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We NEED PROPHETS!

by A.W. Tozer

A prophet is one who knows his times and what God is trying to say to the people of his times.

Today we need prophetic preachers; not preachers of prophecy merely, but preachers with a gift of prophecy. The word of wisdom is missing. We need the gift of discernment again in our pulpits.

It is not ability to predict that we need, but the anointed eye, the power of spiritual penetration and interpretation, the ability to appraise the religious scene as viewed from God’s position, and to tell us what is actually going on.

Where is the man who can see through the ticker tape and confetti to discover which way the parade is headed, why it started in the first place and, particularly, who is riding up front in the seat of honor?

What is needed desperately today is prophetic insight. Scholars can interpret the past; it takes prophets to interpret the present.

Learning will enable a man to pass judgment on our yesterdays, but it requires a gift of clear seeing to pass sentence on our own day. One hundred years from now historians will know what was taking place religiously in this year of our Lord; but that will be too late for us. We should know right now.

If Christianity is to receive a rejuvenation it must be by other means than any now being used. If the church in the second half of this century is to recover from the injuries she suffered in the first half, there must appear a new type of preacher. The proper, ruler-of-the- synagogue type will never do. Neither will the priestly type of man who carries out his duties, takes his pay and asks no questions, nor the smooth-talking pastoral type who knows how to make the Christian religion acceptable to everyone. All these have been tried and found wanting.

Another kind of religious leader must arise among us. He must be of the old prophet type, a man who has seen visions of God and has heard a voice from the Throne. When he comes (and I pray God there will be not one but many) he will stand in flat contradiction to everything our smirking, smooth civilization holds dear. He will contradict, denounce and protest in the name of God and will earn the hatred and opposition of a large segment of Christendom. Such a man is likely to be lean, rugged, blunt-spoken and a little bit angry with the world. He will love Christ and the souls of men to the point of willingness to die for the glory of the one and the salvation of the other. But he will fear nothing that breathes with mortal breath.

We need to have the gifts of the Spirit restored again to the church, and it is my belief that the one gift we need most now is the gift of prophecy.

-A.W. Tozer – from ‘Of God and Men’.

ARE WE MISSING the CHURCH’s PURPOSE?

by A.W. Tozer

Some persons, for instance, find church intolerable because there is no objective toward which pastor and people are moving, aside possibly from the limited one of trying to enlist eight more women and 10 more men to chaperon the annual youth cookout or reaching the building fund quota for the month. And believe me, that can get mighty wearisome after a while, so wearisome indeed that alert, forward-looking persons often forsake the churches in droves and leave the spiritless, the dull and those afflicted with permanent insouciance to carry on, if a phrase so active dare be used to describe what they do. To Paul there was nothing dull or tiresome in the religion of Christ.

God had a plan which was being carried forward to completion, and Paul and all the faithful in Christ Jesus were part of that plan.

It included predestination, redemption, adoption and the obtaining of an eternal inheritance in the heavenly places. Gods purpose has now been openly revealed (Ephesians 3:10,11). It was the knowledge that they were part of an eternal plan that imparted unquenchable enthusiasm to the early Christians. They burned with holy zeal for Christ and felt that they were part of an army which the Lord was leading to ultimate conquest over all the powers of darkness. That was enough to fill them with perpetual enthusiasm.

-Source-

Sermonindex.net

Wake Up and Grow Up

After a few week long struggle with self and wrestling with God, He (God) told me that September 8th would be my turning point. We were in Orlando Florida the following week attending Night of Joy at the Magic Kingdom in Disney World. September 8th would fall on the Monday after that event, the day I was to fly back home later that evening.

I decided to visit the place where I had my “White Light Experience” over 36 years ago, a hotel not far Disney. I was naively hoping that maybe God would once again visit me in this place, even though I knew that God never does things the same way twice. I was aware that I tend to depend too much on the miraculous, an immature approach to life, expecting God to rescue me at every sign of discomfort or fear that I faced, a habit that I was at least partially aware had cost me significant growth and maturity. My childlike fear played out in many other ways of course; looking to false comforts, living a very narrow experience of life, squeaking by with the very least amount of effort that is needed to get by in life, lacking courage, looking for approval and playing the good guy for everyone, constantly trying to get it right, (for fear that if I didn’t, life would fall apart), trying to defend and preserve self in order to create the safest possible world that I could, and various other forms of childlike self-soothing.

