Sunday, February 15, 2009

Chills, Frills, and Daffodils by Robert Ricciardelli

Those of you who know me, know my love for the Body of Christ. I look for Christ in people of every system, organization, expression, and through the various ways and doings of God’s people. I do my best to keep my eyes on Father, Son, and, Holy Spirit, and obedient to His Word and ways. I continue to encourage the Kingdom and will of God being expressed through every part of our being.

The Body of Christ does not agree on everything, but if you are a Christ follower, then you must agree on the major points Jesus expressed through His Word and His life… Here are a few of the truths we all should be in agreement on as Christ followers…

Romans 14:17 For the Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Mark 12:28-31 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"

"The most important one," Jesus answered, "is this: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.

Matthew 6:7-14 And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8 “So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.

9 “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.10 ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread. 12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’] 14 “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 “But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.

And finally Jesus famous prayer in John 17, and the key passage of all of us being one as He and the Father are one, so the world may know Him

John 17:21 that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.

I am all over that stuff and by His grace and through His Spirit, I seek to live in those ways. It is much easier when we are led by Him, to love as He does, and have grace as He does, but also live in His truth, as we should…

Now we come to the point of the title of this weeks pondering… And this is not easy, and I pray you will hear my heart on this.

One concern I have today is for the seemingly abundant pursuit of experience over content. Many in their hunger for God are being seduced into trends that do not breed sound doctrine or a sound mind. Many subjective teachings from charismatic leaders especially, are becoming doctrinal to some, and it seems in some situations it has become a completely wrongful focus. Now that does not take away from the real supernatural and unexplainable ways of God, but it calls to question the hype, manipulation, and deception that comes in the guise of something more, something different, fun, frenzied, and with a “wow” factor kick.

It seems like the more “extreme” the experience the more audiences it is capturing. So we now have a segment of people getting addicted to these experiences, waiting for the next “extreme” opportunity. I have seen several people, families, and churches drawn into this and though it has brought forth some numbers, in most cases it has been counter productive in bringing forth fruit that remains.

Father has deposited everything we need in each one of us to live in His supernatural presence and engage with Him in miraculous ways as He leads us and gives us grace to do so. In everyday life, most of the time He operates in powerfully practical ways, as He is motivated to flow through our lives as relevant witnesses of Himself to the earth.

Jesus was practical, supernaturally practical… What is it you need? And then He would answer the need in miraculous ways… We are now going around as the needy. A part of the Body of Christ is hungry and thirsty for self-pleasing excitement, manifestations, “glory realm” experiences, and often missing the real opportunities of relevant service and love to those who need it the most.. I am all for experiences and supernatural transformation when God’s glory brings them, but it should not be our pursuit, and shame on those that lead others to chasing frenzied experiences rather than the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness.

One woman was so thrilled as she had traveled to 3 conferences in a row that had gems seemingly appear on the floors of the church, (the leader is known for having gems in their meetings). I asked her what it meant to her when she saw gemstones in meetings, and she said that it meant that God loved her. I do not pretend to think I have a lot of answers, but I am always good with the questions, so I asked her. “Can you feel God’s abiding love when you do not see gemstones?” Could it not be severely compromising to seek after a sign for proof of God’s love? Later it was found out that an assistant to this speaker had planted the fake gemstones in the church before the meeting began.

Matthew 16:4 Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign, but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah 6 “Watch out!” Jesus warned them. “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

Now keep in mind, I have experienced as well as many others the unexplainable miraculous power of God, but we were not seeking after the signs, but the signs follow believers as they follow after Him. I do not doubt that God can do whatever He wills, but they it will be real, and not staged. And because it happens, we hope people do not sensationalize and market that this is what happens when this person shows up at your conference. I had heard of another church that found dozens of these gems. This is a poor church in another country. I asked if they were able to sell the gems and feed the poor, and the answers was no, because they could not identify the stone. They said experts claimed it was from another planet, so they had no value on earth. I asked if it were possible for me to get a sample to do my own test and they declined.

