Tree of Life Blog

Engaging Culture with the wisdom and power of Christ!

Tag Archives: purity

Three Waves – The Second Wave, a Wave of Financial Integrity

0

As the people cast out demons, healed the sick and had the most phenomenally accurate words of knowledge and words of wisdom, two things happened

Firstly, there was a backlash of persecution from cessationist Christians.  Not from the world, not really – much more from Christians who denied the Scriptures and the power of God.  This persecution took the form of exclusion from meetings, people were forced to stand down from leadership positions.  Some pastors were removed from their churches, other pastors virtually expelled their entire churches for speaking in tongues and laying hands on the sick and seeing them healed.  This caused a few people to back off and stop their new life of faith and miracles and joy.  However, far more people were galvanised by this and it caused them to dig into the Word to understand the Biblical basis for seeing miracles and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  It caused them to spend much more time with the Holy Spirit as their comforter and friend, and the wave of miracles grew more intense.
In the places where the persecution was strongest, often involving creative miracles of limbs re-growing and organs being restored.

The second thing that happened is that some people who had been involved in the most religious, non-charismatic churches realized that the grace and power of the Holy Spirit was free and completely by the grace of the Lord Jesus.  At the same time, many of the people moving in the gifts were very young Christians, some only being Christians for a few weeks or even days.

Some of these people started – or continued – in some of the vilest sins.  Some of these started to be exposed and revealed.  It threatened to derail the revival spreading through London and at this stage had started to affect churches in the home counties and in some areas in north England, Wales, France and eastern Europe.

Just at this time, several Christian ministers started to preach on purity and integrity in a powerful way.  Thousands flocked to hear sermons on holiness and purity throughout London.  People started to learn how to think on what is right, how to form pure and wise relationships and how to be honest in all their dealings.  It was a beautiful move and it dovetailed into the healing wave that had just past.  People started to learn how to live their life on the Word, not just on their gifting or anointing.  A small group went into an excess and said they could live how they like and started swapping partners, but this group stopped almost as soon as it started.

I have referred to this wave as a wave of financial integrity because that is how I saw it.  All the things I described above happened in my vision, but the crest of the wave was this: churches started to deal with money in an open and honest way.  I saw Christian leaders weeping before their churches because they had operated the church finances as an extension of their own bank accounts.  I saw elders apologize for manipulating people into giving to their causes.  Some people were repenting of making up causes to raise offerings and this was revealed.

Now, I know for a fact that there is excesses like this inside the charismatic church, but what surprised me when I saw this happen was that it was as much the traditional churches that had leaders repenting and making restitution as the charismatic churches.  Several pastors had raised money for an orphanage that did not even exist, and they were getting right with God and returning double the money to everyone who had given.

It was wonderful to watch.  And as it happened, as people – especially leaders – were honest, were owning up – there was a new level of trust across the body of Christ.  A Pentecostal minister would admit his folly, and instead of shooting him down, the local Anglican church would love him and reach out to him and restore him.  The Baptists were praying for the Assemblies of God, and the URC were praying for the Elim, and this opened up a number of joint meetings which led to many people being saved, healed and delivered.

The irony was that when this was dealt with, people actually became more generous with their money.  People who had never given more than a token amount to the church were giving 30-40% of their income into offerings for their churches.  Money was being distributed to the poor in London like never before.  A number of churches were getting together in different localities and buying buildings to use as shelters for the homeless and as soup kitchens, and places where people could be cared for and supported.  In many areas, one church was organising the whole project but would be amazed when other churches in the area would just send huge offerings with no strings attached.

As this wave started to subside – and I don’t mean that the integrity had ended, any more than the healings and miracles had ceased at this stage, but rather that this as a focus was ending – there were so many Christians who were fellowshipping with people they never thought they would fellowship with.
This is when the third wave I saw hit.

Staying Pure in a Fornication Nation

0

You don’t have to compromise with our sex-saturated culture. By God’s grace you can stay in the sexual safety zone.

There were some raised eyebrows last week on the campus of Southeastern University in Lakeland, Fla., when I hosted a special meeting—the day before Valentine’s Day—on the subject of fornication. That’s not a word you normally associate with a lecture topic, but hey, I had to get attention. And since the hormones on most college campuses are as dense as Florida humidity, I figured the kids would be all ears when I attacked the subject.

