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This post is part two of my reflections on the Cathedral (Kölner Dom) in Cologne Germany. You can read part one here.
In this post I will focus on the Cathedral Treasury which, curiously, I had to pay €8 euro to see. No photos were allowed so I’ll have to use this stock photo. This is one section along one wall on just one of the four floors of 13th century vault rooms under the cathedral which have been updated to display millions and millions of dollars of gold, silver and jewels. The Cathedral Treasury was robbed in 1975 and so security today is quite tight.
While this wealth sits here, just outside sat a hungry beggar (who only got a measly one euro in his paper cup from me).
The Immorality of untouchable church Memorial Funds
Back in my denominational days I ruffled feathers with my suggestions that it was immoral for all our American churches to be sitting on hundreds of thousands of dollars in “memorial funds” (waiting for the rainy day when the church may need new siding) —all the while we had no funds to start life-giving churches that could help people in our communities. There was once an audible gasp in a room of 1000 when I suggested from the platform that all our empty dying old churches sitting on prime downtown real estate ought to pray about selling their properties and using the money to launch ten new churches and outreaches to the hurting and the poor in the city. All this came back to my mind as I toured the Cologne Cathedral Treasury.
An ornate tomb for gold-plated skulls
I briefly mentioned this in part one of this post, but here are the details… the Cologne Cathedral was built to house the gold-plated skulls of the three wise men. These skulls are consider sacred relics and this church is a shrine intentionally built to house them so people can worship them. I’ll quote directly from the literature handed out at the Cathedral;
In 1164 Archbishop Rainald von Dassel transferred from Milan the bones of the Three Magi. A precious reliquary shrine was ordered to house these relics…. the famous relics drew the faithful from all of Europe and the Cologne pilgrimage became one of the largest of the Middle Ages.
Here’s a pic of the gold box that contains the skulls – I’d estimate it’s four feet high, six feet long.
While others (hundreds) were lighting prayer candles all around this gold box I was praying that some day the church would melt the box down, bury the bones in dirt and use the money to advance the Kingdom of God. What do you think that amount of solid gold is worth? I’ll let you read this last sentence from the literature yourself…
And that is where all the wealth in this treasury came from – relic worship. Kings and noblemen throughout the centuries have come here with priceless gifts paying homage to these three skulls. I underlined the word “imprimatur” which in Latin means “let it be printed” because an imprimatur “is an official declaration from the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church that a literary work is free from error in matters of Roman Catholic doctrine.” Really, do they not see any “doctrinal” error here? I just know those who brought gold to Jesus at his birth (the wise men) would reject the practice of bringing gold to their bones. Geesh.
One of the forerunners to the Reformation, Erasmus, was a satirist. He viewed these “relics” as a fraudulent fund-raising scheme to raise money for Rome. Erasmus decided one day to take an inventory of the relics of Rome and he published his findings which included two heads of John the Baptist, two bodies of St. Anne, three of Lazarus and a bottle of breast milk from the Virgin Mary. Calvin later continued the biting sarcasm in his published Inventory of the Relics which showed there were fourteen churches in Italy, Germany and France that each “had” one of the three nails that held Jesus to the cross. You get the point.
Treasure in heaven?
If you have read this blog for any length of time perhaps you are able to see a pattern in how I think – you’ll have to track closely to process this as I do. Here we have an ornate tomb built for three gold-plated skulls adorned with millions of dollars of gold and millions of dollars in jewels. While all that is still fresh in the forefront of my thinking, I then read today’s LA Times story about how hundreds and hundreds of bodies in the LA morgue are going unclaimed because poor families can’t afford funerals ($348 to pick up ashes at the LA county crematorium).
Having recently buried both of my parents and my grandmother I’m sensitive to these poor families. Only my mother had adequate insurance to cover her funeral – my brother and I split the cost of my dads and grandmothers – things were so tight when my grandmother died at age 95 in 2006 we didn’t even order a spray of casket flowers (and that offended one of her two yet-living friends).
Perhaps only a few at Church at the Gate know that we have bought gravestones, burial plots, hotel rooms, flowers and caskets for people in our church family and community who had no means. Yet here at the Cologne Cathedral, we have a highly guarded billion dollar church treasury adorning the supposed bones of the Wise Men. If the wise men were to come back to life today I’d think they’d take the gold to Jesus. And, Jesus would spend it on the poor families in Los Angeles.
