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Friday, May 27, 2016

Pray the News - And bring revival to the nations!

Rejoice always;  pray without ceasing;  in everything give thanks; for this is God’s 
will for you in Christ Jesus. (I Thess 5: 16-18)


Paul praying. About the news from Corinth?

The “news” is by its nature, mostly negative. An airliner that makes it to its destination is not news, but one that falls out of the sky is. The story of couple who stays faithfully married and successfully raises four children is not news, but a murder of any one by another is. News agencies have pondered this issue, and there is no good solution. Nice news is dull, as in a company newsletters that feature someone’s forty years of loyal service. The national TV networks try to include positive news stories such as “the person of the week” segment on Friday night on CBS, but this hardly stops the bombardment of negative stories.

For many Christians tuning into the news is depressing, especially in this election cycle. Sometimes we just don’t listen to it, or turn it off rather than listen to a particularly disturbing item. But this is a wrong response for the mature Christian. We are indeed born into a fallen world, filled with the consequences of corporate and individual sin. So in a sense, bad news is true news, but also good news in so far as prayer opportunities presented to us.

The Lord has sent us into this planet to bring Him glory and alleviate with prayer and loving acts much of the evil and chaos we learn about and encounter. Negative news gives us opportunities to “stand in the gap” for our nation, and for the salvation and welfare of others. The model for this is Moses, when he pleaded with God not to destroy the Israelites. God informed Moses that He was about to annihilate them after they had defied Him by creating a golden calf.  What worse news can there be? And what more authoritative news anchor man? But Moses interceded, and actually changed God’s mind, yes, that is what the scripture says, and the Chosen people lived and were permitted to go on to their destiny. (Ex 32:11-14).

I know of several Christians who have given up on this country or on interceding for it. One has become a survivalists who stocks an arsenal of assault rifles, hidden gold bars, and truck load of freeze dried food to survive a coming war. (Isn’t that wonderful Christian eschatology?)  The proper Christian course to trust in God’s mercy, and to continue to pray and fast for revival, and for the restoration of America to its Christian roots. 

A pertinent example is Abraham’s intercession for Sodom and Gomorrah. All that God demanded in order to spare those cities were ten righteous men, a small percentage of its population (Gen 18: 22-33). Certainly praying, born-again Christians, make up a substantial minority of Americans, certainly more that the ratio of ten to 1,000 or so which would have been the top figure for Sodom and Gomorrah. We must keep praying and trust in God’s mercy.  We must also keep organizing concerts of prayer for revival, and for corporate repentance for our horrible moral decline.  But on the daily basis, we can pray for the healing of our nation as we listen to the news. 

Here are some examples.

A connivance store murder:

Let me give a fictional example of a local murder, varieties of which come across our local news all too often.

“Tonight at the 7-11 at Main and First two men robbed the store and shot the store manager, Mr. Jim Jones. Mr. Jones, was pronounced dead at the hospital. He is survived by a wife and two children, ten and twelve years old. Police are on the lookout for the two armed men shown in the store video. If you have any information, please call….
The prayers for such an incident are obvious. Pray for the grieving family, that the Holy Spirit would walk with them through the grief process. Pray that the family would not suffer long term trauma or bitterness, and be provided for. Pray that the police would find proper leads (and avoid false leads) and the robbers would be quickly apprehended by without further violence. Pray that they would come to justice and repentance for their crimes.



Tornadoes heading this way:

After some commercials comes the weather girl who stands in front of a weather map and says:

This weather front, which brought a foot of snow to the Rockies is now turning dangerous. We are posting a severe weather warning, including high probabilities of tornadoes for a large section of Kansas and Oklahoma for tonight and tomorrow morning. This is a big storm, capable of generating very large twisters…
Many Christian still do not know that they have every bit as much authority to still storms as Jesus did. He gave us that authority (John 14:12). Further, Christian history is full of accounts of Christian monks and other heroes of the faith ending storms or changing the directions of winds. The pall of cessationism, that disastrous theology that the age of miracles is over, is still the major obstacle for Christians to really take authority and stop the tremendous damage of tornadoes and other storms. I have written a blog on this earlier and you may access it HERE.

