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   The May 2001 Pneuma Informer

The May 2000 Pneuma Informer

In this issue:
  • Conversations with Pneuma Web Browsers
  • On-line Ordering and Donations with a Credit Card
  • Resources you can use: Radio Bible Class Online
  • Pentecostal World Conference News
  • Reports from around the world
    • No deadly thing
    • Ukrainian officer raised from the dead
  • Excerpts from the Spring 2001 issue (Vol 4, No 2) of the Pneuma Review:
    • From 'Singing in the Spirit' from the Praying in the Spirit Series, by Robert Graves
    • From 'The Kingdom of God As Scripture's Central Theme: A New Approach to Biblical Theology' By David Burns
    • 'How to Birth Worship Leadership' by By David Crabtree
  • Prayer Request, Praise Report, and Condolences



Conversations with Pneuma Web Browsers

Thanks for telling me about that article ['How To Tell If Your Church Is Sick (While It Still Looks Healthy)' by Gil Can. article_w10.jsp].
Just scanned the article....you're right, it looks great. Can't wait to get back home this afternoon to read it all.
-- S from E-mail

The website looks great—with a touch of Stan Myers it appears. Keep up the very good work.
In His service and yours,
Tim from E-mail
[Editor's Note: Stan Myers is the watercolor artist who painted the dove that appears on Pneuma Foundation literature and website]



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Resources you can use: Radio Bible Class Online

Besides the growing number of resources available on the Pneuma Foundation website (www.PneumaFoundation.org), there is another organization that has a great deal more biblical study aides and on-line resources. That organization is RBC Ministries (formerly Radio Bible Class), found at www.rbc.org. While the Pneuma Foundation does not agree with RBC on the matters of spiritual gifts for today, we have a lot of agreement with them in many areas, and especially in the basics of our Christian faith. Perhaps you want to read about biblical doctrines in language you can understand. Or, you are looking for resources to help you counsel and comfort those who have been touched by tragedy. Maybe you are seeking answers about the validity of Christianity. These resources and many more are online and available at RBC. Make sure to look up their 'Discovery Series' resources (here is a good place to start: http://www.gospelcom.net/rbc/ds/topics.html).

RBC is also famous for its daily devotional, Our Daily Bread. They also offer an E-mail devotional aimed for high school and college students, Campus Journal. You can now read these on-line or receive them through E-mail daily. It is estimated that 60 million people around the world use Our Daily Bread as a regular devotional.



Pentecostal World Conference 2001

Pentecostal believers from around the world will be gathering in Los Angeles, California May 29-31, 2001 for the 19th Pentecostal World Conference. The theme for this conference is 'Pentecost: Millennium III - Renewing the Vision.'

Chairman of the PWC, Dr. Thomas E. Trask, who is also the General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God (U.S.), says that, 'Without question, the 20th century was the century of Pentecost! And for more than 50 years, the Pentecostal World Conference has provided a rich forum for fellowship and an opportunity for Pentecostal leaders to network with each other.' The Local Host Committee is co-chaired by Dr. Jack Hayford and Bishop Charles E. Blake, which is planning seminars and special events for the conference. Delegates from as many as 80 countries are expected for this 3 day conference.

See the PWC website for more information: http://PentecostalWorldFellowship.org



Reports from around the world

No deadly thing
Christian workers in the Philippines traveled to a remote island where there were no known Christian inhabitants. Although they expected to be turned away, they were instead welcomed by the islanders. After giving instruction about sanitation and health care, installing a water pump and toilet, and teaching stories from God's Word, the workers rejoiced when thirty people made decisions to follow Jesus. One of the islanders told them: 'Our children always run and hide when strangers come. But the day you came, the children all ran out to greet you. And do you remember the family that invited you in to eat? They poisoned your food and none of you died! You did not even get sick! We knew that God must be with you!'
Source: Advance (Oct 22, 2000). See www.brigada.org

