Monday, October 27, 2008

The True Love Connection!

In the first two posts on this topic of sexuality- I had quite a few questions- and objections from those who disagree with some of my statements. In the midst of this blog, I intend to reply to some of those objections to bring clarity to what is the Biblical worldview of sexuality.I pointed out in my last blog that the word "sex" is derived from the same root for which we get or word "sections." Thus, the very nature of our language conditions us to think that we are sections in need of another section in order to make us whole. Such a worldview is nothing new. It existed at least 800 years prior to when Christ walked the earth. He reached into a dark world which was consumed with that view. For both the Romans and the Greeks sexuality was considered as a spiritual act in which the male soul was made complete by sexual union with the femine soul. Thus, the more sex a man had, the more spiritual he was considered. A few years ago as I was changing channels on my television I stopped for a moment to listen to a preacher talk about how couples can enhance their marriage. He made the following statement, "Without sex and having fun together, a marriage is no different than any other business relationship." Upon hearing such statement, I was wishing there was a way I could walk into the tv set and knock some sense into that Pastor because such a statement reeks of complete and total hodgepodge.Marriage is not about "sex and having fun" as this pastor stated- but rather is the sacred union in which two people join together in a mission to declare God's glory through their lives accomplishing His will and purpose as they journey through life together as best friends. One reader responded to my last post by saying that "though sex is not the most important part of the relationship, there is something wrong if the sex is not going good." I don't fully disagree with that statement. Nor does any pyschologists whether Christian or secular that are considered experts on the issue. I am going to say very little in response as coming from someone who is not married and has maintained purity for marriage- which might not give me the authority to speak in depth about this. What I am going to point out is that it is univerally agreed upon principle that the relationship outside the sexual union affects greatly the enjoyment of the union. If the relationships is a relationship of two people with an intent of gratifying themselves through "erotic love" then the enjoyment may last for a season- but in the end it will crumble into pieces. If the relationship is based on two people giving selflessly and sacrifically of themselves in pure heart and devotion to one another- then there is nothing to worry about as it will all fall into place elsewhere.So what is our view of sexuality to be in terms of marriage? I think it's both relevant and important to have this in line whether we have been married for a number of years or whether we are still waiting for God to send us the one we will spend the rest of our lives with as and if He so wills. The best way I can state this in proper perspective is from the analogy of winning a prize in a competition whether sports, science fair project, American Idol, etc. While the prize awarded in the midst of the competition is an important perk of the package- it is not the prize that defines the winner as the winner. The same is true of the marriage relationship. Sexuality and sexual expression are perks of the relationship- but they are not in way, shape, or form what defines the deep intimate connection of love that exists between two people that have entered into such a sacred bond of marriage.One of those days, I plan to marry a girl that I call my best friend. Who she is and whether she exists and God wills that for my life I do not know. Most tell me that my philosophy is completely outdated that being friends with a girl only gets you in the friend zone- so therefore we should immediately move in the moment we feel the powerful force of attraction. Such a view may be outdated- but that's the way the vast majority of relationships occurred in the days of our grandparents- and the divorce rate then was much lower than now so maybe it's not such a bad worldview after all. Sadly, I think most people can not accept such a radical view because their minds are geared towards the fast food mentality of an instant rush- than the mentality of cost, time, and steadfast commitment. All three are essential ingredients to a successful relationship.With that in mind, I close by stating that the true connection of love is found in what we are doing for the Kingdom of God. It's not so much what we are doing with our lives as it is what God is doing through us to advance His kingdom. It took me years of searching to find the calling in my life in which I would be connected intimately in a way that I could advance the kingdom of God everyday through what I do. I am by no means perfect but at this stage of my life I feel more connected than I have ever been- and though I desire to someday share my life with a special someone- that's not the centerpiece of my life- and it's beginning to get to the point that I swore it would never get to- that whether or not it is in God's plan for me to be married is of the least of my concerns. The true love connection is ultimately found-in active pursuit of God's holiness- which melts away the boredom in our lives that results from the consumption we have with our own selfish desires. This concept again is radical and is considered by many to be outdated for the world we live in. But I challenge you to think about these thoughts. More importantly pray about them. That's what I have done as I have compiled them. Quite honestly the very thoughts of these ideas seem outrageous. But since when was the God who came to earth as a man and bled, suffered, and died naked on the cross for the sins of the world so against the outrageous.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Did God create erotic love?

Last week, I wrote a post on the issue of homosexuality exploring the paramaters that revolve around the issue. In dealing with that issue in my gacebook group, I was both appalled and very disturbed to hear it said that "a person's sexuality is a defining part of who they are and how they experience the world." If that is true of anyone whether hetero, homo, or bisexual, then that person is obviously living a deluded, demented, sadistic, and twisted life.

Which brings me to the issue of the oversexualization of our culture. At the conclusion of my post on homosexuality, I said that I don't think that homosexuality is the main issue here- but rather the oversexualization of our culture. Statements like the statement that "a person's sexuality is a defining part of who they are and how they experience the world" show a clear fundamental misunderstanding that has mistakenly associated sexuality as having anything to do with love. Love has become far too sexualized and in such far too conditionalized.

