others you will find y
THE NEXT WAVE www.icof.net FROM THE EDITOR
PUBLISHER International Circle of Faith (ICOF)
Bernie L. Wade
‘WORLDWIDE WAR ON CHRISTIANITY’ IGNORED BY MEDIA
Bishop Derrick Day
The Next Wave - Contributing Editors David Tait, J. Samuel Willoughby, Lea Bates, Derrick Day, Bernie Wade, Robert Straube, John Rogers, Doc Burkhart and others.
Foundations of Following Jesus
Part 2 Apostle Robert Straube
Ye Which Are Spiritual Apostle Bobby Sutton
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What is the Problem with Joel Osteen
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impression that he did not intend and in a letter he set the record straight. This is an excerpt from that letter:
FROM THE EDITOR
“It was never my desire or intention to leave any doubt as to what I believe and Whom I serve. I believe with all my heart that it is only through Christ that we have hope in eternal life. I regret and sincerely apologize that I was unclear on the very thing in which I have dedicated my life. Jesus declared in John 14; I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me. I believe that Jesus Christ alone is the only way to salvation. However, it wasn't until I had the opportunity to review the transcript of the interview that I realize I had not clearly stated that having a personal relationship with Jesus is the only way to heaven. It's about the individual's choice to follow Him.”
Three years ago (January 2010) Pastor Joel Osteen from Lakewood Church in Houston Texas, appeared on Larry King Live. In the interview Pastor Osteen left some with the impression that he was somewhat departing from the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the instruction of the Bible. In the time since that interview our ministry has been inundated with emails, calls, etc. Most of these have been accusing Pastor Joel Osteen of compromising the Gospel or some similar rant. A few weeks ago the topic made it to the ICOF Executive Session. During that meeting I asked, “Why don’t we just ask Joel Osteen? After all, the Bible tells us to GO TO our brother (not talk about him). I took the project personally and contacted Joel Osteen’s ministry to inquire about these things.
We at International Circle of Faith (ICOF) are in agreement with Pastor Joel Osteen that Jesus Christ is the ONLY way to eternal life. We appreciate that Pastor Osteen made sure to ‘set the record straight’. Recently, contacts to our ministry office on this subject changed to “Pastor Joel Osteen has compromised on HOMOSEXUALS.”
Fortunately, Pastor Joel Osteen also realized that he left the audience with an 3
3. Too many people have become comfortable using a variety of media (social and other) to blast the people of God rather than obeying Scriptural commandments. 4. In the Spirit I hear the voice of the Apostle John, “Children, these things ought NOT BE!”
So, we asked Pastor Osteen for a statement on the subject to once again set the record straight. Here is his statement: Dear Dr. Wade, Thank you for your email. With regards to homosexuality, Pastor Osteen believes the Bible dictates that marriage is between a man and a woman only. This is not a personal opinion or preference on the part of Pastor Osteen, but one which is ordered by Holy Scripture and to which he is bound as a minister of the Christian faith.
I want to say that I found the people that work with Pastor Joel Osteen to be humble, committed, sincere and more importantly committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ! A tip of the hat to all of them. During my conversation they talked to me about their NIGHT OF HOPE. This event is coming to cities around the country and will be a blessing to you and your church. Get involved. Help make a difference.
We believe Christ died for sinners and forgiveness is open to us all. As a church, we open our arms to anyone to receive the gift of God’s salvation and transforming power through His Son Jesus Christ. For more information on our beliefs, please see our website here: http://www.joelosteen.com/Pages/WhatWeBeli eve.aspx
The reasons for printing this in this issue of the next wave are simple.
1. We have a biblical mandate to pray for our brother. 2. We have a charge to go to our brother if we have ought against them.
Bernie L. Wade is President of the International Circle of Faith (ICOF), a group of ministers, churches, and parachurch ministries. They were first organized in Cleveland, Ohio (1932) and are currently headquartered in Washington, D.C.
HOW TO LEAD YOUNG MEN By Brandon Anderson
“Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.” Titus 2:6–8
The International Circle of Faith traces its beginning to the Azusa Street movement or revival (circa 1906) through the Pentecostal Assemblies of Jesus Christ. Other aspects of his ministry include the ICOF Colleges and Seminaries - a network of Christian bible colleges, Next Wave magazine and the Fivefold Roundtable.
The decisions that young Christian men make will ultimately lead to either much fruit or much destruction. The first step toward fruitfulness in a young man’s life is that he needs to realize that he is not meant to live life for himself, but for God. Bringing young men to that place needs to be a priority in church, especially when the world preaches the opposite message. Here are some insights on how to lead young men toward being selfless lovers of God (Eph. 5:1–2).
1. YOU HAVE TO CARE Here is an important truth I’ve learned: If a young man truly believes that you care more about him personally than about what he does for you, he will go into battle with you. On the flip side, if he thinks you mostly care about what he does for you, and then you will lose him, it is just a matter of when. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not 5
only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.
important, many of them had poor models, so model at every opportunity. Set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
1 Thess. 2:8
1 Timothy 4:12
Young men are not as tough as they would like to appear. They are starving for affirmation from men they respect. This could be rooted in an unloving or absent father, or in that they simply don’t know how to grow up without guidance. And if you don’t actually care, pray that you will. You can’t fake it, and if you are faking it, you are probably doing more harm than good and should not be leading (Phil. 2:3–5; John 13:34).
3. DEMONSTRATE REPENTANCE If you are a man worth following, you got there through repentance, which is simply saying to God, “You were right, I was wrong. Your ways lead to life, and my ways to destruction. Thank you for forgiving me, reconciling with me, and saving me from myself” (Is. 55:8– 9; Prov. 14:12).
2. INVITE THEM INTO YOUR LIFE
There was a time in my life as a single guy that it became clear to me that everything in my life was in some way always about me. Growth and maturity only started to come as I repented of my selfishness and recognized that God’s call on my life was to put others first. I still have to constantly repent of this and have a long way to go.
If you want to make an impact on a young man, don’t just have a “work relationship.” Invite them into your life to show them you value them, while demonstrating what the next stage of life looks like: how you love your wife, how you love your kids, how you bring faith into the home. These are life-changing lessons, especially for those who have never seen it before. Modeling is very
Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 6
things like video games. When that dries out, they pursue meaning, usually in relationships, achievements, or causes. They let the meaning of their life rest on people and situations that will ultimately fail them.
Sharing these kinds of things with those you lead goes a long way. Young men will start to follow you because of where you currently are, but they will continue to follow you by you humbly demonstrating how you got there, i.e. through constant repentance. Transformation begins by acknowledging that Christ is on the throne, and you are not, and acknowledging God’s way over your own, but it is not a singular event, it is lifestyle of repentance. This is not common in leadership today; it will likely distinguish you from every other leader they’ve known, an utterly unique and a tangible demonstration of being a secure enough person to humbly repent, which is what they want in their insecurity.
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
2 Timothy 2:22
It will not be encouraging for them to think you are faultless as they wrestle through their sin. Foster a “we are all in this together” mindset among your team, and be patient, so they won’t be afraid to share their fears and fails.
The point is, man’s purposes are vapid, shallow, and fleeting (Ps. 39:5; Prov. 16:2) Often times leaving a lot of destruction in their wake (1 Tim. 6:9). Man was made for the purposes of God, and this desire is etched in our souls (Gen. 1:26–28). In the words of Pink Floyd, man would rather have a walk-on part in a war than a lead role in a cage. The war is the story of the kingdom of God, from creation to new creation, and it requires sacrifice for God’s glory, not ambition for our own. Invite them into the bigger story of God reconciling all things to himself (Eph. 1:7–10; 2 Cor. 5:11–21).
4. CALL THEM TO A PURPOSE, BUT NOT THEIR PURPOSE Every guy wants to be something special, a hero, a man among men. In my experience, I have noticed a similar pattern when young men set out on their own. First, they pursue happiness, pleasure, and fun. Often this leads to partying, adventure, or a lazy pursuit of comfort in 7
5. EXPECT A LOT, AND DON’T APOLOGIZE FOR IT
While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.
Young men need to be challenged, not coddled. They respond to conviction, and desire the same fire in the gut as the men they choose to follow. Call them up to be the men they hoped they would magically turn into. Moreover, call them to be the men whom God created them to be (1 Cor. 16:13–14).
