Does the Bible Support A Doctrine of Being Slain in the Spirit? Part 2 of 3

22 03 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – November 2009 – Vol. 14 Issue 11 – Does the Bible Support A Doctrine of Being Slain in the Spirit? Part 2 of 3 – by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Does the Bible Support A Doctrine of Being Slain in the Spirit?

Part 2 of 3

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

The “Ministry” of the Catchers

This phenomena has caused the need to develop a “new” ministry within the church, that of the Catcher. No matter where you go, whether it is to a revival service at Toronto, Pensacola or a Vineyard Fellowship you will encounter the ministry of the Catchers. This is an actual “ministry” within charismatic fellowships and people are trained in how to fulfill this duty (it is often done by the ushers within a local assembly).

A catcher is a man who stands behind those receiving prayer. Their job is to “catch” the people who are being slain in the spirit. The catchers job is to make sure the person being “blessed” does no harm to themselves or those around them. Charismatic congregations even have written guidelines for catchers:

Tips For Catching People:

1. Do not touch the person being prayed for, but reassure them that there is someone behind them.

2. You don’t have to take a hold of their shoulders as if you are going to help God.

3. As the person moves down, move back and then facilitate their move.

4. Men- be careful when touching women.

5. Get them to fall back, not forward.

6. Catchers – ONLY catch, do not pray. Do not wave your hands only stand and be ready to catch.

7. Please do not push or pull anyone over. God does not need any help and it will ultimately backfire.

8. Do not hold anyone up by grabbing their shoulders or upper back.

Let me begin by asking a rhetorical question. If the power of God is knocking people down and placing them in an altered state of consciousness for the purpose of spiritually blessing them, then why do these churches employ the use of catchers?

The answer is quite simple —- if people are falling flat on their backs from an upright position they are very liable to hurt themselves or others.

We previously read that extremists explain this manifestation as being the result of encountering the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. If this is so, He is not mighty enough to see to it that those He sovereignty knocks down are unhurt by His blessing?

These churches employ catchers because: (1) they know people fake being slain many times. (2) They lack faith in their own stated beliefs. Obviously God is not big enough to safeguard His people.

In our former church along with the male catchers we had sisters who came along beside or behind the catchers with large sheets of material. Their ministry was to place these sheets over the women’s legs and bodies. Why? Because many times when women would be slain in the spirit they would fall in very immodest positions.

We had events where when some unfortunate women fell their dresses would be hiked up their bodies quite a bit, and their legs would be splayed out at inappropriate angles. When the Lord choose to embarrass His daughters in this manner we had to be there to quickly cover up their shame. Does this really sound like something the Lord God would do to His daughters?

Not only can being slain in the spirit prove to be embarrassing to a woman, it can prove deadly as well. Mrs. Ella Peppard died as a result of someone falling on her who had been slain in the spirit.

The ushers quickly pulled her off the stage and sat her in a pew where she cried out in pain for 20 minutes….The woman’s family alleged the ushers refused to call an ambulance because an ambulance would not look good at a miracle service. A lawsuit was settled out of court. Hinn says he never knew the woman was injured or he would have sought medical help.

According to charismatic theology the Holy Spirit will place women in morally embarrassing positions, and at times allow some people to be hurt and/or killed.

I know from past experience (I used to be a catcher) that when there was no one standing behind a saint receiving prayer nine times out of ten they would not fall down. This alone is proof to me that what is taking place is not a sovereign move of the power of God. There is a power involved at times but it is not of God.

3

The Historical Roots of the Phenomenon

I began by citing Stanley Burgess’s definition in the first chapter and it is a good one except for one point – he says it is a relatively “modern” expression. His statement is not correct. People have been allegedly falling under the power in the United States since the early 1760’s. It was a common expression among the Shakers. There were groups before the Shakers in Europe, which had this same manifestation:

The Convolutionaries

The extreme exercises of the “convolution Aries” startled Belgium and France. The grave of a young Jansenist clergyman, Francois de Paris, in the cemetery of Saint-Medard in Paris, because the scene of reputed marvelous cures. Multitudes flocked thither for healing. Strange bodily agitations seized the devotees. They fell in shakings and convulsions, threw themselves about on the ground, screamed, and assumed unusual and often unseemly postures.

The Shaker’s

Later on in the mid seventeen hundreds in America the Shaker cult also had people falling under the power. Their bodily agitations or exercise were various and called by various names, as the falling exercise…The falling exercise was very common…The subject of this exercise would, generally with a piercing scream, fall like a log on the floor, earth, or mud, and appear as dead.

The Shakers were a cult group led by a woman named Ann Lee. Many of the manifestations which are common to charismatic extremism, were first practiced by the Shakers. Since the Shakers were a pagan cult the source of their manifestations could not have been the Holy Spirit.

The Shakers were very evangelistic in their zeal to propagate their false doctrines & practices. Shaker evangelists were involved with the Cane Ridge “Revival,” and brought their manifestations (which they called “signs”) with them and infected the meetings.

People Were “Slain” During the Cane Ridge Revival

It was during the Cane Ridge meetings that we see more examples of the manifestation of being slain in the spirit. The underlining is added for emphasis:

The scene to me was new and passing strange…Many, very many fell down, as men slain in battle, and continued for hours together in an apparently breathless and motionless state sometimes for a few moments reviving, and exhibiting symptoms of life by a deep groan, or piercing shriek, or by a prayer for mercy most fervently uttered…Then the woman who had first stated shouting let out a shrill of anguish. Methodist John McGee, seemingly entranced, made his way to comfort her. Someone (probably his Presbyterian brother) reminded him this was a Presbyterian church; the congregation would not condone emotionalism! Later John recalled, “I turned to go back and was near falling; the power of God was strong upon me. I turned again and, losing sight of the fear of man, I went through the house shouting and exhorting with all possible ecstasy and energy, and the floor was soon covered with the slain” people were falling in ecstasy.

This eyewitness of the Cane Ridge excess described the people falling in “ecstasy,” but is this necessarily a good thing? Pagan religion has long been given over to ecstatic forms of worship (see 1 Kings 18:28). The Oracle at Delphi breathed in the fumes which rose from the ground and in an ecstatic state uttered prophecies which directed the lives of many people.

ECSTASY The state of being in a trance, especially a mystic or prophetic trance. The derivation of our word “ecstasy” (from the Greek ek, out plus stasis, state) suggests an out of body state (2 Cor. 12:2,3) or the state of being out of control.

