Thursday, April 30, 2009

More Faith in Suffering Than In Blessing

Here's some food for thought from David Cartledge's book The Apostolic Revolution:

The reason why much preaching is negative is because the preachers themselves have no confidence in God or His promises. They cannot conceive that God would bless His people, and actually have more faith in suffering and limitation than in victory and freedom. Because of this, they often oppose the idea that God delights to prosper His people in their spirit, soul, body and social areas.
I asked my wise wife why she thought this was so. Her answer: It doesn't require faith at all to believe in suffering or limitation, because faith is the substance of things hoped for.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Humility vs. Stagefright

In his book, Playing from the Second Chair, Rick Clendenen states:

Humility is not thinking less of ourselves; it is simply thinking of ourselves less. It is putting the needs of others above our own.
Somehow I managed to mash together the above in my mind. For several days, I went about reminding myself that "Humility is not thinking less of ourselves; it is thinking more of others."

I once heard someone say that stagefright is a form of pride. We mask it as fear of speaking, but it's really a fear of failing in front of others. Our focus is on us - not on the ones who need our messsage.

Humility, remember, focuses more on others.

I remember the first time I taught at a district event. About a hundred people from a dozen or so churches were gathered, and I was starting to get nervous. I then remembered two things:
  • Stagefright is a form of pride.
  • The message is key - the message matters more than my own discomfort.
I recited 1 Thess 5:24 under my breath (Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.) Reminding myself that the message is key, I focused and delivered it with confidence.

I find it interesting that by focusing on others instead of myself, my nerves calmed and my confidence increased.

I humbled myself in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord lifted me up (see James 4:10). I did not demean myself - I just focused on others. The Lord lifted me by giving me confidence and anointing to deliver the message.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Judging Prophecy

Paul told the Corinthians to "Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. (1 Cor 14:29)," but I've always wondered how to do that.

How can one prophet judge another's prophecy without hurting their feelings or undermining their authority?

I gained insight through a story David Cartledge included in his book The Apostolic Revolution. Cartledge repeated a story originally told by Barney Coombs:

"I was sitting with a group of men in a council meeting. The evangelist with us brought a word of prophecy. The prophet turned to me and said, 'Barney, are we allowed to judge that prophecy?' Now we were like family around this table but you could have cut the atmosphere with a knife. I said, 'Be my guest.' He said, 'I don't think it was from God.' I turned to another man who is wise and also a prophet and said, 'John, what do you feel?' 'No,' he said, 'I don't think it was from God.' Then the man who was in charge of the business and also prophetic said, 'The prophecy we have heard is not from God, but the Spirit says that so and so did not share all he saw, and when he shares all he saw, it will be from God.' I felt goosebumps up and down my spine! I turned to the evangelist and said, 'Is that true?' And he said, 'Yes.' When he shared all that he had seen, all the men said, 'This is from God.' It changed everything."

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Who to Shun, Teach, Awaken, or Follow

I saw the following on a cubible wall at work:

He who knows not and knows not he knows not...
He is a fool. Shun Him.

He who knows not and knows he knows not...
He is simple. Teach Him.

He who knows and knows not he knows...
He is asleep. Awaken Him.

He who knows and knows he knows...
He is wise. Follow Him.

I like these classifications. I like that you can break it into 4 quadrants based on one's self-awareness and actual knowledge:

Teach him
Follow him
Shun him
Teach him

I disagree that we should always shun those who are ignorant about how ignorant they are -- how else would you ever teach a child?

We also need to be careful any time we think we know something, because whether we really know it or not, we still think we know it. Perhaps that's why Solomon said that a fool tells everything he knows, but a wise man keeps it in till afterward. (Prov 29:11)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Thoughts on Sermon Failure

If we fail to reach our audience, we have failed.

If we fail to engage our audience, we have failed.

If we fail to connect to our audience, we have failed.

I know that God's word does not go out void, but we're not God. If we fail to reach, engage, and connect to our audience, we have failed.

Friday, April 24, 2009

When the Church is Right and Tight

I love the way Ephesians 4:16 describes a church that has it all together.

Such a church is:

  • United ("the whole body fitly joined together and compacted")
  • Effective ("the effectual working")
  • Growing ("maketh increase of the body")
Every member contributes:
  • To the Unity ("by that which every joint supplieth")
  • To the Work ("working in the measure of every part")
  • To the Growth ("unto the edifying of itself in love")

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Wicca in Lebanon, Indiana

While thumbing through the January issue Indianapolis Monthly, I came across the following snippet in the article Airball Awards:

Katherine Gunther, 36, and a few of her Wiccan friends had gathered at Lebanon's Oak Hill Cemetery one full moon in July for a "good luck" ritual. But her fortunes took a turn south when, at the point of the ceremony where she was supposed to plunge a three-foot-long sword into the ground, she instead pierced her foot. Gunther spent a few days in Witham Memorial Hospital recovering from her sudden bout of bad karma.
I've always heard rumors of witchcraft being practiced in our towns, but I've never seen anything about it printed in the press -- until now.

I'd like to say that this incident happened at the same exact time the Holy Ghost began to move at a worship service in one of our PCG churches in Lebanon. I can't.

I can say, however, this is proof that our enemies are praying. Are we praying too?

Sunday, April 05, 2009

We Will Stand Alone

On judgement day, we won't be able to call up witnesses on our behalf.

The church board will not be able to say how well we cooperated. Our congregations will not be permitted to tell how enjoyable our sermons were. Our kids will not be allowed to share fond memories of their childhoods.

Many people on this earth will have an opinion on whether our job was "well done," but only one opinion will matter -- that of our Father. As long as He can say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant," it will not matter what anyone else thinks. If the Father were to say, "Depart from me, I never knew you," it still wouldn't matter what anyone else thought.

I wonder, who are you trying to please?

Why does it matter so much what other people think?