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Archive for January, 2010

The following is a prophecy delived at the West Coast Believers Convention in July, 2009 concerning the awakening that would come through “the praying church”.

“This ‘Great Awakening’ that is hanging heavy over the United States even tonight. This ‘Great Awakening’ that’s hanging heavy around the nations of the world but most especially in this country and in Canada. This ‘Great Awakening’ that is hanging there, just hanging there to be realized and to be, to be flowed and released throughout this nation and throughout the nation of Canada, and then in turn throughout the rest of the world.

“The prayer, the prayer, the prayer, the prayer that’s gone forth. The prayer that is going forth, that’s where the power release is. That’s where the trigger to these things is, that’s the way you release them in your church. And thus saith the Lord thy God, “In this hour these churches that are teaching and training people to pray of which are on this list and many others also, those are the churches where the explosion and the Shekinah glory of God will be manifest first.

“The praying churches will walk in it first. And they’ll say, “My, revival broke out over there.’ No, answered prayer broke out over there.’ The ‘Awakening’ will come out of congregations. There is a hunger in this nation for holiness. Holiness—real truth, Bible purity before God—and people will run into houses of worship where the glory of God is residing and hanging heavy. And they’ll say, “Clean, clean, clean! Oh to be clean, to be clean.” And they’ll run into that atmosphere and My blood will cleanse them from the top of their head to the soles of their feet.

“And My Word will take root on the inside of them, and this nation is headed for a Holy Ghost wake-up call. It is on us now—you rejoice, for we’ll see it before many hours go by. Hallelujah.”

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Ever notice how Hollywood tends to grab a hold of subject and a whole bunch of movies with similar themes all premier in one season? This past year it’s been the apocalypse (Day the Earth Stood Still, 2012, the Road, and that bad Nick Cage movie…). I remember a few years back when it was natural disasters (Volcano, Dante’s Peak, etc…) and many years back, the Vietnam war (Full Metal Jacket, Platoon, Hamburger Hill, Born on the Fourth of July).

This is true in many other elements of society. Business, fashion, music, even vocabulary, all go through fads and phases in their life cycles. This is seen in the western church as well. We constantly adopt new methodologies in order to keep ourselves “relevant” (think: seeker sensitive, G-12 groups, Purpose Driven, etc.) Innovative church leaders lick their fingers and stick them in the air to feel which way the winds of culture are blowing and then adopt their methods in order to keep people engaged and to attract new people into (or back to) the church. Other churches inevitably follow the “success” and adopt the same themes.

Perhaps this is not inherently bad. Its just failing… miserably. Only 4% of of all people 18 years old and under in the U.S. have any real interaction with the church. And how many of those are really engaged in a vibrant relationship with God? I’d hate to ask. Suffice it to say, we’re headed for disaster.

Currently, there’s another new trend in the body of Christ that you see everywhere. It has a number of manifestations and related streams: “Simple Church”, “House Church”, “Organic Church” or just plain ‘ole “The way it was always meant to be” (referencing the way first century church operated). I believe this is a God ordained move in the body of Christ. However, despite the beneficial elements and truths contained in this new move it may also fail for one reason alone – if it is perpetuated by the ingenuity of men and the efforts of their labor.

I’ve been reading a number of the books and articles written by the leaders in this movement. Most recently I just finished “Deliberate Simplicity” by author Dave Browning. As I’ve read, I’ve found myself agreeing with much of what the authors have to say. Yes indeed, the church has become impersonal, institutional, overly-complex, inauthentic, and has diverted from its “missional” identity.  Also agreed, effective discipleship cannot happen in a crowd of 5000 and a centralized “guru” leadership model. We need smaller expressions and gatherings with decentralized leadership to truly experience the life of the church.

Indeed there are many imperfections in the dominant western expression of church. The results speak for themselves. So what are we to do? In reading these books I’ve been looking specifically for what remedy they propose to this ghastly institutional mega-church marketing monster we’ve created. What fresh revelation will catapult the church back into the miraculous power and explosive growth we saw in the Book of Acts? Unfortunately, what I predominantly see and hear is another new methodology to be disseminated and implemented. Consequently, as with the other models of recent church history, what we’ll see is a bunch of transfer growth and the re-engagement of the disenfranchised back into the church, but little permanent change or a new outpouring of the Spirit of God.

Why? Well, according to my understanding of the authors, the solution is “getting back to basics” of real Christianity, particularly as experienced in the first century of the church. Meet in homes or small meetings, cut out all the non-essential fluff of extraneous programs and buildings, decentralize and “apostolisize” our leadership, focus our resources and time on being “missional”, reengage in “real community”, and rid ourselves of the “institutional” methods of traditional church services;  then we will see a church transformed.

All great and insightful ideas, but missing the one thing that is truly essential and transformative in Christianity. Spending time in the presence and counsel of the Lord.

Any expression of church that is not rooted in the life source of grace through prayer and empowerment by the Holy Spirit by which we are enabled to live godly lives, manifest the fruit of the spirit, and engage in works of righteousness, will not produce Christians of depth and power who endure.  There’s only one way for that to take root; the truly simple way prescribed in the bible: Prayer, fasting, and the word.