From what I have personally witnessed and experienced being slain in the spirit is a condition in which the individual’s normal rational mental state is suspended, and that person is for a period of time literally out of control. During the Shaker meetings and at Cane Ridge we find multitudes of people capitulating their volitional sensibilities over to an experience which was so great it physically overwhelmed them. However, it was also noted by the orthodox Reformed ministers at Cane Ridge, that a person simply getting slain was not a true indicator of spiritual regeneration, “They noted that some who “fell” had within six months gone back to the world.”

The Ministry of Charles Finney

After the Cane Ridge revival the experience of being slain in the spirit became common in many revival meetings. One evangelist in particular whose revival meetings were patterned after the emotional excesses of Cane Ridge was Charles Finney. In many of his meetings people were slain in the spirit:

Before the week was out I learned that some of them, when they would attempt to observe this season of prayer, would lose all of their strength and be unable to rise to their feet, or even stand upon their knees in their closets.

The congregation began to fall from their seats in every direction, and cried for mercy. If I had had a sword in each hand, I could not have cut them off their seats as fast as they fell

Finney was not particularly concerned with scriptural precedent, he was interested in getting result and fostered the belief that revival was not a sovereign move of God’s Spirit, but that revivals could be planned and worked up by the use of what he called new measures.

The Ministry of Maria Woodworth Etter

Being slain in the spirit was one of the ordinary signs in the ministry of Maria Woodworth-Etter (1844-1924) the trance evangelist.

Yesterday during the afternoon meeting the Lord Jesus bowed the heaven and came down. Many went under the power. Two women and a girl were struck down unconscious, and lay on the floor…The second woman lay unconscious for about two and one-half hours, with both arms raised to heaven. When she was recovering she sang praises unto God in the spirit.”

Her ministry manifestations began in 1885, 21 years before the Azusa “revival.” She received a spiritual renewal at a Friends meeting in 1879. Here is a woman, who received some type of spiritual power from a Quaker meeting. Keep in mind that the Society of Friends, the Quakers, were originally a non-Christian group (although many people unknowingly lump them in with Christian groups).

Maria would go into trances, people came to her while she was in a trance state and allegedly got “saved.” She would lay hands on others and place them in a similar trance-state.

The Ministry of Aimee Semple McPherson

The practice of people being slain was not widespread in Pentecostal circles after Etter’s death. It became more commonplace through the ministry of another woman minister named Aimee Semple McPherson (1890-1944). Sister Aimee was also a traveling evangelist and she too had people fall out under the power in her ministry—

One of these was a Sunday school teacher at the city’s largest Protestant church. After Aimee touched him, he dropped to the floor trembling and speaking in tongues. The next day, the wife of a leading citizen had a similar experience, and scores of people came to the altar for counseling. The day after that, “Three were slain under the power and through speaking in tongues,” Aimee said.

Aimee was very controversial to say the least. She is the Founder of the Foursquare Gospel denomination. She later died of a barbiturate overdose in 1944. To this day charismatic believers ignore the fact that she was a divorcee and most likely faked her own kidnapping in order to spend time in an adulterous liaison in 1926. Yet the power of God is supposed to have flowed mightily through during her life!

The Ministry of Kathryn Kuhlman

The next major figure whose ministry is responsible for making the practice of being slain in the spirit part-and-parcel of charismatic healing and miracles services was Kathryn Kuhlman (1907-1976).

Kathryn committed adultery with a married man, who left his wife and children to marry Kathryn. A few years later Kathryn divorced him and never remarried. She died of heart disease in 1976. I bring these distasteful facets up because it show some of the character of these mighty Pentecostal/Charismatic giants of the faith. I am not saying these people were not saved, nor that they did not sincerely repent of their sins. However, character does matter in ministry.

Apart from the well-documented healings, the most sensational phenomena associated with Kuhlman was “going under the power” (sometimes referred to as “slain in the Spirit”) as people fell when she prayed for them. This sometimes happened to dozens at a time and occasionally hundreds.

Her ministry was international in scope. Well received by many Pentecostal’s and the fledgling charismatic renewal movement of the 1960’s.

I have witnessed Mr. Kenneth Hagin have a long line of people hold hands and he lay hands on the head of the first person and then the entire line fall down. I have personally seen Benny Hinn whirl around and “throw” a wave of anointing in his meetings and multitudes have fallen, as if shot on several occasions. As recently as August 1, 1997 my wife and I were at the Toronto Airport Church and we witnessed multitudes being slain in the spirit as John and Carol Arnott laid hands on people.

The Phenomenon Is Universally Accepted By Charismatic Christians Today

This experience is almost universal to all charismatic’s. If you know any, ask them if they have ever been slain in the spirit and what it was like.

This practice and manifestation is accepted de facto due in large part to the following:

  • The long history behind it, i.e. God has always done this.
  • Their own subjective experience of it, they got “blessed.”
  • They have been taught that the Bible clearly teaches this is a legitimate experience of what takes place when God’s power comes on an individual.

Slain- Carol Arnott

As with holy laughter today’s revivalists strongest case is that of historical precedent. Yet when anyone takes an honest look at the history of this manifestation, they see a historical background of occultism (with the Shakers), aberrant mystics like Maria Woodworth-Etter, and ministers of dubious character such as Aimee McPherson and Kathryn Kuhlman. The historical case is not sufficient, nor will it ever be, to overrule the plain teachings of the Bible.

From an exegetical view point the revivalist have even less support. None of the texts they cite as “proof” for this practice can be legitimately applied. All of the texts have to do with divine encounters which were extremely important to the plan of God either for Israel as a nation or for the Church. It is not enough to locate texts which denote someone falling and then interpret them to refer to being slain in the spirit. All of their comparisons are at best apples-to-apples. None of the writings of the Early Church Fathers indicate any such manifestation as part-and-parcel of normal Christian experience, in fact, they never mention it at all. One would think that these writers would have recorded some evidence of this manifestation in their writings if it was a genuine experience given by the Holy Spirit, especially one that alleges to bestow ministry calls, visions of the Lord, emotional and physical healing. Yet the historic record of the Church for almost 1,700 years is totally silent on this matter.

