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Barack Obama says fatherhood begins at conception. Big thanks to Tony Perkins at the Family Research Council for putting on YouTube an important follow up question that the media surely won’t be asking.
This speech was given by Sen. Obama at the Apostolic Church of God in Chicago. Nothing out of the ordinary there, he and Hillary Clinton are speaking in churches every weekend. Hmm. If I were to invite John McCain to speak from my pulpit how long do you suppose it would before the IRS would get complaints? That’s soon to change… September 28th here we come! It’s a new day!
Culture is downstream of politics. Politics is downstream of righteousness. Righteousness is downstream of a relationship and intimacy with God. The church is called to connect people with God and release and equip them to see to it the Kingdom leaven permeates the entire loaf of society. This is the flow, the stream, we read of in Amos 5:24 – “But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” We need Amos-like prophets to rise up in America again and cry out for justice for the most vulnerable in our society – the unborn. Martin Luther King Jr. was that voice a generation ago crying for justice for those not considered “fully human” back then.
Ted Haggard always used to talk about how some churches make happy people sad and turn nice people mean. Two churches in the same town could come from the same denomination and have the same doctrinal statement but one is small and full of tension and the other is full of people and life. I’m tempted to blow this next sentence up to about 120 in terms of font size so we don’t gloss by it… It’s not about doctrine, those who have been with Jesus don’t emerge with correct information about him, they emerge with his loving heart. The church is missing the mark in a huge way on this point.
I’ve already elaborated on one of five kinds of kindness – 1) Reciprocating Kindness. Here are four more for your consideration.
2. Random Kindness – Jesus was indiscriminate with his love. I know he was strategic, but I’m not sure everything he did was calculated. Do you calculate how many kisses you’ll give your spouse today? Probably not. They just happen and they happen more the more your heart is full of Jesus’ love for people. This kind of kindness is the most fun. It’s a blast randomly blessing people. And you’ll discover it’s really not fully “random” as God so often will sovereignly see to it that you “touch” someone who desperately needs love and encouragement today. Be careful of favoritism, especially the trap of being nice only to those who believe just like you.
3. Radical (or Ridiculous) Kindness – I also thought to use the word wreck-less because so often we are timid and miserly with our kindness. It’s as if we are bringing someone a small gift in our really nice car – we don’t want to scratch the car now do we? Radical kindness gives them the car and walks home. It’s about being willing to go out of your way and gladly letting the needs of others inconvenience you. Radical kindness is costly. Is it said of you that you are EXTREME-ly kind?
4. Rabid Kindness – I’m trying hard to keep the “r’s” going so I know “rabid” falls a bit short. But I’m trying to express a contagious kindness. In the presence of kindness, more kindness comes forth and soon an environment is saturated with Jesus’ love. But somebody has to start it off. Parents who are negative and nasty toward others produce kids of the same nature. The opposite is also true. I believe we are responsible for the environment around us, to see that it’s salted with kindness.
5. Real Kindness – Kindness is like a round peg in a round hole. It fits and feels right all the way around. However, when we come at people with insincerity, its evident and obvious on each end. I’ve had to reflect on this one more than the others because I want to say even if you don’t feel it in you to be kind, fake it. But that is disingenuous. So here’s a better way… don’t fake it, force it. Force yourself to repress your nasty nature and let the nature of Christ in you to come forth.
And here’s a key to being REAL-ly kind – eye contact is a connecting point for real kindness. Pulling off the interstate last week I rolled up to an old man with a cardboard sign. The kindness of Jesus came over me and I rolled down the window to hand him a $20. He reached out to grab it and I held the bill for a moment which caused him to look up and make eye contact with me. I let the love flow through my eyes for a moment and then told him the source of that love. He stepped closer to my car door, got teary, discovered trying to say something to me his voice choked out, and so he just hugged my entire arm. Somehow the eye contact thing communicated to him that God sees him and loves him. It was an interesting moment. Perhaps I’m making too much of this but I really had the sense that deliverance power was present in that moment and had I taken a few more moments the fullness of God’s love and power would have come on the unsuspecting brother.
Imagine the brother getting laid out in the Spirit right there beside the road, people would have thought it was a drive-by shooting…. and I guess it would have been a drive-by of sorts!