Ukrainian officer raised from the dead
36-year-old Boris Pilipchuk, Senior Lieutenant in a police unit in Ukraine's Khemlnitskij District lives with his wife and three children in Novaya Siniavka in the Starosiniavskij region. After doctors diagnosed his death, he shocked everyone by returning from the dead. The following is an extract from his report: 'I grew up a strict atheist. In 1996, I became a Christian after hearing a sermon by Mariopol's pastor Nikolai Ivashenko. As a Christian, I had difficulties in my profession, but after a while, my colleagues liked to listen to me tell of Jesus during breaks. I was physically very healthy. On 27 July 1998, after returning home from work, I was suddenly unable to move, and lost consciousness. I was taken to the hospital, where I lay in a coma for several days, after which I was transferred to the Khelmitskij District Clinic. The doctors diagnosed a hemorrhage affecting 95% of my brain. All nine tests confirmed that I was clinically dead. My police colleagues were shocked, and started to collect money for my coffin and burial. My wife called pastor Nikolai, who organized many Christians to pray for me. The doctors fought for my life for another 2 1/2 hours, but were finally forced to diagnose both clinical and biological death. I saw everything from above, and was suddenly in heaven. I saw a fantastic light, and a huge city, like a cube. Jesus met me: 'You have a wife and three children. Return to them - it is not yet time for you to be here,' he said. I instantly returned to my body, which was being taken to the mortuary. My wife stood next to the stretcher, crying. As I sat up, the staff fell to the floor, shocked. They fled in all directions, screaming 'Who are you? What do you want? Leave us in peace!' I told them not to be afraid, and asked for clothes, and was then allowed to return home. Over the next two weeks, I was examined by 15 different medical committees, including neurologists and psychiatrists. They told me that if they had not performed the diagnosis themselves on the evidence of the x-rays, cardiographs etc., they would be unable to believe what had happened. They advised me to keep the events secret, because people would otherwise consider me crazy. They refused to record my resurrection officially, but have all decided to follow Jesus in the meantime.'
Source: Friday Fax 2001/14 (Used with permission).
Read the full interview and testimony: http://www.wofkiev.com/eng/church/svid/svid2.htm



Excerpts from the Spring 2001 issue (Vol 4, No 2) of the Pneuma Review

The Pneuma Review is a quarterly printed journal of ministry resources and theology for Pentecostal and charismatic ministries and leaders.



From 'Singing in the Spirit' from the Praying in the Spirit Series, by Robert Graves

. . .
In my study of singing in the Spirit and singing in general, three important truths emerge. Naturally, a song of praise, thanksgiving, or petition is going to be addressed to God, not to man. Therefore the interpretation of the glossolalic song should be in the person and direction of man to God and not God to man. This principal also fund support Paul's words about tongues-speaking. We have no Scripture indicating that tongues-speaking is a 'message' from God to man, such as prophecy. To the contrary, Paul says that when a man speaks in tongues, he speaks to God (1 Corinthians 14:2). Some may not consider this Scripture alone as conclusive proof that tongues are not to be addressed to man. It may simply mean, they would say, that no man understands glossolalia, but an omniscient God understands all things. The use of the song, as described in Scripture, may settle the question. Throughout the Bible, the song is sung to God. 'I will sing a new song to you, O God . . .' (Psalms 144:9); 'Sing to the Lord a new song' (Psalm 96:1); 'I will sing to the Lord' (Judges 5:3). Although the song is indeed addressed to the Lord, it should be noted that it is also for the ears of man. 'I will give thanks to Thee, O Lord, among the people; I will sing praises to Thee among the nations' (Psalm 57:9, NASB). The very fact that the Psalms are part of the Scriptures proves that they, though sung to God, were meant for man. Therefore, it would seem that glossolalic utterances for congregational edification, whether spoken or sung, should be interpreted as words from man to God, as praise and thanks and petition, and should be edifying to man although addressed to God.

Another important principal is that of universality of the song of praise. The psalmist said, 'Sing to the Lord, you saints of his; praise his holy name' (30:4). The Scriptures do not say that only those with beautiful voices are to sing to the Lord. All may sing praises unto God with a heavenly language, a language from the heart. I would not want this experience if it were not also from my other brothers and sisters in Christ, and I would question my concept of a God who would ordain that only a select few could have this experience. Instead, all of God's people have this heart language with which to speak to Him. We need only desire to communicate with God those deep feelings that cannot find expression through the cortex of the brain. Those feelings are most intense when the Christian is filled with God's Holy Spirit: 'Do not get drunk with wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ' (Eph. 5: 18-20). The thanksgiving melodies of our heart are to God (verse 20) but also speak to our brothers and sisters. What opportunity for ministry! To God, to others, to ourselves.