As I have already stated the history behind this practice is extremely questionable at best. The earliest references we have of it in America come from the Shakers, a non-Christian cult of necromancers. The familiar spirits (demons) told the Shakers at the same time in their various communes that they, the spirits, were leaving the Shakers and going to visit the “world’s people,” and would do so by various manifestations. This did occur and many Christian sects, unsound in doctrine were open to such forms of enthusiasms, and this deception continues to this day. The practice of being slain in the spirit is less than four hundred years old, and has had only marginal acceptance at best in the past. However, this has changed in our time.

Now with rapid growth of neo-Montanism with the Church this practice is now a common, sometimes weekly experience for literally millions of people professing the name of Jesus Christ.

The sheer numbers of people submitting to an experience does not validate it as biblical. Truth is not determined by consensus. Truth is revealed to us by the written Word of God. The Westminster Confession of Faith states what the Christian’s relationship to the Bible ought to be:

IV. The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed depends not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.

VI. The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word:

God’s Word along is the standard by which we live. His Word contains all things necessary for salvation, faith and life. These things are expressly set down in the Bible, or “by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture.” This deduction however is not accomplished by violating the principles of hermeneutics and wresting the texts from their context in order to attempt to make them fit one’s experience.

This is exactly what today’s revivalists have done regarding being slain in the spirit. This experience is not mentioned once contextually in the entire Bible. Every text the revivalists site as proof of their non-biblical practice has been taken from it context and misapplied.

The revivalists have failed both historically and biblically to make their case that this manifestation is the result of the Holy Spirit or the glory of God coming upon an individual to such a degree their physical bodies cannot withstand it. And thus fall to the ground in some form of a trance-like condition. With this in mind we must seek other explanations.

Learned Behavior

There is an undeniable element of learned behavior with this phenomena. A minister gets up and preaches, towards the end of the message he or she will begin to make allusions to what people may see or experience while being prayed for. Often some of the texts we have considered will be sited to validate what the congregation will see or personally experience. The catchers are called forward and then an alter call is given. The first people are lined up with catchers behind them. Hands are laid on the people and some of them begin to fall into the arms of the catchers. The other people are observing this behavior. When their turn comes, they too fall down.

This is the basic pattern of ministry I have personally observed for over fifteen years, it was the pattern I also used while in full-time charismatic ministry. Although not done consciously, I and other ministers, were setting the state by psychologically preparing the people in advance. On the part of the people, they wanted to get blessed, they wanted a stronger “anointing” or deeper walk with Christ. Seeing others fall, they too fell. Many times I knew as a minister that people were simply “faking it.” How? When people came up for prayer I would notice them quickly look behind them to make sure there was a catcher there to “catch” them when they fell. These fakers, came knowing in advance that they were going to fall, and they wanted assurance they would be caught. 

(TO BE COMPLETED NEXT MONTH!)

Copyright 2009 Robert S. Liichow

* Color-highlight and some bolding are not in the original book by Robert S. Liichow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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From the Rising of the Sun to its Setting The Name of the Lord is to Be Praised! (Ok, but how?)

7 03 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – July 2009 – Vol. 14 Issue 7 – From the Rising of the Sun to its Setting The Name of the Lord is to Be Praised!  – by Rev. Bob Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

From the Rising of the Sun to its Setting The Name of the Lord is to Be Praised!

(Ok, but how?)

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

The manner in which we worship God is extremely personal and obviously every person and religious group believes it is doing “it” the right way. Anyone or anything that is different from the way we do it is usually denigrated by us. There are at least three reasons for this reaction. First, we believe we are worshipping God correctly, ergo anything different from our way is automatically wrong. Secondly, denigrating other practices helps to psychologically bolster our own position by creating an “us-and-them” mentality a subtle form of elitism. Thirdly, as fallen people it comes naturally for us to tear down than to build up.

I believe there is another way to rightly consider the worship of our God. The lens I want us to look through is taking place biblical? Many forms of worship may not be from our specific cultures or traditions, but that does not make them necessarily wrong only different. The only valid question to be asked is the way or method people worship biblically acceptable and if so we must not criticize them.

Regardless of what flavor the brand of Christianity being practiced does through the centuries one of the constants has been the role of music in the worship of the Lord God. Music can be one of the highest forms of emotional expression available to mankind and it is as varied in its presentation as are the cultures from which it springs.

The nascent early Church expressed itself musically by initially following the format of Jewish worship including its music; after all these were Jewish believers. The Psalms were set to music and without a doubt King David, who is often referred to as the “sweet Psalmist of Israel” was a keen musician and a great lover of music and he commanded the use of a wide variety of musical instruments in the worship of Jah:

David told the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brothers as singers to sing joyful songs, accompanied by musical instruments: lyres, harps and cymbals. The musicians Herman, Asaph and Ethan were to sound the bronze cymbals; Zechariah, Aziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Maaseiah and Benajah were to play the lyres according to alamoth, and Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, Mikneish, Obed-Edom, Jeiel and Azaziah were to play the harps, directing according to sheminith. Kenaniah the head Levite was in charge of the singing; that was his responsibility because he was skillful at it. Berekiah and Elkanah were to be doorkeepers for the ark. Shebaniah, Joshaphat,Nethanel, Amasai, Zechariah, Benaiah and Eliezer the priests were to blow trumpets before the ark of God. Obed-Edom and Jehiah were also to be doorkeepers for the ark. 1 Chron. 15:16,19-24

Jewish worship was (and still is among the Orthodox Jews) very expressive, animated, loud and joyful. Read First Chronicles 16 entirely and you will see where David dedicated a Psalm to Asaph and in vs. 36 we read the people verbally said “Amen” and “Praise the Lord” during their praising of God. I mention this because in most LCMS congregations such verbal declarations are unheard of (this is true in most mainline denominations) but such responses are indeed biblical.

Many times our understanding of the Bible is hindered by our lack of knowing the original languages. (1) This is especially true when it comes to our English word “praise.” When we come across this word we mentally default to our personal definition or experience of what praise means or is to us. Although this is something we all do it can be a very dangerous way to study the Bible and it can and has led to many misunderstandings and false doctrines. Never assume important reoccurring words have one simple direct translation into our language from their original languages because they do not. Good examples of this are the Greek words for “love.” There are four major Greek words for specific types of love and we err if we interpret them incorrectly.