2Ch 7:14  if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

In all the books I’ve read, prayer is barely mentioned (or literally, not at all); certainly not as the essential element of the life of the believer or the answer to our spiritual barrenness. Their was either no, or only a couple of passing paragraphs mentioning prayer, transformation in his presence, communion and relationship with God, or waiting on Him. In his book “Finding Organic church” Frank Viola recommends that a new house church actually abstain from prayer for the first six months in order to leave no opening for infection into the group from “institutional church” methods. After this we’re told to let it come forth however it does naturally. So at least we know there is a low enough view of prayer in the life of the congregation that it can operate successfully without it for a good half a year. Obviously its not the very lifeblood in Mr. Viola’s view.

Mar 11:17  And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?

Prayer is the sole source of grace in our lives. Without prayer and fasting, we will remain the wretched, hard-hearted, unenlightened, stubborn jerks we always were. No methodology or change in how the church congregates will make any difference. Without the transformative power of prayer, we will simply be rearranging the deck chairs. Putting a new facade on the church, but not changing the hearts of men and women to become Christ-like in mind, character, and deed. There’s only one way for that to happen, and it’s not through any methodology. It’s only in His holy presence that our hearts are transformed.

I believe that the principles and models at work in the organic church movement are a key component of church expression in the end of the age. However, a new model (or return to an old one, ie: first century) of church and leadership will do nothing to provide us with the empowerment to produce lasting fruit in our lives or those in our community. “Real” community will not transform us. Apostolic leadership will not transform us. “Simple” homes and organizations will not transform us.  Models of church will not transform us. Gathering in a home will not “clothe us with power from on high”. It’s only time in His presence that will transform us and revolutionize our church expression.

Act 1:13-14  “And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying…All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer”

I ask you, was it the upper room, or the devotion to prayer and waiting on the Lord that facilitated the outpouring of the Holy Spirit?  Perhaps no-one would argue that point. If so, then why are all the books from our innovators and leaders filled with the why and how of simple and organic fellowships, but no mention of how to encounter the Lord and receive his fullness and power?

I believe models have their merits, but are entirely utilitarian. Any church model, unless it is knit to a body of believers empowered by the Holy Spirit in prayer, will eventually join the stack of outdated and failed church growth strategies and “revolutions” that have come and gone in the last several decades. When we find ourselves barren, fruitless, and our nation in danger of God’s wrath, there’s only one answer prescribed in scripture. Fasting and prayer.

Joel 2:11-13 “For the day of the LORD is great and very awesome; who can endure it? “Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.

When we loose the sense of the bridegroom, we fast.

Mat 9:15  The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.

When we look at the first century church and its leaders we often focus on the mechanics, but forget what breathed the power of God into it:

Act 6:4  “we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

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Snap, Crackle, pop (part deux)

Well, we returned from the doctors office with a wheelchair, crutches, and one pink casted six year old girl. She’s a real trouper and hasn’t complained at all. In fact, I think three weeks of wheelchair rides has a certain appeal…

In the X-ray shot you can see the dark line through the Tibia bone where the arrow is that represents our fracture. Ouch. I guess she wasn’t making more of it than there was!  She was actualy doing remarkably well these last several days considering the nature of the injury.

I was surprised to discover that you can take an X-ray three days post injury and see something different on it.

Get well soon “Little D”!

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Our Fathers…

“Words are the progeny of the soul. Hence we call those that instructed us fathers”(St Clement of Alexandria)

I’ve been re-reading  some of the works of the First and Second Century church leaders over the last couple of weeks and have been inspired once again by these incredible servants of the Lord. In the past I have read them in “research mode”, trying to determine their stance on a theological issue or their understanding of something taught by the Apostles in scripture. This time, I simply read through their epistles to the churches with no agenda at all but to see what the Lord would highlight to me through their teaching. I was struck by several things:

1. The most obvious – these were the very disciples and companions of the Apostles! Paul writes: Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. Php 4:3 If you’re Clement of Rome, how cool would you feel to have the Apostle Paul mention you by name as being “written in the book of life”! I’d be thinking, “Nice…I’m in ‘fo ‘sho”. More than that, I was struck by the reality of the humanity of the Apostles. They had friends, co-workers, companions. They aren’t angelic-like fairy tale people who lived in a state “above” the earthy interactions of ordinary men and women. There are other early writings (the Acts of Paul) where an actual physical description is given of Paul. Not a particularly handsome man from the sounds of it… but I guess if you get flogged, beat, and stoned every other week your nose is bound to be a little crooked. While some of the early writings (of unknown authorship) are not entirely reliable, they definitely give you insight into, and the flavor of, life and experiences of the early believers in the Roman empire. Fascinating stuff.

