind our people constantly that salvation is only through Jesus – and the real Jesus as seen in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – not the one being preached by the Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses and those born again Christians who follow angels, dreams, and personal experiences that don’t line up with Bible teachings.

SCRIPTURE is also another area of compromise. We either believe the Bible is God’s Word or we don’t. As soon as we remove any part of the Word of God then we open the door to everyone and their uncle taking out whatever part they don’t like. So, it is either the inerrant and inspired Word of God or it is not.

Example – Adam and Eve were not real people but simply a cute way to explain to uneducated and superstitious people the beginnings of humankind – so we have two fairytales to choose from obviously – this Bible one or the one evolutionists proclaim as truth. However, once you remove Adam and Eve as real people with real sin isues – you don’t have original sin. So, then you don’t need a Saviour to save you from this sinful condition. That’s good because, we are told, Mary was not a classic ‘virgin’ as that word simply means “teenager”. So, now Jesus is not God incarnate but simply the child of an unwed mother – a great teacher and moral example (unless, of course, he is a homosexual). But, that’s okay because we don’t need a Saviour because there is no original sin thus no spiritual darkness to be rescued from. This quickly leads to – no such thing as a Devil and thus no Hell to be avoided and no Heaven to be gained. (In short form – the journey my original denomination went in less than 25 years).

Yesterday I preached on the reality of Hell – and a former United Church ordained minister (in the U.S.A. United methodist) came up and declared that when he was preaching in his denomination that he preached that Hell did not exist … and now that he is preaching as a born again, Spirit-filled believer he is ashamed of his past but preaching the biblical gospel… I rest my case!

We need to understand that scripture is our only source for faith and practice. That the Bible contains absolute truths (like the Ten Commandments or the Moral law) by which we are to live. These absolute truths are being challenged today – not by the world as they usually just ignore us – but by sincere believers as they attempt to relevantly reach out to a world that rejects God because of these tenents … or they are simply trying to excuse their own lack of Christian behaviour.

We need to stay faithful to the truth as contained in God’s Word – our Bible – as we adapt our methods – not our message – to the society and people we are trying to reach.

Well, that the first of three “stooges” …

Never Verse by Verse – Summer Bible Journey #4

The best way to read large chunks of the Bible if to often ignore the chapter numbers and the verses. These were not part of the original manuscripts and were added many centuries later to enable people to find the exact spot being referenced in a teaching or a sermon – and to make personal study easier, I suspose.

The Bible was divided into chapters by Stephen Langton about A.D. (C.E.) 1228. The Old Testament was divided into verses by R. Nathan in A.D. (C.E.) 1448 and the New Testament by Robert Stephanus in A.D. (C.E.) 1551. The entire Bible divided into chapters and verses first appeared in the Geneva Bible of A.D. (C.E.) 1560.

The problem is that a chapter break is often placed where there is no thought break. So, if you stop at the artificial break you miss the writer’s complete thought or point because you actually came to a halt part way through it. At times you read the thesis or the thought being presented and then stop at the chapter break – missing the “therefore” … the practical application of that thought or piece of theology.

The Bible verses can do the same thing – putting a break where there should not be one and thus breaking up the thought or argument or even the story being told. Then, when you start reading at that chapter or verse break later, you will have lost some of the meaning because you are starting in mid-stream.

The breaks within a chapter – where the publishers of that particular Bible added headings in mid-chapter… these are helpful to let us know a familiar story or portion of scripture lies ahead. But again, these are artificial divisions added later by someone other than the author or the Holy Spirit.

My point – don’t always be guided by the man-made divisions in the scriptures. Rather – read until you have the complete thought or teaching being presented (with application). Recognize that a story will make more sense when kept in the context of the story or event that came before it (so you know who He is talking to or why this story or parable is being told). You get my point.

So, when picking up your reading on any given day just quickly review the latter part of your previous reading – where are we (Galilee, Jerusalem, Samaria), who is He with, who was He talking to (disciples, multitudes, the inner three), what was His previous point or what issue had He been addressing … then pick up where you left off because you will have regained the context of the stories you are about to read.

Happy summer journey through your Bible….

Life After Life

I have been doing quite an extensive study on what the Bible teaches about life after life … life in the next world after this physical existence comes to an end. And, it has a lot to say about the topic.