The Seven Major Hebrew Words for Praise

When we think of praising our God often we think of the various styles of music we sing in praise of/to Him. However, music although preeminent and central to worshipping the Lord is only one of the ingredients which work together with others in honoring God. It behooves us to take a look into the Hebraic words we simply translate as praise in our English translations. There are no less than seven Hebrew words which are used to denote the praising of God.

1. YADAH: to worship with the extended had; the giving of oneself in worship and adoration. To lift your hands up unto the Lord. It carries the meaning of absolute surrender as a young child does to a parent – “pick me up, I’m all yours”. Scripture: Gen. 29:35; 2 Chron. 7:6, 20:21; Psalms 9:1; 28:7 Psalms 33:2, 42:5,11, 49:18; Isaiah 12:1.

Strong’s Concordance number 3034 yadah; a primitive root; used only as denominative from 3027; literally, to use (i.e. hold out) the hand; physically, to throw (a stone, an arrow) at or away; especially to revere or worship (with extended hands); intensively, to bemoan (by wringing the hands). Yadah in practice – Lift my hands to Him and say how I am surrendering myself to Him. The New Testament gives us the directive to lift up our hands in worship and prayer in 1 Tim. 2:8I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.” The word “yadah teaches us that it is perfectly biblical and acceptable to lift up our hands in worship to God.

2. TEHILLAH: to sing, to laud. A spontaneous new song. Singing from a melody in your heart by adding words to it. This refers to a special kind of singing-it is singing unprepared, unrehearsed songs. Scripture examples: Psalms 22:3, 34:1, 40:3, 66:2; 2 Chronicles 20:22.

Strong’s Concordance number 8416 tehillah; from 1984; laudation; specifically (concretely) a hymn, praise, adoration, thanksgiving (paid to God). Ephesians 5:19 “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,” might be an example of this type of praise.

3. BARAK: To kneel or to bow. To give reverence to God as an act of adoration. It implies to continual conscious giving place to God. Blessing the Lord and extolling His virtues. There is a sense of kneeling and blessing God as an act of adoration in the word BARAK. Physical application – To bow, kneel or to do this with the intent in my heart that He is my King and I yield to Him.

Strong’s Concordance number 1288 barak; a primitive root; to kneel; by implication to bless God (as an act of adoration), and (vice-versa) man (as a benefit); also (by euphemism) to curse (God or the King, as treason). It is biblical and is legitimate to kneel before God while praising Him.

4. HALAL: The Strong’s Concordance gives us a good working definition, its number is 1984 halal; a primitive root; to be clear (orig. of sound, but usually of color); to shine; hence, to make a show, to boast; and thus to be (clamorously) foolish; to rave; causatively, to celebrate; also to stultify; This word is used over 110 times in the Old Testament. Some scriptures using halal include: 1 Chron. 16:4, 23:5,30, 29:13; Heh. 12:24. From halal we get the word hallelujah. Halal songs are loud and clamorous in expression and are very emotional demonstrations of joy and celebration.

5. TOWDAH: To give worship by the extension of the hand in adoration or agreeing with what has been done or will be. This word is commonly found in connection with sacrifice-applying the giving of thanks or praise as a sacrifice before reception or manifestation. Thanking God for something that I don’t have in the natural, i.e. an expectant faith. Towdah implies agreeing with His Word – faith in His Word. This form of praise goes in operation just because His Word is true. Scriptures: Psalm 42:4, 50:23; Jer. 17:26.

Strong’s Concordance number 8426 towdah; from 3034; properly, an extension of the hand, i.e. (by implication) avowal, or (usually) adoration; specifically, a choir of worshippers: KJV — confession, (sacrifice of ) praise, thanks (-giving, offering). Today as Christians the only sacrifice we are told to give to the Lord is the sacrifice of praise as seen in Heb. 3:15 “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.”

6. ZAMAR: “To sing with instruments”. To make music accompanied by the voice. One of the musical verbs for praise in the book of psalms. It caries the idea of making music in praise to God as in Psl. 92:1. The word ZAMAR also means to touch the strings, and refers to praise that involes instrumental worship as in Psl. 150. The one word is usually translated “sing praises”.

Strong’s Concordance number 2167 zamar; a primitive root [perhaps ident. With 2168 through the idea of striking with the fingers]; properly, to touch the strings or parts of a musical instrument I.e. play upon it; to make music, accompanied by the voice; hence to celebrate in song and music.

7. SHABACH: to address in a loud tone, a loud adoration, a shout! Proclaim with a loud voice, unashamed, the Glory, triumph, power, mercy, love of God. This word implies that testimony is praise. The phase “shout unto the Lord” can be understood as the action of SHABACH. It is not just being loud. You should have the attitude of putting your whole being into it, an attitude of being totally uninhibited. Scripture citations: Psalm 117:1, 63:3-4

As you can see the word “praise” in our Bible refers to a great divergence of adorational (2) expression presented to and accepted by our Lord. All of these seven terms can and often do incorporate music. My dear brothers and sisters the bottom line is simply this — there is no one right “right” way to give praise to our God. Any one or all of the aforementioned seven expressions are legitimate. Here are some additional references to how the people of Israel worshipped The Ancient of Days:

Singers and singing ( 1 Chronicles 15:16-27 & 25:1-7)

Musicians and instruments (1 Chronicles 23:5, 25:1-7)

Ministry of Levites before the Ark ( 1 Chronicles 16:6, 6:37)

Recording (1 Chronicles 16:4, 28:12, 19)

Thanking the Lord (1 Chronicles 16:4, 8, 41)

Praise ( I Chronicles 16:4, 36)

Psalms (1 Chronicles 16:9, Psalms 98:6)

Rejoicing and joy (1 Chronicles 16:10, 16,25,31)

Clapping hands (Psalm 47:1, 98:8, Isaiah 55:12)

Shouting (I Chronicles 15:28, Psalms 47:1, 5; Isaiah 12:6)

Dancing (1 Chronicles 15:29; 2 Samuel 6:14, Psalms 149:3; Psalms 150:4

Lifting up hands (Psalms 134; 141:2) (Lamentations 3:41)

Worship (1 Chronicles 16:29, Psalms 29:1-2, 95:6)

Seeking the Lord (1 Chronicles 16:10-11, 2 Chronicles 7:14)

Spiritual sacrifices (Psalms 27:6, 1 Peter 2:3-5, Hebrews 13:15,16)

Saying Amen (1 Chronicles 16:36)

There is one very important fact that cannot be overlooked when considering these expressions of praise in worshipping our God. All of them are to be the result of an intense love for God; they are quite simply an outward manifestation of heartfelt devotion to the Savior. All of these manifestations can be a genuine spiritual expression or merely one’s flesh trying to appear spiritual.