So there I was sitting by the poolside, crying out to God one more time, desperate for an answer. I became aware that the setting of this poolside looked a little different than I remembered, (the hotel had several pools) and so I went in search for the one where I originally cried out to God and for the room where He answered me miraculously 10 minutes later. Looking at a hotel map it became clear that half of the property had been sold, and that both of the locations I was searching for were now parking lots. This picture shows what it looked like then and now. The two pins mark the spot where the pool and room were located.

Pool side and room side by side

 

As I got back into my car, I chuckled to myself as I felt God reminding me that it’s not about the experience or the location, (even things from God can became false securities), but that it’s about Him, here and now. This was something that I believed and had experienced before, but that fear narrowing mindset and all of the defenses that I had built up over the years had created what felt like a box over my head that only allowed me to see and experience the things in that very limited mental space. I knew there was a bigger world out there. Sometimes that box would become translucent and I would see this glorious world of possibility beyond, but fear kept me from reaching it.

A week later I was visiting my best friend Ken. He was diagnosed with brain cancer earlier this year, the worst kind you can get. The treatment seemed to arrest the growth of the tumor but the doctors had just found another one of significant size. He told me that they were going to put an actual box on his head in order to shoot the tumors in his brain with a gamma gun. He said he was no longer worried or concerned whether or not he would live or die. He had truly laid it at God’s feet and trusted Him regardless of the outcome. He said that as he was praying one day, he saw a vision of Christ sitting outside under a tree, legs stretched out, as though He were having a picnic. Christ told him that he had to lay his burden down at His feet and let it go. He said, “You are going to be tempted to pick it up again, but you must not”. Ken agreed, and with that Jesus threw a picnic blanket over all his cares and covered them completely, (covered by the blood as it were). Since that time he has had peace about his disease (although he has his days from time to time). As my friend was telling me these things, tears were streaming down my cheeks and I said to him, “Ken, God has been asking me also to lay down all my fear and striving to get it right, and if you can lay down your fear of the outcome of cancer, I can certainly lay down my silly childlike fears”.

My problem, put simply, is that I never fully grew up. My child ego has kept important parts of my soul and psyche buried for a long time.  This excerpt from the following blog article, posted in Understanding the Mind on December 13, 2011 by Sen, explains it very well:

“Carrying a strong child identity, as an adult, is a major cause of negativity. The child identity is basically the “ego” structure that you had when you were a child. A lot of adults carry this “child ego”, or child identity, in them way into their adult lives because they fail to let go of it as they grow up in the physical sense. The presence of a strong child identity, in an adult, leads to a highly dysfunctional adult experience. The adult life has responsibilities that the child-identity is scared of and hence it stands in resistance to allowing a smooth unfolding of your adult experience. Also, this child-identity disallows the presence of an “adult maturity” that’s required as a pre-requisite for the manifestation of several of your desired realities as an adult.

The hall-mark of the presence of a strong child-identity in you is the presence of “childish” fears in the mind. By “childish” fears, I mean the type of fears which are normal to have in a child but are understandably incongruent to be seen in an adult. Such an adult is also prone to child-like guilt (leading to several hang ups in adult life) and is easily influenced by outside authority. An adult who has a strong child identity is constantly scared of moving in the adult world, with all kinds of day to day fears. It’s also common for such adults to constantly seek approval, and emotional support, from the outside without the maturity to be his/her own person”

“If there is a presence of a strong child-identity in you as an adult, the resistance that it creates to your life movement manifests as a lot emotional suffering created by fear. This fear/suffering is usually the catalyst, or wake up call, for you to become aware of the dysfunction of holding on to this child-identity. Fear is the fire that burns through the child-identity when allowed in fully. As long as you keep running away from fears, you stay stuck in the child-identity, but the moment you allow the fears in completely it burns through the structure of the child-ego. Remember that a child always pushes away from fear, while an adult has the capacity to develop a maturity/awareness to face the fears in, to not run away from fears. Fear is a huge catalyst for inner transformation if you allow it in fully rather than try to run away from it.