True love, however is above coniditions. It is unconditional, never failing, never ending. It looks beneath the surface of each individual and sees the core of the heart and the soul. It was a few months ago that I had a discussion with one of my best friends about "what love truly is." We were actually talking about physical attraction. While I certainly don't think it is wrong to have physical attraction- love must based on something far deeper than that. In that conversation my friend made the comment "God created erotic love."

I later had that same discussion with another close friend who inspired me to look at the true meaning of erotic love within the context of Biblical times. Erotic love was in Biblical times, the most selfish, most self-gratifying form of love there was. It therein did not refer to just the physical act of sexual union- but to any act that was selfish and sought only to gratify one's self.

With that stated, let me make it clear that in accordance with the Biblical definition of erotic love- God clearly DID NOT create erotic love. The kind of love God calls us to have one for another is beyond conditions. It inspires to look beneath the surface and to see inside the heart and soul. If we would approach with that same person of love- we would transform the world. The problem is that "Christians" today are more obsessed with the things that gratify themselves. This stretches far beyond their sexuality to their quest for identity and purpose. While there is nothing inherently wrong with that quest- the answer to those questions is only found in the person of Jesus Christ.

On the topic of sexuality and specifically the word "sex." The word "sex" is derived from the same root from which we get our word sections. Based on that wording "sexual intercourse" is so powerful because it fulfills the need for us to be connected as sections. In truth, if we see ourselves as nothing more than just sections- we undermine the intrinsic value that God places upon each one of us. We are whole people, not half of a person.

And so, when it comes down to what should be our stance when we approach the issue of sexuality as a whole and to what extent have we become oversexualized? It is people for love to be oversexualized both prior to marriage and even within the bonds of marriage. If our love for another person is based on what we feel we gain from the partnership with that person- then our priorities are out of place and we are guilty of committing the sin of erotic love whether with or without the act of "sexual intercourse." Love is an attitude that seeks better for another person than for ourselves. It is an attitude of commitment and uncompromising sacrifice towards another person. While sexual intercourse is a legally acceptable act within the bonds of marriage, Married couples should approach the act with the attitude not of gaining pleasure for themselves, gratifying and serving to fulfill their own desires- but rather as an opportunity to give unconditionally of themselves to another person. This is the way Christ loved us in His once for all sacrifice for our sins. And this is the way that you are called to love one another in your sacred partnership.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The issue of homosexuality!

In recent news, it became known that former Christian music artist Ray Boltz who wrote such songs as "Watch the Lamb" "I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb" and "Thank You" has come out of the closet as a homosexual. With this news in mind, I think it is important to take a closer look at the issue of homosexuality Bible does indeed condemn homosexuality as a sin.

The three passages of scripture most commonly referenced to refer to homosexuality as a sin are Leviticus 18, 22, Leviticus 20:13, and Romans 1:18-32. While there are other passages which may be referenced in regards to this issue, these are the two clearest in all of scripture. In recent years, the Gay and Lesbian Movement has grown significantly gaining the support of even Christians who no longer see homosexuality as a "distinct sin issue." Before I proceed any further, let me state clearly that I believe we should love and reach out to homosexuals- and that I believe we can do that even while acknowledging the practice of homosexuality as a sin. I believe the most loving thing we can do is what is done by ministries like Exodus International- we can provide the support to lead homosexuals out of their life of bondage and into a knowledge and grace of Christ Jesus as Lord.

When I think of the Gay and Lesbian Movement, God's words to Job come to mind "Will you condemn the Almighty to justify yourself (Job 40:8)." Looking at the agenda of the Gay and Lesbian Movement we see how those in the movement have done just that. Sadly, there have been two opposite extremes of Christians both of which have done the name of Christ great dishonor. On one hand, there are those who have promoted a message of hatred towards homosexuals. On the other hand, there are those who have become so desensitized as to look at the issue of homosexuality as more of a grey area than a black and white issue.

The Gay and Lesbian Movement within the church has started to rationalize with passages of scriptures in order to make the case that their behavior is not sinful. Leviticus 18:22 which is the most profound warning against homosexuality in the Bible has been downplayed by the Gay and Lesbian agenda by using the argument that homosexuality was simply commanded against as part of the Old Testament holiness code. While there are those things that were part of the Old Testament holiness found throughout Leviticus, homosexuality is speciffically referred in both chapter 18 and chapter 20 as an abomination. The very nature of the word abomination is indicative of a sin against God which would stand throughout all generations with no exceptions and no compromise. If we buy into the argument that the warning against homosexuality as an abomination in Leviticus 18:22 is simply part of the OT holiness code, then we must conclude the same about Leviticus 18:23 which warns us that having sexual intercourse with animals is an abomination before the Lord. Of course, in today's society where we are constantly condemning the words of the Almighty in an attempt to justify ourselves, it would not surprise to hear someone say that indecent acts with animals are acceptable and even genetic. It makes me wonder whether this whole issue of gay marriage in our own generation is going to manifest itself in the issue of whether or not people should be allowed to marry their pets in the next generation.