2. The centrality of the Resurrection. Our great hope as believers is that one day death will be no more when we are raised incorruptible and given new, immortal, bodies of flesh. We will not be incorporeal spirits somewhere in the nether world of “heaven”, but we will will dwell with Christ and one another, interacting as physical beings of “fleshly” substance. In the Epistles of the first century church fathers each one takes time, if not devoting an entire letter, to remind the church of this truth that is the centerpiece of their hope. It was constantly brought to their remembrance as a key to enduring the present hardships they faced.Furthermore, the early church leaders spent significant effort to completely eradicate any teaching or heresy in the churches that attempted to deny the truth of the bodily resurrection.

3. The authority of scripture.  A great testimony to the authority of the scriptures is the fact that even these church fathers who knew the very Apostles “after the flesh”, quoted their writings as being the words of God; saying they were “given by the Spirit of God” to the Apostles (Clement of Rome). Even before there was a canonized set of scriptures, the first century Fathers wrote letters that are crammed full of quotes from the epistles of the Apostles. At times, some their writings seem more like a compilation of scriptures rather than an actual letter of their own! They knew without a doubt that the writings of the Apostles carried the full weight and endorsement of heaven.

So, it’s been a fun couple of weeks of reading. A bit heady at times which eventually starts to wear on my brain and I need a little time wrestling on the floor with my chubby toddler and engaging in some silliness. Big girls have more fun, I say. : ) This one’s for you my beloved Eliza! enjoy…

I’ve just been waiting  for a reasonable opportunity to post this video. Seems like the letters from the persecuted early church make a perfectly natural segue into flirting hippos, don’t you think? One of the best things about having kids is being able to watch silly movies and not feel guilty. I love Madagascar 1 & 2. Crack me up every time.

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Mat 10:41  The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward…

In Bethany Church’s past there have been many prophetic voices that have passed through our midst. In our recent history Allen Hood has been one of those voices. God gave Allen several messages to deliver to our body of believers. Two significant messages were titled “The God Who Opposes” and “Passing on the first Things”.

Yesterday while I was driving in my car I came across a copy of “Passing on the First Things” and popped it in the CD player. At the beginning of Allen’s sermon he opens with a prayer that provoked my spirit. I found myself praying along as though the words were spoken in my very presence. The prayer is prophetic and significant for us as a people. I see its unfolding and fulfillment in these days. One of our prayer teams met this morning and we listened and agreed together with it. The Spirit of God was “on it”

If you have a moment I encourage you to listen to this file (below) and pray along with what the spirit of the Lord is saying to us as the people of “Bethany” in this hour. I’ve also posted the rest of the sermon if anyone is interested. It’s well worth a listen and speaks into where God is leading us.

Here is the prayer: Allen Hood Prayer

Here is the Sermon: Allen Hood – Passing on the First Things

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Snap, crackle, POP!

Another day, another hospital run. I don’t ever remember my parents having to go to the urgent care as much as we do.

Last night Delaney’s leg got twisted under me on the couch. She turned the wrong way and…crack! Voila, hairline fracture in the growth plate of her left knee. Bummer! So with much tears and apprehension we packed her up (complete with several stuffed rabbits and Dora the Explorer pjs) and headed out to the hospital.

Unfortunately those types of fractures don’t show up on x-rays very well so we only know by the “cracking sound”, location of the pain, and her inability to put weight on it. So, there’s a chance it will be OK but they had to put a splint on her to keep it immobile until we can tell for sure.

I can see already that she has plans to milk it for all it’s worth. Lots of talk about being carried around,videos, and catered meals to the couch-side. Life is tough…

What’s funny about the situation is her complete embarassment over the splint. She refuses to be seen in public with a cast or crutches of any sort. She’s been wailing over the possibility of going to church or her Awana group and having, God forbid, everyone see her with a splint. She was also very modest with the male nurse and wanted to make sure he didn’t see anything he wasn’t supposed to, unlike her sister Eliza “the exhibitionist” who’s been disrobing at every opportunity of late.

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I’ve been sitting by the phone for weeks now just waiting for the call and it finally came! My former band, The Sweet Colleens, has invited me to reunite with them to perform at the upcoming release concert for their new childrens album “The Monkey Dance”. I’m honored to have been asked to deliver the lyrics “keep it down back there kids” for the new hit tune “Road Trip”. An honor indeed. And the pay is commensurate to such an important performance. My complimentary copy of the new CD will be well worth the days work…

You can listen to the album online. It’s really good. I was just “cutting the rug” to it with the kids last night. Lots of fun.

As I was looking up some details for the show (ie: doing a little “ego-surfing”), I came across a video clip from our show at the Basillica Block Party a couple of years ago that I’d not seen previously. Some cable access show interview video or something. Too funny! It was stink’in hot that day. To have a video of Pete doing the original “Monkey Dance” (at the end of the clip) is a priceless treasure for me.

So hard to believe it’s already been a year and a half since I left the band. They’re doing awesome and it will be really fun to get together later this month for the show!

Truth is Stranger than Fiction…

In a completely unrelated item. I came across this article yesterday called “US Military Weapons Inscribed with Secret ‘Jesus’ Bible Codes”.    Truly an strange case and application of “Business as Mission”! Not even sure where to begin with this one…just plain odd.

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