Imagine the PR mileage the Catholic Church could get if just one of these priests here at the Cologne Cathedral sold just one piece from this “treasury” and used the money to pay for hundreds of funerals for poor grieving families in LA. The priest would surely get defrocked but at least he’d amass great treasure in heaven.
How much is a body part worth?
St. Mary’s College in my homestate of Kansas houses over 1200 relics, including the finger of St. Odilia. Apparently that young gal’s body part is priceless today. You’ll need to keep tracking with me here as I try to spell out the connection in my head between relics and human organ harvesting here in Europe.
One of the two main reasons I’m in Europe this summer is to work with church planters here to put on paper a strategy to establish lots of local mission outposts for the Kingdom of God all over Europe. A few days ago we were focusing on Moldovia and I mentioned our heart to start orphanages and how God spoke to me in 2004 about “becoming a blessing to women going through life alone” – widows, single moms, sex trade, etc, etc. – you know… the pure religion stuff of James 1:27). I did not know that besides poverty and sex slavery, Moldova is one of the top countries in the world for organ harvesting.
I was then told about the hundreds+ of 15 year old Moldovian girls who are taken each year and used in the sex trade and that after they’ve “served their purpose there” they are bringing a quarter of a million dollars each as they are sacrificed to harvest their organs (which are kept in cold storage and air lifted and sold to illegal distribution centers in the United States, Germany, Scandinavia, the United Kingdom, Israel, and South Africa).
We talked about starting a church/rescue mission there this year. I told our CATG congregation last year that one of these weekends I’m going to stand up at offering time and say… “one hundred percent of today’s offering is going to buy 13 year old girls out of the sex slave trade— so give generously.” I will do that this year. As we continued to talk about what God was calling us to do here we talked about chartering flights to the US full of these girls and Kristen and I figured we could house ten in our home.
Pardon me if this has gotten way long for you, I’ll end soon. In one of our church planting planning sessions I was asked what the obstacles are – of course money is always at the top of the list. A few days later I then find myself in this “sacred treasury” and I’m sorry if my report here is so critical and negative of what I saw there. It screams insanity to me that the “religious” are hoarding shocking amounts of wealth to adorn skulls while precious girls are being sold and slaughtered on the black market for parts.
Sorry to have been off-line for the better part of the week. Really, at this point, I’m not sure where to start as there is so much in my head right now. I’ve been meeting with great leaders here from Switzerland, the Netherlands and Germany. I’ve done some interviews for a video we’ll use back in the states to help us promote a strategy to plant lots and lots of life-giving local churches all over Europe. Europe is so thirsty for God and I’m truly overwhelmed at how the church, throughout the centuries and today, has gotten in the way of the path to him (Jesus is that path). I’ll save the righteous indignation that is churning in me until part two of this post.
Since I’ve got to start somewhere I’ll comment on my visit to Cologne (Köln) Germany yesterday. Cologne has a chocolate factory and museum which was a big hit for the rest of the family – I’ll let them comment on that on their blogs. However, the main attraction in Cologne is the Cathedral (Kölner Dom). It’s the third tallest church in the world. Wow! What a sight! Here’s a pic we took while sitting in traffic on a bridge.
The history of it’s construction is a powerful illustration of visionary leadership. In 1164 – for reasons I’ll mention shortly- a man envisioned a great edifice here and work started within the century. IT WAS COMPLETED SIX CENTURIES LATER.
I’ve been through some grueling church building projects, but it’s truly remarkable to me to think that a guy started building something that his grandchildren’s grandchildren’s grandchildren would one day complete. I have a small sense of the vision-casting it takes to get a project going, and the effort, the sacrifice, resource acquisition, the problem-solving and set backs, the leadership changes and the momentum, but to have the vision to start something that would take centuries to complete is remarkable to me. And that successive generations owned that vision and took it up as their own is amazing. It makes me think that what I envision is always far too small and that leaders today need to look far past their own generation in terms of what they are going to give their lives to build.