Here are some of the prayers I would say to the threat of tornadoes coming towards us. “In Jesus name, I rebuke this storm, and command its energies to be loosed evenly in rain and wind that will not harm people or animals.  I ask the Holy Spirit to position and stir up prayer intercessors who know their authority in Christ as watchmen, so that they will command any funnel cloud off populated areas and to harmlessly discharge their energies.” If tornadoes have already touched down and the news program is showing the destruction, the prayers would be in this order: “Father, in Jesus name, I pray for angels to support and sustain persons trapped and injured.” “I pray for the emergency responders to be led supernaturally to the survivors without delay.” And, “I pray for wisdom and divine coordination between all the government and volunteer agencies involved in this rescue effort.” Etc.

Let me note that the classic work on interceding against destructive storms and natural events is the book by Mrs. Agnes Sanford, Creation Waits, which can be bought HERE.




Praying for our enemies (Matt 5:44), the Islamist terrorists:

The national news comes on. After a run down on the political situation, which lately is very disturbing, a video comes on of a bombed out section of Baghdad, with ambulances, medics working, and bodies lying on the ground. The news anchor declares, “An ISIS suicide bomber detonated a truck bomb in a busy market yesterday, and at least twenty five are dead and another hundred wounded, many women and children.” Our “flesh” mind, aided by Ol’Scratch, might lead us to thoughts such as, “Hey, Muslims killing each other again, let them finish each other off…”

No
.
We need to pray for the victims of such attacks just as we would for our own tornado victims. In these Muslim on Muslim incidents I always add prayers for the conversion of the Muslim peoples. That is, the majority of Muslims in these terrorist afflicted countries are aghast and depressed over these violent acts, and feel utterly helpless to stop them. I pray that they will “connect the dots” and understand that the Koran itself is the problem. I pray they come to understand and accept that, and there is another book which is really God’s word of mercy and love. I have bogged earlier on how to specifically pray for the Islamic peoples, and how to support the many satellite ministries that are bringing about an amazing harvest of Muslim conversions, accessed HERE and HERE.


Praying for the coming election:

This is perhaps the most difficult area to pray for in public, as our political situation is filled with all sorts of ironies, ambiguities and contradictions. Sincere Christians support and pray for all the different candidates. Who does God really want for our next president, or governor, or councilman?
In this election I am very disturbed by the Trump candidacy. As a former pastor to a Hispanic congregation that I deeply loved, I find his comments on Hispanics particularly obnoxious, as do many other Christians. But there are many other sincere Christians who feel that Trump is God’s man for the presidency. Most churches in America will have similar deep divisions. It is perhaps best to publicly pray ambiguous  prayers, as in “Lord, guide us to support and vote  for the person you want in the White House.” (My wife and I privately pray for the Lord to raise up a righteous third party candidate.) 



A prayer warrior in assisted living:

Let me end this posting  by describing what happened to a person in an assisted living facility who began to practice “praying the news.” She was of course, elderly, and her daughter could no longer meet her medical and caring needs so she was placed in a very nice assisted living facility. I knew the woman from thirty years ago when I was a lay person at St. Jude’s Episcopal Church in Marietta, then a center of charismatic activity. She was a devout and prayerful person who often volunteered for church service and projects.

But in the nursing home she became deeply depressed. Her daughter called me to visit with her and pray for her. Carolyn and I visited her. I discerned that her depression came from a sense of purposelessness. That is, she felt she now had no further task on earth, and merely had to wait for death to release her to the heavenly realms.

