Sunday, October 13, 2019

Afraid to Let the Holy Spirit Move?

(Somewhere in Ohio)

This Sunday morning one of our men took me aside and said, "This is beautiful, because it is not scripted. The Holy Spirit is allowed to move." More like the early church in the book of Acts, right? 

Sadly, there are church "services" that are programmed, timed, and scripted. Former Charisma Magazine editor Lee Grady expresses his concern about this in his article "Don't Be Afraid to Let the Holy Spirit Move."

Grady writes:

"If your church allows this kind of freedom for ministry, you are blessed—because many pastors today are afraid to allow the Holy Spirit to move. We've put the Spirit in a box. We have a long list of seeker-friendly rules these days, telling us that: 
1) American churchgoers only want a 60-minute church experience;
2) the only "cool" way to do church is to offer three songs, a short TED Talk and video announcements on a big screen and 
3) altar calls or extended prayer times will scare people away."

This is sad, because people need the reality of God's power, which cannot be programmed or managed or contained.

Grady gives seven things we can do to encourage the freedom of the Spirit in our churches. Click here to read them. 

Expect the Supernatural

Monroe County Court House

What a beautiful, empowering service we had this morning at Redeemer with Chris Bajkiewicz. Now it's late Sunday afternoon, and I am filled with expectancy. Expecting what? Expecting God. The supernatural. The Christian life is a  supernatural life (unless you're into entmytholgisierung).  

When Linda and I lived in East Lansing we met a woman whose marriage was failing. She began to receive counsel from us. We shared the gospel with her. She was a chemist, a very intelligent scientist. But religiously, she was a blank slate, barely knowing what a Bible was. Then she had a supernatural vision.

She called in the morning. She shared how she awoke in the middle of the night. Before her, in her bedroom, she saw a lamb, and a cross with blood on it. The lamb, she said, was pure white. She watched this vision, like someone viewing a hologram, for thirty minutes. She insisted she was awake the entire time. 

It shook her deeply. It opened her up spiritually. After this event, she wanted to hear more about Jesus.

As I am praying and reflecting tonight, I am filled with expectation for what this week will bring. I am looking forward to God's supernatural activity in my life, and in my church family. 

Dallas Willard asks, "Can a normal person like me really be capable of having the same kinds of experiences as did Elijah or Paul? Who am I to put myself in the place of these great ones? Who am I even to suppose that God might guide me or speak to me, much less that my experience should be like that of Moses or Elisha? Such questions may seem to honor the greatness of God, but in fact they contradict what God has taught about himself in the Bible and in the person of Christ. God’s greatness is precisely what allows him to pay close attention to me or anyone and everyone else, as he chooses. God’s greatness is shown in his ability to work within anyone." (Willard, Hearing God Through the Year: A 365-Day Devotional, p. 44)

Willard suggests reading and meditating on these words of the apostle Paul. Take them to heart. I'm writing them on a card and carrying them with me this week. 

Now to him who is able to do 
immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, 
according to his power that is at work within us, 
to him be glory in the church 
and in Christ Jesus 
throughout all generations, 
for ever and ever! 

Ephesians 3: 20-21


I write about hearing God and God's supernatural presence in my two books.

TELECONFERENCE FOR PASTORS: How Do We Lead Our People in These Politically Turbulent Times?

For pastors and Christian leaders.

To prepare, please read these two posts.

Some Guidelines for Civil Discourse

Saturday, October 12, 2019

How to Lead Your Church

Leading the Presence-Driven Church

I share how I view pastoral leadership in my book Leading the Presence-Driven Church

Letter to a Grieving Divorcee

Monroe County
I wrote a friend of ours whose divorce was finalized. Linda and I meet so many people in this situation that I thought I'd post it here, with appropriate changes.

BTW - "amicable divorce" is an oxymoron, like "Microsoft Works."


Hi _____, I'm glad you called. Some of my thoughts are... (if they don't fit please forgive me)...

  • The finalization of a divorce, no matter how bad the marriage was, is like lowering a dead body in a grave and burying it. Divorce is the death of hopes and dreams a husband and wife had when they stood before God and pledged their love and fidelity, "until death do us part." The idea was never "until the marriage dies."
  • The God-given, emotional response to death (the final loss of something precious) is grief. You are now experiencing grief, a word that covers a range of emotions. In the aftermath of death, grief remains.
  • Grieving can do its work if one has a community that absorbs the grief. Linda and I (and others) are part of that community, for you. 
  • Jesus knows grief. He is "a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief." "He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" - Isaiah 53:3.
  • Continue to dwell in Him. Before Jesus went to the cross, he instructed His disciples: “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you... If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him." (John 14:18, 23) The Jesus said, "Abide in Me, and I in you." (John 15:4)
  • We are promised that, as we live an abiding life in him, our lives will bear much fruit. Even for the grieving person who abides in Christ, God continues to bear lasting fruit in and through them. This remains true for you.
  • Finally, any real or perceived condemnation you feel coming from others who wonder about your divorce is not from God. All of us are in the same boat here. We've all sinned and fallen short of God's glory. All our sin and failure has been crucified with Christ. Now, sin and death no longer rule, but Grace Rules. Where Grace Rules (and Law no longer does), no condemnation can come against us. Therefore, I bless you today with the freedom we share, because Christ reigns in our lives.

