Monday, November 24, 2008

Thought of the day?


So once again...people get needled on a Sunday morning. Here is a quote from the life lesson..."very often the way God would have us go is the most sensible way that we would have chosen anyhow. It is only when God wishes us to depart from the expected that we should look for guidance that is spectacular or unusual. I wonder if the church spends too much time looking for GOD in the bizarre and spectacular and we miss Him whispering at us in the every day?"
Thoughts?

13 comments:

RosalieG said...

Agreed. And...isn't it safe to assume that if one is abiding with God (ie. checking in with him unceasingly), that they could also assume they just may be right in the centre of his plan? If so, what would realizing that do to their level of contentment?

I like to pose this question, "What if...you are right where God wants you? How would that change your perspective?"

"What if... he is well-pleased with your choices? What would that do to your self-esteem?"

"What if...you already have all you need to carry out his good and perfect will? What would that do to your level of confidence?"

"What if...you are right on schedule? What would that do to your level of peace?"

Scott said...

I was going to write my own blog post about this very thing.

Anyways, my question is, Why is the church still looking for God?

If you think about it, this is what we fricken believe. Should we not be walking with God on a daily basis, KNOWING that He is there? Should we not be speaking to God and having him speak to us, KNOWING that He is there?

Clinton Kroeker said...

I think we miss the greatest amount of communication from God because we do not read his Word. How easy it is to become "accustomed" to hearing the living words of God! and then blow it off as if it were powerless--dead words by dead authors.

If you're interested in hearing the actual voice of God, read this article.

I agree we miss much in the every day. But there is an entire universe of communication from God to us that we miss when Scripture stays on the night table.

David said...

It makes sense to me. If I have a choice to make, and for this choice I want to go one way and God also wants me to go the same way, then when I choose to go my way I simply assume that I chose to go my own way.

On the flip side, if God wants me to make the bizarre choice and if I am obedient and go against my own wishes, the only way for me to explain why I made the decision that I did was to say that I am doing God's will.

Jordan said...

Scott, you refer to the Church as 'we'.
So the answer to the question "who are we?" should be the Church. But, who is the Church? I believe that the Church does not only consist of the perfect Christian that you seem to describe in your comment. It consists of the troubled, the hurting, the needy and those who feel far from God.
We may believe in God, but you cannot tell me that someones belief in God does not vary from time to time. In such a case one may attempt to seek God in the "bizarre and spectacular" when all they have done is made to much noise to hear His whispering voice.

Scott said...

I agree Jordan for the most part.

I'll offer this then, the quote states that "I wonder if the church spends too much time looking for GOD in the bizarre and spectacular". Is this guy then generalizing 1 billion people? If the church is the people, does every christian look for the bizarre and spectacular? I'm sure many Christians also hear a whispering voice.

I think sometimes we have to be careful how we view the "church". There are many different view points on what said-church is. Is it the people? Is it the institution that consists of Christian people? Is it just a building where Followers of God attend on a Sunday morning? These are all plausible viewpoints of church.

From reading this quote, you get the feeling he is after the institutional definition, where the church is looking for big things from God. There is a stronger emphasis in the pentecostal assembly, especially recently in more post-modern churches, that we are the church, individually. In older settings, such as the Lutheran church, the whole community is the church. That's the feeling i got when i attended a Lutheran church when i was younger.

So who is the church then you ask? I guess it all depends on who you ask.

Jean said...

2 things;
this quote reminds me of Elijah looking for God in the earthquake and the wind, but God spoke to him in the quiet.
So, yes, I agree with us looking for God in the bizarre/spectacular and he choses to whisper.

My second thought: Genesis 11:31 talks about Abram's father, Terah, setting out for Canaan and stops at Haran - decides to settle there instead. It makes me wonder if God's plan was for Terah to go to Canaan, and he settled (though God's intention was to bring his people to Canaan so he fulfilled that through Abram instead). Sometimes God has a plan for us and we settle instead of being obedient.
I guess Gerry's quote started with "very often..." and not "always" so we should all be careful not to make any generalizations here.

SoulPastor said...

Rosalie G has asked a number of hypothetical questions that I have a problem with understanding but I will try to respond. What I see in your questions is that if one assumes that they are connecting with GOD then we should be in a state of “peace” because we are in the centre of his plan/will. To which I would say YES and NO.

Personally, I feel that I am doing what GOD has called me to do, I find fulfillment and satisfaction, however I am never sitting content as “I’ve arrived.” I am still in the process of seeking the direction of GOD. For example: finding a building for our community to use…either purchase or rent. Ultimately, this is GOD’s problem but I am the vessel that He uses to seek out what is needed. Am I carefree in this area? Not in the least, but I am at peace that we are doing the right thing in looking into various avenues.

Your questions deal with issues of “contentment” “self esteem” “confidence” etc. As I read into them I see a point of arrival. I am not convinced that the walk of faith is seen in terms of arrival, but rather one of journey. It is a walk, and along this road there are many different emotions and feelings that we will encounter but we should not believe that we have come to the state of arrival. Not sure if this is an adequate response to your post.