That just may be the million dollar question this fall. More on this matter over at my Voices Carry blog.
I’ve been reflecting on kindness for a couple weeks – it’s a rare thing to find on the internet especially. Although I’m posting this on the internet, my real aim is to stir up more kindness in the Body of Christ – in our church, in your church.
A few of us have been talking about how so few of us reciprocate kindness. You know what I’m talking about… we invite people over, they never invite us over. We call them, they don’t call us. I believe kindness is a form of mercy and the Bible teaches that we can stop the flow of mercy if we don’t share it ourselves. Kindness that comes to you must quickly flow through you. We kill it when we keep it. It has a short shelf life.
To reciprocate means to return in kind or degree. I’ve been thinking of the reasons we don’t reciprocate kindness. I hope you can add to my list and that you’ll be brutally honest…
1. We are too busy or tired, or we assume they are (Are you giving off a vibe that you are too busy for somebody? Maybe it’s like the pretty girl who never gets asked out on a date. Maybe people are incorrectly assuming your social calendar is already full and so they don’t call you. I struggle with the flip side of this – fatigue – how many more people can I call? Really, I’ve answered 50 emails since my kids left for their two week internship a week ago last Sunday, and yet I haven’t emailed them. If we can’t meet our family commitments, how can we do anything more for others?
2. We are embarrassed to have people in our home – too messy? Or, we don’t have the money.
3. We’ve been hurt or rejected before
4. We possess a sense of entitlement, others are there to bless us.
5. We don’t want to open the door to one who needs more from us than we are willing/able to give.
6. We are unaware of what we have to offer
7. We are irritated by other aspects of those being kind to us.
If you are one who has extended yourself to others and kindness has not been reciprocated back to you, how do you keep from being offended?
Last month on my pro-LIFE blog I paid tribute to a spectacular lady named Irena Sendler. Irena Sendler saved 2500 babies and children from the Holocaust. Her pro-life mantle is up for grabs. You can read my comments here and here. My friend Bob Ellis in Rapid City just plopped this YouTube clip on his blog – thanks Bob for finding it. Irena Sendler was nominated last year for the Nobel Peace Prize but was beat by Al Gore. I have so so so much to say about that travesty but I’ll let you just think it yourself.
If you are mad at God, struggling to forgive others, otherwise discouraged, sad, miserable or stuck spiritually, I encourage you to read The Shack by William P. Young. (It came out last year and I’m just now getting around to reading it.) Actually, everyone who wants to know more of what God is like and what God is thinking would benefit, but I especially commend The Shack to those who’ve known pain, loss or who’ve been hurt by others. The author himself suffered great loss as a child.
If you have a hunger to plummet the depths of God, skip seminary and spend a few days with this book. Really, from one who has been to seminary, and read the book, I recommend the latter (and not just because it’s cheaper). William P. Young, aka Willie, has been given a deep and profound revelation of God, the human condition (suffering), and even some new light on the mystery of the Trinity. Prophetic people will discern the voice of God throughout. There are layers of depth here, one read is insufficient. Young is either a seer who has been in the Realms of Glory himself, or God dictated some of the detail of that environment to him. It’s fully fictional, and a number of you know I’m not much for fiction, but this transcends fiction – I found it to be theologically sound and hugely stretching at the same time. I’m hesitant to pronounce something a “classic” before time bears out that fact. However, my sense is this book will occupy a special place for some time far removed from the ocean of Christian fiction out there today.
Expect The Shack to help you set religious expectation aside and usher you into greater intimacy with God. This book is about the Presence of God and the purposes of God. It uncovers God’s heart for relationship with us. The dimensions of love are sketched out here. The Cross and why Jesus died are explained in paradigm shifting ways. The judgments of our own heart against God and others are exposed, as is the shallowness of our understanding and the self-centeredness of our complaints.
I hope the book becomes a movie, the website says it’s so, but I’m not sure this is capture-able in that format. It’s a revelation, maybe with a capital “R”. It’s a mystic book – in the good way of testifying to a genuine encounter with God.