It is interesting how seldom I have heard a good teaching – or any teaching for that matter – on the next life. Never as far as I know. Not even at the many funerals I have attended or even officiated at.

It is more interesting to realize that both those in the Church and those that don’t darken the doors of a Church (until they die, that is) have beliefs about the after life that are absolutely not biblical. They have spent too much time listening to and reading about famous “near death” experiences or experiences of those who are reported to have died and then come back to life. From the reports of these people as well as the opinions of others, believers and non-believers alike, they have formed an understanding of death, Heaven and Hell which are absolutely non-biblical and could not be further from the actual truth.

When you sit and listen to people talking about life after this life – even asking some to tell you what they think – you realize that the Devil or their own simple imagination has convinced them that Jesus Christ makes absolutely no difference whatsoever to how or where you spend eternity. He is no longer the pivitol point in any life after death discussion.

When television actor Michael Landon, a star on the classic television shows Bonanza and Little House on the Prairie, lay on his deathbed (and heard the gospel once again and, once again, rejected it)… He confided to friends that he saw a “bright white light” that erased his fears and made him look forward to what awaited him on the other side. He died calmly, anticipating what he called “quite an experience.”

Well – it would be quite an adventure – as he got use to his new surroundings in Hades – which is where those without Christ as their Saviour go upon their death.

But stories like this one (and there are hundreds out there) have convinced people that everything will be fine and that angels and lights, peace and meadows with flowers – along with a bright light at the end of the tunnel – is what awaits everyone … believer and non-believer. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

So, why do we trust these stories told by those who have had near-death experiences? Why not consult with the One who had an actual death experience and who spent three days in Hell before rising from the dead and breaking out of the grave to live forever. Surely what He (Jesus) has to say about life after this life would be more accurate and detailed than anything someone else might tell us from an out-of-body, near death experience.

So that is what I have been doing. Studying what the Bible actually says about Heaven, Hell, Hades, Sheol, life now and life after death. Included in the study -judgments, rewards. positioning in Heaven, what we will do in Heaven (I don’t like cream cheese)and what they will do in Hell … as well as things such as what will we look like, what will we remember, what will we feel…

It has been quite the study … and is turning out to be an excellent (though too brief) three part sermon series.

Someone once said (anonymous): “When you were born, you were crying, and everyone around you was smiling. Live your life so that when you die, you will be smiling and everyone around you will be crying.”

So true – but better to live your life like you were dying (yes, I know there is a Country and Western song by that title) … because one day (maybe tomorrow) you will die and then decisions you have made or not made here will effect where you go from here. There are no second chances to get it right – no opportunity for others to pray you out of pergatory and into Heaven … as it is appointed unto man once to die and then (instantly) the judgment.

We need to know what we believe and teach it to others – afterall, we should be the experts on the topic of life after this life. We follow the One who has been there, done that and returned to tell us about it!

A Tragedy Happening

Listening to the radio news yesterday (July 10, 2008) mid-afternoon as I drove from one meeting to the next – I was interested to note that our national radio outlet here in my city was carrying a story about Christian “missionaries” in Africa. The national, government-run radio network here in my nation is very liberal and very anti-Church (like CNN in the USA). They ran this item – and announced why – because the man and woman involved had lived here (and pastored here along with her husband) for many years. The same news story was run on the same network’s national television news last night as well.

The news – John and Eloise Bergen were ministering in Kenya when attacked by a group of 5 or 6 thiefs (the motive we are told was robbery) who beat and kicked John and attacked him with knives until he crumbled in a heap and they tossed him into a buh. He is in need of serious medical help. Then they beat Eloise and tied her up – before literally tearing their home apart. She got loose and drove him to the ministry headquarters where they were then rushed to hospital by ministry staff. They have since been rushed by air out of Kenya to Nairobi for medical help with bone specialists. They are hoping to fly them home in a medical plane to give them better care here.

The story can be found on the CBC national web page at http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2008/07/10/missionaries-attacked.html

Your prayers – greatly appreciated. I have personally worked with John and they are a great Christian couple and tremendously compassionate believers. True leaders simply wanting to help.

Believe Big and Act Boldly

Doing something great for God these days? I mean, are you stretching beyond your natural abilities and doing something that needs God or it will not succeed? Are you walking by faith or simply doing what is natural and normal and thus walking by sight?

