ARCHIVE NUMBER THIRTEEN
Autumn 2002: Moving On
(all spelling and phraseology is UK English)
In this news flash, I must apologise to everyone who frequents the Cross+Word website, and also to those who e-mail me, that I have been unavailable for some time. In particular, the cell-church series has not yet been completed and for that I'm sorry. I still intend to finish the series, so please be patient.
I have also been meaning to give this website a "makeover" but somehow there's never enough time.
Time Rushes By
I wonder if others have experienced the same thing as myself - that life has become inexplicably busy and fraught, with no time even to think.
Tasks that were once just pressing have become well nigh impossible to complete; keeping in touch with people has become a strain rather than a pleasure; life has become an endless round of deadlines, cramming more and more into the day, worrying about what hasn't been done and running to and fro in an attempt to catch up.
Suddenly life has speeded up. This process has been noticeable over the years, with (seemingly) fewer hours in the day and the years spinning past at breakneck speed. I admit that this could just be my own perception and my own chaotic life, but I'm frankly admitting it to get your feedback. Is this a feature of the days in which we live?
Mary or Martha?
The verse that frequently comes to mind is Luke 21:34: "But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly." I can honestly say that I have no problem at all with carousing and drunkenness (!) but the cares of this life do tend to crowd in, especially when there are so many things to be done.
Another verse that comes to mind is Luke 10:41-42: "And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her."
It's easy to be a "Martha" when people need to be cared for, and when there are so many seemingly important jobs to be tackled. I pray God will give me - and all of us - a heart like that of Mary who sat at the feet of Jesus to hear from Him, to give herself to Him, to relate to Him as the single most important task in her life, sacrificing everything and everyone else to that "one thing".
If you'd been there on that occasion, as Martha struggled to get the house and food ready for lots of visitors, without Mary's assistance, you might have been tempted to agree with her. It wasn't sinful or wrong of Martha to cater for people's needs or try and make them comfortable. But she was acting out of her own desire to fulfill people's needs, whereas Jesus wanted to give them something MUCH more lasting and valuable.
An important lesson that we all need to learn, is to put the will of God before the driving "needs" of others.
God's Will is Paramount
A common mistake in ministry is to be driven by others, heeding their every request and whim, trying to answer every need, and making the outcome of our counsel the measure of our "success" in ministry.
Although that feels like good ministry, feels as if we are doing much good work, it's really a very selfish and self-focused way of working!
Yes, we can end up seeing ourselves as the "saviour of all mankind" and the "answer to every man's prayer" and that nobody else could possibly achieve half as much as we do, when in fact all the time we are just proud of being in such great demand. Really, it's the need to be needed that is motivating this kind of ministry, and not the love of God.
How can you tell if you've fallen into this way of thinking - and I'm preaching to myself here as always! Well, if the results start to become more important than the work, then it's time for a reappraisal. You see, result-driven work has the focus of personal honour, glory and pride, whereas God is much more interested in the method than the result.
It's better to restore ONE person to true faith than dozens that have only a temporary and superficial patch put over their problems. Ask yourself this: did God call you with the intention of making YOU a roaring success, and because he couldn't do without your oh-so special talents and abilities? Or did he call you because he knew you would faithfully and without making any kind of splash, minister the truths of HIS word and ways to those who needed it, regardless of the consequences. Are you prepared to be a nobody for His sake, or is the most important aspect of your work that you want to be well-known and successful?
Two equally important biblical principles should be kept in mind:
We can be driven by our emotional response to people's situation and to the world around us, but sometimes the Lord knows that we are just meddling without having his blessing on what we do. Human endeavour can sometimes get in the way of God's will for a person in need!
Our service is first and foremost to GOD, as our Master - not to those around us. Oftentimes, those who set out in any kind of public ministry find themselves besieged by people wanting "help" of every kind. Often the cries for help are inappropriate demands for attention or are outside our scope of ministry.
Natural desires urge us to respond. But we cannot help everyone and - more importantly - we are not asked by God to "help everyone" who crosses our path. If that were so, then the Lord Jesus would have healed each and every ill person, cast out every single demon, delivered everyone out of pagan cults and brought everyone to faith in God regardless of their situation. But we know that is not the case.
Sometimes Jesus singled out just one person who had the faith to be healed, and always waited on the leading of the Holy Spirit and the person's submission to God before performing a divine miracle.
I will go so far as to say that some of us who embark on "ministry" are motivated more by the kick they get out of helping people than a desire to serve God.
There are certain personality types (my own included) that need to resolve situations and bring order out of chaos. We do so because we are driven by the perceived chaos in our own circumstances and background, but service to God is not conducted at the emotional, soulish level of the human personality but on the spiritual level of doing what God says! What is of the flesh is of NO AVAIL in terms of spiritual worth.
Therefore it is possible (and should be the aim of everyone) to put aside the things of the natural personality so that they don't interfere with or influence what we do for God. It doesn't mean we will intrinsically change our personality but just that it will be under the rule of God and not permitted to influence anything. It's possible for me to recognise that I have a need to organise people and solve problems, without letting that drive my ministry at the most important points.