Today just outside this Cathedral is a hub of activity – a hub of LIFE – sidewalk artists, street musicians, people protesting stuff, others promoting causes, great shopping, restaurants, etc., all this literally sits in it’s shadows. What an opportunity for the church!! But it’s an opportunity that is fully squandered. The Bible says to whom much is given, much will be required – and considering the platform this church has been given in that city, it’s a waste. More on my thoughts there in part two.
Here’s another of Kaitlyn’s pictures.
I’m aware this is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture of which I am admittedly no fan. Nothing about it says LIFE to me. (In fact, it IS just an ornate tomb – you’ll have to wait for part two of this post for details, but for now, this wasn’t built to house LIFE, it was built to house the gold-plated skulls of the three Wise Men. No kidding. I about titled this post “Kölner Dom: an ornate tomb for gold-plated skulls” but Kristen vetoed it.)
I decided to check my heart as we got close because an offense was growing in me toward this – so I prayed and asked the Lord to show me what he saw – the only thing I got was a strong sense that Jesus, being far more gracious than I, was saying “this is not what I had in mind.” I’m assuming that is in reference to his statement to Peter about building his church.
My kids commented it looks like Isengard or Mordor from the Lord of the Rings. Aesthetically, it would seem to me, the only time it truly fit in with it’s surroundings was here in 1945 after the bombs of Allied Forces reduced the city of Cologne to ashes in WWII.
Don’t read anything into that statement, I’m just saying it is dark architecturally and spiritually. Allied Forces may have shown mercy on this place by leaving it stand, I’m saying I’m not sure on the Day of the Lord that he will be so sentimental – the Bible says judgment starts in his house. I’m told Cologne today is a seat of spiritual darkness in Germany – we saw secularism in full bloom. Is it any wonder when the church there is stuck in the dark ages? Forgive us Lord.
Here’s the verse I was reading this morning – it’s from Stephen’s speech in Acts 7:48 – “the Most High does not live in houses made by men.” Immediately after that verse the Lord asks “where will my resting place be?” To balance some of the negativism above, I must say Jesus CAN BE found in Europe today! Every day for me here it’s been a bit like “Where’s Waldo” – I’ve been asking Jesus to show me where he can be found here. I can report God has a remnant here on whom his Glory is resting and that remnant is growing in strength and number and in the supernatural power the people here desperately need.
Here’s the link to part two of this post.
Today it rained all morning, stopped for a short while, and has continued on now into the night. I love it. Imagine a faint, cool breeze and quiet except for the sound of rain on the trees. Maybe one of the reasons we all slept 12 hours last night (unprecedented but obviously needed) is because it’s actually a bit dark even during the daylight hours. The Black Hills back home are called “black” because the pines look so dark from a distance. Here they call this the Black Forest because the trees are so tall and so close together it’s very dark underneath them.
Most of the day today was spent with Pastor Desmond Frey sitting here at the dining room table discussing the formation of a confederation of related church-planting-churches here – a sister expression of the Association of Related Churches of which I’m a part back in the states. There will be much more on this later as this is one of the main assignments that has brought me here. I’m here, about one-third of my time here anyway, to wash the feet of Desmond and put on paper a model which he envisions to plant life-giving local churches all over Europe. During the weeks I’m here he has invited key church leaders from other European countries to meet with us and talk strategy and relationship. And we will pray. Those of you who’ve know a few Steve-isms regarding church planting know I teach church planters to plant churches on their knees. We are asking God to give us his heart for places and people and strategies to reach them with his love.
Several years ago in Amsterdam, Billy Graham surveyed Europeans asking this question – Would you like to know more about God? 98% said YES. His follow up question was – Would you like to know more about God through the Church? 98% said NO.
Desmond told me today he doesn’t even use the word “pastor” to describe himself. It’s like Erwin McManus says, “Telling someone you are a pastor is like saying, ‘I’m a cannibal, do you want to have lunch.’” The dialog is over because, in part, for so long the Church has been an embarrassment to Jesus. Desmond tells people he’s a life coach. When they ask what a life coach does he tells them he helps people find fulfilment and happiness and walks them through life stuff like relationships, finances, purpose, calling, meaning, and spirituality, etc. When they ask where to find a life coach, he tells them new churches are being led by folks who are basically life coaches. The people then say they’d go to a church led by people who are there to help them through life.