The other passage spoken so frequently against the practice of homosexuality is Romans 1:18-32 which tells us of how men forsake their natural desires in exchange for unnatural ones. If we take scripture back to its original language the nature of the language reveals several other NT passages which reveal homosexuality as a sin in addition to this passage in Romans. The Gay and Lesbian agenda has found its way around this passage by alleging that Paul is referring to those people who were not naturally gay and yet were committing homosexual acts. That brings us to the question of whether or not homosexuality is genetic.

I am appalled to hear people that I deeply respect buy into this idea of homosexuality as a genetic practice. The studies used to conclude that homosexuality is genetic are about as reliable as the study last year by researchers used to conclude that pork is one of the healthiest foods you could ever eat. Amazingly, the research was funded primarily by those in the pork industry in the same way that the research used to conclude that homosexuality is genetic is funded heavily by the Gay and Lesbian agenda. Even if the research were not funded by the Gay and Lesbian agenda, it is staring right in the face as to why these studies are simply not an indicator of homosexual as genetic. For instance, one study used to identify homosexuality as genetic revealed that it has been discovered that in 48% of identical twins where one member is gay, they are both gay. If homosexuality was indeed genetic, than even the discovery of 99.99% of all identical twins in which one member is gay they are both gay- would be out of the question. The research reveals that such is not true of even half of the identical twins. Yet, this same study is taught in the college classroom as evidence that homosexuality must indeed be genetic. It makes me wonder where have the brains of students and professors gone. Of course professors teaching at state universities are largely funded by Liberal lobbyists who are set in their intent on defending the Gay and Lesbian agenda so it is no surprise that they are sellouts.

There are quite a few other studies out there used to make the case that homosexuality is genetic. One study found that in a certain percentage of homosexuals, the hypotholamus is smaller. Again, only a certain percentage which is used to induce that homosexuality may be genetic. But as we know inductive logic can only imagine, whereas deductive logic presents up with absolutes that can not be questioned. With that stated, the studies used to identify as homosexuality as genetic are clearly based on inductive logic rather than deductive logic. Often times the inductive logic should lead us to the other conclusion- as is the case with less than half of identical twins in which one member is gay, both are. That means that in 52% of the cases where one member of identical twins is gay, the other is not- which leads us to the opposite conclusion that homosexuality is not genetic.

Time does not allow for me to deal with all the studies conducted to try and justify homosexuality as being genetic. But they all fall under the category of suppositions not supported by absolute fact which in reality put the very practice of the scientific method in drawing conclusions to total shame. In truth, I don't think that homosexuality is the issue here. Rather the issue is the oversexualization of our culture- whether hetero, homo, or bisexual. There is a large dependency on sexuality to bring fulfillment in life in our culture. If it is done apart from the will of God- that fulfillment will only last for a season and in the long run will only lead down a path to total destruction.

It is imperative that we as Christians rather than shying away from the issue of sexuality- confront that issue approraching it from the standpoint of what the scripture says. It can be adequately stated that the oversexualization of our society is the reason for many sins whether homosexuality, infidelity, divorce, etc. Therefore we need to approach this issue from a Biblical standpoint and confront it head on asking what in fact the Bible does tell us about sexuality. With that in mind, I am going to be focusing on this very issue in my next post. The title of that post is "Did God create erotic love?"

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Letting Go

In this year of my life God wanted to show,
That there are some times I just have to let go,
As friends and family have moved from here to everywhere,
Being distanced from them how could I bear,
They have been taken afar and are no longer here,
While I’m wishing I could still have them near,
We take people for granted when they are close,
It’s not until they move away that we miss them most,
But I know for them God opened a new door,
And in it he plans to reveal himself more,
By taking care of them as they follow His will,
As they trust Him and let Jesus take the wheel,
Knowing they are so far away it is hard to be at ease,
I sometimes plead to God “Would you bring them back please,”
Maybe someday he will which would be great,
But for now that is not their fate,
So I must move on and focus on the here and now,
As I embrace what’s in store for me and the gifts God endows.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Turning wounds into trophies!

People in today's world are boggled down with much hurt and brokenness. Our hurt and brokenness is a result of the experiences we have had in our lives- thus leading us to our deepest and inner most of insecurities.

Quite recently in my own faith, God has really been showing me that instead of dwelling on the point of my wounds- I need to take those wounds and turn them into trophies. Ephesians 5:13 says that "All things are made visible when exposed to the light, for that which is made visible becomes light." That is an amazing concept that God can take our wounds and our struggles which are hidden in darkness- expose them by bringing them to the light- and then those some wounds and struggles which were once hidden in darkness can become a light to others.

That is what Christ desires is that we become a light so that we may help others through the wounds and struggles. Often times we allow our wounds and struggles to break us to the point that we feel insufficient to help others. When in reality, God wants us to take the very wounds and struggles that broke us- and use them to motivate us that we may help others who have been and are boggled down by the same.