Worship In Spirit & In Truth   (John 4:24)

The charismatic movement has embraced all of these biblical forms in their worship services (and yes added a few of their own). No one can rightly say that what they are doing is unbiblical because it is not. Admittedly, clapping, dancing in the aisles, shouting “glory to God,” etc. is not for everybody, but that does not make it “wrong” it only makes it different.

Spirit and truth are the two guidelines for genuine worship. Coming out of the charismatic movement I have seen all types of fleshly activities which frankly are virtually unavoidable due to our human condition. For instance, I can dance before the Lord or I can dance to be seen by those around me and secretly hope they deem me as spiritual because I appear to be caught up in the spirit. One way a leader can place some governance on the exuberance without putting out the “fire” so to speak is to challenge the people by asking them if they (sticking to my example) dance before the Lord at home when no one is watching but God. This same question can be applied to all these outer forms of praise.

Another issue is what I’ll call the “herd mentality,” in other words doing something simply because everyone else is doing it. I’ve been in services when one person may suddenly take off running around the sanctuary and before you know it ten or twenty others are following that person. Good exercise, without a doubt. Spiritual worship? Maybe it was for the initial runner, probably not for the others. Person “A” lifts his hands up to the Lord and in his heart he is crying out “I surrender myself to You Lord.” Babe in Christ. “B” sees “A’s” actions and posits “hmm, this is what spiritual people do, so I will raise my hands too” without any inner surrender to God, just the outward action.

At other times I’ve been in services where the praise leader begins to command the congregation to “clap your hands,” or “shout to the Lord” and this is wrong because it violates the principle that such expressions come from the heart not from outside the worshipper. It is also a subtle form of manipulation and I have seen worship “leaders” get people to do all sorts of things that normally they would not do which violates the command of Jesus regarding “in spirit” or from the heart.

This much is certain the act of praising God is multi-dimensional. It is first and foremost a private one-on-one communion between the individual and his God. If one is not connected to Jesus Christ by grace through faith then they cannot and are not worshipping God. This intimate love relationship is usually expressed corporately in worship with other lovers of the Living God. For example, I am singing a hymn to my Lord yet others around me are also singing the same hymn to Him, so we have both an individual and corporate experience going on. The focus of all worship is to be on our Triune God, who He is, what He has done on our behalf, what our response is to His love and not on what other people are doing or not doing around us. Anything that pulls my attention away from God during this sacred time is of the flesh. Speaking from my own experience the most precious times in worship is when I lose sight of myself and those around me and I am completely focused on Christ.

Everybody thinks their way is the “right” way to Praise the Lord

It is only natural to believe that the manner in which we worship the Lord is indeed the only proper way to do so. The Bible clearly states in Prob. 16:2 “All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits.”

When it comes to worship formats we must be honest with ourselves and ask some penetrating questions. Generally the manner in which we worship is dictated by our culture. I have spent the last year being somewhat mentored by confessional Lutheran pastors who firmly believe any worship format other than theirs is not of God. They decry any form of what they consider “contemporary” worship formats which includes the use of various instruments (guitars, drums, keyboards, etc) and uses songs not found in the standard hymnal. The truth is what these ultra-Germanic culture and expression founded in 15th century practice. That is fine and dandy if that is your culture. Te problem arises when you attempt to place Germanic culture in an African setting and force people from a totally different culture to accept the Germanic practice as the correct one. (3)

African-American Christians often worship God in a vastly different format than do, say LCMS Christians. Does that make the African-American believers wrong? No, it does not, it make them different based upon their culture and life experience as a people. The same can be said for Hispanic people, Native American Christians or Asian disciples.

After sitting under some very rigid teachers during the last two years all I can do is shake my head in wonder and sadness. These poor souls miss the beauty and freedom that is our biblical heritage in Christ when it comes to worshipping our gracious Lord. The complaints and finger pointing usually come from those who have no idea how vast a landscape of emotional expression is pained by our simple English word praise when it is studied in the Hebrew. We must never forget that our God is a lot bigger than our cultures, denominations and understanding and as long as what is being offered unto God as worship does not violate the given biblical practices then let us humble our hearts before Him and worship Him in the beauty of holiness, however it may be expressed.♦

Copyright © 2009 Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. This is one of the reasons why I stress the importance of sitting under well educated pastors. Although I do not claim to be a Hebrew or Greek scholar I have taken (and pasted ) my courses in both original languages so I have at least a rudimentary understanding of what I am studying.

2. Ok, I admit “adorational” is not a formal word, I made it up, but then the Apostle Paul coined some words too

3. I use Africa merely as an example, it can be as simple as trying to make African-American “German” when it comes to worship. Frankly this practice is nothing more than racism regardless of who practices it.





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 Cult of Personality Is Crumbling

20 02 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – February 2009 – Vol. 14 Issue 2 – The Cult of Personality Is Crumbing – by Rev. Bob Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

The Cult of Personality Is Crumbling

By Rev. Bob Liichow

The following article is written by Gillian Flaccus – Associated Press Writer on 2/1/2009. The highlighting italics and underlining were added by DMI for emphasis.

GARDEN GROVE, Calif. – Once one of the nation’s most popular televangelists, the Rev. Robert H. Schuller is watching his life’s work crumble. His son and recent successor, the Rev. Robert A. Schuller, has abruptly resigned as senior pastor of the Crystal Cathedral. The shimmering, glass-walled mega church is home to the “Hour of Power” broadcast, an evangelism staple that’s been on the air for more than three decades.

The church is in financial turmoil: It plans to sell more than $65 million worth of its Orange County Property to pay off debts. Revenue dropped by nearly $5 million last year, according to a recent letter from the elder Schuller to elite donors. In the letter, Schuller Sr. implored the Eagle’s Club members – who supply 30 percent of the church’s revenue – for donation and hinted that the show might go off the air without their support.

“The final months of 2008 were devastating for our ministry,” the 82-year old pastor wrote.

The Crystal Cathedral blames the recession for its woes. But it’s clear that the elder Schuller’s carefully orchestrated leadership transition, planned over a decade, has stumbled badly. It’s a problem common to personality driven ministries. Most have collapsed or been greatly diminished after their founders pulpit or died.

