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.