She had a frail body but a perfectly sound mind. So I gave her an assignment to “pray the news,” and gave her some instruction on how to do this. I also urged her to pray for the staff and any patients she came into contact with at dinner or recreation room, etc. I urged her to listen to the Holy Spirits for hints on how to pray for those around her, and tasked her to become the prayer warrior of her nursing home. Several weeks after that visit her daughter called with the wonderful news that her mother was completely transformed. She now loved life and her situation, which was really a nice  place, and was in very high morale as she passed he day in various pray projects, and becoming the prayer intercessor the Lord had designed her to be.

This is an encouragement for not only those of us who are nearing very old age (I am a “young at 73) but for those who become disabled or injured and must lead a more retired or inactive life. We can all be prayer warriors to the day we are called to our heavenly home, which will be all the nicer, since we will have spent so much time in prayer.

A church exercise: Praying the news with a potluck dinner

Let me suggest that pastors try an experiment. Encourage two or three families to get together at a home for a pot luck dinner, but instead of Bible study that night, listen to the news, local and national, and then “pray the news.” (I would suggest they be very careful about praying for the current political campaign.) See if this type of prayer event catches on. 

I am retired from active pastoring so I cannot mobilize this sort of thing, but it is worth trying. Imagine what would happen if just 20% of Americans practiced praying the news daily, or if churches all over America had these “praying the news” potlucks once a week.

Announcement:

The noted Pentecostal scholar Dr. Jon Ruthven wrote a very positive review of my latest book, Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal. You can access it HERE.




The book may be purchased on Amazon, either print or inexpensive Kindle HERE You can purchase the print version at a discount from the publisher HERE

My wife has written a funny and inspiring story of how she transited from a cessionist and Baptist to a Spirit-filled Believer. The book has many stories of our three decades of ministry together.  It may be purchased HERE.

Watching God Work: The Stuff of Miracles by [DeArteaga, Carolyn Koontz]



Wednesday, May 18, 2016

On the use of the suffix "phobic" and the danger of linguistic fascism


The destruction and elimination of 'unacceptable" ideas


Yesterday was a day proclaimed by President Obama to celebrate and demonstrate against “homophobia” “transphobia” and “biphobia.”  This is that latest indicator that the Obama administration has slipped, like so many American educational institutions, into the delusions of linguistic quasi-fascism. That is, the politically correct technique of using the suffix “phobic” as a weapon word to cut off debate and marginalize those the other side. For instance, most orthodox Christians (Roman Catholics, Evangelical, Pentecostals, and Eastern Orthodox) object to active homosexuality for rational, non-phobic reasons. Principally, it is an activity that goes against the Word of God. To this can be added other reasonable arguments. For instance, anal sex, practiced my many homosexuals, is dangerous to health and brings about many parasitic diseases and STDs. Homosexuality reduces the birth rate (an amazing fact to realize) and in Europe especially, this has led to the population contraction that is now bringing serious difficulties to that area. These are rational reasons for opposition of active homosexuality, and especially to celebrate it as a way of life.

However, in American (and European) academia, if any of these things are brought up one is labeled “homophobic” and considered some sort of religious fanatic. This is linguistic fascism, and the equivalent of fascist book-burning. Christian should not be shy to resist this, and insist on not being addressed as “phobic” of any sort for upholding Biblical morality. We really need to make a big thing of this, perhaps even look at a person straight in the eye and say, “You are slandering and marginalizing me.”

Please note my posting on the trans- gendered issue. The quasi-fascist “phobic” suffix is perennially used by the media to introduce this discussion. But there is another confusion embedded in this debate, and it is the triumph of  solipsism. That is, the viev that what I think is real, no evidence needed. Thus, I think I am the opposite sex, no evidence needed. This is dangerous to any therapeutic discipline or healing ministry. Every neurosis or destructive idea can become politically acceptable and declared beyond treatment.

Note: an excellent article form the Atlantic magazine on the definition of fascism and its incorrect and politicized use HERE

Announcement:

The noted Pentecostal scholar Dr. Jon Ruthven wrote a very positive review of my latest book, Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal. You can access it HERE.