Members often tie their donations to the pastor, not the institution, said Nancy Ammerman, a sociologist of religion at Boston University. Schuller, with a style that blends pop psychology and theology, has a particularly devoted following, she said. “Viewers are probably much less likely to give when it’s not their preacher they’re giving to,” she said. “There’s something about these televised programs where people develop a certain loyalty.”

Today’s increasingly fragmented media landscape is also to blame, said Quentin Schultze, a Calvin College professor who specializes in Christian media. Church-based televangelism led by powerful personalities filled TV in the 1980s, but now only a handful of shows remain, he said. Among the struggling ministries are those of Oral Roberts and the late D. James Kennedy of “The Coral Ridge Hour” TV show. “I don’t see a scenario for maintaining a TV-based mega church anymore. The days of doing that in the models of Schuller and Jimmy Swaggart and Oral Roberts are over,” Schultze said. “It’s amazing to me that the ‘Hour of Power’ was able to keep going as long as it did.”

Through a spokesman Schuller Sr., his family members and other cathedral officials declined to comment. The younger Schuller, 54, did not respond to an e-mail requesting an interview. The elder Schuller, who called his weekly show “America’s Television Church,” founded his ministry in a drive-in-theater after moving to Southern California in 1955.

He studied marketing strategies to attract worshippers and preached a feel-good Christianity, describing himself as a “possibility thinker” and spinning his upbeat style into a 10,000-member church and a broadcast watched by millions worldwide. The church’s main sanctuary, the Crystal Cathedral, is a landmark designed by renowned architect Philip Johnson, with a spire visible from afar amid Orange County’s suburban sprawl. Thousands make the pilgrimage to see where the broadcast is filmed before a live congregation. The Schullers consider the church a family business and the younger Schuller’s 2006 appointment was sanctioned by the Crystal Cathedral’s parent denomination, the Reformed Church in America.

But the church announced on Nov. 29, that Schuller Jr. had resigned as senior pastor, just a month after he was removed from the church’s syndicated broadcasts. In a news release, Schuller Sr. said: “Robert and I have been struggling as we each have different ideas as to the direction and the vision for this ministry.” The church since instituted a rotating roaster of high-profile guest preachers, including Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church, the Chicago-area mega church, and evangelist Luis Palau.

Schuller Sr.’s daughter and sons-in-law remain involved in the church, some in key roles. But Juan Carlos Ortiz, the interim senior pastor, hopes to appoint a senior pastor with no ties to the Schuller family within two years.

On the church Web site, concerned members and TV fans have posted hundreds of comments protesting the upheaval, with some indicating they have stopped giving or will leave altogether.

Several angry viewers have launched petitions to get the younger Schuller back. Melody Mook, a 58-year-old medical transcriptionist from El Paso, Texas, said she stopped her $25 monthly donation and is looking elsewhere for her spiritual needs. She said she dislikes the guest pastors. “I feel hurt and confused and I’m not sure that I want to sit and watch when I know there’s problems beneath the surface,” she said. “You feel like you’re in somebody else’s church every Sunday.” Others said they felt betrayed that the Schullers couldn’t put God before their family spat. “They have not been forthcoming at all,” said John Dewart, an insurance agent from New Jersey who’s watched for 30 years. “Why can’t a father and son work together for the glory of God.? That’s my big question.”

(End of Article)

For years, even when I was a raving charismatic one thing I always disagreed with was the practice of naming ministries, later I learned were really SINistries ) after the people who started them. When you put your name on something it points to you and if you are in ministry my advice is for you to always point to Jesus Christ the One who are supposed to be serving.

So the article by Flaccus should not come as any surprise. When various so-called works of God that are built upon fallen men or women will begin to crumble and fall when their founders begin to die off. I can promise you that any work that is bearing the name of a man will bear some of the marks of a cult of personality. I am referring to works men name after themselves, not names given by others posthumously.

For example, Oral Roberts reported that no less than God Himself told him never to touch the “three G’s.” The three g’s are (1) the gold, (2) the glory and (3) the girls. Well Oral seems to have been obedient with number 3, he is the husband of one wife with no hint of adultery. He failed with number one, he is phenomenally wealthy and number two he did name his university after himself, i.e. “Oral Roberts University,” and his SINistry is called “Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association.” So is it any wonder with Oral and his deathbed that his son Richard is having trouble keeping the ORU ship afloat not to mention the television aspect of the work? After all, these things bear Oral’s name and not Richard’s. At best he stands in the shadow of his allegedly anointed father, a shadow Richard never could nor will outgrow.

Benny Hinn Media Ministries, is one of the “official” names of Mr. Hinn’s moneymaking machine. When he dies it will not continue. Why not? Because it is built around Mr. Hinn there is no “ministry.” The same can be said of Kenneth Copeland Ministries, Joyce Meyer Ministries, Jerry Savelle Ministries, Jesse Duplantis Ministries, Ed Dufresne Ministries, Marilyn Hickey Ministries, ad nauseam.

None of the above were created to live any longer than their flawed founders, apart from their specious books and tapes. None of them has any plans to really continue after the deaths of their namesakes. These leaders are not interested in raising up disciples because their operations are one-man shows. NEVER FORGET THIS FACT! It is all about Benny Hinn, Kenny Copeland, Joyce and Jesse.

Perhaps the one exception to the rule might be Marilyn Hickey Ministries. Marilyn is getting pretty long in the tooth so to speak and is not in the best of health. So a couple of years back she brought her daughter Sarah along side her. However, Sarah lacks the abilities her first-grade teacher mom has in communicating to audiences. She does try to use the same aphorisms and gestures as Marilyn but she ain’t Marilyn and when Marilyn dies that work will decrease to infecting people on a local church level as opposed to the current global level of infection.

I suppose in retrospect it is somewhat of a good thing that these SINisters thought only of themselves when they got started out. Because they have a built in self-destruct button in the form of their death (and I do not care how much faith you have, there is still one death per person).

