PRAYER, AN OPEN INVITATION

29 05 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – April 2010 – Vol. 15   Issue 4 -Prayer, An Open Invitation – By Rev. Robert Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

PRAYER,  AN OPEN INVITATION

By Rev. Robert Liichow

While I was attending Concordia Theological Seminary a while back I was struck by something hitherto alien to my spiritual experience and that was the uniform practice of praying prayers from prayer books. Every class the professors would call upon some budding wannabe pastor to open the class in prayer. A student would rise, come to the front, open up a pocket prayer book, find an appropriate prayer and recite it to the class followed by subdued amen’s.

Was there anything “wrong” with what this young man did, not to mention the countless numbers of Christians who only pray from books of previously written prayers? The real answer lies in the unknown mind of God. He alone knows if an individual is sincere in their prayers. For example a group of people can pray the Lord’s Prayer in a worship service. Everyone is saying the same words but is everyone truly praying?

It is possible to recite those blessed words and your mind be a million miles away from (1) Whom you are addressing and (2) the deep impact and meaning of the words spoken. When this occurs it is not prayer! In fact, I will go as far as to say that such an act is offensive to God. On a mere human level it is rude to be engaged in a conversation and let your mind drift wander far from the matters at hand and not pay attention to whom you are speaking. How much more so is our “rudeness” magnified in the eyes of the One who knows every thought we have. I may never know if you are listening to me, focused on what I am saying, or nodding your head simply because you’ve fallen asleep as opposed to assenting to my marvelous exposition. Rest assured, God knows.

Let me say that I am not opposed to the use of prayer books, after all, what Christian does not use the Psalms and other written biblical texts in their prayers? Naturally, praying back to God His holy word is far different than praying back to God some sinful-mortals written prayers, but there is precedence for using formal written prayers.

Praying using written prayers can be a great aid in developing your own prayer life. Assuming the prayer is based upon the proper use of the Scriptures. Devotional guides and daily Bible reading lessons usually include a prayer or two. Those are great to use as a starting point in our prayer life. The danger from depending upon these resources is exactly that —dependence. These resources are a tool and a guide but they cannot make up the entirety of one’s life of prayer. Why not? Because if I only use a prayer book, then I am at the mercy of the author for that day, regardless of what is going on in and around me. When these aids are depended upon then no real spiritual growth can develop beyond what can be absorbed via that specific aid.

Take away the aid and unfortunately many people are left with little or nothing to say to God in prayer. I know this from personal experience.

After being delivered from my habit of praying in tongues for hours a day I found myself with next to nothing to say to my Lord with my rational thinking & feeling self. Praying in other tongues was what I (and millions today) depended upon, once gone I was left almost speechless. This same thing can happen to anyone who depends completely on the prayers of others, one’s own fellowship with God suffers and suffers badly.

I do not believe that such books should comprise the majority of any Christian’s life of conversation with our heavenly Father, the Father who loved us so much that He gave His only begotten Son for us. We serve the Living God, what’s more He is our Father (Matt. 6:9) the One to which our hearts cry “Abba” (Rom. 8:15) which means “Daddy.”

Maybe another example might help clarify what I am trying to express to you. What if your 3 year old daughter comes to you and reads you the Father’s Day card she has written and made at school. She stands before you and reads those words and you know and she knows that she means every one of them. Now she is 18, comes to you with a need. She whips out a letter and addresses you “loving father, great is your wisdom, longsuffering your patience and deep is your wallet. Givest to me thy daughter, whom thou lovest $20, please.” Naturally, you’d be somewhat taken aback. After all this time you would hope she would come to you as Father/daughter and simply talk, openly and honestly. As for me, I certainly would not want my child to address me formally or with someone else’s words. I want to hear from her. I don’t want to hear her say what others, have said, I want to know what is on her mind/heart right now. This is what I believe that our Father desires with us in our prayer lives.

Can We Talk?

Joan Rivers made this expression popular and it is akin to the former practice of rapping on someone’s melon while looking at them. Probably one of the best illustrations of someone really praying is found in the movie The Apostle. Robert Duvall plays an earthy Pentecostal preacher who rededicates himself to Christ and one scene is of him praying, pouring out his heart and soul to God. Talking to Him as though he were talking to someone he knew well; and whom (more importantly) he knew, knew him in totality. To me it is a great expression of prayer, its raw, unrehearsed, in short real.

I am convinced, that God desires His children to simply come to Him with as much transparency and honesty as is humanly possible. God already knows everything about you which can be a pretty frightening reality to confront. Yet as horrible as we may feel, know that because of Jesus Christ we are now washed cleaned from all sin and are reconciled to our Father. We are welcome in His presence, and what is more, we have a right (albeit an alien one) to stand before Him now clothed in the righteousness of Christ.

It is important to understand that prayer is not a means of grace which is to say is that prayer is not a vehicle by which God manifests His grace. Prayer however links us to God, whom is the source of all grace. Prayer is communication between us and God. All genuine conversations are two-way interchanges between communicants. One speaks the other listens. Once having heard the comments a response or appropriate action is taken; that is true communication.

Sadly, many Christians approach payer as an obligation and duty, while others think they will be heard for their many oft repeated words (Matt 6:7). Wrong! Prayer is a privilege and not an obligation. My dear brothers and sisters do you realize how wonderful a thing it is to pray? You and I, out of ALL the people on the earth have been given an open invitation to come and dialog with the God of all creation!!

Think of it! It is mind blowing in the extreme when one ponders the reality that we are welcome not only into the courts of heaven, but we are encouraged to stand before the very throne of the Cosmocreator;

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

We do not come before our Father cringing, whimpering and with great trepidation. We come before our Lord in prayer with boldness (can be translated “confidence”) which is not to be confused with rudeness or with a belligerent attitude. Because of the work of Jesus, His blood shed, His life given, His body raised from the dead this has given to us an open audience with His Father. Shame on us if we never “RSVP” and develop a life of prayer.

I Expect An Answer

One thing I took with me from my foray into charismania is the reality of a vibrant prayer life. Most of the sound doctrine within that segment of the Church can be found in their writings on spiritual formation, the types of prayer, etc. One important lesson I learned and seek to transmit to others is that when I pray I “expect” my Father and Elder Brother (yes, Jesus designs to call us His brethren Heb. 2:11) to give me an answer. I do not talk to the ceiling, empty room or myself. I am talking with my Father and He is listening to me. He has given us so many tremendous promises regarding prayer, if we’d only truly believe them. Here are just a few examples:

I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me. Proverbs 8:17

God is not hiding from us. He has promised in many places throughout the Bible that those who seek Him will find Him. Seek Him how? Through His Word and sacrament, through mediating on the scriptures, through service to others (“…how can he love God whom he hath not seen.” 1 John 4:20).

Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Matthew 7:7-8

Do you desire to grow in your fellowship with the Father? Ask Him for growth and I assure you that is exactly the type of prayer He loves to answer. Seek Him, make time in your life to pray. Luther got up and prayed hours BEFORE his day got started. Every one of us has 24 hours per day; it all depends upon how we choose to slice the pie. Knock, in our case it is simply being polite, the door to the throne stands wide open to us and Jesus Himself is that door. (John 10:9).

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us: And IF we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. 1 John 5:22

I have little to no confidence in any man alive today, “cursed is the man that trusts in man” (Jer. 17:5) but I have supreme confidence in my heavenly Father. If He says pray according to His will, which I can know from His Word, and I pray accordingly, then I can rest assured that He has heard me and thus having heard me that I will receive the answer to which I have petitioned Him about. Why because of my great faith? No, not at all because God does not tell lies (Nu. 23:19), because my Lord Jesus Christ told me that heaven and earth shall pass away but His Word will not (Matt. 24:35) and I believe Him at His Word.

In our service we have a portion of corporate prayer where our pastor leads the petitions and we respond “Lord hear our prayer” (I really, really believe He hears our prayers). This time can either be a powerful time to transact family business or simply part of the ritual. It all boils down to where each individual’s heart and mind is focused. Which brings me to my main point—

The Heart of the Matter

And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. And lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not. And when this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come) then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them. Eze. 33:31-33

Wherefore the Lord said, Foreasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Isa. 29:13

Woe unto them! For they have fled from me: destruction unto them! Because they have transgressed against me: though I have redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against me. And they have not cried unto me with their heartHos. 7:13-14

This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lip; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Matt. 15:8

God is after our hearts, the very core of our beings the essence of whom we really are. Jesus taught us that it is from our hearts that both good and evil spring (Matt. 15:19). By regeneration God has taken out of us the old stony heart and placed within us a new heart (Eze. 11:19) one that is now open and desirous of His courts. Now, because of Jesus our hearts cry out like David’s “My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God” (Psl. 84:2). So take heart and begin to pray from your heart!

Prayer is more than just reciting the right words in a somber or hushed tone—if that were the case then the mere act of speaking the words out loud would be all that is required to be considered prayer. Such a belief is akin to the Roman Catholic (RC) doctrine of “ex opere operato” which means “from the work done” in Latin. To the non-theologian it means “just going through the motions themselves is meritorious.” Within the RC simply attending the Mass is a meritorious act whether you understand it at all, which was why originally the Mass was in Latin, regardless of the language of the congregants. They did not have to understand what the priest was saying because just showing up was enough.

The same thought carries over into some of their prayer practices. Praying (reciting) the “Rosary” (a chain with 50 beads, if, it is a five decade unit denoting various petitions) several times a day or month can equal heavenly “points” too, again regardless of where the person’s heart and mind are while they are in prayer. In the spirit of charity let me say that using a rosary is not a sin, in fact many of the prayers used in the cycle are common to all orthodox Christians; some of these include The Lord’s Prayer and the Apostles creed (ok, not really prayer per se), but solid stuff. The proper use of beads as a prayer aid can be as a focusing device for the mind to concentrate on the specific prayers being offered, yet most people are not that disciplined. No my friend, prayer at its core is a heart matter not a spiritual mechanism to operate via recitation of certain holy words.

In closing PLEASE understand this if nothing else from this article —your heavenly Father wants to fellowship with you. He has provided the means for fellowship. The blood of Christ Jesus has washed away our sins (1 Pet. 1:19), we are robed in His righteousness (Isa. 61:10), we are now the children of God (Gal. 3:26) and we are all called to be a kingdom of priests (Ex. 19:6) and priests stand before God and pray on behalf of themselves and others. YOU are highly esteemed by your Father and you were handpicked according to His sovereign good pleasure to be His forever (John 10:27-28) Never doubt His love for you nor His desire for you to spend time with Him. He is not going anywhere; the ball is solidly in our court. Personally I want to develop my fellowship with the Father this year by spending more time in prayer, listening to His voice, mediating upon His Word and then by His grace living out that Word prayed.

Copyright © 2010 Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. I use the word “proper” because I have seen “prayers” that contain biblical passages, however these passages have been totally taken out of context and thus become misused even in a prayer! For example one cannot take a test on famine and use “cleanness of teeth” as a proof text to stand upon for good dental hygiene, as is taught by Kenneth and Gloria Copeland. Make sure what you are praying written by others is biblically sound.

2. When I say “listening” I do not want people to gain the wrong impression that I am sitting alone waiting to hear an “audible” voice. No, God speaks according to His Word and Jesus has stated that as His sheep I will hear His voice. Ergo, I simply trust the Holy Spirit to get across to me whatever is on the Father’s mind regarding my situation or those I am praying about. Anything, subjective leading I may experience must be subjected to the Word of God.

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Another View of Christmas

24 03 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – December 2009 – Vol. 14 Issue 12 – Another View of Christmas – By Rev. Robert Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Another View of Christmas

By Rev. Robert Liichow

The following comments are drawn from the following website: http://www.preces-latinae.org/thesaurus/InTemporibus/Adventus.html. The bold type and underlining were added for emphasis.

The word Advent comes from the Latin words, ad venire (to come to) & adventus (an arrival), and refers to Christ’s coming into this world. The Advent season is a time of joyful expectation and preparation for Christmas, the day upon hich Christ’s birth is celebrated and His first coming into this world. The focus of Advent is upon the centuries of waiting and preparation by God’s chosen people which preceded the coming of the Messiah. As such, it is a time marked by expectation, hope, preparedness and penance. The later being mindful of John the Baptist’s cry to prepare for the coming of the Lord with repentance. (see Matt. 3:3, 11:10, Mark 1:2-3; Luke 1:17, 1:76, 3:4).

Also, while Advent is the season before Christmas, the focus of Advent is by no means limited to just Christ’s first coming. An equal, if not more important, theme found in the Advent Liturgy is the Second Coming of Christ when He comes again to judge the world. The Advent Liturgy looks to both the past and future. In the past Christ came amongst us as one of our own. He was born of a woman into this world and of humble means. In the future He will come again, not as a defenseless infant, but as the Judge of all the living and the dead. Thus the Liturgy looks back over thousands of years to when the human race waited for its Redeemer and then to the future when this world will end and He will come then as our Judge. This dual theme, the first and second coming, is easily observed in the hymns for Advent given below. Also, while it is not part of the Advent Liturgy today, it is useful to note that Dies Irae was originally not a hymn associated with death and burial, but a hymn that was composed as a sequence for the first Sunday in Advent. Its sober tone was designed to remind us of both Christ’s first coming and His Second Coming at the end of the world.

It is difficult to pinpoint in time exactly when Advent was first celebrated by the Church. Advent itself is the season prior to Christmas and is thus intimately acquainted with the celebration of Christ’s birth. Since the celebration of Christ’s birth has evolved over time, so too has the season of Advent. The earliest documentation we have on the season comes to us from the fourth century and the earliest Advent hymns we have come from roughly that period as well (Prudentius.

By the late sixth century the season is well established at least in the Latin West. St. Caesarius, Bishop of Aries (502-542) mentions a time of preparation before the celebration of Christ’s birth in his homilies. A sermon given by Pope St. Gregory the Great on the Second Sunday of Advent has come down to us as well. Advent was evidentially a western tradition before it became an eastern tradition. It is not until the eighth century that we have the first record of the season being celebrated in the East.

In as much as Advent is the season of preparation it is very much a time of penance. It is regrettable today that the penitential dimension to Advent seems to have been largely forgotten by many Christians. Today, Christmas decorations go up after Thanksgiving (if not before) and Christmas parties begin shortly thereafter. Penance and the word Advent seem to have become an oxymoron in today’s holiday rush. It has not always been so and this is really a relatively recent development of the 20th century. As almost anyone born early in the 20th century will tell you, Christmas decoration and parties were generally limited to just that, the Christmas season. The decorations did not come up until Christmas Eve and then stayed up for the entire Christmas season which lasts for 12 days, from Christmas to Epiphany. Parties started after Christmas, not before. The popular song, The Twelve Days of Christmas, echoes some of this traditional mode of celebration. Today I is not uncommon to see Christmas trees readied for trash pickup the next day and the only Christmas season party is the one held on New Year’s Eve, which is hardly a Christ-centered celebration.

In as much as Advent is a penitential season and fasting is invariably a part of traditional penitential disciplines which date back to the Old Testament, fasting has been a part of Advent from very early times. It is regrettable that the point of fasting is often forgotten these days. Fasting has a twofold objective. By abstaining from a legitimate pleasure of some sort, one is strengthening on’s self control in preparation for the day in which serious temptation may have to be faced. Fasting is push-ups for the will, so to speak. Secondly, in choosing food as the item to abstain from money is saved that otherwise would have been spent on more expensive foods. Such savings were intended to go to the poor as alms. Thus the penitential fast of Advent was used as a method by the Christian community to save up resources that would be used for works of charity during Advent and especially during the Christmas season.

It is sort of funny when you hear the phrase “Keep Christ in Christmas” bandied about by evangelical believers decrying the current state of our holiday when you know the true history of Advent and Christmas as taught and practiced by the early Christians.

The vast majority of practices taking place in congregations all over America and much of the world have absolutely nothing to do with the original meaning of Christmas — a penitential season of increased prayer, church attendance and personal reflection with fasting. Try selling American Christians (especially our youth) on the concept of mourning our shortcomings while eagerly looking for the promised rescue from despair by the coming Messiah. Or how about fasting some of those gluttonous meals we engorge ourselves with. How about putting all the money for the decorations and special foods (much of which gets wasted) aside to give to the poor?

Bah-humbug brother Bob! God will not love me any more or any less if I celebrate Christmas all month long in true American Evangelical fashion! You are right! However, Advent is not about afflicting your soul so as to impress God with your piety (if it is, then all your efforts are in vain). It is not about trying to get God to love you more. It is about making room in your heart to love Him more by confessing and forsaking things that have been weighing us down (see Heb. 12:1).

I am all for “keeping Christ in Christmas” and maybe if we, the Church, had not joined the maddening herd in their rush to spend money they do not have to buy things that are often unwanted or unneeded by the recipient — our testimony before the world as followers of Jesus might be more powerful. So do not be offended when the clerk is forced to say “happy holidays” vs. “Merry Christmas” because that store and any other shop have nothing to do with the true meaning of Advent of Jesus Christ. I do not expect the world to know how to behave in the light of such a glorious truth —holy God coming as a sinless man to save ungrateful sinners from a well deserved eternity in hell. The world does not acknowledge Christ so why should it acknowledge His birthday? What is sad is that the Church too often acts just like the world and if we are not careful we too can be guilty of thinking of Jesus as an afterthought as opposed to the main event of the season!

Copyright 2009 Robert S. Liichow





Worship Abuses & The Tabernacle of David

4 03 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – July 2009 – Vol. 14 Issue 7 – Worship Abuses & The Tabernacle of David – by Rev. Bob Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

WORSHIP ABUSES & THE TABERNACLE OF DAVID

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Some of you may be thinking that I am being fickle by calling for tolerance regarding worship styles in the fist article and now decrying worship “abuses” in this article. As you read on you will se that I am consistent.

In the prior article the question revolves around whether or not someone is engaged in a biblical form of worship. If it is, even though it may not be our preferred manner of expression, we should not decry what others are doing. However, if what is being done under the guise of “worship” violates the biblical precedent than it must be rebuked and considered a false practice.

Regardless of style all praise and worship is directed solely to God. It is not meant to entertain the congregation nor is it meant to uplift the individual’s soul per se. Let me quickly state that as a result of genuine worship to God our souls are uplifted, but that is the result and not the purpose.

Error #1 – Praise creates a place for God to dwell

Psalm 22:3 “Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel.”

The KJV reads that “O Thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel” and charismatic extremists take that to mean that God actually inhabits our praise and worship. “If you study out the Hebrew words in Psl. 22:3 you understand that it says that praise creates a place for God to come and sit as a judge.” (1)

This explains why such an emphasis is placed on praise and worship expression in charismatic meetings. They believe that what they are doing is actually creating an actual location in the spiritual realm for Almighty God to dwell. Once this place has been created (you know it has occurred by the various subjective experiences of the leaders during this time) then things can really begin to happen!

As prayer, praise and worship create a place for God to dwell a number of things occur. First, the word of the Lord is easier to be heard and answers arrive quicker (Dan. 10). The prophets or those standing prayer watch will hear the strategies of the enemy like Elisha did in 2 Kings 6. The leaders will also take the spiritual intelligence before the Lord like King Hezekiah did in order to determine what they should do (Isa. 37). Second there is power that can be projected (Psl. 149:2). (2)

Here is how I would dialog with the author of this quote (I can easily play both sides, having been on both of them).