The book may be purchased on Amazon, either print or inexpensive Kindle HERE You can purchase the print version at a discount from the publisher HERE

My wife has written a funny and inspiring story of how she transited from a cessionist and Baptist to a Spirit-filled Believer. The book has many stories of our three decades of ministry together.  It may be purchased HERE.

Watching God Work: The Stuff of Miracles by [DeArteaga, Carolyn Koontz]

Monday, May 16, 2016

Encouraging Pentecost on Pentecost Sunday (What a novel idea!)





The setting:

Several weeks ago I was invited by the rector of light of Christ Anglican Church, in Marietta, Georgia, to preach on Pentecost Sunday. I was delighted to accept. As a charismatic Anglican, Pentecost is my favorite feast day, and preaching Pentecost is my favorite theme.

I have had a long association with the folks at Light of Christ. I was with them as part of St. Jude’s Episcopal Church in the 1990s.  At that time, under its rector, Frank Baltz, St Jude’s was the leading charismatic church in the diocese of Atlanta, and was the host church of charismatic seminars and revivals with world renowned speakers such as Rita Bennett and Vinson Synan.

Unfortunately the collapse of the Episcopal Church into theological liberalism and scriptural disobedience forced a group of us from St. Jude’s to separate back, and we formed Light of Christ Anglican Church under the authority of the (orthodox) Bishop of Bolivia, Frank Lyons. Several years later Light of Christ entered officially into the Anglican Church of North America.  For years I served as that Church’s Hispanic pastor, until I retired from that ministry in 2010.

So celebrating and preaching among old friends was a treat. But I determined that I would not just preach about Pentecost, but arrange the service in every way to allow the Holy Spirit to have a mini-Pentecost in the service.

Why are these folks all in Red? Are they communist?

The preparation:

To that effect I mobilized my Face Book friends to pray for the service, and I focused on the scriptures and sermon.  The lectionary reading for Pentecost Sunday were all great, but I deleted the suggested Psalm and substituted a reading from Numbers 11:24-29 for further focus.  This scripture ends with Moses expressing God’s yearnings:

 “ But Moses replied, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!”
The Acts 2 reading pictures the dramatic events that happened in Jerusalem on Pentecost Sunday, and it remained, but I shifted the reading from I Corinthians to 14:1-5, which defined prophecy. Lastly, the Gospel reading John 14:8-17, 25-27, was about the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church after Jesus ascension. 


Yours truly preaching. If the thought occurs to you that I look somewhat like Gomer Simpson, let me assure you that is a demonic thought and you need deliverance! 

The sermon:

The flow of the Bible readings practically preached themselves. They showed that God wanted his people to have the gift of prophecy from the very beginning of His selection of the Jews as the people of God. Acts 2 shows that intention began to be a real possibility for the whole church, and 1 Corinthians 14 describes how that prophetic gift should work out. Lastly, John 14 lays out the consequences of the people of God living in the Spirit of Christ.

After expounding this, I turned briefly to some of the historical issues involved in the modern Pentecostal and charismatic movements. I explained that the gift that Perter manifested in Acts 2, when his speech was understood simultaneously by different hearers in their native tongues, is the gift of xenololia, and has been recorded by some missionaries, but is a rare gift. Charles Parham, the “father” of modern Pentecostalism believed that this gift would enable all Spirit-filled missionaries to go overseas and preach without any language training. Not so. It took the early Pentecostal movement only a little while to realize that the normal gift of tongues was described by Paul in 1 Cor 12 and 14, and it was a prayer language for intercession and edification. [1]

I went on to speak about the physical phenomenon of revival, that is of how the energies the Holy Spirit interact with mans’ bodies in various ways. The case described in Acts two, was of a seeming drunkenness. This occurs today in some revivals, and I recently saw it at a small Pentecostal church where the preachers was under a special anointing and had trouble holding on the pulpit.
The last point I elucidated was that in Paul’s view (and God’s) prophecy was more important than tongues. Tongues unfortunately became the symbolic point of discussion for the early Pentecostals with their doctrine that to be really filled with the Spirit one had to speak in tongues. Contemporary charismatics have a more biblically balanced view, I believe, that tongues in only one of the gifts, and not all receive it.