John (and Linda)

Chris Bajkiewicz Preaches at Redeemer - Oct. 13

(Lori and Chris Bajkiewicz)

CHRIS BAJKIEWICZ and his wife LORI are medical  missionaries to Mexico, Latin America, and beyond. 

Chris will preach tomorrow morning at Redeemer, Sunday, October 13.

10:30 AM

Friday, October 11, 2019

Jesus' Disciples Were Teenagers (Craig Keener)

Divorce - The Kids Will NOT Be OK

(I'm re-posting this, to keep this ball in play.)

A cover of Time Magazine had the titillating headline "Is Monogamy Over?" Biologist-psychologist David Barash answered: "We should keep it [monogamy] for our kids' sake." Because:

"It’s very rare for any species to engage in biparental care unless the males are guaranteed that they are genetically related to the offspring—confidence monogamy alone can provide. And because human children need so much parental assistance, protection and investment, humans, perhaps more than any other animal, especially benefit from monogamy."

I meet all the time with young adults whose biological parents have separated or divorced. Almost always, there’s devastation. 

I meet with married people who are thinking about divorce. They’ve picked up the village-idea that if they divorce, the “kids will be OK.” There is evidence suggesting that is false. 

Perhaps, for some, it’s their way of trying to justify their own inability to work through their failing marriage. Only a few kids do well, and they are rare. 

Many couples do not have the tools to fix their marriage. The current parentless generation is spawning teens who have never seen a healthy marriage before. Unless something transformational happens in them, they will mirror their parents’ failures.

The best book on this is by former Columbia U. scholar Judith Wallerstein - The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce. She’s done the only longitudinal study of what happens to kids whose parents divorce. Wallenstein followed these kids into adulthood. Anyone contemplating divorce who thinks “The kids will be OK” needs to read this book. 

Wallenstein writes:
“By tracking approximately 100 children as they forge their lives as adults, we has found that, contrary to the popular belief that kids would bounce back after the initial pain of their parents’ split, children of divorce often continue to suffer well into adulthood. Their pain plays out in their relationships, their work lives and their confidence about parenting themselves.”

If you are divorced your kids probably need more help than kids with healthy, married monogamous parents.

In an PBS interview Wallerstein responds to a question.

adriana_rome: Is there any information on how divorce affects children at different ages? Say a toddler aged child vs. a teen?

Dr. Judith: Well, children who are little ... 2-6 .... are really very worried that they're going to be abandoned. They have so little capacity to take care of themselves. Their logic is that if one parent can leave another, why can't they leave me? They cling to their parents, they have terrible nightmares, they don't want to go to nursery school and all the times during the day and night where there's separation are filled with enormous anxiety because they're so afraid they'll be abandoned and there will be no one to take care of them, feed them, dry their tears, take care of them.

Youngsters who are school aged ... 8-11 ... are more worried about the fact that they're not going to get a chance to do the things they need to do. There's a stage that's being held up by their parents ... the mainstage is at school, on the playground, with other friends, with sports, with music, with ballet ... all the things they do at this age and they're very angry with their parents because they're afraid it will interrupt their activities. They think their parents are being very selfish as the very scaffolding that holds their lives up is going to collapse.

Teens .... are much more likely to be their parents' confidants at the break-up. They're much more likely to be aware of the trouble either parent has been having and they can be very compassionate and caring. But at the same time, they are very angry that the family is falling apart. They figure they need that family support,: especially at this time in their lives when they have so many questions about their own futures. And thirdly, they worry very much at 15-17, whether if their parents marriage went belly-up ... whether their own relationships are going to run into disaster and they're very frightened.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Science - Extraordinary Groupthink Leads to Extraordinary Ignorance

(Valley of Elah, Israel)

I enjoyed this article in Scientific American - "Science Is Not About Getting More 'Likes'" (Extraordinary groupthink leads to extraordinary ignorance).

How many people "like" a belief has nothing to do with whether or not the belief is true. That's called an ad populum fallacy. It goes like this.

1. 63% of Americans believe X.
2. Therefore, X must be true.

Many physicists commit this fallacy. From the article:

"The mathematical constructions of supersymmetrystring theoryHawking radiation, anti-de Sitter/conformal field theory (AdS/CFT) and the multiverse  are currently considered irrefutable and self-evident by the mainstream of theoretical physics, even without experimental evidence to support them. In the words of a prominent physicist at a conference that I attended a few months ago: “These ideas must be true even without experimental testimony in their favor, because thousands of physicists believe in them and it is difficult to imagine that such a large community of mathematically-gifted scientists would be wrong.”"

This is also the problem with opinion polls. How many people affirm the truth of a belief is irrelevant to the truth of that belief.

Never Push, Presume, or Pretend

Image result for john piippo pretend
Redeemer sanctuary

In Numbers 12:3 we read that "Moses was a humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth." Moses' humility was a precondition for his ongoing dialogical relationship with God.

Moses was close to God because he did not

  • pretend he was what he knew he was not;
  • presume a favorable position for himself in any respect;
  • push or try to override the will of others in his context.
Dallas Willard says, "This is a fail-safe recipe for humility: Never push, never presume, never pretend." (Willard, Hearing God Through the Year, p. 47)


Leading the Presence-Driven Church

Encounters with the Holy Spirit (a book I co-edited with Janice Trigg)

I''m now giving attention to Transformation: How God Changes the Human Heart
Then, Linda and I will co-write our book on Relationships.

Followed by... Technology and Spiritual Formation.