Recently, I had the privilege of spending an hour and a half in the manifest presence of God. What made the experience so unique is all the things that many of those reading this have been conditioned to believe are necessary for such a thing to occur in a meeting (a good crowd, prolonged praise and worship, sermon/ministry of the “word,” prayer, altar call, heart wrenching repentance, whatever, were all absent. How can that be possible?
And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence and the violent take it by force. – Matt. 11:12, KJV.
All my Christian life I have found the idea that Jesus somehow endorses violent human effort for His cause as very odd. It contradicts the rest of His teaching, the life He lived, the example He set, and the rest of the New Testament. What does this passage about the kingdom of heaven and violence mean?
An agnostic and his Hindu wife walked into a church meeting, saw how much the community loved one another, and said: “What do you people have? We want it!” They got gloriously and transformatively saved–regenerated–as new creations, not as a result of the preaching, or a manipulative altar call with the lights turned down low and soft music playing. Rather, they experienced a tangible quality of agape love that they could not understand. Would you like to be in a church like that? Does that sound like “revival” to you? Well, it is a true story of a family and church I personally know. If this interests you, read on, there’s more!
Last week I presented a broad overview of how I believe the church has evolved in America during my lifetime. I now believe that there should be little doubt that the church is not only in rapid numerical decline but intellectually and spiritually we are almost powerless. A major reason for this condition lies in the loss of what I referred to as “the romance of orthodoxy.” When good orthodoxy is joined with a deep sense of mystery shaped by paradox I believe we see a better way to enter the next era of church history. I want to explore this idea today.
Building a culture of honor is a much bandied-about phrase these days in many non-denominational and “apostolic and prophetic” groups. On the one hand, you have our civic culture of rabid individualism and egalitarianism. It’s in the ditch of disregard and disdain for any concept of honor or respect. In the opposite ditch is a reactionary response to this cultural slide: honor that is non-relational, coerced, demanded, and required because of ungodly measures of rank and status. Both ditches are at work in the body of Christ, and both are wrong. The issue is not the legitimacy of honor. The problem is the values and ideals of what constitutes honor in a kingdom context, and why, how, and to whom it is due.
Most the folks who have angst about supporting equippers have been stuck with the wrong equippers. They’ve encountered the charlatans, the big shot, the power hungry, greedy, selfish, know-it-all, wannabes. Some who have encountered the genuine article didn’t even recognize them as such. Their religious training had taught them that whoever is in the pulpit on Sunday is equipping them for ministry, whether or not real equipping was taking place. This blog is the third in a four-part series by Loren Rosser and posted here by permission.
Many believers have been taught that the love of God toward them is conditional upon their behavior. Mix in psychological issues of shame, guilt, and unworthiness, the combination becomes a debilitating paralysis that can lead to despair, depression, and even suicide. Jesus’s words in John 15:10 are often used as a proof text by preachers to propagate this point of view. Let’s look at John 15:10 closely, paying attention to three important considerations: context, grammar, and culture. I will be covering some basic Greek, but I will try to keep it non-technical.
I once heard a leading pastor of a “successful” evangelical church in a city preach the following: “We are saved by grace, but after that, it is all up to us.” This is a frightening proposition.
Dr. Bruce Alexander of Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC reconsidered a famous lab experiment done in the 1970s involving addiction. He pondered that the presumptions behind the science could be flawed and incomplete. The scientific experiment in the 1970s involved a lone rat in a rat cage with two water bottles. One was laced with cocaine and the other just water. In this well-known experiment, it was allegedly proven that nine out of ten rats in the rat cage will go back, again and again, to the cocaine bottle until they killed themselves. The conclusion taken from this experiment was that the rats were hopelessly chemically addicted to the point of suicide. Not so fast.
If someone were to ask me to place a monetary value on the equipping I have received in my life it would be impossible to come up with a number. What value does one place on being grounded in Him? Coming up with a monetary value is impossible because the things of the Spirit are worth far more than those of the temporal. Yet the scriptures are clear these gifts I have received have economic value. This blog is the second of a four part series by Loren Rosser and is posted by permission.