The best way to make a difference for God's kingdom is to allow those wounds to be translated into your passion. We must realize that God did not bring us out of the darkness simply because he wanted to rescue us. Rather, his calling is far above and beyond that. He wants us to partner with him in being a light to others who are blinded by that same darkness.

For years this has been a struggle of mine. I grew up with the belief that if I ever show myself vulnerable and soft, people will punch a hole right through me. In that selfish mentality, I made a habit of "waxing over" my brokenness hiding my heart away so that no one can see me for who I really am. I would be lying if I said I have fully overcome that mentality. God is still working in me in that regard.

When we live from our hurt, our hurt will mulitply all the more as we will hurt others. When we live from our heart, we begin to embace the fullness and experience the reality of all that God has called us to be. So let us take our wounds and turn them into our passion- and that passion will turn into our trophies as we help lead others out of the darkness in which we ourselves were once blinded and lost.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Hideaway heart!

Do we really have a clue about who we are? Do we live our lives with the wrong perception of ourselves? If we have the wrong perception of ourselves, then do we not also have the wrong perception of others?

As Samuel went to find a king among the sons of Jesse, he was told by God "Do not judge him by his appearance or height, God does not look at what man looks at. Man looks at the appearance, God looks at the heart." This theme was reflected throughout David's life. If without naming David, I wrote down all the evil deeds that he performed in his life and asked you what kind of person you thought he was- you would more than likely say that he was a wicked evil man. Yet scripture says repeatedly that he was a man after God's own heart. Indeed David did fall into much sin in his life. From looking at the appearance of King Daid's actions, we would not thing of him as a reighteous king. So what are we to say of David's actions, why did he repeatedly fall into sin if he was indeed a man after God's own heart. I believe firmly that it is because David repetaedly made the error of defining himself by the external and insignificant- and that this kept pulling him a way from the internal fiber of being a man after God's own heart- (though as we know from scripture he always submitted to God's rebuke and repented when needed). More adequately stated, David was caught in his insecurity- the belief that what God had designed him was not sufficient enough to sustain him.

Is the error of David any different than our own lives? In our society there is much evidence of how we define ourselves by the external and insignificant. People say something that hurts our feelings and we dwell on it for a long time, we are told we are weird or that we are a bad person and so we begin to portray our personality in such a way as to fulfill the role which others have ascribed to our lives, we allow our career paths- to be the very things that define who we are and neglect to get in touch with the substance of whom God has called us to be. We turn to many things to build our definition and in so doing often hide away our hearts- because we fear that if we truly live from the heart it will not be sufficient enough to sustain us. Then when we burn out on our lives, we often become bitter and point the finger at God.

As long as we are judging ourselves with the wrong perception, we are also judging others with the wrong perception. Our judgment of others is based on our desire to knock them off "the pedestal" so that we ourselves can take center stage. In so doing we fail to discover the innermost being God has designed us for, and hide away our hearts all the more. When we hide away our heart, not only do we neglect the fiber of our being but we also neglect the hearts of those who need us to demonstrate God's love in a very real and extraordinary way.

In what ways have you hidden your heart away? Allow God to be a part of helping you find it so that you can truly discover the fiber of your innermost being which he designed the very moment you were created (Psalms 139:13).

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Beneath the surface of everyone is a story to tell,
as much is often hidden underneath our veil,
stories of pain and hurt which upon us have been thrust,
hardening our hearts and teaching us not to trust,
which causes us to build walls to hide away our being,
so that into our hearts no one can truly be seeing,
for we've learned that if we show ourselves a hole will be punched through,
and that is why we fear that we can not be true,
But if we listen to the story that Christ wants to tell,
We will learn to trust Him as our masks we unveil,
Then the hurt and pain that upon us has been thrust,
will be taken care of as Him we learn to trust,
and then we will no longer be compelled to hide away our being,
as the love of God living in us is what others will begin seeing,
for if we make ourselves vulnerable to Him He will help us through,
and as we abide in his presence we will bodly be true.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Spirit of Religion reigns in Cabarrus Arena

My last blog was about the ministry of Todd Bentley and my thoughts on the so-called Florida Healing Outpouring which seems to be gaining widespread acceptance among many Pentecostals and Charismatics. This will be my last post for now on this topic. Last week, I had the opportunity to go and hear Todd Bentley live as he had an impartation service at Cabarrus Arena here in Concord. He was only in town for one night but his associates did stay and preach the other three. From what I heard in the two nights at Cabarrus Arena, I am very moved to be more in tune with scripture than ever before and to be more aware of Christian doctrine because these guys are clearly showing the uncanny ability to twist the Word of God to their advantage.

The first night was full of reasons that validated my concerns. The speaker, Jerame Nelson said God had shown him how to take the treasures he's stored up in heaven and get them transferred to his earthly bank account (I wish God would show me that.) As Nelson continued preaching- it was obvious that what he was speaking was the very same doctrines of the Latter Rain heresy of the 1940's. Of particular danger is the Manifest Sons of God- the belief that there are is a remannt of people on earth who will bring about the return of Christ by growing into and becoming an incarnation of Christ prior to his return.