John 12:36 When sin in brought into the light, it is disarmed (John 3:19–21). Kept in the dark, it is powerful. If you are leading a young man, establish early that secrets are the enemy of growth and have no place in this relationship (John 1:5– 10; Eph. 5:8–14).
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. 1 Corinthians 16:13–14 God gave the law to show men their need for a Savior, and clear the way for grace (Rom. 3:20–24). In the same way, when men are stretched, the result is every idol that is in front of Christ is exposed, creating opportunities gracious correction by walking them through what it looks like to repent, fight pride and selfishness, and remember that Christ is on the throne, they are not (Ecc. 5:2). These are lessons they will take with them their entire life, especially as they transition into marriage and fatherhood.
7. DON’T SUGARCOAT Young men want a straight answer with conviction. In this day and age, there is more information and ideas than ever before. Young men are being assailed by the world trying to “sell” them some idea of truth that appeals to their innate selfishness. Advertising, marketing, politics, and culture all promoting worldviews that teach men that they deserve what their flesh desires. The truth unfiltered cuts through the noise for those whom God wants to hear it (Is. 55:11).
6. LIVE IN THE LIGHT Living a double life is exhausting. There is a better way, living in the light and embracing the gift of repentance that leads to joy, freedom, and connection with God and his people (Acts 11:18). That is a pattern that needs to be established in the life of every young man.
Call sin sin. Call lies lies. Call lust lust. Call repentance repentance. Most importantly, paint a vivid picture of the magnitude of God’s love and grace, and an accurate picture of the frailty of man.
8. BE SOMEONE WORTH FOLLOWING First, a caveat: No one is ever worth following all the time. We are all sinners saved by grace (Eph. 2:1–10). Lead from a place of transparency and as already noted in #3, and model repentance. Often. I heard of a study once that men decide in the first 90 seconds on whether or not they will attend a church based upon if they see the pastor as a man worth following. This is particularly true for young men. If they do not see you as someone they respect and admire, it doesn’t really matter what you say. To some degree, they need to see in you what they want to aspire to, or simply what kind of person they want to be.
I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah Psalm 32:5
Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.
Additionally, always ask direct questions that require direct answers: “When is the last time you looked at porn?” “Did you touch your girlfriend inappropriately?” “Where is your money going?” “How much did you have to drink?” Catch them of guard if possible, which usually results in a more truthful answer or transparent lie. This isn’t to berate them or humiliate them, but without honesty there can’t be real, transformative repentance. If they aren’t transparent, you can keep pushing, but when they respond repentantly with conviction, give them grace and remind them what Jesus has done for them.
Philippians 3:17 To start, young men often gravitate toward the superficial, everything from how you dress, how you carry yourself, your family, your interests, and your “gravitas.” Don’t overemphasize these outward qualities—but more importantly, don’t ignore the fact that those will open some doors. What ultimately matters is to be a man of character, conviction, love for God, and an unwavering identity rooted in Christ. If you reflect God well as his image, a young man will see that.
In leadership, there always has to be a err of “I want to be like him.” Then you point them toward the him that is Christ (1 Cor. 11:1).
use you to impact legacies.
Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.
THE CALL The church desperately needs more Godly older men pouring into younger men. It is unbelievable how many young men have never guided by a man with a life worth emulating. If you are a man worth following, it means someone has already poured into you, been patient with you, served you, and now it’s time for you to do likewise just like Jesus has done for you. If you are a man worth following, it will be evident to others, your growth will not have happened in a vacuum. If you are a man worth following, please pray that God would
Foundations Of Following Jesus
taught about it. It is also important to know what kind of a storm it is..... beneficial or destructive.
Part 1: The Bible
How can you understand a storm? What is the shape of the wind and rain and lightning? Can you put a storm in a bottle? Of course not. A storm is understood when we study its parts: for example, the cold air meeting the hot. We can study its effects such as what it does to the land or the sea.
A Study by Apostle Robert Straube
In a way, God can be compared to a storm. Some people fear Him and others love Him-depending on what they have been told and what they do about it You cannot see God, but you can study what He does. In Part 1 we learned that it is the Bible that tells us all about Godabout His qualities and how He deals with mankind. In this lesson we will look into the Bible and explore a few of the many things it has to say about God. In this lesson you will study ...
God His Relationship to Us Our Relationship to Him God I was a little child when I learned how to enjoy storms. My parents would call me away as I stood at the window in our house in Puerto Rico. The wind would whip through the banana trees in our front yard. It was magnificent to see the tossing leaves, wet with rain, shining when the lightning flashed. The thunder sounded like drums telling the story of how the grass and flowers loved the refreshing rain.
His Relationship to Us Our Relationship to Him This lesson will help you ... Name several attributes of God. Explain what your attitude toward God should be. His Relationship to Us Objective 1. Name at least five attributes of God
People can enjoy or fear a storm, depending on what they have been 12
The Bible says in John 4:24 that God is a Spirit. The dictionary says that a spirit is the vital principle that gives life. Since God is the Creator, this means that He is the supernatural force that gives life to all of His creation. Because He is a Spirit, He cannot be seen unless He chooses to show Himself in some visible form.
One good way to learn more about God is by studying His attributes or qualities. God is good, holy, just, all-powerful, allknowing, and eternal. Let's look at a series of verses that mention these qualities and others as well. Exodus 34:6 states, "I, the Lord, am a God who is full of compassion and pity, who is not easily angered and who shows great love and faithfulness." Leviticus 11:44 says: "1 am the Lord your God, and you must keep yourselves holy. because I am holy." The fact that He is all-powerful can be seen in Daniel 4:35. It says. "No one can oppose his will or question what he does."
He did show Himself through His Son. John 1:14 says, "The Word became a human being and, full of grace and truth, lived among us. We saw his glory, the glory which he received as the Father's only Son." God has revealed Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three Persons which are called the Godhead or Trinity. The three are referred to in many places, one of which is Matthew 28:19: "Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."
God knows everything. There is nothing that can be hid from God; everything in all creation is exposed and lies open before his eyes. And it is to him that we must all give an account of ourselves (Hebrews 4:13). Revelation 10:6 tells us that God is eternal. An angel "took a vow in the name of God, who lives forever and ever, who created heaven, earth, and the sea, and everything in them." The few verses that we have read, verses that give a little description of God, help us to realize how great He is. He is powerful and He is strong-but He is also 13
merciful and kind. And He wants to have a close relationship with us, His creation.
If you want to know more about the attributes of God, you will find an exercise like the one you have just done very helpful. Choose another Psalm and as you read it write down the descriptions of God that are especially meaningful to you. Psalm 103 and Psalm 139 are both filled with beautiful descriptions of God and His care for us. Check your answers. Our Relationship to Him Objective 2. Recognize that your first responsibility is toward God.
For You to Do 1. Read the Scripture references and fill in the correct words in the statements following. a) Matthew 6:9-11. God is likened to a loving ___________ who provides for his______________ b) Isaiah 66:13. God comforts even as a _______________ comforts her ______ 2. Look up the following Scripture. Write by each one of the references the attribute of God that it suggests to you, such as holy, forgiving, and so on. a) 2 Kings 4:42-44 ___________________________ b) Genesis 9:13-17 ___________________________ c) 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 ___________________________ d) Exodus 3:7 ___________________________ e) Psalm 97:10-12 ___________________________
In Matthew 22:37 Jesus said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." There are various ways of showing God that we love Him. Our worship and praise can put our love into words said directly to Him. But we should also show our love. Now ... listen to what the Lord your God demands of you: Have reverence for the Lord and do all that he commands. Love him, serve him with all your heart, and obey all his laws (Deuteronomy 10:12 13). "But whoever obeys his word is the one whose love for God has really been made perfect" (1 John 2:5). If we want to show our love to God, we will follow the instructions He 14
gives us in His Word. Another way to show our love to God is by giving and sharing with others. 1 John 3:17-18 says: â€œIf a rich person sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against his brother, how can he claim that he loves God? My children, our love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action.â€?
4. Read the following verses and circle the ones that tell you what your first responsibility toward God is. a) Deuteronomy 6:5 b) Deuteronomy 10:12 c) Deuteronomy 13:3 d) Joshua 22:5 e) Mark 12:30 f) Jude 21 Check your answers 1. a) father, children. b) mother, children. 2. You may use your own words, but your answers will be something like these: a) all-powerful. b) merciful. c) forgiving. d) all-knowing or all-seeing. e) holy. 3. b) God, and put that love into practice. 4. You should have circled all the letters because every verse tells you that your first responsibility toward God is to love Him.
