Spirit of Revelation

There is a real need today in the Church – even the Spirit-filled side of the Church – to be praying what Paul the apostle prayed for his people in the city of Ephesus. This was a church that he had planted. In Acts 19 Paul finds a group of disciples. He soon discovers that they are not disciples of Jesus. They are disciples of John the Baptist. So, he shares the gospel with them and they are born again. He immediately baptizes them in water by immersion. As they come out of the water he lays hands on them and baptizes them in the Holy Spirit. The begin to prophesy and speak in tongues. (Acts 19:1-6)

He stays with them in Ephesus and lays the foundation for a very powerful church. This church within two years of being birthed has reached every person in Asia with the word of the Lord (Acts 19:10). They were a powerful and Spirit-filled church expanding the Kingdom and making disciples as Jesus had commanded. (Acts 19:10)

In writing a few years later to this church now numbering 50,000 in a city of 200,000 he tells them that he is praying for them. This is not out of the ordinary as apostles are fathers and they pray for their children. What is fascinating is what he prays. Listen to his prayer very carefully…

Ephesians 1:16-18a “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you I’n my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened…”

These were Spirit-filled, Baptized in the Holy Spirit, moving in the supernatural gifts of the Spirit believers. Yet, Paul prays for them that they might receive the “spirit of wisdom and revelation…” Why?

It is not so that they could speak about future events coming upon the Church and the world. That is the role and ministry of both apostles and prophets. I believe there are two main reasons a regular believer needs to activate the Holy Spirit’s role of bringing revelation to God’s people

First, when reading the Scriptures the believer needs the Holy Spirit to guide Him in all truth. And, to reveal the things that Scriptures speaks to us that Jesus did not while with us ministering for three years. As well as understanding the depths of the truths that He did share during His early ministry. (John 16:12-13)

An example would be when the disciples witnessed Jesus praying afterwards said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray.” (Luke 11:1) When the average believer reads this their mind says, ‘teach us how to pray.’ And so, we have systems of prayer that have been developed from the Lord’s Prayer (really the disciples prayer) teaching us “how” to pray. But this is not what the Word said. 

The disciples witnessed Jesus’ intimate relationship with His Heavenly Father and the way they spoke to each other. They realized that the way they were praying was nothing like what they were witnessing. They realized that they were not praying – they were simply following a formula and a ritual. Which, while watching and hearing Jesus pray, suddenly seemed totally inadequate and not really prayer as it should have been understood and practiced. So, they said to Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Teach us how to have this intimate relationship that we see you have with the Father as you share fellowship with Him. 

Powerful revelation brought to my heart and mind while reading Scripture recently. 

And, secondly, we need the guidance of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives. And so the Holy Spirit can reveal truth that we need to know for that specific day. He can reveal to us situations where we will have opportunity to share the word of the Lord as the church in Ephesus did. He can give us a word for a friend, a co-worker, or even a stranger. He can reveal wisdom – godly wisdom – to counter the worldly wisdom that we come up against daily. 

So, Paul prays for his people to release the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. And, I believe that we need to be praying that same prayer for ourselves and for others today so we can walk in the fullness of the calling and purpose that is upon our lives as disciples of Jesus in the world today.

Com’n Church

Well, I just finished several hours of conversation with a wonderful Christin man here in my city. We have known each other for many years, even decades. So, a long coffee and a chat about an upcoming event that I will not be able to participate in because I will be in the nation of Vietnam. However, he needed someone to bounce things off of and give feedback and suggestions regarding what is being planned.

During the conversation I was thinking about how out of touch with reality – today’s society, culture, and younger generations – the Church really is. I spoke up and shard what I was thinking and what I know by experience as I speak with both believers and non-believers. I shared because I honestly think we need to be much more aware of what is happening around us and what the current trends are so that we don’t continue to be, in many ways, irrelevant in the eyes of the world.