The final noteworthy principal resulting from the study of singing with our understanding and singing in the Spirit is the picture we have of symphonic singing. There are Scriptures that describe and endorse congregational singing: 'May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. May the nations be glad and sing for joy' (Psalm 67:3-4); 'In front are the singers, after them the musicians; with them are the maidens playing tambourines. Praise God in the great congregation; praise the Lord in the assembly of Israel' (Psalm 68:25-26). This provides us with a model for singing in the Spirit. Most singing in the Spirit in the church should, I believe, be congregational, as we lift our voices in one accord unto God. This is not to outlaw or depreciate solo singing in the Spirit at all. But the regulations of solo singing must not come from what the Scripture say about singing in general but what the Scriptures say about speaking in tongues to the edification of the assembly.

Since a solo in a prayer language may be enjoyed and may be meaningful even if it is not understood by the listener, the obvious question is, Does it need to be interpreted? I think that it does. If a glossolalic song is performed for the edification of the average congregation, an interpretation is warranted, and should also be in the form of a song.

Some of you may be wondering what I have done with the Scripture that says, 'So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand or some unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind?' (1 Corinthians 14: 23). In my thinking, Paul is not addressing the matter of congregational singing in the Spirit. As I said before, a song need not be understood to be meaningful. Cadence, rhythm, and melody carry their own meaning and beauty. What I believe Paul is talking about here is a situation where tongues are spoken for the congregation's edification too often and without interpretation. Solo glossolalic songs addressing a congregation would, however, fall under the force of this verse. It should be remembered that Paul is speaking to a particular situation, and it is conceivable that his suggested advice here would not apply to a dissimilar situation. We must be careful not to force biblical injunctions into situations that do not repeat the biblical scenario.

Where has this discussion about music, singing, and speaking in tongues led us? In regard to music, we have learned a phenomenon need not be intelligible to be meaningful. It need not communicate through propositional statements of facts, logic, and opinion to have value. In fact, it is contrary to the very nature of Mystery to be susceptible to verbal encapsulation. By faith, glossolalia, like music, bears witness to the Mystery. In regard to singing with the understanding, we have seen that the purpose of the glossolalic song is no different from the purpose of the non-glossolalic song. Each is offered to God as praise, petition, or thanksgiving. Each addresses God but can be beneficial to any listener. In regard to speaking in tongues, we have concluded that the relevant guidelines that Paul laid down for tongues-speaking are also applicable to solo singing in the Spirit. By formulating a theology of singing in the Spirit from these three areas, we have built a biblical foundation for this charismatic expression in the Church.

Robert W. Graves is the author of Increasing Your Theological Vocabulary, Praying in the Spirit (Chosen, 1987) and The Gospel According to Angels (Chosen Books, 1998). He is a Christian educator and a former faculty member at Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie, Texas. He can be reached through E-mail by contacting the Pneuma Review editor



From 'The Kingdom of God As Scripture's Central Theme: A New Approach to Biblical Theology' Part 2 of 2 By David Burns

. . .
The Kingdom of God in the New Testament

The Kingdom of God and the Life of Jesus


With the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and the establishment of the New Covenant, the Kingdom was no longer hidden in types and shadows or off in the distant future. The Kingdom was now present. The gospels view the birth of Jesus as the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies that speak of the coming Messiah who would usher in the Kingdom of God on earth. Over that Kingdom he would rule forever (Mt. 1:1; 2:1, 5-6; Luke 1:32-33). His genealogy proved him to be the legitimate heir to the throne of David (Mt. 1:10).

John the Baptist heralded the coming of the Kingdom in the person of the Messiah. The prophet Malachi foretold of one who would come in the spirit of Elijah to announce the coming of God's Kingdom (Mal. 4:5). It was John the Baptist who would fulfill that role (Mt. 11:11-14; 17:10-13) and pave the way for the Messiah's coming (Luke 11:3). His message was, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near' (Mt. 3:1-2). In Hebrew thought for something to be 'near' or 'to come near' means that it is actually present. Thus, John announced that the Kingdom had arrived.[19]

Central to the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ was the Kingdom of God, and he demonstrated the presence of the Kingdom through both word and deed. What we usually refer to just as the gospel, Jesus called 'the good news of the kingdom.' 'Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people' (Matthew 4:23). 'But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you' (Matthew 12:28). Note from the verses that Jesus' proclamation of the good news about the Kingdom was accompanied by a power presentation. The power presentations served to substantiate his preaching of the good news that the Kingdom had arrived, and the preaching served to interpret the power presentations, revealing them to be visual evidence that the Kingdom was in their midst. This method of making the good news of the Kingdom known was not to be restricted to Jesus only, but it also served as a model for his disciples: 'When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick' (Luke 9:1-2). Later, the Lord also sent seventy of his followers to the cities of Israel in advance of his coming (Luke 10:1). Their mission was to heal the sick and to proclaim that the Kingdom of God had arrived (Luke 10:9). In those cities where they faced rejection, they were to announce, 'Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near' (Luke 10:11). Only after the gospel of the Kingdom had gone to the whole world through both proclamation and power would the next step in the coming of God's Kingdom commence: And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come (Matthew 24:14).

Our Lord's method of evangelism was included in the Great Commission he gave to his disciples, and interestingly every denomination models its missionary mandate upon that Commission: 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age' (Matthew 28:18-20). The disciples of Christ were in turn to make disciples and to teach them to carry on the good news of the Kingdom in the same manner they had been taught through both preaching and a demonstration of God's power.

While entrance into the Kingdom would be difficult, its reward has eternal value: 'Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven' (Matthew 7:21). 'Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it (Matthew 7:13-14). The gate is small and the road is narrow because entrance into the Kingdom requires one to forsake everything that belongs to this world's system and to submit himself to the rule and reign of God (Mt. 16:24; Lk. 12:32-34; 14:33). This immediately precludes the legalistic righteousness taught by the religious rulers of Christ's day. In their zeal to please God, they misunderstood the whole purpose of the Old Testament law as a revealer of sin, a signpost to God, a preserver of the promise, and a guide for wholesome Kingdom living (Rom. 3:20; 7:12, 22; Gal. 3:19-24). Jesus taught that the righteousness acceptable in the Kingdom of God began inwardly with a submissive heart. This kind of righteousness is not performance oriented. It is not based upon an unbending adherence to a set of rules. Rather, works are to be the fruit of a heart that seeks after God. Any other kind of righteousness is fostered by false prophets and falls far short of God's standard (Mt. 5:20; 7:15-20). In fact, the basis for Kingdom righteous is the mercy of God who alone makes possible the entrance into his Kingdom (Mt. 19:25-26). To those who believe man's effort is sufficient for entrance into God's Kingdom, Christ says, 'Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'' (Mt. 7:22-23).

Christ's teaching on the Kingdom was all-inclusive. It covered the quality of life experienced during the present age and set an ethic by which to live that life (Mt. 5:1-7:29). It also spoke of that day in which the wheat would be separated from the tares (Mt. 13:24-30), and the Kingdom of God would come in its fullness. The one who seeks God's Kingdom and the quality of righteousness it demands would be freed from the worries that the day to day struggles of life bring: But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well (Matthew 6:33). Part of our daily prayer is to consist of a plea that God's Kingdom will come in its fullness in the here-and-now and that his will might be wholly manifested on earth just as it already is in heaven (Mt. 6:10).

The New Covenant ratified by Christ through his death on the cross fulfilled all the promises of prior covenants, both in intent and purpose (Lk. 22:14-20; Rom. 15:8; Heb. 9:15). The New Covenant is the last and final covenant to be established by God in his work to re-establish his Kingdom on earth. Consequently, it embraces both this age and the age to come. Under the New Covenant all who accept Jesus as their Messiah and Lord enter into the blessings of the New Covenant, chief of which is eternal life (Jn. 3:16). However, those who reject him face the curse of the New Covenant, eternal separation from the presence of God (Jn. 3:18).

The Kingdom of God and the Early Church

The early church in continuity with the ministry of Jesus carried on his mission of proclaiming the Kingdom of God. The power and presence of the Holy Spirit in their ministry served as a sign that the Kingdom of God had come and was continuing to be in their midst:
    When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 With shrieks, evil spirits came out of many, and many paralytics and cripples were healed. . . . 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women (Acts 8:6-12).

    Paul and . . . Barnabas . . . returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, 22 strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. 'We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,' they said (Acts 14:19-22).

    Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. . . . 11 God did extraordinary miracles through Paul (Acts 19:8-11).
At the core of the Apostle Paul's teaching was the fact of our citizenship in the Kingdom of God. As a result of his victory over death, Christ was granted the power and authority to invade Satan's domain, rescue us from our captor, and safely transport us to his Kingdom: 'For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves' (Colossians 1:13). Since we are part of God's Kingdom, Paul stresses repeatedly in his epistles the necessity of living according to the ethics of that Kingdom: 'For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory' (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12). His teachings regarding the putting off of the old man and the putting on of the new man all have to do with living lives consistent with being Kingdom citizens (Eph. 4:22-5:5; Col. 3:5-4:6).

While the Kingdom of God came in the person of Jesus Christ as anticipated by the Old Testament prophets, it still did not arrive in its fullness. Rather it burst on the scene to do battle with the kingdom of darkness until the end of the present age. Consequently, we live in the age of the 'already, and not yet' Kingdom. Thus, in consonance with the hope of Old Testament saints, the hope of the church is still for the Kingdom of God to come in its fullness. The Apostle John strengthens this hope when he speaks of that day in Revelation 11:15-16, 'The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever. 16 And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God . . . .' Maranatha!

Conclusion

In our two articles we have attempted to develop a biblical theology that places the Kingdom of God at the theological center of both the Old and New Testaments. We have seen that God is a King who has a Kingdom and his rule is over all. Through the various covenants he has established with man throughout history, he has been actively working to establish his Kingdom. In the ministry of Jesus under the New Covenant his Kingdom became powerfully present. Yet there are aspects of his rule which are yet to be realized. Everything and everyone has not submitted themselves to the reign and rule of God. However, the good news is that during the present age all who call upon the LORD will be rescued from their lostness in the Kingdom of Darkness and brought into the Kingdom of God as his sons and daughters, thus becoming heirs of all the blessings of the New Covenant.

If the Kingdom of God is the theological center of Scripture and a present reality, it should also be the theological center of the church's ministry. The implications of a Kingdom centered theology for the church is staggering. How is the church to pattern its ministry after Christ? How are we to wed together the preaching of the gospel with its demonstration? How do pastors lead their churches into kingdom thinking? How does it affect ministry priorities? How does a Kingdom centered theology affect the average church goer? How does it affect the role of the church in society, especially in terms of civil and social responsibility? What voice does the church have in the moral issues of a nation and how is it to be sounded? What is to be the church's response to environmental issues? What is the responsibility of each individual and family in the church and in society? Our prayer is that our discussion will stimulate thinking toward those ends.

Endnotes
    [19] David Blivin & Roy Blizzard, Jr., Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus: New Insights from a Hebraic Perspective (Austin, TX: Center for Judaic-Christian Studies, 1984), 88-91.

    All Scriptural quotations are from The Holy Bible, New International Version, Copyright ' 1978 New York International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted.

David D. Burns, M. Div. served as a pastor for seven years. He presently attends a nondenominational charismatic church and is the father of five home-schooled children, one of which has graduated and is attending college. He has worked over 16 years developing his Kingdom of God Theology and has taught it on several occasions. He is available to do seminars in churches. He may be reached through his web site, www.geocities.com/Heartland/Fields/2418.




'How to Birth Worship Leadership' by By David Crabtree. From the Worship Leader Series.

More than 3000 years have passed since King David paused from his dancing to make a sacrifice as he transported the Ark of God the place of God's enthroned Presence from its place of isolation to its place of prominence in the nations' capital.

However, history's course has been marked much more by sacrifice than by praise. There is an interrupting parallel between the sequence of events in the two books of Samuel and the events that constitute our worship history since the birth of the Christian church. Historically we have come out of the period of 'ark isolation' into a time where in worship God's authority, provision and presence is being reestablished.

David, the man who became king, first became a man by discovering the heart of God in the context of worship. God, however, had already moved prior to David by raising a prophetic leadership voice that called for the rule of God's heart. Samuel 'prepared the way' for David as centuries later John 'prepared the way' for Jesus.

Worship has always been the means by which God has sought to reestablish his rule and restore relationship with His people. The context of 1st & 2nd Samuel does concern itself with the immediate and intimate details of the establishment of the Kingdom of Israel, but it also carries potent illustrations pertinent to worship and worship leadership. It is with this worship leadership emphasis that we look again at the story.

The first book of Samuel opens with the account of Hannah, the despised one, yet doubly loved by her husband (1 Sam. 1:5-6), going before God, whom she believed had caused her barrenness (v. 6), and with unconscious emotion pours out her petition for a son.
    In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD And she made a vow, saying, 'O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant's misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life' (1 Sam. 1:10-11).
Hannah is accused of drunkenness by Eli the high Priest and told to go and sober up! She stands her ground and is promised that she will receive what she asked for. Samuel is born, and Hannah, true to her word, returns her God-given gift back to Him.
    I prayed for this child and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD. (1 Sam. 1:27-28)
I have often wished that God would 'think ahead' and grant me what he wants for me before I have to struggle for it. It is only in hindsight, and sometimes only with 'loud' hindsight, that I have discovered that the very purposeful pursuing of what I believe God has laid on my heart has, in its tough passage, provided me with the heart of what it was all about. It is this very characteristic we call 'heart' that is the focus of God's intentions, and the source of relationship. In Hannah's case, God was not just interested in the birth of a child, but in giving birth to a servant-hearted prophetic kingdom.