The love that is obedient and sharing will be a satisfying and rewarding love. Jesus says in Luke 10:28 that if we love God above all else we "will live." Some people think that "real living" is wealth, power, and position. But these things in themselves will never satisfy because we were made in God's likeness and for His glory. Our spirits must be satisfied with the spiritual. Real living is loving God. Jesus said. "Be concerned above everything else with the Kingdom of God and with what he requires of you, and he will provide you with all these other things" (Matthew 6:33). Don't limit yourself to the less important things. Love God with all your heart.
Dr. Robert Straube serves as President of ICOF CSU. He is a member of the US National Fivefold Roundtable and President of Rock of Zion Ministries
For You to Do 3. Circle the letter in front of the correct completion for the following statement. Above all else, you should love a) power so that you are in control of your life. b) God, and put that love into practice. 15
One local pastor said to me later, “I hear you are supporting the Joel Osteen Crusade.” I said, “Yes I am. He reaches thousands of people for Jesus Christ, he’s in our city, I want to be a part of it.” The pastor responded, “I’m not going to, I can’t go for all that positive gospel stuff.”
WHAT’S THE PROBLEM WITH JOEL OSTEEN?
I don’t even know what that means!??! Are we supposed to be preaching the negative gospel? What is the “positive” gospel? Our sins are forgiven? God loves us – just like we are? God has something special for each of us to do? Just sounds like the ‘regular-amazingoutstanding-full of mercy- gospel’ to me! You know… ‘Amazing Grace’ …and all that.
A couple of years ago Joel Osteen was preparing to have a “Night of Hope” at Dodger Stadium. Since the Dodgers are in our home city, Los Angeles, I wanted to support the effort. I mentioned to our congregation about the upcoming crusade and helping out so we could be a part of reaching thousands of people who would make decisions to follow Christ.
In the last year I’ve discovered there are many outspoken Christians and leaders who don’t seem to like Joel Osteen. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion – even if it is ill informed.
A few days later someone said to me, “We’re supporting Joel Osteen? He is pretty controversial you know.”
The disappointing thing to me is that Christian leaders feel the liberty to publically attack those whom they don’t really understand or know. There are always such attacks and slanderous public accusations against the most well known of American pastors – Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Bishop TD Jakes and others. Leaders are encouraging other Christians to think it’s appropriate – even spiritual
I was surprised. I thought to myself, “Joel Osteen, controversial? How could that be? He preaches the most clear and simple gospel message a person could hear.” I had not been keeping up with what people and other leaders were saying on the Internet. 17
maturity – to disrespect or doubt the authenticity of genuine preachers and to publically express that opinion.
private about their concerns? I may be wrong – but I don’t think they have. I love the insights brought to us by Pastor Phil Munsey in an article, “The Joel Osteen Most People Don’t Know” in which he points out that over one million people have received Christ through Joel’s “Night of Hope” events and that Joel pastors the largest church in our nation’s history – 45,000 in one building.
Frankly, it’s embarrassing. As a Christian, I’m discouraged by the behavior of leaders who criticize attack or diminish the significance of other Christian ministers. This critical behavior and attitude is why many people do not want to be a part of Christianity or go to church because they feel that when they go to church they will be criticized the way our leaders do to each other.
Look at this situation that the disciples brought to Jesus and notice His response. “Master,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”
For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. Galatians 5:14-15 NIV
…Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem …but the people there did not welcome him… When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them? But Jesus turned and rebuked them and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of ”– NKJV) Luke 9:49-55 NIV
I believe the main thing leaders should be “called out for” is the arrogance and the divisive example they promote by publically dismissing the relevance of another person’s ministry in order to exalt their own. Have leaders who take the liberty to bring unfair assessments of Joel Osteen spoken to him or one of his pastors in
So, what’s really the problem with Joel Osteen?
reaching those who have been alienated and are not being reached for Christ with the message of God’s grace. He tries to stay on point.
“He’s shallow.” “He’s a phony.” “He’s a liar.” “He’s not really a pastor.” “He presents an easy, feel-good gospel.”
This reminds me of being in the 8th grade. I know Joel Osteen. I consider him a friend. I’m not a ‘Joel Osteen fan’ – I’m a friend. I know him to be a genuine man, a humble man and know that he has a desire to lead people to become followers of Jesus Christ. He believes the same fundamental truths about the Bible and Christianity that main stream Christianity teaches and preaches from the pulpits of America.
Why is this so hard to understand? Joel is criticized for everything. What he says. What he does not say. (This is my favorite one.) What he ‘really’ believes. What he is thinking. How he should do things. How he could be better at what he does.
The problem is not with Joel Osteen –the problem is in the hearts of the ‘Christian critics’ (sounds like an oxymoron) and ‘the haters’ –the newest gift in the body of Christ. They speak without thinking.
While looking at YouTube I saw a video posted by a well-known pastor that shows this pastor addressing an audience (not sure if it was his congregation or a leadership meeting) but it was public. He took time on his platform to show a video clip of a few minutes of Osteen preaching – and then proceeded to tear apart what he said and what he did not say.
Joel is focused on reaching lost and unchurched people. He does it really well. In interviews with Larry King, Piers Morgan and others, they always try to get him into controversial or divisive topics, (homosexuality, politics, Mormonism, who’s going to hell, etc.) and Joel avoids answering those questions with much detail. His focus is 19
This pastor is a good leader, a quality speaker and influential. He took the platform God has given him to preach the gospel, to put Joel down with an arrogant, condescending grin on his face. Why is that I wonder?
just makes me human; doing the best I can to do my part in reaching our city for Jesus Christ. In an interview on Fox News, they asked Joel questions about his thoughts on Mitt Romney and Mormonism.
It is easy for people to take a ‘portion’ of anyone’s sermon and criticize what the speaker ‘did not say.’ That doesn’t even make sense.
Joel said, “Mitt Romney says that Jesus Christ is his Savior and that’s what I believe, I’m not the one to judge the other details.” Joel was saying if a person (even a Mormon) believes that Jesus Christ is their savior – it does not seem right to doubt them.
A Christian blogger criticized the title of Joel’s recent book ‘Every Day a Friday’ – by saying that Friday is not the most important day for Christians, Sunday is because that’s when Jesus rose from the dead.”
He also said, “I can’t say that I believe everything I’ve heard about (Mormonism).” Osteen’s critics do not quote this last part of his statement.
Are you kidding me?? Really? If this does not reveal shallow thinking, critical intention and bring into question the rest of his comments – at the very least the title of his blog, “The Insufferable Joel Osteen” should be a clue!
Have you ever been on National TV and been asked questions designed to put you in an awkward position and to answer questions off the point of what your message is? Have you ever been on TV?
Joel’s book is not a study on theology or Christian history. It is just a book to encourage the millions of discouraged in our country. Is that wrong?
Is this difficult to understand? If you are an “Osteen-hater” then everything is wrong. Many Mormons have come to Jesus Christ through his ministry. People don’t receive Jesus if your sermon title is “Mormons and gays or (…insert your favorite issue here…) are going to hell and here’s why!!”
It would not take long for one of these self-appointed ‘judges of all ministries’ to listen to one of my messages and find flaws. I leave things out. I mis-speak. I don’t say what I was going to say and sometimes say what I should not.
Our church, Oasis Church LA, has a ‘shallow end of the pool’ – it’s an entry point. We don’t teach everything we believe every time we speak. There is a ‘deep end of the pool’ as well – it’s
But that does not make me a liar, a hypocrite, a fake or a false prophet. It 20
discipleship. Much more is taught to people in those areas of our church ministry.
Have we considered that reality that TV hosts like Larry King, want to interview Joel and not the leaders who attack him, because Joel communicates the grace that others pastors can’t seem to discover?
Joel does not teach classes on theology, the differences of Mormonism and Christianity or a thorough presentation of the foundational beliefs of Christianity. He’s a pastor with an evangelism gift.
So what’s the problem – really? Is it jealousy? Is it arrogance and selfrighteousness? I’m not sure. I do know that Joel reaches people other preachers do not reach. I see that news reporters who won’t interview other pastors and leaders interview Joel. He sells books about hope and faith to the thousands who will not buy the critics books. Hmmm? I recently read a blog by the vice president of editorial and acquisitions for Thomas Nelson, who wrote “Osteen parades himself around as a minister of the gospel.” Nice.