A positive example of an organization that is recognizing reality and grappling with it is the Canadian Legion. They have come to realize that their membership is dwindling rather quickly as those who fought in World War One and Two and other lesser wars since the end of World War Two die off. So, they have begun to advertise in the media for new members. You don’t need to be old. You don’t need to have been in the armed forces or have fought a war. If you want to help with their programs and be a part of their corporate life then you are welcome to become a member.

In Canada there are several negative examples of being out of touch with the world. Radio Shack use to be a key player in the electronics business – even selling some of the earliest desktop computers. However, they did not keep up with the times and their stores closed one after another. Some underwent a major revamping and became Circuit City but the major role that the original company played was never recovered. The business is a shadow of what it once was.

A second example would be the Christian Church – especially denominational churches. We are living in challenging times. Our society here in North America is post-Christian. Our world is now centered around instant communications and social media. We don’t wait until 11:00p to watch the evening news. You can watch it on-line any time you want. We text. We don’t often call. People shop on-line … yes, even for a church to attend. You can get better music and worship on line than in the local church. The same can be said for teachings. And yet we often simply do what we have always done and wonder why the results are dismal. The Church is thus seen as irrelevant and, like the dinosaurs, something that will soon die off. So, Com’n church – it is time to change.

Again, to share the Gospel of the Kingdom with non-believers today is totally different than 40 years ago. In fact vastly different than even 10 or 5 years ago. The younger generations no longer enters a church building for wedding or funerals. Most take place in alternate facilities. The younger generations do not have a Bible or have really never read one if they happen to possess one. The Bible is not seen as inspired or even God’s Word to people. Common church words like sin, sinner, repent, justification and sanctification simply have no meaning and no reference point to even glean some meaning from them. We need to adjust our approach (methods) accordingly. Not the message. Just the methods we use to share the message. 

And then you read in Acts 17 where it talks about disciples of Jesus entering the city of Thessalonica and the townspeople panic because those who have turned their world upside down are coming to their city.  (Acts 17:6)

We need to become aware of what is happening around us and then change so as to respond in a meaningful, in-touch way. Thus we would actually be able to influence and impact where we are living with the Gospel of the Kingdom. We need to become a counterculture and no longer settle for being a subculture. Jesus was a radical revolutionary who hated religion and loved people. We should follow in His footsteps as we take the good news to those He loves and died for on the cross. 

So, com’n church! If we want others to find Jesus we need to speak into where they are at. On a daily basis people struggle with depression, addictions, loneliness, financial issues, relational stress, paying the bills, and a multitude of other issues. They are not thinking about the mark of the beast and the abomination of desolation (Matthew 24:15) with the approaching of the end times and the rapture. Com’n church! Let’s get real and become aware of what is going on around us outside of the small and closed off church world that we find so comforting and safe. Let’s speak into our culture and society and talk about things that matter to those who are not saved. 

Come, Follow Me

The Church has lost the message of “Come, follow Me,” replacing it with … what? “Come and listen to me.”

That is not what Jesus said or did. In Matthew 4:19 Jesus said, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” The Passion Translation renders this verse as: “Come and follow Me, and I will transform you into men who catch people for God.” So, the obvious points here…

1> If we are not fishing (sharing the Gospel) and love of God with others) we are not following Jesus. We are literally deceiving ourselves that everything is alright between us and God. It’s not, unless…

2> As we follow Jesus He will be forming and transforming us into people who attract others into the Kingdom. He will be working on our character, our values and morals, our perspective on life, as well as our daily life-style. So, if we are not changing, growing, maturing then we are obviously not following Him. We are not disciples. Fans, yes! Disciples, no!

3> This is a process which takes place over time as we follow Him and, in the Scriptures, see how He relates to people and how He shares the love of God. We are then to follow His example and implement changes that allow us to become more like Him. So, there is a desperate need to study the four Gospels examining in detail the way Jesus lived His life and how He treated people and built healthy, Kingdom relationships.

