One of my favourite authors is Jack Deere, a charismatic evangelical, pastor and teacher, who has written an excellent refutal of cessationism called Surprised by the Power of the Spirit. In the book, he shares how he encountered Paul Cain for the first time and discovered how prophetic this man of God is in a dramatic way, at a meeting they were holding in Texas, 1988:
Paul had just finished giving a wonderful message and was beginning to pray for the people in the audience. There were about 250 people there that morning. He asked the diabetics to stand. As he started to pray for the diabetics, he looked at a gray-haired lady on his right. He stared at her for a moment, having never met her (or anyone else in the audience for that matter), and then he said,
“You do not have diabetes; you have low blood sugar. The Lord heals you of that low blood sugar, now. I see a vision of you sitting in a yellow chair. You are saying, ’If I could just make it until the morning. If I could just make it until the morning.’ Your allergies torment you so badly that sometimes they keep you awake all night. The Lord heals those allergies, now. That problem with the valve on your heart—it goes now in the name of Jesus. And so does that growth on your pancreas.”
By this time there was a strong sense of the fear of the Lord in the room. People had begun to weep openly as they saw the power of the Lord being displayed and the concern of the Lord for one of his children. Paul continued looking at the woman and then he said, “The Devil has scheduled you for a nervous break- down.” When he said this the man sitting beside her, who turned out to be her husband, began to weep. He knew that his wife was very close to a nervous breakdown. Paul said, “The Lord interrupts that plan now. You will not have the breakdown.”
And then, just as suddenly as Paul had begun to speak to the woman, he stopped and said, “I think that is all the wants me to do now.” Then he sat down on the front row.
American prosperity pastor Creflo Dollar wants 65 million dollars so that he can buy one of the most luxurious private jets there is: the Gulfstream G650. Dollar asks 200 000 people to give “at least” 300 dollars each so that he can buy this thing without wasting his own money, but thankfully this has caused a lot of criticism from other charismatics. J Lee Grady at Charisma Magazine writes:
The Bible calls us to be good stewards of God’s resources. Private aircraft cost an exorbitant amount of money compared to commercial flights because the owners must provide service and upkeep on the vehicles. If a preacher insists on renting a private jet, the cost to fly from Fort Lauderdale to New York would be in the ballpark of $59,000, compared to a $652 ticket on a commercial plane. People who own private jets spend as much as $4 million a year just on maintenance.
You know what could use the 65 million dollars instead? Vanuatu. The oceanic island state has been devastated by tropical cyclone Pam this week. By the grace of God, very few people have died due to warnings and public advice from the government, and a quick humanitarian response. However, over 65000 people are homeless, and countless crops have been destroyed leaving tens of thousands in need of food aid. Tourism, which accounts for 40% of the country’s income, will most likely also be negatively effected (rich people usually want to go to paradises where they can ignore the world’s problems, not find them).
My most well-read post on this blog ever is the Kundalini Myth, where I criticize Pentecostal kiwi Andrew Strom who argues that large parts of the charismatic movement is demonic, influenced by a false spirit from the Hindu Kundalini sect in India. I’ve now made a video where I develop this critique and talk about the difference between – and sorry if this sounds meta – true false prophets and false false prophets.
Strom’s only evidence to connect Bethel Church to Kundalini is basically YouTube videos; he has observed how people behave at the Kundalini meetings, found similarities with charismatic meetings and thus concludes that it is the same, demonic spirit behind it all. I critizise him for calling behaviour like shaking, laughing, crying etc “manifestations” even though the Bible never does so, and argues that a more suitable name would be reactions. These things are not necessarily produced by a spirit (whether Holy or false), but it could be a human reaction to it (or simply somthing people do without any spirits involved).