Pastors at Joel Osteen’s church, Lakewood Church, disciple people, teach doctrinal truths of the Bible and train people for ministry. They teach people truth from error.
He also posted a photo of Joel with a ‘Joker face’ (as in Batman) ‘photoshopped’ on his face. This is a clear sign of deep biblical insight.
This reminds me of how much criticism Billy Graham took from evangelical leaders who criticized him and questioned his faith and integrity because of how he conducted his evangelistic efforts. Now most people hold him in high regard and an example to be followed.
This horribly embarrassing blog was tweeted about by The Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers on a couple of occasions, obviously lending his support and endorsement to these self indulgent and reckless assessments.
We pray for the lost in America and then when God is using someone to reach the people that other ministers have not been able to reach – we tear them down. God forgive us.
I was shocked, saddened, disappointed and discouraged by the attitudes of these Christian influencers. But this is
Christians – Please!! Don’t follow this example and criticize publically those ministers whose methods you don’t agree with or understand.
just not right and should not be overlooked because of his stature and position. Do these publishers know everything their authors believe? Everything? Do they know when their authors have ‘misspoken’ or not articulated something correctly or made a mistake?
Leaders – this has got to stop. Please, Please – it’s NOT your job to judge everyone publically. Let’s encourage each other, let’s pray for one another and teach those you influence to have more grace.
Does Thomas Nelson write blogs to publically ridicule and humiliate their authors who have their own flaws? The comments that these people make are not intellectually honest nor are they spiritually appropriate.
It is difficult enough to be a minister because of the challenges we face – the spiritual warfare we encounter! We don’t need our own Christian brothers needlessly attacking.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:29-31 NIV
We need to preach about what we are FOR not what we are AGAINST.
Philip Wagner is Lead Pastor of Oasis Church in Los Angeles and founder of Generositywater.org. Oasis is an innovative and racially diverse church, largely comprised of people in their 20’s & 30’s. Oasis is known for its local and global outreach to the impoverished; especially orphans and widows, and funding clean water projects. Philip and his wife, Holly, started Oasis in 1984, in Beverly Hills with10 people. Today they’ve grown to 3000+ members.
Arrogance is hard to see in the mirror. I don’t know that those who have spoken from arrogance would apologize or recognize their error – but I’m hoping that you, the reader, will be more aware of what is appropriate and Christ-like.
inappropriate to cuss in church, but I can’t think of any better way to say it,” or, “I know it’s inappropriate to smoke during praise and worship, but I didn’t have time to finish my Marlboro on the way here.”
Why Do So Many 'Born-Again, Spirit-Filled' Women Show Off Cleavage in Church? By Jennifer LeClarie
Some women—and I am talking about so-called "mature believers," not lost souls or baby Christians— come into God’s sanctuary on Sunday morning wearing clothes you might rather expect to see them wearing at a dance club on Saturday night. Their blouses cling to their bodies, their necklines dip so low and stretch so wide that they reveal cleavage, and the slits up the sides of their skirts offer more than an innocent glimpse of their thighs. Again, I’m not talking about sinners seeking God or new believers who plain don’t know better. I’m talking about those who claim to be "bornagain, baptized, blood-bought" (even tongue-talking) members of the church!
Some women—and I am talking about mature believers, not lost souls or baby Christians—come into God’s sanctuary on Sunday morning dressed for clubbing. What gives? “I know I’m inappropriate, but I’m trying to save time. I know I’m in the wrong. My mother would not approve. But would it be better that I not come?” Those werethe words of a 30-year-old woman entering church in Maryland wearing a revealing tank top and tight pants.
Paul instructed Timothy that women should “adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation” (1 Tim. 2:9), and he told the church at Corinth that “our
God bless her, but that’s in the same spirit as saying, “I know it’s 24
unpresentable parts have greater modesty” (1 Cor. 12:23). Regardless of how hot it is outside or how busy we are, there’s no justification for Spirit-filled women to come to church wearing clothes that cause some men to pay more attention to the things of the flesh than the things of the Spirit.
out to teen girls with the love of Christ. She says, “I feel like there’s always more to it when a girl is dressed inappropriately than ‘I just want to look cute.'” I agree—and the same goes for older women who call Jesus Lord. I’m not suggesting that women subscribe to the Holiness Movement’s guidelines for women’s clothing and makeup. No, I’m not suggesting religious rules and regulations. But I don’t think Christian women should dress like the worldly women in church or anywhere else. It’s not about a shame-based approach to modesty that Miller opines about in her column. It’s about self-respect—and respect for others.
But rather than repenting, some of these progressive women are lashing out against campaigns like Modest Is Hottest, calling it sexist. In her critique of Modest Is Hottest, Sharon Hodde Miller, a doctoral student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, argues, “A woman’s breasts and buttocks and thighs all proclaim the glory of the Lord.” Maybe, but I somehow doubt Jesus intended for this aspect of His glory to manifest in church.
“I love what Jaime is doing; she is right on: Modest is hottest! I think this is such a good message to convey. Jaime is not being sexist but rather sharing that as beautiful women of God we can look so gorgeous without being revealing,” says Alyssa Shull, a youth pastor at Words of Life in North Miami and founder of The Pink Lid, a conference designed for girls
Worship artist Jaime Jamgochian launched Modest Is Hottest to reach 25
between the ages of 12-18 where beauty and purity are key themes.
wearing clothes so tight they may as well have been spray-painted on and cleveage falling out of their blouses. That’s why Facebook comments about this topic like this one trouble me: “Get to where God sees and don’t worry about the wardrobe of another person unless you are inclined to buying them new clothes to wear.” And this one: “Even if they aren’t lost, they have an identity issue. Who are we to judge?”
“You are respecting yourself and those around you when you are modest," Shull says. "Lust is very prevalent in our culture, but Jesus says in Matthew 5:28, even if you look at a woman with lust in your eyes it is adultery. So I believe that women can do their part and display themselves in a beautiful way without promoting lust. You can be stylish and modest! I agree with Shull and, as the mother of a 16year-old girl, appreciate what she and Jamgochian are doing for young teens.
If we can “judge” that they have an identity issue, can’t we judge that they shouldn’t be showing cleavage in church? Isn't the Word of God clear on this matter? And it’s not our responsibility to buy a woman new clothes just because she’s wearing seductive garb to church. But it is our responsibility to speak the truth in love to those who may not know better and to lead by example. In too many ways—including sometimes our wardrobe— Christians have conformed to the world. Paul warned us not to “be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Rom. 12:2).
Again, it’s not about the sinner coming in to look for Jesus or the baby Christian still shaking off the dust of the world. We’re talking about tongue-talking women 26
It’s not about being the fashion police, and it's not about condemnation. If the Holy Spirit convicted your heart about the way you dress as you read this, don't let the devil beat you up. Just buy a few new modest outfits and keep praising God! It’s about not purposely opening the door to the spirit of immorality. Sure, as one Facebook commenter noted, a woman could wear a burlap sack to church and still find lustful eyes upon her. But does that mean we let it all hang out in the name of liberty? God forbid.
‘Duck Dynasty’ Star, “They Told Us To Stop Praying To Jesus So It Wouldn’t Offend Muslims”
In an interview with sports spectrum magazine Willie & Phil Robertson, stars of Duck Dynasty, talk about fake bleeps, praying in Jesus’ name, and getting flack from Christians. When the editors of Duck Dynasty asked the stars to stop saying “In Jesus Name” during prayers because it might offend Muslims, Phil Robertson had to stand his ground. Phil Robertson also admitted that fake bleeps were inserted into the show even though there was no cursing happening. “They inserted fake bleeps…like somebody had used profanity, but no one had used profanity. I asked the guys that produce the show…What’s the point of the fake bleeps?”