Europe is long overdue for the fresh rains of a new reformation and renewal. The beautiful cathedrals here are dry dusty museums that lack life. Yet, spiritually hungry people here in Europe are encountering God through new expressions of the ancient faith.
Tonight as a family we watched the movie Luther and paused it numerous times to hash it out and talk about what Reformation sites we plan to visit next week.
Kaitlyn has put a couple posts on her blog but mainly is loading her millions of pictures on Facebook. Thomas has a couple new posts. Kristen put up a little bit yesterday on jet lag. Nothing from Caleb yet in terms on online commentary. Here’s the trailer for the Luther movie – rent it if you haven’t seen it, or read this classic.
I keep feeling the need (or guilt) to post here or at least keep reminding you that I am regularly posting on my other blog. Limited time and energy right now has restricted me to only post at my Voices Carry pro-life blog. I’m not giving up here, I promise, I won’t let too many days go by without something interesting here.
Of course we are all praying about Hurricane Gustav hitting New Orleans today. I have posted a substantial article on where God may be in all of this. I welcome feedback on that. If you want to send money to help, send it to my friend Pastor Dino Rizzo at Healing Place Church. You may recall he and Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge were major players after Katrina. We’ll see how it goes, we may send a work team too.
Lifelight was this past weekend here in Sioux Falls – billed as the nation’s largest Christian music festival. I only went for a couple hours Saturday. I did post last night on a couple of the extremist abortion supporters who crashed the Lifelight Festival. Pardon the title but the article is even more shocking… eat a queer fetus for Jesus.
These are a just few of the headlines that caught my attention today and my discussion starters.
One heart, one widow connect suicides of 2 men (I don’t think the woman is the common denominator. I’ve seen suicides flow generationally, in siblings, etc. I would love to hear from our deliverance ministry people/friends on this one… the spirit of death staying with a transplanted heart???)
Bible Courses Allowed, Not Mandatory for Schools (Some of you know that I have been on this for a couple of years and have said this may be the next matter I take up in our city and state. I welcome your involvement.
Vladimir Putin saves TV crew from tiger (I’m looking at Putin and the Tiger through a prophetic, symbolic lens. Interesting.)
‘Founders’ prayer violated Constitution as they wrote it’?? (Thank God for my friends at the Alliance Defense Fund.)
CNN poll shows no post convention bump for Obama (No comment.)
Grab a box of kleenex and then follow this link to a special page we just put up on our church website – it’s about a girl we are desperately trying to help in China.
While not wanting to fuel any debate with those in the seat of scoffers, I’m devoting a few additional posts on the Florida Healing Outpouring to explain why I’m not thwarted in my belief that “this is mostly God” even by reports of things like angel appearances and other Christian mystic experiences (post on this to follow) and even the matter of Todd Bentley’s violent methods. What follows is an transcription from my final point in my message Sunday where I spoke from Matthew 11:12. You can check out my earlier posts on the revival here and here. I appreciated Peter Kirk’s post yesterday on this topic of violence and the Kingdom of God so you’ll want to check that out. Peter is from Essex, UK. I especially appreciate him drawing in this quote from C.S. Lewis’ Prince Caspian.
Aslan pounced. Have you ever seen a very young kitten being carried in the mother cat’s mouth? It was like that. The Dwarf, hunched up in a little, miserable ball, hung from Aslan’s mouth. The Lion gave him one shake and all his armour rattled like a tinker’s pack and then – hey-presto – the Dwarf flew up in the air. He was as safe as if he had been in bed, though he did not feel so. As he came down the huge velvety paws caught him as gently as a mother’s arms and set him (right way up, too) on the ground.
Expect the new wine to come forcefully.
This will really stretch your old wineskin… Matthew 11:12 brings us to key point of controversy regarding Todd Bentley and the Lakeland Outpouring. “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.” 99% of the church has no understanding of this verse. We gravitate toward the nice verses at the end of the chapter… come to me all you who are weary and I will give you rest. But verse 12 is every bit inspired as verse 28 and verse 12 says the Kingdom of heaven is forcefully advancing and forceful men lay hold of it. A literal rendering read “the violent take it by force.”
