Exercising the Gift of Discernment

While there are numerous books and teachings on hearing the voice of God, focusing on the Word of Knowledge, Word of Wisdom, and Prophecy, little is ever said of the Gift of Discernment.  On the other hand, it’s not uncommon to hear someone says “Where is our discernment?”  There are two popular ways of viewing discernment, but I don’t think either one really paints the right picture. While it has become less common, there are still “discernment ministries” whose main purpose is unrelenting Read more [...]

How NOT to Receive a Prophecy

Just as there is an art to hearing God’s voice for other people, so too is there an art to receiving prophetic words addressed to you. Most people know that a prophecy must be consistent with Scripture in order to be valid. But there is also a psychological process to receiving a prophecy. Over time, I have noticed several common mistakes that people make when receiving a prophecy. I have made several of these mistakes myself. In my book School of the Spirit, I go into more detail on how to receive Read more [...]

Why Prophetic People Can Miss It

Some influential Christians have said that prophetic people need to be 100% accurate, or they should be considered a “false prophet.” This “all or nothing” attitude comes from an interpretation of certain verses in the Old Testament, in which the Israelites were instructed to stone a prophet who prophesied in the Name of the Lord things that failed to come to pass. Under the Old Covenant, God only spoke through a few anointed leaders and prophets, so falsely claiming to speak the word of Read more [...]

Can God Really Meet Your Emotional Needs?

When I was in college under the campus ministry, all answers came back to, “God is the answer.” If you felt lonely and depressed, God was the answer. If you were lonely and needed more friends, God was the answer.  If you thought a girl was cute and wished you had a girlfriend, God was the answer.  The notion was that God was the answer to all of your needs. It sounds like it must be true because it’s really spiritual, right? The only problem is that before the fall God only saw Read more [...]

Approaches to Christian Counseling

The basic task of pastoring people is helping them to grow. A major component of this then is counseling. And both counseling and pastoring are tied closely to your view of sanctification, and your view of the human person. There are several major schools of thought within the church today that provide an approach to helping people to grow: “Christian Counseling.”  Christian counseling has matured a tremendous amount in the past few decades, but when it started, Christian Counseling tended to Read more [...]

Apostolic Movements

The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) is a term that was used by Peter Wagner to describe current trends in church movements, particularly with regard to a "five-fold" ministry and church polity. These NAR movements are supposed to be led through relationships instead of structures, and generally follow the Ephesians 4:10 pattern.
This concept first emerged as part of the Latter Rain movement which started in Saskatchewan in 1948. The Latter Rainers had the original revelation of the "five-fold" as Read more [...]

Most Influential Pentecostal/Charismatic Churches in America

As far as I can tell from a brief search online there is no list of the most influential Pentecostal or Charismatic churches in America. Therefore, I'm going to give it a shot. There is a whole lot that I don't know about, so I look forward to input from people out there. Also, size and influence are different. Think about things like:

How much they are a leader in defining a certain aspect or vision of Christianity?
How many many followers or copycats you have?
Is the pastor on the circuit Read more [...]

5 Keys to Successful Church Planting

Are you thinking about planting a church?  As someone who has been a leader in three church plants, I want to make it a lot easier for you,   I've seen what works and what doesn't work, and I want it to work for you.   Planting a church is one of the most exciting adventures you can embark on, but it's also challenging and risky.  Having the right tools can significantly accelerate you.   That's why I'm going to be doing a series of articles just to help people Read more [...]

Prophets That I Know About

The prophetic movement began in 1948 with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in North Battleford, Saskatchewan. A group of Pentecostal Bible students from the Sharon Orphanage and Schools began fasting after some of their leaders had driven to Vancouver to see William Branham in person. Branham's gift was so amazing that they began to seek God to see similar results. Several weeks into the fast, there was an powerful outpouring of personal prophecy, and several other things. These events became the Read more [...]

Christian Codependency

A codependent relationship is one where the love flow is when the bond is based on one person providing assistance and the other person receiving assistance.  In the world, this pairing is usually found between someone who is has low self-esteem and tolerates selfish behavior from the other person.  In Christian settings, however, a benevolent kind of codependency can also emerge based on someone’s desire to help another person in obedience to the commands of Jesus.

I believe that this kind Read more [...]

When to Invest?

If you are any good at pastoring, you will quickly have more people to help than you have time to help them with. So the question becomes who do you help, and when? The simple Biblical answer is that you help each according to his faith. But what does that mean? In translation to the pastoral context, you help those who are hungry. I do not help those who will not help themselves. The reason is because helping these people is actually counter-productive. One of the core concepts you need as a pastor Read more [...]

Pastor as Interpreter

Emotions are not naturally and easily understood. In fact, you have to learn to understand them. Your parents and friends give you the vocabulary for them as you experience them. When you are a little baby and you cry you mom might say to you "oh, are you sad?" or when you laugh she might say "oh, you're so happy!" When she does this, she is helping you develop an emotional vocabulary. Really understanding what is going on in your heart and what to do about it is a skill learned over a lifetime -- Read more [...]

The Pastor’s Heart

What do you think of when you think of a "pastor"? The leader of a church? A preacher? Someone with a friendly personality? A pastor may be all of those things, but fundamentally, Biblically speaking, the essence of a pastor is something else: a shepherd. This shepherd keeps watch, over a flock, and if you are part of that flock, the shepherd keeps watch over your soul.
Being a pastor, therefore is not about the ability to teach or build big things, or draw a crowd, it's about the ability to care Read more [...]