Jennifer LeClaire is news editor at Charisma. She is also the author of several books, including The Spiritual Warrior's Guide to Defeating Jezebel. You can email Jennifer at jennifer.leclaire@charismamedia. com or visit her website here. You can also join Jennifer on Facebook or follow her on Twitter
“If we are not using profanity, why make it look like we are using profanity?” -Phil Robertson
Clearly, if you’ve read even a handful of my posts you know that I address sex related issues a lot. If you’ve somehow missed it, check out what I’ve said about sexual desire, being intentional about sex, scheduling sex, sexless marriage, and a whole host of other sex topics on my blog. Another of my staple soapbox-subjects is feelings...and the importance of not following and doing what you feel. ESPECIALLY when it comes to sex! You might feel like having sex with someone you aren’t married to. Not a good idea. Your feelings can get you in a whole lot of trouble. But there is a flip side of the problem of following your feelings when it comes to sex…and this is where we go back to the lady’s email…
Feel Like Having Sex? by Mark Gungor
I just received yet another email from someone telling me the woes of living with a less-than-satisfying sex life. This time it was a woman explaining that her husband doesn’t want to have sex with her very often. She initiates. He turns her down.
So in answer to her lack of sex problem, I suggested that they try scheduling sex to see if that would help. She wrote back to say:
This scenario is played out countless times every day in marriages. It’s one of the great stand-offs in married life. Typically, one spouse wants to have sex more than the other. Sometimes, the husbands write to me that the woman isn’t so interested. After all, that is the stereotype. Men who want to have sex all the time and it’s the women who turn them down. (Truth be told, in my ministry, I hear much more from women who say that it’s the guys who aren’t interested—and the pervasiveness of pornography is a big reason for this.)
My husband doesn’t like that idea. He says he doesn’t think it should be like that but should only be when we are both feeling like it, and you can’t schedule that. Our previous marriage counselors also suggested it. UGH! I wonder if he only feeds the dog when he “feels” like it. Wonder if he only goes to work when he “feels” like it. What would he say if his wife told him she’d only cook dinner for him when she “feels” like it or if his boss only paid him when he “feels” like it?
Put it in the context of these examples and people have no problem seeing how ridiculous it is to use “feeling like it” as the sole motivator for doing things. For you men and women out there who are like this—those of you who are all about your “feeeeeeelings” and refuse to have sex with your spouse unless you “feeeeeel” like it, I sure do wish I could be around to ask you how you “feeeeeeel” once your sex-starved spouse ends up committing adultery. Now I’m not saying it’s justified or okay for one to have a sexual affair because of lack of sex at home. What I am saying is that at some level, the “withholder” contributed to the situation. Most often, the “cheater” is the one who takes the fall and gets the bad rap; but the outside world doesn’t know there is much more to the story. Differing sex drives is one of the hot button issues in marriage. It’s one that many couples struggle with. Generally, it’s because one person wants or feels like having sex more and the other doesn’t.
ICOF members have united over 50,000 ministers representing more than 25 Million constituents, several hundred colleges, universities and other Christian schools, orphanages & feeding programs, humanitarian aid organizations, chaplains and other charities.
speaking at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C.
Sen. Rand Paul R-Ky. waves as he arrives to speak during the Values Voter Summit, held by the Family Research Council Action, Friday, Oct. 11, 2013, in Washington. (AP)
SEN. RAND PAUL: ‘WORLDWIDE WAR ON CHRISTIANITY’ IGNORED BY MEDIA
“Christians are being attacked around the world, but you won’t hear much about it on the evening news because the answer’s not convenient,” Paul continued. “It doesn’t fit the narrative we have been told about radical Islam. The president tries to gloss over who’s attacking and killing Christians. The media describes the killings as sectarian. But the truth is, a worldwide war on Christians is being waged by a fanatical element of Islam.”
The “war on Christianity” is being ignored by the mainstream media and the Obama administration, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) charged Friday, addressing the global attacks on Christians around the world.
Paul, an expected contender for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination who has been a strong opponent of too much foreign intervention, also praised the Muslim world’s historic achievements and said it can again
“From Boston to Zanzibar, there’s a worldwide war on Christianity,” Paul said to applause Friday when 32
promote modernism by policing their radical elements.
9/11. Does that make any sense at all?”
“For centuries, the Middle East was home to cultural and intellectual centers of ancient world. Math and science flourished in the Middle Ages. Tolerance and sophistication were the norm at one time in the Middle East,” Paul said. “Islam carried the light of learning for centuries. They paved the way for our enlightenment. This history needs to be brought back to life again. Innovation in Muslim communities developed the magnetic compass, pens and printing.”
The audience responded, “No.” “American tax dollars should never be spent to prop up a war on Christianity,” Paul continued. “But that’s what’s happening now across the globe. As Christians, we should take a stand and fight against any of your tax dollars funding any persecution of Christians.” Paul cited a poll by Pew Research that found 21 percent of Egyptians, 15 percent of Jordanians, and 13 percent of Pakistani Muslims find terrorism acceptable.
But he faulted U.S. policy – specifically aiding the Syrian rebels with links to Al Qaeda.
“It’s a minority to be sure, but if you add up the numbers in just three countries…over 40 million Muslims sympathize with violence against Christians,” Paul said.
“Elsewhere in Syria, Islamic rebels have filmed beheadings of their captives,” Paul said. “They’ve filmed themselves eating the heart of their enemy. Two Christian bishops have been kidnapped, and one priest was recently killed. These rebels are allies of the Islamic rebels that President Obama is now arming. We are now arming Islamic rebels who are allied with Al Qaeda that attacked us on
“Radical Islam will end only when Islam begins to police itself,” Paul added. “Only then will knowledge [and] enlightenment begin to glow and grow – [and ] religious violence will recede.” Video of Senator Paul’s Message
Billy Graham’s grandson takes Christians to task: By Johnathan Merritt
JM: One criticism that has been leveled against the church is that we’ve been more concerned with behavior modification than with grace. Am I correct in saying that you believe this is a valid criticism? There’s no question that for far too long the church has been primarily concerned with external change. Preachers are afraid of grace because they think it undercuts obedience and encourages apathy. If Jesus paid it all and it is finished, if the judgment against us has been fully and finally taken care of, aren’t we opening the door to lawlessness? This is what Judaizers were afraid of: they didn’t like Gospel of free grace because they thought people would get out of control. If God is not mad at me and if he will never love me more than he does right now, then why can’t I party my way through life? The underlying fear is that unconditional grace leads to licentiousness.
William Graham Tullian Tchividjian is the grandson of the iconic American evangelist, Billy Graham. But he’s also much more than that. Tchividjian is senior pastor of Ft. Lauderdale’s Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church–formerly the congregation of the late D. James Kennedy–as well as a visiting professor of theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, a contributing editor for Leadership Journal, and the author of several bestselling books including Jesus + Nothing = Everything.
While attacks on morality will always come from outside the church, attacks on grace will always come from inside the church because somewhere along the way we’ve come to believe that this whole thing is about behavioral modification and personal moral improvement. We’ve concluded that grace just doesn’t possess the teeth to scare us into changing. As a result we get a steady diet of “do more, try harder” sermons; we get a “to do list” version of Christianity that causes us to believe the focus of the Christian faith is the life of the Christian. So we end up hearing
In his most recent book, One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World, Tchividjian takes Christians to task for their legalistic focus on performance. But he also casts a vision for a more grace-filled future. Here, we talk about what he thinks is wrong with the Christian church today and what he believes the answer is.
more about “Christian living” than the Christ.
Far from it. In recent years, a handful of books have been published urging a more robust, radical, and sacrificial expression of the Christian faith. I even wrote one of them—Unfashionable: Making a Difference in the World by being Different. I heartily “amen” the desire to take one’s faith seriously and demonstrate before the watching world a willingness to be more than just Sunday churchgoers.
We think this will be what gets people to clean up their act, to fix themselves, to volunteer in the nursery, to obey, to read their Bibles, to change the world–but it actually has the opposite effect. A steady diet of “do more, try harder” sermons doesn’t cause people to do more or try harder…it makes them give up. Legalism produces lawlessness 10 times out of 10.