I was right. At times you could hear a pin drop in the auditorium, especially when I talked about how most American young people aren’t even sure how to define sexual activity anymore. (Today’s college seniors were nine years old when President Clinton tried to redefine sex during the Lewinsky scandal.) At other times the students burst into nervous laughter, especially when I told how I gave my son-in-law a lecture about sexual boundaries in front of 700 of his classmates when he was dating my oldest daughter.

“Losing one’s virginity used to be a serious issue, but today fornication is just a standard sitcom plot device.”

I thought it might be helpful to share these key points with a wider audience, since many of the readers of this column are single. And even if you are married, it would be good to take a quick refresher course in self-control—since we live in a nation that is losing all moral restraint. Here’s what I told the group at Southeastern:

1. Don’t redefine your morality. I’ve seen Christian young people roll their eyes when I say the word “fornication” because it sounds so much like King James English—sort of like “sodomy,” another word we avoid in our PC culture. But we need to be careful how we bend the meaning of words. Terms that are in the Bible should not vanish from our modern vocabulary just because they offend some of the hosts of The View.

When “fornication” is used in 1 Thessalonians 4:3 (“For this is the will of God … that ye should abstain from fornication” KJV), the Greek word is porneia. It’s the root word for pornography, but it means a lot more than sexually explicit material. It includes sex between unmarried people, homosexuality, bestiality, prostitution, incest and adultery.

According to the apostle Paul, sex as God intended is limited to marriage between one man and one woman. Period. The Episcopal Church has no right to broaden the definition. Neither do Bill Clinton, Newsweek, Oprah or HBO. Don’t let moral relativism infect your brain.

2. Don’t sell your birthright. Losing one’s virginity used to be a serious issue, but today fornication is just a standard sitcom plot device. It’s considered normal. People are considered weird if they didn’t have sex by age 14; and if anybody dares to teach abstinence in a public school he is labeled a Neanderthal.

In TV shows like Desperate Housewives, Nip/Tuck or Grey’s Anatomy, life revolves around who’s in bed with whom. There’s even a TV series on Showtime called Californication that follows the life of a sex addict. What TV producers don’t usually explore are the consequences of immorality. Audiences probably wouldn’t laugh if the couples hooking up on these shows had to deal with genital warts, gonorrhea, AIDS, abortions, post-abortion trauma or clinical depression—all real fallout from illicit sexual behavior.

If you are a single person today—whether you have lost your virginity or not—it’s time to reclaim your purity and save sex for marriage. We’ve forgotten the story of Esau, who forfeited his birthright through one stupid act. He traded his inheritance for a bowl of stew. You really can throw your life away through one act of fornication.

3. Get ruthless with your weaknesses. Jesus sounded stricter than a Catholic school principal when He talked to His disciples about self-discipline. He told them: “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell” (Matt. 5:29, NASB).

Jesus was not advocating self-mutilation. He was using sarcasm to emphasize how serious sin is—and He urged His followers to take radical steps to avoid the snares of temptation. In our sex-soaked society, it is more imperative than ever that we draw boundaries.

Got a problem with pornography? If you can’t discipline yourself to avoid offending Web sites, get rid of your computer. Do you end up engaging in heavy petting or intercourse with your girlfriend or boyfriend after a few minutes of kissing? Draw lines and stick to them. And if you can’t stick to the rules, ask for intervention. If you don’t you are headed for spiritual shipwreck.

4. Live a transparent life. The Bible never advocates that we battle sin alone. We need each other. James 5:16 says: “Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed.” In some cases you will never get victory over temptation until you share your struggle with another Christian and seek counsel and prayer.

So many believers today are living with secrets. Many women (and men too) were molested as children by a relative or friend—yet they have never shared their pain. Many young guys are trapped in a dark world of pornography and masturbation but are too ashamed to admit it. Many Christians struggle with same-sex attraction yet they fear that if they confess their thoughts they will be rejected.

You will never discover the abundant life Christ promised until you clean out your spiritual closets and deal with all your dirty laundry. Total forgiveness and cleansing is available, but confession and repentance must come first.

5. Develop the fear of God. Paul had sober words for the Thessalonians who ignored his admonitions about sexual sin. He told them: “He who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you” (1 Thess. 4:8). It couldn’t be clearer: If you disregard sexual boundaries, you are on thin ice.

What we desperately need in the church today is a conscience awakening. Too many Christians have warped judgment—and they don’t even feel godly remorse when they break God’s law. If you have any form of sexual sin in your life, flee it immediately and make a 180-degree turn. He will grant you the grace to live a life of purity.