Scott asked “why is the church looking for God?” Scott, I would say that it is more than just looking for God, but rather we are wanting to see and experience GOD in a first handed way. We literally desire a touch from the divine. I believe that all humankind longs for it. Look at people who get involved with Christianity and they want GOD to do “magic” in their life and when it doesn’t happen they walk away angry and feeling that GOD has not shown up and therefore is not real. We all want a real and tangible experience…

At this point I would have to agree with Clinton and add that we miss out the dynamic encounter because we are not connecting because we do not read or we do not pray or we do not gather together with other believers or we do not care for those in need that are within our reach.

David, I hear what you are saying…however…I am not so sure that decisions in life are that simplistic and easy.

Jordan, you are brilliant!

Scott…when I used the word church, I was referring to the catholic (universal) church. I am not just talking about charismaniacs, but also those who are looking for GOD to show up in pieces of toast, crying statues and the list goes on. The church as a building is not the context of this post nor is it the context of scripture, it has been the bastardization of the word by our culture.

Scott wrote: “From reading this quote, you get the feeling he is after the institutional definition, where the church is looking for big things from God.”

Soul Pastor responds: No.

Scott wrote: “There is a stronger emphasis in the pentecostal assembly, especially recently in more post-modern churches, that we are the church, individually.”

Soul Pastor responds: What are you talking about?

Scott wrote: “In older settings, such as the Lutheran church, the whole community is the church.”

Soul Pastor asks: “What, better yet, who do you mean by community?”

Jean, I would agree with you that it was God’s plan to get Abram out of Ur and it is possible that He used his father Terah to get him at least to Haran. Scripture does not mention that it was God’s plan for Terah to go to Canaan…we cannot even speculate on that, the call was to Abram specifically. And yes the quote started with “very often” and not “always.”

Karen said...

Soul Pastor wrote -
Scott asked “why is the church looking for God?” Scott, I would say that it is more than just looking for God, but rather we are wanting to see and experience GOD in a first handed way. We literally desire a touch from the divine. I believe that all humankind longs for it. Look at people who get involved with Christianity and they want GOD to do “magic” in their life and when it doesn’t happen they walk away angry and feeling that GOD has not shown up and therefore is not real. We all want a real and tangible experience…

I don't think I agree that all humankind longs for a touch from the divine. I think that some people are perfectly happy living for themselves. Some of the people who get involved with Christianity and want the "magic" to happen may only be interested in what they believe God can do FOR them. (Many churches actively seem to promote this idea) Maybe the "magic" doesn't happen because their expectations and motivations are wrong. Perhaps the "magic" happens when we come to God and wait for him to do something in us; instead of for us.

SoulPastor said...

Good Point Karen...Thanks

Dave Wood said...

In him we live and move and have our being...
More than anything, I find the complete misunderstanding of the power of the Spirit in the life of the believer daily is the greatest misunderstanding of "looking for God."
We search for God within the confines of a service awaiting the water to move and people to be touched like the pool of bethesda when in reality we are to be moved by the Holy Spirit and move in the Holy Spirit way more at Tim Horton's than in a service.
Only one person was ever healed in the Temple... the rest? ... at the local watering hole.
I'll take a latte... double shot... no whip... Oh and while we are here...Do you need to be touched by God? Great!

RosalieG said...

-- a moment to speak to my questions.

I agree that a Christian should never be stagnant or static.

The questions weren't directed at you although I appreciate your answers. They were a response what I detected in the post as a generation looking for the spectacular rather than seeing God in the mundane. Kinda addressing those that live in discontent, (kinda always depressed) instead of seeing the greatness of God and their own potential in the place they are with the tools they have. It was kind of like saying to a whiner - shutup, look at what you do have (the glass half full) be part of the solution, enjoy the present with its imperfections, thank God and get busy using what you've got. Quit wasting time looking for greater, bigger, friendlier, more spectacular and do the jobs God has given you well ---and of course do those greater things he wants you to do.

SoulPastor said...

Interesting article

20/20 Hindsight: What I Hope We Learned From the Lakeland Revival

Looking back at what happened in Lakeland, I wonder if we can agree on what went wrong.

It has been four months since Canadian evangelist Todd Bentley fled the scene of Florida’s Lakeland Revival amid rumors of a moral failure. When Bentley vanished in August, the crowds thinned, God TV stopped broadcasting services, the meetings eventually shut down and Bentley’s worship leader took the popular music of the revival on the road.

Meanwhile, many people were left scratching their heads. Some were angry with Bentley for leaving his wife. Some were confused because their faith had been energized during the six-monthlong experience. Many charismatic ministry leaders defended the revival, saying that it was never supposed to focus on a man. Others blamed Bentley’s critics for the revival’s demise.
"Ministers of the gospel need both godly character and powerful anointing. Why did we ever settle for the idea that we should have one without the other."


