I have found that many Christians, especially those who come from a broadly defined charismatic background (like myself), can easily fall into a very unhealthy view of God. It is almost like He becomes a heavenly magician who exists to work for lazy and undisciplined believers, rather than a loving Father who empowers and trains us. We expect God to do things for us supernaturally and “cathartically.” What He often intends, and designs, is a process of development in which He awakens and trains us to recognize the life-potential of the gift of the indwelling Spirit of Christ.
Have you ever wondered why hundreds and thousands joined the early communities when it would cost them everything? Great grace, power, and fear were upon the ekklesia (church). We’re not too crazy about #3 these days-it’s not church growth seeker friendly. “None dared to join them,” doesn’t fit our “church growth strategies.” Yet even with great fear, people joined themselves. Why?
Balaam gave the only accurate Messianic prophecy in the Pentateuch and he was a false prophet! There’s more to the issue of who is or isn’t a “false prophet” than an accurate/inaccurate prediction of a future event.
There is no scriptural example, anywhere, for the concept of recruiting spiritual sons. Recruitment is practiced commonly today as if it is a heaven-sanctioned methodology.
There is much talk these days in some circles regarding apostles and prophets. This blog is the first in a two-part series regarding recognizing the difference between the genuine and the false. This blog is a collaborative effort of my good friends, Bryon Wiebold, and David Newby. I hope it helps you in this very important matter.
The advice Job’s friends gave him typifies quid pro quo thinking: if you do well, you prosper; if you do evil, you suffer. If you are faithful to God and follow His precepts, only blessing follows; if you don’t follow His precepts, you are cursed—bad things happen to you. It is important to note that God personally appeared to rebuke Job’s counselors for thinking that way. Unfortunately, that is the way most teachers and preachers (especially televangelists) present the gospel and the way most believers live it. It shows a deep lack of understanding of the realities or the new covenant.
Folks with unhealed emotional damage from “church-world,'” will always view with suspicion the deep, healthy, and fulfilling mutual kingdom relationships others have one with another. They will see ill-motive, agenda, and dysfunction where none truly exists. They can’t get past their past. They assume that the present reality of others is the same as their past reality. It is unfortunate.
Perfectionistic, rationalistic, suspicious, skeptical, unbelief is not “discernment.” It is normally just people who have been badly hurt, trying to protect themselves from being hurt again, which is understandable, naturally speaking. Folks need space to process healing. Step-by step. You can’t rush someone past the stage of healing the Spirit is taking them through. But that does assume engagement in a process of healing, not bonding and forming an identity with one’s woundedness and eternally commiserating with those folks who are determined to not be healed.
If unhealed, that kind of person will end up in a church of one: themselves. Because, no one will ever be “right enough,” or no one “safe enough,” or no one “worthy enough” or “whole enough” for he/she to relationally invest in-LONG TERM. They will constantly separate, go from group to group, trying to find perfection only to live in cycles of chronic, reactionary, disappointment. Love involves risk, and risk involves the possibility of pain. Closed hearts cannot know love. Jesus is ready, willing, and able to do better than what we can do for ourselves by locking our selves down in a prison house of judgmental, isolationist, skepticism and calling it “safety” and “freedom from religion.” The only one we are fooling is ourselves.
God knows the unique circumstances of each of His children. There is no one-size-fits all “path” to healing. But healing is the prescription for us all.
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The Scriptures refer to believers in churches as children in several passages such as: 2 Corinthians 6:13, 12:14; 1 Thessalonians 2:7, 2:11; Galatians 4:19; 1 Peter 1:14, and multiple times in John’s epistles. The Corinthian and Galatian passages that mention fathers and sons/children are metaphors for the state of spiritual infancy of those in the community. It’s not necessarily a compliment, a model of ministry, a protocol, or standard to be maintained for all time. It is a metaphor for a relational spiritual reality and a season of spiritual development that we all pass through on our way to realizing our maturity in Him. . Continue reading
The theme of family saturates Scripture. The shared covenantal love in the Godhead is to be reflected on earth through natural and spiritual family relationships. The language, spirit, and methods of family are kingdom normal. However, the cults use the principle of family with great effect to win people into their association and to establish unbiblical belief systems and practices. Even the idea of family can be pushed too far.
The twitterverse and blogosphere is all abuzz with response and reaction to Donald Miller’s post about how he doesn’t attend church any more. Some time ago, I had the privilege of recording a podcast with my good friend, Steve Bremner of Fire on Your Head Ministries, on the topic at hand. For the interested, you can listen to it here.