Posted tagged ‘Charismania’

Don’t Waste Your Parenting of Prodigals: You Can’t Name Them and Claim Them

August 14, 2012

Sadly, some do.  Some waste this trial. Because  a parent of a prodigal feels an excruciating fear mixed with guilt and regret, and we want our anguish gone. Yet this worst kind of pain can become the best kind of joy, if we don’t seek to escape being pressed into the cross.   This sorrow is meant to draw us into  a holy bond, to a unique and privileged place where we grasp the Father’s heart as He gasped in pain and gathered  Himself into a fetal position just the way we do when we pray for our lost sons and daughters when we know the danger they are in and we would do anything, go anywhere, oh, we would die in their place if we could, if we could only save them from the world of hurt they are facing if they continue in the way they are  going. The way  that we know will ultimately lead to eternal death and unending torment.

I prayed fervently like this for a prodigal once, when they were suicidally depressed and without God, and despairing, without any hope in this world. Oh, it was a terrible place but it was still filled with a special intimacy with the Father, and I am thankful to say that God reached out and grasped my own prodigal’s hand and snatched them like a brand from the fire.  I am so thankful this one is eternally safe, but I so miss that intense time of fellowship with the Father when I prayed this way.

This ex-prodigal is no longer languishing in the fire,  but I would still invite prayer for them, because sadly they are still a bit of a ” flickering flame He will not snuff out.” Oh, how we wait for Him to “lead justice to victory”, in this child’s life now, as this one still fights some very ugly thoughts, battles demonic strongholds —  and the greatest hindrance to their victory  is the magical thinking of Charismania that formed their spirituality.  They were brought up to think that if they prayed the right Prayer Formula (or had some SuperApostle pray it  for them!) every hurt would be instantly healed, and all their terrible suffering would go away.  And we taught them these answers to prayers  are owed them by the rules — all those  Scriptures that guarantee  blessings for those who are good and righteous and give it all away, and are utterly abandoned to God.

But it is presumption for us to pray this way and to assume the prerogatives of God — to ‘call out things that are not, as though

Cover of "The Power of Your Words"

they were’. The arrogance of this kind of prayer is rebuked by the Scriptures, “Concerning things to come, do you question me about my children, or give me orders about the work of my hands?” (Isaiah 45:11) This kind of repetitive and demanding,’naming and claiming’ prayer  is praying as the Shamans and the pagans pray, it is not prayer in the name of Jesus, which is prayer in all things consumed and subsumed by the Holy will of God, the only wise God, who sovereignly does as He pleases.

And our answer to the mysteries of the sovereign will of God does not rest in us raising ourselves to the level of God, and arrogating powers of creation and redemption that belong to Him alone. We cannot possibly create faith in prodigals by ‘naming it and claiming it’, or ‘speaking it into existence’. To presumptuously do that is to put faith in our faith — it is not faith in God, and it is idolatry.  Thus we blaspheme God, and miss one of the sweetest blessings given to God’s children, that of the fellowship of His suffering, that suffering  that Abraham  knew most excruciatingly, when he in faith laid his son on the altar. And the agony of Abraham’s hope is described here:

“…as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” ( Romans 4:17-18)

It is said of Abraham that he was a ‘friend of God.’ When we look to his example, and wait for God’s promises to be fulfilled in our lives,  we lay down  in his same choice place —  close to God’s own heart.   We would miss that hidden blessing  if  we choose instead to make ourselves ‘little gods’ and take things out of His hands. So don’t waste those prayers for your prodigals.  Don’t wave a magic wand.  Don’t speak your positive confession,  claiming them for the kingdom, and putting yourself in the place of God so you can birth them again with the power of your words — but this time to  an eternal life. It is God alone who gives life to the dead!  So don’t waste your breath like that. Instead, let your particular pain of bearing a prodigal  lead you in prayer to a place of intimate friendship with Him.

Building Bridges

February 20, 2011

Under a bridge of the Nymphenburg Channel in M...

As a Charismatic disgusted with the False Prophetic and seeking the truth, I struggled (and still struggle) so much with my prejudices about those in Reformed Circles:  I saw them talking  much about What Jesus Said, and did not see them as those who have come from sitting at His feet with words that He has just said to them. And a person who has been with Jesus  is filled with Spring, one wonders,  What is all this juice and all this joy? ”  and you want to be around someone like that.

The gulf between our two worlds kept me from such a person–I describe him here: I think it is the best thing I ever wrote. And not because of the writing, but because of the man.