Strom’s biggest problem is that the Bible never says that these reactions is something we should pay attention to when discerning the spirits. These are some of the most important New Testament texts when it comes to false prophets and spirits: (more…)
The Pakistani Christian community is on fire, in both a glorious and tragic way. I have several Pakistani Facebook friends who regularly post videos, images and written reports about revival – blind people seeing, deaf people hearing, and many receiving Christ as their Lord and Saviour. For example, my friend Ayoub Khawar posted this healing report the other day:
This girl had mucus coming from her ear from childhood, but after prayer she testified she is healed! Praise the Lord !!
Share about Jesus with someone today! Someone who really needs it, today!!
A month ago, he posted:
People are hungry for the Word of God !!
Over 300 people gave their lives to the Lord and we only had 70 Bibles to give to them.
They were so happy and thankful as they received this treasure !
However, yesterday he contacted me personally to share less joyful news. News about another fire that is burning i the Pakistani Christian community, the fire of persecution. He wrote:
2 Bomb Blasts in Churches in Yohanaabad (our neighboring town), Lahore. Need your urgent prayers ! the situation is so bad about 14 died and more than 68 injured, our neighbors whole family died, husband wife with a baby to be delievered and there little girl died
As I’ve written about previously, my church has a 50/50 vision where half of our activities being outreaches, and one way we practice this is through “Come In, Go Out”-services (or “Go Out, Come In”) where we simply spend one hour inside and one hour outside. We see evangelism as something every Christian should be doing, just like prayer or Bible reading, and we are not just exhorting people to evangelize, we show and train them by doing it together.
At first I thought our “mandatory evangelism” was just a cool thing, but then I realised that in the Biblical Christian community, corporate evangelism in public places was indeed a part of what all believers were expected to participate in. In Acts 2:46-47 we read:
Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Thus, the Biblical, apostolic Church had two kinds of meetings: one internal in the homes and one external in the temple courts. It was in the homes where they were eating the Lord’s supper (or Jesus Lunch as I like to call it), so it was this meeting that developed into our modern Sunday services. The temple meetings were not internal, they included evangelism so that people were saved daily.
Evangelical blogger and author Rachel Held Evans is no longer evangelical; she has joined the Episcopalian church which, in the US, is not very theologically conservative but rather progressive or liberal. This isn’t very surprising since Evans has been very critical to evangelical theology as well as evangelical views on politics, women, the LGBT community etc.
In an interview that has been published in several media, including Sojourners, Evans names these progressive values along with sacramental church life as being the reason she joined Episcopalianism. She’s also asked to comment the fact that the Episcopalian church is rapidly losing church attendees, to which she responds:
Just about every denomination in the American church — including many evangelical denominations — is seeing a decline in numbers, so if it’s a competition, then we’re all losing, just at different rates… Lately I’ve been wondering if a little death and resurrection is exactly what the American church needs… A church might produce thousands of attendees without producing any disciples.
This is quite remarkable, since the point of one of Evans’ most famous articles on CNN’s Belief Blog is that evangelical churches must become more liberal to stop millenials from leaving them. This is a similar argument to John Shelby Spong‘s famous thesis that Christianity must change or die. A former bishop in Evans’ new church, Spong argued that this change includes stop believing in theism, stop beliving in the supernatural, stop believing that prayer is useful and stop believing in physical resurrection. Pretty ridiculous. Evans is far from this extreme, but her reasoning in the CNN article was similar: liberal Christianity is necessary for church growth.
I’ve written several times about Surprise Sithole, the South African apostle who has raised several people from the dead in the power of the Holy Spirit and that has heard the external, audible voice of God. He’s a passionate activist and aid worker, and in this video he shares how he has seen multiple multiplications of food in Malawi and Mozambique. It’s certainly some food for thought!
A denomination could simply be defined as a Christian organization with one specified leadership. It isn’t necessarily about theology. Two Christian movements with exactly the same theology would still be two denominations if they had different leaderships. This is important to remember. When we talk about being one as Jesus prayed that we would be (John 17), also known as ecumenicalism, this could be understood in several different ways: either that we should find unity in faith, love and practice, or that we should unite under the same leadership, forming one denomination. Ulf Ekman, the Swedish Pentecostal pastor who converted to the Catholic Church, seems to have the latter understanding of ecumenicalism since he often explain his decision by saying that he wanted to obey Jesus’ wish that all His disciples should be one.