Unless we learn to distinguish between the flesh and the spirit, we'll be forever drawn into battles we cannot win and urged by emotions we can never resolve. The devil will run us ragged while at the same time we achieve so little that we never feel "satisfied" and always remain a "failure" in our own perceptions.
Dear ones, failure and success are not measured by how clever and efficient we are at resolving people's needs, NOR at how willing they are to accept our advice, NOR at how beneficial our counsel has been, NOR at how their lives improve as a consequence of our input.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if we were so special and knowledgeable that we achieved a one-hundred-percent success rate, like the best hospital on earth or the best Psychiatrist every to man? Then we'd be even more clever and special than Jesus Himself who failed to convert the rich young ruler, who failed to heal the sick people in his own home town and who ended his days being crucified by his own people with a mere handful of people as a following.
This point is closely allied to the one above, but it's an important lesson for us all to learn (even at the level of a phone call to a friend in trouble) that unless we have one ear on God and the other ear on the problem we'll end up offering platitudes, nice wise thoughts and emotional support without ever getting near to saying what God knows will genuinely help.
How difficult it is to "speak the truth in love" when God is telling us hard things for that desperate person! And how sad it is to see people go away disappointed and distressed, blaming us for adding to their misery!
At times like that we tend to feel we have failed - but have we? God doesn't require that we resolve every situation that comes our way, only that we are obedient to do and say what HE dictates. (After all, we may be just one small link in the chain that he is forging in that person's life. We don't know how effective we might have been over a long period of time).
Your success in life is not measured in human terms, in how many notches you have in your minister's desk or how many glowing testimonies you have in your in-tray, or how many people have been turned around by your counsel and help. Your ONLY measure of success as a Christian is in how perfectly you followed the will of God, and how true you were to his commands and prompts in dealing with people - whatever the outcome!!
Recently something an experienced and spiritual Christian wrote came back to my memory. At the time I read it, I couldn't grasp its meaning, but now I do:
Even the natural personality is something we should lay down, in order to receive the new inward nature of God, imparted to us by the Holy Spirit, for nothing we can do or can be is of any real worth in terms of spiritual life and ministry.
You or I might be naturally "nice", or pleasant, or helpful and tempted to pride ourselves on it. But in spiritual terms that means little. Some people are born and bred to be pleasant and helpful, but the glory goes to their parents and upbringing and genes, not to God! If a naturally helpful person does something, then it's only to be expected. He or she doesn't even need to be a Christian. How much of God is there in that?
Non-Christians look after their children, and love their spouses and perform good deeds. There are many naturally nice people in this world! As the bible says: "For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?" (Matt 5:46-47)
But the nature of God, when it is allowed to overtake our natural personality and to rule us, brings us into a different area of activity where the "normal" and "natural" laws no longer apply. Then, we begin to see things with a new viewpoint - God's viewpoint - and HIS standards begin to apply. Believe me, God's standards and ways of thinking and acting are FAR from the world's!
No longer are we motivated by niceness and pleasantness and the desire to help people in need (all those things we could do in our own strength and it brought no glory to God) but we lay down our own natural personality and are motivated ONLY by what God thinks, what God says, what God directs and what God intends! ONLY that ministry honours and glorifies God! ONLY that ministry bears fruit - for "without ME (Jesus) you can do NOTHING"
Well, after straying completely off the point, I will try to return to what I was saying.
NEWS REPORTS THAT CHILL THE BLOOD
Please read the above report while it's still online. It tells of a Summit For Peace calling for "international peace and economic justice centered on a document that would reorganize humanity around a sacred earth-worshipping mission". The keynote speaker and motivator is Steven C. Rockefeller.
Rockefeller chaired the international Earth Charter drafting committee from 1997 through 2000 and is Earth Charter commissioner for North America. The Earth Charter is the globalists' version of the Constitution and later this year it will be ceremoniously carted into the U.N. in a pantheistic, 21st-century replica of the Ark of the Covenant.
From the above website we read: "The Ark of Hope, a 49" x 32" x 32" wooden chest was created as a place of refuge for the Earth Charter document, an international peoples treaty for building a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society in the 21st century.
The Earth Charter will be presented to the United Nations in 2002 for endorsement. ... The Ark of Hope also provides refuge for Temenos Books, Images for Global Healing, Peace, and Gratitude. Over 300 handcrafted 8" x 8" x 2" books were made by artists, schoolchildren, and Vermont citizens, expressing their individual and collaborative prayers and affirmations for Earth. The Earth Charter's 16 principles for building a just, sustainable and peaceful global society were the guiding vision behind the creation of these books.
...The five painted panels that form the sides and top of the Ark each represent the flora and fauna of the world as seen through the images of the world's traditional artists. Each panel visualizes a season, a direction, an element, and a universal symbol. Symbols of faith from traditional religions and indigenous societies surround the top panel of "Spirit" that honors the children and young animals of the world. The 96" carrying poles are unicorn horns which render evil ineffective.