Most people who have strong child-identities in them resort to escapist methods as soon as they are faced with fears that come up during their journey into adulthood – they try to deny/escape the fears (usually by drowning themselves in some distractions like entertainment, drugs, alcohol, spiritual escapism etc, in worst cases some even resort to suicide). The child-ego thrives on escapist methods. This “escape mode” of living causes you to live in fear all the time and this fear causes the attraction of some fear-based realities as an external reflection. When you finally decide to stop escaping fears and allow yourself to bring an open awareness to the fears in your being, letting your being be penetrated by the all the fears that arise, it starts dissolving the child-identity in you and what emerges is the mature you (the adult version of you that was always present below the child-identity).

Spiritual literatures have a name for this movement in your life force, where it brings you in touch with realities that create fear in you so that it can burn off the child-identity you are holding onto – it’s called “fierce grace” of life, where it puts you through some fears for your inner growth (Scientifically, you attract these fear-based realities through the presence of the strong vibration of fear that’s present in the child-ego). You reach a point where you can no longer run away from your fears, and hence you just surrender to them, and in this moment the child-identity is dissolved completely. The dissolution of child-identity allows you to live your adult life in a positive manner, allowing you to take up the responsibilities that are required of you in this realm, this maturity also rids you of inner resistance allowing the manifestation of personal realities that you desire as an adult.”

So what is the key to letting go of our fear and immature coping with life and coming out into the open, into that spacious, free life beyond the box, living in greater fullness? Not letting go of fear but embracing it! We create a space in our soul for uncertainty and in that space of the unknown, we are faced with our fear, but instead of running from it, we let it in. What we are actually letting go of are all the mechanisms we use to cope with fear, and having no other recourse, we stare the scariness in the face. Embracing uncertainty dictates that we let go of the need to figure it all out, to control our environment, and to seek old comforts.  Almost instantly, our child ego starts to melt away and our adult ego that has been present all along begins to emerge. A sense of adventure and opportunities begins to emerge. This space of uncertainty is also a space for faith to flourish. We are not letting go with the immature expectation that God will give us a different comfort, but rather a faith that he has got us no matter what, and in that knowledge is great assurance. God can do so much in our lives, but he can only work in the space we provide for Him. In the same way He doesn’t come into our lives unless we invite Him, He also doesn’t push us around internally trying to free up space without our permission. When we do allow Him into that uncertainty, the possibilities of what He can do in and though your life is endless. The faith to face the fear becomes the fire that burns away the false infrastructure and makes way for the fullness of life.

Being Good Doesn’t Get You Into Heaven

I was watching a movie over the weekend that depicted an apocalyptic scenario in which people were getting wafted up to Heaven in a beam of blue light, and in order to get to Heaven they had to do some kind of genuine, unselfish act. As much as I applaud the idea doing acts of unselfish love, it reminds how much we have the idea of salvation and going to heaven all wrong.

Despite what you might think, being good does not get you into heaven. If that were the case, why did Jesus have to die? If we could get into Heaven on our own merits, we would have no need for a Savior.

It’s funny how unbelievers will say that religion is nothing more than a man-made device to control the populous and get people to behave a certain way, when the whole idea of following Christ has nothing to do with trying to be good, but rather trusting God’s work in you. Only He can make you right, based on what He did on the cross. He made all things right, and as we surrender to the work He has, is, and will do in us, we are transformed more into His likeness.

Don’t you think the world is broken and schizophrenic enough, with most of us either striving to get it right or acting out on our fears because of some abuse or hurt from the past? That is why they call it Good News, because God just wants to love and embrace us all and heal our broken heartedness and pain and forgive us if we will just let Him. Invite Him in today and let Him do a work in you. It sure beats all the depression and heart ache of a life of self-right-ness (self-righteousness), or trying to get it right on our own. He can and will make you into the person you were meant to be, what you were born to be.

Three Kinds of Religion

When we hear the word religion, for most of us, there is a negative connotation connected to this word. I know for me, for years now, I have pushed away from any connection to the word religion, associating it with systems, structure, rules, a man made box to put God in that has little to do with the love of God and the freedom he brings. In fact, religion denotes anything but freedom but rather bondage to all the precepts and the guilt and shame that comes with it.