Many church people are rejecting the Florida Outpouring because Todd Bentley is so violent. We’ve all seen him body slam people on stage and knee people in the stomach. And he talks openly about this – he said one time the glory of God wasn’t evident in a meeting and he asked God about it and God said, “It’s because you haven’t kicked that woman in the face.” He said, “What? You want me to kick that 80 year old woman in the face.” God said, “Yes, with your work boot.” And so Todd kicked the woman in the face and just as his boot got to her nose she fell back under the power of God and God’s glory visited that meeting.
You can understand how this kind of thing is causing many to be offended and reject everything about this guy. Surely a loving God wouldn’t tell a guy to kick an 80 year old woman in the face! Are you sure? He told Abraham to sacrifice his son. “Do this Abraham – no wait, don’t… I just wanted to see if you would.” Are we sure the God who shakes nations with earthquakes is always safe and soft?
We all know God doesn’t need us to kick people in the face for them to be healed and Bentley says its not the point – the point is his obedience. Maybe Bentley operates at a great level of power because he is radically obedient. Maybe many in the church are walking in the lowest levels of God’s power in their lives because we won’t even obey a simple prompt from the Holy Spirit to give a bigger offering next week.
The Bible talks about those who have a form of godliness but deny the power. The word power is the word “dunamis” – dynamite, explosive power or force. Those who walk in this power seeing signs and wonders are often forceful, aggressive and walk in a holy violence. Part of the problem is most evangelicals have no knowledge of church history or what is happening in terms of deliverance ministry in the church globally. Nothing Bentley is doing is any different than what is normal many churches in Africa. I’ve been there a couple times… they aren’t driving foul spirits away in Africa by saying “shoo.” African Christians get in the devils face. They are kind/gentle. From what I’ve seen, Bentley is tender with children and it’s indisputable that he’s and his ministry are kind to the poor – he weeps when he talks about intimacy with Jesus. But facing a sickness or a devil, at times he comes out swinging – mostly though with strong words.
Seventy-five years ago Smith Wigglesworth was having mass revival meetings here and all over the world. Wigglesworth is one of the American revival heroes. He considered every type of sickness a work of the enemy – sometimes when he’d identify the part of the body that was hurting he’s punch the person in that part of the body. He’d grab the tongue of a stutterer and some people got upset that he was hitting the sick. He’d reply, “I don’t hit people, I hit the devil and people just get in the way.” Through his ministry people regained their hearing and sight, new limbs were created, cancerous growths disappeared and demons fled. Twenty-three people were raised from the dead at the hands of Smith Wigglesworth.
He once took a corpse out of the coffin and threw it up against the wall. The people were shocked until they saw that the deceased had sprung back to life. I’m not saying you need to rubber stamp this kind of violence, I’m saying we need to be careful to pounce on things like this so quickly as not being from God. I’m saying “the kingdom of God comes by force and forceful men lay hold of it.” The Kingdom of God is not the kingdom of the cushioned pew.
My own testimony is that I was healed when a minister hit me. I was healed of debilitating migraines in 2001 when a guy from Texas came to Church at the Gate for a prayer conference. He hit me on the forehead with the heel of his hand and said, “spirit of infirmity, be gone!” My hair would hurt when I’d have a migraine, and my wife will tell you, touching me was a no-no. So this guy hit me in the head and I haven’t had a migraine since. I don’t recommend that methodology to our prayer team people, but folks, God is God and he does what he wants.
The context of this verse in Matthew 11 on the violence of the Kingdom of God is Jesus talking with John the Baptist’s followers about John. Jesus asked them, “who did you go out in the desert to see, a man in soft clothing?” Is anyone else tired of the soft-clothing preachers who have words but don’t have any works to offer – who have “words” but the sick aren’t healed and the demons aren’t cast out? They ought to put signs out front – DUNAMIS-FREE ZONE, IT’S SAFE HERE – DEMONS WELCOME.
A couple verses later is Matthew 11:16-17. These verses are a bit perplexing. Jesus says; “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.” In other words, yours is a generation that is immature in the things of God. You are out there in the world thinking like children and this verse is about expectations and particularly how God isn’t doing what they set up for him to do. Is your church a church that dances to God’s tune or a church that tries to get God to dance to ours. I believe this to be the key issue each of us need to sort out– will we dance to God’s song, or wait til it’s over and try to get him to dance to ours?