4> We learn by studying His actions, attitude, and His relational skills as recorded in the Bible. But, it is more than information. What we observe and learn must translate into action and life change in us. Or, as James wrote, we must be doers of the Word and not just hearers. Faith without works is dead.

5> We need to become sensitive to His voice (the voice of the Holy Spirit) so that He can speak directly to our hearts and minds as we follow Him and go about our daily activities. Opportunities are there to share Jesus each and every day as we “go into all our world.” We need to slow down so we can see the opportunities and take advantage of the doors God is opening.

6> Obedience is necessary – For disciples this is not an option but a command. Whatever He says to us we must obey and do. Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will obey Me.” Very plain and seriously blunt. 

7> Obviously, we need to make a decision to walk closely with Him and follow Him regardless of where that might take us and allow Him to transform us. Give Him permission to change us. This means trusting Him with everything we are (our inner life), everything we have (our outer world) and all that we do. 

8> Following Jesus will certainly take us out of our safe, secure, and comfortable place and seriously challenge everything about our life; stretching us mentally, spiritually, relationally, socially, and emotionally. No stretching going on then maybe you are not following the biblical Jesus – the real radical revolutionary we read about in the four gospel accounts of His life. 

9> “Come, follow Me” is an invitation to a life-long journey of becoming which does not end even when we die and enter Heaven. There is always more to know about Jesus and thus more personal growth and development as we apply what we are seeing and learning to our daily lives.   

10> This means we need to stop seeing salvation as the destination. We have our ‘fire insurance’ and we are good to go. That is a ‘salvation culture’. We get saved, we come to church, we learn, we go home. Repeat. We need to embrace a “Kingdom culture” where salvation is seen as the start of a long journey as we join the great cause of establishing the Kingdom of God in every corner of every nation. We don’t come to just listen, we come to grow and be equipped so that we can then “go.”

Let the change begin now. Let it begin with us. You, me, and the corporate “us” known as the Church. 

Is It The Right Time?

Over a decade ago I heard a prophetic word from a recognized international prophet that I was to write a book. I was busy pastoring and church planting. So, I put the word to one side and thought that I would do it later, probably much later. Several years after that the same prophet was back in the network of churches I relate to and prophetically spoke a number of things over my life – including that I was to write books. That’s ‘book’ but plural. My reaction? I went up to him and said, “What do you mean books?” I don’t have the time to write even one book – the one you first prophesied over me. Now you are saying ’books’.” I was not happy. 

Did I start writing? No! I was busy ministering. Then a few years later as I was flying home from overseas the Lord spoke to me at 36,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. He said that writing a book or books was not taking time away from my ministry. Writing books was part of my ministry and He would make the time for it to happen. I made the decision right then to begin preparations to write books. The desire to write was released. I decided to write the books.

Did it happen? Not yet. You see, often we miss God’s best for us because we think “it is not the right time to begin.”

John Maxwell tells the story about his childhood. His father’s favourite riddle to them went like this: Five frogs were sitting on a long. Four decided to jump off. How many are left? John goes on to say, the first time his father asked him that, he answered “one.” His father responded, no, there were still five. Why? Because there’s a difference between deciding and doing!

So, I had decided but that is not the same as actually doing it. I just kept thinking, “It is just not the right time. I am so busy…”

Then I read this the other day. “The longer you wait to do something you should do now, the greater the odds that you will never actually do it.” Oh, how true! At least in my life.

So, now is the right time to start growing and developing in this new field of work and ministry. I have done more than decide. I am now intentionally doing.

Maybe you have something you know you need to do or should be doing. And, the pressure is building. But, you are still making excuses including suggesting that it is not the right time to begin. Well, it is time to stop procrastinating and move forward in your life. Now is the time to accept the next challenge and start growing even if you feel that you are not ready. Don’t wait until tomorrow. 