It is such a grief to me that all the years  when I attended a church growing in idolatry, there was the loveliest little Baptist church down the street. We never thought of entering it, until we were out of every other option, because the water is so wide between our worlds. And we can convince very few friends  similarly disenchanted by Charismania to join us in worship there. It is such a shame, because the moment I entered First Baptist, I cried. The Spirit was so present there, and the worship was so clean and God exalting, and I had so missed that kind of worship,  the kind that is in Spirit and in Truth.

But I wonder, Reformed pastors: Is your church a place that makes a heartsick former Charismatic weep with joy during your worship? Phil was on the platform, leading the parade, giving his people permission to really exult. It was humbly done, and lovely to see, and I really miss that man.

Another question: Would those  with whom you vehemently disagree  theologically give an eulogy at your funeral? Many of the pastors who prayed regularly with Phil disagreed with him about lots of things.  But they interceded together  for this sin-saturated city at the prayer meetings Phil had initiated, and this meeting  included my former pastor.   He spoke movingly about him, recalling the day when Phil led his parishioners in another kind of parade, streaming down the sidewalks to the newly-opened charismatic church down the street, in a  funny sort of welcome wagon to the newcomers on the block.  I remember that day. They came in at the end of our service, and I thought they all looked a little nervous–I never guessed what Phil was risking.  But we weren’t that weird then.  My pastor wasn’t running with the crowd he runs with now, and we weren’t aligned with Bethel Redding.  Things were done decently.  Pretty orderly.

And would you call your opponents your friends? Phil did, when I told him about leaving that church, and why–because of Lakeland, and Bill Johnson.  His face became very grave. “He is my friend” Phil said. “We pray together for this city.” He wasn’t going to let me talk smack about his friend.  I said I hate the False Prophetic but I love the man. Phil reassured me that he knew of Lakeland, and its falseness, and was in dialogue with his friend.  Go figure what that means.  But I know Phil had a love of the truth.

Some would argue that he went too far in his spanning of  divides.  But the men he prayed with, and the men who joined his wife in that hospital room to pray for him in those last moments, that God would stay his hand, were men who loved the Lord and preached the Gospel.  They were like all of us in our various confusing stages of sanctification. Oh, how we all prayed for Phil.  But he died. As we grieved together at his funeral, I said to my former pastor and  his friend,  and my friend, “oh, my father, my father!  The chariots and horsemen of San Francisco.” He knew exactly what I meant.  He had torn his clothes, too.

Kevin DeYoung asks these questions best, and I finish this interrogation with him  because you will hear him better than me. I think it is the essence of my concern:

“Do we possess deep and pervasive piety? I know that pietism is a bad word in some circles. It conjures up notions of anti-intellectual sentimentality. But we got pietism because Protestant scholasticism had gotten dry (or at least many of the churches of the time had). If we want to be more than intellectual people who happen to be into theology, we need to cultivate deep affections and deeper sanctification. As Reformed Christians (assuming many of you are), let’s lead the way, not only in theolgocial integrity, but also in meditation, Scripture memory, intercession, and earnest worship. What our families, friends, and churches need most from us is our own personal holiness.” And I would only add that those outside the church, and those orphaned by the destructive cults that are your unpaid bills, need it too.

I desperately needed that winsome holiness Phil displayed.  But he was not a perfect man, he had but a breath in his nostrils, just like me.  Lest any think I am constructing a hagiography of a defenseless man, I am not.  I was fully ware of some theological weaknessess, and they were enough of a concern that my husband and I were preparing ourselves to talk to him.  But then he died, and so I have no idea how he would have responded, and so I will bury those concerns, and thank God I never had to deal with them at all. Only God does, now.  And I imagine that from Heaven Phil is chuckling and fully agreeing with me.

All I know is Phil finished well.  Would that our own hospital rooms become a sanctuary,  and we leave our people with the most important words that can be said, and we meet our Savior with the songs of praise that are the custom of our lips. And that we could prophetically speak a blessing from our deathbed, as Phil did.

He said that the sufferings in his body were for the healing of God’s Body.  And First Baptist suffered terribly, and almost died.  But look what God has done! A courageous young man from Arkansas, who understands fully the challenges ahead, and with humility and boldness in one necessary move, just took us through a week of prayer and fasting for revival at FBC, and for the city .  Such deep affection I have now, not just for him, but for all the saints in this church, and I have greater faith, that the people of God can at last be a bridge to this city that is a proverb for sin-sickness. In the abounding grace of God, He hears the cry of His people for help, and He will always provide for Himself a remnant.   He is so good.