Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

May the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob richly bless all of creation all around the world on this day of Thanksgiving-2008.
Nathan Lee Lewis

Five day JTO reader total:

United States (US) 78
Canada (CA) 8
Germany (DE) 2
Russian Federation (RU) 1
United Kingdom (GB) 1
Bulgaria (BG) 1
Spain (ES) 1
Greece (GR) 1
India (IN) 1

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

So You Want To Be A Prophet?

And He himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. Eph. 4:11

And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then worker of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. 1 Corinthians 12:28

So you want to be a prophet?

"The mind is a deceitfully wicked thing. Who can know it?" 

The battle of the mind to know the thoughts of God and to adequately discern them is a treacherous and torturous endeavor. Some dreams and visions come with instant understanding as to their meaning and implications. Those which are foretelling of events, however, are not always fully understood as to their timing. I learned early and painfully not to presume upon what I don't know, especially on the timing or fulfillment of a certain prophecy. Some visions or dreams I have received have sat for decades with still no understanding as to their timing or meaning. Those early years of discovery have built in me an intense sense of caution. One pivotal moment of understanding came to me in a time of prayer. The Lord gave me instant and intuitive understanding that He did not reveal all things to me in order for me to speak them nor was it my responsibility to implement what I saw nor to move a people to respond appropriately. It was a word of relief. The word of the Lord is His and he will vindicate.

A prophet sees into the heavens and glimpses the mysteries of God. Some of the things he sees are made clear and are for the Kingdom of God in this time. God has something to say so he speaks through a human instrument.

There are no new doctrines, truths or revelations.

There are only specific and general directions to individuals groups or nations to accomplish His will and counter the devises of the enemy. Not all the prophet sees is to be spoken. He must learn the difference. He eventually finds that "secret place" of God. The mind and workings of God are a fearful thing and one must learn quickly what an awesome thing it is that He entrusts such to men and women. In my times of faithlessness and burdens of life I have, shamefully, wished and even pleaded with God to remove this gift of prophecy from me.

"Lord may I please have the gifts of Helps or Service?"

To know the sins of man, the impending peril of a people and to often have a word of knowledge containing specific details of a sinful or foreboding situation, is burdensome.

"Lord why do you show me these things?"

In these questions I have sinned. Christ Himself "learned through the things He suffered".

He has shown me the same grace and patience.

The preparation of a prophet is long and difficult. He must have no leaven. He must be pure and undefiled. He must have died to self. He must hate his own life and be willing to lose it for the sake of Christ. The preparation alone is enough for some to wish for death. If death doesn't come, they run and hide in a cave. In this they sin. Such is the strength of the human will and the sinful flesh. It does not want to submit to a life of depravity, conflict, threats and self-sacrifice as is the life of a prophet. Prophets are not particularly popular or well liked. They are maligned, stoned, driven off and murdered. They are born for a purpose and into the time for which God would have them speak.

"As for the Prophets, whether they be bishops, priests, professors, monastics, or lay people, our only prayer can be that they are inspired by God and not themselves (not to mention other possible spirits), and that we be ready to hear and obey their voice when they are sent to proclaim God's Word to us." Very Reverend Thomas Hopko

The prophet is peculiar and sometimes does apparently peculiar things. They fast when it is not called for. They give peculiar names to their children. They pierce their ears or wear strange clothes or let their hair grow to lengths that are culturally out of sync. They will set out on a hike without knowing their destination. They are not easily satisfied by the regular amenities of life. They are not given to fulfilling others expectations. Their life is a display of signs and symbols and it is a rare thing to be understood by others. They will never be accused of being normal. It is profoundly true for the prophet that

"In Him we live and move and have our being."

Outside of that there is no life and there is certain untimely death.

I cringe, and in fact, am angered by those who would use prophetic gifts to posture and present themselves to others for notoriety or to gain stature as a spokesman for God. They clamor for the acclaim of man and indeed that is all they get. They cause spiritual destruction and a falling away. They give vague predictions and personal insights and when elements of what they say come true they are empowered to say, "See I predicted that." They ignore the many elements of their words that were false or heretical and their followers hold them to no account.

A prophet of God gathers no followers.