God has always wanted His people to believe big and act boldly. But this is really being emphasized today by the Holy Spirit. One reason for this emphasis is that the devil is getting bolder turning more and more people to alternatives that cannot and do not offer eternal life or Heaven. Secondly, there is an openness to the supernatural right now in our nations and we have the real thing as born again believers. We have received the power to function supernaturally (Acts 1:8). Thirdly, there is a real need for God to intervene in our nation as more and more ungodly leaders take us towards a society which is godless and which therefore will see constantly increasing sin and violence. Of course, the fourth and most important reason why we, as believers, should believe big and act boldly is that this is what God desires of us.

His word states that they that know their God will do mighty exploits (Daniel 11:32). And it is time that this promise come to pass for this generation as it has for past generations. It is time to step up to the plate and risk the known to see the unknown. It is time to step out of the natural into the supernatural. It is time to allow God to challenge our faith and stretch our hearts so that His Kingdom can come on earth as it is already established in Heaven.

So, the ball is in our court. He has called us to go into all the world and touch every life for Jesus (6.7 billion people). That should be a big enough challenge for us; big enough to require a great deal of faith. That should propel us to believe big and act boldly.

So, today – walk expectantly, watch for open doors to touch lives, speak up boldly and believe big.

Carbon Footprint

There is a lot of talk in the world today about carbon footprints or our environmental footprint. That every individual should put less pollution into the air this year than last. That every person must be careful to decrease the amount of non-renewable resources we use up in any given year. There are many ways to do this – make your house more energy efficient, drive less and bike more, use less of the non-renewable natural resources that exist on the planet earth while investing in renewable resources – solar-powered cars and wind-generated power to name just two.

Of course, churches have jumped on the environmentally green bandwagon. And that is probably a good thing. However, while we look for ways to decrease our environmental footprint, as Christians maybe we should seek to increase our spiritual footprint as well.

We need to make the most positive, the most lasting imprint on people’s lives possible. To do that, we have to get incredibly intentional about the kind of impression we’re making on other people’s lives. We can’t just live like the world and expect to have a spiritual impact on those we know. We can’t expect them to somehow figure out that we are born again Christians and thus initiate a conversation about Jesus. No! We need to think through what a Christian life-style is composed of. What does a Christian live like so that he or she can have a serious spiritual footprint? And then, what intentional changes do you and I need to make so that we truly become salt and light and this leave a spiritual footprint when we die?

It is not all that difficult to figure out what we need to do to have a spiritual footprint – in fact, probably easier to sort out than how to have an enviromental footprint. However, don’t let that fool you. It may be easier to figure out – but it is much harder to implement.

This is true because we are talking eternal things here and not just temporal things likle renewable resources. This is also true because we will find great encouragement and help when we are dealing with an environmental footprint – and very little help when implementing changes to leave a spiritual footprint behind upon death.

It is basicly not that complicated. If we want to impact those who follow us, we simply have to love God, serve others, and give from what we’ve been given. One of the best ways we can contribute to our unique spiritual footprint is by the way we treat others.

And how do you treat others? Do you listen just to their words or do you listen to their words and their heart? Do you even listen – or do you constantly interrupt to put your two cents in or to fix them so that they feel better – or, if the truth be known, you feel better? Do you pray for them? Do you invite them to spend time with you and share your life – or are you too busy with going to Christian events? Do you invite them to church on Sunday?

Maybe instead of jumping so quickly on the Carbon Footprint bandwagon – we should hesitate and first look at the spiritual side of things and learn how to leave a spiritual legacy or footprint that indicates that we have had some major impact, as a Christian, on the people we know and love, the people we work and live with, during our short time here on the planet we call Earth.

Then, we could begin to join in with the physical elements of our world – as good stewards of God’s gifts to us – and work on this carbon footprint thing. Maybe, by then, we will actually have a better understanding of how it all works because right now many of those who advocate watching carefully our carbon footprint seem to live contrary to what they preach.

But then, as Christians, we should be use to that by now!

Oh, What a Mess – Summer Bible Journey #3

If you are taking the Summer Bible Reading Journey of 19 chapters a day – take a deep breath. You are now on day 9 and you will have read 171 chapters by the time you go to bed tonight. Wow! For some that is a major change in their Bible reading. Often people don’t read 171 chapters in any given month (or, we are ashamed to admit – any given year) and here you have done it in 9 days because you made a decision to carve out some time to do this. Congratualtions.