Author and professor Leo Buscaglia asserted, “Life lived for tomorrow will always be a day away from being realized.” The reality is that you will never get much done unless you go ahead and do it before you are ready. If you are not already intentionally growing, you need to get started today. If you don’t, you may reach some goals, which you can celebrate, but you will eventually plateau. Once you start growing intentionally, you can keep growing and keep asking, “What’s next.”

It is always the right time to be intentional about accepting the next challenge and growing into it as you move forward in faith.

A Sense Of Direction

Do you have a sense of direction? Any person who wants to grow as a person but doesn’t know himself will fail to accomplish any growth as a person. To grow you must know yourself: your strengths and weaknesses, your interests and opportunities. You must be able to gauge not only where you’re been, but also where you are now. Otherwise you cannot set a course for where you want to go, And, of course, every time you want to learn something, you must be able to take the new thing you’ve learned today and build upon what you learned yesterday to keep growing. That’s the only way to gain traction and keep improving yourself.

To reach you potential, you must know where you want to go and where you currently are. Without both of those pieces of information, you’re liable to get lost. Knowing yourself is like reading “You Are Here” on a map when you want to find you way to a destination.

I have observed that there’re really only three kinds of people when it comes to having direction and thus purpose in life.

1> People who do not know what they would like to do

These people are often CONFUSED. They lack a strong sense of purpose. They don’t possess a sense of direction for their lives. If they are growing, they are unfocused about it. They dabble. They drift. They can’t reach their potential because they have no idea what to shoot for; what direction to go in.

2> People who know what they would like to do but don’t do it

These people are usually FRUSTRATED. Every day they experience the gap between where they are and where they want to be. Sometimes they aren’t doing what they want because they worry that it will cause them to neglect other responsibilities, such as providing for their family. Sometimes they aren’t willing to pay the price to learn, grow, and move closer to where they want to be. Other times fear prevents them from changing course to pursue their passion. No matter what the reason, they, too, miss their potential.

3> People who know what they would like to do and do it

The third kind of people know themselves, possess a strong sense of passion, are focused on purpose, grow in areas that help them move closer to their purpose, and do what they were created to do. The word that best describes them is FULFILLED.

Most people fall into the first category. They don’t know what they want to do. I believe the main reason is that they don’t know themselves as well as they should, and thus remain unfocused in their growth – if they grow personally at all. 

Knowing yourself isn’t necessarily an easy thing for everyone to do. What makes finding themselves and growing to their potential difficult for some people is that it can be a bit of catch 22. You have to know who you are to grow to your potential. But you have to grow in order to know who you are. So what’s the solution? Explore yourself as you explore growth.

The way to start is to pay attention to your passions. In my life my passion is to teach and mentor young men, raising them up into the calling that God has on their lives and releasing them to accomplish their purpose in the Kingdom. This involves four areas represented by the word REAL: relationships, equipping, attitude, and leadership. My passion led to my growth. But then my growth led to my passion as I discovered my love for and ability to mentor the next generation of apostles and prophets. That continues to be a major focus of my life and ministry even today after 40 years. 

So, self-awareness is the key to growing, changing, finding one’s passion and purpose, and then moving from where you are to where you should be and need to be to live fulfilled and on purpose.  

Character Is Foundational

Just this week I spent time on the phone with another apostle and then a conference call with two apostles regarding a person in ministry who needs to step down from all leadership responsibilities. 

This is a man whom we have worked with and supported over a number of years. We have encouraged him to make changes in his character and even offered help in some areas to enable him to do so. Areas such as finances and family. However, he has not taken the necessary action to improve and change. So, he is being asked to step down and focus on the issues that are needing attention.

So often in ministry we look at gifting and anointing. We determine the person’s call and begin to move them in the direction of fulfilling their call. We disciple, train, equip, and even mentor those who have a definite call upon their life to enter the fivefold ministry. However, more foundational than giftings, skills, knowledge, anointing, and calling is character. It is foundational to everything. Not just for leaders but for all believers.