First question: How does one know when the temporary spiritual home for God has been created?

Answer: The leaders will know by subjectively discerning a change in the spiritual atmosphere in the meeting. This change is interpreted as the presence of the Lord.

Second question: Didn’t Daniel fast and pray for three weeks before the angel came to him and explained why he had to wait so long?

Answer: Yes, but that was Daniel, our praise dispels the enemy and thus under an “open heaven” we can clearly and easily receive the word of the Lord.

Third question: I thought the Bible was the complete and infallible “word of the Lord,” which word are you looking for apart from the Holy Bible?

Answer: We absolutely believe that the Bible is the Word of God, yet we also know that God is still revealing present day truth (2 Peter 1:12) and we must feed off today’s manna and not yesterdays.

Fourth question: Didn’t the O.T. prophet actually listen in on what Israel’s human enemies were planning and not demonic spirits? Wasn’t this done to prove to Israel’s enemies that there was indeed a “god” the Living God in Israel whom they should fear? Lastly, what strategies of Satan have any of you uncovered thus far? What spiritual, economic; societal or political plots have been foiled by your people during praise and worship?

Answer: Well a good many things have been accomplished and the works of the enemy bound up by our praise and worship!

Follow-up question: Name one!

Answer: Oh, you’ve got a pharisaical spirit and whatever I say you will dispute, let us move on.

Question: You state that power can be “projected” via praise and worship and you cite Psalm 149 as your proof of this. I have read the entire Psalm and it does tell us to praise the Lord with dance and make music with various instruments (vs.3), all well and good. But nowhere do I find the Church projecting power (your words) in the Psalm.

Answer: You miss the obvious; it is found in vs. 6&7 where we are to have the high praises of God in our mouths and the two-edged sword in our hands to inflict vengeance on the heathen. Via our high praises of God we are waging spiritual warfare against principalities, powers, dominions and the rulers of darkness (Eph. 6:12). While we praise and worship God we are binding up the demons and loosing the angels of God to carry out His divine justice in the world.

Follow-up question: When did praise and worship turn into a form of spiritual warfare? Praise has always been directed to God alone and never against Satan or demons throughout the entire Bible.

Answer: Obviously you are stuck with the letter of the law and not the spirit because it is apparent that you are not filled with the Holy Spirit. If you were you would plainly see that this text proves that God uses our praise and worship to judge His enemies End of discussion.

I give the charismatic movement high marks in their restoration of ancient praise and worship formats. Unfortunately, they take this good thing too far and twist it into something it was never meant to be.

They have made praise and worship a means to an end. Instead of simply being the emotive expression of love-filled hearts towards their God they have turned it into a mechanism by which all sorts of mystical transactions are alleged to occur. We do not praise our Lord in order to hear some “new” revelation from Him, we adore Him because He is our God and we are His people. Nor do we praise Him in order to discover what Satan and his demonic forces are up to. There is absolutely no biblical support for viewing praise and worship in that light. Lastly, while one might feel empowered after taking time to genuinely worship the Lord thee is nothing in scripture that says the very act of praising God releases or projects some form of spiritual power.

Error #2   Prophetic Praise?

All of the charismatic extremists teach that there is such a thing as prophetic praise.

Through prophetic praise God speaks or sings changes that manifest to the earth in the form of restoration for His people and defeat for the enemy. Through prophecy in song people are healed, delivered and given direction as individuals. God also sings prophecy to the church body as direction, comfort, rebuke, warning etc. (3).

The belief that music is prophetic is tied into the belief that God has (and is) restoring apostles and prophets back to the Church. If one accepts the premise that God has placed prophets and apostles in our midst to guide us to perfection it is only a small step to believe that God speaks prophetically through praise and worship led by these restored leaders. Books have been written and conferences given around the world to help train-up people to release their prophetic gift and if such a person either sings or plays an instrument then they are encouraged to “prophesy” via their singing or playing!

There are greater governing sounds, and songs, coming from the Church: music that carries the glory of God, rending opens the heavens, music that breaks strongholds over churches, cities, and nations—this is the power of Apostolic music. (4)

The music the writer is speaking about is the music used for praise and worship not some other form or setting of music. Note how the focus has shifted from the simple heartfelt adoration of our God to something else completely. “Music that carries the glory of God.” there’s no such music in the Bible. “Music that rends open te heavens”. I did not know the heavens were closed! There is no such intimation of a “closed heaven” in the entire New Testament. We have full access to the throne of God 24/7 through Jesus Christ. Sad to say the congregations that my wife and I were a part while we were extremists did not experience the breaking of “strongholds” over those churches. Truthfully the warfare congregations of Detroit have all experienced breakdowns and church splits not breakthroughs. Detroit is in the worst shape it has ever been in economically, socially, educationally, , health-wise and on just about every level…where is the apostolic breakthrough that has been being prophetically sung for years into the heavenlies above Detroit by restored prophetic psalmists? Like the old lady in the Wendy’s commercial I feel like shouting “WHERE’S THE BEEF?” People can make all manner of claims and declarations but the FACT remains — what they are teaching and practicing is not coming to pass in any way shape or form.

The idea that through praising God evil spirits are sent running is not a biblical teaching at all. One can see such practices on the Discovery channel where they do documentaries on pagan societies in the Amazon or Africa. Pagans have always used their music and dance as a means to drive out evil spirits and invite their gods to bless them. Unfortunately this raw form of paganism has crept into the many charismatic extremist groups because they use praise and worship to achieve these same ends. Not only are songs and music used as vehicles to discombobulate the Devil but they also claim that singing and music can heal the sick! If this were so, then the health rate among charismatic’s would be extremely high and Benny Hinn’s miracle crusade attendance very low (since mostly charismatic believers healed via “anointed” music. I have met many people who Jesus has healed, but not through music. There is not one example of anyone being healed by music in the New Testament.

Error # 3   Prophetic Praise Dancing

In the previous article we saw that it is possible to dance before the Lord as a legitimate form of worship. I have seen some very artistic interpretative dancing to worship songs, but since I am watching and not dancing it does not bring me closer to my Lord in a worship sense, but maybe that is just me.

Even though dancing before the Lord may at times be a genuine expression of praise it too has been pulled out of its setting and made to be “prophetic” by the extremists. There are a multitude of web sites dedicated to so-called prophetic dancing, all touting the prophetic significant and benefit of dancing. (5) Some of these dancing prophets declare that “He [Jesus] wants to express himself in us through the dance.” (6)

Not only is dancing taken on prophetic significance among these people, like the pagans dance is now a means of intercession.

“As intercessors, we must be willing to bear in our bodies that which the Lord is trying to release.” (7)

There are specific dances for intercession, specific dances for healing and for warfare. This paganism run amok in these congregations, utter foolishness! Dancing before the Lord in worship can be a beautiful expression of joy between the worshipper and God. Yet now it has been abused and has been hijacked out of its pure setting and changed into something that it was never meant to be.

In closing let me reiterate that personally I am all for the various biblical forms of expressing our praise and worship to God. I have experienced every thing from the solemnity of singing the ancient hymns to the enthusiastic dancing and shouting of wild Pentecostalism and “experienced” the presence of God in it all. However when you take anything biblical out its context and make it into something it was never meant to be then it becomes carnal and misleading.

The charismatic extremists have done this to worship. They have taken something good and made it aberrant and thus turned it into something God will not honor. The entire Tabernacle of David 24/7 prayer, praise and worship is nothing more than excited ignorance and is an attempt to make God ‘move” because of their enthusiasm. God is sovereign and His will cannot be thwarted nor His timetable changed by human activity. It is enough of a supreme privilege for me to be allowed to know and worship the True God. I rejoice in the liberty I have in Christ but I do not abuse that liberty and turn it into license.

Copyright  © 2009  Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. Obtained from http://www.watchmanministries.org/tabernacle_of_david.html on July 2, 2009

2. Ibid.

3. http://www.trumpetoftruth.com/lect_files/what%20is%prophetic%20praise.html on 07-02-09

4. www.awesomecitymusic.com a quote from their book The Power of Apostolic Music by Stephen Bennett.

5. Some of these sites include http://www.dancingforhim.com; http://www.thefoolishthings.homestead.com

6. Ibid. the foolish things.homestead.com

7. Ibid





Harp & Bowl “Ministry”

1 03 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – June 2009 – Vol. 14 Issue 6 – Harp & Bowl Ministry – by Rev. Bob Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Harp & Bowl “Ministry”

(AKA the Restoration of the Tabernacle of David)

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Before being delivered from the doctrinal morass of today’s charismatic movement Tracy and I began to see some of the fledgling steps being made towards what is called today “Harp and Bowl” ministry. What we originally heard being bandied about by various leaders in the “prophetic” movement was the belief in the need to restore the Tabernacle of David in order to facilitate revival and even the return of Christ.

The Tabernacle of David

Non-charismatic, i.e. low-wattage Christians (such a yourselves) no doubt have less than no understanding of what the Tabernacle of David consists of. You probably are more familiar with the Tabernacle of Moses, the Temple of Solomon or the Temple King Herod built. Allow me to enlighten you regarding this interesting, yet often overlooked facet of Biblical history.

About 1,000 B.C. King David commanded that the Ark of the Covenant be brought up to Mount Zion in the midst of Jerusalem. It was carried up upon the shoulders of the Levites with songs and musical instruments. David placed the Ark inside of a tent and appointed 288 singers and 4,000 musicians to minister before the Lord and make petition to the Lord “day and night,” which means 24/7 praise, prayer and worship (see 1 Chron. 15:1-17-27). This was something new and unique in the worship history of Israel. In today’s parlance one could say King David “went contemporary” as opposed to the format used by Moses.

Once Solomon came on the scene and built the temple and the actual Tabernacle of David was superseded by a permanent structure the order of Davidic worship did not change (see 2 Chron. 8:14-15). In fact, the Bible makes known that five (5) subsequent kings who came after David and reintroduced his Davidic worship format experienced breakthrough, deliverance and military victories.

1) King Solomon (2 Chron. 8:14,15), we al know how greatly blessed by God Solomon was.

2) King Jehoshaphat set up singers according to the Davidic order singing the Great Hallel and he reinstated Davidic worship in the temple (2 Chron. 20:20,22,28).

3) king Joash reinstated it too (2 Chron. 23: 1-24,27).

4) King Hezekiah followed suit (2 Chron. 29:1-36, 30:21)

5) King Josiah also was a Davidic worshipper (2 Chron. 35:1-27)

6) Ezra, not a “king” but a very influential prophetic voice (Ezra 3:10).

7) Nehemiah, another prophet (Neh. 12:28-47)

Being the discerning person you have learned to become you immediately say “very interesting Bob, but what does this have to do with the Church?” Thank you for asking, because the Tabernacle of David (TOD) does appear in the New Testament. In order to understand the N.T. reference we need first to read the prophet Amos words concerning the TOD:

In that day I will restore David’s fallen tent (tabernacle). I will repair its broken places, restore its ruins, and build it as it used to be, so that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations that bear my name,” declares the LORD, who will do these things. “The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman and the planter by the one treading grapes. New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills. Amos 9:11-13  (underlining added).

Obviously from the text God is going to restore the TOD and He is going to build it as it used to be. Attached to this restoration is an ingathering of the nations and great prosperity (occasioned by new wine) for God’s people. If God is going to restore the TOD, when is that going to occur? According to our sign-gift brethren it was initially fulfilled in the Book of Acts when the Apostle James stood up in the midst and uttered the following words:

When they finished, James spoke up: “Brothers, listen to me. Simon has described to us how God at first showed his concern by taking from the Gentiles a people for himself. The word of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written: “after this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, that the remnant of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things;’ that have been known for ages. Acts 15:13-18   (underlining added)

Before parsing James comments let’s continue with charismaticthink regarding the text. Obviously God is going to restore the TOD and that restoration began with the early Church. They go as far to teach that the TOD format of worship is in fact the model of true New Testament worship. Ergo, it is only logical to assume that the early Church practiced Davidic worship in their gatherings. The Apostle Paul encouraged worshipping with the Psalms (see Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16) and we know most of the Psalms were penned by David after he established the TOD. The author of Hebrews tells us to offer the sacrifice of praise (Heb. 13:5) and at the TOD no animal sacrifices were made (according to our sign-gift brethren). Leaving the scant Biblical record our brothers’ state that Davidic worship has been a part of the great “revivals” in Church history.

Regarding 24/7 prayer and praise one of the founding neo-prophetic voices, Mike Bickle goes as far as to cite early Church history to prove the validity of establishing 24/7 centers of nothing but praise and worship around the world. Bickle cites many monastic examples of perpetual prayer and praise in various Roman Catholic sects. Bickle fails to mention all of the problems associated with monasticism. His next example is Count Zinzendorf who came to faith through one of the founders of Lutheran pietism, Phillipp Spener. According to Bickle Count Zinzendorf and later the Moravian believers were great champions of 24/7 prayer. He tries to tie John Wesley with Zinzendorf to edge his timeline a little closer to today, however his attempt is in vain. There is no evidence that either Charles or John Wesley ever practiced or endorsed 24/7 prayer as a means of “moving the hand of God.” So from the early 1700’s until around 1973 the practice of “Davidic worship” seems to have been silenced.

Along in the early 70’s comes one of the first Asian charismatic superstars, Paul Cho from South Korea. Due to what has happened to the Church under communism in North Korea Cho knew the value of having small “cell groups” as sort of mini congregations. These would join up with the mother church to worship. [As an aside, if your church has small groups, home groups, cell groups, etc. they all have their origin in Paul Cho’s original teachings, not necessarily a bad thing, just a historical factoid].

Cho also strongly believed that prayer can move God or somehow release God to move in the world. He eventually purchased property on what became known around the world as “Prayer Mountain.” It is a small mountain filled with small cells in which people would go and shut themselves “in with God” for protracted periods of time. It is important to know that Paul Cho is an adherent and teacher of Word of Faith heresies. He attributes his success due to positive confession which is synonymous with prayer to WOF cultists. What success? Cho is the pastor of the largest congregation in the world, his church in Seoul has over 780,000 members.

Mike Bickle was influenced by Cho and being a charismatic extremist felt that he needed to be sure that the fire on the altar (prayer) never goes out. So starting on Sept. 19, 1997 Bickle opened up the International House of Prayer  (IHOP) in Kansas City, Mo. Since that day 24/7 prayer and praise has gone forth. With the epiphany of IHOP now other leaders have jumped on board and we are seeing 24/7 centers of prayer and praise being set up on every continent of the earth (according to Bickle).

Harp and Bowl Prayer

 

This is today’s term and now that Bickle and his restored prophets have had a little over ten years to search out proof-texts to attempt to validate their practice we end up with another “movement” under the ever-expanding charismatic umbrella. The title “harp and bowl” comes from the following text in the book of the Revelation:

And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. Rev. 5:8

Isn’t it obvious from this one text that the harp represents musical worship and the bowls represent intercessory prayers, ergo harp and bowl ministry is a combination of intercessory prayer and musical praise/worship to God. Since the church on earth is patterned after the heavenly tabernacle (read Hebrews to see if this is so) then this is really how church is to be conducted on earth!

Not only does intercessory prayer have a powerful effect on a community, but so does the praise and worship of God. The Kingdom is brought down to earth as God’s people worship Him in a community, and a form of spiritual warfare takes place in praise…Music is closely related with prophetic ministry. Spirit-led and prophetic edged prayer is a goal of the Harp and Bowl model.

The above quotation pretty much sums up the theology behind the 24/7 movement. First of all it is based on the belief that prayer causes change to come to communities. Let’s consider this claim, is this really the case? As an example; for over thirty years Cho has had millions of people coming to Prayer Mountain and are things getting better between North & South Korea? Is North Korea closer to being converted to Christianity; are they even open now to the Gospel? The answer is no in every regard. North Korea has become increasingly dangerous to the stability of the region and the world. It is in no way open to evangelism. Evidently the millions of hours of prayer have not changed anything for the better. IHOP has been continually praying for over ten years and now other 24/7 groups have mushroomed around our nation. Is America better off today than it was ten years ago? We have Obama as President, G.M. and Chrysler bankrupt along with many smaller parts companies and car dealers (I know, I live in Detroit and I feel the negative impact daily). Our health car system is in danger of being nationalized like that of England; Social Security is almost bankrupt as well. Is immorality on the decline; is crime, how about homosexuality and abortion? I see no positive changes in any of these areas that can in any way be attributed to charismatic folks yammering away 24/7.

Next these devotees go on to say that praise brings the “Kingdom of God down” and impacts a community. Sorry friends, where the Church is there is the Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is here now, not in its final and fullest expression but it is a reality now in each of our lives. There is nothing “mechanical” we can do to make God manifest Himself (which is what they mean by bringing down the kingdom, they mean experiencing some form of emotional experience). There are plenty of things we can do to have emotional experiences such as speaking in other tongues for hours or singing mind-numbing refrains for hours, dancing around, chanting these practices can and do alter people’s consciousness. However, what our sign-gift brethren do is that they attribute these emotional experiences to: the presence of God; the anointing; the manifestation of the kingdom of heaven, etc. As with their prayer, their praises have not changed a thing either.

The claim is also made that both prayer and praise is a form of spiritual warfare. This is no new claim. The so-called prophetic movement has long codified prayer and praise as tools by which we are to wage spiritual warfare. There are entire teaching series and conferences on what is called “Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare, led by Dr. Peter Wagner, Cindy Jacobs, Bickle and others.

These extremists actually go to different historical site around the world in order to “bind” up the principalities, powers and rulers of darkness (see Eph. 6:11,12) and then “loose” God’s angels, the Holy Spirit, the Kingdom to manifest and bring revival and salvation. Naturally the first thing one has to do on these over seas junkets is to discern what exact principality or power is in control of an area. Once this Gnostic insight is revealed via prayer & praise then the spiritual warriors can specifically pray against them and command them in Jesus’ name to come down from their high places and/or bind their operation from hindering the Gospel. Once the binding has taken place then these intrepid warriors can lose the power of God to bring revival and redemption!

The only problem with this practice is simply this — we are never told to do any such thing in the Bible.  This is a novel invention that looks very spiritually and deeply powerful but is totally devoid of any Biblical precedent. We are never told any of the names of demonic forces, only that they exist. Honestly, we are never told to “rebuke the devil (see Zac. 3:2; Jude 1:9) where the Bible says “The Lord rebuke you Satan.” Yes, we do wage spiritual warfare but not in this mystical format. Our warfare is daily against the temptations Satan and demons offer before us.

The 24/7 crowd take verses, such as this: May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands, to inflict vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, to bind their kings with fetters, their nobles with shackles of iron, to carry out the sentence written against them. This is the glory of all his saints. Psalms 149:6-9 (underlining added for emphasis).

And interpret it to mean that via the praises of God in our mouths we wage and win spiritual warfare. However, in context (that dreaded word) David being a man of war, a man who had slaughtered so many people that God would not permit him to build His temple meant what he said. As we go into battle we do so with God’s praises in our mouths and a literal sword in our hand. The best analogy I can think of comes from clips of the war in Afghanistan against the Soviets. Film clips showed the mujahideen saying “Allah Akbar” (God is Great) then firing off a RPG 3 at a tank, that is what David is getting at in the text. Our two-edged sword is the Word of God (see Rev. 1:16, 19:15). It is the weapon Jesus used against Satan in the wilderness temptations saying “it is written” to Satan time and time again.