By now you will have noticed you are getting a little excited about this project. It is not impossible. It is very doable. It is very practical and beneficial. You are feeling spiritually stronger than you were before you started this journey. That’s simply because “man does not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” You are feeding your inner man and so you are growing stronger spiritually.

Hopefully by now you have discovered that this reading is best done in a very plain Bible which does not contain footnotes and cross-references. These seem to simply distract the average reader. They are not inspired anyways – only the Word of God itself is inspired. So, the more basic the Bible you are reading – the better.

You may have noticed, as well, that the Bible can get messed up quickly. If you are like me and take it to the park to read or take it with you when you are walking the dog – for that rest spot at the half way point – then it gets beat up quickly. Or, if you are reading it when eating on the patio or deck – same issue. It can have grass stains, the occasional dead bug, food stains, coffee stains … Bur it does not matter. It’s a book and so it’s okay to mess it up. If it really gets messed up, at the end of the summer journey simply put it on the shelf and buy yourself another copy for your continuing Bible reading efforts.

And, you will continue to read when you reach the end of this journey – because the Word of God is addictive in its own way.

Next entry we will look at chapters and verses and how they effect the understanding of what you are reading.

Put Up or Shut Up – Bible Blog #14

The Scripture:

Acts 2:43-47 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Commentary:

There is an amazing “unity” that the early Church shared. This unity involved EVERYONE and remember 3000 have just be added to the Church; so we are not talking about a small group here. And they were fully engaged in what was happening because they “FELT” a sense of awe. They were connected and involved in what was going on – they were not just going through the motions of prayer and worship but were actually experiencing the emotions. Does something need to change in most of our churches today?

The apostles were moving in power resulting in MANY signs and wonders. Remember now, Paul in Romans 15 tells us that we have not “fully preached the Gospel” until we have preached it with words and deeds, with miracles, signs and wonders. However, most commentaries today state: “the ability to perform miracles was limited to the apostles and their close colleagues”. (Dr. John MacArthur). Well, that simply removes this whole supernatural aspect of the Gospel and the Christian faith. We don’t need to be looking for miracles, signs and wonders for they were only for the early Church and only through the hands of the apostles. Aren’t you glad?

Well, that actually frieghtens me. I believe this is man creating a theology around his experience. Thus we look at what is or is not happening in and through us and interpret the Bible in light of that. Instead we really need to simply look at the Bible, determine what the norm should be for the Church and then work towards that – allowing the Bible to shape our experiences and not our experiences shape our understanding of the Bible. Thanks anyways Dr. MacArthur and many others.

Jesus states: I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. (John 14:12).

Gee, that will never happen if we think that miracles petered out with Peter. We need to be expecting them, anticipating God moving through us in this way, and praying for it to be released and thus a regular part of a supernatural life-style. Folks, it happens on the mission fields and overseas in third-world nations. Why not here? Time to change our theology to come into line with what the Bible states – it is our authority and our absolute standard – not our experiences.

Why not admit that it is simply not happening but that it should be happening. Then, go about finding out why it isn’t happening instead of creating a theology to back up and excuse the absolute powerlessness and impotence we are experiencing in most churches today! Wow! Another spirit of stupid (see July 7th, 2008 blog “The Spirit of Stupid” filed un Evangelim and Soul-winning).

The signs of the early Church and the first believers…

1> Gathered daily and “were together” – in unity and had one heart and one focus – Jesus

2> They held on to their belongings as stewards and not owners – willing to sell whatever they had when a need arose in another believer’s life that they could meet through a sale of their material belongings. They recognized that everything belonged to God and they were therefore not owners but managers of their worldly belongings and wealth.

3> Every day they met at the temple to praise God and to observe the standard Jewish hours of daily prayer – 9:00 a.m., noon, and 3:00 p.m. (Psalm 55:17)

4> Every day they met in the believers homes and shared meals and fellowship together.

They did all of this with “sincerity and gladness of heart”. They did it because they wanted to and were sincere about it. They also did it gladly and without needing someone to motivate them to do so. Because of their intense focus on Jesus and the resurrection they were internally motivated and passionate about this life-style.

