Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Perseverance

You were running beautifully! Who was it that cut into your way and kept you from obeying the truth? (Gal 5:7 WmsNT)
Therefore, as we have so vast a crowd of spectators in the grandstands, let us throw off every impediment and the sin that easily entangles our feet, and run with endurance the race for which we are entered, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the perfect leader and example of faith, who, instead of the joy which lay before Him, endured the cross with no regard for its shame, and since has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Yes, to keep from growing weary and fainthearted, just think of the examples set by Him who has endured so great opposition aimed at Him by sinful men! (Heb 12:1-3 WmsNT)
Often it's relatively easy to start the Christian life well; it's ending well that's more difficult. We get tired. People wear us out with their sin, their fickleness, their opposition, their junk. Sometimes it seems doing good in a world of compromise is exhausting. We cramp up as the lactic acid of the world's allurements build in our spiritual muscles.

To keep ourselves on track the Bible teaches us to keep "looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith" (Heb 12.2a ESV). The word translated "founder" is ἀρχηγός and it can mean pioneer or trailblazer. Christ is the Daniel Boone of the Way to Heaven, he is our captain who we follow to our heavenly Home. As the refrain of the song Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus goes:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
Amen.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Christianizing the Calendar

(No, this blog entry isn't to be taken very seriously!)

You know how our current calendars (months and days) were named after pagan deities? What if we renamed it with a Christian emphasis? Here are my suggestions:

1. Months

I'd rename the months in honor of the Apostles. Using the order given in Matthew 10 as a guide, I have...
January = Peter
February = Andrew
March = James
April = John
May = Philip
June = Nathaniel (Bartholomew)
July = Thomas
August = Matthew
September = Thaddaeus (Levi)
October = Simon (the Zealot)
November = Matthias
December = Paul
Since there are two apostles named James both of them share one month. Matthias was chosen to replace Judas' vacant apostolic seat. To round off the list I honored Paul with the last spot, no less an apostle than any of the previous ones.

2. Days

What of the days of the week? I would've been neat if I could use Jesus for Sunday and then his earthly family for the rest of the week. However, Joseph and Mary had a son named "Joseph" so I'd have to say something like Lordday, Josephday, Maryday, Jamesday, Josephsonday, Simonday and Judeday (Matthew 13.55; Judah wrote a NT book called Jude. He is also called Judas in the Matthew passage. Jude, Judas and Judah all mean the same thing.)

Here's a possible list including Christ and early workers in the Church:
Sunday = Lordday (Jesus Christ, obviously)
Monday = Markday
Tuesday = Titusday
Wednesday = Lukeday
Thursday = Timothyday
Friday = Judeday
Saturday = Stephenday
You can substitute this list with various other workers. You could use the 7 men selected to see to the distribution of food to the needy widows (Acts 6.5). You could use OT prophets' names. The possibilities are extensive!

What names would you assign?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Called to Preach by Jesus

I never had a "dramatic" call to the ministry. I just felt compelled from within and surrendered to the call. I guess most people are this way. However, some Wesleyans have had dramatic experiences. Take Uncle Bud Robinson. In his book, My Life's Story, he recounts his vivid call to preach the night he was saved. It happened, of all places, under an ox wagon at a campmeeting:
During the night Jesus came under the wagon and called me to preach. I could see His beautiful face with a crown of thorns on His brow. I could see the sweat and blood mingled on His face, and the old purple robe over His shoulders. He was so real to me. I can never forget my first meeting with Jesus. He told me that He wanted me to preach His gospel while I told Him that I would go. I had no idea, that night, what it meant to be a God-called preacher of the gospel, but after forty-seven years of preaching almost day and night, living a lonely life, sometimes spending only one week at home during a whole year, I have learned that when God calls a man to preach, God really has something for him to do.
Methodist Evangelist Albert Jacobs was entirely sanctified but didn't know God's will for his life. In God's Guiding Hand he shares:
It was Thanksgiving night, the church was full. Among the number were several preachers. The one that preached was a Free Methodist. After I got through seating the people, I took a chair in front of the altar. The meeting was opened to testimony and the people were enjoying themselves, telling what the Lord had done for them. After listening a while, I joined in and began to tell them how the Lord had sanctified my soul I was pointing to the very spot at the altar when a great joy came into my soul causing me to shout and jump. I then sat down on the chair where I had been sitting previously. A deep sleep came over me so that I did not hear the sermon.