 

J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma.

The Sower Sows the Word (IV)

0

Firstly, thanks for your patience in waiting for part IV of our series on the Sower Sows the Word. I know I said I would be able to continue tomorrow and that was about ten days ago, however, we went to Wales for Christmas and New Year and did not really have access the internet.

But the issue of dealing with the thorns that choke the Word of God is vitally important at this time of the year. As people make New Year’s Resolutions, they normally make the mistake of trying to succeed in the flesh with willpower.

Realizing the truth of the Sower Sows the Word means that you are going to understand how to make choices that lead to permanent and effortless change.

Let’s use weight and diet as an example, as most New Year Resolutions are based on this. Not only that, I want to lose weight this year – and these are the principles I will be using myself.

In the world, what we do is make a pledge to lose a certain amount, or give up cakes, or stick to a diet. We then use all f our willpower to resist what we have decided to give up, and we inevitably fail. Just like the person told not to think of an elephant, the first thing that comes into our mind whenever we have a free moment is the very thing we want to give up. It is only the third of January, but I believe entirely that there will be people reading this who have already broken their resolutions.

However, Jesus does not leave us in condemnation or fighting the calories, or the smoking, or the pornography, or the anger in our flesh. He gives us the Word. When we sow the Word of God in our heart, there will be a harvest.

If we sow words of purity and love and freedom into our heart, and speak the Word over ourself, then we will have a harvest of purity, love and freedom. We will not be struggling in the flesh, in condemnation and feeling like death all the time – we can have the joy of victory.

Mark 11.24 says that you can have what you say. Rather than say “I am never going to make it, I am never going to win.” say “I am free from this, I am alive to God, I am more than a conqueror.” Say it again and again. We have in previous articles on the Sower Sows the Word spoke about meditating on the Word and how to put the Word in your heart. This is the key to change. Filling your mind with the Word will lead to victory.

But sometimes it doesn’t feel like that. We meditate on the Word and we feel great, but then it doesn’t seem to produce results. It doesn’t seem to change our lifestyle, or bring the peace, the prosperity or the healing we are expecting.

Well, one of the main reasons this is the case is due to the thorns. Mark 4.7 says:

And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.

I am sure that like me you have felt at times that even though you know the Word, are meditating on the Word and speaking the Word, you feel choked and unfruitful. You feel that it just isn’t going right for you, and you can’t seem to get it right. If that is you, rejoice! The solution is in the Bible:

And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. – Mark 4.18,19

We are choked by three things:

1. The cares of this world
2. The deceitfulness of riches
3. The lusts of other things

If you can remove these three things from your heart then the Word will NEVER be choked again. Do you understand – you will never be unfruitful again. You will always bear fruit. You will ask and receive, you will walk in victory.

In the next two posts I want to look at 2 and 3. I might decide to spend several posts on the deceitfulness of riches, because this is one of the biggest issues in the church today.

However, for now I want to deal with the cares of this world. Most Christians have had the word of God choked due to the cares of this world.

The word used for cares in this verse is merimna which literally means different directions. The world tries to distract you by drawing you in different directions.

We go to church, hear a great sermon on the power of God to heal and we are focused and ready to receive. But the world distracts us by leading us in different directions: try medicine, try acupunture, try panicking, try anything. These distractions choke the Word and stop it working.

Or in the instance of New Year Resolutions. The Word says you change by changing your heart by what you hear. So you need to speak out and say “I am only going to eat what I need, I am in control of my appetites, my god is not my belly, my God is the Lord Jesus Christ.” But the world distracts you – you need to try Slimfast, this pill, this diet, this fad, that strategy, and the thorns will choke out the Word.

The sooner we realize that the Word of God plus something leads to nothing, but the Word of God only leads to something the more successful we will be.

Do not let the world distract you and lead you in many directions this year – choose one direction: the direction of the Word of God. If you do not know the direction of the Word then go and read it until you see its direction to you and then obey it. The Word will keep you right and bring a harvest of peace and freedom. The world will lead you back into the same world of hurt and confusion you have been in before.

Often one of the distractions of the world is impatience. The Word will grow, but sometimes it does not happen instantly. Do not let the world pressure you into a get-rich-quick or a get-slim-quick scheme, you will be conned. Let the Word have its perfect work in you…

It is your choice – choose life!

Blessings,
Ben

%d bloggers like this: