“We will not win people over by theological argument!” R T Kendall
“My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of mans wisdom, but in demonstration of the spirit and power! That your faith may not be in the wisdom of man but the power of God!” Paul
This week as I met with the guys who will help me with the publishing of my book (which by the way should be printed and ready to roll within the next two months,) and as we talked about the craziness of spiritual journey, (especially over the last 10 years,) it became progressively more obvious to me just how dope the measure of glory/anointing/reality that we saw manifest as we began to step out into ministry! When Justin and I started out in 2005 we were drunk! Ministry for us wasn’t some hurriedly arranged tour or some deep theological school of glory and grace! None of what we facilitated was polished, plausible or practiced and at no point did we feel that the ‘message’ was our key to full time (an opportunity to escape from real life) ministry! We had been hit! We had been transformed over a long period of time in our homes and we were absolutely hammered drunk! We were the message, we carried ‘grace’ and were full of new wine! We would rock up to cities, towns and villages with a group of crazy Holy Ghost hedonists knowing nothing other than BLISS! It was very raw, very messy, very offensive, far from ‘correct’ yet carried with it a breaker which liberated individuals! When I now consider the violence AND the weight of drunken glory which we encountered over a sustained period of time in order to see the small measure of break through which we saw manifest I now realize just how essential this Glory is! We knew no special message, WE WERE the message, WE WERE the epistle known and read by men! We may not of had all of our theological ducks in a row but we couldn’t get away from that sense of presence and glory and we were aware that it was this glory which was causing transformation.
Way too often these days words like ‘encounter’ or ‘experience’ are treated with malice and contempt and guys are heavily warned away from giving themselves to experiences or anything unusual! Within grace circles there is a strong focus placed upon having a correct and accurate theological foundation. This is understandable, I get it, I mean for years guys (me included,) were swallowing down all sorts of spiritual junk often finding themselves engaging in strange gnostic lives of self denial and sacrifice as they felt this necessary for spiritual breakthrough and maturity! There surely needed to come a wave of teaching and understanding which would allow guys to come out from under the religious yoke of ‘Do-Do Christianity’ which demanded much yet offered little! I guess the question that I then have to ask is; ‘is it possible that the church has now swung to the other end of the spectrum? That it now lives together in a culture where experiences are frowned upon and cynicism rules the day?’ I’m not suggesting that it’s not important to be ‘solid’ and ‘grounded’ in what some would consider ‘truth,’ neither am I endorsing guys floating off into the crazy world of strange imaginations and weird spiritual stupidity! Yet in the same way I do realise that it is possible that we can become very dogmatic and can aggressively force home our theological views, (some of which we will eventually move on from,) AND In the same way maybe it’s equally as wrong to bash guys who may walk in ‘realms’ which we may not understand! What I’m seeing is that sadly the over bearing focus on teaching and theological rightness is opening a way for weird ministerial clones to appear! ‘Ministers’ who believe that they have arrived at the point of theological excellence hence they are now ‘called’ to ministry! Few have encountered reality, fewer still are ready to bring people into an EXPERIENCE of the glory!
Church history accurately depicts a process of ‘Encounter LEADING to Transformation’ as we read of wave after wave of change and reformation. It seems that it was ONLY after guys encountered deep places of individual encounter that transformation hit the masses! The strange thing is that often the theology of past reformers seemed stupidly off and totally shot through with errors, YET they carried a realm of glory which shook the world. Probably one of the greatest break throughs the church has seen in recent years was really carried and manifested by Todd Bentley. I remember when Todd came on the scene and how deeply guys were impacted by the seriousness of the anointing which the guy carried! This guy obviously walked in something new YET when you look at his journey you will see a guy who deeply encountered Divine reality over a sustained period of time in his home and life BEFORE it broke out to the masses! Todd continually shares his testimony of the ‘Glory liquid honey cloud’ which rolled through his home as he laid down in the glory! He shares his story in such an animated way of how he encountered ‘Jesus’ in his home and how those encounters set him up for a life in the ministry! His calling was so obvious, not just to himself but also recognized by his friends who would get deeply affected by ‘presence’ as they hung out with Todd! This was real stuff and bore with it real fruit!
When you consider people like Mariah Woodworth Etter, Smith Wigglesworth, Charles Finney, John G Lake, the list goes on, you actually see awesome power ministries born out of encounter and experience! William Branham probably walked in more than most and was a sure catalyst in birthing the ‘Voice of Healing Movement’ in the late 1940‘s. The crazy thing is when you look at the life of Branham you find a guy who crazily gave himself to encounter the Divine in order to see the magnitude of reality which he walked in! Nowadays guys feel ‘called’ to ministry at 18 years old, yet when you look at church history guys like Wigglesworth saw nothing until they were in their 40’s or 50’s and that was after they had experienced a realm of glory which launched them into ministry! Apparently Jesus himself did diddly squat until he was 30 years old and was apparently called to ministry after having a crazy encounter where a heavenly voice shouted from the sky and a crazy dove landed on his head! The apostle Paul would not of been a young pup when he received his calling, it was pretty obvious that he had been around the block a bit and let’s face it he was hardly ‘pushing’ for Christian ministry! If anything the guy was fighting against everything drawing him too enlightenment and it took yet again a crazy supernatural encounter to not only get his attention but to launch him into ministry.
What is full time ministry? Is it still essential that as history seems to suggest that an ‘encounter’ or a period of sustained experience of reality is an indication of some sort of call into a life on the road? Or could it be that as long as guys have their theology nice and straight that this is enough of an indication that they are ready!!! I guess as a bystander I’m still attempting to provoke questions within the church based upon obvious observations over the past few years. Listen, I’m obviously passionate about this stuff. If my kids told me that they felt ‘called’ into ministry at 20 years of age you can guarantee that we would be having a talk!!! Yes SOME are called to full time ministry, MOST aren’t! Paul urged the people to make their ‘calling and election sure,’ it also seemed that within the church system there was a protocol in place regarding guys being ‘recognized’ as future leaders, who were called out and ‘SENT’ into ministry! Now I’m certainly not gonna bang the legalistic drum and suggest that guys need to leap through a stack of hoops in order to share their hearts with humanity, but maybe at the same time if guys feel that they are ‘part’ of the christian religious system, then in a day when every man and his dog ‘feels’ called into full time ministry maybe it would be good for guys to at least expect others to recognize and endorse their desires too?
I guess I’m just seeing things very differently these days! I guess I’m looking more for ‘Pioneers of Life’ to manifest. I suppose I’m looking for a wave of guys who far from seeing ministry as a way of escaping from ordinary life who rather find themselves carrying the glory of ‘being’ right into the heart of life. People who have encountered and continually encounter the Divine but who somehow in all of their encounters have developed such a love for humanity that all they want to do is put their hands into the dirt of creation and to hug everything that moves. Those who see ministry as nothing more than ‘being’ right in the midst of life itself! Teachers, bin men, car mechanics, lecturers, beauticians, journalists, house wives, all carrying the ministry of ‘being’ right into the heart of life!
(My blog post regarding Jason Westerfield blew up, we had over 50,000 hits on our site in 3 days and I know that many of you felt the need to participate with your comments. My ONLY reason for writing these posts is to stimulate thought and generate space for difference and change. We love you guys endlessly, please leave your thoughts and please consider partnering financially with us today as a family as we continue to fund our work in Asia x)