Character involves a number of things … Let’s list them for a quick understanding of some of the elements of a person’s life that we might look at when determining and working with a person’s character.

      • Family – How are they doing with their family members? Do they love and respect this person?
      • Finances – Is this person a good manager of their money, paying their bills on time, living within their means, and tithing as well as giving to the work of the ministry?
      • Friends – Who are they relating to as friends? as “Bad company corrupts good morals”
      • Fun – What does this person do for fun and how do they spend their spare time?
      • Fruit – Do they exhibit the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)
      • Fruitfulness – Are they influencing people and seeing people come into the Kingdom?
      • Faith – What are they believing God for – standing in faith regarding?
      • Faithfulness – Are they regular in their devotional life, church attendance, and ministry obligations?

As we work with people, see how they relate to and treat other people, and come to know them and their family better, we begin to see the character of the person. This character is the foundation for any and all ministry. Without it established and in place, functioning correctly, the person will not be successful in their ministry and in influencing others for the Kingdom. And, the Lord as well as the Church will, once again, be seen in a negative light in society and among non-believers. They do notice, by the way.

So, the most loving thing we can do is remove a person who, after a season of failing to develop and change these basic character issues – even when offered and given support and help – is to have them step down from all ministry. This frees them to focus on and work with these basic elements of their character. 

Of course, this action of removing someone from a leadership position may not appear to be a loving decision. Be that as it may, the removal is needed because the person has not cooperated nor responded to the help and direction being offered to them. They apparently are not teachable. They are not interested in being mentored. The leaders, in this case three apostles, have walked the extra mile or two with this person and spoken the truth in love many times. It is now time to move forward and release this person so they can decide what it is they really want to do and how committed they are to doing it. 

Character is foundational. God has called his children, not just His leaders, to be Christ-like in all of their behaviour and interaction with others. Our heavenly Father is desiring that we represent Him well amongst those who do not believe.

Gentle Heresy

I recently sat with a young man whom I coffee with when in the province east on my home province. He was a member of one of our house churches who has since decided to leave and attend the “going concern” church in his small city. However, I appreciate him and believe in him so I am keeping in touch. It was a good coffee conversation.

In the conversation he mentioned an author who he is currently reading. I had never heard of this writer. He mentioned that this preacher sees things in the spirit realm and teaches others to do the same. Now, I don’t have a problem with that. I also move in the supernatural gift of the Discerning of Spirits as found in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11. What concerned me was his comment that this man could do this since he was born. 

If a person who is not born again and baptized in the Holy Spirit can see what is happening in the spirit realm it is not a God-thing. His source would be the ruler of this age, the devil himself or one of the demons that constantly deceive believers. So, I did not say anything but my warning flags were raised and I decided to purchase this author’s books and read them to see where things stand. If the author actually says that then I will be deeply concerned and try to address the issue with my young friend. That comment would be a gentle heresy. Totally not biblical. 

It does not help that the author is part of a movement that I already have deep concerns about. So, I am treading gently and doing my due diligence reading what this man has written.

This is what I call a “gentle heresy.”

During the same week I was in a sharing session in a local church and another young man whom I know shared about a man he is following on You Tube and reading his books. He shared that this man teaches people how to get rich and, most importantly, the principles needed to handle the riches when they come. Again, my warning flags were blowing strongly in the wind. I am aware of this man’s teachings, his books, and his seminars. He is New Age and certainly not a believer in any way, shape, or form. 

The young man sharing was all excited about what he was learning about the principles needed to gain and maintain wealth. But it was all secular and New Age and not biblical in the least. The Bible states: “Beloved I pray that you may prosper and be in heath as you soul prospers” (3 John 2). Your soul – mind, will, emotions – propers only when connected to the Living God as seen and found only in Jesus. If your finances prosper beyond the level your soul prospers then you will see that specific person’s life enter confusion and end is disaster. I have seen it so often – especially with lottery winners. It is not just a matter of principles – it has to do with your connection with the Living God and letting Him transform your mind, your will, and your emotions. 