If binding and loosing as taught and practiced by the extremists is a doctrine of God (as opposed to a manmade doctrine or doctrine of devils), then why isn’t it clearly taught in the Scriptures, why isn’t it being practiced by Peter and Paul in the Book of Acts? If it is a restored truth when was it initially practiced and when did the Church lose it? They cannot answer this question because they are without biblical support and historical support.

If binding and loosing as taught and practiced by the extremists worked then where are the results? What genuine quantifiable and verifiable results of true revival, redemption and community restoration can be shown to us? There are no results that can be shown. After over ten years of doing this, if it was indeed directed by the Holy Spirit, then there should be some evidence of change, actually there should be quite a bit of proof. It is like I tell people who believe Benny Hinn has a “miracle ministry.” Hinn has been holding miracle crusades every month for many years and by now he should have a warehouse full of medically documented healing(s) and miracles. Yet he does not have even a half a dozen which can be verified. Why do people follow him by the millions? Because they are deceived. One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, each time expecting a different result.

Those people have made prayer to God and the praising of God a device by which we move God or the devil. God does not need our prayers. We on the other hand need to desperately pray and seek God. The God of the Bible is totally sovereign and He does not need our permission to move in the universe of His own creation.

Our prayer life is to flow out of our relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Praise is simply our reaction to God’s goodness. We are called to “give thanks” in all circumstances (1 Thess. 5:18). Prayer and praise should fill our hearts and thus be expressed by our mouths as naturally as our breathing. Jesus warned against thinking people would be heard for their “many words” when praying (Matt. 6:7). In that verse Jesus says “do not keep on babbling like the pagans” which is what these meetings are, a small or large group of people babbling away in ecstatic speech. It seems to me that they are engaging in the very thing Jesus warned us not to do.

Personally, I am all for prayer; it is undeniably part of our lives as a royal priesthood and holy nation unto God (1 Pet. 2:9). I wish my Lutheran brethren really knew how to pry from their hearts, as opposed to praying 99% of the time from a book of prayers. Prayer books are fine in their proper place, but you do not grow relationally by praying other people’s prayers all the time. I agree with Paul that we are to pray without ceasing (1 Thes. 5:17) but this can easily be done within the context of our vocations in life, it does not mean we must wall ourselves up in a monastery. I firmly believe that the effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (James 5:16). Yet fervent does not mean long-winded spewing forth of words, it means heart-felt and sincere.

I love to worship God in song also. I would like to see more music and hymns be incorporated into our Sunday services, yet I sing to my Lord because of who He is and what He has done — not to wage spiritual warfare or bring revival. Psalm 92:1 tells us that “It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High.”

In conclusion what are we to make of this 24/7 movement? It cannot be called unbiblical because there is Biblical precedent for it, albeit from the Old Testament. Nor would I say that there is anything wrong with praying to God and offering Him praise 24/7 —IF (and it is a HUGE “if”) there is a proper understanding of what prayer and praise are. Unfortunately, this is where these folks veer off course. Their definition and use of prayer and praise is unbiblical. Their motivation for praying and singing to God 24/7 is unbiblical. The result is a veiled attempt at a form of works righteousness. By their pseudo-spiritual works they see themselves as releasing God to move, if they do not do this then God cannot or will not move in the Church and community. This is simply “foolishness gone to seed” as the dead heretic Ken Hagin used to say. These people have placed both prayer and praise even above the preaching of the Word of God. They also view all the performing arts as acts of praise and prophecy (they get this from Psl.150). Because they have redefined what prayer and praise is biblically and redefined what the purpose is for both expressions I come to the conclusion that what is taking place is nothing other than simply another form of charismatic extremism which will excite many for a season but it will produce nothing of value spiritually, other than another lesson learned in what not to do.♦

Copyright © 2009  Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. Charismaticthink is a word I have coined and it simply refers to reading a text of Scripture without any consideration of its context or historical eschatological setting.

2. See: www.tabernacle-of-david.com/todchurchsmodel4praise.html obtained on 6-11-09

3. Ibid.

4. See: www.ihop.org/Publisher/Article.aspx?ID-1000045365 obtained on 06-11-09

5. Ibid.

6. Obtained from http://www.nextga.us/impact/harpbowl on 06-12-09

7. Obtained from http://www.zionsong.org/art-giffting-bibquall.html on 06-12-09

8.ibid





The Need For Diligence

16 02 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – January 2009 – Vol. 14 Issue 1 – The Need For Diligence – by Rev. Bob Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

The Need For Diligence

By: The Rev. Vicar Robert S. Liichow

Ah the New Year. Always a time of forgetting the past years failures and looking with hope to new beginnings! Probably most of us make voiced or unvoiced commitments at the beginning of the New Year. As Christians we often make promises of renewed faithfulness in serving the Lord, in attending Church, in our Bible study times as well as our financial stewardship and prayers.

You are no doubt familiar with the Samuel Johnson’s old adage “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” by which he meant that it was not enough to mean well one had to follow through and do well also. Jesus says more or less the same thing in the following teaching:

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the steams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had this foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 7:24-27

The contrast is simple, two people hear the Word of God, one acts upon It and the other does not. In another place Jesus was speaking about the manner in which people respond to God’s Word by teaching:

The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop-thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown.” Mark 4:14-20

Good intentions! Some people receive the Word with JOY but last only a short time. The reason why people last only a short time is obvious. Other outside forces enter into their lives whether it is trouble or persecution because of the Word of God or worries about this short temporal life, the false god of mammon or simply the desire for other things apart from what God provides in His Word enter into life and suddenly all our spiritual “good intentions” fly out the window.

How can we avoid these pitfalls? How can we keep our resolutions of faithfulness to our Lord? First of all, we have to admit that in and of ourselves we cannot. This is why we fail in our New Year’s resolutions; we try to accomplish them by our own will power. We run into the problem that the apostle Paul stated when he said:

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this boy of death? Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! Roman 7:21-25

On our own we will not fulfill our best intentions. Our will at its best is still tainted by sin and in the end it will always fall short of the glory of God. What then is the answer? Thanks be to God we can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens us (Phil 4:13). Apart from our Master we can do nothing (John 15:5) but since we have been born-again we are now one spirit with the Lord (1 Cor. 6:17) and by His enabling grace we can do those things which please Him.

Remember that God has ordained us unto good works and He expects us to walk in (Eph. 2:10) them. Certainly to have a more earnest prayer life, consistent Bible study and faithful church attendance and giving are part of the good works that God will gladly bless as we seek His grace to walk in them.

Some practical ideas regarding keeping your spiritual commitments is simply begin to do them. If you need to get up earlier in order to begin your day with prayer, then ask the Lord for the ability and desire to not hit the “snooze” button and take that extra 10 minutes I have always been taught that it takes around 30+ days to produce a habit. If you will begin and be faithful at it then before you know it your body will respond to getting up a bit earlier and spending time in prayer. Not only that God Himself will reward you for your diligence (Matthew 6:6). The same is true for Bible study. There are many good plans available for reading through the Bible in a year. Again, this does not take a large portion of your day, actually probably less than half an our. Simply set the time apart from your devotional study and keep that time as “sacred space” in your life. Another spiritual practice anyone can engage in is using your time driving to listen to the Bible on cassette or cd, Bible teachings, godly music or anything that elevates your soul towards heaven (all of the aforementioned beats listening to the “top 40” countdown!). Making use of your time in the car is a great way to fulfill what the following text says in Ephesians:

Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16

Church attendance is mandatory in the sense that we need one another. There are no “Lone Ranger” saints and those few I’ve run into have ended up spiritually shipwrecked. God ordained the church and He places each one of us in the Body of Christ where it pleases Him (1 Cor. 12:8)— note that the Holy Spirit did not say “where it pleases us.” Paul told Timothy to be diligent to the reading of scripture and teaching of the Word, which is good advice for us too. Some people complain that there are no good churches in their area, which today is sometimes the case. However, I know if people had to drive 45 minutes or more to their job 5 days a week they would do it and be on time! How much more valuable and necessary is it for us to receive our spiritual feeding as well as be available to be a blessing to others in that local body? Yet most of us can find a solid Bible-based congregation in our area and I suggest that once you have found it become involved in the life of that body. If you already have a church home perhaps now is a good time to examine your involvement. Are you using your god-given gifts and talents there; are you making the most out of every opportunity to grow?

In closing let me exhort all of us to dig deeper this year and make sure of our spiritual foundation in Christ. I am not a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I believe the church is going to face some hard times this coming year and some serious pruning is going to be done by the Husbandman of the Vineyard. Personally I do not mind the hard times because I know that historically that is when the true believers shine the brightest…in the darkest times. So let’s all be more diligent to make the most of the given allotted to us that when we appear before Him we shall not be ashamed.  ♦

Copyright  © 2009 Robert S. Liichow





The Lunacy In Lakeland – déjà Vu All Over Again

2 02 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – June 2008 – Vol. 13   Issue 6 – The Lunacy In Lakeland – déjà vu All Over Again

Discernment Ministries International

The Lunacy In Lakeland

déjà Vu All Over Again

By Robert S. Liichow

Over the last month or so DMI has been inundated with reports (many of them “glowing”) with the latest revival to be sent, theoretically, by the Holy Spirit. Now many of the former sign-seekers who partook of the revival at Toronto and Pensacola are now flocking to Lakeland, FL to experience the latest outpouring of God’s power and presence.

What is amazing to me is that everything I have read about this latest manifestation of excited ignorance is that it is nothing new! The same “manifestations” of uncontrollable laughter, being slain in the spirit, reports of teeth being filled with gold, angel feathers being found along with gem stones after the praise services, etc. In short it is the same-old / same-old. The usual fanatical claims of miracles are being reported (and as usual unsubstantiated). Let me just cite one such “miracle” report before delving into the background of these meetings:

This is the 13 resurrection as a result of this outpouring. I’m saying to the media “the dead are being raised.” I received this testimony: “My dear brother died. We requested an all night wake. At the funeral we played the revival. We declared my brother alive. At 2:19 a.m. my brother began to stir in his coffin. My brother sat up in the coffin praising God. My brother went to heaven and he thought he would not return. He said Todd was Bring his spirit back from heaven. All of us the funeral home were praising God. (Obtained from http://www.revivallakeland.org/ May 25, 2008

Thirteen people have been raised from the dead as a result of this outpouring so the enthusiasts say.  I simply ask this — can you please supply DMI with the names, addresses, phone numbers and Death Certificates of these, any individuals? After all if thirteen people have been raised from the dead by the power of God then, obviously, their experience will stand any form of scrutiny. I doubt seriously that Fresh Fire Ministries (the vortex of this most recent Saint Vitas’ dance of delusion) will respond at all to our request.

Who Is Behind The Lunacy at Lakeland?

Revivalist Todd Bentley, an obese, massively tattooed and pierced individual who started a ministry called “Fresh Fire Ministries” several years ago in Abbotsford, Canada. The following information comes from his own ministries webpage regarding his ministry background: “In his late teens, Todd had a dramatic encounter with the saving and delivering power of God. This experience brought Todd out of a lifestyle of drug and alcohol addiction without cravings or withdrawal symptoms. He was also delivered from a lifestyle involving criminal activity, youth prisons, drugs, sex satanic music and bondage. Todd’s miraculous conversion to Jesus was much like the Apostle Paul’s on the Damascus road. Todd was instantly transformed into a radical disciple and soul winning evangelist for Jesus. (Obtained from http://www.freshfire.ca/index.php?Id=101&pid=8 on 05-28-08 bolding added for emphasis).

I rejoice that God delivered Todd from such a sinful past (mirrors my own in many ways). But to compare ones conversion to that of the greatest Apostle in the Bible is a little grandiose. “God has drawn Todd into deep and intimate places of prayer. These extended times in God’s presence has released a fresh prophetic and miracle-healing anointing…He ministers prophetically, corporately and personally as well as brings forth the word of God with the power and demonstration of the Spirit — God confirming His word with signs and wonders following. God has released an increase of the healing anointing into Todd’s life to the point where the blind see, the deaf hear & growths dissolve as Jesus still heals every sickness and disease. (ibid. bolding added)

This is the typical template of any of the revivalist of our past. AA Allen, Jack Coe, T.L. Osborn, William Branham all wrote about spending hours “shut in {“ with God in deep prayer with the end result of being given supernatural powers to work miracles and heal the sick. Not only did God allegedly give Todd a fresh (is there a stale anointing?) prophetic and miracle-healing anointing it seems that God has released an INCREASE of the healing anointing into Todd’s life! This increased healing anointing is so powerful that the blind see, the deaf hear, growths dissolve, as Jesus (through Todd Bentley) still heals every sickness and disease. The following are a couple of testimonies from the Lakeland lunacy proving Todd’s magnificent healing anointing:

George: We have a man that can see out of a glass eye!  Never have I heard of a glass eye seeing. I need a minute to process this. You can’t see out of a glass eye? Never have before. I can see light and shadow. When the optic nerve registers, I’ll be able to see. This is more of a miracle than if the Lord gave him a real eye. (Obtained from http://www.revivallakeland.org/ on 05-28-08 bold type added).

(I must admit that is pretty good when a guy can see through his glass eye. Let’s just set aside the FACT that no further verifiable information is given and let’s forget that the biblical Jesus healed by restoration, I.e. withered hand made whole, deafness cured vs. giving the person a gold hearing aid, etc.) This testimony and other’s we will look at just prove the susceptibility of people who check their minds at the door !

One thing that is patently missing from Mr. Bentley’s testimony is the lack of any biblical education (I know some of you are saying, “here he goes again”) yet facts are facts. Here is a man going around the world teaching the Bible, yet without having been taught himself ! The only credentials that sign-seekers want to know about is whether or not the preacher has some divine personal encounter with God. It is the alleged encounter that counts and is given a higher precedence over formal seminary training. To the sign-seeker the divine encounter is a spiritual revelation directly from the Holy Spirit to your human spirit. Formal biblical training is merely head knowledge; one mans understanding being transmitted from a mere man to another, man (or woman). Spirit ALWAYS trumps the mind in the extremists’ life. Since Todd (or Hinn, Copeland, Meyer, Dollar, etc) have no formal training then obviously their teaching is coming from a “higher” source, that source being touted as none other then the Holy Spirit Himself. In Bentley’s case we have a man who the testimony of the Apostle Paul & the Lord Jesus Christ, talk about your double portion! Here is a glowing review written by the Publishers at Destiny Image Publications:

Todd Bentley is causing quite a stir worldwide. Some say he is being used by the Lord to bring healing and miracles to thousands of people — others are deeply skeptical of him and his ministry, Fresh Fire founded in 1979. What started for the 32-year-old Canadian as an invitation to speak at a church in Lakeland, Florida, in April 2008, has turned into a massively growing revival that now accommodates 10,000 people on land at the local airport. According to Fresh Fire Ministries 1.2 million people have watched the streaming broadcasts on the internet, and more then 140,000 people from at least 40 countries have attended the meetings. Todd’s book, The Journey into the Miraculous, tells of his dramatic deliverance as a teenager from a life of alcohol, drugs, prison, and the occult, launching him by the Holy Spirit into a worldwide ministry… According to Todd, “I was told by a modern-day prophet that I am part of the ‘first fruits’ wave of a billion people whom God would light on fire. I am a forerunner and one of many who will carry the healing anointing to the nations. God has lead me to put this book together not just to tell about my personal journey into the miraculous, but also to help people understand what God is doing in our time, and encourage readers to take steps of faith in areas where they may have been holding back.” As an evangelist and revivalist operating in a fresh prophetic and miracle-healing anointing. Todd has witnessed God heal hundreds of people who were: diseased with cancer, blind, addicted to drugs, alcohol and tobacco, and in bondage to Satan’s evil. Todd Bentley’s recently released book, The Reality of the Supernatural World: Exploring Heavenly Realms and Prophetic Experiences, teaches how Spirit-filled believers can take back what Satan has perverted, allowing them to explore the supernatural realms that God wants them to experience. Todd shares revelation about the supernatural world including: how to access it; types of experiences; locations in the supernatural; functions of angels; how to live under an open Heaven; and the price of accessing spiritual depth. (obtained from Destiny Image Communique” >dnj@destinyimage.com 06-06-08, (bold type added for emphasis).

I am troubled by everything about Mr. Bentley as I have already mentioned he declares to have had a conversion experience like Saul of Tarsus, is empowered with the miracle anointing of our Lord Jesus Christ and now we read that he is like John the Baptist in that he is a forerunner but his mission is to carry the healing anointing to the nations! Obviously, we are not dealing with a mere mortal but one of the super-charged end time remnant Ubermensch long prophesied to come by former heretics. A so called restored prophet Todd Bentley that he was one of a billion people God was going to set on “fire” Statistically that is pretty hard to swallow. There are around 2.1 billion professing Christians (obtained from http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html), so that means one out of 2 Christians will become “Todd-like.” Me thinks not.

What is more troubling than these grandiose claims of Bentley’s are his statements about teaching God’s people which are unbiblical and occultic in nature. He claims to teach God’s people how to take back from Satan the ability to “explore the supernatural realms that God wants them to experience.” Where in the entire Bible are we told that God wants us to explore supernatural realms? Where are we told that Satan has somehow hindered us from doing so? According to my knowledge of world cultures, and religions, Satan is constantly moving shamans, witchdoctors, crones, and others to delve into the supernatural to have mystical “experiences” via mind-altering drugs and practices. The Lord Never encourages His people to attempt to explore the supernatural or seek after supernatural experiences as Todd is teaching. Not only is this a false teaching it is a dangerous one. Bentley goes on to say that he will teach people how to access the supernatural, what types of experiences they can expect (I am sure it is nothing more than the usual holy laughter, spiritual drunkenness, being slain in the spirit, flapping, flopping and jumping about). Todd will reveal locations in the supernatural ! Again, where does the Bible speak of any of this?  This is all “new” revelation which does not proceed from the Holy Spirit. Here is an example of Mr. Bentley “ministering”. The following is a direct transcript from a You Tube Video:

The woman was standing in the back of the room when the faith of God hit the meeting, and her tumor exploded out of her right leg, slid down her leg onto the floor! (Audience applause) I said, “God I prayed for like a hundred crippled people, Not one? He said, “That’s because I want you to grab that lady’s crippled legs and bang them up-and-down on the platform like a baseball bat.” (Audience laughter) I walked up and grabbed her legs, and I started going, BAM! BAM! I started banging them up-and-down on the plat[form]! She got healed! And I’m thinking, God why is not the power of God moving? He said, “Because you haven’t kicked that woman in the face.” (Audience laughter) And there is this old lady worshipping right in front of the platform. (Audience laughter) And the Holy Spirit spoke to me — the gift of faith came on me — He said, “Kick her in the face with your biker-boot.” I inched closer and I went like this [Todd Bentley performs a kick with his right leg and yells] BAM! (Audience laughter) And just as my boot made contact with her nose, she fell under the power of God. (audience laughter ) Obtained from: http://www.christianresearchservice.com on 06-09-08).

Does this sound like the manner in which Jesus ministered healing? Is “God’s” power moving dependent upon anything we do, especially kicking an elderly woman in the face? To Bentley the gift of faith equals doing something bizarre and then attributing it to the Holy Spirit.

Is the Revival Biblical ?