The Institutional Church

It is very popular in some circles to criticize the institutional church. What's funny is which circles it's most popular with: radical Christians, some pastors, unhealthy Christians, and unbelievers. Three circles that would seem to have little in common.
First, let's take pastors. Not all pastors are critics of the "church" -- many are on the opposite end, but I must say that I have been in more than one service in more than one place where the pastor starts rolling out the Barna statistics explaining Read more [...]

The Story of the Church

I'd like to present the story of what God is doing in history with a slightly different angle than you may have heard before.
 
Phase 1 - The Return.
Jesus did not simply go to heaven when he died. He could have just been up there just sitting with God the Father  but he did more  -- He returned to earth in a resurrected body. It was in this resurrected body that he gave the disciples the great commission, saying that "all authority" had been given to him and they were "disciple all the Read more [...]

The Incarnation of the Kingdom

In the book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar is given a dream of a giant statue. It has a head of gold, a chest of silver, a core of bronze, and feet of iron mixed with clay. Daniel interprets this dream as four great empires which were coming to rule over the earth.
 
Gold -- The Babylonians

Silver -- The Persians
           Bronze -- Alexander and the Greeks
           Iron and Clay -- The Romans
 
All of this happened exactly as Daniel prophesied. The last event, however Read more [...]

Discipling The Nations

I was part of a church once that had a post-millennial flavor to their teaching. In a nutshell, the people who say Jesus is not returning until we take over everything. And that there really won't be any tribulation, basically in the long view, things will get better and better and better until we win. I couldn't swallow this down because it seemed to need to dispatch with too much of the Bible. For example that Revelation was written before 70 A.D. and was mostly all about that. In other words, Read more [...]

Church Planting Principles II

Here are a few more points about church planting, as a sequel to my last note. Most of the principles on this list are closely interrelated.
 
1.  More people will leave you than will stay with you. I know this sounds mathematically impossible, but it's actually the case. Most people that come will only be with you for a season, they will not be long term co-planters.  There are different groups of these:
A.  Visitors.  They come for a week or a few weeks and just don't really connect.
B.  Read more [...]

What You Need To Know About Church Planting

I've been involved in church planting for 8 years, but I realized that I've never done any formal study on the subject.  After all they don't teach this kind of stuff in seminary (usually, apart from a special course). Too often, seminary is about parsing Greek verbs and understanding the filioque, not about the things that make you a good ministry leader. That means that the real training ends up happening on the job. There is all kinds of "folk knowledge" possessed by experienced pastors and ministry Read more [...]

The Theology Of The Possible

After years of study, I feel that I am finally starting to get a hold of an idea that has eluded me. I did a long paper in Seminary so that I could clearly understand eschatology. Separately, I've been trying to understand how Charismatic preaching and Bible interpretation works. This leads ultimately to an examination of our Charismatic practice to find the "way forward."
There are a lot of groups offering us a false "way forward" in the church right now. The whole "Emergent" movement is capturing Read more [...]

Mike Bickle’s IHOP Eschatology

Mike Bickle has had a tremendous impact on the church in his generation. One that far outstrips what most of us could hope for. God called him at a very young age to be the pastor to the prophets of Kansas City. These Kansas City Prophets went on to shock the worldwide church with the divine word and power of God. Now that's not to say that things were all right. There were definitely issues, but it is to say that God used this team to do something very significant in the life of the church. Then Read more [...]

Prosperity Problems

Throughout most of Church History the spiritual current, especially of the Catholic and Orthodox churches has been that the most spiritual possible lifestyle is to be poor. Keying off of Scriptures like "Blessed are the poor..." and "Sell everything you have and come follow me," the mindset has been that in order to truly follow Christ you must impoverish yourself. Now, of course, at any given time only a few are willing to do this at one time, and so they are considered the most Spiritual. This Read more [...]

Basic Dream Interpretation and Hermeneutics

For the past three nights, I've had dreams that I not only remembered, but were highly symbolic and seemed to have meaning.  In addition, when I awoke from the first dream I felt that I had had a God dream. I told my wife and I began to give the intepretation. It was strange because I rarely dream anymore and I have never interpreted a dream before. But this seemed to just flow off of my tongue, and speak to our situation.
In fact, I believe this may have been triggered by a visit to a Bridge church Read more [...]

Best Worship Albums

Finding powerful worship albums is not that easy. You need a combination of great songwriting/selection, strong musicianship, hunger and responsiviness to the presence of God. Some worshipers are strong on one but weak on others. There are a lot of great worshipers in the Kansas City stream that tune into the presence of God, but it's so free form that the music suffers a bit. On other hand, more typical is sacrificing the presence for perfection. Israel Houghton may be an example of this. If he Read more [...]

An Eschatology in a Nutshell

There are three basic systems for eschatology. Rather than elaborate on all of the nuances, I wanted to give the super simplified list to keep things clear. The most popular system has these basic features:

Jesus is coming back to get the church and judge the world at any time.
This will be followed by a golden age of his rule upon the Earth while Satan is bound.
This will be followed by Satan's release and a final judgement of both the devil and the wicked.

That is called premillennialism. Read more [...]

Things to Understand About Prophecy

Prophecy and Your Walk with God
Many Christians are uncertain or inexperienced with personal prophecy, but I have found that prophecy can fast track your walk with God if you utilize it properly. If I speak a word over you, I want you to have a healthy, positive experience, so here are some guidelines to help.
The Purpose of Prophecy
Prophecy is someone listening to God so that they can speak his heart over you. All prophecy, like all ministry, however, must pass through a human vessel in order to Read more [...]