For the same reason, many Christians are a bit fed up with new denominations, getting horrified when hearing that there are over 30 000 of them (which is an exaggeration), and at least here in Sweden we have had a trend the last 25 years where local churches as well as whole denominations unite and form the same organization under the same leadership.
In such a context it would perhaps sound weird – even dangerous – to promote a formation of a new denomination. Don’t we have too many already? It may be so that the Holy Spirit is doing something new and fresh to revive the body of Christ, but that should be channeled within the existing churches rather than becoming new ones. A church split is viewed as something intrinsically bad, always. Even Martin Luther wanted to reform the Catholic church rather than starting a new church, didn’t he?
I live in the same city as the world’s arguably most famous living Swedish Christian, namely Ulf Ekman. The founder and long-term leader of the Scandinavian Word of Faith movement (with many branches in the former Soviet Union), Ekman surprised many when he revealed last year that he and his wife would convert to Catholicism, which they also have done. Yesterday, Ulf Ekman was being interviewed on national Swedish television about his life, faith and different controversial topics like abortion, support for Jewish migration to the West Bank and prayer for healing (which apparently is controversial in a Swedish secular context).
Ekman’s conversion from being neo-Pentecostal to being Catholic wasn’t the first religious shift he has made. In his youth he was an atheist socialist in Gothenburg, protesting against capitalism and the Vietnam war, but when a Christian friend talked to him about how Jesus could give him forgiveness for his sins, he was saved. He went to Uppsala (my town) to study theology and became a Lutheran priest in the Church of Sweden. However, in the early 80’s he studied at Kenneth Hagin’s Rhema Bible college in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and when he came back he was a full-blooded prosperity preaching Pentecostal. He founded the Word of Life church in Uppsala in 1983, and the movement quickly spread to the rest of Scandinavia and to the USSR.
For Ekman, his conversion from atheism to Christianity also meant a political conversion from socialism to conservatism. He wasn’t afraid of preaching politics from the pulpit, whether it was against Sweden’s abortion laws, for the policies and military decisions of the state of Israel or simply prayers that the Social Democrats would lose the Swedish elections. (more…)
This post is written by Micah Bales at his own blog and is published here with permission. It is the best article I’ve seen so far about Christian nonviolence and ISIS.
A couple of folks I really respect – Kate Gould of Friends Committee on National Legislation (aka, the Quaker Lobby), and Jim Wallis of Sojourners – were recently on the O’Reilly Factor. For those of you who don’t watch cable news, this is a television program where Bill O’Reilly basically screams at people and incites hatred of anything non-white, non-rich, and non-Republican. I normally don’t watch the show. But when I heard that Kate and Jim were going to be talking, I tuned in.
I knew almost immediately this wasn’t going to be good. It’s Bill’s program, so he gets to frame the question. Here’s what he asks: Do Christian pacifists have a solution for stopping ISIS?
It’s the wrong question. O’Reilly knows it’s the wrong question, and that’s why he’s asking it. Unfortunately, both Gould and Wallis attempt to answer his question directly and rationally. Gould presents an argument for diplomatic measures to curb ISIS’ support. Wallis tries to explain that O’Reilly’s rhetoric of holy war will only lead to a wider conflagration and cost more lives.
This is great for Bill O’Reilly. To these subtle, rational arguments, all he has to do is scream and berate. At one point, O’Reilly interrupts Jim Wallis mid-sentence and demands: How would you stop the ISIS savages from murdering innocent people? How? (more…)
Don’t you want to be a saint? Here’s how you become a saint.
Step 1: Be saved.