God is not coming as we expect. He never limits himself to our expectations. He will not conform himself to our likeness, or liking. I heard Mike Bickle say once that “people are very comfortable with the Jesus in white, but not the Jesus in red.” The red is regarding the blood splattered on his garments when he returns to make war against the kings of the earth and violently remove everything that hinders love. As we near the end of the age, we can expect a great increase in the violent clash between the Kingdom of Light and the Kingdom of Darkness. Maybe next week I’ll preach the John 2:15 verse which talk about Jesus making a whip… Would the Jesus you worship really make a whip?
UPDATED – Thanks to Andrew for commenting on this post and pointing us to this verse… 1 Kings 20:35f “Now a certain man of the sons of the prophets said to another BY THE WORD OF THE LORD, “Please STRIKE me.” But the man refused to strike him. Then he said to him, “Because you have not listened to the voice of the Lord, behold, as soon as you have departed from me, a lion will kill you.” And as soon as he had departed from him a lion found him and killed him. Then he found another man and said, “Please strike me.” And the man struck him, wounding him.”
Apparently, God does tell people to hit people.
We are getting ready at the Hickey household to send our kids to Kansas City. I’m really wishing I could go – a few uninterrupted weeks in the prayer room would do me good – and, even after being away for 18 years, in a sense, it’s still home. Thomas went down last summer to STI (now called ATC… what’s with the fixation with acronyms at IHOP-KC?). ATC stands for Awakening Teen Camp but I still slip and call it STI (which, last summer, stood for Summer Teen Intensive). Now the kids correct me when I say STI… “Dad?! Hello?! STI stands for sexually transmitted infections and that’s why its ATC this year.” Anyhoo, his sister is going this summer as well for this annual two-week summer intensive for high school students. But the big thing we are gearing up for here is sending Caleb in 60 days to start a four year program in Apostolic Preaching under Allen Hood at FSM in KC. (See what I mean about the acronyms?)
Here is an 11 minute taste of Allen Hood preaching at the OneThing conference. You will see why I’m excited to get Caleb to FSM. And, for what its worth, this clip alone nullifies all the smack talk against IHOP-KC. This is indeed a strategic equipping center for the Kingdom of God. Any who’ve said they preach another gospel are simply bearing false witness (one of the Ten Commandments by the way). The evangelical seminaries I went to didn’t preach this message with this boldness.
Thanks to Zack Hensley for finding this on YouTube. The video is a bit odd as the images really don’t relate to the message but it’s better than audio only.
Leadership Journal is perhaps THE journal of journals for non-charismatic evangelical church leaders. It has its roots in Billy Graham and Christianity Today. It’s contributors are THE who’s who in the evangelical world – Willow Creek, Saddleback, etc. This was the camp that produced me, and then spit me back out when I started pointing out the Bible lists more apostles than just the Twelve.
You can imagine my delight to flip through my latest copy of Leadership Journal (Spring ’08 – it’s not online yet) to discover the issue has two feature articles saying what I’ve been saying for a dozen years (and what the New Testament has been saying for 2000 years.) Apostles exist today!!!
Really, this is nothing new. Ephesians 4:11-13 explicitly says apostles are vital to the church, and will continue to be, “UNTIL we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
For those who didn’t know there was any debate here, believe me, there is. In 2004, I wrote a book about these things (Obtainable Destiny, Creation House Press). At that time, the book was not welcome in evangelicalism. (The book is a commentary of sorts on 1, 2 Timothy and Titus which I decided to dub… the “Apostolic Epistles” instead of what we are all taught they were… “the Pastoral Epistles.”) My point was these guys were not sent out (apostolos) to be pastors and “hold people’s hands” for 30 years. They were apostles-in-training. My evangelical colleagues were okay calling me a church “planter” or a home “missionary”, but as I tried to point out, neither of those terms are found in the Bible. And to be clear, I wasn’t asking or interested to have a title attached to my name – it was about the recognition and release of the gift and its operation in the church.
