Thursday, December 8, 2011

God Has No Grandkids

  “...there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord...Judges 2:10
  God has no grandchildren. Either you are a child of God or you are not. There is no generational guarantee. Even though the word expressly offers a benefit and definite opportunity, each one has to find their way to the foot of the cross.
Through the years I have heard people declare they have been Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist all their lives. They comment how their family is third generation Lutheran, or as far back as they can remember, their family was Catholic. Really, what has happened is the religion became a culture and not an experience with God. The problem with enculturation is that it carries all the outward appearances of reality; yet inside there is no transformation. Jesus made comment in very direct and even harsh was when he declared the most religious group to be white washed tombstones with dead men’s bones inside.
It is easy to take shots at formal religion and criticize the obvious formalities with little or no life in them. However, I would like to state that I have met people in all those traditions who have a vibrant relationship with Jesus. So, dead religion is a cultural phenomenon and can be found many places.
Even in Scripture we find the kings of Judah reflecting the see-saw commitment to God. One king serves the Lord and the next one serves Baal. Why? The Book of Judges tells of a generation that knew not the works of God. Why? Well, it is true, “God has no grandchildren.”
So, this brings me to my concern. The moves of God that took place in the 20th century including the Pentecostal revivals, the Latter Reign movement, and the Charismatic Renewal are fading in their impact. Probably all of the Pentecostal revivalists are gone, most of the Latter Reign folks are gone, and the Charismatic Renewal folks are aging. The families and churches that were impacted by those movements are now into their 2nd and 3rd generation of descendants.
Just in the short span of my life, I am watching churches close that once were power houses of the Spirit. Another one we know of closed in the Cleveland area. Many churches are on the verge of closing. Why? Other churches in an effort to survive are re-inventing themselves and morphing into something that does not even resemble their roots or the move that birthed them. Historic Pentecostal churches are moving to the middle of the road and relegating the Holy Spirit to the sidelines. One of the brothers told me that a Pentecostal church of some size has a special room for those who want to speak in tongues. So, if you feel you want to pray in tongues, you leave the service and go to a room designated for speaking in tongues. Wow, how the mighty have fallen. Another account was related to me that a historic Pentecostal church pastor in the Chicago area told his church, after a message in tongues, that would be the last of that display. There would be no more messages in tongues in that church. Wow, how the mighty have fallen.
But to bring it closer to home, we have children in our churches whose parents are spirit filled, love the Lord, pursue the things of God; yet their children do not know if they are born again, do not know of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and generally are lost. There has been a disconnect between parents and their children spiritually.
One of the causes of the disconnect is the lack of emphasis and teaching on the responsibility of family, of parents and children, and fathers to their children.
The emphasis on separating kids from the flow of the Spirit has resulted in a lost, churched youth. While parents have been in services hearing the word of God and worshipping, kids have been shipped off to rooms for entertainment and baby sitting. Parents are abdicating their God-given responsibility. One of the hallmarks of the Charismatic Renewal was a renewal in family and parent-child relations. Homeschooling became important, discipline was meted out in godly fashion, kids were in service with their parents, a biblical approach to family was sought, these all were marks of a movement that was deeper than just a worship form.
There is a need to return to biblical standards. There is a need for the resurgence of godly fathers. There is need for parents who seek to follow the dictates of Scripture. Let’s not lose this generation. It is not too late to change, to turn.

P. Bill

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Charismatic, Really?