The Ark of Hope was created for a celebration of the Earth Charter that was held at Shelburne Farms, Vermont on September 9., 2001. The event, for love of Earth, featured keynote speaker Jane Goodall, global peace walker Satish Kumar, musician Paul Winter, and Dr. Steven C. Rockefeller, a member of the Earth Charter Commission. Visit website http://phlox.gardeners.com/earthcharter for a description of the event and http://www.jasonhouston.com/earthcharter for photos of the day."
PAUL CAIN AND SADDAM HUSSEIN
Paul Cain, September 21 at Albany Oregon Vineyard Christian Fellowship:
(See information about Paul Cain on this website by using the search box on the contents page.)
Call School is a division of the Wagner Leadership Institute. THE CALL
Homepage is located at www.thecallrevolution.com.
Here is another networking organisation involving just about everyone who is leading the current "revival" and joining it with "global evangelism". At one time it was argued that the mainly conservative missionary bodies connected to Ralph Winter and the US Center for World Mission were unconnected to the sonship/LR Manifested-Sons-of-God lunacies of C. Peter Wagner and his associates. However, this website proves the opposite. They have the same aims and are working closely together to the same goals.
Listed among the faculty members is the current pastor of a fellowship that is historically directly in line of the Latter-Rain heresies (that transformed into a deeper heresy called Manifested Sons of God) in the 1950's. See these reports:
You really need to visit The Call School website in order to see the faculty membership roll, explanations, aims and links! There is too much to reproduce, but see the faculty members here
Ahn - senior pastor of Harvest Rock church in Pasadena, California,
founder and president of Harvest International Ministries
I believe that the hour is late and the world is poised on the brink of disaster (not that it will notice! The end of the world will come with a supposed just and peaceful kingdom that excels all others and the earth and its occupants will "rejoice with exceeding joy" that they have been delivered out of the hands of an oppressive, judgemental and exclusionist Heavenly Father...and His followers!)
All around us we see the signs of increasing apostasy. The so-called "church" is uniting to force universal obedience to their new doctrine, under the leadership of new apostles and prophets.
And both in the church and in the world we see coming to fulfillment the prophecy of Paul when he said:
For true believers, this means increasing pressure and hardship. The great majority of e-mails i receive now come from those who already perceive the problems, who have left or are at the point of leaving their churches, and want to know "what do I do next?" The answer is not really apparent. The choice of good churches is diminishing rapidly and there's a dearth of good bible teaching.
While we have had for many years good and accurate information on what is WRONG, we now have people crying out for accurate information on what is RIGHT, and teaching on how to live effectively as a Christian in these troubled days.
As you know, my own ministry has increasingly been turning in that direction - even though the exposure of the heresies will continue and will always be important. Though I have been delayed in my plans, I do intend to put some vital teaching materials on the website in due course.
The Offer of Life
It seems to me that the pattern for our lives and ministries must be the Lord Jesus himself, and he came first and foremost to offer the good news of the gospel. He came to offer The Answer, not just to attack The Problem!
He arrived on earth at a time of great spiritual darkness. His own people had sunk into ritualism and legalism, and pagan gods were worshipped everywhere. There were many heresies attracting followers; esoteric societies, false philosophies and religious creeds abounded. Jesus could have spent a full three years explaining and exposing all these things, calling people to withdraw from them and to repent and follow the truth - but He did not!
Although Jesus rebuked false creeds, he did so in the context that He had come to offer THE truth, THE life, and "whosoever will" may come! Those who were drawn to the Light accepted Jesus, and those who preferred to stay in the darkness did so. It was a time of choice. (John 3:19-21)
Again today we have a time of choice. For many years the information on false doctrines and heresies, on the New Age and on cults, has gone out and been available for anyone who will heed. That was a vital and important service, to make everyone aware of what was happening. God raised it up, and God blessed it.
Those who had a heart for God heard, and obeyed; those who preferred the excitement and thrills and self-pleasing doctrines of the revival did not. Division and the parting of the ways did come, but not (as the revivalists say) because of our opposition to the revival, but because God willed it so, to snatch his own from the fires that would inevitably lead to judgement.
But now that process in nearly complete and I believe we are turning a corner, both in the world and in the Church. This is now a time for re-establishment, a time to build up, a time to "strengthen what remains".
As well as exposing the wrong, we have to preach the truth so that ailing, weak, battered, confused and (sometimes) barely-saved people can be put on a new footing, knowing God and being able to withstand the waves that wash over them repeatedly. Like Jesus, we have to preach the gospel, teach believers how to stand, and bring the wavering, divided and cast-down Body into some kind of stability.
And so I end this news update with the prayer and fervent desire to see believers brought into genuine fellowship, good teaching, the knowledge of God, a spiritual walk and a "broad place" where they can be established in God.
Please pray with me that God will raise up HIS ministers, HIS churches, HIS teachers and HIS eldership that will lead us all out of this present darkness into HIS glorious light!