Is revivalism biblical? That depends upon how we define our terms. To the charismatic extremist revival is when the Holy Spirit re-descends upon people in a certain locale and they are moved to repentance, or their spiritual joy restored or they are empowered to serve God in some dramatic manner. Please understand that the concept of “revivals” themselves comes out of either some portion of so-called restored Pentecostalism or pietism, both experiences based groups.

In the united States revivalism was directly tied to Pentecostalism and the belief that the Lord Jesus was soon to return. They believed He sent the Holy Spirit again to give people the gift of tongues to go into the entire world and proclaim the Gospel. This was the foundation of the Azusa Street revival of 1906. Well, Jesus did not return as quickly as hoped so Pentecostalism formed into distinct denominations. Forty years later after World War ll another “revival” broke out this time it was not a “soul-saving and healing revival” as opposed to seeking the salvation of the world, this revival was more concerned with healings and miracles. It was run by men such as William M. Branham, Jack Coe, AA Allen, Oral Roberts, T.L. Osborn and a few others. It died out due to the exposure of fraud, immorality, lack of verifiable proof and the people simply wanting something more.

Almost forty years later the next really true “revival” has to be considered that initiated by Rodney Howard Browne, dubbed “the Holy Ghost Bartender,” In short his unbiblical manifestations became the hallmark of the latest move of the Spirit and they initially became centered at Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (TAF) , from whence it spread to Holy Trinity, Bromptom England, from there via Steve Hill to Brownsville Assembly of God (BAG) in Pensacola, Florida. What differentiated this New Wine being poured out from the other two previous moves of the Spirit, was that it was a revival of “Joy” one in which the Heavenly Father came down to play with His children. I kid you not, I heard this in person, saw it played out in person at TACF, filmed it and dissected it and found nothing but filth. The end result of TACF and the BAG was that both churches underwent splits. The senior pastor’s left when the crowds died down and the sign-seekers were left unfulfilled and still hungry for “more” of God, since they had received little to no true spiritual nutrition. NEVER FORGET THE FOLLOWING QUOTE:

Son, let me tell you something. Do you know when you can tell a revival meeting is over? Do you know when God’s saying to move on to the next town? When you can turn people on their head and shake them and no money falls out, then you know God’s saying ‘Move on, son’, — A.A. Allen message to brother Marjoe Gortner. Obtained from the Preachers, James Morris St. Martin’s Press.

This is exactly what happened at TACF and BAG, the crowds thinned out, the other leaders in the church felt abused and used. The revivalists had all become extremely wealthy and left town! Now out of the blue we have another revival! Suddenly signs and wonders are being performed (this time down the way in Lakeland vs. Pensacola) Now the hungry can run and be filled with empty promises of power and glory. They can have a safe place to go enthusiastically mad and engage in the St. Vitas dance of delusion once more. Oh, make no mistake my friends, these experiences are powerful, fun, and very addictive (I speak from personal experience) and when they are grabbed in the clothing of the so called “anointing” of the Spirit they become holy to the practitioners. Let’s close with some simple Bible thoughts. Does the Bible prophecy a great world-wide end-time soul-saving revival? No it does not. As opposed to a great “ingathering” of souls the Bible speaks of a great falling away (2 Thess. 2:3) an apostasy. Our Lord Himself speaks rhetorically by asking if when He returns will He find faith on the earth (See Luke 18:8), no! Jesus is also caustic regarding those who run hither and thither seeking signs:

A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away.  Matthew 16:4

He considers such people (1) wicked and (2) adulterous, why? Primarily because these people are not seeking Jesus per se, they are seeking loaves and fishes, they’re looking to gain spiritual power and not the face of God. Jesus excoriates those who dare to claim to be the ones working the signs and wonders:

Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? “Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you, Away from me, you evildoers!” Matthew 7:22,23

I fear for Todd and all like him and their alleged “fresh prophetic anointing” and the false unfulfilled words they proclaim in the name of our Lord. The deliverances and miracles they say they have done in the name of Jesus… yet our Master says “I never knew you” Let me say that in the Greek this is very plain it does not imply “I used to know you, but I don’t know you now,” No Jesus NEVER knew these folks. What is more what on the surface seemed to be a good work, I.e. prophetic words, demonic deliverances, miracles Jesus calls those doing such things evildoers not doers of good!

The Bible is filled with warnings about false prophets, false apostles, false teachers, when will our sign-seeking friends awake to these warnings?

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruit ye shall know them. Matt. 7:15-20

Our Lord warns us to beware of the false prophets — they are coming in droves.

And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.   Matthew 24:11-13.

What is the “fruit” of these false prophetic Sinisters? Many (a huge number in the Greek) shall be deceived, not blessed. The love of many (same word in the Greek) shall grow cold towards Jesus due to all the fraud being perpetrated in His holy name. The false words, the fake healings, the fraudulent claims will cause many unstable believers to become shipwrecked. Again and again our Lord warns His Church to beware (be-ware) false prophets, i.e. people who come in His name, show signs and wonders and YET do not belong to Jesus at all.

This is why the Apostle John warns: Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1

Even from the beginning of the Church MANY false prophets went out to deceive God’s children, how many more so today? Many today even claim to be apostles (I have met and spoken with no less than six of these deceivers):

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.   2 Cor. 11:13-15

As a former charismatic extremist I taught much about the “five-fold” ministry of Christ (Apostle, Prophet, Pastor, Teacher, and Evangelist) it was not until my deliverance from doctrinal darkness that I saw another false five-fold ministry in the Bible as well consisting of: false shepherds, false prophets, false apostles, false teachers, and false brethren… and to add a sixth, false Christs.

Charismatic extremists say that they have more faith in God to keep them doctrinally pure than in the devil to mislead them. I admit that sounds pious and faithful, yet if this were the case then why do we have ALL the warnings about being deceived in the Old and New Covenants? If what our extremists’ brethren proclaim is true then the Bible must be wrong. Scripture consistently warns us to “beware.” Beware of what and of whom? Without a doubt God is Almighty and Sovereign, yet the almighty and sovereign God has seen fit to warn His children to be alert to their foe. Here are a few examples:

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing. But inwardly they are ravening wolves, Matthew 7:15

But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues   Matthew 7:17

Beware of the dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.   Phip 3:2

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. Col. 2:8

Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also being led away with the error of the wicked fall from your own steadfastness 2 Peter 3:17

Truth Matters my brothers and sisters and in these last days God has spoken to us through His Son and all we need is to look to Jesus through God’s Word and find the satisfaction our souls yearn for. What is transpiring in Lakeland, FL, is not a move of the Holy Spirit anymore than what recently occurred in TACF and Brownsville, both revivals left behind them thousands of disillusioned people. Some of these no doubt have run to Lakeland hoping against hope that maybe this will be the “real deal”. Sadly, they will find out the hard way this Lakeland is nothing more then excited ignorance in which our Lord is neither glorified nor present. Pray for those being mislead by the plethora of false prophets and apostles today! ♦

Copyright © 2008  Robert S. Liichow

 





Words of the Profit

10 01 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – January 2008 Vol. 13 Issue 1 – Words of the Profit by Kyle Smith

Discernment Ministries International

Words of the Profit

By Kyle Smith

January 6, 2008 — A holy man in Chuck Palahniuk’s darkly funny 1999 novel “Survivor” sells 200 million copies of a self-help guide called “The Book of Very Common Prayer,” which includes The Prayer to Locate a Lost Contact Lens and The Prayer to Prevent Mildew Stains. The Prayer for a Parking Space goes:

Oh, divine and merciful God,

History is without equal for how much I will adore You,

When you give me today, a place to park…

In Your care will I find respite. With Your

Guidance, will I find peace.

To stop, to rest, to idle, to park

These are Yours to give me. This is what I ask.

Amen.

Just eight years later, the principal difference between Palahniuk’s satire and the most popular preacher in America today, Joel Osteen, is that Osteen’s message is more blasphemous. Osteen’s seven million Christian TV viewers might be interested to learn that Osteen, a college dropout with no formal training, is, literally, a heretic whose message is being called “Satanic,” “occult” and “antichrist” by respected evangelical ministers (See, for instance, the blog of Connecticut River Baptist Church pastor Ken Silva).

Osteen, who wears a deranged flash-frozen-smile – he looks like Martin Short playing the Joker – received a $13 million advance for his new book, “Become a Better You,” and collects $73 million a year in donations at the former home to the Houston Rockets that is now Lakewood “Church.” “Survivor,” not the Bible, seems to be the blueprint for Osteen’s life. Palahniuk’s character Tender Branson is born into a religious cult; Osteen inherited his ministry from his father John, a babbling freak who believed in faith healing and announced, at 77, that God had just given him the okay to keep preaching into his 90s. Two weeks later, Osteen Sr. was dead. Palahniuk’s Tender Branson gets a makeover from agents who pump him up with exercise and steroids; Osteen bench-presses 300 pounds. “People shopping for a Messiah want quality. Nobody is going to follow a loser,” writes Palahniuk. Tender Branson’s agent tells him, “Think of those young people out in the world struggling with outdated religious or with no religions, think of those people as your target market.” Osteen doesn’t stick to outdated religions – his church is non-denominational – or any religion at all. There are no crosses or other religious symbols in his church.

Even Palahniuk, though, doesn’t dare place Man over God on the Who’s Hot in the Cosmos List. Osteen has said, “You can cancel out God’s plan by speaking negative words.” Whoa, there, preacher boy. That ain’t Christianity. Christians don’t believe they can change the will of God, I hope I don’t win the lottery”). Even the Palahniukian prayer says, “These are yours to give me” and leaves the rest up to Him.

Osteen’s favorite code word is “increase,” because that gives a Biblicalish spin to materialist goals, as in “God wants to increase you financially, by giving you promotions.” When Osteen cites the Bible (note to TV interviewers: Try springing a little Scriptural quiz on Osteen the next time you get him in the chair) he doesn’t merely miss the point, He steers the opposite way. Osteen cites Colossians 3:2 (“Set your mind and keep it on the higher things”) in his book, “Your Best Life Now” (chapter two, page one – or 2:1) as applicable to the situation, “Perhaps you work in sales, and you are scheduled to give an important presentation.” God wants to help you “snag that big contract” if you set your mind to it.

Flip to Colossians 3:2 (King James Version) and you’ll find that the entire verse reads, “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:5 warns against “covetousness, which is idolatry.” Osteen’s books are all about covetousness and idolatry. He is a false prophet to whom God is a cosmic waiter. (“Hi! My name is God and I’ll be your deity this evening. Start you off with a bottle of water?”)

The Word-Faith Movement,” of which Osteen is a member, uses God as a Trojan horse to sell the ancient mystic rubbish – picture it and you’ll pocket it – that also drives “The Secret.” doesn’t pretend to be a tax-exempt religion.

If the IRS doesn’t nab Osteen, maybe Palahniuk should sue him for plagiarism. Osteen writes, “Perhaps you’re searching for a parking spot in a crowded lot. Say, ‘Father, I thank You for leading me and guiding me. Your favor will cause me to get a good spot.”

Osteen recalls the time he tasked God with being his personal parking aide, and lo: ‘Just as I steered our car past the front row of parked cars, another car backed out as I approached…it was the premier spot in that parking lot.”

Maybe Osteen didn’t learn all of the lessons of The Gospel According to Chuck, though: “Survivor” climaxes with Tender Branson being chased by an angry mod.





The Liichow’s Need Your Prayers

28 12 2009
Truth Maters Newsletters – October 2007 – Vol. 12 Issue 10 – The Liichow’s Need Your Prayers

Discernment Ministries International

The Liichow’s Need Your Prayers

As you know from last month’s issue I have stated back to seminary leaving my wife and our daughter in Detroit. Going back to school is an extremely expensive venture for us, but the sacrifice is worth it for the sake of the body of Christ. I’ve been at school for 3 weeks and Satan has unleashed a tremendous wave of spiritual attack against my family. We ask for your prayers in 2 specific areas:

1). Our daughter who has gone to Christian schools for 10 years, been active in church and our ministry since she could talk has “suddenly” come to question the validity of Christianity! Naturally we are devastated by her current stance (a 17 year old she feels she must find her own way). Please pray for Dominique that she will come back to faith in Christ and pray for us that we will minister in wisdom to her.

2). Last Monday September 24th, my wife called me in the evening from Detroit and informed me that she and several others had been laid off from the Real Estate firm she was working for This means that two thirds of our financial base including health insurance vanished in an instant. Please pray that my wife will find a job and that in the mean time our families needs will continue to be met. We deeply appreciate your love, prayers and support. God bless and keep you all.

Rev. Robert S. Liichow





The Discipline of Fasting

29 10 2009
Truth Matters Newsletters – June 2007 – Vol. 12 Issue 6 – The Discipline of Fasting – by Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

The Discipline of Fasting

By Robert S. Liichow

A few months ago I began a short series concerning the spiritual disciplines of the Christian life and I take up that “baton” again this month and most likely next month as well. By way of a reminder it is important to keep in mind that all of the spiritual disciplines are meant to be tools for transformation in our fellowship with our Lord. These disciplines have been used by God’s people in both the Old and the New Testament and they are all plainly seen in the Scriptures. It is very important for me to stress that these disciplines are not “laws” or “promises” or a means to make God do something for us. Biblical mediation, daily prayer, service to others, Bible study and fasting are simply ways in which we can draw closer to the One who loves us the most and through our communion with the Lord, hopefully we will reflect His light back to those around us.

In the past, as a charismatic extremist we were taught a great deal about fasting and we used to fast for considerable periods of time. Sadly most of our efforts were unrewarded. Even though we were involved in an activity which is deeply rooted in the Scripture, our motives for fasting were incorrect and the goals we were seeking were not those that our Lord would have had us seek after. Most books on the subject of fasting deal with fasting as a means to gain spiritual power (aka an increased anointing) or as a means to seek the other 8 sign-gifts the Apostle Paul mentioned in First Corinthians 12. (1) Let me cite a few book title on the topic of fasting from the charismatic camp:

Atomic Power With God Through Prayer and Fasting; Franklin Hall (2)

Shaping History Through Prayer and Fasting by Derek Prince

Commonsense Guide to Fasting by Kenneth E. Hagin

Destroying the Works of Witchcraft Through Fasting; Ruth Brown

The Miracle Results of Fasting  Dave Williams

The Power of Prayer and Fasting (10 Secrets of Spiritual Strength). Ronnie Floyd

Keys to God’s Grace: The Hidden Joy of Prayer, Fasting, and Almgiving (Practical Christian Living), Word Among Us Press

God’s Chosen Fast, Authur Wallis

Prayer and Fasting: The Master Key to the Impossible. Gordon Lindsey

Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough, Elmer L. Towns

The charismatic movement has long attached claims of everything from divine revelations, supernatural powers, strategic level spiritual warfare to every changing the course of history through the discipline of fasting and yet none of these claims can be supported biblically.

Since fasting concerns food, it behooves us to begin our consideration of this often neglected spiritual discipline by looking at how God considers food itself. Let me share four aspects of food that we usually don’t consciously think about when we sit down to “nosh.”

Enjoyment — The variety of tastes found in creation is not an accident. God gave us such a wide variety of food and a highly developed taste system, so that man would find pleasure in eating. Sometimes Christians, especially when we have been raised in more legalistic churches, have a hard time believing that we are allowed to enjoy anything! Food is meant to be a source of joy (Ecclesiastes 2:24-25; 5:18). And so are a lot of other things in God’s creation. We are allowed to enjoy our food.

Sustenance— Even in the garden of Eden, Adam needed food to sustain his life and give him energy to do the tasks God had assigned him (sorry Word of Faith supporters, Adam was not a “god”). Plants were given to Adam and Eve for this purpose; Genesis 1:30. Later on (after the flood) man was allowed to eat the flesh of animals for the same purpose: Genesis 9:3. Both plants and animals are God’s provision for our nourishment. I might add, that there is nothing spiritual in the Christian sense about being a vegetarian.

Fellowship –Genesis 18:1-8 gives us one of the first examples of fellowship and food. All through the Old Testament the people of God came together for fellowship over food. God made food for fellowship. He even commanded that some of the sacrifices offered to Him at the temple were to be shared with others. These were communal meals –meals in which the whole community sat down and ate together (see Deuteronomy 12:6,7,18) Families still find a resource of love, fellowship, discussion, and understanding when they come together to eat.

Worship– Food also is a source of worship. We should be very conscious of the fact that food is a gift from God (Matthew 6:11 & 1 Timothy 4:3b-4). In fact, Paul says that every bit of food “should be received with thanksgiving” (1 Timothy 4:3). Hence, every meal becomes an occasion for thanksgiving. When we put food to our mouths at the beginning of the meal (Acts 27:35) and when we sit back in our chair with satisfaction (Deuteronomy 8:10), our natural reaction should be a God-ward gratitude. According to the Bible one of the aspects of food was that it was created to be a reason for thanksgiving and worship.

As you can see, food has a central place in our daily existence. The fourth petition in the Lord’s Prayer is “give us this day our daily bread,” and we are told of an upcoming wedding feast that all believers will participate in according to Rev. 19:9. Today cook books abound in every bookstore. There are not just cooking programs but now entire channels devoted to cooking. I remember one Pentecostal pastor preaching about how growing up due to all the legalism folks could not do anything…but eat, which probably explains why many of us (myself included) are overweight today. Hold this thought as we look at what fasting is not!

What Fasting Is Not!

First, Biblical fasting is not mere abstinence from eating. Certainly one forgoes eating food during a fast, but if that is all one does then one has not truly fasted.

Secondly, fasting is not a physical or psychological discipline; it is a spiritual discipline that does engage both mind and body.

Thirdly, fasting is not dieting. I am not denying that Fasting can have a physical and possibly some psychological benefits, but that is not the purpose behind why believers fast.

Fourth, God never encouraged fasting for solely discipline or self-denial reasons. Some of the monks and spiritual hermits used fasting in this manner, some people within the church still misuse fasting this way. However, that is not a Biblical reason for fasting. God has a higher purpose in mind for fasting.

Fifth, fasting is not a manipulative tool –Sometimes fasting is viewed as an attempt to twist God’s arm or to win His approval. But God doesn’t respond to pressure. An example: “In the morning some of the Jews made a plan to kill Paul, and they took an oath to not eat or drink anything until they had killed him. They went to the leading priests and the older-Jewish leaders and said, ”We have taken an oath not to eat or drink until we have killed Paul” (Acts 23:12,14). Using fasting in a manipulative way was done by the people in Jeremiah’s day too. God said, “Although they fast, I will not listen to their cry; through they offer burn offerings and grain offering I will not accept them. I will destroy them with the sword, famine, and plague” (Jeremiah 14:12). Fasting didn’t move God one iota. A.A. Allen is an example of someone who claimed to have told God that he would fast until God came and personally spoke to him. (3)

Lastly, fasting is not meant to be a hypocritical religious exercise. By Jesus’ time fasting had become a very important part of the Jewish life. Perhaps overly important would be a better way of saying it. According to the account in Luke 18:12a we know that the Pharisees fasted twice a week. Historically the Jewish market day in Jerusalem was on the 2nd and 5th day. Everyone from the countryside came to town on those days to buy and sell their produce and animals. Naturally, it was on these two days that the Pharisees chose to hold their fasts.