The second night Todd Bentley came and spoke. He wasn't as extreme as I expected though in the little bit of time that he did talk he did say a few things that brought cause for concern. His testimony indeed was powerful and compelling. At the same time even in the midst of giving his testimony, he could not resist talking about miracles, signs, and wonders and particularly how when he first converted he thought all Christians walked in that power and also had angelic encounters. He brushed over the topic of angelic encounters. I think much of that has to do with the fact that the pastor at Lakeland has asked him to tone down his references to angelic encounters. Karl Strader, pastor of Ignited Church in Lakeland has also asked him to tone down his reference to third heaven experiences.

Todd Bentley does indeed appear to have toned down his references to such. However, there are still references of the angel and his third heaven encounters in the teachings on his website. Based on the examination of those teachings, there is still much cause for concern. We must be discerning and test these spirits- and not simply just drink the kool-aid that he and his associates are serving up to us.

I have no doubt that the majority of the people listening to Todd Bentley are doing so with a hunger for the things of God. Satan as well is aware of that hunger- and that's why he doesn't come in his naked deformity but rather masquerades around as an angel of light. The greatest and most dangerous shift in the body of Christ is the belief that we needs miracles, signs, and wonders to operate in normalcy among us today in order to confirm the gospel of Christ. While I do believe in miracles, signs, and wonders the Word of God must take precedence over everything so that all is in accordance with sound doctrine. Looking at the teachings and beliefs of this movement- it is clear that there are many errors and many contradictions which might as well be spitting on the Bible. In Luke 11, the religious crowd asked Jesus to perform a sign for them. Jesus replied, "A wicked and adulterous geeration looks for a sign- no sign shall be given you except the sign of Jonah." As Jonah was in the belly of a whale, so the Son of Man would be in the belly of the earth and would conquer death, hell, and the grave.

It is the Spirit of religion that tells us to jump into the river embracing the experience without worrying about the doctrine. It is the Spirit of religion to believe and or to teach that there is any more of a sign needed what Christ did in His death and resurrection. It is the Spirit of religion that reigned last week in Cabarrus Arena. It is the Spirit of religion that is driving this so-called revival. It is the Spirit of God that tells us to test these spirits, to discern what is of God and not to turn to this man and his ministry for an impartation when we can go directly to the throne of Christ himself and receive that.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

"The Florida Healing Revival" examined

This blog comes in a very timely manner, as this week Todd Bentley of Fresh Fire Ministries who is the guest evangelist at the Florida Healing Revival which started on April 2, will be right here in Concord. I feel in light of that, that I must go ahead and make my stance known in terms of the Florida Healing Revival.

Before I proceed let me state clearly that I do believe in miracles, I do believe God sometimes works in strange ways that are beyond our explanation. I believe firmly in the gifts of the Spirit being operative among us today though I feel we (including myself) have gone astray from realizing their Corinthians 12.

In the case of the Florida Healing Revival, there have been reports of many miracles taking place in Lakeland. There are reports of legs growing back on, people jumping out of their wheelchairs, and others having been raised from the dead. It is not my intent to question or examine the validity of such reports. Whether or not miracles, signs, and wonders are genuinely taking place is completely irrelevant. What is relevant are the doctrines and lifestyles being promoted within the context of this "revival movement."

We must remember that even if miracles, signs, and wonders are taking place- that does not necessarily mean they are of God. Take note of the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:22-23 "There will be many who will say to me on that day 'Lord, Lord did we not drive out demons in your name and in your name perform many miracles' and I will say to them 'Away from me you evildoers, I never knew you." The question we must ask in examining the fruit of this revival is whether or not this revival represents true historic Christianity, or are there dangerous abhorrent teachings which represent a clear departure from the faith. A closer look at the teachings of Todd Bentley will shed light on this question.

Todd Bentley brings cause for concern for several reasons. First of all, he claims his ministry is guided by the angel 'Emma' who is the same angel that also guided the ministry of William Branham in the 1940's and who birthed the prophetic ministries of Bob Jones and the Kansas City Prophets in the 1980's. To claim to be guided by the same angel as William Branham brings serious cause for concern. In 1949 denounced the ministry of William Branham based on his teaching that "the concept of the Trinity was a doctrine of the Devil" and his other teaching of the serpent's seed doctrine that Eve partaking of the fruit is symbolic terminology for her actually having sex with Satan and from that Union Cain was conceived.

Not only does Bentley claim to be guided by this angel, he brings her with him to the meetings and encourages the audience to seek their own encounters with this angel. While Hebrews does tell us that angels are ministering spirits sent to us from the heavenly realm, it is dangerous to encourage people to seek experiences with angels. Such is no different than walking into a New Age Church and trying to get in touch with your spirit-guide.

Bentley further claims to be in contact with the dead. He claims to have been to the third heaven where he conversed with both Abraham and the apostle Paul. He also claims to have seen Jesus resurrected in the flesh. When any man makes claims such as these you have one of two choices, "You accept what he says at face value and receive him as God's chosen instrument," or "you recognize him as either deluded or deceiving and seek to expose him as such." Not only does Bentley claim to have had contact with dead believers but also dead cult leaders, such as Sudhu Sundhar Singh- an Indian Hindu Christian mystic who taught the idea of universalism that all will be saved and will dwell in Paradise in the end.