I’ve come to believe the adversary doesn’t sweat much when 100 pastors is a state operate in their gifting. But the devil freaks out when 100 apostles are released in a region. Getting over our apprehensiveness with this gifting and its operation today will get us over a major hurdle in advancing the Kingdom of God in our regions.
My D. Min. studies, yes under my good friend Dr. C. Peter Wagner, led me to the conclusion that the closest thing to a church planter in the New Testament wasn’t a “pastor.” Pastors take care of sheep already in the fold. Evangelists win the lost but then they leave town. Only the apostle goes forth to establish lasting Kingdom outposts where they weren’t previously. Apostles are the pioneers, the church planters.
Suggesting such however, even just five years ago, you would have thought I was advocating we add a fourth person to the Trinity! I know there are wacko’s out there claiming to be apostles who are not. But even there, the fact that there are false apostles means there are real ones. In five more years, this will all be a non-issue and we can get on with the work of God and stop picking at each other. Here’s a quick summary of these two Leadership Journal articles:
ARTICLE #1 - Note the title/subtitle…THREE OVERLOOKED LEADERSHIP ROLES: We’re familiar with pastors and teachers, but todays world needs a leadership team that includes three biblical but forgotten functions. Here are some highlights…
If we take the five categories of church leadership from Ephesians 4:11, [we are] training leaders to be teachers and pastors for established congregations, but where [are] the evangelists, the prophets and the apostles to lead the mission of the gospel into the world… this divorce of apostles, prophets and evangelists from pastors and teachers has been disastrous for the local church and has damaged the cause of Christ and his mission.”
There is a great chart called the “Fantastic Five Diagram” which is old-school five-fold ministry stuff from the charismatic camp.
ARTICLE #2 – title/subtitle… APOSTLES TODAY? Rediscovering the gift that leaves churches and well-connected pastors in its wake. Apostles leave new churches in their wake!!! That’s it! I love the first sentence…
We all know about the apostles named Peter, Paul and John, but have you ever heard of Andronicus or Junia? Some are surprised to discover that the New Testament identifies more apostles than the twelve…
You get the idea. Evangelicals are just now discovering apostles do exist today. And, I’m thrilled! Maybe we can all work together again. And just maybe, the self-appointed, unaccountable heresy hunters will come under conviction and realize these verses are in the Bible after all.
The Global School of Supernatural Ministry got underway here at Church at the Gate this afternoon. Things are off to a very strong start. Several had personal prayer appointments with the team prior to the first meetings. The first session covered some of the basics of prophetic ministry and the protocol there. Session two focused on the Kingdom of God in the marketplace – meaning… teams of three or four were equipped and sent out into the community (Mall, Walmart, where-ever God led) to pray for people. I’ve heard some great stories already from that time.
Tonight, worship was powerful which opened a great door for a great word on the life of David. The message was that God took one whose identity was a lowly shepherd boy and gave him a new identity and a new name. And, that God is taking us out of the miry clay and saying we are royalty – appointed and annointed to do Kingdom works. Our identity isn’t sickness, defeat, etc. Satan is trying to kill our identity in God. But, we must walk out into our new identity as stewards of the Kingdom and everything around us is affected by the Kingdom in us. We ended with prophetic ministry and praying for healing.
If you are in the area and can make it to the session tomorrow night (7 P.M.) I promise you’ll be blessed. If you attended today and God spoke to you, challenged you, or touched your life in any way, USE THE COMMENT LINK TO SHARE YOUR TESTIMONY WITH THE REST OF US.
A month or so ago Brenda David submitted a guest post here on the plight of Chinese girls like Xia Fen – you can read her story here and how she jumped several stories to escape the sex trade and ended up in a wheelchair.
This is a follow up to her story written by one of her doctors.