The unintended consequence of this push, however, is that if we’re not careful we can give people the impression that Christianity is first and foremost about the sacrifice we make for Jesus rather than the sacrifice Jesus made for us; our performance for him rather than his performance for us; our obedience for him rather than his obedience for us. The hub of Christianity is not “do something for Jesus.” The hub of Christianity is “Jesus has done everything for you.” I fear that too many people, both inside and outside the church, have heard this plea for intensified devotion and concluded that the focus of the Christian faith is our love for God instead of God’s love for us. Furthermore, it seems that the good news of God’s grace has been tragically hijacked by an oppressive religious moralism that is all about rules, rules, and more rules; doing more, trying harder, self-help, getting better, and fixing, fixing, fixing–—ourselves, our
The fact is, that the solution to restraint-free immorality is not morality. The solution to immorality is the free grace of God. Only undeserved grace can truly melt and transform the heart. The route by which the New Testament exhorts sacrificial love and obedience is not by tempering grace but by driving it home. Charles Spurgeon nailed it when he said, “When I thought God was hard, I found it easy to sin; but when I found God so kind, so good, so overflowing with compassion, I beat my breast to think I could ever have rebelled against One who loved me so and sought my good.” JM: Where do you think Christianity has missed the mark of offering living water? How did we get where we are today? TT: The Christian church has sadly not proven to be immune to performancism. 36
kids, our spouse, our friends, our enemies, our culture, our world. Christianity is perceived as being a vehicle for good behavior and clean living and the judgments that result from them rather than the only recourse for those who have failed over and over again.
oppressed, sight to the blind, then Christianity has come to stand for, and in practice promulgate, the exact opposite of what its founder intended (Luke 4:18–19). JM: I’m with you, but you’re a pastor yourself. What are the ways in which you–yes you, as a clergy person– have been complicit in perpetuating this system?
Sadly, too many churches have helped to perpetuate the impression that Christianity is primarily concerned with legislating morality. Believe it or not, Christianity is not about good people getting better. If anything, it is good news for bad people coping with their failure to be good. Too many people have walked away from the church not because they’re walking away from Jesus, but because the church has walked away from Jesus. Ask any of the so-called “religious nones” who’ve answered their census questions differently in past years, and I guarantee you will hear a story about either spiritual burn-out or heavyhanded condemnation from fellow believers. “Works righteousness” is the word that the Protestant Reformation used to describe spiritual performancism, and it has plagued the church—and the world—since the Garden of Eden. It might not be too much of an overstatement to say that if Jesus came to proclaim good news to the poor, release to the captives, freedom for the
TT: I’m so embarrassed by many of the sermons I preached early on. I wish I could go back and apologize to all the people who heard them. My primary concern at that time was to get people to do more, try harder, and change. The end result was stunted spiritual growth for our people because I was causing them to fix their eyes on themselves rather than on Christ. Eugene Peterson has wisely said that “discipleship is a process of paying more and more attention to God’s righteousness and less and less attention to our own.” The way many of us think about sanctification is, well, not very sanctified. In fact, it’s terribly narcissistic. We spend too much time thinking about how we’re doing, if we’re growing, whether we’re doing it right or not. We spend too much time pondering our spiritual failures and brooding over our spiritual successes. Ironically, I’ve discovered that the more I focus on my need to get better, the 37
worse I actually get—I become neurotic and self-absorbed. Preoccupation with our performance over Christ’s performance for us actually hinders spiritual growth because it makes us increasingly self-centered and morbidly introspective—the exact opposite of how the Bible describes what it means to be sanctified. Sanctification is forgetting about yourself. As J. C. Kromsigt said, “The good seed cannot flourish when it is repeatedly dug up for the purpose of examining its growth.”
his rescue; our sin with his salvation; our failure with his favor; our guilt with his grace; our badness with his goodness. So, if we read (or preach) the Bible asking first, “What would Jesus do?” instead of asking “What has Jesus done” we’ll miss the good news that alone can set us free. Evangelicals desperately need to recover the truth that the overwhelming focus of the Bible is not the work of the redeemed but the work of the Redeemer. This means that the Bible is not first a recipe book for Christian living, but a revelation book of Jesus who is the answer to our unchristian living. JM: What was it that triggered this grace-awakening in you? TT: Life, suffering, and failure have a way of transforming you from an idealist to a realist—from thinking that you’re strong to reminding you that you’re weak.
In those early early days, I was treating the Bible like it was a heaven-sent selfhelp manual. The fact is, that unless we go to the Bible to see Jesus and his work for us, even our devout Bible reading can become fuel for our own self-improvement plans, the place we go for the help we need to “conquer today’s challenges and take control of our lives.” What I’ve learned since those days is that the Bible is not a record of the blessed good, but rather the blessed bad. The Bible is not a witness to the best people making it up to God; it’s a witness to God making it down to the worst people. The Bible is one long story of God meeting our rebellion with
When I was 25, I believed I could change the world. At 40, I have come to the realization that I cannot change my wife, my church, or my kids, to say nothing of the world. Try as I might, I have not been able to manufacture outcomes the way I thought I could, either in my own life or other people’s. Unfulfilled dreams, ongoing relational tension, the loss of friendships, a hard marriage, rebellious teenagers, the death of loved ones, remaining sinful patterns—whatever it is for you—live long enough, lose enough, suffer 38
enough, and the idealism of youth fades, leaving behind the reality of life in a broken world as a broken person. Life has had a way of proving to me that I’m not on the constantly-moving-forward escalator of progress I thought I was on when I was twenty-five.
replaced it with a realism about the extent of His grace and love, which is much bigger than I had ever imagined. Indeed, the smaller you get—the smaller life makes you—the easier it is to see the grandeur of grace. While I am far more incapable than I may have initially thought, God is infinitely more capable than I ever hoped.
Instead, my life has looked more like this: Try and fail. Fail then try. Try and succeed. Succeed then fail. Two steps forward. One step back. One step forward. Three steps back. Every year, I get better at some things, worse at others. Some areas remain stubbornly static. To complicate matters even more, when I honestly acknowledge the ways I’ve gotten worse, it’s actually a sign that I may be getting better. And when I become proud of the ways I’ve gotten better, it’s actually a sign that I’ve gotten worse. And ’round and ’round we go.
JM: The kind of grace you describe in One-Way Love sounds scandalous, and if I know my fellow Christians like I think I do, you’ll get a little blowback from this message. What do you anticipate will be most surprising? TT: I’m sure it will get mixed reactions. This isn’t the kind of book that people can feel neutral about. People who are aware of their weakness, failure, smallness, and incompetency will love it. Those who are aware of their desperation love grace and they will find new life and breath in One Way Love. But those who want to believe that they’re strong and competant, capable and sturdy, will be offended. That’s fine. I’ll never forget hearing Dr. Doug Kelly (one of my theology professors in seminary) saying in class, “If you want to make people mad, preach law. If you want to make them really, really mad preach grace.” I didn’t know what he meant then. But I do now. The law offends us because it tells us what to do–and we hate anyone telling us what to do, most of the time. But, ironically,
If this sounds like a depressing sentiment, it isn’t meant to be one. Quite the opposite. If I am grateful for anything about these past 15 years, it’s for the way God has wrecked my idealism about myself and the world and 39
conditions and qualifications. That’s just the flesh fighting for its life, after all. As Walter Marshall says, “By nature, you are completely addicted to a legal method of salvation. Even after you become a Christian by believing the Gospel, your heart is still addicted to salvation by works…You find it hard to believe that you should get any blessing before you work for it.”
grace offends us even more because it tells us that there’s nothing we can do, that everything has already been done. And if there’s something we hate more than being told what to do, it’s being told that we can’t do anything, that we can’t earn anything–that we’re helpless, weak, and needy. The law, at least, assures us that we determine our own destiny—we get to maintain control, the outcome of our life remains in our hands. Give me three steps to a happy marriage and I can guarantee myself a happy marriage if I follow the three steps. If we can do certain things, meet certain standards (whether God’s, my own, my parents, my spouse’s, society’s, whatever) and become a certain way, we’ll make it. Law seems safe because it breeds a sense of manageability. It keeps life formulaic and predictable. It keeps earning-power in our camp. The logic of law makes sense. The logic of grace doesn’t.
But while I’m not surprised when I hear venomous rejoinders to grace (the flesh is always resistant to “It is finished”), I am saddened when the very pack of people that God has unconditionally saved and continues to sustain by his free grace are the very ones who push back most violently against it. It is high time for the church to honor its Founder by embracing sola gratia anew, to reignite the beacon of hope for the hopeless and point all of us bedraggled performancists back to the freedom and rest of the Cross. To leave our “if’s,” “and’s,” or “but’s” behind and get back to proclaiming the only message that matters—and the only message we have—the Word about God’s one-way love for sinners. It is time for us to abandon once and for all our play-it-safe religion, and, as Robert Farrar Capon so memorably put it, get drunk on grace. Two- hundred-proof, unflinching grace. It’s shocking and scary, unnatural and undomesticated…but it is also the only thing that can set us free and light the church, and the world, on fire.