Finally, Bentley very rarely preaches from the Word of God and when he does it is always in order to set up the manifestations that are about to take place in the service. I have watched countless videos and most of the times he's not preaching, he's manifesting on stage and talking about how God's power is getting ready to pay a visit to the people. It makes me question of the people that do get "saved" in these meetings- "Which Jesus are they really getting saved to" I have no doubt that some are getting genuinely saved as God can and does work in spite of man's folly- but I firmly believe that more people are confused by another clanging symbol than are touched by God's power in this so-called "revival.

Unfortunately, the body of Christ has become so desperate for a touch that it is desensitized to the importance of doctrine and the need for discerning and testing the spirits (I John 4:1). We are further deceived into thinking that a revival must be in accord with miracles, signs, and wonders. Thus we think that miracles signs and wonders truly make or break a revival. In sixty years of ministry the only miracles we have seen in Billy Graham's evangelistic crusades are the salvations that took place as people responded to the call of Christ. That is the true meaning of revival. It does not require miracles, signs, and wonders though they may follow. Yet when they do I believe they will be more rare than normative.

So if you go see Todd Bentley this week go with a discerning spirit. I plan to be there myself so that they can no longer that I haven't been in his presence to experience firsthand. Of course, then they will say I was so closed to what God was doing that I wouldn't jump into the river and experience the refreshing. To which I say I have no interest in jumping into a river full of refreshing water when spiritual piranhas are nipping away at my feet.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Matters of the Heart!

Over the years, I have had plenty of people come to me and say, "Chad one thing I value about you is that you have a lot of knowledge when it comes to the Bible and defending the faith." For a few years of my life, I let that image of me define my identity- and I used my knowledge as a means to puff myself up. As Paul told the church in Corinth in I Corinthians 8:1, "Knowledge puffs up but love builds up." These days, when I an told that I am a person with a lot of knowledge, I immediately draw back and think to myself "Does my knowledge shine more than my heart." More than a person with a lot of knowledge, I would rather be seen as a person that has a lot of heart- and if you don't see that I have a lot of heart then I need to make some serious adjustments.

While my bookshelf has quite a few commentaries, books on church history, as well as apolegetics resources that provide knowledge of my faith and the means by which to defend it and the basic tenets of the faith such as the resurrection, the historicity of the Biblical account, the Trinity, etc- I have realized that God calls us first not to be defenders of our faith, but rather to be offenders of the darkness of sin that entangles and imprisons our hearts from drawing closer to Him.

More than ever, that's what people need to see in us as Christians- is that we are people with a lot of heart. While knowledge does have some value- if it interferes with us getting real with ourselves and truly seeking to know who we are in Christ- then we have a serious error on our hands. It is important for us to understand that our hearts will impact the world for Christ more than our minds ever will.

We live in a world where people are constantly going here and there in order to increase their knowledge. I think knowledge is just one of the many things people try to acquire in order that they can portray a feeling of importance and thus wax over the broken pieces of themselves so that they don't have to get real with the things that really entangle and imprison them. Sadly, this is one of the many ways in which we as "Christians" have started to conform to the ways of the world, to the degree that we even have trouble loving amongst ourselves. No wonder that much of the world no longer wants anything to do with Christianity- all they see in Christians is that we are a lot of talk with little action- a clanging symbol making a lot of noise- but with very little heart.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Examining the new "Revival Movement!"

Over the last month at Ignite Church in Lakeland, Florida, there has been a new "revival"outbreak. Already there are people starting to flock by the numbers so that they might be able to experience what is going on there- and to perhaps take it back to their own churches- as has already been evidenced by the "Holy Spirit Breakout" at Morningstar Fellowship Church in the Fort Mill Charlotte area. While it is not my intent to have a harsh and critical tone as I admittedly had in the midst of the last "revival outbreak" I do want to take the time to address the issue of the latest so-called "revival outbreak" and express my concerns. The tone I want to reflect is not a tone of attacking individuals personally- but rather of examining the teachings and philosophies present within this movement and testing whether they do or do not hold up in light of the test of scripture. Below are a list of concerns I have in regards to these latest revival outbreak movements.

1) The respective leaders of these so-called outbreaks encourage their followers not to question but to just dive on into the experience. This is the same concern I had in regards to the "Pensacola Outpouring" and the "Toronto Blessing." While I do NOT deny that some people were indeed saved in those movements- that alone does not validate the movements themselves as being inspired by God. In fact, I have a friend who came to Christ in the midst of reading the Koran. He had grown up a Muslim his whole life and was reading the Koran one day- when the Holy Spirit convicted him of his need for Christ as Lord and personal Saviour. Does the experience of my friend validate the Koran as being from God? Of course not! Being a good Berean as Paul instructs in Acts 16 means we will have questions because we should search out the scripture. We live in a day and age where most people have lost touch with the meaning of scripture in its original contexts and it is easy for scripture to be twisted to satisfy our own beliefs and intents. That's why regardless of where we attend church or what movement we are a part of- we must examine the scriptures not with our own eyes but through the window of which they were written- so that we may be able to discern clearly when lying and deceiving spirits are trying to pull our hearts away from the scriptures.