The Shack hit #7 on Amazon.com sales. That’s remarkable really. Here’s my theory… God is involved in this book and we are heading into tough times here at the end of the age. The Bible says many will fall away under the pressure of the End Times. That is, people now standing with Christ will become bitterly offended by him… how could a “loving God” allow such trauma to come upon the earth? My sense is God is preparing people for these times by releasing a revelation of intimacy and greater understanding to the Bride of Christ.
So far I’ve cranked out eight posts on this subject – perhaps I should have waited as Todd Bentley just produced his own seven page response to his critics and those concerned. Perhaps far more valuable is this (which some will miss because its at the end of the paper – so I’ll paste it here)…
Dr. Gary S. Greig, PhD., a former Associate Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Regent University School of Divinity, and Senior Editor, Theology and Acquisitions for the Regal Publishing Group. In his letter, this biblical scholar and theologian shared that the Lord had healed him of sleep apnea while entering into worship while watching a telecast of the Lakeland Outpouring. He wrote that the Lord prompted him to write and send us an independent theological witness to help as many leaders and believers as possible understand that the Lakeland Outpouring is from God. That by writing this theological response to questions and criticisms in: Biblical Reasons to Receive God’s Glory and Give it Away in Power Evangelism, that as many as possible would receive “biblical permission” to get on board and fully commit to receiving the Lord’s glory and anointing, and to give it away in power evangelism. This paper is written at a high level of scholarship for pastors, church leaders, and theologians yet is understandable to the layperson. The Lord told Dr. Greig to “sow into the revival,” not by publishing this 55 page booklet in a conventional way, but by donating it to Fresh Fire Ministries to use as we will, even if it’s just as an encouragement to the ministry.
Big thanks to Dr. Greig and praise God for touching this man. This is huge and an answer to my prayers! I encourage everyone to read it, especially those who are honestly searching all this out right now. More of this and we’ll see evangelicals start to open up to the move of God. You can download Dr. Greig’s booklet here.
Now, here’s Todd’s paper:
Lifting Jesus High!
Bringing Biblical Light to Your Questions about
the Lakeland Outpouring & Todd Bentley
June 8, 2008
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and for hearing my heart on some of the issues that seems to be causing division and some confusion in the Body of Christ. Read the rest of this entry »
I offer this parody to compliment what I’ve already written on the Florida Healing Outpouring, Todd Bentley and all the anonymous heresy hunters online who stay in the shadows slinging arrows (Ps 64) at others in the Bride of Christ. (Shadows remember, are a form of darkness).
In any case, someone sent me what it might look like if the same types presently picking on Todd Bentley and the Florida Outpouring were to turn their guns toward Psalm 23. Enjoy. Who knows who wrote this but I thank them. In case you are wondering, the reference to “straining gnats” comes from Matthew 23:24 – “You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.”
HERESY HUNTERS INSTITUTE, INC.
Thank you for sending us the questionable document. We are always glad to examine any teaching materials that may adversely affect the Church. We do think that this material is dangerous and certainly want to warn the Body of Christ concerning its subtle false doctrines. Read the rest of this entry »
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.
This is my seventh post on the Florida Healing Outpouring and frankly I had no intentions of doing any posts beyond the first one. But, due to popular demand (and subsequent questions) more have come. Initially I had a burden to throw some caution out there to those tempted to occupy the seat of scoffers and so I wrote a couple posts on being careful what we speak against. Some may wonder why I’m now tackling the more controversial points – the Angel Emma, Third Heaven Experiences, is this Kundalini, Violence and the Kingdom of God. It would be easier to say nothing, there is even some potential in my own circles that I’m inviting an unnecessary controversy by even bringing these matters up.
I’m writing on these points to ready us for a move of God. No doubt, as we’ve seen in revival history, when God visits things break out beyond the sinners prayer of the traditional fruitful evangelistic meeting. People weep and wail, there are waves of joy, extravagant giving, shaking, falling out, trances, tongues, healing – the blind see, deaf hear, signs and wonders, dreams and visions, lights, angelic encounters and sightings and more. We want it to be on earth as it is in heaven don’t we? Do we really think it’ll all look like earth does now when heaven graces the earth?
