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Category Archives: Experiences

Strange Fire in the House of the Lord (J. Lee Grady)

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We need to be careful. Current fads involving angels, ecstatic worship and necromancy could push us off the edge of spiritual sanity.

No one fully understands what Nadab and Abihu did to prompt God to strike them dead in the sanctuary of Israel. The Bible says they loaded their firepans with incense, ignited the substance and “offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them” (Lev. 10:1, NASB). As a result of their careless and irreverent behavior, fire came from God’s presence and consumed them.

Zap. In an instant they were ashes.

 

When Moses had to explain to Aaron what happened to the two men, he said: “It is what the Lord spoke, saying, ‘By those who come near to Me I will be treated as holy, and before all the people I will be honored'” (v. 3). Although we don’t know the details of what Nadab and his brother did with the holy incense, we know they were careless and irreverent about the things of God.

“We want the miracles of God, but we also want the fear and reverence of God. We cannot allow this strange fire to spread unchecked.”

This ancient story has relevant application for us today. We don’t use incense or firepans in our worship, but we are expected to handle God’s Word with care and minister to His people in the fear of the Lord. In other words: No funny business allowed. We aren’t allowed to mix God’s Word with foreign concepts or mix our worship with pagan practices.

Yet as I minister in various churches around this country I am finding that strange fire is spreading in our midst-even in churches that call themselves “Spirit-filled.” Pastors and leaders need to be aware of these trends:

1. Deadly visitations. In some charismatic circles today, people are claiming to have spiritual experiences that involve communication with the dead. One Michigan pastor told me last week that some church leaders he knows promote this bizarre practice and base it on Jesus’ experience on the Mount of Transfiguration. The logic is that since Jesus talked to Moses and Elijah on the day He was glorified, this gives us permission to talk to dead Christians and our dead relatives.

Although little is said about these experiences from the pulpit (since the average believer is not ready to handle this “new revelation”), people in some streams of the prophetic movement are claiming to have visitations from Aimee Semple McPherson, William Branham, John Wimber or various Bible characters. And we are expected to say, “Ooooooo, that’s so deep”-and then go looking for our own mystical, beyond-the-grave epiphany.

That is creepy. Communication with the dead was strictly forbidden in the Old Testament (see Deut. 18:11), and there is nothing in the New that indicates the rules were changed. Those who seek counsel from the dead-whether through mediums and séances or in “prophetic visions”-are taking a dangerous step toward demonization.

2. Ecstatic rapture. Not long after ecstasy became known as a recreational drug, someone in our movement got the bright idea to promote spiritual ecstasy as a form of legitimate worship. The concept evolved from “spiritual drunkenness” to the current fad in which people gather at church altars and pretend to shoot needles in their arms for a “spiritual high.” Some preachers today are encouraging people to “toke the Holy Ghost”-a reference to smoking marijuana.

I hate to be a party pooper, but the Bible warns us to “be of sound judgment and sober spirit” (1 Pet. 4:7). There is plenty of freedom and joy in the Holy Spirit; we don’t have to quench it by introducing people to pagan revelry. Christian worship is not about losing control. Those who worship Jesus do it “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24), and our love for God is not measured by how violently we shake or how many times we fall on the floor.

Recently I told a friend in Pennsylvania that when people get tired of this drug imagery it won’t be long before we see some Christians having sexual experiences at the altar. “It’s already happening,” my friend said. He described a recent “worship concert” in which one of the musicians simulated sex while stroking a microphone and whispering sensual phrases to Jesus. What is next-orgasmic worship? God help us.

3. Angels among us. Angels have always played a vital role in the life of the church. They are “ministering spirits” sent to protect, guide and strengthen believers (Heb. 1:14). But suddenly angels have become the rage in some segments of our movement. People are claiming to see them everywhere, and often the stories don’t line up with the Word of God.

During the Lakeland Revival last year in Florida, a man from Germany took the stage and claimed that an angel walked into a restaurant while he was eating a hamburger, took his intestines out and replaced them with a gold substance. Others have testified that angels took them to heaven and operated on them. And many are claiming that angels are dropping feathers, gold dust and precious gems on worshippers.

I know God can do anything. He can make an iron axe head float, hide a coin in a fish’s mouth and use a little boy’s lunch to feed a multitude. Those were genuine miracles that He can still do today. But we still have to use caution here. There are counterfeits. If we promote a false miracle or a false angel in the Lord’s house, we are participating in strange fire.

I know of a case where a man was caught planting fake jewels on the floor of a church. He told his friends he was “seeding the room” to lift the people’s faith. I know of others who have been caught putting gold glitter on themselves in a restroom and then running back in a church service, only to claim that God was blessing them with this special favor. Where is the fear of God when Christians would actually fabricate a miracle?

This is a time for all true believers with backbones to draw clear lines between what is godly worship and what is pagan practice. We want the miracles of God, but we also want the fear and reverence of God. We cannot allow this strange fire to spread unchecked.

 

J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma. He will be ministering from Feb. 17-27 in England. If this article was forwarded to you, we encourage you to sign up to receive “Fire in My Bones” weekly in your own mailbox. Click here.

Kirk Cameron’s Evangelism

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http://chrisschellenberg.com/2008/03/31/kirk-cameron-marketplace-evangelism-xtreme/

In case after listening to him preach, you wanted to watch him in action.

Blessings,

Ben

Seeker friendly?