Sister C____ was sitting in front near me and they tell me she touched me on the knee saying, "Mr. Jacobs, are you sick." I made no answer. Another lady spoke to me but no answer came. Wife came to me after the sermon was over saying, "Albert, what is the matter!" I began immediately to clap my knee shouting "Glory! Glory! Glory!" While shouting I stretched out, my chair went from under me and I lay on the floor for a few minutes like a dead man. It caused a commotion. The preachers all but the Free Methodist left the church with most of the people. The lawyer with whom I was studying law said, "O, he is excited." Some of the church members asked wife if I had fainted and needed a doctor; while another was wanting to throw cold water on me and rub my hands and arms. A young man came rushing up from the back of the church saying, "Is he drunk." "Yes," said the Free Methodist preacher, "he is drunk with the new wine that came upon the disciples at the day of Pentecost."

In spite of all, they began to rub my hands. Wife told them to stand back. This was in answer to prayer and that I was in God's hands. They all went to prayer for me. I got a view of Heaven and saw Jesus standing. I was so carried away with the brightness of his face that I watched Him with amazement. The human tongue cannot express the beauties of that scene. How sweet and sympathetic Christ looked with his arm outstretched and his finger pointing in the direction of a mass of humanity struggling to get one above the other. The agonizing cries were touching to hear. It seemed they all wanted to be on top and as fast as one would get up, the others would pull him down and so on it continued. I could not understand until I heard them singing "I'll go where you want me to go dear Lord." I said "Yes Lord I will go." Then the Holy Spirit made it plain that my Heavenly Father wanted me to preach the gospel or preach Christ to the people.
Yes, Jesus is alive and still calling people to preach his gospel.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

T. M. Anderson and His Supernatural Ministry

Tony Marshall (T. M.) Anderson was a teacher at Asbury College and a strong holiness preacher. He also had visions and moved in supernatural power. Let him speak for himself from his book, Prevailing Prayer. He had a habit that to us may seem strange, perhaps unwise:
In the covenant of grace we have a Great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God. He is the only Mediator between God and man; and He is seated on His mediatorial throne at the right hand of God.

We must follow the pattern of the worshipers in Israel, and turn our faces toward heaven, where Christ is seated on His mediatorial throne at the right hand of the Father. When we say, "Our Father which art in heaven, we should have a mental picture of these facts as revealed in the plan of Salvation.

I find it impossible to pray in faith until I have first formed a mental image of these fundamental facts. I must envision the Savior seated on His mediatorial throne to have a basis for praying in faith. I must see Him in the office of the Great High Priest before I can ask for the things I need.

***

It has been stated previously that the approach to the throne of grace is through Jesus, our High Priest. I have also said that it is important to form a mental picture of the Savior seated on His mediatorial throne, which is the throne of grace. If one does not have a Scriptural concept of the mediatorial throne, he will find it difficult to pray because his mind will have no certain resting place. Wandering thoughts are due to a lack of concentration.
Okay, I'll admit that this makes me nervous. Visualization techniques make me wary but he claimed some stories that make me wonder:
I was praying in the quiet hours of the morning in February, 1950; when I formed the mental picture of the Savior on His mediatorial throne, and presented my request, I was enabled to see certain facts about the person for whom I was praying. By a power never before known to me, I was enabled to see into the past lives of persons, and remind them of certain incidents in their past that affected them in their spiritual lives. I certainly did not seek gift of spiritual discernment, if this was such a gift. But in more than a hundred incidents I have not been mistaken at any time.
Today we may call that words of knowledge. Anderson had remarkable experiences in the Spirit whereby he confronted a woman who resisted a mighty move of God:
There was a young woman who was unmoved by the power of God manifested in the great revival at Asbury College, in 1950. She told some of the students that it was nothing but emotionalism and excitement, and that she would have nothing to do with it. Several students requested me to join them in prayer for the girl to be saved. About four o'clock in the morning I presented this girl before the throne of grace. I did not know the young woman, but the moment I began to pray for her, I saw her running out of a lighted building, and running toward the darkness. The vision so impressed me, that I told some of the students to inform the young woman that I had seen her running from God.

About nine thirty that night, the young woman came to my home. She sat on a small footstool in front of me, and in anger told me that she wanted no part of the revival, that it was all emotionalism and religious excitement. I could not reason with her; for she was very angry at me for sending word to her about running from God.

In my own mind, I was convinced that her attitude toward the revival was a pretense, and that she was covering her sins. I told her I could find her real reason for rejecting the Saviour; and I began to pray for her. When I presented her before the Saviour, I saw a large hall, and an orchestra, and the leader of the orchestra standing before a microphone. But my attention was drawn to a young man playing the piano; I knew he had something to do with this girl's attitude toward Christ. When I asked the girl about the young man, she began to cry; and confessed that she had been attending the dance, and was at one time planning to marry the piano player. She said it was a secret, and was amazed that I knew it.