The Pharisees would walk through the streets with their hair disheveled; wearing old clothes and at times they would cover themselves with dirt. They’d also cover their faces with white chalk in order to look pale; and they would dump ashes over their head as a sign of their humility! For the Pharisees fasting had become a “look-at-how-spiritual-I-am” exercise. It was hypocrisy. Remember, there was and is nothing wrong with fasting, but the attitude of the heart of those engaged in this (or any spiritual practice) is of supreme importance.

What Fasting Is

We looked at what fasting is not, lets focus on what is actually is according to the Scriptures. The Greek word for fasting is isnesteia — a compound of ne (a negative prefix) and esthio which means “to eat,” ergo in its widest sense fasting means to not eat.

Why did people in the bible, “not eat?” Leviticus 16:29 says that fasting is synonymous with “afflicting one’s soul.” We gain some insight here about how the Hebrews viewed fasting. Fasting is more than just “afflicting one’s body”, It is “afflicting one’s soul.” In other words, fasting to the Hebraic mind fasting is something that our soul participates in Fasting is denying my “self” with the fullest concept of self being considered. It is denying not only my own body, but also my own wants. It is a way of saying that Food and my desires are secondary to something else. Fasting is “afflicting one’s soul” —a willful act of self-denial. But it is not only an act of self-denial and here is where the monks and hermits were wrong.

Biblical fasting is “not eating” with spiritual communication in mind. We know this because fasting is always connected with prayer in the Bible. You can pray without fasting, but you cannot fast (biblically speaking) without praying. A good working definition for fasting would be the following. Biblical fasting is the deliberate abstinence form food for a spiritual reason. The biblical reason for fasting is communication and fellowship with the Father through prayer. (4)

Why Fast?

To begin with Jesus expects His disciples to fast, and when we do so we are to be sure our motives are correct.

When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen, and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:16-18

Jesus says “when” and not “if” you fast, He assumes His followers will fast from time to time in their spiritual lives. The fasting that is approved to God is that which is done in secret and without any outward display of piety. When we fast in accordance with God’s will we are also given a promise by our Lord “your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” What type of reward? Considering the context of what our Master is saying the reward will be regarding the matter you are seeking God about during your fast.

God said, “When you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you” (Jer. 29:13-14) When a man or woman is willing to set aside the legitimate appetites of the body to concentrate on the work of praying, they are demonstrating that they mean business, that they are seeking God with all their heart. It is all too easy to get caught up in the affairs of this life and become sidetracked from seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). We are reminded in Hebrews 12:1 “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” Fasting is one of the tools in our spiritual toolbox to help us refocus on what matters most, our walk with Christ.

When we deny ourselves food to focus on God and His will for our lives demonstrates humility on our part. Fasting graphically reminds us of how dependent we are upon our Lord for not only daily “bread” but spiritual manna too. This is why fasting is equivalent to the phrase “to humble oneself before the Lord” (Psalm 35:13; 1 Kings 21:29; Ezra 8:21). When a person is really concerned about the things of God, he will humble himself before the Lord.

Sometimes people will ask “how do I know when to pray and fast versus when to just pray”? That is not a question that someone else can always answer for you. In God’s word we find fasting connected with a very troubled spirit or an anxious heart before the Lord. In the Old Testament fasting was also a form of grieving over the death of someone. Here are a few biblical examples of when and why people fasted in the Bible:

1). The Israelites fasted, in the conflict between the other tribes with the tribe of Benjamin, on account of the wrong suffered by a Levite’s concubine. (Jug. 20:26).

2). Ahab fasted when Elijah prophesied the destruction of himself and his house. (1 Kings 21:27).

3). Jehoshaphat fasted at the time of the invasion of the confederated armies of the Canaanites and Syrians (2Ch. 20:3).

4). People fasted in times of bereavement, the people of Jabesh Gilead, for Saul and his sons (1 Sa 31:13; 1Ch. 10:12).

5). At times all the nation would fast on occasions of public calamities (2Sa 1:12, Ac 27:33).

6). The believing Jews fasted in Babylon, with prayer for divine deliverance and guidance. (Ezr 8:21,23).

7). Daniel fasted on several occasions; one example is the account of the captivity of the people, with prayer for their deliverance (Da 9:3).

8). The Apostle Paul fasted, at the time of his conversion (Ac 9:9).

9). The disciples fasted at the time of the consecration of Barnabas and Saul (Ac 13:2-3).

10). Fasting occurred with the consecration of the elders (Ac 14:23).

As you can see there are biblically many reasons why people fasted. The Occasion for a Fast is Voluntary: Surprisingly, a particular day for fasting was commanded in Scripture only once– on a Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16). The fast on the Day of Atonement was connected with a deep mournful spirit in confessing sin. Now in the New Covenant, Jesus Christ has become our atonement offering, so we no longer even need to observe the Leviticus 16 Day of Atonement! In all the rest of the bible there are no other Scriptures which command fasting at a specific time or on a specific occasion. There is no hard and fast “rule” to when it does seem that whatever the reason it is generally a serious matter that requires your focus on prayer and Bible study.

Naturally when the topic of fasting is brought up people often ask how long they should fast. I have met some individuals who’ve claimed to have fasted for forty days but I sincerely doubt their truthfulness, There are only three people in the entire history of God’s dealing with mankind who went on a forty day fast; there was Moses (Ex.24:18; 34:28; Dt 9:9, 18) Elijah (1 Kings 19:8) and our Lord Jesus (Mt. 4:2; Mk 1:12,13; Lk. 4:1-2). These were supernatural fasts, miraculous events in and of themselves. Interestingly it was Moses and Elijah who appeared to Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. The prophet Daniel fasted and prayed for three weeks (Dan. 10:2-3) and the end results of his fasting and praying was a panoramic vision of history. These are all well known examples of extraordinary fasting and not the common experience of God’s people.

As a general principle Christian should fast when he or she feels the Spirit of God leading them to fast. The Length of a Fast is Voluntary: In addition to the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:32) you can see examples of one day fasts in Judges 20:26; 1 Samuel 14:24; 2 Samuel 1:12; and 2 Samuel 3:35. The Jewish day was counted from sunset to sunset, so this meant that the fast would be broken that is, food could be eaten) after sundown.

The Biblical principle here is that the length of time you fast is determined by your own desires and the occasion or purpose of the fast. The duration can be that which the individual or group feels led to set. There is a great deal of freedom in the Lord here. However, the more common practice of a “normal fast” appears to be one-day.

How You Spend Your Time While Fasting is a Personal Decision Too: In the bible, fasting often occurs as something you do while carrying on your everyday activities! We have an example of soldiers involved in the activity of warfare sometimes fasting (1 Samuel 14:24). Also we read about the sailors on the ship with Paul fasting (Acts 27:33).

Lastly, fasting does not negate our responsibility to be obedient to God. We cannot fast and pray expecting God to bless when there is known sin in our lives. Genuine fasting will always cause us to examine our hearts. Fasting will never cause God to love you one bit more, however it is a tool that can be used to help us love Him more!

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. Looking back on past experiences it is interesting when I consider that I never met anyone who desperately sought the gifts of hospitality (Romans 12:13), or of governments (1 Cor. 12:28) or helps in the same texts. No people always sought POWER, either the working of miracles, a specific gift of healing, the gift of supernatural faith, the word of knowledge or word of wisdom or of prophecy

2. Hall’s book on prayer and fasting was greatly responsible for what was originally know as the New Order of the Latter Rain movement of post World War II. Every major charismatic leader of the late 1940’s and 1950’s was influenced by Hall’s unbiblical teaching regarding fasting and prayer. Most of today’s charismatic extremist practices can be traced back to many of Franklin Hall’s teachings. Although his book have long been out-of-print DMI does offer the in PDF format or on a CD.

3. A.A. Allen, as well as Oral Roberts, Gordon Lindsey, T.L. Osborn all claimed that their long fasts resulted in God granting them what they wanted which in their cases was ‘miracle working power,” yet history has proved all of these en to be liars regarding having any supernatural miracle working power.

4. When I say “communication” with the Father I am not implying the Almighty God will directly speak to you. God communicated His will to us through His Word and sacraments period. It is right to expect God to speak to us through His Word which His Spirit will illuminate to us while we pray and fast.

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THE TORONTO DECEPTION by a Former Vineyard Pastor

23 10 2009
Truth Matters Newsletters – May 2007 – Vol. 12 Issue 5 – The Toronto Deception By a Former Toronto Vineyard Pastor

Discernment Ministries International

THE TORONTO DECEPTION by a Former Vineyard Pastor

It has taken me nine years to actually come to the place where I would write this story. Part of the reason was because I was not fully convinced that it is appropriate to speak out against weaknesses in the body of Christ publicly. Another reason is because it has taken years of soul searching to become convinced that what happened in the Toronto Airport Church was actually all bad or at least more bad than good!

For the past number of years I have called it a mixed blessing. I think James A. Beverly called it this in his book Holy Laughter and the Toronto Blessing 1994. Today I would call it a mixed curse concluding that any individual good that came from this experience is far outweighed by much harm and satanic deception. I suppose that therein has been the dilemma. I have tried to live my life in the fear of the Lord and Jesus told us that the unforgivable sin was the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Attributing to Satan what was in fact a work of God. If pressed as to whether or not the Toronto blessing is all God or all Devil I will still be hedgy, but I am convinced that Satan has used this experience to blind people to the historical doctrine of God, to produce fruit in keeping with repentance, to failing to test and discern the spirits and failing to test prophecy.

After three years of being in the thick of the Toronto blessing our Vineyard assembly in Scar bough (East Toronto) just about self destructed. We devoured one another, with gossip, backstabbing, division, sects criticism etc. After three years of “soaking” praying for people, shaking, rolling, laughing, roaring, ministering at TACF on their prayer team, leading worship at TACF, preaching at TACF, basically living at TACF we were the most carnal, immature and deceived Christians that I know. I remember saying to my friend and senior pastor at Scarborough Vineyard Church in 1997 that ever since the Toronto Blessing came we have just about fallen to bits! He agreed!

My experience has been that the manifestation of spiritual gifts mentioned in 1st Corinthians 12 was much more common in our assembly, before January 1994 (when the Toronto blessing started.) than during this period of supposed Holy Spirit visitation. During 1992-1993 when praying for people we would experience what I believe was genuine prophesy, deliverance and much grace and favour from the Lord. After the Toronto Blessing started, all ministry time changed, the only prayers were ‘More Lord MORE’, the shouting of ‘Fire’ the jerky shaking of the body with the ‘ooh ooh OOH WOOOAAH’ prayer. (I kid you not!)

On January 20th 1994 about 15 people from our church traveled over to Toronto Airport Vineyard in order to listen to Randy Clark, a Vineyard pastor from the USA. John Arnott had called our senior pastor to invite us. He communicated that Randy had been to the Rodney Howard Browne meetings and that the stuff had broke out in his church in the following weeks. John was hoping that something might break out with us too. We were only too happy to travel over. We were a church plant out of the Toronto Airport and we started in 1992. In those days there were three Vineyard Churches in Toronto. One Down Town church, Scarborough vineyard church to the east and the AirPort Church. We were one big happy family. Because we were small in number we did special meetings, conferences etc, together.

The year before most of our leadership teams joined and had headed to Nicaragua for a short term missions trip. We had genuine love and fellowship with each other. Since leaving the Vineyard churches I have read a fair bit of analysis from the critics. Some make out that the Toronto Blessing was one huge conspiracy to lead the body of Christ into heresy. Heresy and apostasy I suspect may well be the result, but none of these destinations were intentional. I am honestly convinced that the leaders in the Vineyard churches are genuine born-again Christians who love the Lord, but have fallen into deception. They have not loved the Lord enough to keep His commandments. They have failed to obey the scriptures and have been led astray by our longing for something bigger and brighter and more exciting and dynamic. I am guilty of this sin also. I have preached renewal in Korea, the United Kingdom, the USA and here in Canada. I am genuinely repentant and in writing this story I would ask you the bride and body of Christ to forgive me. Especially the Pentecostal/charismatic Christians among you, for you are my immediate family theologically. I am an evangelical Christian, I always have been but I do not believe in the cessation of the spiritual gifts at the end of the apostolic era. I believe that it was my evangelical roots (my Family are Baptists and I was born again in the Presbyterian Church) that started to open my eyes to problems with this so called renewal In hindsight I look back and think how could I have been so blind? I laughed at people acting like dogs and pretending to urinate on the columns of the TACF building. I watched people pretend to be animals, bark, roar, cluck, pretend to fly as if they had wings, perpetually act drunk and sing silly songs. How I thought that any of this was from the Holy Spirit of God amazes me today. It was loud irreverent and blasphemous to the Holy God of the Bible. I suppose in my mind I reasoned that as long s they did not teach any thing in direct violation to scripture then it was what we called the exotic. This is a buzzword for manifestations that could not be justified from a biblical perspective. I was taught from the pulpit that we had two options. The order of the nursery full of life and messy or the order of the graveyard, very orderly but dead! As a young immature pastor I wanted life with mess. I failed to remember that God wants us to become mature and grow up in him.

I became disconnected by the prophetic words that came forth especially one by Carol Arnott in which she had her bride experience where she was taken into the very presence of Jesus and said that the love that she experienced was even better than sex! I was shocked in my spirit and thought how can one compare the love of God with sex? When we suspected that demons were running riot in our services John Arnott would teach that we should ask are they coming or going. If they are leaving then that is ok! John would defend the chaos by saying that we ought not be afraid of being deceived, if we have asked the Holy Spirit to come and fill us then how could Satan come and deceive us? This would make Satan very strong and God very weak! He said that we needed to have more faith in a Big God to protect us than in a Big Devil to deceive us. This sounded very convincing but was totally contrary to scripture for Jesus and Paul and Peter and John all warn us about the power of deceiving spirits and especially so in the last days. Again we did not love God enough to obey His Word and the result was that we opened ourselves up to lying spirits. May God have mercy upon us!

Finally the penny dropped for me a I was rolling around one night ’drunk in the Spirit’ as we would say. I started singing and as I rolled around the floor the Nursery the Rhyme ’Mary had a little lamb its fleece was white as snow.’ came to mind. I sang this in a mocking spirit and instantly my heart told me this was a demon. Instantly I repented and was in total shock. How could a demon get into me? Did I not love God? Was I not zealous for the things of God? Was I not nuts about Jesus? I knew that as unclean spirit had just manifested through me and I was guilty of great sin. After this experience I stayed away from TACF. I did not go back there any more. I did not possess the conviction to denounce the whole experience but thought that we were failing to pastor the Blessing well enough.

Even after I stopped going over to TACF, I had to pastor the fruit of it. One example was when some of our people returned from a meeting there asking us if we had all received the golden sword of the Lord? I asked them what they were talking about thinking that it was some prophetic reference to the Holy Scriptures but they said, ’no its not the Bible, it’s an invisible golden sword that only the really pure can receive. If taken in an unrighteous fashion then the Lord would kill you. But if you are holy enough to receive it then you can wield this sword and it will heal aids, Cancer etc. and bring salvation. How one wielded this sword was by pretending to have this invisible sword in your hand and motioning to strike people with it when in prayer! I thought while even in deception at this time that the TACF had become Looney bins! This was purportedly first received by Carol Arnott and then given to the ones holy enough to receive it! Another thing was the golden fillings in the teeth. We had people in our assembly peeping down one another’s throats looking for the gold fillings that God had placed there to show how much he loved them! In all my time there I only heard one message on repentance given by a visiting speaker from Hong Kong named Jackie Pullinger. It went over like a lead balloon. We were not there to repent, we were there to party in the Lord! After one year into the blessing, I spoke out at a pastors meeting and said ‘guys we have shaken, rattled, rolled, laughed cried and bought the tee-shirt. But we have no revival, no salvation, no fruit and no increased evangelism so what’s the deal?” I was soundly rebuked – who was I to expect to see fruit when the Lord was healing his broken people? We had been legalistic long enough and god was spending this time restoring his wounded and freeing us from legalism I was told not push the Lord and the harvest would come in his time.’

So there is my story. I could go on and document much excess, folly, sin and latter day reign teaching that manifest from the prophetic end of this blessing but others have already done that. We sang about Joel’s army and the billion soul revival as if it were one of the Ten Commandments, and as always it was just around the corner. Next month, next year etc. Jesus said that when the son of man returns will he find faith upon the earth ? And if he dies not return when he does no flesh would be saved but for the sake of the elect he comes. This is a far cry fro the dominionism, that is being taught all through the vineyard/prophetic/spiritual warfare movement. I honestly think that they think they are going to take over the whole world! While in the Vineyard I embraced a life verse from the Apostle Paul the phrase do not go beyond what is written!

To finish I just want to say sorry for the damage, that I have personally done by teaching things that are not correct biblically. I repent before men as I already have before God. I will not excuse my falling into deception. I did not bother to test things when the scriptures commanded us to do so. Everyone who was there when this thing started knows that what I write is true, they would just come to different conclusions especially if they are still promoting the ‘river!’

To those in te river I would say swim out, there are things living in the water that will bite you real good! I love the people of TACF and the Vineyard movement but I think that we have much to answer for and may the Lord open your eyes sooner rather than later. I suspect that when this letter goes online I will get bombarded by emails from both camps, some damning me for still believing in the ministry of the Holy Spirit and still walking in deception and some old friends damning me for exposing dirt or being negative about the Lords anointed! Well, the Lord knows my heart and by his grace he will guide me into all truth as I seek to know Christ and him crucified! I would call on all who read this to pray that the Lord would open the eyes of all who have been involved in this deception. Whether leader or follower, we are loved and the Lord is a forgiving God. He says if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. I believe we are like the church in Laodicea, we think that we are rich, have prospered and need nothing, we do not realize that we are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked. We must take the Counsel of Jesus and buy gold refined in the fire (which is his suffering, not a false spirit!) white garments to clothe our shameful nakedness and salve for our eyes that we might see again. Jesus is calling us to repentance and thank the Lord that he is, for it will lead us to true restoration with our Father! If God has forgiven me and opened my eyes then he can do it for all those caught in deception too. I will finish with a warning from Paul, he says if you think you are standing firm be careful lest you fall.

Sincerely, Paul Gowdy

Personally having been redeemed form charismatic extremism I applaud brother Growdy for his honesty and brokenness to share his testimony. My wife and I were present when Mrs. Arnott gave her infamous “golden sword” prophecy and saw firsthand the effect it had on the thousands present at that service. I pray our gracious Lord continues to restore Paul’s soul and that he has found safe haven in a biblically sound congregation. His testimony simply affirms what DMI has been saying for over the years. Literally hundreds of thousands of professing Christians have bought into a belief system which is not only biblically unsound but also spiritually damaging.

Sadly to date charismatic extremism shows little decrease in momentum and in some of its man facets in growing rapidly. Due to the growth of such gross doctrinal error DMI needs your support more than ever and we ask that you would pleas pray for our portion of Christ’s ministry and to also put “legs” to your prayers by financially supporting our work to His glory.

Rev. Robert S. Liichow





The Discipline of Prayer –Part Two

17 10 2009
Truth Matters Newsletters – March 2007 – Vol. 12 Issue 3 – The Discipline of Prayer — Part Two – by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

The Discipline of Prayer — Part Two

By Rev. Bob Liichow

We began to consider the majesty of the Lord’s prayer last month and this month we will briefly look at the remaining six petitions given to us by Jesus in this stunningly rich prayer.