They devise new escape-clause-doctrines that ignore the Biblical mandate which says, if a prophet speaks that which does not come to pass or is heretical then he is a false prophet and must be put to death.

One inclination of a purified prophet of God is that he often hopes for a way that He will not have to fulfill what God is asking of him.

"Father if it be thy will let this cup pass from me."

He may pray and reason with God in that secret place but he eventually says,

"Not my will but thine be done."

The prophet knows full well that to stand against dominions and powers, to point a finger at a King or a Bishop, is done so at his own physical peril. Recipients of a prophet's word will either repent or react. Kings have swords and Bishops have edicts, but the prophet knows that God has the power over his eternal destiny. Thus a prophet fears what no man can do to him.

"For me to live is Christ and to die is gain."

And death does indeed come, sooner or later, as God wills. So you still want to be a prophet?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Truth Is Often Hidden In "Plane" Sight

Come out of your comfort zone. Truth is often hidden from the masses and only those with eyes to see can see.

..."narrow is the gate and a hard road that leads to life,
and only a few find it."

Lies and deceptions are often so blatant that they who perpetrate them wave them before your eyes and attempt to redefine what you are seeing. For example: Did you think terrorists flying airplanes brought down the twin towers on 9-11?

What else in your belief system have you readily accepted as fact? Are you failing to see where the church is because of what you have been told is true? Are you just accepting what has been waved in your face since birth? Don't start with your conclusions and attempt to defend them. Start at the original source and work forward. "To be deep in history is to cease to be protestant"

"Ask Questions. Be Informed."

"For you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free."

Does "Christian Music" Have A Soul?

I was shopping with one of my five daughters today. While in the car she put in one of her CD's proclaiming it to be a "Christian Rock Band". I told her there was no such thing as a Christian Rock Band.

"Does a Rock Band have a soul? Does it die and go to heaven? There are Christians who are in a band, but that does not make what they do Christian."

I spent many years as a worship leader. In the Evangelical Charismatic world, that entails leading a band with all the frills, musicians, singers, songwriters, rehearsals, sets, audiences, recordings and the like. It is quite a world and there is money to be made. Living in Nashville, I have had a chance to see the spent lives of various Christan artist/entertainers who couldn't quite make it in the business. I also see the successful artists around town in the restaurants and such. The Christian music and the country music world go hand in hand here. There is no difference. People are people. There may be music artists who are Christians but being a musician does not make you a Christian no matter what kind of music you perform. It especially does not qualify anyone to be idolized. Be careful whom you idolize, look up to or put on a pedestal, lest your faith be dashed when you see the real essence of their character.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bishop Antoun To Visit Tennessee

JTO welcomes the visit of His Grace Bishop Antoun of the Self Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. His Grace will spend time at Saint Ignatius Orthodox Church in Franklin, Tennessee. He will celebrate the liturgy and be honored at a luncheon to follow on November 16th, 2008. All are invited to come and meet with our pastor and receive his blessing and words of wisdom.

Short Biography of Bishop Antoun

Born: Damascus, Syria, January 17, 1931.
  • St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, Crestwood, NY (M.Div., 1962)
  • Deacon, October 28, 1951, by Patriarch Alexander III
  • Priest, May 29, 1960, by Metropolitan Antony Bashir
  • Archimandrite, August 3, 1969, by Metropolitan Philip Saliba
  • Bishop, January 9, 1983, by Metropolitan Philip Saliba
  • Diocesan Bishop, Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America (Jan. 9, 1983- 2004 ); assigned by Metropolitan Philip to Engwood Chancery.
  • Diocesan Bishop of Miami and the Southeast (2004- present): assigned by Metropolitan PHILIP to the Englewood Chancery.
  • For more: Click HERE

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Pray For President-Elect Barack Obama

I invite all JTO readers to pray for President-Elect Barack Obama as he leads the United States in this most difficult time in our history. I echo President-Elect Obama's words to those who did not support him during the election. He will be the president of all Americans. Choose prayer rather than criticism and allow our sovereign God to work his will and way in this nation. Prophesy if you must and criticize if it is warranted, but remember, the Kingdom of God will prevail and all nations and leaders will one day bow before the throne of God. God is still in control and Christ will come again.