It is an indisputable fact that there are differences in giving habits between different generations. These differences are deep and not going away. If we expect giving in the ekklesia to continue along the line it has for the last fifty years, or even twenty years, we are seriously mistaken. We ignore these differences at our peril.
I have been a lifelong charismatic believer. This is declarative, confessional, repentant, and pejorative all at once. I have given my life for the issue of continuation of all the gifts of the Spirit, and the Eph. 4:11 ministries. However, the adjective “charismatic” has a lot of unfortunate baggage because of the debris it has accumulated over forty years of use.
To my fellows: There is a reason 1 Cor. 13 is between 12 and 14. Love without power is impotent piety. Jehovah’s Witnesses can be “loving” after a sort. We are supposed to be able to deliver something of a foretaste of a quality of existence that others cannot. Power without love is utilitarian. People become commodities for an expression of a phenomenon, rather than the phenomenon serving people. It does not have to be an either or matter, rather, both and: power contextualized and administered in, through, and by love.
I am very suspicious of many anecdotal tales of miracles. I believe in the modern day manifestation of miracles. I have seen miracles with my own eyes and I have been a participator in some cases. HOWEVER, I do not believe that the cause of Jesus and His kingdom is helped by inflated, inaccurate, sketchy, “show time,” and overtly fraudulent claims to the miraculous. If anyone cares, I can personally connect you with the individual involved in the following true story of a miracle of radical grace, who can verify it.
Many bemoan what they perceive as a lack of the Lord’s intervention and deliverance in persistent and difficult situations they face: “Where is the Lord’s deliverance? If He is all He is supposed to be, and we have the Spirit that we supposedly do, why is there so little spiritual breakthrough in my life?” The problem can sometimes be that we want God to make things wonderful for us while changing none of our beliefs, thinking, values, priorities, and behaviors. We don’t “earn” our salvation, nor any of its benefits. Salvation is free, but not cheap. Deliverance is not earned, but it can be costly.
Anyone can wax eloquent about what could, or should be, versus what currently “is.” Idealism without action is a delusional dead end. Preachers, teachers, prophetic types, “apostolic visionaries,” dreamers, philosophers–whatever your language tradition might call them–are particularly vulnerable to irrelevant idealism. It is better to incarnate imperfection, than to romanticize about a never-seen ideal. Jesus can do a lot with folks who will simply “get to it” imperfectly, rather than “talk about it” ideally.
Like sequels to a lousy B-grade horror movie, bad ideas often get recycled in the Body of Christ. It happened again for me this week in a painful phone conversation with a dear, damaged, soul. The bad-penny doctrine I am referring to is the concept of absolute submission to an alleged “spiritual covering” as a necessity for your spiritual welfare and advance. The spiritual covering is allegedly embodied in your pastor/leader, etc. This issue has been hit hundreds if not thousands of times over the years by myself and other authors and bloggers. As confirmed by my phone conversation this week, like a zombie, it just won’t die. For Jesus’ sake, and for the well being of His church, I am going to briefly hit it again here.
If in an inferior covenant, God was willing to forgive Sodom and Gomorrah if just 10 righteous people could be found (not even trying, not even praying) why do we think we need 10,000 “prophetic intercessors” in a nation’s capital, or 100,000 people in an arena to beg, groan, and wail for revival in an era of a better covenant, based on better promises? If the cross indicates that God works through weakness, and if God’s work is done by neither might nor power, but by His spirit, if Gideon won with a few, why do we spend countless hours trying to amass numbers, size, and success? It is just unbelief saturated anti-gospel carnal drive for significance and money veneered with a 2 Chr. 7:14 proof text.
Would you listen to, or value the opinion, of someone who has memorized a restaurant’s menu, can explain it in flawless detail, can argue why their restaurant preference is better than the restaurant down the street, but who has actually never tasted the food on the menu they are talking about? We do it in Christianity all the time. We think accurate mastery of Bible stuff = life and substance. We think because we can explain the life of Jesus or Paul, that we possess the life of Jesus or Paul. Not necessarily. Just because someone has a strong opinion on a trendy topic based on the latest book they’ve read, or can debate this or that doctrine, or understands the Bible, etc., does not mean he or she is worth listening to . . . even if their stuff is “right.” It is those for whom the word has become flesh, those who are living it, not philosophizing about it, that are worth being listened to. Any fool can have an opinion on the restaurant. Only those who have paid the price to eat a meal there, are worth listening to.
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2 Chr 7:14 is used by many as the pillar verse for virtually every revival ministry. The problem is, our definition and expectations of revival are often strongly influenced by our non-New Covenant thinking and theology, our religious culture, our political and social culture, and unresolved ego issues. This second installment in this series examines the difference between old and new covenant promises as it relates to our understanding and application of 2 Chr. 7:14 and our expectations of revival.
“Revival” is a charged term. It can mean different things to different people. When egos, identities, money, and insecurity get into the “revival business,” things go unhealthy quickly. In this series we will look at 2 Chr. 7:14 in CONTEXT and from a NT perspective. It has nothing to do with “revival.”