I have a lot of questions. I don’t have all the answers and only the Father can show you His way for you. I am not sharing this out of experience, and I am also not sharing this for any other motive than to encourage the very best for the Body of Christ. If it is not His best or His intent, will we embrace change. Will we go after His best in character, integrity, love, mercy, and all the good God stuff? Can we begin to embrace the “BE ATTITUDES” of His word, and allow Him to bring the experiences of His glory that we need as we worship Him in every day life?

If you are pursuing Him and your experiences are a part of that flow, who am I to anyone really to question that? I am simply asking all of us to consider what we are engaging with. What are our motives? What is Father doing? What does He desire for us through our relationships, communities, and experiences? Is there more that He desires from us in our pursuit of Him?

Lord, help us pursue you alone, and not chase after signs or wonders? May we allow You to bring your signs and wonders as You see fit to follow our obedience to You. Lead us towards your agape love and pursue those who need your love. Help us to not get caught up in feel good phenomena’s in order to serve You and others more. Help us to think less of self as we are busy about your business in doing more good to others. When your presence overwhelms us, many awesome and wondrous things begin to happen. We desire to pursue You, Your presence, Your will, Your love, and expect the supernatural to occur in everyday life. We know that as we allow You to lead us into Christ-likeness, the gates of hell will not prevail against us and Your beloved church.

10 comments:

  1. Jennifer Anderson15 February, 2009

    I'm so glad you wrote about this. It serves to confirm some things the Lord has been speaking to me on the subject. First, I think Jesus wants to be enough...to really and truly, finally be enough for His people. People who do not NEED to see anything to believe. I also think we've narrowly defined glory and supernatural. To me, being kind to someone who persecutes me is supernatural. A broken life made whole is supernatural. Forgiveness is supernatural. The glory of God is evident in all of those. The "supernatural" that is sought these days doesn't require anything from us, rather, it's self-indulgent and perpetuates consumer Christianity. If everything is all about Him, what does Jesus get out of frenzy and drunkenness? How are we transformed into His image as a result of these meetings? After all, our hope of glory is Christ IN US. I've heard glory defined as the sum total of His attributes. That's the glory that I want, whatever it looks like - ALL OF HIM in ALL OF ME. He must increase and I must decrease. It's time He have His inheritance in me.

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  2. Thank you for writing this article. As full-time misisonaries in Cambodia we are shocked to hear of some of these things going on in the US. It just makes us think about how Jesus died on the cross, how He suffered the beatings from man and then bore the punishment of our sin. It was cruel, crude and ugly, but most profound and redemptive to mankind. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. He gave us the Holy Spirit to be His witnesses. All through the New Testament to be His witness was to be empowered to testify of what He had done. Also there were the gifts of the Holy Spirit which would manifest in supernatural miracles which were related to healing, casting out demons and speaking in tongues. All of these things confirmed the Word of God to bring people to the foot of the cross for salvation. The biggest miracle of all is the New Birth. Think of it to have a soul taken out of the Kingdom of Darkness (because they heard the Word of God concerning God's forgiveness through Jesus Christ) and put them into the Kingdom Of Light. Wow, what can be more exciting? If people seek after signs to give them a "spiritual high", we pray that they will look to see how this brings people to the foot of the cross in repentance, or if it brings them to the foot of an experience to seek another.
    If the Body of Christ would take the money that they spend on the cost of putting on these meetings, paying the speakers, offerings to promote these further, the cost the people themselves spend on traveling, lodging and food to attend these meetings, and use it instead for the spreading of the Gospel in reaching the unreached, this will glorify God. Jesus has asked the Father to give the nations as His inheritance, lets see to it that He gets it.
    Thank you again for your love, compassion and wisdom in writing this. Thanks for the opportunity to respond.

    Wilma Mishler
    On the Frontline Ministries, Inc.

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  3. Just talked about this today! Acts 8 - Simon. 2000 years later and we're embracing it instead of calling it what it is. Great article and it's especially good because I know your heart for the Kingdom, to build and not hurt or tear down. I'm going to pass this along to our CCC family.