I was in two-day pastors' gathering not long ago in Melbourne, Australia. Our purpose was solely to ascertain what God was saying about church leadership coming together to pray. One of the pastors made a comment that I will not forget. He said, 'We're not here to launch another program, we're here to see what God is birthing'if we merely launch another program it will simply die, but if God births what is in His heart, what comes will bring life!'

Giving birth is an arduous and painful process, but the joy in what has been born puts pain behind. Hannah, with bitter tears cried out for a son. Ridicule resulted. Her perseverance paid off. She not only gave birth to a son, she mothered a prophetic leader 'whose words never fell to the ground.' Samuel, whose name means 'heard of God' inaugurated a new kingdom era for Israel that led to the greatest king they ever had.

His birth brought to an end the 'vision-drought' (1 Sam. 3: 1) and opened up the nation's 'hearing heart.' His first ministry call however, was to give a direct judgment word to his mentor and guardian, Eli.

Eli was not corrupt; he was weak. Corruption flourished under his weakness. His sons were flagrantly immoral and impervious to correction (2 Sam. 2:22-25). Despite warnings (2:27-36) they continued to 'treat the Lord's offering with contempt' (2:17,29). In the midst of all this, Samuel continued to faithfully 'minister before the Lord' (2:11) and continued to 'grow in stature and in favor with the Lord and with men.'

It is not easy ministering in situations where leadership is not perfect. It is even harder when leadership is weak or defective. In many situations our growing sensitiveness to the Lord can cry out for holy justice.

However, the chief lesson we can learn from Samuel is that despite the vulnerability of his youth and preciousness of his purity he chose to serve both the Lord and Eli with gracious humility, choosing to allow God to again 'birth' the next step of kingdom action. As Samuel was obedient at each step, his faithfulness, rather than his enthusiasm, allowed for a greater favor from God.

In any ministry, and particularly the ministry of worship, the integrity of humble faithfulness is the key for the provisioning of the power of the Spirit. A servant's heart in the context of trustworthiness is what God looks for in the endowment of spiritual authority.
    The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the LORD. The LORD continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word. And Samuel's word came to all Israel.
The Christian church body hungers for the genuine heart of the Lord. Any substitute based merely on enthusiasm will deliver disillusionment. Worship leadership that carries with it unresolved relationship issues will bear its fruit of bitterness.

The sacred responsibility of every worship leader coupled with a humble one-heartedness with his or her leadership, is to draw the congregations into that place of one-heartedness with God.

Whether we like it or not, whether we are prepared for it or not, every time we lead worship we invite people to enter the intimate place of our relationship with God. We run that risk of having people actually looking into our own hearts. This is the very real issue of vulnerability.

If people feel uncomfortable with that exposed place of the heart, or sense that there is the existence of unresolved issues, they will either withdraw from entering into worship, or be very guarded during the worship experience. If your people trust your secret place with God as you lay it open before them in worship leadership, they too will enter that intimate place with you with openness, unity and joy!

In his book Worship His Majesty, Jack Hayford comments on the powerful process involved in restoring Adam and Eve. He makes the following statement:
    God's redemptive program is found in worship.

    There is an impressive symmetry in this. Man's relationship and rule under God has been rooted and sustained in worship. Now, just when both seemed irretrievably lost God set forth a received plan. With unsurprising consistency, yet with an amazing simplicity, this plan also centers on worship! There is no show of power. No display of cosmic almightiness. No instant smashing of the serpent. No fury leveled at the guilty.

    Instead there is an introduction to a humble act of worship. The Redeemer's grace seems to exceed even His power as he sets forth to recover for His beloved creature all that had been lost. Yet the program is not as one might expect. For its hidden power is in the reinstatement of worship rather than in a demonstration of might. The mightiness will flow from worship.
From Worship Update (1st Quarter 1996), 'How to Birth Worship Leadership' '1996 Mercy/Vineyard Publishing, P.O. Box 68025, Anaheim, CA 92817-0825. USA. http://www.vmg.com Used by Permission.



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