If you don’t know how to be saved check this article or simply listen to the wise words of the apostle Paul: “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Rom 10:9)
There is no step 2, you’re already a saint! :D Congratulations, well done saint. There is no need for any pope. There is no need for any canonization. All it takes to be a saint is to follow Christ, and here are som Bible verses that prove this:
“Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem” (Acts 9:13)
“I ask you to receive sister Phoebe in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints …” (Romans 16:2).
“For the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12).
“…the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:26-27)
“All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.” (Philippians 4:22)
I attended a 48-hours prayer meeting a couple of years back in Stockholm, and during a worship session a dear friend of mine approached me, asking me to pray for her so that she may receive the same passion for the poor that the Lord has given me. I was so glad that this was what she wanted, but as I started praying I realized that it would be impossible for her to have the same passion as I have without feeling the pain and suffering of making sacrifices, knowing more about the horrible face of poverty and realizing how many it is that do not get help.
This was why I became an activist in the first place – I realized that innocent people were dying while I was playing video games and dreamt of getting a car and a house. I just prayed that God would make it impossible for my friend to close her eyes to the suffering of the poor, and that she would partake in their suffering.
I don’t know if she ever got the same passion for them as I have, at least she’s not revealing it as clearly on Facebook :) But there and then I think we both realized that this was truly what was necessary for passion. When we follow Christ, a cross is always attached. As He Himself said:
“Whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple… suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” (Luke 14:27, 31-33)
I love to follow Daniel Kolenda’s Youtube Channel. Daniel is evangelist at Christ for all Nations, successor of Reinhard Bonnke and a passionate follower of Jesus. At the channel he publishes Bible studies, mission reports as well as wonderful testimonies of God’s miracles like these:
She was deaf in both ears for 17 years. She was rejected by family members and failed in school. She felt like a prisoner in solitary confinement and wanted to take her own life.
In January of 2014, Christ for all Nations visited Titi Bongo’s city of Yaoundé, Cameroon. Hundreds of thousands gathered that week to experience the Gospel. On the second night, as evangelist Daniel Kolenda was praying for the sick, Titi began to feel an intense burning in her ears and realized one of her ears could hear.
She to the platform to testify together with her brother. Her brother told the evangelist that although one ear had been healed, the other was still deaf and asked for more prayer. Evangelist Kolenda prayed for the ear twice. The first time, nothing happened, but the second time, he began to say the name of Jesus in her deaf ear in French, “Jésus, Jésus, Jésus” Suddenly she could understand and began to repeat the name, each time it became more clear and more powerful. He asked if she could hear now. She was smiling from ear to ear. She could hear, she could speak and she was praising the name of Jésus! (more…)
This week will be a sabbatical for me, where I won’t use any internet in order to rest and write on my book. To prevent you from being bored, dear blog readers, I want to share with you this very interesting lecture by Candy Gunther Brown, Professor of religion at Indiana University, on mecially verified healings. Enjoy!
Today is Global Divestment Day, a day when people all around the world pledge to divest out of fossil fuels. Divestment is the opposite of an investment–it simply means getting rid of stocks, bonds or investment funds that are unethical or morally ambiguous. Thousands of churches, schools and local government have pledged to divest out of fossil fuels in order to prevent a climate catastrophy. The campaign writes:
The divestment campaign highlights a conflict that most politicians are reluctant to address. If the world is to avoid catastrophic global warming, most known fossil fuel resources need to stay in the ground. Yet fossil fuel companies not only plan to extract and sell their existing reserves but are exploring ever more sensitive territory to find new ones, thus ruining any chance of securing a safe planet.
Christians and churches – it’s time to become fossil-free! Stop harming God’s creation and the environment for the poor, live simply and sustainably. Sell all what you have, give the money to the poor and whatever energy you use, whatever goods you consume, make sure that the dirty oil- and gas-industry doesn’t get a cent. The horrible effects of climate change may already be irreversable, we must do whatever we can to turn this ark around and steward God’s creation in a sustainable way.