Another gentle heresy or wrong teaching. 

In some of the Facebook sharing of several people in the same local church as the “prosperity” guy above there are several who are directly and indirectly quoting the teaching of Joseph Prince. This one I have researched a lot and have seen the danger his teachings are to the Church. This man talks a good talk but when you scratch the surface even a little bit you have a much less than gentle heresy. You find a full-blown early church heresy called Antinomianism. This is any view which holds that Christians are freed by grace from obligations of any moral law – the Ten Commandments, for example. 

All these people sharing their thoughts and their theology are young people who love Jesus but are seeking out spiritual experiences and encounters. They are putting the subjective experiences – their own and that of others – ahead of the objective truth, the Bible. And, they have placed their opinions over the thoughts and the words of the Lord. And, in the process they have created a god that approves of their lifestyle and beliefs. And, they have built strongholds in their minds that need to be pulled down.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…”

The young believers today are desperately in need of spiritual fathers and mothers who are mature and will “speak the truth in love”. We need to be discipling and mentoring the young people in the Church today or else they will continue to believe a lie and follow their own vain imaginations. Eventually leaving the Church and the Christian faith because they no longer see it as relevant or believable. 

Fentanyl

 I have just had the opportunity to be driving by myself for a total of 14 hours in the last five days or so. I spend some of that time thinking, praying, and sorting thoughts and feelings, filing them or assimilating them so that they become part of who I am and are “filed away” and no longer continue to cross my mind and heart requiring more attention. Driving long distances is a good time to examine life and where it is at currently. An ancient philosopher wrote, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” I agree.

During the many hours of driving I occasionally listen to a specific program on PBS – Public Broadcasting Station – that is on the satellite radio system that my car is equipped to receive. This specific program often interviews some amazing people. This particular program was speaking with Ben Westhoff. He has just published a book called Fentanyl, Inc. It was an amazing interview. You can listen to it (in English) as well as see a full transcript of the interview at: https://www.kenw.org/post/fentanyl-dark-web-profit-center-chinese-labs-us-streets

The interview led me to purchase the book Westhoff had just written and that was the center of the interview and discussion. Fentanyl is a major issue in every nation where I work. The basic drug is known by many names on the streets – K2, Spice, 251-NBOMe – and is basic to the opioid epidemic that is sweeping our nations. The book deals with this epidemic on many levels – pharmacology, politics, law enforcement, drug dealers and even drug lords, as well as the families whose lives have been destroyed by this so easy to obtain drug.  

From the cover … “Through his courageous reporting Ben Westhoff takes us to the heart of the problem. In Fentanyl, Inc., he shines a light on the human wreckage and damage caused by the most powerful and dangerous of the opioids, fentanyl and its derivates. He shows us how addiction, mislabeling, and purposefully or mistakenly mixed drugs lead to tragic ends. The drug is often created out of factories operating with the permission of the Chinese government. To solve this epidemic, we must understand it. Make no mistake: the fentanyl problem is a global issue. Fentanyl, Inc., is a must read, pulling the curtain back and showing us how this human tragedy occurs and how insidious and addictive a drug can be.”

I am personally amazed at the number of believers who are unaware of what is happening in their world. Just after hearing the author interviewed I spent time with a number of believers – both one-on-one and with several groups. They were not aware of the problems we are all facing. And, some of them even bluntly stated that they don’t want to know all the “bad news” and thus don’t listen to the news or stay current with what is happening in the world and in their neighbourhood. I was astonished. I was amazed. I was shocked. I was deeply saddened. 