As a result of this life-style many were attracted to the believers and thus the “Lord was adding daily to their numbers”. He had a pool of potential converts to bring them out of – and an alive Church to bring them in to. The Lord added – salvation is a sovereign work of the Lord. But, the Church needs to be playing her part. Seeing this is no longer happening in most churches and considering the Bible states that “God wills all men to be saved”; it would strike me that the Church has dropped the ball somewhere. Otherwise, it should still be happening daily in our churches.

APPLICATION:

It is time for the Church and individual believers to examine their lives in light of the Bible. No longer is it good enough to excuse our lack of power and the lack of miracles, signs and wonders by inventing a theology that says “I’m Okay – You’re Okay” when we are not okay but seriously fall short of any biblical standard of behaviour and belief.

It is time to toss out man-made theories and theologies – including dispensationalism – and actually do what we say. We all say – the Bible is our only authority and our plumbline or the standard by which we examine and judge our lives. Well, then – let it actually be that way. Let’s look at the Bible, detemine what should be happening, and then adjust our lives to fit the Bible norm.

Let’s toss out this interpretative approach where our life is the standard and we interpret the Bible by our experience. No wonder the Christian Church is so sick and powerless. What must God be thinking.

I for one now anticipate God is going to move powerfully and supernaturally when I minister. I expect to experience His mighty power with miracles, signs and wonders. I am fully engaged and connected – watching for these things to happen as His Word goes forth in services and on street corners. I literally expect God to move. I have not been disappointed.

A Love That Grows and Overflows

When we are born again – saved – God, through the Holy Spirit, pours out His love. The vessel that receives this love is our heart – the spirit man that is now alive (born again) and connected to God.

Romans 5:5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

We are then able to love Him – expressing that love which we call worship – because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).

Paul prays that believers would be rooted deep into this love – that it would be the very ground work or foundation upon which everything we do is based and built. (Ephesians 3:17-19)

This love we receive and build our Christian walk upon and with – this love is to grow within us pushing out the behaviour patterns that are not loving so that we look more and more like Jesus – that we gain a family resemblance and look more like the Lord whom we worship and serve. This is known as The Greatest Commandment which is to love God with everything we are. (Matthew 22:37).

Jesus followed this comment with The Great Commandment to love others as we love ourselves. (Matthew 22:39). We can love ourselves because we have been loved. So, as much as we have experienced God’s love for us we are now to love others – neighbour, friend and stranger alike.

Paul speaks of this in his first letter to the Thessalonians … “And may the Lord make your love to grow and overflow to each other and to everyone else, just as our love does toward you.” (1 Thessalonians 3:12).

Our love is to be so radical that it grows daily within us – filling us and the splashing out of us on a regular basis touching and impacting others. This, of course, because “the world will know we are His disciples because we love….”

Dr. Heidi Baker, in her book “Miracles” (page 70) states: “I am driven by love. I am compelled and motivated by love. It is my passion for Jesus that causes me to pour compassion into others. That’s the Gospel – a passion that births compassion”

God expects us to have passion – great love towards Him. We are to be radical lovers of God. Afterall, He saved us and rescued us from the pit of Hell and brought up to Himself, placing us within His Kingdom while we were yet sinners. That fact alone should stir passion within us – passion for the Lord. And this passion should be as radical just as His love was and still is towards us. This is what we are to be rooted and grounded in. This passion is what is to grow within us each and every day. This passion is what should, on a daily basis, overflow and influence others for the Gospel.

Dr. Baker goes on to say: “Radical lovers of God move in radical compassion!” In other words, this passion we have should supernaturally overflow and touch others in the form of compassion. The more radical our love for God the more practical and powerful should be our compassion for others who do not yet know Him.

She goes on to say: “(We need to understand) …the simplicity of the truth that the whole of life flows out of a reckless love for the Father – that such a love spills out of us and touches everyone we meet” (Page 71). I could not agree more.

This love and compassion – rooted, grounded and growing within us because of the love of the Father we have experienced – must overflow to those around us. This is a practical love – not just “I will be praying for you”. This is a love that drives us to be involved and hands-on. This is a love that draws us out of ourselves so we can genuinely focus on others. This is a love that is real and lasting.

So, let your love grow – then watch it overflow. It just can’t help but do so if it is the genuine thing. This, of course, is known as The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).