I began to pray again for her, and I saw a lighted room, and a table set with glasses for liquor: and I saw this young woman filling the glasses with liquor. When I asked her if she drank liquor, she began to scream, and said, "That is a cocktail party given in my home, and I gave a preacher's daughter her first drink. I have damned her, I have damned my best friend." She confessed covering her many evil deeds by pretending that she did not believe in the revival. She had no more fight against conviction left in her; she was completely broken in spirit, and was contrite of heart. Once more I took her to the Saviour in prayer; and I obtained mercy for her at the throne of grace. The merciful Lord saved her instantly; and she shouted with great joy for deliverance from sin.
Anderson helped an old man regain assurance of his salvation:
An elderly man was seeking help at the altar. He was in deep despair, and discouraged by the trials which had beset him in recent months. He was distressed by his doubts, and had given up his testimony of salvation. He was eighty-five years of age, weak, and sick in body. It was my joy to take this man before the High Priest, who can be touched by the feeling of our infirmities. Knowing the truth, I came boldly to the throne of grace, and lifted this man up before the sympathetic Christ in prayer. I saw a little white church situated in a grove, out in the country. I saw a young man converted at the altar in that church; I could see him shaking hands with the people, and rejoicing with them. I saw the young man had dark hair, and a little mustache; and in some way, I knew that the elderly man at the altar was the young man I had seen in the little church. He told me that he was saved sixty-five years ago in the little white church in the country. He said, "My hair was dark, and I had a little mustache."

When I told him that the Lord had shown me these things, and that he had been converted in the little white church. The Savior blessed this humble man, and his doubts departed, and the joy of the Lord filled his heart. It was a time of need in the life of this man, and a merciful Savior had answered prayer, and given help in the nick of time.
He had a vision of his daughter, Ruth, being saved:
My daughter Ruth, lived more than a hundred and fifty miles from my home. Ruth was unsaved, and my heart was greatly burdened for her. I took her on my prayer, and presented her before the Savior at the Mercy Seat. I saw the Savior lay His hand on her head, I could see her curly hair between His fingers. I told my wife about the vision, and we wept before the Lord, and gave Him thanks. The next morning when I prayed for Ruth, I saw kneeling by her bed in prayer; I saw the same thing the third morning. But the fourth morning when I prayed, I saw her standing, and knew that she had been saved by grace.

In a letter she said that the Saviour had put His hand on her head, and her mind was cleared of all confusion, and she recalled the truth of salvation, and had been saved by grace.
Anderson also had Christ tell him of the Asbury College teacher's son's salvation:
I was in a hotel in Nashville, Tennessee, in March, 1950. In the quiet hours of the morning I prayed for my son, who lived three hundred miles from where I was praying. I presented my unsaved boy before the Saviour at the Mercy Seat. The Saviour spoke to me, and said, "I will save your boy tomorrow, kneeling at the couch in your living room in your home." I called my son by phone, and asked him to meet me at my home the next day. He gave me no assurance that he would come; but when I arrived home, my son was there to meet me as I had expected. The Lord saved him kneeling by the couch in my living room at my home according to His promise to answer prayer. My Father which seeth in secret had rewarded me openly.
What are we to make of all this? I don't know but I do realize that anecdotes of this sort weren't confined to T. M. Anderson. May we walk in the fullness of the Holy Spirit's ministry.

(Photo courtesy of Classic Holiness Sermons. All Rights Reserved)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Deepak Chopra Gets Shot Down By His Own Reasoning



For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, "He catches the wise in their craftiness," and again, "The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile." (1 Corinthians 3:19-20 ESV)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Thomas Goodwin on Visitations of the Holy Spirit

The Puritan pastor-scholar, Thomas Goodwin, spoke of occasional visitations of the Holy Spirit that are life-changing. This would be part of his "experimental" Christianity:
The Holy Ghost comes down into our hearts sometimes in prayer with a beam from heaven, whereby we see more at once of God and His glory, more astounding thoughts and enlarged apprehensions God, many beams meeting in one and falling to the center of our hearts. By these coming downs or divine influxes, God slides into our hearts by beams of Himself; we come not to have communion with God by way of many broken thoughts put together, but there is a contraction of many beams from heaven, which is shed into our souls, so that we know more of God and have more communion with Him in a quarter-hour than we could know in a year by the way of wisdom only.
I would to God that every believer have experiences like this! D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones may have called this the "immediate and direct witness of the Holy Spirit." I call it glorious!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Prophesying Is Not The Same As Preaching