Matthew 6:9-13

 “After this manner therefore pray ye:

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. They will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen

On the surface what Jesus gave to His disciples is a seemingly simple prayer. Yet the breath of this prayer is astoundingly wide and encompasses the entirety of man’s existence. I will be citing very heavily from Dr. Martin Luther and his commentary on the Lord’s Prayer as found in the Book of Concord. Whatever you may think about Luther. I believe you will agree that he had great insight into the Lord’s Prayer. My comments are in Blue, Luther’s are in Black.

The Second Petition

“Thy Kingdom Come”

But just as the name of God is in itself holy, and we pray nevertheless that it be holy among us, so also His Kingdom comes of itself without our prayer, yet we pray nevertheless that it may come to us, that is, prevail among us and with us, so that we may be a part of those among whom His name is hallowed and His kingdom prospers. [ Luther’s insight flies in the face of a great deal of current teaching concerning the kingdom of God in charismatic circles. It is commonly taught that we the Church, can either hasten or delay the coming of God’s kingdom. This hastening or delaying is done through either our positive or negative confessions or actions. Those who teach a brand of “Dominion Theology” say that it is up to the Church to establish the Kingdom of God on earth. This false doctrine espouses the belief that we are to Christianize every nation and then hand a restored would back to Jesus at His return. This global restoration and dominion will be allegedly led by a large number of “restored” prophets and apostles. Some of the more well know people who teach this false view include: Earl Paulk, Dr. C. Peter Wagner, Kenneth Copeland, Mike Bickle, John Paul Jones, Don Nori, Mahesh Chavda and others.]

But what is the kingdom of God? Answer: Nothing else than what we learned in the Creed, that God sent His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, into the world to redeem and deliver us from the power of the devil, and to bring us to Himself, and to govern us as a King of righteousness, life and salvation against sin, death, and an evil conscience, fro which end He has also bestowed His Holy Ghost, who is to bring these things home to us by His holy Word, and to illumine and strengthen us in the faith by His power.

Therefore we pray here in the first place that this may become effective with us, and that His name be so praised through the holy Word of God and a Christian life that both we who have accepted it may abide and daily grow therein, and that it may gain approbation and adherence among other people and proceed with power throughout the world, that many may fine entrance into the Kingdom of Grace, be made partakers of redemption, being led thereto by the Holy Ghost, in order that thus we may all together remain forever in the one kingdom now begun.

For the coming of God’s kingdom to us occurs in two ways; first, here in time through the Word and faith; and secondly, in eternity forever through revelation Now we pray for both these things, that it may come to those who are not yet in it, and by daily increase, to us who have received the same, and hereafter in eternal life. All this is nothing else than saying: Dear Father, we pray, give us first Thy Word, that the Gospel be preached properly throughout the world; and secondly, that it be received in faith, and work and live in us, so that through the Word and the power of the Holy Ghost Thy Kingdom may prevail among us, and the kingdom of the devil be put down, that he may have no right or power over us, until at last it shall be utterly destroyed, and sin, death, and hell shall be exterminated, that we may live forever in perfect righteousness and blessedness.

From this you perceive that we pray here not for a crust of bread or a temporal, perishable good, but for an eternal inestimable treasure and everything that God Himself possesses; which is far too great for any human heart to think of desiring if He had not Himself commanded us to pray for the same. But because He is God, He also claims the honor of giving much more and more abundantly than any one can comprehend, — like an eternal, unfailing fountain, which the more it pours forth and overflows, the more it continues to give, — and He desires nothing more earnestly of us than that we ask much and great things of Him, and again is angry if we do not ask and pray confidently.

The Third Petition

“They Will Be Done On Earth As It Is In Heaven”

Thus far we have prayed that God’s name be honored by us, and that His kingdom prevail among us; in which two points is comprehended all that pertains to the honor of God and to our salvation, that we receive as our own God and all His riches. But now a need just as great arises, namely, that we firmly keep them, and do not suffer ourselves to be torn there from.

For no one believes how the devil opposes and resists them, and cannot suffer that any one teach or believe aright. And it hurts him beyond measure to suffer his lies and abominations, that have been honored under the most specious pretexts of the divine name, to be exposed and to be disgraced himself, and besides, be driven out of the heart, and suffer such a breach to be made in his kingdom. Therefore he chafes and rages as a fierce enemy with all his power and might, and marshals all his subjects and, in addition enlists the world and our own flesh as his allies.

If we would be Christians, therefore, we must surely expect and reckon upon having the devil with all his angels and the world as our enemies, who will bring every possible misfortune and grief upon us. For where the Word of God is preached, accepted, or believed, and produces fruit, there the holy cross cannot be wanting. And let no one think that he shall have peace; but he must risk what whatever he has upon earth — possessions, honor, house and estate, wife and children, body and life.

[ Luther taught salvation by grace through faith alone, but it was not a cheap grace, nor was it a faith that does not produce works. Many today hold only to a theology of glory and cannot accept the reality of the theology of the cross. The early evangelicals understood that they would have to suffer attacks fro their stance on the Gospel. Consider well what Luther says here in light of the teachings of Joel Osteen, Paula White or Jesse Duplantis.]

Hence there is just as great a need, as in all the others, that we pray without ceasing: “Dear Father, Thy will be done, not the will of the devil and of our enemies, nor of anything that would persecute and suppress Thy holy Word or hinder Thy kingdom; and grant that we may bear with patience and overcome whatever is to be endured on that account, lest our poor flesh yield or fall away from weakness or sluggishness.”

Behold, thus we have in these three petitions, in the simplest manner, the need which relates to God Himself, yet all for our sakes. For whatever we pray concerns only us, namely, as we have said, that what must be done anyway without us, may also be done in us. For as His name must be hallowed and His kingdom come without our prayer, so also His will must be done and succeed although the devil with all his adherents raise a great tumult, are angry and rage against it, and undertake to exterminate the Gospel utterly. But for our own sakes we must pray that even against their fury His will be done without hindrance also among us, that they may not be able to accomplish anything and we remain firm against all violence and persecution, and submit to such will of God.

Such prayer, then, is to be our protection and defense now, is to repel and put down all that the devil, Pope, bishops, tyrants, and heretics can do against our Gospel. Let them all rage and attempt their utmost, and deliberate and resolve how they may suppress and exterminate us, that their will and counsel may prevail: over and against this one or two Christians with this petition alone shall be our wall against which they shall run and dash themselves to pieces. This consolation and confidence we have, that the will and purpose of the devil and of all our enemies shall and must fail and come to naught, however, proud, secure, and powerful they know themselves to be. For if their will were not broken and hindered, the kingdom of God could not abide on earth nor His name be hallowed.

The Fourth Petition

“Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread”

[In this petition I want to draw your attention to how marvelously Luther expands this simple petition to encompass every aspect that of life that goes into God providing for us daily bread. Also not how Luther often mentions the negative aspect which are wrapped up in our prayer to our heavenly Father].

Here, now, we consider the poor breadbasket, the necessaries of our body and of the temporal life. It is a brief and simple word, but it has a very wide scope. For when you mention and pray for daily bread, you pray for everything that is necessary in order to have and enjoy daily bread and, on the other hand, against everything which interferes with it. Therefore you must open wide and extend your thoughts not only to the oven or the flour-bin but to the distant field and the entire land, which bears and brings to us daily bread and every sort of sustenance. For if God did not cause it to grow, and bless and preserve it in the field, we could never take bread from the oven or have any to set upon the table.

To comprise it briefly, this petition includes everything that belongs to our entire life in the world, because on that account alone do we need daily bread. Now for our life it is not only necessary that our body have food and covering and other necessaries, but also that we spend our days in peace and quiet among the people with whom we live and have intercourse in daily business and conversation and all sorts of doings, in short, whatever pertains both to the domestic and to the neighborly or civil relation and government. For where these two things are hindered [intercepted and disturbed] that they do not proper as they ought, the necessaries of life also are impeded, so that ultimately life cannot be maintained. And there is, indeed, the greatest need to pray for temporal authority and government, as that by which most of all God preserves to us our daily bread and all the comforts of this life. For though we have received of God all good things in abundance we are not able to retain any of them or use them in security and happiness, if He did not give us a permanent and peaceful government. For where there are dissension, strife, and war, there the daily bread is already taken away, or at least checked.

Let this be a very brief explanation and sketch, showing how far this petition extends through all conditions on earth. Of this any one might indeed make a long prayer, and with many words enumerate all the things that are included therein, as that we pray God to give us food and drink, clothing, house, and home, and health of body; also that He cause the grain and fruits of the field to grow and mature well; furthermore, that He help us at home towards good housekeeping, that He give and preserve to us a godly wife, children, and servants, that He cause our work, trade, or whatever we are engaged in to prosper and succeed, favor us with faithful neighbors and good friends, etc. Likewise, that He give to emperors, Kings, and all estates, and especially to the rulers, of our country and to all counselors, magistrates, and officers, wisdom, strength, and success that they may govern well and vanquish the Turks and all enemies; to subjects and the common people, obedience, peace, and harmony in their life with one another, and on the other hand, that He would reserve us from all sorts of calamity to body and livelihood, as lightning, hail, fire, flood, poison, pestilence, castle-plague, war and bloodshed, famine, destructive beasts, wicked men, etc. All this it is well to impress upon the simple, namely, that these things come from God, and must be prayed for by us.

But this petition is especially directed also against our chief enemy, the devil. For all his thought and desire is to deprive us of all that we have from God, or to hinder it; and he is not satisfied to obstruct and destroy spiritual government in leading souls astray by his lies and bringing them under his power, but he also prevents and hinders the stability of all government and honorable, peaceable relations on earth. There he causes so much contention, murder, sedition, and war also lightning and hail to destroy grain and cattle, to poison the air, etc. In short, he is sorry that any one has a morsel of bread from God and eats it in peace; and if it were in his power, and our prayer (next to God) did not prevent him, we would not keep a straw in the field, a farthing in the house, yea, not even our life for an hour, especially those who have the Word of God and would like to be Christians.

Behold, thus God wishes to indicate to us how He cares for us in all our need, and faithfully provides also for our temporal support. Although He abundantly grants and preserves these things even to the wicked and knaves, yet He wishes that we pray for them, in order that we may recognize that we receive them from His had, and may feel His paternal goodness toward us therein.

The Fifth Petition

“And Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

This part now relates to our poor miserable life, which although we have and believe the Word of God, and do and submit to His will, and are supported by His gifts and blessings is nevertheless not without sin. For we still stumble daily and transgress because we live in the world among men who do us much harm and give us cause for impatience, anger, revenge, etc. Besides, we have Satan at our back, who sets upon us on every side, and fights (as we have heard) against all the foregoing petitions, so that it is not possible always to stand firm in such a persistent conflict.

[This insight regarding our sinfulness is also rejected by many in the Church today. Among the charismatic and the so-called modern evangelical community is a negation of the reality of sin. Either some form of incipient perfectionism is taught {which gained a foothold in the Church today through that damnable heretic Charles Finney} or sin is simply not preached about because it is a “negative” confession. Luther correctly understood what it meant to be declared righteous in the sight of God and that our righteousness is in fact an alien righteousness, one that is reckoned to our account due to the work of Christ. Many, especially within the word of Faith cult, teach that the Christian actually becomes righteous and can attain sinless perfection in this life.]

Therefore there is here again great need to call upon God and to pray: Dear Father, forgive us our trespasses. Not as though He did not forgive sin without and ever before our prayer (for He has given us the Gospel, in which is pure forgiveness before we prayed or ever thought about it). But this is to the intent that we may recognize and accept such forgiveness. For since the flesh in which we daily live is of such a nature that it neither trusts nor believes God, and is ever active in evil and omission by which the conscience is thrown into unrest, so that it is afraid of the wrath and displeasure of God, and thus loses the comfort and confidence derived from the Gospel; therefore it is ceaselessly necessary that we run hither and obtain consolation to comfort the conscience again.

But this should serve God’s purpose of breaking our pride and keeping us humble. For in case any one should boast of his godliness and despise others, God has reserved this prerogative to Himself, that the person is to consider himself and place this prayer before his eyes, and he will find that he is no better than others, and that in the presence of God all must lower their plumes, and be glad that they can attain forgiveness. And let no one think that as long as we live here he can reach such a position that he will not need such forgiveness. In short, if God does not forgive without ceasing, we are lost.

It is therefore the intent of this petition that God would not regard our sins and hold up to us what we daily deserve, but would deal graciously with us, and forgive, as He has promised, and thus grant us a joyful and confident conscience to stand before Him in prayer. For where the heart is not in right relation towards God, nor can take such confidence, it will nevermore venture to pray. But such a confident and joyful heart can spring from nothing else than the [certain] knowledge of the forgiveness of sin.

But there is here attached a necessary, yet consolatory addition: As we forgive. He has promised that we shall be sure that everything is forgiven and pardoned, yet in the manner that we also forgive our neighbor. For just as we daily sin much against God and ye He forgives everything through grace, so we, too, must ever forgive our neighbor who does us injury, violence, and wrong, shows malice toward us, etc. If, therefore you do not forgive, then do not think that God forgives you; but if you forgive, you have this consolation and assurance, that you are forgiven in heaven, not on account of your forgiving, — for God forgives freely and without condition out of pure grace, because He has so promised, as the Gospel teaches, — but in order that He may set this up for our confirmation and assurance for a sign alongside of the promise which accords with this prayer, Luke 6:37: Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven. Therefore Christ also repeats it soon after the Lord’s Prayer, and says, Matt 6,14: For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, etc.

The Sixth Petition

“And Lead us not into temptation”

We have now heard enough what toil and labor is required to retain all that for which we pray, and to persevere therein, which, however, is not achieved without infirmities and stumbling. Besides, although we have received forgiveness and a good conscience and are entirely acquitted, yet is our life of such a nature that one stands today, and to-morrow falls. Therefore, even though we be godly now and stand before God with a good conscience, we must pray again that He would not suffer us to relapse and yield to trials and temptations.

Temptation, however, or (as our Saxons in olden times used to call it) Bekoerunge, is of three kinds, namely, of the flesh, of the world, and of the devil. For in the flesh we dwell and carry the old Adam about our neck, who exerts himself and incites us daily to in chastity, laziness, gluttony and drunkenness, avarice and deception, to defraud our neighbor and to overcharge him, and, in short, to all manner of evil lusts which cleave to us be nature, and to which we are incited by the society, example and what we hear and see of other people, which often would and inflame even an innocent heart.

Next comes the world, which offends us in word and deed, and impels us to anger and impatience. In short, there is nothing but hatred and envy, enmity, violence and wrong, unfaithfulness, vengeance, cursing, raillery slander, pride and haughtiness, with superfluous finery, honor, fame, and power, where no one is willing to be the least, but every one desires to sit at the head and to be seen before all.

Then comes the devil, inciting and provoking in all directions, but especially agitating matters that concern the conscience and spiritual affairs, namely, to induce us to despise and disregard both the Word and works of God to tear us away from faith, hope and love and bring us into misbelief, false security, and obduracy, or, on the other hand, to despair, denial of God, blasphemy, and innumerable other shocking things. These are indeed snares and nets, yea, real fiery darts which are shot most venomously into the heart, not by flesh and blood, but by the devil.

Great and grievous, indeed, are these dangers and temptations which every Christian must bear, even though each one were alone by himself, so that every hour that we are in this vile life where we are attacked on all side, chased and hunted down, we are moved to cry out and to pray that God would not suffer us to become weary and faint and to relapses into sin, shame, and unbelief. For otherwise it is impossible to overcome even the least temptation.

This, then is leading us not into temptation, to wit, when He gives us power and strength to resist, the temptation, however, not being taken away or removed. For while we live in the flesh and have the devil about us, no one can escape temptation and allurements; and it cannot be otherwise than that we must endure trials, yea, he engulfed in them; but we pray for this, that we may not fall and be drowned in them.

Therefore we Christians must be armed and daily expect to be incessantly attacked, in order that no one may go on in security and heedlessly, as though the devil were far from us, but at all times expect and parry his blows. For though I am now chaste, patient, kind, and in firm faith, the devil will this very hour send such an arrow into my heart that I can scarcely stand. For he is an enemy that never desists nor becomes tired, so that when one temptation ceases, there always arise others and fresh ones.

Accordingly, there is no help or comfort except to run hither and to take hold of the Lord’s Prayer, and thus speak to God from the heart: Dear Father, Thou hast bidden me pray; let me not relapse because of temptations. Then you will see that they must desist, and finally acknowledge themselves conquered. Else if you venture to help yourself by your own thoughts and counsel, you will only make the matter worse and give the devil more space. For he has a serpent’s head, which if it gain an opening into which he can slip, the whole body will follow without check. But prayer can prevent him and drive him back.

The Seventh Petition

“But Deliver Us From Evil”

In the Greek text this petition reads thus: Deliver or preserve us from the Evil One, or the Malicious One; and it looks as if He were speaking of the devil, as though He would comprehend everything in one so that the entire substance of all our prayer is directed against our chief enemy. For it is he who hinders among us everything that we pray for the name or honor of God, God’s kingdom and will, our daily bread, a cheerful good conscience, etc.

Therefore we finally sum it all up and say; Dear Father pray, help that we be rid of all these calamities. But there is nevertheless also included whatever evil may happen to us under the devil’s kingdom –poverty, shame, death, and in short, all the agonizing misery and heartache of which there is such an unnumbered multitude on the earth. For since the devil is not only a lair, but also a murderer, he constantly seeks our life, and wreaks his anger whenever he can afflict our bodies with misfortune and harm. Hence it comes that he often breaks men’s necks or drives them to insanity, drowns some, and incites many to commit suicide, and to many other terrible calamities. Therefore, there is nothing for us to do upon earth but to pray against this arch enemy without ceasing. For unless God preserved us, we would not be safe from him even for an hour.

Hence you see again how God wishes us to pray to Him also for all the things which affect our bodily interests, so that we seek and expect help nowhere else except in Him. But this matter He has put last; for if we are to be preserved and delivered from all evil, the name of God must first be hallowed in us, His kingdom must be with us, and His will be done. After that He will finally preserve us from sin and shame, and besides, from everything that may hurt or injure us.

Thus God has briefly placed before us all the distress which may ever come upon us, so that we might have no excuse whatever for not praying. But all depends upon this, that we learn also to say Amen, that is, that we do not doubt that our prayer is surely heard and [what we pray] shall be done. For this is nothing else than the word of undoubting faith, which does not pray at a venture, but knows that God does not lie to him, since He has promised to grant it. Therefore, where there is no such faith, there cannot be ture prayer either.

It is, therefore, a pernicious delusion of those who pray in such a manner that they dare not from the heart say yea and positively conclude that God hears them, but remain in doubt and say, How should I be so bold as to boast that God hears my prayer? For I am but a poor sinner, etc.

The reason for this is, they regard not the promise of God, but their own work and worthiness, whereby they despise God and reproach Him with lying, and therefore they receive nothing. As St. James says [1,6]: But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering; for he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord. Behold, such importance God attaches to the fact that we are sure we do not pray in vain, and that we do not in any way despise our prayer.

I believe it is possible to spend many months mediating on this prayer and all its ramifications and Dr. Luther’s insights have certainly broadened my understanding and increased my appreciation of the Lord’s Prayer. Now during our Sunday services when we as a congregation pray the Lord’s Prayer it mean so much more to me and I hope that this brief exposition on it gie you a solid foundation upon which to build a rich life of prayer.

