Monday, July 29, 2013

A Paradigm Shift Is Underway

Over the weekend I was privileged to be part of an Apostolic & Prophetic Gathering in Trenton, NJ where I was one of the speakers as well as a participant in the Question & Answer open panel forum. I was one of five members on the panel and for a little over an hour; we answered people’s questions about the Apostolic & Prophetic.


During my Father’s (Dr. Leo Fram) teaching time, he made an interesting statement: “The Church was never meant to be run by vote or committee.” Now to some that may seem like a very strange statement. Allow me to stretch your thinking please. Let me introduce you to a New Paradigm.


What exactly is a Paradigm anyway? Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines paradigm as: a philosophical or theoretical framework of any kind.” It is the way we think about something or you could call it a mindset. There have been some mindsets or ways of thinking about things that have been prevalent in the Church for years…but in the current days of the Apostolic Reformation some of these old Paradigms are being challenged.


One such old Paradigm is that we must vote on every decision in the local church or appoint a committee to investigate all the options so that a wise decision can be made. Is this type of Paradigm really what the New Testament teaches? I submit to you absolutely not. Let us consider Acts chapter 15 for a case study.


You can read verses 1-29 to get the complete context, but we will just quote: “And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, ‘Men and brethren, listen to me: Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written: [After this I will return And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, And I will set it up; So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, Says the Lord who does all these things.] Known to God from eternity are all His works. Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.’” Acts 15:13-21 NKJV


This passage is what is commonly known as the Jerusalem Council. There was great conflict between Jewish believers and Gentile believers over the issue of circumcision. Some of the Jewish believers were saying that Gentile believers had to not only accept Christ and His sacrifice to be saved, but also to be circumcised according to the Law of Moses. So a great discourse was entered into by the early Church leaders of the day including: Peter, Paul, Barnabas, Silas and James, the Lord’s half Brother and apparently the convener of the Council.


I want you to pay attention the bold type underlined phrases above: “Men and Brethren, Listen to Me” and “Therefore I Judge”. After all the discussion was done, the Apostle James got up and made a judgment…this was something that the Apostle James decreed…not something that the group voted on. The amazing thing is that after James made this decree…the discussion ended…there was no more debate. In fact in verse 28 we find these words: “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us…” Notice in the letter that they sent out…even though James made the “Apostolic Decree” everybody else came into agreement with it saying: “It Seemed Good To The Holy Spirit And To Us!”


This is a far cry from the way things are done in many churches and church circles today. People come up in arms saying that I Have To Have My Say. Once James made his decision…there was no more say. Can you see how some of our practices do not line up with New Testament practices? The Church is going through some major Paradigm shifts right now from Pastoral and Congregational mindsets into what God is restoring to the church, “An Apostolic Mindset”.


“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.” Acts 3:19-21 NKJV We are living in the days of the “Restoration Of All Things” and one of the things being restored is a new Paradigm…An Apostolic Mindset!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Balance In The Prophetic

There is a growing trend in “Prophetic Circles” that has me quite concerned. It seems folks think that they must always get a “Word” to know what God wants them to do in life. It is almost as if we don’t know how to operate anymore if we don’t get a “Word”. Folks are running around chasing down every Prophet or prophetically gifted person and asking: “Do you have a ‘Word’ for me?”


I remember Kenneth E. Hagin telling us when I was a student in Rhema about a woman who used to always call him asking him for a “Word”. One time she called him in the middle of the night asking him for a “Word” and he told her he had one for her: “Go to sleep!”


Now this is somewhat humorous but not far off from what we see today in many of our circles. Folks don’t get me wrong, I love the prophetic movement of God, I flow in the Gift of Prophecy, in fact God changed my 5-fold office from Evangelist to Prophet around 13 years ago…but this has gotten way out of hand.


Do you mean to tell me we can’t function as Born Again, Spirit indwelt, Spirit filled Believers without getting a “Word”? That just ought not to be! How did we get so out of balance? In our desire to embrace the prophetic, we have gone overboard and made it into something God has never intended.


“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” Romans 8:14 NKJV


I want to remind you that nowhere in the New Testament are we told ‘as many as are led by the prophetic word, these are the sons of God.’ No the Scripture plainly says that as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. As a son or daughter of God you should expect to be led by the Spirit of God…not the Prophetic Word!


An interesting side thought of this verse which we do not have time to go into for this Blog is that in the above verse where it says sons of God, in the original Greek that the New Testament was written in, that word ‘sons’ carries the meaning ‘mature sons’…just food for thought for you.


One of the greatest life lessons I have ever learned, I learned from Kenneth E. Hagin: “You will find that being led by an inward witness is the number one, or the primary way, that God leads all of His children.” From his book ‘How You Can Be Led By The Spirit Of God’ I learned this lesson as a teenager even before I got married and enrolled in Rhema. It became part of my spiritual DNA (a term my good friend Pastor Barry Habib uses).