In my Church of God (Anderson) heritage it has been common to consider prophesying indistinguishable from preaching. Our best-known Greek scholar, the late Reverend Doctor Boyce W. Blackwelder, translated προφητεύω (literally "I prophesy") as "persuasive preaching" and such like. For example, in his Letters of Paul translation for 1 Corinthians 14.5:
Now I might wish that all of you could speak in foreign languages. But I much prefer you to be persuasive preachers.
There are problems with equating a prophecy with a sermon. Church of God heritage hymn writer D. Otis Teasley wrote in his 1901 work, The Holy Spirit and Other Spirits:
The gift of prophecy embraces two things: (1) The foretelling of future events. (2) The expounding of the Word of God. The gift of prophecy did not cease with the Old Testament prophets, but was carried over to the Holy Spirit dispensation.
While I disagree with his second definition I quote Teasley to show that he understood prophecy to be more than preaching. What is prophesying for?
On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.(1 Corinthians 14:3 ESV)
A prime example would be in the life of an approved and recognized early prophet, Agabus, who lived in the time of the Apostles. He predicted a famine to strike the Roman world and the capture of Paul:
Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius). So the disciples determined, everyone according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea. And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul. (Acts 11:27-30 ESV)
And the capture of Paul:
While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. And coming to us, he took Paul's belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, "Thus says the Holy Spirit, 'This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'" When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem. (Acts 21:10-12 ESV)
Note careful what happened; Agabus was held in esteem and his word was trusted. In each case the church responded to his message by believing it and trying to act accordingly. Concerning Agabus Teasley wrote:
It is also clear that the New Testament prophets possessed the ability to foretell the future…We are not certain whether Agabus was a preacher or not; but he is supposed to have been one of the seventy disciples chosen by Jesus to go before Him into all the cities of the Jews.
William Dale Oldham, the first preacher of the Christian Brotherhood Hour, believed in prophetic dreams. In his autobiography, Giants Along My Path, he mentioned Church of God evangelist W. F. Chappel received them.
I have already told you of my complete confidence in Brother Chappel’s prayers. But may I add that he was the only one whose dreams ever received my full attention. When W.F. Chappel had what he termed a significant dream, I waited eagerly for his interpretation. Now, don’t laugh, for if you had known him, you would have paid attention, too.

One morning, shortly after our run-in with Pastor Monk, Brother Chappel told John and me he had dreamed an important dream the night before. “I dreamed that I was out there in the pulpit preaching a woman’s funeral.” (Of course all of us know that in the New Testament prophetic writings a woman represents the church.) “She was lying in the casket right in front of the pulpit,” Brother Chappel continued, “and a sizable audience was present. Suddenly, as I was speaking, this dead woman spoke. ‘Let me out of here,’ she said. I looked down at her and admonished, ‘Be quiet; don’t you see that I’m preaching your funeral?’ However, a minute or two later the woman sat up in her casket to say rather strongly, ‘Help me out of here.’ Her unusual attitude irked me, for it was spoiling the occasion. So, when she continued to interrupt, I went down out of the pulpit, put my hands on her shoulders and tried to press her back into the casket, whispering, ‘Sister, you’re dead. I am preaching your funeral.’ This really roused her and she said, ‘Now you listen to me, Brother Chappel, I am not dead. If I were dead would I be sitting up in this casket talking to you?’

“Well, that sounded reasonable enough, so instead of returning to the pulpit, I gave the good sister my hand and helped her out of the casket, whereupon, there was great rejoicing among all the people. You see, boys, in my preaching I have been trying to bury this church. Instead, the Lord wants me to cooperate with him in resurrecting it. I am changing the direction of my preaching, beginning tonight.”

As he did, attendance in our meetings immediately increased. Two or three mornings later Brother Chappel told of another dream which had come to him the preceding night. He said, “Boys, the break is coming. We are going to have a great revival. Last night I dreamed I was fishing, pulling them in as fast as I could bait the hook.” That night thirty-three persons bowed at the church altars to yield their lives to Christ. I pay little attention to my own dreams and probably wouldn’t think yours to be of any particular significance, but when Brother Chappel dreamed I gave heed to his interpretation.

Oldham, Dale. Giants Along My Path: My Fifty Years in Ministry. (ANDERSON, IN: Warner Press, n.d), 85-86.
A prophetical dream isn't preaching. But it's interesting!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Preachers Come From Humble Beginnings

Today at the annual General Assembly meeting of the West Virginia Church of God (Anderson) the chairman related a hilarious event. Before his very first sermon he hit a car, was thirty minutes late to the church but—wait for it—the service still let out early!

Never forget that preachers (and all church leaders) are just as human now as they've ever been. They are just as human as you.

Scary, isn't it?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

What if God got only as excited about you as you got about him?