With the prayer and support from many friends, Xia Fen is beginning her new life leading to independence and dignity. On March 8th, my friend Dr. L.R. came from [location] to bring Xia Fen for her rehab therapy there…. Dr. L.R. got to know Xia Fen’s situation through our newsletter and immediately offered to help her. He decided to bring Xia Fen to [location] for a FREE rehab therapy. He believes that it would be the first step for her independent living… We went together to the village where Xia Fen is living with her sister’s family. In the small shabby room, we saw Xia Fen in her bed. It seems that she was still in the shock of the incident and in deep sorrow though she was eager a new life. The miserable life deprive of her dreams as many young girls have. After a brief check-up and evaluation, Dr. L.R. was confident that Xia Fen could have a much better life after the therapy and some trainings following it…. From the pictures I got recently, I know Xia Fen is doing well in [location]. Dr. L.R. gave her a better wheelchair to meet her need, and help her start a systemic rehab therapy plan. Xia Fen is having new friends there and smiles coming back to her face. With the love and help of so many people, she is not only rehabilitating physically, but psychologically and even spiritually, for she really could see some HOPE for her broken life now.
China is still on my mind. Last night some Colorado Springs friends invited us to bring a team (from the River) to join a YWAM team to China this summer. A trip there is inevitable in my estimation – I’m praying about when. Adopting an unwanted girl from there is very strong on our hearts.
The eyes of the world right now are on China as they stumble along to prepare to host the world for this summer’s Olympic games in Beijing. As expected, they find themselves in a massive uphill PR game trying to show the world that they are not what we all know they are… the planets principle violators of basic human rights. Personally, I’m glad the games are being held there and that every media outlet in the world will focus on the realities there. The more “light” we can shine on “darkness” the better.
Here’s what we can expect… China will continue to suppress any and all who try to leak the real truth out to the world. They are already talking about not allowing live television broadcasts of the Olympic games – seeking to portray China as “unified and prosperous“, of course they want to filter out non-favorable coverage that says otherwise. Good luck. They are tripping before the games even begin – killing 140 Tibetan protestors is hard to hide. Now athletes are refusing to go there because the pollution is so bad. Calls to boycott the summer Olympics in Beijing are coming in daily. Expect more bloodshed and for all this to crescendo this August.
THIS JUST IN: A “weather manipulation team” in China will manipulate the clouds to keep the rain away from the open air stadiums in Beijing during the Olympics. Amazing the extent they will go to keep anything from raining on their parade. The man in the picture above is aiming at the heavens… literally. Move over God, this fellow is a Chinese rainmaker….
Organizers of the 2008 Summer Olympics said Wednesday that they will take control over the most unpredictable element of all — the weather. Training with the Olympics in mind, the meteorologists have been practicing their “rain mitigation” techniques since 2006. They have had a couple of dry runs, so to speak. The Chinese have been tinkering with the weather since the late 1950s, trying to bring rains to the desert terrain of the northern provinces. The bureau of weather modification was established in the 1980s and is now believed to be the largest in the world. It has a reserve army of 37,000 people… 30 aircraft, 4,000 rocket launchers and 7,000 antiaircraft guns, said Wang Guohe, director of weather modification for the Chinese Academy of Meteorology.
So, how do we pray for China? Pray that God will use this season under the international spotlight to bring more light to the dark places and the dark practices of Communist China. Regarding the rainy weather issue, I’m still not sure whether we should pray God gives them the drought they want this August (and far beyond until the government cries out to Him) or if we should pray it rains and rains and rains and rains and rains.
The Beijing Tourism Administration website says that “(a)ny printed material, film, tapes that are ‘detrimental to China’s politics, economy, culture and ethics’” are forbidden, and adds that, “Each travel(ler) is recommended to take no more than one Bible into China.” Despite China’s claim that it allows religious freedom, the truth is that this “freedom” is tightly controlled through government-registered churches. Bibles are officially printed in China, but in quantities too small for the growing Chinese church.
This from the Bibles Unbound website:
According to recently-released Chinese house church leader Cai Zhuohua, he was not allowed to read his Bible during his time in prison and was forced to make soccer balls for the 2008 Beijing Olympics for 10 to 12 hours a day. Cai Zhuohua had been in jail since 2004 for “illegal business practices.” What were these illegal practices? He was distributing Christian literature, including Bibles, and giving them away without a government permit.
A few days ago I modeled how you can reach China and win the lost with your computer. Here’s how to do it through your mailbox. Right now, there is a list with the addresses of 30,390 members China’s underground church who are requesting a Bible.
The hunger for the Word of God in China is awesome. And yet, 9 out of 10 of the Christians in the US reading this own multiple Bibles and yet haven’t opened one since Sunday. Hmm.