Jesus said that we were to live in the world – be in touch and involved with what is happening – just don’t get sucked into the ways of the world personally. In the world but not of the world. We are called to be light and salt … light needs to be in the darkness to make a difference. Salt needs to be in touch to change and preserve things. It is not wise to avoid knowing and understanding the bad news that is spoken about in real life every day. Remember, the Gospel is only good news because there is bad news. 

Isolating oneself from what is happening in the world is not what Jesus did. And, He does not want us to do it either. John 1:14 states that He came and dwelt among us. He became one of us. He lived as we live and where we live. We are to do the same. We need to engage with our culture and society, with all of its issues. We need to embrace those who are struggling with drug addiction and be there for them – loving, accepting, forgiving, caring. Anything less is not Christian. 

We have a cycle of addiction and death that is gripping many families and even nations. It is time for believers to become aware of what is really happening in the world – in their world. Don’t kid yourself, someone in your own local community and neighbourhood has an addiction problem. And, Fentanyl is not just a street drug that people buy illegally. Many people receive their initial introduction to this ‘drug problem’ through legal prescriptions and become addicted that way.

We need, as believers, not to be ignorant of the current social problems our world and our local community is facing. We need to care enough to become knowledgable and involved.   

Apostate Leaders

A friend, Bill Lewis, lead apostolic leader of The Connection Church in Ohio send me the following…

Every now and then there comes along an article that is so current and powerful, you wish you had said it so eloquently. However, it so powerful that it needs to be reprinted, published as many places as possible, and shouted loudly. My son, John, sent me this article and I was so moved by it for its boldness, conciseness, honesty, and truthfulness. So, here is the article by George Brahm quoting John Cooper of the band, Skillet.

 

Skillet’s John Cooper on Apostasy Among Young Christian Leaders by George Brahm

John Cooper, lead singer for the rock band Skillet, responded to the litany of recent apostasies among young Christian leaders. In a Facebook post titled ‘What in God’s Name is Happening in Christianity?’ put up on Tuesday, August 13, Cooper directly addressed the reasons given by Hillsong songwriter Marty Sampson for renouncing his Christian faith, before highlighting the need for Christians to stay grounded in a truth-driven faith over an emotion-driven one. Here is the text of the post in its entirety (not corrected for spelling or punctuation):

“Ok I’m saying it. Because it’s too important not to. What is happening in Christianity? More and more of our outspoken leaders or influencers who were once “faces” of the faith are falling away. And at the same time they are being very vocal and bold about it. Shockingly they still want to influence others (for what purpose?)as they announce that they are leaving the faith. I’ll state my conclusion, then I’ll state some rebuttals to statements I’ve read by some of them. Firstly, I never judge people outside of my faith. Even if they hate religion or Christianity. That is not my place and I have many friends who disagree with my religion and that is 100% fine with me. However, when it comes to people within my faith, there must be a measure of loyalty and friendship and accountability to each other and the Word of God.

“My conclusion for the church (all of us Christians): We must STOP making worship leaders and thought leaders or influencers or cool people or “relevant” people the most influential people in Christendom. (And yes that includes people like me!) I’ve been saying for 20 years(and seemed probably quite judgmental to some of my peers) that we are in a dangerous place when the church is looking to 20 year old worship singers as our source of truth. We now have a church culture that learns who God is from singing modern praise songs rather than from the teachings of the Word. I’m not being rude to my worship leader friends (many who would agree with me) in saying that singers and musicians are good at communicating emotion and feeling. We create a moment and a vehicle for God to speak. However, singers are not always the best people to write solid bible truth and doctrine. Sometimes we are too young, too ignorant of scripture, too unaware, or too unconcerned about the purity of scripture and the holiness of the God we are singing to. Have you ever considered the disrespect of singing songs to God that are untrue of His character?