In closing, I find it interesting that I cannot find one biblically sound television ministry that is named after a living person, man or woman. Names have meaning names indicate things and point people in certain directions. Biblically, names are important and often have prophetic meaning. Thus, I think the very act of consciously naming of a work (that is supposed to be about Jesus) after oneself speaks volumes abut the direction that work will take. Jesus’ words are as true today as they will be forever when He says “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” 

Copyright © 2009 Robert S. Liichow





Why I love the Liturgy

19 02 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – February 2009 – Vol. 14 Issue 2 – Why I love the Liturgy – by Rev. Bob Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Why I love the Liturgy

By Vicar Bob Liichow

Every Church is “liturgical” to one degree or another. It is impossible to escape having some set format of worship. Even the charismatic extremists who declare that they worship God in spirit and truth {see John 4:24} end up with some regular worship style.

No matter what denomination you are in there is a set format even in places where they pride themselves on having no “liturgy” they still fall into certain rhythms each Sunday. Offerings are taken at a certain place, so many songs are sung, the sermon is preached here, an altar call is given now, etc.

So the question for us to begin to consider is whose “liturgy” is it we are practicing? Did it come from the direction of God or the creativity of man? One of the things charismatic extremists pride themselves on is striving to practice New Testament Christianity and having a New Testament Church, i.e. having what they consider to be a style of church that is patterned after the Book of Acts. Really what it can be boiled down to is having a format that includes the use of the sign-gifts and accepting the role of restored prophets and apostles giving immediate direction from God the Spirit alone with new revelations and insights from Him. I will readily admit that was part of the history of the early church, but it was not the format of worship expected to be carried on until the return of Jesus for His people.

One thing about God is that He is very specific in all His dealings with mankind. When God interacts with man He does not leave it up to mankind’s fallen abilities to come up with ideas on how God’s will is to be accomplished. A good example of this is seen in God’s dealing with Noah in building the ark,

So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. So make yourself an ark of cypress wood: make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. Make a roof for it and finish the ark to within 18 inches of the top. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks. Genesis 6:13-16

Notice that God did not simply tell Noah to build a “big boat.” He gave him a specific design to follow. God told him what type of wood to use, what type of sealant to caulk the joints with and the exact specifications regarding its size and how many floors it was to have. Noah obeyed God and followed His directions to a “t” and in the end he and his family were saved. There is little dispute over the fact that the ark is a type of the Church; ergo the Church is built and established according to the direction of God. Probably another more familiar example in the Old Testament is found in Exodus 25:

Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you. Have them make a chest of acacia wood-two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide and a cubit and a half high. Overlay it with pure gold, both inside and out, and make a gold molding around it. Cast four gold rings for it and fasten them to its four feet, with two rings on one side and two rings on the other. Then make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. Insert the poles into the rings on the sides of the chest to carry it. The poles are to remain in the rings of this ark; they are not to be removed. Then put in the ark the Testimony, which I will give you. Exodus 25:8-16.

Notice again that God reveals to Moses exactly how His house of worship is to be constructed. God did not leave it up to Moses to be “creative.” God was so exacting in His details that He even gave specific instructions as to the colors used, the size and weights of the implements and the location of each piece of furniture, etc. It is a fascinating study when one looks at every aspect of the Tabernacle and one can easily see it fulfilled in the life of Jesus. The very structure they worshipped around was a picture of Christ.

As with Noah we see that God had a specific design in mind. He did not tell Moses “worship Me anyway you want.” He gave Moses detailed instruction not only on how the tabernacle itself was to be built, but also specific instruction on how He was to be worshipped within the context of the tabernacle. From the tabernacle in the wilderness up to the Herod’s temple in the life of Jesus we find God’s people worshipping Him according to the pattern (let’s call it the liturgy) He Himself established.

In fact, it is only fair to warn my “anti-liturgical” brethren that they are in somewhat of a surprise when they get to heaven. How so? Where do you think Moses got the pattern for the tabernacle?

In heaven there is the true tabernacle or temple. There is an actual place within heaven where God is worshipped by innumerable angels and people from every tribe, tongue and nation {see Rev. 5:9}. When we get to heaven God has a liturgy for divine worship and a divine temple in which every facet of it undoubtedly declares His awesome splendor as did the copy Moses built on earth, corrupted as it was being made of cursed materials. After all if every part of the earthly tabernacle pointed to Christ how much more the original? If God gave Moses specific directions on how He was to be worshipped do you think when you get to heaven that it will be a free-for-all? I think not because God does not change {see Malachi 3:6} and this is the God who directed the apostle Paul to write “let everything be done decently and in order” {see 1 Corinthians 14:40} so our worship of the Ancient of Days shall be done in an orderly, but no doubt exuberant manner.

Liturgical worship goes back to the Jews and was carried over into the Church by saved Jews. The Jews had a specific format in their temple worship, in the local Synagogues and even at home during the sedar meals or Passover celebration. The order of liturgy used in the Synagogue was this: 1) a reading from the Torah; 2) a psalm; 3) a reading from the Prophets; 4) a reading from Psalms; 5) a reading from the historical writings; 6) a psalm; 7) interpretation of the Word by the Rabbi; 8) the Shema or O.T. creed; 9) the Sanctus and 10) a closing prayer. Conservative Synagogues follow this pattern of worship to this day.

The early Jewish Christians continued to go to the Temple at the hours of prayer {see Acts 3:1} and continued to practice the Jewish liturgy but in light of what Christ had done for them by His sacrificial death, burial and resurrection. Acts 2:46 reminds us they were in one accord daily in the temple. In Acts 5:20 we read that the angel commanded them to go speak in the temple “all the words of this life.” Please keep in mind that Jesus never rebuked the Jews regarding temple worship, He himself went to the temple and into synagogues to worship and teach {see Matthew 13:54}. Oh yes He drove out the money-changers on two occasions but they were in the outer courts and were not part of orthodox Jewish worship.

The early believers in Christ continued to the tradition of their Jewish forefathers, worshiping as they had in both the Temple and the Synagogue. To this worship practice they added the distinctly Christian components which were in fact, transformed Jewish worship practices. These included Baptism,

The early believers in Christ continued in the traditions of their Jewish forefathers, worshiping as they had in both the Temple and the Synagogue. To this worship practice they added the distinctly Christian components which were in fact, transformed Jewish worship practices. These included Baptism, the Eucharist, the Agape meal, and others. Baptism was also present in Jewish religious practice as a personal repentance for sin. Baptism, like the Lord’s Supper, was transformed in both meaning and content by our Lord Jesus Christ. Baptism became not only a repentance for one’s sins, but being baptized in the name of the Trinity now also assured forgiveness and incorporation into the Body of Christ, the Church. Baptism was the once and for all initiatory rite whereby one received the Holy Spirit and came into the Church. (1)

Over time as the Church to include both Jews and Gentiles the liturgy was shaped and re-shaped to focus solely on Christ Jesus while incorporating aspects from the ancient Jewish format,. Historically the Orthodox Church has always been liturgical and still is. Liturgical worship is the original worship format of the earliest Christians who met in homes and which became more formalized as the Church grew and became accepted.

