Not very busy today, so with some spare time before my evening meal, I will share something I am chewing over right now. Here goes…
I am just wondering why we have been keen to learn from Jesus model and style for healing, but have not paid Him such regard in terms of His style and methods in other aspects of His ministry, e.g . preaching, teaching, deliverance and prophetic ministry to think of just a few off the top of my head. I think what amazes me is how simple Jesus approach to all ministry was in the gospels. He did not always do things the same way, but that does not mean that any way of doing things will do. We do have the gospels and therefore a record of what Christian ministry not only does but looks like even allowing for the wonderful reality of differing personalities.
At times in my life I have known demonstrable healing and been the recipient of the most astounding prophecies and I hope I will know such things in the present and in the future too. The thing is ,there was nothing dramatic or showy or mind-bendingly crazy and weird about the method on these occasions to detract from the ministry of Jesus by the Holy Spirit through one or more of His friends and servants. In fact I have very little memory of how these things happened just that something real happened in a way that I can only put down to God rather than an in your face and in everybody else’s face very definite style or method of ministry. The effects on me were dramatic, but there was no drama in the delivery of God’s blessing to me.
For me as a pastor I have to care for the good of the sheep. So when it comes to matters such as healing, or prophecy or even just teaching conferences, I have a duty not just to ask if any given ministry is true or false, but also to ask is it wise and helpful, even if it is real. I once withdrew an invitation to someone with a significant healing ministry to come and minister in our congregation because I had seen the way he ministered somewhere else. Perhaps some people were healed in the meeting I attended, though I am not sure if they were despite the claims from the front, but there was a lot of confusion and an unsettling of the flock because of the style and method of ministry which was never explained in any way. If you command a person to get out of their wheelchair several times and they fall flat on the floor, as I saw happening, well it causes unrest. If you walk over the heads of people and walk over pews it causes unrest. Indeed if someone out on the street had hit people as hard on the head as this particular healing evangelist was hitting them in the church then they would have been arrested by the police and rightly so: slightly harder and I am sure I would have suffered concussion! Here is the sad thing though: I believe that person had and still has a genuine ministry of healing and evangelism. Similarly, there are prophetic ministries and ministries of Intercession that as a pastor I cannot commend to the flock of God or let loose on the flock, not because they are false, but because the method and the style gets in the way and can cause damage and difficulty beyond all proportion to any blessing left behind.
Of course some people say that God “offends the mind to reveal the heart.” As a Toronto blessing person I say “Amen” to that, however, that is actually one of the holiest ministry truths I know and to use it as an excuse for needlessly confusing approaches and to legitimate thoughtlessness in ministry by it is to turn a fearfully holy principle into something that loses all its inherent power and integrity; it is to steal a truth for a wrong setting and purpose. When I was prophesied to in tremendous power and accuracy, just like Jesus, someone simply spoke words I could understand, and they amazed me. When I have experienced healing in the past, it was just announced with words. It was all very low key. I guess if we have little power we have to put on a show to convince people or even myself as I minister that something of God is happening – which it may or may not be. If you make Smith Wiggelsworth your model then make sure you have his steeped in the Word biblical thinking and understanding, an equivalent Baptism in the Holy Spirit to his experience, a depth of relationship with God and an understanding of faith as deep as his, a willingness to suffer like him and the non exaggerated statistics that would make even the most cautious pastors or church leaders have to do some serious thinking.
Often ministries cause themselves to have a smaller sphere of influence than they could have because of a stubbornness to do with style. They influence a fringe of likeminded people, and that fringe may even be international, but the sadness is they could have had much wider influence if there was a willingness to learn that method and power are not as intimately related as many would claim. Of course no ministry however genuine and sensitive will be welcomed everywhere. I think my ministry is genuine and I think I am sensitive to people and situations, though ultimately God alone knows, but as Morag reminded me a few days ago, I have had invitations to speak withdrawn over the years. It has not happened often, but it has happened. That does not bother me, for me. I understand the way it is when you have a leadership or pastoral responsibility for a gathering or a congregation.
So an appeal to all who minister and to all who wish their leader, minister, pastor would extend an invitation or advertise a ministry, a conference, a speaker visiting town that you happen to like: Please don’t defend styles that have no backing in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and the ministry of Jesus. Please don’t appeal to Jesus using spit in healing. As I said in a blog a few months back, that would have made sense to anyone Jesus ministered healing to in His day as spittle was believed to have healing properties. What He did was not weird in the slightest degree. It should not be used as the source text from which to preach sermons pleading for people to accept a style that makes no sense on any level. Many of the things that have been “done” to me over the years for my healing have nothing to do with the healing I was seeking. Many of the prophetic antics that I have been subjected to because the prophet must do it a particular way, have had nothing whatsoever to do with a Word from God that they were genuinely seeking to give to me, but were a distraction and even detracted from the Word and drew 99% of my attention and everyone else’s attention to the prophet and away from God.
So, the Holy Spirit gifted, filled with the Spirit and open to the Spirit pastor knows there is more to consider than whether a ministry is true or false, though it is a good thing to try and discern that first of all! Pastors’ gifting and the calling from God for which they are answerable to Him, means they think carefully about how the flock’s wellbeing and peace and safety will be affected by things. A pastor should know the flock needs fresh pasture and they should lead the flock into new places in God, but they also go ahead of where they are seeking to take the sheep, in order to make sure there is nothing in the grass that could cause hurt or harm to the sheep who, just like Jesus does, they know by name. It is a shepherd’s right use of the rod to check the grass for hidden poisonous weeds or snakes: better to take the flock somewhere else in the search for new pasture if there is just too much of that around to deal with swiftly and simply, even if there is good grass too. Wounded and harmed sheep, or sheep that are fleeced financially under some guise that they are being set free from the poverty spirit are too high a sacrifice for the odd sheep or a couple of odd sheep being blessed by a more than odd ministry. It is a pastor’s or a leader’s call to make.
If you are a pastor or a leader or both you will agree. If you don’t agree and see this as resistance to the Holy Spirit then don’t become a pastor or a leader but don’t be surprised either if your ministry whatever sphere it may be in is resisted and has doors shut against it, when with a bit of humility and common sense more doors would have opened to you and your ministry and could yet do so. I am saying this because I care as much about ministries not being curtailed but being released to spread as widely as they can possibly go under God, as I do that these ministries bless the flock of God, lost and found.
Anyway, it is tea-time. Time for a different type of chewing…
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