“I have a few specific thoughts and rebuttals to statements made by recently disavowed church influencers…first of all, I am stunned that the seemingly most important thing for these leaders who have lost their faith is to make such a bold new stance. Basically saying, “I’ve been living and preaching boldly something for 20 years and led generations of people with my teachings and now I no longer believe it..therefore I’m going to boldly and loudly tell people it was all wrong while I boldly and loudly lead people in to my next truth.” I’m perplexed why they aren’t embarrassed? Humbled? Ashamed, fearful, confused? Why be so eager to continue leading people when you clearly don’t know where you are headed?

“My second thought is, why do people act like “being real” covers a multitude of sins? As if someone is courageous simply for sharing virally every thought or dark place. That’s not courageous. It’s cavalier. Have they considered the ramifications? As if they are the harbingers of truth, saying “I used to think one way and practice it and preach it, but now I’ve learned all the new truth and will start practicing and preaching it.” So the influencers become the voice for truth in whatever stage of life and whatever evolution takes place in their thinking.

“Thirdly, there is a common thread running through these leaders/influencers that basically says that “no one else is talking about the REAL stuff.” This is just flatly false. I just read today in a renown worship leader’s statement, “How could a God of love send people to hell? No one talks about it.” As if he is the first person to ask this? Brother, you are not that unique. The church has wrestled with this for 1500 years. Literally. Everybody talks about it. Children talk about it in Sunday school. There’s like a billion books written on the topic. Just because you don’t get the answer you want doesn’t mean that we are unwilling to wrestle with it. We wrestle with scripture until we are transformed by the renewing of our minds.

“And lastly, and most shocking imo, as these influencers disavow their faith, they always end their statements with their “new insight/new truth” that is basically a regurgitation of Jesus’s words?! It’s truly bizarre and ironic. They’ll say “I’m disavowing my faith but remember, love people, be generous, forgive others”. Ummm, why? That is actually not human nature. No child is ever born and says “I just want to love others before loving myself. I want to turn the other cheek. I want to give my money away to others in need”. Those are bible principles taught by a prophet/Priest/king of kings who wants us to live by a higher standard which is not an earthly standard, but rather the ‘Kingdom of God’ standard. Therefore if Jesus is not the truth and if the Word of God is not absolute, then by preaching Jesus’s teachings you are endorsing the words of a madman. A lunatic who said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” He also said that he was alive before Abraham, and to see him was to see God because he was one with God. So why then would a disavowed christian leader promote that “generosity is good”? How would you know “what is good” without Jesus’s teachings? And will your ideas of what is “good” be different from year to year based on your experience, culture trends, poplular opinion etc and furthermore will you continue year by year to lead others into your idea of goodness even though it is not absolute? I’m amazed that so many Christians want the benefits of the kingdom of God, but with the caveat that they themselves will be the King.

“It is time for the church to rediscover the preeminence of the Word. And to value the teaching of the Word. We need to value truth over feeling. Truth over emotion. And what we are seeing now is the result of the church raising up influencers who did not supremely value truth who have led a generation who also do not believe in the supremacy of truth. And now those disavowed leaders are proudly still leading and influencing boldly AWAY from the truth.

“Is it any wonder that some of our disavowed Christian leaders are letting go of the absolute truth of the Bible and subsequently their lives are falling apart? Further and further they are sinking in the sea all the while shouting “now I’ve found the truth! Follow me!!” Brothers and sisters in the faith all around the world, pastors, teachers, worship leaders, influencers…I implore you, please please in your search for relevancy for the gospel, let us NOT find creative ways to shape Gods word into the image of our culture by stifling inconvenient truths. But rather let us hold on even tighter to the anchor of the living Word of God. For He changes NOT. “The grass withers and the flowers fade away, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8)”

 

 

Safe Relationships

The other day after the shootings in:

Gilroy, California – Garlic Festival

El Paso, Texas – Walmart

Dayton, Ohio – downtown restaurant area

The Pope in Rome, Italy issued a statement saying in part… 

That he was “spiritually close” to those who were grieving and then he led the multitude listening to him in St. Peter’s Square in a recital of the “Hail Mary” for the victims

“Spiritually close”  Read more