End Notes

1. Luther, Martin The Book of Concord, This text was prepared by Allen Mulvey for Project Wittenberg. The entire text is in the public domain and can be downloaded or read in its entirely at http://www.icinet.org/pub/resources/text/wittenberg/luther/catechism/web/cat-12.html.

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid





The Discipline of Prayer

14 10 2009
Truth Matters Newsletters – February 2007 – Vol. 12 Issue 2 – The Discipline of Prayer – by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

The Discipline of Prayer

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Like so many other genuine expressions of Christianity, something as seemingly simply as prayer has been turned into a set of rules, principles, keys, and methods by various aspects of charismatic extremists. Allow me to cite a few examples from the books in the growing DMI archive:

The Prayer of Jabez, Bruce Wilkinson

Releasing the Ability of God through Prayer, Charles Capps

Shaping History Through Prayer and Fasting, Derek Prince

Praying to Get Results, Kenneth E. Hagin

The Interceding Christian, Kenneth E. Hagin

Prevailing Prayer to Peace, Kenneth E. Hagin

The Art of Intercession, Kenneth E. Hagin

I Prayed, He Answered, William L. Vaswig

Prayer Fasting, “Apostle” Kingsley A. Fletcher

Practicing the Prayer of Presence, Adrian van Kaam & Susan Muto

Prayer Your Foundation for Success, Kenneth Copeland

Praying Beyond God’s Ability The Enigma of Unanswered Prayer, Roy Hicks

Prayer Hindrances, Fear Worry Doubt, Charles Capps (3 tape series)

Atomic Power With God Through Prayer & Fasting, Franklin Hall

Moving the Hand of God Putting Memorial Prayer to Work for You, John Avanzini

These books, and many others I did not cite involve techniques which can be condensed into the simple belief that through using these techniques you can get God to do whatever you want Him to as long as you can find a snippet of a Bible text to quote back to Him. The majority of charismatic books on prayer are little more than tracts about confessing the answer you want from God, which makes prayer more or less a practice of positive confession.

Naturally, there are a whole host of books written about the benefits and necessity of “praying” in other tongues. Almost every charismatic Christian believes that it is the will of God for each of His children to have their own prayer language. The emphasis on this is so strong that for fifteen years 90% of my time spent in prayer, was done by me in my private prayer language. I once took some time in seminary to figure out how many hours I had spent praying in other tongues and I came up with over 5,000 hours (keep in mind at one point I was single and used to pray 3-4 hours a day in tongues). The sad reality was brought home to me while studying First Corinthians taught by Dr. H. Wayne House at Michigan Theological Seminary. I learned that exegetically I had no leg to stand on regarding a private prayer language, there simply is no such thing taught by the Apostle Paul. Yet all the prater meetings I attended and led were basically groups of individuals praying loudly or softly in other tongues…because after all we ere speaking mysteries in the spirit realm and thus Satan could not know what we were saying to God, ergo, he could not inhibit God’s work on our behalf. What was troubling to me is that when the scales of ignorance dropped off of my eyes I realized three important facts: First, I did not know either what I was praying about, since it was just as much a mystery to me as it was to the devil and his demons. Secondly, since I really had no idea what I was saying, or who I might have been praying for I had no way of knowing if my prayers were even answered by God. Lastly, even though I’d leave those times of praying in tongues feeling GREAT, the truth was that I was not developing any real communication with my Lord. When I stopped praying in tongues I realized that I was nearly speechless before the Lord as far as genuinely pouring my heart out to Him in prayer. In short, I honestly did not know how to pray much at all. Oh I thought I was pulling down principalities, powers and dominions over neighborhoods and cities. I could go on for hours “in the spirit,” yet when it came to being transparent with myself before my God I was at a loss.

I believe this is the same sort of experience the disciples had being around The Master during His earthly ministry. Jesus was (still is) a man of prayer this is plainly shown throughout all four Gospels.

After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, Matthew 14:23

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1:35

After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. Mark 6:46-47

Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Mark 14:35-36

About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Luke 9:28,29

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples. Luke 11:1

“Lord Teach Us to Pray”

This is where we begin our consideration of the spiritual discipline of prayer. It seems obvious that the disciples took note of the manner in which our Lord relied upon prayer as His “connection” between Himself and His heavenly Father. They saw their Master often either leaving them to be alone to pray, or rising early in the morning to spend time alone with His Father in prayer. In short, what they noticed was that the prayer life of Jesus was not (1) formal, (2) ritualistic, (3) repetitive, (4) dull and (5) nonproductive. Until the breaking forth of Jesus’ ministry none of the rabbis, scribes, or Pharisees ever referred to Almighty God as “Father” in their prayers or teachings. This was a radical concept which brought our Lord into conflict with the ruling religious minds of His day.

In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, o that your giving may be in secret. Then, your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Matthew 6:3-8

Jesus, in Matthew and other places in the Gospel, hammer’s home a point formerly unstressed to the Israelites, that of God being their “father.” Unlike today, back then most people knew they were sinners and that God was holy, thus their relationship to Him was not seen generally of a father relating to his children. God was wholly “other” to the average Israelite and to dare call Him “Father” was blasphemy and an attempt to rise oneself up to His level. The religious leaders understood perfectly that Jesus was declaring Himself to be God’s Son because of the familial terms He used of Himself and the god the Jews were supposed to be worshipping.

I and the Father are one.” Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you tone me?” We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because you a mere man, claim to be God.” John 10:30-33

It is vital to understand the times in which Jesus lived in order to realize just how radical the prayer He was about to teach His disciples was and still is today when it is really delved into. What we call “the Lord’s Prayer,” is really better named “the Disciples Prayer,” because they asked our Master to teach them to pray. It is really a very simple prayer which is broken down into seven petitions. Because of its seeming simplicity, the tremendous depth and majesty of what Jesus taught His disciples often goes unappreciated by many in the Church today. Sadly, from my own personal experience I know that the majority of charismatic congregations do not pray the Lord’s Prayer as a part of their worship service and virtually all of the so-called “evangelical” congregations do not do so either. In my studies I have found the commentary of Dr. Martin Luther in his Large Catechism on the Lord’s Prayer to be the best available and I will be citing it almost exclusively.

The First Petition

“Hallowed be Thy name”

Jesus begins by teaching His disciples to pray in the following manner —”Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name” (Matthew 6:9). The first two words had to have blown the disciples minds; they had never dared address the Lord God of Israel in such an intimate manner, yet this is exactly how Jesus taught them to pray.

“hallowed” is just an Old English term for “holy.” First and foremost Jesus stresses that His disciples remember the Second Commandment in which we are told to be sure we do not take the Lord’s name in vain or profane His name in any way. God’s name is always holy in its nature, but often in our use it is not holy. So we are directed by God the Son to pray that His name become holy among us. How so?

Answer, as plainly as it can be said: ‘When both our doctrine and life are godly and Christian.’ Since we call God our Father in this prayer, it is our duty to always to act and behave ourselves as godly children, that He may not receive shame, but honor and praise from us…In the first place, then, God’s name is profaned when people preach, teach, and say in God’s name what is false and misleading. They use His name like an ornament and attract a market for falsehood. That is, indeed, the greatest way to profane and dishonor the divine name. Luther’s comments teach us that not much has changed regarding the battles raging around and within the true Church:

To hallow means the same as to praise, magnify, and honor both in word and deed. Here, now, learn what great need there is for such prayer. Because we see how full the world is of sects and false teachers, who all wear the holy name as a cover and a sham for their doctrines of devils (1 Timothy 4:1), we should by all means pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and cry out and call upon God against all people who preach and believe falsely.

Jesus begins by teaching us that God is our Father and as His children we want to do all we can to make sure that our Father’s name is honored and praised by all we do and say. Those who abuse God’s holy name for gain are to be exposed, openly rebuked and if unrepentant then shunned as blasphemers. ♦

To Be CONTINUED NEXT MONTH

Copyright © 2007 Robert S. Liichow





Spiritual Formation

9 10 2009
Truth Matters Newsletters – January 2007 – Vol. 12 Issue 1 – Spiritual Formation – by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Spiritual Formation

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My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, (Gal 4:19)

Since it is a New Year, and may it be a blessed and happy one to us all in the Body of Christ! It seems only fitting to begin the year off right, spiritually speaking. That means shoring up the fundamental disciplines which will draw us truly closer to our Lord and Savior and thus be more useful to the Master in His purpose.

THE CALL

Becoming Christ-like is not simply an automatic process that occurs in the lives of believers. I have learned over my twenty years of ministry that generally people are either actively growing in Christ, or have stagnated and become complacent with where they think they are in relationship with the Lord. There are those who have backslidden and drifted away from Him altogether. Notice in Gal. 4:19 the strong language that the Apostle Paul uses as he writes to his converts in Galatia. First, we know they are Christians because he addresses them as “my little children” as opposed to a term for a mature child. Here we find Paul again in the spiritual pangs of childbirth for his disciples. Why? Obviously, they had not been developing spiritually as they should have been. (1) Thayer in his Lexicon says “i.e. whose souls I am striving with intense effort and anguish to conform to the minds of Christ.” Being formed into the image of Christ, like childbirth is an arduous, at times, painful lifelong process with the goal of becoming conformed to His very image. The Apostle reminded the believers in Rome when he penned these familiar words regarding God’s eternal purpose for His children:

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Rom. 8:29)

Every Christian is somewhere along the path of having Christ Jesus formed in them. Some are further along than others. When it comes to spiritual growth and maturity the bottom line is simply this —we can grow as deep into Christ and allow His Spirit to bear bushels of fruit unto the glory of God through our lives….as much as we want, or perhaps better put—will allow Him to produce. Salvation is totally the work of God apart from any and all effort of man. Dr. Martin Luther in his Small Catechism regarding sanctification gives the following answer to the third question in his section concerning the Apostles Creed:

I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, Sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life. This is most certainly true. (2)

Sanctification is also the work of God, but in this area He provides the means whereby we may grow, but it is up to us to partake of these means of grace in order to grow thereby.

As new born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: (1 Peter 2:2).

Spiritual growth comes by the desire within each of our hearts to grow more and more into the image of Christ. You can be seventy years old, never missed a Sunday worship service and still be a spiritual infant. (3) On the other hand, you can be a fairly young Christian whose spiritual growth far outstrips those twice his or her age. Why? Because unlike their elders they were not merely hearers of the Word but actually did what was taught to them by faithful men of God.

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he behold himself, and goeth his way, and straightway fretted what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth [therein], he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. (James 1:22-25).

So as we consider spiritual formation it is vital to keep in mind two realities. First is what is generally referred to as “positional truth.” This refers to our position in Christ due to His work and His work alone. We are already sanctified by His blood [Heb. 10:10]. God the Father sees us as pure, holy and spotless in Christ. That is our position. The other reality is what is commonly referred to as “experiential truth,” or our experience throughout our spiritual life. The goal of the Christian is to both know God and glorify Him in all we do; (4) this comes when our experience in this life begins to line up with our position in Christ.

This is where the issue of spiritual formation, Christian growth, discipleship, maturity comes into play. How do we go about making what the Bible says is our position a living reality or experience in our daily lives here in a fallen world amidst a fallen people (which includes ourselves)? How do we become, what we really are?

I suppose it really boils down to how bad do we want to grow spiritually? How heavy a price are we willing to pay to be like Christ in this life? Are we willing to mortify our fleshly desire as Paul challenges the Christians of old to do?

For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (Romans 8:13)

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: (Col. 3:5)

Paul uses two different words for mortify in these texts. In his letter to the Romans the Greek word for mortify is transliterated thanatoo and it means to render extinct or by death to be liberated from the bond of anything, literally to be made dead in relation to (something). (5) To do such a mighty work as to destroy once and for all certain deeds of the body it takes nothing less than the power of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, better translated the Spirit of Reality (John 16:13). (6)

To the Colossians Paul uses another term for mortify, here he uses the Greek term which is transliterated nekroo. Thayer in his lexicon says of this word that it means to deprive of power or destroy the strength thereof. (7) I heard one preacher say that it meant to “put to death by starvation” which is an accurate description of what Paul is getting at in his admonition to the Colossians.

Spiritual Formation demands much from those who truly seek to become vessels of honor and useful to the Master. I know it is unpopular in many pulpits today, yet the following text stands true:

But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, [and] prepared unto every good work. (2 Timothy 2:20-21).

Not every Christian is equally useful to our Master (all are equally loved). Who is it that determines who is useful and who is not? The individual believer “if a man therefore purge (ekkatnalpo, cleanse thoroughly) himself from these he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified and meet for the master’s use”! The cleansing is from iniquitous actions mentioned in the previous verse. (see v. 19). From Paul’s two statements we learn a great deal. First and foremost, we note that it is the work of the Spirit that works in us by God’s means of grace to mortify the deeds of our flesh. Secondly, we see that we too have a role to play and are not just passive “pawns.” In fact Paul says that we are co-laborers with God (1Cor. 3:9), although in context he is referring to the Apostles work with God in building the Church I believe it can also be extended to all Christians who are seeking with pure hearts to do God’s will on earth as it is in heaven.

The genuine work of spiritual formation is a joint-effort between God and man (1 Cor. 3:9). The Spirit of Grace working molding (Jer. 18:9) and transforming the sinful, yet willing souls of people made righteous in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21) who have decided to pick up their cross (Matt. 16:24) and follow their Master to Golgotha, the place of death and that from that death true life, bountiful eternal fruit is borne which brings glory to our Father.

Before we launch off into the deep let me emphatically state that in order to grow we must die.

He must increase, but I [must] decrease. (John 3:30)

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will [my] Father honour. John 12:24,25,26)

In the first text cited John is referring to his own ministerial influence, yet I believe it can also be legitimately applied to our lives too. In order for Christ to “grow” in us, the little Pharisee who sees himself or herself as king or queen of his or her life must decrease. In fact, our Master makes it even more plain by taking something everything around Him understood, a seed. His listeners knew that as long as the seed was not buried in the ground and “died” it would never produce any level of harvest at all. Yet if it would die the result would be new life that brings forth much fruit, i.e. many more seeds which will reproduce and eventually fill the earth with good fruit.

The False Pathways Offered

Sadly, there is a great deal of pseudo-spirituality being offered to the Church that has no basis in Scripture. There is a very obvious reason why there are so many ‘false paths’ beings offered by so many Christian leaders. Many of the “seeker” Christians are beginning to feel the emptiness in their “worship” services. All the hoopla, banners, dancing and shouting are simply not bringing these seekers closer to Jesus. So they are hungry to really grow to know the Lord and unfortunately the enemy, Satan, is more than willing to fill the void he created through their false worship with now false pathways to alleged intimacy with God.

Some of these practices run the gamut of vision quests, sweat lodges, walking in labyrinths to attain inner understanding. Never heard of walking a labyrinth as part of spiritual formation? It is all the “rage” for many in the Church. Here are a few quotes for you to consider:

At its most basic level the labyrinth is a metaphor for the journey to the center of your deepest self and back out into the world with a broadened understanding of who you are.

The most basic metaphor for walking a labyrinth is that of Life’s Journey. Walk the labyrinth while mindful of your life. Envision your life’s goal. Walk to your destiny and see what you learn. Pay attention to the sights and sounds. Do you feel lost at any time? If so, where in the labyrinth did it occur? What does that mean? Do you like one part of the labyrinth more than another? Why? What do the turns represent in your life? Do you resist some turns and like others. When you are outdoors notice subtle changes in the terrain—the ups and downs. Notice any synchronicities such as an overheard word or a bird’s song. Consider all of your experiences in the labyrinth in relation to your life’s journey. What does the labyrinth teach you about your life? (8)

The purpose behind the spiritual disciplines is to bring into harmony the outer expressions of our worship with the inner reality of what we are doing. It is a very dangerous to go through the motions without having a knowledge of the reality of what we are doing. (2 Timothy 3 “having a —form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.”

We can outwardly kneel, cross ourselves, eat the Body and Blood of the Lamb at His table, sing the songs, lift up holy hands, dance and give and all of it be a mere “form” of godliness denying the true power and transforming presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in it all.

It is dangerous because we think we have done something spiritual, yet in actuality all we did was go through the motions and left the congregation feeling more than a little self-righteous. Another example of a commonly followed false path is one that comes to the Church from Rome Catholicism.

Centering or Contemplative Prayer

Centering Prayer is drawn from ancient prayer practices of the Christian contemplative heritage notably the Fathers and Mothers of the Desert, Lectio Divina, (praying the scriptures), The Cloud of Unknowing, St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila…It was distilled into a simple method of prayer in the 1970’s by three trappist monks, Fr. William Meninger, Fr. Basil Pennington and Abbot Thomas Keating at the Trappist Abbey, St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts. (9)

This obvious quotation comes from the roman Catholic persuasion and there is a renewed interest in the early Roman Catholic mystics and their visions and how they obtained them. Go to any Borders bookstore or Barnes and Nobel and you will find shelves of books on and by various Roman Catholic mystics. Anyone with half sense can see where all the dreams, visions, revelations given to these “saints” and “Popes” have doctrinally brought the Roman Catholic Church today, almost totally bereft of any remnants of the Gospel at all. As we consider a few titles in print it is important to define what mysticism is:

The word “mysticism is derived from the Greek word mustikos, meaning one initiated into the mysteries. Eventually, it was used in Christian circles as the branch of Christian theology that believes in the direct communion of the soul with God. In *pantheistic context it usually refers to one who seeks by contemplation and self-surrender to obtain absorption into the Ultimate. (10)

Allow me to digress, Dr. Norman L. Geisler (who is one of the primary authors of the previous and following quotations) was one of my Professors at Michigan theological Seminary (MTS) and he has written extensively on mysticism {along with just about every other issue facing Christians today, I consider the man to be a genius an I counsel anyone to carefully weigh any of what he teaches}. The article goes on to say:

A Private Religious Experience. Religious experiences are of two basic kinds: general and specific. The first is available to all persons, and the latter are unique to only some…Mystical experiences are private by nature. This does not mean that others cannot have similar experiences. It simply means that the experience is unique to the one having it. Also, the general public does not have such experiences at any time. (11)

The underlined portion hit’s the problem head-on. People can claim to have seen anything, been anywhere yet in each case they are private in nature and thus are subjective and non-verifiable. (12) For example, there is not another living person who can verify Mr. Hagin’s, Jesse Duplanis, Mary K. Baxter’s, Choo Thomas, Roland Buck, Dr. Eby and the other “trips” to heaven or hell these internationally known speakers write and hold conferences on. These authors alone went on the trip and their reports are either accepted or rejected by the Church, sadly tens of thousands believe these unsupported accounts which often contradict the Bible.

Mystical Experience Is Not Objective. By their own admission, the experience mystics have- are not public but private. As such, then, they ate subjective and not objective. But subjective experiences have validity only for the subject experiencing them. Mystical Experiences Are Not Testable. Since mystical experiences are without an objective basis, they are also untestable… (13)

If one is honest the entire charismatic renewal is based in subjective experiences. Whether it is the individual (ecstatic speech) prayer language one receives or the visions given while doing carpet time. (14) are subjective and totally unverifiable.

As you read some of the following titles you will see the obvious emphasis on the mystical, the subjective regarding knowing and fellowshipping with our Lord. You will find most of these books in your local book stores. Each promises means and methods to experience the divine!