2) The leaders of this movement are labeled as prophets- though they may not claim it themselves they do nothing to refute it and even promote prophetic ministry. In Paul's own ministry he encountered people that were seen as "superapostles and superprophets." He wrote about this in II Corinthians 11 with a bold statement that we must always remember in v. 14 "For even Satan himself masquerades around as an angel of light." What is unique in particular about the movement is that the leaders proclaim that God has saved the best for last in terms of apostles and prophets in "these last days." So the prophets of today are even greater than the OT prophets who suffered through much persecution in their quests to put from pen to paper what they were hearing from God. Yet these same greater prophets of today are not held by the same standard of 100% accuracy in their prophecies as clearly outlined in Deuteronomy 18:20-22. Bob Jones (not to be confused with the founder of Bob Jones University) and Paul Cain specifically have stated that if the prophets of today get things 66% right, then they're doing quite well. And Morningstar School of Prophetic Ministry teaches the aspiring prophets how to cultivate their gift in order to make their prophecies more accurate though never meeting the 100% mark as prescribed in scripture in order to still walk in the office.

3) The revelatory claims of the leaders give individuals no choice but to treat them as if they are indeed God's superprophets and superapostles, or are thus disillusioned and therefore need to be exposed. From the claims of Todd Bentley (the Evangelist of the Lakeland Revival) who claims that Jesus once appeared to Him in the flesh and placed His hand upon His shoulder, to those of Rick Joyner (Pastor of Morningstar) who claims to have been talked to by great leaders of the past like Abraham and Moses in his book The Call, the claims are indeed extravagant and amazing if they did indeed happen- but must be examined with a questionable and thinking mind that will tests such notions in their doctrine and teachings and whether or not they do indeed hold up in light of scripture. Anytime anyone makes such a claim- we must carefully examine and not simply receive by faith what they say- as throughout history many cults and false religions have started based on people making such extravagant claims and having their followers never question their validity but rather simply believe on faith that they are indeed God's superprophet and superapostle.

4) The signs and wonders phenomena- entree or appetizer? I firmly believe that signs and wonders do indeed take place. However, when we measure them even within the context of the Holy Scriptures- they are rare and not normative. Jesus himself when asked by the Pharisees to show a sign said , "It is a wicked generation that asks to see a sign- no sign will be given it except for the sign of Jonah." In another account in Luke 19, The rich man asks Jesus to send Lazarus the beggar to his family from the dead so that they might believe. Jesus replies, "They have Moses and the Prophets. If they do not believe them, they also will not believe any one who visits them from the dead." In the midst of any "revival outbreak" we must not be deceived into thinking that signs and wonders are what lead people to faith. Such a belief is both deceptive and hollow. In 60+ years of ministry by the great Evangielist Billy Graham the only signs and wonders we have seen have been the power of lives changed by the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. I am aware of the neoclassical Pentecostal argument that revival does not take place without signs and wonders- but I beg to disagree. The word of God by the power of the Holy Spirit convicting individuals is what changes lives and brings about revival and it is therefore not dependent on any signs or wonders. In addition, we must remember that just because there are signs and wonders doesn't mean they are of God- for as II Thessalonians 2 says "the coming of the lawless one will be in accord with all sorts of counterfeit lying miracles, signs, and wonders" and as Jesus said himself in Matthew 7 "Many will say to me on that day, did we not drive out demons and prophesy in your name Lord. Yet I will say to them plainly I never knew you. Away from me you evildoers."

5) Both other "revival movements" of this kind ended in a gigantic shipwreck. In making his statement let me state clearly that I am not fully aware of the history of Asuza Street and the Welsh Revivals. I am aware that they too were controversial at the time they existed. The revival movements of the kind Morningstar and Ignite Church in Lakeland are having have their origins in the birth of the Latter Rain Movement in 1946. At the forefront of the movement were leaders like A.A. Allen and William Branham. Branham vehemently opposed the doctrine of the Trinity calling it "of the Devil" and furthermore taught that when Eve partook of the fruit in Genesis it is an allegorical expression that she actually had sex with the serpent Satan- and from that Union her first son Cain was conceived. A.A. Allen was a known alcoholic. In 1949, the Assemblies of God and other mainline Pentecostal denominations denounced the Latter Rain Movement. Branham and Allen still had flourishing ministries until their death. After the death of William Branham were convinced and highly anticipated that he would raise himself from the dead because he was so consumed by the power of God. After that the movement fizzled. The movement was repackaged and had its rebirth with the ascent of the Kansas City Prophets (Mike Bickle, Paul Cain, and Bob Jones) in the 1980's. In 1994 the Toronto Blessing brokeout and one year later was followed by the Pensacola Outpouring in 1995- the two were very closely connected. Both ended in disaster. In Pensacola there was a major split in 2001. Now we have the official third wave allegedly having broken out in Lakeland, Florida with a very charismatic leader who claims to have seen Jesus face to face in the flesh.