The actual Latin root of the word is “ligio,” meaning to tie or bind together. An example is a woman having her tubes tied, or a tubal ligation. To “re-ligio” means that something that was once tied became untied, and it is now re-tied or bound together again. So in this case, the actual meaning of the word is to be tied back to God, or intimately re-connected to Him.

Religion that the Bible calls true religion is found in James 1:26-27; “Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.”

So the last two definitions of religion go together. When we are tied to or connected with the heart of God, his love compels us to take care of the least, last and lost. To meet the needs of the homeless, the brokenhearted, those who desperately need to know the awesome love of God. Looking at it this way, I guess I don’t mind being called religious after all.

Brand New

“What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole.” – 1 Peter 1: 3-5 (The Message). I wonder how many of us truly realize this and live it. I don’t know how many wasted hours I have spent in self-examination, trying to figure out why I do some of the things that I do, or don’t do some of the things that I should do. How many hours have I spent trying to change, to be better, to be less selfish and get out of God’s way. Why do I struggle with self at all when I have been given a brand new life?

This may not be the best analogy, but it’s the only one that comes to mind as I sit in the waiting room of a car dealership. Let’s say we have an old car that is giving us constant troubles, in and out of the repair shop, being miss diagnosed half the time and at others being fixed properly only to break down again. One day we get tired and decide to get a brand new truck, but we can’t afford it. Just then, after our umpthteen trip to the dealership, a salesman walks up to us and just gives us a brand new truck. At first we are miffed and in disbelief, that it’s too good to be true, but then we accept the reality of the situation and feel extreme gratitude. We drive the truck for a week or two still trying to get used to the idea of having a beautiful new vehicle that is worry free, but then we settle in and smile, getting used to the idea of no more repairs.

Would we then, at that point, go back to trying to figure out what went wrong with the old car, what we could do differently to keep the old car out of the shop again, feeling the sting of that old car constantly letting you down? No, of course not! That old car is in the wrecking yard now. It matters not anymore! You have a brand new truck now!

The same is true with our new life in Christ. Everything is made new! We don’t have to worry about the old life, that life is dead and gone. “So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!” – Romans 8:12-14 (The Message). And again, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” – 2 Corinthian 5:17. This new life is a wonderfully expectant and exciting one, one driven by God’s Spirit in us. It’s all a matter of shifting our focus to what is right there in front of us, a new life. Take the keys, jump in, and enjoy the ride of your life!

To Dream

Dare we to dream that God will bring revival to our area and world again? Faith is a dream that is poised toward God. Imagine great transformation of the heart, from a heart of selfishness into God’s heart. Imagine an outpouring of grace and love that fills the region and spills out to the world.

The fact that I even dream it, I believe, makes it a reality. By faith I believe it. I believe that it is something that God has already said will be. Maybe there are some of you who don’t dream such things, who don’t long for such things. Maybe you have never tasted how good it is, and so you don’t really know what I am talking about or what it looks like. But there are those of you who do, who at some level, like Neo in the Matrix, when Morpheus said to him, “Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?” and again, “Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I’m talking about?” you too feel that there is something more than what this life presents with all of its best offerings and you want to go beyond the menial things that don’t really satisfy you in the long run and discover a life of real purpose, meaning and satisfaction. It is there; I have seen it and tasted it.

The Matrix may be the stuff of fantasy, but the reality of God and His power are even greater. It’s time to seek God’s face, to set the self on the shelf and experience God’s healing and love, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. -2 Chronicles 7:14

With so much unrest in the world, now is the time for Christ’s original mission to come to fruition. It’s time to move out of the comfortable pew and into the world, the Holy Spirit beckoning us forward and giving us the power and authority to say and do all that He wills us to do. There is nothing impossible for us to accomplish through Christ who works in us.

