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John Wesley followed a time-tested approach: “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and in all things, charity.” Wesley believed that the spirit of charity needs to take into consideration the limits of human understanding. He observed, “To be ignorant of many things and to be mistaken in some is the necessary condition of humanity” and therefore, “As to all opinions which do not strike at the root of Christianity, we think and let think.” So what are the essentials? For example, do they include a specific view of eschatology or hell? There are four biblically backed views of eschatology and four of hell and a lot of church splits have happened over these views. The church I was saved in had a church split over whether men should have beards or not! Is that really an essential? Is that really worth starting a new denomination over?
My husband, Al, was climbing the ladder of success in the oil and gas industry in his new position with exploration and development. The company was drilling several new wells across southern Kansas, and Al was supervising each of them. One of the rigs was drilling a great prospect right outside of the small town of Coldwater, Kansas. As his success in the oil field grew, he also grew spiritually. His love for and faith in the Lord Jesus was remarkable. Al developed a strong sense of the presence and leading of the Holy Spirit to such an extent that he was constantly praying for his workers and the strangers he met, and they were all healed and blessed. But even though he was experiencing powerful miracles, nothing could have prepared us for the major supernatural experience that Al would have in Coldwater. One Wednesday night after spending the entire day at the drilling rig, Al left for his room at the Comanche Motel, and as was his practice, he showered and put on fresh clothes and his church boots and walked across the street to the Assembly of God church to attend the Wednesday night service. Al enjoyed the service and even stood and gave a testimony of his love for the Lord Jesus and the great miracles he had been seeing. When the meeting finished, he met the young pastor and many of the people and thanked them for the wonderful service. He then returned to his room and laid across the bed, still fully clothed, to watch his favorite television show, Gunsmoke. The next thing he knew, Al was in a strange place which seemed to be a very wet and very dark jungle.
Over the years, I’ve watched as friends have transitioned between jobs and opportunities. I myself have experienced my fair share of transition and with it can come a sense of loss. It can be deeply unsettling when you move on from a job or opportunity that you have invested your heart and soul into. Transition is inevitable. Nowadays, the younger generation is experiencing vocational transition at a much quicker rate than past generations, and with it, they know this sense of loss well. In seasons of transition, remind yourself of these 4 truths. They can bring stability and hope:
"If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" Matthew 7:11 Our enemy the devil is well aware that the moment you learn to receive God's grace, you will start to reign in life. So he has been working hard to prevent you from receiving the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness. The devil has been using controversy as a device down through church history to prevent believers from having access to the most powerful truths of God. He has built fences of controversy around healing, prosperity, and grace (calling them heresies) to keep believers from reigning over sickness, poverty, and sin. You can always tell how powerful a truth is by the number of controversies the devil surrounds it with!
Although I am a believer, not a skeptic, I’m a thinking believer. I’m not impressed with the “discovery” of the face of Jesus in a piece of wood. Or the map of America appearing in a bowl of melting ice cream. My Ph.D. is in ancient Semitic texts and languages, and I look for hard data. For facts, rather than speculation. But certain things do get my attention. How could they not? I do my best to go with the evidence. A few years ago, a friend of mine wrote a book called The Harbinger. Although he led a congregation in New Jersey, he was virtually unknown outside of some relatively small, Messianic Jewish circles, numbering in the thousands.
Brrr! Temperatures recently plummeted across the northern United States to record lows due to a polar vortex spilling sub-zero arctic air further south than normal. This can be a life-threatening situation, especially if you’re living on the streets. As of December 2017, a HUD report stated 193,000 Americans are doing just that – living unsheltered on the streets. A total of 554,000 Americans are considered homeless. The situation is even more shocking in the United Kingdom where an organization called Shelter estimates 1 in every 200 persons are homeless. In America and the UK, a lack of affordable housing is cited as a primary cause of homelessness. You may not be able to provide housing for a homeless person, but you can provide food without breaking your budget.
And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. — Galatians 6:9 One area where many people struggle is in the realm of finances. Financial stress is one of the most difficult pressures that can be experienced in life. If you’ve ever experienced the stress that comes from financial pressure, you know how difficult it is when you are so strapped that you don’t have enough money to pay your bills. But I want to tell you that God is always faithful! If you are living for God, walking in holiness, doing what the Holy Spirit has told you to do with your life, and sowing your financial seed into the soil of God’s Kingdom, then you are promised a harvest to meet the needs in your own life. Sowing and reaping is not a fantasy or a fairy tale. This is God’s promise to you, and it always works.
When I take Communion, I take it as a prophetic act, applying it to any situation that is weighing on my heart. A prophetic act is a Holy Spirit-inspired physical action that disrupts the atmosphere. Sometimes, I’ll feel as though God wants me to do something tangible to activate something that I’m praying into. During those moments, I simply ask the Holy Spirit, “What should I do about this?” Then, I’ll feel prompted to—for example—take my shofar into the prayer house that we have at Bethel or go to a specific place to take Communion. In completing the prophetic act, we are releasing something into the atmosphere that helps the answer to our prayer to break through. In Exodus, God had the Israelites kill a lamb and put the blood over their doors, signaling to the Spirit of God to pass by without harming the family inside. Moses instructed the Israelites...
I spent the last two weeks ministering in Uganda, where I've made some of the best friends on the planet. But life is not easy here—at least not for a "Mazungu" (white person) who has become so accustomed to American conveniences. I've traveled to Africa 19 times, so it's not like I expect to have air conditioning there. I'm not shocked when the electricity goes out or I have to take a bucket bath because the water system stops working. I'm just grateful if I have access to an oscillating fan on really hot nights. I've even grown to love the local food, which includes matoke (mashed green bananas) with peanut sauce, posho (cooked corn meal, similar to grits) and grilled goat meat. Two years ago, I tried fried grasshoppers for the first time. On this trip, one of my hosts also slaughtered a pig in the front yard and roasted it for dinner. It was delicious.
Testing the spirits deals with all three aspects of discernment: revelation, interpretation, and application, although a different kind of spiritual filter needs to be applied to each aspect. I might pick up a revelation accurately only to interpret it incorrectly. Or I might get a revelation and its interpretation right, only to get stuck on the application (what I am supposed to do with that information). For example, let’s say I get a revelation about a political situation, but it happens to touch on a sensitive area in my own experience. If I have hung on to bitterness, for example, my revelation will be tainted by my bitter opinion, which will render my revelation worthless to the kingdom of God.