Grace is thickly counter-intuitive. It feels risky and unfair. It turns everything that makes sense to us upside-down. It’s not rational. It offends our deepest sense of justice and rightness. It wrestles control out of our hands and destroys our safe, conditional world. So, it doesn’t surprise me at all when I hear people react to grace with suspicion and doubt. It doesn’t surprise me that when people talk about grace, I hear lots of “buts and brakes”, 40
The word used in the scripture for spiritual is according to Strong's New Testament Greek Lexicon is pneumatikos the word gives the idea of one who is filled with and governed by the Spirit of the Lord. The key idea here is being governed by the Holy Spirit. In order for the church to be effective to one another and an unregenerated world we must be a spiritual people and know that we are spiritual. How do we know? I'm glad you ask.
Ye Which Are Spiritual Apostle Bobby Sutton This text is found in Paul's writings to the church at Galatia. Paul admonishes the church to restore a fellow Christian that has sinned. In doing so he sets a parameter for those assisting in the restoration. Paul wants the church to know that only the spiritual are suppose to be involved in the process of restoration. This gives rise to the assumption that we Christians should know if we are spiritual or not. This article is not dealing with the topic of restoration. I want to focus on the idea of spirituality of the believer. When I first was converted I would often hear the warning "Be careful that you do not become so heavenly minded that you are of no earthly good." That warning of course was coming from folks that were always talking about other Christians as being too spiritual or too holy. I have since come to the conclusion that the only way Christians can be of any earthly good is for us to become heavenly minded or spiritual. We have to stop and ask ourselves this question. "Am I spiritual?" "Could I be effective in the restoration process of a fallen brother or sister in the Lord?" "Can I convey to this lost world the manifestation of God's Spirit? Maybe we should find out what being spiritual is and is not.
First: Are we born again? The new birth experience is through repentance, baptism by immersion in the name of Jesus and the infilling of the Holy Spirit evidenced by speaking with tongues. The new birth propels us into the spiritual realm. Paul puts it this way "And you hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins." Ephesians 2:1. Jesus quickened (make alive, give life or vitality) us with the infusion of the
Holy Spirit into our dead spirit bringing it to life.
(mind, will, and emotions) and what is the greater influence will determine what I will allow to be manifested. The five senses touch, taste, smell, hearing and sight are constantly sending carnal signals through the body to the soul to be manifested in carnal ways. The Holy Spirit is giving illumination to the soul through our human spirit to manifest the things of God. The source of carnal power is the world communicating through our five senses to our soul. The source of spiritual power is God's word communicating through the spirit to the soul. Jesus said "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." What I feed on will be manifested. I choose what will be manifested and if I want to be spiritual or carnal. If we are truthful with ourselves we know if we are carnal and walk as men or if we are spiritual and walk in the Spirit. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:14 "
Second: Are we governed by the Holy Spirit? Paul said to the Corinthians "For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envyings, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? The question is do we walk as men (unregenerated) or do we walk in the spirit? Paul said in Galatians 5:16 "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." What a powerful word. If we are governed by the Spirit we will manifest the unadulterated power of God not only to our brothers and sisters, but also to this lost world and we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh. The only guard against or fleshly lust is to walk in the Spirit. We are spirits, we have a soul, and we live in a body. When we are regenerated God's Spirit mingles with our spirit to bring us life. The battle is in the soul
But the natural (soulish, carnal) man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them for they are spiritually discerned." Carnal man is
stumped by the things of the Spirit and is of no good to the things of God because his understanding is totally influenced by the world. These people were caught up in the trappings of celebrity in which apostle was the best, more anointed, or greatest and causing division in the church. Paul goes on to say in verse 15 " But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man." The spiritual man discerns the things of God and renders decisions based on spiritual knowledge that removes him from the courtroom of human opinion. The spiritual man is not worried about his standing in the spotlight but his only concern is in pleasing the Lord.
God. There are wheat and tares in the congregation. The wheat know who they are and the tares also. The more consecrated to God we are and the less of the world's influence we have the more spiritual we become. The more spiritual or Spirit lead we are the more impact we have on this world for the Lord. Imagine the impact we can have on the lost if we come with no hidden agenda, no ulterior motives, no desire for fame or fortune, no idea of self promotion just to be a vessel for the Master's use. To use this flesh as a vehicle for the manifestation of the Spirit of God to a lost and dying world.
In teaching the Corinthian church about spiritual gifts Paul said “If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two or at the most three, and that by course; and let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God." This leads me to believe that we should know who is used in the gift of interpretation of tongues and whether or not that person or those people are present before a message in tongues is given to the church body. I believe it also infers that we should be familiar with the people that are used in the other gifts also. That being said we should also know who among us is a spiritual person. In Matthew 13:24-30 Jesus tells the parable of the wheat and the tares. In agriculture a tare cannot become wheat but in the church a tare can become wheat if it will consecrate to
"I've a yearning in my heart that cannot be denied, it’s a longing that has never yet been satisfied. I want the world to know the One who loves them so, like a flame it's burning deep inside. To be used of God, to sing, to speak, to pray; to be used of God to show someone the way. I long so much to feel the touch of His consuming fire; to be used of God is my desire."
This chorus may convey the idea
This is the song of ye which are spiritual. Apostle Bobby Sutton is Vice President of Missions for the International Circle of Faith. He is the author of the book, “I Slept with Potiphar’s wife.
Africa Elder victor Odongo KENYA Crusade in Mwanza, Kenya
Dear Beloved one in Jesus Name. Greetings to you in the Name of our Lord Jesus. Brother, How are you? How is your family and the ministry are doing. Here we are not well we are passing under the difficult situation, as I informed you here in Kenya in our Capital City there was a Terra gunmen attack the Business house it was noon time by the time we had finis3h the church comity and some of our Beloved one whom travel from Nairobi to our place to inquire me and other Elder we to give them a branch they were short Dead with the gun men when they where pass near this Business Building. "So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one." Ezekiel 22:30 "The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin..." Exodus 34:6
KENYA Pastor Okumu We are praying for our brothers and sisters that are affected, by terrorist attack It is our moment of sadness, we need strength and more hope Our country has been passing through many challenges and we need prayers, I believe God is doing something powerful and new for our country, though the enemy is not aware God is raising a standard above our enemies God will be one of the powerful nations in the world people will never imagine Yes I believe Jesus is preparing this nation, and what has been happening is bringing us together, also makes people come together.
UGANDA Bishop George Kasharu
We had a good womenâ€™s seminar for four days and this was great because the last day the church which sits four hundred people had nowhere to sit. Women came from many churches from Mafubira where we have 20 different denominations. This was the first women's seminar with good attendance our theme was' you see how bad the situation is the walls are burned down by fire come and let us rebuild the walls of Jerusalem so that we may not reproach;. I preached last on the Saturday, surely we saw the hand of God
NIGERIA Hi Dr. Wade Sir, Blessings. Thank you for this mail. I want you to know that ICOF is waxing strong in Nigeria, ICOF women for Christ is strong, ICOF Chaplaincy is making a serious wave in Nigeria. I am believing God that by next year we will start building the multimillion naira ICOF Global Union African Co-operate Headquarters in Nigeria. This complex will be made up of: ICOF Global Union Co-operate African Administrative Headquarters, ICOF University and seminary, ICOF Chaplaincy Corp and ICOF business dept. we had already acquire that land. So we will start the buildings by God grace.
Dear I send you my greetings in the lord we are fine in the lord and I want to appreciate you for the prayers you have been offering me we have been to Uganda in a Mission then we moved to Webuye for two days and today our pastors team are travelling to Tanzania in the same mission and it will take us 13 hours to reach so pray with our team that the lord will supply all our needs and he strengthens his servants. We believe that God will open to reign in his people and those in trouble to be relieved. The region of Tanzania is covered with Muslims but we are praying that the lord may take control over that. God bless you
Thanks and be blessed. Bishop Daniel Joseph.