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A couple of people have been asking my opinion of a seeker friendly church. Here are a couple of thoughts:

1. The church is the body of Jesus Christ. It should be Spirit friendly. If the Holy Spirit is not welcome, and manifestations of the Spirit such as tongues, prophecy, words of knowledge, healings and miracles are not allowed in a church there is a serious problem with that church. There is no New Testament church service that was not supernatural. If we as Christians actually renewed our mind with the Word of God, and had great faith, we would see so many signs and wonders we would not need to limit our sermons to 8 minutes, talk about everything but the Bible, and have a play to keep people’s attention.

2. I am not sure what a seeker is. The Word of God is clear: “there is none that seeketh after God” (Romans 3.11). Everyone on planet earth is either a sinner or a saint. A sinner is someone who is not born again, a saint is someone who is born again.

A church meeting should be saint friendly – it should have powerful worship that lifts and energizes their spirits and causes them to focus on God. Songs should be to Jesus and about Jesus. (I think so many contemporary worship songs have the word “I” in them so many times they are simply not worship.) A church meeting should have a clear and accurate sermon based on the Word that produces and grows faith. And a church meeting should have the supernatural ministry of the Holy Spirit.

A Christian in the meeting should leave knowing they are stronger, more faithful and more glorious than when they went in.

The church service should not necessarily be sinner “friendly” – a sinner should not necessary feel comfortable in church. They should feel conviction!

However, Christians should be sinner friendly. Jesus was a friend of sinners – a man full of love and joy and peace who showed unconditional grace to everyone and anyone and sinners loved him. And they hung around him. And they didn’t stay sinners for long! They repented, they put their faith in God and they joined the saint crowd. As a Christian that is what your life should be like – love people and preach the good news to them and watch them become Christians. And you need to be in a church that pushes and pulls you in that direction not one that is a drama and a 8 minute homily!

The church service should build up the church (see Eph. 4.11ff) and the saints should then go into all the world and preach the gospel to sinners.

There is no such thing as a seeker, so Biblically seeker-friendly is an inappropriate phrase. I am always cautious if everything in a church is lukewarm and if there are no manifestations of the Holy Spirit.

I hope this helps anyone who is thinking about this topic. Any questions or comments please leave below. I will answer all comments,

Blessings,
Ben

Tree of Life Bookshop

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One of the most important things you can do as a Christian is to read encouraging books that communicate well. But walk into any Christian bookstore and so much of the books on offer are to be frank rubbish. They contain erroneous theology, faith-destroying statements and lead to confusion.

It is our desire to highlight some of the best books available today and recommend them to you. This is why we have, in conjuction with Amazon.co.uk, created an online bookshop. This bookshop can be accessed from our church website, the links button on this blog, or here.

My first book available now!

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http://www.lulu.com/content/5441807

The book is called Rivers and Wells and is about the fact that the anointing of God is available to every single Christian. You can buy the book from Lulu Marketplace for £3.49, or you can download it as a PDF document for £1.95.  Both these options are available from the link above.

This is the blurb from the back cover:

Many Christians are confused over the idea
of the anointing. If they think about the
concept at all, they think that the anointing
is for superstar preachers and not for every
Christian.

In this practical and Bible-based book,
Benjamin looks at the anointing and shows
that you can move in the power of the Holy
Spirit and that you can do the works Jesus
has done. Prepare to be inspired and
challenged – you will never be the same
again!

You can contact Ben through the Tree of
Life Church website:

http://www.treeoflifechurch.org.uk

My new book available now!

0

http://www.lulu.com/content/5441807

The book is called Rivers and Wells and is about the fact that the anointing of God is available to every single Christian. You can buy the book from Lulu Marketplace for £3.49, or you can download it as a PDF document for £1.95.  Both these options are available from the link above.

This is the blurb from the back cover:

Many Christians are confused over the idea
of the anointing. If they think about the
concept at all, they think that the anointing
is for superstar preachers and not for every
Christian.

In this practical and Bible-based book,
Benjamin looks at the anointing and shows
that you can move in the power of the Holy
Spirit and that you can do the works Jesus
has done. Prepare to be inspired and
challenged – you will never be the same
again!

You can contact Ben through the Tree of
Life Church website:

http://www.treeoflifechurch.org.uk

The Three Real Gifts of Christmas

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Our family today decided to visit a church we had never been to before.  There was a poster advertising their services in the local Christian bookshop and it seemed quite interesting.

It was a beautiful carol service, mainly Africans with a couple of Asians as well.  But it was something said during the preaching that has made me think.

The pastor said that the gifts that the Magi offered Christ of gold, frankincense and myrrh were not the real gifts they offered Christ.  He said that if we think that this is the true offering that Christ wants then we will be discouraged because we don’t own gold, we don’t have any frankincense and we would not have a clue how to source any myrrh.

He said the three real gifts that the Magi offered to Christ were time, worship and faith.  They took the time to change their schedule and their plans to go and meet with Christ.  They worshipped him.  They put their trust and their hope in Him.

And that is something each of us can do.  We can all change our schedules and re-prioritise our life so that we can meet with Christ.  We can all worship Christ, and we can all take Him at His Word this Christmas.

Although as a family we tried to sneak in to the back of the church and just enjoy the service, at the end the pastor said that the Lord had showed him that I was an anointed, kingdom man and that I should share a couple of words about Christmas.  I did share about the joy of knowing Christ and the reason for the season, but to be honest the real message about the real gifts of Christmas will have me thinking about my schedule, my worship and my faith over the festive season.

Blessings,

Ben

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