Charismatic churches and Pentecostal Churches are becoming less charismatic and Pentecostal. Although I do not like the terms so much since they tend to pigeon hole people and churches and create stereotypical images in people’s minds; yet, these are the terms that have survived and are used.
By that I mean there is little opportunity for the gifts of the Spirit to operate in the body. There are several things that contribute to that I believe.
  1. Through the last two decades, there has been an emphasis put on being marketable to the world. We have turned the church into a business that is marketing itself to the world through tried and true business methods. “The customer is always right” has translated into making services entertaining and timed. Most churches of any size have great worship teams with many instruments, singers, videos, and powerful sound systems. The lights are dimmed, the stage lights come up, and the videos play and lights flash. It is entertaining, effective. Many can enter into praise and personal worship can be enhanced. But in the midst of that, there is no room for the Holy Spirit to do much other than anointing the individual worshipper. 
  2. Time: We have very closed ended services. For mega churches running multiple services one hour is max. Sing, teach, and move on. For modern America, one hour is all they can take of God. There are so many other things that we have to get to in the afternoon. Current wisdom says that people can only listen for 20 minutes. (Now I know I have listened to people that 20 minutes was too long) But really, what if there is an anointing to teach longer. We have narrowed down the time God can have. Yet, in third world countries 20 minutes is an insult, a testimony. They come for the word. They will stay all day.
  3. No Waiting: The idea of waiting on the Lord makes people nervous. We have to every minute filled with sound, activity. For people to move in the gifts of the Spirit, it takes time, encouragement, stewarding. The uneasiness of silence grates the nerves of the impatient. There is a worry that God is not in the moment; yet, He often encourages us to be still and know that He is God. There is little room for the pall of holiness to grip us. Being open to the Spirit requires waiting.
  4. Little or No Teaching: The work of the 5 fold ministry is to train others. The New Testament concepts are of a body of believers equipped for ministry. It is not an audience prepared for a concert, but a body equipped for battle. It takes time to teach people how to move in the Spirit, how to hear the voice of God, and a place of safety to share. You know I want a move of God that is peaceful, full of unity, and no goofiness. The only way to avoid the silliness and excesses are to teach people how to do it right and be able to judge the incorrect when it appears. The emphasis has been on the goofs and judging the stupidity that is out there. We have created an atmosphere of fear so people will not venture into the realm of the Spirit. They have fear of being wrong, making a fool of themselves, and the consequences if they make a mistake. Learning to minister in the gifts was meant for all, not a few. Yet, our times of worship are more geared to shut those things out than to include them.
  5. Control: Often churches and their leaders are more worried about control and making sure things work the way they want them. True, we must shepherd the flock and protect them. Yet, the scripture indicates the flow of the Spirit and gifts operating in an orderly fashion. Orderly fashion is the operative term. This requires explaining, directing, shepherding the service in a way that allows the Holy Spirit to move, yet with a biblical order. The people of God need encouragement.
  6. Kooks Loose: Everyone is afraid of the weird prophet, the strange person, or as so often depicted in movies and TV, the deranged antichrist figure. Rather than shutting all the good people off and allowing a strange person to have an outburst sporadically, we need to encourage the good and train these good people. It is amazing when we allow God to move in good people who have been trained and encouraged that the weird ones move on or are silenced by the approved. It is a poor excuse to close off the Holy Spirit because you are afraid of kooks. It is something like hiding the one talent because you were afraid.
Sadly many churches with charismatic roots or Pentecostal roots barely look like their forefathers. We have a younger generation that has grown up in these churches and do not have the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, let alone move in the gifts. There is a generation that watched their parents, sat in these powerful meetings, and yet they do not have the power.
What is going to happen is many of these former charismatic churches and Pentecostal churches will die or wane to the place they are ineffective. And then God will raise up a whole new generation of people to serve Him who are hungry for His power and are not satisfied with a little entertainment. It will be a generation that is radical, hungry, and going for it. They will once again pay the price of discipleship and sacrifice to have the presence of God and His power.
I am looking for this kind!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The New Web Address

Just so you know, the River of Life Website is

The New Look

Everybody likes to change their style from time to time. We change our hair, we dress with a new style, we buy a upscale shoe style. Women will change their hair color or style dramatically. Why? To keep life interesting, to get out of a rut, to feel good about yourself are all good reasons.
Well, we are changing our website to be fresher, more interactive, up to date, have a calendar, make it easy to use. I am hoping we will all enjoy the new look and start using the site as a great communication tool.
So, scan through the pages, browse, look at pictures, stay tuned.
Welcome to the River's Edge Blog.
Pastor Bill