Sharing God’s Love in Creative Ways

A group of Pastors walked into an Armenian Restaurant that they frequented and one of them decided to have a little fun. On paying for his food at the counter, he said to the Armenian man at the register, with whom he was acquainted, “Hold on to my debit card because I want to pay for the next two people who come in”. The Armenian man said, “Whaaatttt, what for!?” “There is only one condition” the Pastor said. “When they ask why, you have to say, ‘because Jesus loves you’”. “Noooo! I’m no gonna do that”, said the clerk. “Ya, I didn’t think you had the guts anyway”, said the Pastor. “Whaaaat!”, said the man. “Ya, I didn’t think you were man enough”, repeated the Pastor. “Ok, I do it!” said the clerk, accepting the challenge.

As the Pastors sat down to eat, they watch an older lady walk in and place her order. When she went to pay, the man said quickly in his thick Armenian accent, “It’s free!” “Really, why!?” said the surprised lady. “Welllll… it’s because Jesus loves you!” he answered sheepishly with his head down.  The group of Pastors all laughed as their Armenian friend shared the love of Christ for them, while taking the opportunity to pay it forward at the same time.

Listen to Jesus, Then Do it!

One of the Pastors from the Church Multiplication Movement was telling us a story about the importance of listening to God and doing what He asks. A woman from his church was a nurse at a local hospital, where a friend of hers lay dying of forth stage cancer.

She asked her Pastor if he would come to the hospital and share the Gospel of Jesus with him. He didn’t want to and thought that she should do it, that it was really her job as a follower of Christ anyway and she had built a relationship with the man which would make it more natural for her to share something like that with him. The Pastor did however feel like God was telling him to go, but he resisted and instead decided to clean his office for the next two days instead, (which was very out of character for him). Finally, he could take God’s tugging no longer and decided to go, all the while feeling angry on the way. When he walked into the hospital, his lady friend from church just happened to come around the corner at that very moment. “Oh good, you’re here”, she said. “They just moved him to another room. Follow me, I’ll show you where he is”.

When they got to the room, his friend practically pushed him in the door, closed it behind him and left. The dying man’s wife and daughter were by his bedside crying. “What am I going to say Lord?” the Pastor asked. “I don’t even know the guy”. God said “Just take a hold of his hand, look in his eyes, and share the Good News about my love for him”. So the Pastor did just that, and when he had finished, he asked the man if that was something he was interested in and if he wanted to give his life to Christ. The man shook his head and said yes through his oxygen mask. A moment later, he closed his eyes and took his last breath. The man’s wife look at the Pastor and said, “He was just waiting for you to come”

If we have entered into a relationship with Christ, we are all capable of hearing His voice. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. – John 10:27. We need to learn to trust Him enough to listen to what He is telling us, and then DO it.

Life and Death

Knowing Jesus Christ and letting Him put down stakes in your life makes all the difference between feeling really alive, and not really being alive at all. There is no greater satisfaction than having the presence of God, through Christ in your life. Absolutely nothing compares to it! Not sex, not drugs, not money, not relationships; nothing! Even the greatest feeling of satisfaction on earth feels worse than death in comparison to this life that comes from God. If you have even the slightest inkling to believe this, please read on.

In the Garden of Eden, God told Adam and Eve, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” It appears that they didn’t die and that God was lying to them, but in fact, they did die. Let me explain; the life that we now live, from that time until now, is not really life at all. We have become so accustomed to this life that we really don’t know the difference, until we experience it! Sure it seems like we are alive. We have wonderful moments of happiness, we eat, we breathe, we love; but in comparison to the life God gives, this life doesn’t even feel like life at all. In fact, death is a step up from this “dead” life. There exists a larger, out in the open life. Another comparison would be, this life is the clothes closet and the life God gives is the universe. That’s how drastic it is.

This is not science fiction or fantasy. I have experienced this first hand. A life so full and free, that normal life is less preferable to death. As I have quoted before, Jesus gave us His real purpose for coming to earth when He said, “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”

I feel so emphatic about this to the point that my greatest desire in all of life is for you to know this life for yourself. I have no greater purpose, no greater desire. It’s easy to attain. Ask God to come into your life and to straighten out the tangled mess that this “normal” life has caused. Ask Him to set you free and to give you His Spirit which brings wholeness of heart and mind. You will probably still have grieve and trials, but He will, either quickly or slowly, begin to give you a level of maturity and growth that rivals any negative mind set, attitude or circumstance that you may be facing. Life to the full; as far as I am concerned, there is no other life!