Boyd, Gregory A. Seeing is Believing: Experience Jesus Through Imaginative Prayer. Baker 2004

Chryssavgis, John Light Through Darkness: The Orthodox Tradition Orbis, 2004

Allen, Joseph J. Inner Way: Toward a Rebirth of Eastern Christian Spiritual Direction Eerdmans, 1994

Dr. Waal, Esther. Lost in Wonder: Rediscovering the Spiritual Art of Attentiveness. Liturgical Press, 2003

Macquarrie, John Two Worlds Are Ours: An Introduction to Christian Mysticism. Fortress Press, 2004.

Penrose, Mary E. Refreshing Water From Ancient Wells: The Wisdom of Women Mystics. Paulist, 2004

Taylor, Brain. Becoming Christ: Transformation Through Contemplation. Cowley Publications 2002

Cutsinger, James S. Not of This World: A Treasury of Christian Mysticism. Bloomington: World Wisdom, 2003.

From these few titles (I could list over one hundred) we see a common thread, a renewed interest in mysticism. Boyd’s “imaginative prayer” is nothing more than what we called visualization within charismania. Pastor Paul Cho of the largest congregation in the world teaches extensively on visualization which he has termed the “fourth dimension”. (15) Cho would have people believe they can have whatever they want if they can conceptualize it deeply enough. Not to mention that nowhere does the Bible suggest we conjure up in our own minds what Jesus looks like, I.e. create a “Jesus,” then imagine ourselves sitting down with our imagined Jesus and holding a dialog with Him. This is akin to the New Age occult practice of seeking a “spirit guide” to talk with and gain wisdom from.

Currently there is also a renewed interest in the spirituality of the various branches of the Eastern Orthodox Churches by seeker “evangelicals.” Mysticism runs rampant throughout the eastern “Church,” and people hungry for new “deeper” spiritual experiences are flocking back to what they believe are churches which are more ancient and thus must be a truer reflection of the original Church.

There are some commonalities with most of the forms of today’s modern versions of spiritual formation. Primarily they all are not based upon the authority of the Holy Bible. For these folks the Bible is not enough. It is not, at least in their minds, going to get them that direct-connect they are seeking with the Lord. These spiritually hungry masses are seeking to experience union with Christ or the Holy Spirit and the pathways being offered promise to give people methods by which they can have such encounters.

Have you ever stopped to think about the fact that the Bible never encourages anyone to seek to have visions, trances or out-of-body experiences? When experiences of this type did occur it was always unexpected on the part of the recipient and it was granted by God for a specific purpose in His divine plan for either Israel or the Church. Let me cite just a couple examples:

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings; With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another.” “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” Isa. 6:1-6

The Prophet Isaiah was not seeking an “audience” with the Ancient of Days. God chose to reveal Himself to Isaiah and when He did note that Isaiah immediately saw his own filthiness and sinful condition in the brightness of God’s glory. He did not have a halleluiah shouting dancing “Pentecost” in God’s presence. On the contrary he had a sense of his unworthiness. Here is an example from the New Testament:

About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied, “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” this happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven. While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate. They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there. While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.” Peter went down and said to the men, “I’m the one you’re looking for. Why have you come?” The men replied, “We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to have you come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say.” then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guest. The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa went along. The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.” Talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure

I challenge anyone to read through from Genesis to the Revelation of Jesus Christ and show me one example of a believer seeking to have some form of “spiritual” experience. In every case where an angel or angels appear or a theophany of our Lord appears it is always for extremely important reasons and they all came unexpectedly to the recipients.

There is an important difference between seeking the Lord and seeking to have some type of ecstatic experience which is what the false pathways offer people.

Next month we will begin a biblical look at the discipline of prayer, what it is, what can we expect from it, does it have limits. We’ll consider some of the common errors taught on this matter as well. So stay “tuned” campers, our journey has just begun.

scanprayer0001

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. I do not mean to be offensive to those with legitimately/organically slow or retarded children. God bless those families who struggle daily with lifelong mental retardation. However, spiritually thinking if you have someone who is 50,60 or 70 years old and they are still a ‘babe’ in Christ, then frankly they are spiritually retarded…or even more seriously, their pastor is spiritually retarded because he has not brought his portion of the Lord’s flock to maturity. Sadly, I’ve known many “seasoned saints” who were basic babes in Christ Jesus in their doctrinal foundation and fellowship with Christ and His people. Brothers and sisters this not ought to be. ALL of us should be on a track of what is called in the Detroit automotive industry as “C.I.” which stands for continual improvement.

2. http://www.bookofconcord.org/smallcatechism.html

3. Please understand I am in no way implying our seasoned saints are not mature. In fact, in our own congregation it is the elderly Christians who are the most faithful and active in Bible study, giving and serving. My point is simply that church attendance does not automatically equate to spiritual growth.

4. The Shorter Westminster Catechism’s first question asks “What is the chief end of man? The answer is —”Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.”

5. Obtained from http://www.shortercatechism.com/resources/wsc/wsc_001.html

6. http://www.blueletterbible.org/cgi-bin/words.pl?book=Rom&chapter=8&verse=13&strongs=2289&page=

7. Time well spent is time studying all the titles and names given to the Holy Spirit. As with each aspect of the Godhead, each name given reveals to us some aspect of the divine nature. One of the most potent titles given to the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Reality, which at least to this author means that it is He that brings life and illumination to the Holy Scriptures and makes “real” all that means of grace God has given unto His Church.

8. http://www.lessons4living.com/rituals.htm Bold type and underlining added for emphasis.

9. http://www.centeringprayer.com/cntrgpryr.htm

10. Geisler, Norman L. Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. Baker Book House, 1999.

11. Ibid p. 516. Underlining added for emphasis.

12. For example, every book apart from the Bible, that has been written about heavenly visits or trips to hell for that matter are all subjective. The individual having the alleged experience relates it in a book or tapes series and either people believe them or not. Sadly, multitudes believe these subjective experiences over the clear teaching of the Scriptures. Here are some specific examples: Jesse Duplantis, Heaven Close Encounters of the God Kind. Mary K. Baxter, A Divine Revelation of Hell, Dr. Eby, Didn’t You Read My Book!, Pastor Roland Buck’s Angels on Assignment, Choo Thomas, Heaven Is So Real.

13. Geisler, Norman L. Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. Baker Book House, 1999, p. 516. Underlining added for emphasis.

14. Carpet time refers to the time that a person spends in an altered state of consciousness during a service. This experience is usually brought on through the laying on of hands by the “anointed” speaker/pastor/prophet.

15. Tracy and I heard Paul Cho teach his occult doctrine “live” via Robert Tilton’s monthly satellite broadcast to the church where I was serving as Associate Pastor in Ann Arbor when it was a fresh revelation to Mr. Cho. Cho’s concept boiled down to its essence is that if you can imagine it, you can create it. Naturally, he wrote a book about it called “The Fourth Dimension” and now I have recently learned there is even a volume two — “The Fourth Dimension Vol. 2, David Yonggi Cho, Paul Yonggi R. Whitney Menzano” Published by Bridge-Logos out of Gainsville, FL. You can visit bridge logos.com to order a copy (why waste your money?)





Why I like to Kneel In Church

28 08 2009

Truth Matters Newsletter – June 2006 – Vol. 11 Issue 6 – – Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Why I like to Kneel In Church

Today, many congregations and denominations are quickly jettisoning almost everything that could remotely be construed as “Traditional.” Some congregations have done completely away with singing the classic hymns and have replaced them with simple pietistic refrains that are repeated over and over. (1) Other church leaders have taken crosses out of their sanctuaries lest it offend the seeker they are attempting to reach with, I assume, the message of the very cross they have removed.

Many Evangelical and Protestant groups no longer recite the Lord’s Prayer and fewer still ever declare the Nicene or Apostles creed in their services. Part of the philosophy behind striping away the elements of historic orthodox Christianity is because they are seen as an impediment to the targeted demographic. (2) These aspects of our common faith are viewed as being non relevant in today’s “have it your way culture.”

What the Church Growth Movement (aka “Seeker Sensitive”) does not comprehend is that worship service is about Jesus and not our comfort or making us feel good about ourselves. (3)

Another ancient practice that will not be found in this contemporary form of Christianity is that of Kneeling before The Ancient of Days and whole on our knees confessing our sins in unison. For twenty years in various church/denominational settings my wife and family never knelt and confessed our sins as part of the worship service. I am glad to be a part of a congregation that has not lost any of our historic Evangelical practices, including kneeling for confession, prayer and kneeling during the reception of the Holy Supper.

O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. Psalm 95:6

And it was so, that when Solomon had made an end of praying all this prayer and supplication unto the LORD, he arose from before the altar of the LORD, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven. Kings 8: 54

There is something that strikes me at a deep spiritual level when I kneel before the transcendent God of all creation. It reminds me that I am the creature, and He is the Creator. It is a posture of submission and humility. It is an attitude of supplication and an acknowledgment that I am poor in spirit and I am in continual need of God’s grace.

Perhaps some churches don’t kneel because it smacks of “Roman Catholicism” in their thinking. Possibly they think that they don’t have to kneel, after all God sees the heart so our posture is unimportant. Let me address these two misconceptions right now before we continue. First, the Church knelt before the Lord long before Roman Catholicism existed. Secondly, yes God does see our heart and if we could see it as He does we’d be on our faces and not just our knees!

When people encountered Jesus during His earthly ministry they often knelt before Him when making their requests:

And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. Matthew 17:14-15.

And, behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue: and he fell down at Jesus’ feet, and besought him that he would come into his house: Luke 8:41.

And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed. Luke 22:41.

Kneeling before the Lord is the Biblical pattern. There are few examples of people simply walking up to Jesus and looking Him face-to-face petitioned Him for something. We see this pattern of humility in prayer modeled by both the Apostle Peter and Paul of Acts:

But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes; and when she saw Peter, she sat up. Acts 9:40

And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all. Acts 20:36

Even throughout the Old Testament people usually knelt in prayer to God.

When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the LORD above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “He is good; his love endures forever.” 2 Chronicles 7:3

Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. Daniel 6:10

So when I kneel I sense a deep connection to al the ancient people of God upon whose shoulders we all stand. If people knelt in prayer before the advent of Christ, then knelt to Him during, His earthly ministry, how much more so should we kneel today now that He has ascended back to the right hand of God the Father Almighty in all His glory?

Some might argue that kneeling can become a form of pietistic pride “see I kneel, so I am truly humble.” If that is anyone’s attitude then they are simply wasting their time. Any spiritual practice can be abused and turned into a form of works righteousness, but this need not be the case if one truly understands the reason behind what is being done or practiced.

One thing that can keep people away from feeling sanctimonious is the purpose behind our kneeling. In our congregation’s worship service we kneel initially to confess our sins before our Holy God. The pastor begins by inviting God’s people to kneel and confess our sins to God (the pastor kneels as well, knowing himself to be a sinner in need of God’s grace too). Here is what we confess as a people in unison:

Silence for reflection on God’s Word and for self-examination.

Pastor: Let us then confess our sins to God our Father.

Congregation: Most merciful God, we confess that we are by nature sinful and unclean. We have sinned against You in thought, word and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved You with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We justly deserve Your present and eternal punishment. For the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in Your will and walk in Your ways to the glory of Your holy name. Amen. (4)

Certainly this confession can become just so many words habitually spoken without any impact in some people’s lives, but as we would all agree, God knows our hearts. He knows who is sincere in their repentance and who is just going through the motions. People can be just as hypocritical standing a kneeling.

Trust me when I say after years of charismatic indiscrimination it was initially hard to verbally say out loud that I am by nature “sinful and unclean.” I had been wrongly taught and had taught others that yes once we were sinners, but now we are the very righteousness of God in Christ! Just try to get a Word of Faith cultist to confess they are sinners (good luck!). So, actually verbalizing those words brought some initial cognitive dissonance within me. However, I did confess that negative confession because it was true. The following quotation is an answer to this very issue of saying we are poor miserable sinners:

You are certainly correct in affirming the scriptural truth that believers are set free from sin through Christ and are no longer slaves to sin, and consequently are also free from its penalty, death. As St. Paul plainly says in Romans 6, “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11). Yet this same apostle in the very next chapter of Romans writes of his struggle as a sinner/saint: “I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched [the Greek word here means “miserable, wretched,” “distressed”–A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, 9881 man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin” (7:23-25). On the basis of Paul’s teaching in Romans 7 Luther spoke of Christians as paradoxically at one and the same time “saint and sinner” (simul iustus et peccator). He wrote, “The saints in being righteous are at the same time sinners; they are righteous because they believe in Christ whose righteousness covers them and is imputed to them, but they are sinners because they do not fulfill the law and are not without sinful desires. They are like sick people in the care of a physician: they are really sick, but healthy only in the hope and insofar as they begin to be better, healed, i.e. they will become health. Nothing can harm them so much as the presumption that they are in fact healthy, for it will cause a bad relapse.” It is altogether proper and fitting, therefore, for Christians to confess that they are poor miserable sinners, and with full seriousness, while at the same time they rejoice in the forgiving love of Christ who has taken away their guilt-the love which is announced and imparted to them in the absolution. (5)

Then once we have made our confession of sin something amazing (and greatly misunderstood by many people) happens in the service! The Pastor stands up and says:

Almighty God in His mercy has given His Son to die for you and for His sake forgives you all your sins. As a called and ordained servant of Chirst, and by His authority, I therefore forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. [John 20:19-23]. (6)

We are forgiven all of our sins! We are “absolved” of them based totally on the mercy of God and merit of Christ Jesus on the cross for us. What confuses some Christians is that they mistakenly think that The Evangelical Church believes that it is the pastor who upon hearing our confession of sin forgives our sins. This is simply not the case. Roman Catholicism believes that their priests have the authority to actually forgive sins, but that is not what the Bible or The Evangelical Church believes. To absolve simply means to set free from sin. By virtue of his office and in the name and stead of Christ a pastor absolves those who have confessed their sins. (7) So when we hear the words “I forgive you all your sins” in reality it is not the pastor speaking per se, it is no less than Jesus Christ Himself, for those are His words. Glad tidings indeed!! As long as we are on the subject of confession and absolution, one need not be a pastor to forgive another their sins —

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availed much. James 5:16

Every Christian is called upon (see Eph. 4:32, Col. 3:13) to do this two-fold work: (1) confess their sins and (2) to forgive those who sin against them. In our formal worship setting we do this as a body together, but it can be done privately, and if you are anything like me, I am throughout the day asking my Lord’s forgiveness when I stray in word, thought or deed.

We also kneel at the altar rail to receive the body and blood of our Lord in communion. As we approach the altar we bow, then the pastor invites us to come forward, upon doing so we kneel and the elements are distributed. After everyone has partaken the pastor pronounces a blessing over us and we return to our seats. During this time hymns appropriate to the Lord’s Supper (an audible gasp is heard from a seeker Christian who surreptitiously sneaks a read of your issue) are sung by the congregation. After communion is received my family chooses to kneel again in thanks for the gift the father has given us in His Son and for the strength of joy granted to us by His Spirit.

Let me close by reiterating that I, Bob Liichow, enjoy kneeling before our Lord. This practice is seen from Genesis to The book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. It does not make me more spiritual to kneel nor does it make Christians who do not kneel less spiritual. It is simply part of our ancient Christian tradition (there I said that word again) and it is a tradition I fully appreciate. ♦

Copyright © 2006  Robert S. Liichow

1. I am not against contemporary Christian music. Based on over twenty years of singing “contemporary” songs I can unequivocally state that they lack the solid theological content of the traditional hymns of the Church. Admittedly the new music has a beat, you can clap and dance to it but that misses the point of the singing which is to focus on Christ, lift Him up and glorify Him.

2. Church Growth gurus believe that the major reason people do not attemd church is because it is too traditional, is not relevant to their daily lives, demands too much of its members. CGM gurus thus came up with a wide variety of marketing techniques to lure in the un-churched. They use everything from jugglers to clowns, stadium seating, tone down the message so it is no longer convicting and thus not a true presentation of the Gospel.

3. Naturally I am not saying that worship service does not meet our needs or that they are to be boring. The focus is to always be Christ centered and not man-centered.

4. Obtained from http://www.lcms.org/graphics/assets/media/Worship/DS2.pdf

5. Obtained from http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=2624

6. ibid

7. Concordia, The Lutheran Confessions, Concordia Publishing House, Saint Louis, p. 684.





NEED YOUR SUPPORT NOW

17 08 2009

Truth Matters Newsletter – August 2009 – Need your support now – by Robert S. Liichow

NEED YOUR SUPPORT NOW 

In fourteen years my wife and I have rarely had to appeal to our readers to give to our family specifically. Now that time has come.

My wife and I went away to celebrate our 26th anniversary by visiting my mother, sister, and her family in Southern California. We flew from Detroit as their guests, all expenses paid and I admit it was an exquisite time for Tracy (who has never seen the pacific ocean) and I.

Upon our return, Tracy went to work on Monday, as usual, only to be told that she was “laid off.” prior to our leaving she was told her lay-off date would be August 14th! So she and our household were surprised to learn Tracy would not have at least another full paycheck before her layoff. It seems that was not to be.

Tracy has since been looking into receiving unemployment compensation and food stamps to help keep our family “alive” regarding rent, food, insurance, etc.

My brothers and sisters DMI has depended upon God to meet our needs through our readers, website guests, blog visitors etc…Right now I am asking YOU, as the Head of DMI, if you will permit my family to utilize the financial gifts that come in this month to help offset our living expenses for this month? Honestly, we have nothing financially, apart from looming bankruptcy, in the way of savings, etc. Nor does DMI.

We, as many of you have known, live month by month, as we have for close to 15 years. This was with Tracy working 40 hours+, now that is gone and we have no “social-safety net” to fall upon apart from the generosity of God’s people. Please help my family during this time of need and may our gracious God bless and keep you in His truth.

Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 15639, Detroit, Michigan  48215

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Proverbs 19:17

He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done.

 





We Thank God For Your Prayers

11 06 2009

Truth Matters Newsletter – Oct 2004 Vol. 8 Issue 10 – We Thank God For Your Prayers – Rev. Bob Liichow

We Thank God For Your Prayers

We know that many of you pray for our family and ministry on a regular basis (we also pray daily for our partners too) and I wanted to share a testimony!

On the third of October I was driving our daughter, Dominique, to school as usual. It was 8:05 AM when we entered the rush hour flow of traffic on I-696 in our Saturn.

We were driving in the left center lane when suddenly a double long gravel hauling semi-truck zoomed up to us in the left lane and decided to come over into our center lane. The driver obviously did not see us and his front right tire plowed into the left front end of our Saturn. The force of his impact spun us around 360 degrees and we found ourselves being “T-boned” by the semi-truck. The airbag deployed and all I could see from my window was nothing but a huge grill and 2 big tires pushing us sideways down the busy highway. I told Dominique who had been asleep in the front seat to “hang on” all the while calling out to Jesus.

The semi pushed us at least 100 feet down the highway and when he was able to slow down I redirected our car forward and rolled over into the left shoulder. He continued at least another 400 feet before he could stop on the shoulder.

Long story short. The Saturn was totally demolished, but Dominique and I were able to walk away virtually unharmed (I say virtually, because I suffered from some very painful muscle strain in my back and a few bruises.

We thank God for your prayers and we are extremely grateful to our Savior for allowing us to continue Teaching Truth & Exposing Error on the planet for a while longer! ♦

copyright © 2004  Rev. Bob Liichow

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