For the first three hundred years of its existence, the Christian Church was illegal and frequently persecuted. Therefore, very ancient liturgical documents before the fourth century are quite limited because the early Church was not “producing” liturgies but focusing on celebrating the Eucharist and surviving persecution. (2)

In the East

Some of the earliest writings concerning liturgical worship can be found in the following texts: The earliest rises in the Eastern Church include the Jerusalem liturgy of St. James, the Alexandrian liturgy of St. Mark, the East Syrian liturgy, the West Syrian liturgy of Antioch, the Armenian liturgy, and the Coptic liturgy and scholars agree all of these agree more than disagree with one another. All of these liturgies were written in the very late 300’s and early 400’s A.D. Liturgical formats began to be written down and codified once the Church was no longer an “illegal” cult and could practice its worship openly, but also as a means to stop heresies and false practices. Two of the earliest liturgies that are still in use today in the Eastern Churches are those of St. John Chrysostom and St. Basil.

In the West

The early Church had two main centers of influence, Constantinople (east) and Rome (west). Both centers had formed liturgies reflected their cultures while adhering to some of the ancient Jewish format. We can gain some insight into early western liturgical practice in the following

Who stands in front of the assembly)—presumably the bishop or his designate — preaches a homily. After the gifts of bread and wine are brought forward the president improvises a prayer of thanksgiving or Eucharistic in which all assembled participate with their acclamation of Amen. From the texts of all the later Eucharistic prayers that come down to us, we may assume that this presidential prayer was not freely invented, but followed standard structure and form similar to the Jewish hodayah prayer of praise and thanksgiving. (3)

Around 251 A.D. Latin replaced Greek in the liturgy and a more direct Roman language was used as opposed to the more flowery Greek in the eastern liturgies. The Roman Presbyter Hippolytus gives some detailed accounts of these early Roman liturgical practices.

So we see that from the days of the house church in Jerusalem to those more organized in the Grecian communities up to those communities in Italy and Spain that worship has always followed a liturgical format.

Copyright ©  2009 Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. Obtained from http://www.liturgica.com/html/litECLitWEC.jsp on 02-09-09

2. Obtained from http://www.liturgica.com/html/litEOLitEarly.jsp#Heresies on 02-09-09

3. Ibid. Underlining and bolding added for emphasis

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SADLY

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The Need For Discernment

17 02 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – January 2009 – Vol. 14  Issue 1  – The Need For Discernment – by Rev. Bob Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

The Need For Discernment

By Rev. Bob Liichow

In these last days many within the Church are being swept away by unbiblical enthusiasm. False doctrines are taught with unfailing regularity on television to a global audience. Many deny the Trinity; others declare that Jesus ministered only as a man and never as God. Millions believe that salvation is possible only when one has been baptized by immersion in Jesus name only. Numerous popular errors abound concerning physical healing, financial prosperity and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. If the myriad of false doctrines were not enough there are a plethora of false practices impacting the spiritual lives of many professing Christians. These include things such as being slain in the spirit, speaking in other tongues, holy laughter, spiritual drunkenness, and making animal noises. Some boldly proclaim that God is filling believer’s teeth with gold and platinum; others declare that God is manifesting gold dust and gem stones in their services. Several congregations are now reporting angel “feathers” miraculously appearing during worship!

You may wonder how it is possible for Christians to be misled by such false doctrine and practices. To begin with it is nothing new. Satan has always twisted God’s Word to misled people (ask Eve). Both the Old and New Testament are filled with warnings about the danger of counterfeit spiritual teachings and practices. Let me cite a few scriptural examples:

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Matthew 7:15-16

At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many peopleMatthew 24:10-11

For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect–if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time. Matthew 24:24-25

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15

For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach–and that for the sake of dishonest gain. Titus 1:10-11

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them–bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 2 Peter 2:1-2

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1

These are just a few of the texts that warn us to be aware of the reality of being misled by false prophets, teachers, and apostles. The question is how do we keep from being led astray? The answer lies in hiding the Word of God in our hearts. David said “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psl. 119:11). From the beginning God told the Israelites how to discern the truth from error in their daily lives by keeping the Word of God ever in the forefront of their mind.

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:6-9

Virtually every waking moment of their lives was to be saturated with God’s holy law. It as not just something they did for a couple of hours on the Sabbath. Their discussions were filtered through the lens of God’s law. When they rested and sat around the hearth they spoke of His ways, when they walked to work, again they talked in light of what He had commanded. Their last words at night were His words and the thoughts in their minds as they drifted off to sleep were His precepts. Thus if someone came and presented something off kilter to them they would immediately recognize it as false and reject it. Why? Because, the way to keep from being deceived is to be grounded in the truth of God’s Word.

Today as God’s people nothing has changed. We too are to live lives saturated by the Word of God. Out of the abundance of our hearts our mouths speak. Listen to yourself and others, what do you and they speak about the most? Whatever it is I can assure you that it is what fills your hearts. I’m not talking about becoming some phony-baloney super-saint. Yet I am saying that our words are to be seasoned with salt (Col. 4:6) and full of grace.

This does not happen automatically as part-n-parcel of your baptism. No it comes from a lifelong pursuit of renewing our minds according to God’s Word (Rom. 12:2). It takes diligence and desire on our part. This is why we are encouraged to “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word that ye may grow thereby.” (1 Peter 2:2)

So as this New Year begins make the most of every opportunity to dig into the Word of God by becoming involved with your congregation’s Sunday school, mid-week Bible study and any other venues they have for digging deeper into the Word of our Lord. Make it a point to read good solid spiritual books. A good way to impress the Word on your heart is to listen to the Bible in your car or at home (in fact DMI will give anyone Bible CD’s to anyone who requests them).

As you faithfully make use of all the ways God has given us to grow in His Word you will find yourself among those who ”…are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. “ (Hebrews 5:14).

Copyright © 2009 Robert S. Liichow

 





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