As I’ve indicated, even within our own fellowship, much of this is uncharted waters for, I’d think, half our people. But I’m called to ready the rest – to prepare the way – for God to visit. This venue (the blog) has proved to be a great way to interact on a regular basis with hundreds in our church and thousands more who are seeking God right now and need understanding. So here now I aim to demystify myticism a bit. I’m trying to model how to seek God fully and openly without “passing judgment on disputable matters.” (Romans 14:1) I’m watching people throw labels on stuff that do not fit and are not fair and they do so because it’s human to label things we can’t really grasp so we can get a better hold on them. We try to box up and categorize stuff – that’s “Word of Faith”, that’s “Health & Wealth gospel”, that’s “New Age,” that’s “mysticism,” etc. I remember thinking on my last Africa trip that so many back home would think “that’s not Christian” as the African believers went “happy” during a much extended offering. The “church” is far bigger than our version of it – and God is far bigger yet.
I’ll put myself here in a vulnerable position and share a mystic experience that happened to me. Read the rest of this entry »
For years now I’ve been answering questions each week that people email me in relation to what I’m teaching or what they are learning about the things of God. Some I can answer quickly, others I spend more time on. I call this D-MAIL for discipleship mail. The blog is a perfect place for me to let many others in on what we are talking about so we can grow together in our understanding of God and Scripture. This question came via a recent comment on one of my Todd Bentley and the Florida Healing Outpouring blog posts.
QUESTION: Pastor Steve, I saw a teaching Bob Jones, Todd Bentley and Patricia King did on the third heaven. I searched the Bible on this and could find only one scripture (2 Corinthians 12:1-5) where Paul lightly touches on the third heaven, yet they have made whole teachings on how to get there etc. Could you explain to me if there are any other references to a third heaven in the Bible and what exactly are we talking about here and how it is possible that going up to the third heaven 3 times a day (as Bob Jones and Patricia King say they do) can be a better substitute than just reading and obeying Gods written Word?
MY RESPONSE: Paul’s reference to his third heaven Read the rest of this entry »
I appreciate the honesty of Dr. John Walvoord regarding his Pre-Trib Rapture convictions (Walvoord was one of, if not THE major Pre-Tribulation Rapture proponents of the last fifty years.). Walvoord admitted that his critics are correct in that there is no single passage that directly teaches a pre-trib rapture, and that the doctrine is primarily based on inferences.
Here’s what that means… we have a doctrine here based, not Scripture itself, but on inferences and interpretations of Scripture. In other words, if you just had the Bible to go from, there would be no Left Behind novel series. That popular series, and the Pre-Tribulation Rapture doctrine upon which it was based is all built upon inferences upon inferences. Friends, as God starts to shake the nations at the end of the age, a theology founded on unstable inferences will not remain standing. There is no way to get a pre-trib rapture out of Matthew 24.
I encourage everyone to take the Omega Course asap. Follow that up with my series on the Fall Away Factor – mainly the message entitled “Standing on Unstable Doctrines” relates to the pre-trib rapture hope.
In any case, while evangelicals should be contending for Kingdom of God to come to earth, many are instead preparing to exit the earth. Those of you thinking we are about to be raptured off the planet at any moment will be happy to know about www.YouveBeenLeftBehind.com – this is a brand new website that will contact up to 62 of your unraptured friends after you are gone. Here’s their purpose statement; “Our purpose is to get one last message to the lost, at a time, when they might just be willing to hear it for the first and last time.”
Here’s some verbiage from the website…
We all have family and friends who have failed to receive the Good News of the Gospel. The unsaved will be ‘left behind’ on earth to go through the “tribulation period” after the “Rapture”. You remember how, for a short time, after (9/11/01) people were open to spiritual things and answers. (We are still singing “God Bless America” at baseballs’ seventh inning stretch.) Imagine how taken back they will be by the millions of missing Christians and devastation at the rapture. They will know it was true and that they have blown it. There will be a small window of time where they might be reached for the Kingdom of God. We have made it possible for you to send them a letter of love and a plea to receive Christ one last time. You can also send information based on scripture as to what will happen next. Each fulfilled prophecy will cause your letter and plea to be remembered and a decision to be made.
Can someone tell me where the Bible says people will have a small window of time after the rapture for people to be reached for the Kingdom of God?
I’m going to start my own website called http://www.WeveAllBeenLeftBehind.com which based on Acts 1:11… “Quit looking up here, get to work, tough days are ahead, then I come.”