I turned then to the current dismal situation of the Charismatic Renewal in the United States. The purely Pentecostal denominations continue to grow rapidly, but the classical charismatic grouping, such as the Catholic Charismatics and the Lutheran Charismatics have drastically declined since the 1990s. (To the contrary, the Catholic charismatic movement is doing very well in the Third World.) I cited several reasons for this decline, as in the wave of scandals of the TV Evangelists and the extreme of the Word of Faith teachings – including the recent outrageous request by Pastor Creflo Dollar for a $68,000,000 jet.

In any case, the Anglican charismatics are generally “alive but not kicking” – or at least not kicking strongly. There needs to be another wave of revival to re-energize the Anglican charismatics. I suggested we start at Light of Christ with a “refreshing” of the gifts of the spirit as suggested in 2 Tim 1:6:
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.
Praying for a refreshment and renewal:

In reading about the life and ministry of Mrs. Agnes Sanford I saw she had a crisis of tiredness and fatigue. God provided a providential solution. She went (1953) to a planned healing mission in Tucson Arizona, but when she got there it had been canceled. However, she met  with two other local Christian women in the healing ministry.  They all had the same fatigue problem. They were worn out in their efforts to bring the healing ministry to the mainline churches. This was the era when the awful theology of cessationism was at its peak. 

The ladies prayed for direction from the Lord, and all received a word to pray for the “Holy Ghost.”  They were not charismatic at the time, and found this strange, but did so in obedience. Two on one, two on one, two on one, they all prayed for each other for the Holy Ghost.  It was a moment of Pentecost for all of them. They were refreshed and ultimately, after some discussion they understood the event as a baptism in the Spirit. Agnes ultimately received the gift of tongues when she returned to Tucson a year later. [2]

Back to Light of Christ. Immediately after the sermon, I directed the congregation to do an exercise repeating Agnes Sanford’ experience in Tucson. In groups of three or four, everyone laid hands on one another and prayed for a renewal and refreshment  of the gifts of the Spirit. It was a wonderful sight to see. One and African American lady, and first time visitor to light of Christ, experienced a completed healing of a serious medical condition. Everybody experienced a spirit of refreshment and joy.


Now truthfully, there were no dramatic physical manifestation as I was secretly hoping.  But this is normal to mature Spirit-filled Christians. That is, Christians new to Pentecostalism, and who have never had hands laid on them for the giftings of the Spirit, are especially subject to “falling” (resting in the Spirit). Their nervous systems have to be reset and changed by the Lord. But this is not necessary to someone who has been a charismatic for years.

I am looking forward to reports of new life and ministry at Light of Christ the next time I visit.

Announcement:

The noted Pentecostal scholar Dr. Jon Ruthven wrote a very positive review of my latest book, Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal. You can access it HERE.




The book may be purchased on Amazon, either print or inexpensive Kindle HERE You can purchase the print version at a discount from the publisher HERE

My wife has written a funny and inspiring story of how she transited from a cessionist and Baptist to a Spirit-filled Believer. The book has many stories of our three decades of ministry together.  It may be purchased HERE.

Watching God Work: The Stuff of Miracles by [DeArteaga, Carolyn Koontz]


[1]For a summary description of the early Pentecostal movement see ,y posting: “A Charismatic Perspective on the Origins of Pentecostalism,” posted: April 22, 2015.   http://anglicalpentecostal.blogspot.com/2015/04/a-charismatic-perspective-on-origins-of.html
[2]For a full description of this event, see my new book on Mrs. Sanford, Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal (Eugene: Wipf & Stock, 2015) chapter 18, “Theologian to the Charismatic Renewal.”