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  4. Thank You, SOOO Much, for posting this!! Would that it would circle the earth and that the eyes and hearts of God's people would be open to the Truth instead of to the so called "signs and wonders". The more time I spend in Jesus' presence, the more my soul is thrilled by what He shows me through His Word! If ever there was a time when God's people needed to be solidly grounded in the Word, it is NOW... is it any wonder, then, that satan has chosen NOW to counterfeit the miraculous and lead the sheep astray? !!

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  5. Hey gumba!

    I am blessed every time, I read a piece of yours and realize that we need people in the Body of Christ who genuinely operate on all cyclinders and do not forget the Head!

    Hear the Spirit, "Who is Paul, Cephas, Christ, or anyone else? Are they not servants by whom You believed?"

    Robert, we will always have showmen and shamans in our ranks, but we must all keep our eyes fixed on the True Author and Finisher of the faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the Cross, despising the shame and is now seated at the right hand of the Father praying for all of us.

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  6. Ian Williams16 February, 2009

    Amen Robert - the witness which did more to convince me was Corrie ten Boom and her witness derived from her concentration camp experience. Not for me rhinestones, or even Rolex and Rolls Royce religion - it is a sham and a shame.

    Yes, let us indeed beware the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy, and welcome the leaven of righteousness to do its work in us.

    When the Pharisees tested Jesus concerning the Law, He concluded by saying, "Upon this hangs all the Law and the Prophets." Later, to His own disciples He would say, "A NEW COMMANDMENT I give unto you, that you should love one another as I have first (originally, from the beginning) loved you. John referred to this as a New Commandment, yet not "new" but "old" or as at the beginning. This distinction between how Jesus answered and addressed the Pharisees and how He addresses His own disciples is easily missed, especially if you are a Pharisee, as we so easily are betimes, so indeed beware the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.

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  7. Thank you!
    To lift up Jesus before the world,
    Letting "gemstones" of character shine,
    Rejoicing in the God of our Salvation,
    Bearing fruit as a branch of the Vine.

    Just to rest in His arms of love is my aim
    And to love as He loves is my goal.
    His Blessing is in the cluster, I see
    That my solo's only part of the whole.

    So I will die to the urging of ego.
    No "Madison Avenue" deception for me!
    Holy Spirit, be my only Promotor
    Announce Your Presence! Come in Your Glory!

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  8. Your post only cements in my mind one thing: this "wow" type of "worship" which is entering the church in America (and elsewhere?) is absolutely not of God.

    I've been cut off by my son who joined IHOP-International House of Prayer in Kansas City-after I told him it had all the ear markings of a cult. IHOP practices contemplative/centering prayer which is = transcendental meditation. It also has/had classes and/or meetings for 'signs and wonders'. They promote "growing in 'the' prophetic" and also believe prophets (which happen to teach there) are alive and well on planet earth today - whose accuracy rate on their prophecies only needs to be 66% accurate.

    What I'm saying is all these people at IHOP are really getting a lot of WOW out of it and the rest of us who only read our bibles, go to church, witness, pray, lead people to the Lord are only doing "regular religious stuff" and are missing God altogether.

    I'm glad your article confirmed that "wow" factor for me. Thanks.

    SP

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  9. Hi brother

    I was one caught up in the excitement. Now I know that there are genuine experiences...but there is much tragedy when we begin to follow after experiences, and forget His holiness.

    Am now taking ministry lessons that are balanced on His presence, and His power. Those who are not walking continually in His presence may walk yet in power, for the gifts of God are given without repentance, but that is not enough to keep them. Only His presence which remains as we live holy before Him.

    When we are caught up in the true glory of God, what does it matter if gems fall from the sky? Or gold appears on bodies? It is all about the heart change that comes with knowing Him, and then the resultant proclamation of Jesus Christ who is Lord of Heaven and earth. Is coming again on clouds of glory...and loves each and every one of us here on earth....wants us to be with Him.

    He alone is better than gold, yea than much fine gold....sweeter also than the honeycomb.

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  10. I like what Rick said, Sadparent, but how do you get Contemplative/Listening Prayer = Transcendental Meditation? They're apples and oranges... One is real and the other is a phoney copy. Don't let the enemy steal the Reality of an "inward life" where the Kingdom of Heaven is because some cults/eastern religions have stolen some truths from Christians.

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