GHANA ICOF FIVEFOLD ROUNDTABLE MEETING with Bishop Joseph Freeson
Yours Pastor Alex
ICOF Ghana (continued)
SOUTH AMERICA BRAZIL RAUL AND JANICE ALVEAR On the edge of the great Amazon jungle at the lower basin visiting our son and his works. Last night in church a little Indian couple sang in their language, tears streamed down my checks thinking of the rewards of years of sacrifice to reach these backland people. Thank you for making this possible...tonight we will be in the jungle for services and Sunday night in a little village by the jungle for special services and Monday during he day further back into the jungle area for services where our son just baptized 11 Indians from that tribe. Oh! how good God is!
EUROPE GERMANY ICOF FIVEFOLD ROUNDTABLE OCTOBER 25-27TH.
Bishop Marcus Benson, ICOF Bishop of Europe ministering
Bishop Raul and Janice Alvear
Javed Siddique WONDERFUL REPORT OF GOSPEL WORK TRIP OF PUNJAB PROVINCE. from 7 to 11 oct. i have preached with my Gospel team. I have come back from the Gospel trip of Punjab, I have preached in 4 villiages of Punjab. Where more than 4000 people received blessings when they attend meetings. 300 received Jesus as their savior. 237 healed from their sicknesses.
Inayat â€“ ICOF Church of Lahore is ministering in United Aram Emirates Keep the ministry there in prayer.
Pakistan (continued) Bishop Bernie Wade ministering with Bishop Tufail Bazmi
Ministering in Pakistan with Bishop Tufail Bazmi in their Friday evening meeting! What a wonderful presence of the Lord! What sincerity of worship. â€“ Bishop Bernie L. Wade
Pakistan continued. Pastor Saleem
Pastor Saleem Inayat has been appointed Chairman of the International Circle of Faith Fivefold Roundtable of Pakistan.
NORTH AMERICA USA We are excited to announce that a new web site is coming for ICOF Global. The IT Dept has removed the old site and a new one will be up soon! Keep watching! http://www.icof.net ARIZONA ICOF Fivefold Roundtable – Phoenix with Chairman – Bishop Derrick Day
WATCH ICOF TV LIVE KENTUCKY LIFE CHURCH of Kentucky is preparing for the launch of an outreach ministry – LIFE SUPPORT. The first meeting of the steering committee is November 5th at 6 pm at Sulphur Christian Church.
INTERNATIONAL CIRCLE OF FAITH COLLEGES, SEMINARIES AND UNIVERSITIES EDUCATING TOMORROWS CHRISTIAN LEADERS
What if…let’s just say…What if we looked only to the scripture for our Purpose; only following the words, and stated purposes of Jesus and the apostles. Could we, would we, allow ourselves to be governed, and our lives and futures determined by a firm mooring in nothing but the word of the Lord? That’s what I’m attempting.
Clarifying Kingdom Purposes in Disciple-making By J. Samuel Willoughby
God is vitally and absolutely interested in 3 things in us as people of His kingdom…
As I stated earlier, God is vitally interested in 3 things…
• What we know… • What we are… • What we do… This lesson has come out of many days of study and reflection, countless hours of soul searching prayer, and a genuine desire to be exactly what Jesus Christ wants of me. I don’t mean just this year, or over the next 12 months; but for the rest of my days, however many or few they may be. I say that because I still see many people, ministries, churches, etc. spending time…sometimes a lot of time, pulling together ideas and concepts to form a “Vision Statement” for the people to focus on for the coming year. The problem, as one of my Elders so capably articulated, is that in an effort to be unique and riveting, without parroting everyone else’s “Vision Statement”; they cut and paste something from one group, and fit it in with a cut-n-paste from another successful ministry, along with a good dose of motivational quotes from the currently most popular church-growth gurus; Cut-Paste-Edit-and Print and shazam “This is our vision for the coming year!” But that’s NOT a vision, IT’S A GRAVEN IMAGE! And that makes its followers idolators!
1) What we know… Admonitions in several places in Jesus’ own words tell us to take heed not only to WHAT we hear, but also HOW we hear. Not only are the source and content of our doctrine important, but also the attitude and spirit we have when we hear it. Because BOTH strongly affect what we know of Him. [Mark 4:24, Luke 8:18] It is known and proven in many different venues, whether it be in the motivational arena, psycho/social imprinting, or spiritual training pursuits; what you set before your eyes, keeping an image foremost in your mind’s eye to focus on, is what you are going to get.
Paul said, “…I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” [1Cor. 2:2]
Since that time of victory at Calvary, He is waiting for us to walk out the victorious life of conquest, that He settled in the heavens for us!
Paul also expressed his longing to know Him…“in the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering” [Philippians 3:10] He then exhorted all of us, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: …he made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant,…. he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” [Philippians 2:5-8]
2) What we are…
But how do we do that?! Really, how do we have His mind? What mental/spiritual process do we follow to have HIS mind, HIS strength of purpose, HIS iron-willed determination to go on, to finish His mission? The answer…IT’S ALL ABOUT FOCUS! A FOCUS born out of an intimate relationship with the Father. Born out of many long nights spent in isolation bringing His mind, His will and His flesh into alignment with the Father’s Purpose in the earth. Paul said, I want to know that!
I cannot tell you what you are! I may be able to glimpse, by the prophetic glass, hints of what you MAY be, in possible destiny with God. But YOU and you alone, wrestling in prayer through long lonely nights…and wading through interminable days of pain and process, will learn what God has for you. Destiny is not some cheap, easy prize to be gained with a large enough offering, a set of inspirational DVD’s, and a weekend seminar. You’re going to have to walk with God FOR YOURSELF, and fellowship Him in lonely, intimate places for that knowledge to come to you. But when it lays hold of you, you will be able to say like Peter in John 6, “…We believe AND ARE SURE…”! There is nothing that will strengthen and stabilize you like being CONVINCED! When the crowd walks away, and it’s no longer popular, and you are weak and weary with process… CONVICTIONS, NOT PREFERENCES will hold you up in that day!
Here it is; the focus of Jesus Christ! “…who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross…” [Hebrews 12:1-3] His focus was NOT on the cross, the humiliation, the nails, a crown of thorns, or a spear in His side! His focus was on the completion of His Purpose! His focus was on the completion of His redemptive work! His focus was on just working out the next few moments endured on a cross to cry out in a voice that could be heard from eternity to eternity, “It…is…finished!” Signifying to us the complete destruction of ALL the works and plans of Hell against His people, His plan, and His Kingdom Purpose. Paul said, I want to know that!
Jesus knew when He was 12 what His purpose and destiny was. It was the sureness and conviction of that knowledge that kept Him through 18 years of inactivity. Assailed by the howling winds of uncertainty, beaten by the unmerciful pummeling of the daily, weekly, monthly GRIND of ordinary things, He could 52
persevere through the sure conviction of His Father’s purpose.
His habits and patterns of living and ministry, His motivations, etc. and emulate them to bring glory to Abba Elohim!
2. Finished the work You called me to do! Paul’s testimony of his own calling and commissioning from Jesus says the Lord told him he was to… • [Acts 26:16-18] Open spiritually blind eyes, AND • Deliver the lost from darkness and the authority of Satan….we do that through Prayer • Promote the Salvation of lost people…We do that through Preaching. The preaching of Repentance, the Kingdom of God, and the Name of Jesus Christ did the job for Phillip pretty good down in Samaria. [Acts 8:5-8, 12, Rom. 14:17]
3) What we do…. Solomon said, “…Even a child is known by his doings”. [Proverbs 20:11] It is incumbent upon us, to translate what we trust and know of God by faith, into an habitual pattern of “obedient doings”! We call that FAITHFULNESS! The fallacy of this faith of the New Age, an abstract “mental assent” toward God and His Word, has been with us too long! It is heresy, pure and simple. The “faith” of the scripture…righteous faith…is a faith of HEARING AND DOING!
3. Manifested Your Name! • He did that through positive works, witness, and spiritual ministry….[Luke 4:18, Acts 10:38, 1John 3:8]
May we find the Grace of our God in these last days to put away the binding, insufficient strictures of man-made and fleshly inspired programs; and find again fresh, sweet paths of spiritual insight in Kingdom purposes, to follow Him, that will mold us into the instruments and implements He can use to build His great House! Let it be so….
Jesus Himself equated His own Faithfulness and Obedience accomplished in His earthly Purpose by 3 things in John 17:4-6…He told the Father in His prayer, I have….
1. Glorified You! In every thing you asked me to do, I’ve given You all the glory! In our living, we MUST find from His Word, His focused mindset, 53