“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” Romans 8:16 NKJV


There is the witness of the Holy Spirit inside of our human spirit that will let us know what to do. We need to learn to follow it! I always tell folks: “Follow after Peace.” I mean when you have peace in your spirit go that way. If it feels like fingernails down a black board in your spirit…DON’T DO IT!


Thank God for the “Prophetic Word”! It should confirm what leading we already have in our spirit, or expand upon what is in our spirit, or bring clarity to what is in our spirit. Even if it is new revelation to you when it comes…it will still bear witness with our spirit.


Just because we have embraced the “Prophetic” let us not be so out of balance that we feel like we cannot function unless we get a “Word”. No thank God for when He speaks! Expect Him to speak. Desire Him to speak. But we have in the process of wanting to hear a “Word” absolved ourselves of any responsibility to be led by His Spirit. God never intended that! We must remain in balance. Live your life following the inward witness and then receive the “Prophetic Word” when it comes…but if it doesn’t come…you are fine because you have the inward witness in your spirit.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Hosting & Honoring The Presence Of God

In our last Blog we spoke about “Times of Refreshing” coming from the Manifest Presence of God. We stated in passing during the conclusion that we must Host & Honor His Manifest Presence.


What do we mean by hosting His presence? One of Webster’s definitions that best suits our purpose here is: one that receives or entertains guests socially, commercially, or officially. Have you ever to a party in someone’s home and that they were a great host? Conversely, have you ever been to a party and  the host of the party was horrible?


What made the difference? In one case you were most likely made to feel very welcome and comfortable and in the other case you were made to feel like they really didn’t care if you were there or not.


That is the way it us when we come to church. How welcome do we make God feel in our midst? Do we do the things that He likes that make Him feel comfortable where He desires to actually hang out with us, other than just in His omnipresence? A good host makes the guest feel welcome, how welcome do we make Him feel?


What do we mean by honoring His presence? The American Heritage Dictionary defines honoring as: high respect, recognition or esteem. Honor is bestowed on things that we value and hold in high regard. Is this the way we treat His Manifest presence? Everybody likes to be honored for what they do, but God really deserves to be honored. How much do we esteem Him? How much respect do we show Him?


I have seen many in the church in my 45+ years in the church treat God very flippantly with really no honor at all. God has been reduced in many cases to being nothing more than our “sugar daddy” in the sky. As the old expression goes: “gimme, gimme, gimme…my name is Jimmy”.


What are the things that we can do that would make God so comfortable that He would actually desire to grace us with His Manifest Presence? We could start by doing the things He likes and has told us to do. Praise Him! Worship Him! Love Him! Adore Him! And of course give gifts to Him. You really can’t show honor without a gift.


Our goal should be that every time we come together as the Body of Christ we create an atmosphere that is so pleasing to Him that He desires to not only come to visit us with His Manifest Presence, but because of how we host and honor His presence He actually wants to come and rest and abide with us with His Manifest Presence. Let us move from the Visitation of His Manifest Presence to the Habitation of His Manifest Presence because we have learned to Host & Honor His Presence!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Times Of Refreshing

One of my favorite verses is Acts 3:19: "Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord..."

Quite often I hear folks speak of this verse just quoting that times of refreshing come from the presence of the Lord. They totally omit the first half of the verse, which deals with repenting and returning to the Lord.

So many of the promises in the Word of God are written just like this...they are conditional. You may ask what I mean by that. For example Isaiah 1:19 says: "If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land." The promise is that you will eat the good of the land. The conditions are that you be willing and obedient.

What happens if you are not willing and obedient? Then you won't eat the good of the land. So this verse in Acts 3 is no different. The two conditions that must be met in order for times of refreshing to come from the presence of the Lord are to Repent & Return.

Repent is composed of two actions: 1. Sorrow for sin. 2. Stop going the way you are going and go in the opposite direction.

Return means to go again to a place you have already been. In this context it is talking about returning to the Lord, indicating that it might be folks that at one time were closer to God than they are right now. Face it folks, if you were ever more on fire for God than you are right now, you are backslid.

If we don't stop going in the wrong direction, and return back to Him, we really can't expect the "Times of Refreshing".

Once we get these two conditions met we are ready to walk in the promise...or are we?

Notice it says that times of refreshing come from the presence of the Lord. So if there is no presence of the Lord, there will be no times of refreshing.

No I know folks say well you know God is everywhere, He is Omnipresent. Yes indeed He is, but is that the type of presence that the Scripture is referring to here?

If it was omnipresence people would automatically be being refreshed from that presence. Now you and I both know that is not the case. So I submit to you that this text is not speaking about God's omnipresence, But His Manifest Presence!

In the Hebrew it is the word "Kabod", which means the weighty presence of God. Have you ever heard folks say: "Boy the presence of God was so thick you could have cut it with a knife"? You know as well as I do that in some of our meetings the presence of God is stronger than in others.

So our goal is the have as strong of a manifest presence of the Lord so that the times of refreshing will come. We obtain that by learning to repent quick and often. By returning to Him with all our heart. And finally hosting and honoring His presence. (the subject of our next Blog)

When we do these things...then...Times of Refreshing will come from the Manifest Presence of the Lord!