Late last week the board of directors of Fresh Fire Ministries—which Bentley resigned from in August—released a lengthy statement to update its supporters on Bentley’s condition. The letter confirmed that (1) Bentley is “resolute in his intentions” to divorce his wife, Shonnah—and that “he admits to being 100% responsible for the divorce”; (2) his relationship with his former intern is ongoing; (3) the evangelist drank inappropriately during the revival; and (4) he has yet to enter into a clear system of accountability with Christian leaders who have offered to help him.

The six-page statement, which defended the impact of the Lakeland Revival, did not excuse Bentley’s behavior. “We believe there are currently no biblical grounds for Todd to leave his wife and children,” the board members said. They added: “The nature of the present relationship between Todd and his former staff member is that of adultery.”

Lakeland was a painful chapter in the history of our movement, not just because such a highly visible preacher made such embarrassing moral choices but also because Christian leaders never agreed on what went wrong or how it could have been avoided. Now that the accident scene is in our rearview mirror, I wonder if we can agree on at least some points. Here are some lessons I hope we have learned by now:

Lesson #1: Accountability. Accountability. Accountability. I wish just saying the word over and over could impress the concept in our minds. Leaders must live according to biblical standards. Period. Bentley’s board admitted in their statement that after the Lakeland meetings went into full swing, Bentley developed troubling behavior patterns. That would have been the right time for someone with apostolic courage to demand that Bentley step down for a season until he got his spiritual life in order. If we really want New Testament miracles and New Testament impact, maybe we should embrace New Testament discipline.

Lesson #2: The one-man show is over. New Testament ministry is about teams, not hotshots. Paul shared the workload with Barnabas, Phoebe, Clement, Priscilla, Aquilla and many others. And he protested when people tried to make him out to be a god. When will we learn that the superstar syndrome actually thwarts genuine revival because it causes audiences to focus on man instead of Jesus?

I know there are those who insist that Bentley didn’t want people to notice him. But if that’s true, why did he cover himself with tattoos a few years ago, when he was in the ministry? I’m not a stickler about tattoos, but in Bentley’s case they definitely should have been a red flag. Anyone who craves that much attention needs counseling before they get on a stage.

Lesson #3: Chill out. The Fresh Fire board, in last week’s statement, admitted that one of their biggest mistakes was allowing Bentley’s meetings to go on week after week without a break. Bentley tried to preach continually without rest, and as a result he burned out. Most likely his staff burned out too. No Sabbath, no time for family, no time to unwind. No human being can keep such a schedule without imploding.

Isn’t this also true for the American church scene? Our rule has become, “The show must go on.” We are driven to keep the seats full and the money coming in. The more we work, the more we grow—so we have to work harder to maintain the growth and pay the bills. The pace becomes more and more frantic until the engines fail and the wheels fall off. Building God’s way requires patience, pacing, regular maintenance and plenty of downtime to receive His ongoing guidance and grace.

Lesson #4: Character is more important than anointing. Some revival groupies disagree with me on this. They’re so desperate for a display of miracles that they’ll take a zap from someone who has questionable morals or shoddy values. They don’t mind who lays hands on them as long as they are thrown to the floor while the crowd cheers.

I love revival too, and I’ve spent time on the floor soaking in God’s presence. I love the anointing. But please: Can you show me in the Word of God that character is not required of leaders? The Bible says imposters who work miracles will spend eternity in hell. Working miracles does not win anyone brownie points with God. Ministers of the gospel need both godly character and powerful anointing. Why did we ever settle for the idea that we should have one without the other?

Lesson #5: Lay hands on no man quickly. Many of us are still grieving over the fact that a large number of charismatic leaders stood on a stage in Lakeland in June and publicly commissioned Bentley. Some praised him for his integrity and humility while others prophesied about the nations he will evangelize and the increased spiritual influence he will wield. Today those proclamations (readily available on You Tube) seem hollow and embarrassing.

Some who stood on that stage insist that God told them to do a public commissioning service. One recently hinted to me that it was a mistake. I’ll let them sort that out. Personally, it saddens me that our movement has been tarnished by what appears to be a serious lack of discernment. In the crazy world of independent ministries—which already lack proper accountability—leaders should take the time to investigate a preacher before commending him on international television.

Lesson #6: You can’t have revival without repentance. The word “revival” is thrown around loosely these days. If a few people fall on the floor, get goose bumps or see gold dust, we are ready to christen it a revival and put it on television as soon as possible. After all, if large crowds gather, it must be God!

I’m tired of imitations. History shows that genuine revival is more than a bunch of blessed bodies in a pile. We need more than angel feathers, emotional euphoria and limp pep talks about getting high on Jesus. We need the strong Word of God that convicts hearts, demands repentance, slays sin and has the power to produce converts who will withstand temptation.

With Lakeland behind us, let’s celebrate the testimonies that came out of it, enjoy the songs we sang during it and pray for the restoration of the man God used to start it. Then, let’s learn from our mistakes and press on to better things.


J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma. To read the full version of the Fresh Fire board of director’s statement, released Nov. 28, click here.

http://fireinmybones.com/index.php?col=120208