As I said, it is not my intent to judge or to attack individuals personally. At some time we are all subject to deception and out of our deception we deceive. But I am saying that we should be good Bereans who tests the Spirits- and that we should not just receive this new wave of revivalism on faith without any questions- because it makes us feel good and the extravagance of miracles, signs, and wonders appeal to our emotions. I could write many more concerns in regards to this third wave of "revival outbreak" but to echo in paraphrase the words of the apostle John at the end of His gospel in regards to the life of Jesus -If I addressed every concern that is valid to have in the midst of this "I suppose that there would not even be enough room in the world for the books that would have to be written."

Monday, April 28, 2008


Much of my life I've tried with my brain,

to find a way that the mysteries of God can be explained,

it was an intricate puzzle I tried so hard to solve,

in doing so my faith began to dissolve,

My faith became more a sense of my own reason,

and my growth spiritually declined through several seasons,

Now I know there are some things that simply can not be known,

as there are mysteries that are not always meant to be shown,

and so we should sit back and embrace the beauty in awe,

while we accept the reality of God's call,

for in all God does and has done he is in control,

so why not trust Him and let Him have our soul,

for when reason and logic begin to rule the day,

we start trusting in our minds doing things our own way,

so if you think faith can be found simply in logic I have to object,

for I've been there and done that and my mind it did infect,

when if we simply place our faith and trust in Him,

we begin to appreciate the wonder and let the beauty sink in,

so for me reason and logic are no longer everything,

for it is the beauty of mystery and wonder that makes my soul sing.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Kiss of the Soul!

Romantic relationships in our modern day have gotten way off track- both inside and outside of marriage in that they place way too emphasis on physical touch- instead of the things that touch one another's souls. What I have trouble understanding is why people feel the need to make out as much as they do in relationships these days? Think about it, how much time is spent "making out" and other physical forms of affection then engaging in conversations that really gets the couple in relationship to know and appreciate one another's hearts and souls.

I know that my thoughts here will be scoffed at by many. But to anyone who has ever been in a relationship where you got emotionally attached based on physical pleasure whether "the actual act of sex" or other forms of physical contact- you know firsthand how deep the emotional attachment was and when that relationship failed- you know how much harder it was after not having that discipline.

Even in church circles in the modern day world- there is this statement that we as humans are sexual beings. I beg to disagree- I think we are more soulful than sexual- but we have mistaken the sexual connection for feeling a void in our souls- in spite of an overwhelming bundle of evidence of the contrary in times past and present.

So what am I saying- that all physical contact is unhealthy outside of marriage? I don't take it that far. I have friends that I hug because of the depth of connection that we share in our friendship- and I know in my own case that I hug them in that right manner without allowing any other thoughts to consume me other than the appreciation of the bond we share in our friendship. Even in that, you must be careful. There are different levels of intimacy and then there are those things which are mistaken for intimacy.

This blog has even more meaning after an experience for me a couple years ago when I dated a girl and in a moment of intimate embrace we made out. Up until that point in time in my life- I had vowed never to kiss any girl until I knew it was the girl I was going to marry. Yet the emotion of that moment felt so good- and I got carried away with a kiss that aroused in me thoughts of lust more than anything else. After having messed up in that vow, I knew I would have a rough day the next day regretting what I had allowed to happen. Because of the intensity of that experience- I knew I was not seeing her in the same way that God would desire to see her in that moment and I so I had to bring the relationship to an end. Whether in marriage or outside of marriage- no woman or man deserves to be seen as a piece of meat simply to enhance our own sense of pleasure.

After that night when I kissed her, I thought if the relationship continued since I had messed up it was too late to go back and reclaim and/or renew my vow to God. Then I thought to myself, "If it had led to more than that and I had sinned sexually- would I just keep having sex- or what?" The answer was a clear and emphatic "NO."

Often times we love people based on what we can gain from them- this extends beyond the sexual experience, to the feeling of gaining something from them- or finding validation to cover over our insecurities. In the Greek, there are four words for "love." The fourth word is "Eros," the root from which we derive our English word Erotic. While erotic love is often thought of as sexual pleasure- it is actually much deeper than that. Erotic love was any love that was sought specifically with the intention of gaining something- whether wealth or the feeling of being validated- and therefore was and is the most selfish form of all love.

The kind of love I vow to share with my future mate is a love that extends much deeper than that- it extends beyond any physical touch, any sexual pleasure. It goes beyond what I want in a relationship to thinking about what is best for her and through good times and bad times- seeking it out through thick and through thin. More important than seeking out a physical kiss from that special someone- it will be a love at all costs that seeks first to kiss my lover's soul. While I have never been married any may not be the greatest authority on the subject- I think it is that attitude above all else that defines how successful marriages will be. Sadly, today we live in a society where many marriages have ended in divorce, and many other marriages though not ending in divorce are together yet broken.