Posts Tagged ‘prophet’

I really appreciate the brave Brother Basilius blowing the trumpet from Africa about false doctrine in our times.  He writes about the prosperity gospel saying, “Gambling has simply been spiritualized…and now given a Christian name…” In other words, false teachers are selling a lie that if you put enough into the offering you might get back some blessings. This is a terrible misuse of Christ’s teachings to help leaders make money from the poor.

Please take a moment to visit this brother’s site at: 

http://savouringthegospel.wordpress.com/about/about-basilius/

Let’s savour the gospel together!

Peace be with you,

Sister Olive

~♥~

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I’ve always thought of Bob Dylan as a prophetic voice for our times. I listened to this song today for the first time in years, and the words rang so true about the dead oceans and sad forests, and guns and swords in the hands of young children.

Listen to him sing “It’s a Hard Rain Gonna Fall”:

My favorite lines in the song are:

I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin’

Here are the complete lyrics:

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/bobdylan/ahardrainsagonnafall.html

Pray for me that I may walk softly on that “highway of diamonds.”

Shalom,

“Sister Olive”

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(From “The Twisted Cross:  Distortion of the Gospel”)

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“…I was wounded in the house of my friends.” (Zechariah 13:6)

I will never forget when I first realized that religion had become a highly profitable business.  I had been attending a large evangelical Friends church for a long time, and I had grown very close to many people there.  I loved my church.  I loved the leaders and the teaching and I started outreach ministries in the name of the church.  I put my money in their offerings, and dedicated my children in that church.  I went to prayer meetings and every service I could possibly go to. I was immensely smug about myself and my church.

But after Juan Carlos Ortiz spoke at our yearly conferences, the “scales fell off of my eyes,” and I saw things in a new way. I stood up in the sanctuary the following Sunday, and announced to my dear friends, “I just want to let you know that I am not the same person that I was one week ago.  I am a changed person.  I have claimed my identity as a servant of Jesus Christ, and I will never be the same.”

That is when my spiritual battlefield opened up before me, and I first saw my enemy.  What frightened me was that he was operating through my church.

Soon after my public statement, I was sitting in the sanctuary of my church and the executive minister said that they were starting a new program called “Kingdom Seeds”.  In those days, these phrases about seeds had not been coined like they are now.  Our pastor began to explain that the ushers were going to pass out dollar bills which were the “seeds” in special envelopes.  He said that the general idea was that people were to take the money and “plant it” and “make it grow”.  Then in a few months, after it had grown, they would bring it back for a special offering at “harvest time”.

I had promised God that I was going to be obedient to Him in whatever He led me to do.  Anger began to rise in my heart, and a voice broke into my thoughts, saying, “They have turned my house into a den of thieves.”  I knew I was supposed to speak up, but I began to argue with the Spirit inside of my mind, saying, “Why me?  They won’t listen to me.”  The Voice answered, “You said you were my obedient child.”  This hit me hard, because I had two young children at the time.  One of them was more obedient than the other.  When I needed something done in a hurry, I knew not to ask the disobedient one.  In a situation that required quick action, I knew to call upon the obedient child.

A few minutes later, the minister announced that it was time for “open worship.”  I rose to my feet and said, “Friends, we need to face the fact that we are tithing to ourselves in this church.  We are not tithing to God, but to man.  At least ninety percent of the money in our offerings stays within this church building to pay salaries, clean carpets, do building repairs, and such.  Very little is used for missions and outreach.  The gospel is being used as a cloak for covetousness, which Paul warned about.  Paul also wrote, ‘We are not like many, peddling the Word of God.’ People were selling the gospel then, and they are still doing it today. If Jesus came in right now He would come with His whip, because the moneychangers are still in the house of God.”  I was in the back row when I stood to speak, and people were turning around in astonishment, some with anger in their eyes.

When I sat down, it fell silent for a few endless moments.  Then our lady minister stepped to the microphone and turned to the executive minister and asked, “Do we still want to proceed with this?”  He nodded firmly, and the lady minister prayed and the ushers came forward with their hands full of envelopes.  The piano and organ began to play softly, as the ushers carried handfuls of envelopes to the end of each row, and everyone seemed uneasy.  The people in the congregation began shaking their heads or sweeping their hands at the ushers to refuse the money.

When the lead pastor saw it, he went to the microphone and asked the ushers to pass the whole stack of envelopes down each row.  I watched in surprise as the people passed the whole stack from one end of each row to the other, and no one wanted to take them.  It was an act of civil disobedience which startled me.  I never dreamed that these people would listen and act. I thanked God, but I knew I was in trouble.

A little later in the church service, the offering plate was passed around, and can you guess what happened next?  People were not putting money in the offering either.  Then I knew I was deeply in trouble.

After the service was over, many people approached me and thanked me for being the “voice of prophecy” in the midst, for telling the truth when no one else dared to.  I knew that God had used me that day, but I knew that it was not over.

The next morning, I got a phone call from the executive minister.  He said that we needed to talk, and that he wanted to arrange a time.  We planned his visit later in the week.

During that week, I began to receive thank-you cards from people in the congregation.   To my surprise, one of them was from the chairman of the financial committee.  Two missionary friends of mine asked if they could come to our house when the minister visited, because they wanted to provide moral support.

Then came the meeting with my husband and two missionaries present, and the minister asked me how I could do such a thing without clearing it with someone first, such as the elders.

I explained, “The Spirit asked me to speak, and I could not wait and get permission.  I had to be obedient.” He asked, “How do you know how this affected people?”  I answered that I had been receiving notes from people in the congregation, and I walked to my desk and pulled them out.  I will never forget the look of dismay on his face as he looked at the notes, particularly the one from the financial committee chair.

Then my missionary friend Susan spoke up and asked, “Why can’t Olive tell the truth?  Is it because she is a woman or because she doesn’t have a PhD?  Other people have said similar things in jest, and nothing was said.  Why can’t Olive say these things?”  The minister said that he just felt that I should have asked him first.

Then he quizzed me about whether I tithed regularly.  I explained that we spent much more than ten percent between our outreach ministry in the community and the offering plate.  I expressed surprise that he should even ask this question, since he was more than aware of the costs of the ministries that we did in the name of the church with no donations from anyone.  It was evident he was simply trying to undermine me.

After that, he told me that I needed to respect the authorities in the church, or find another church to attend.  I asked him, “Who is the head of the church, you or Jesus?”  He became very quiet, and said that he had a lot to do that day and needed to go.  We all said our farewells and the minister left first.

After that, I continued to attend the church, and watched the wheels of greed and corruption in motion.  I saw the programs and newsletters pleading for people to give money to the church.  I saw an abrupt change in the character of certain people that I had respected.  One woman approached me at church and told me ever so nicely that if I didn’t calm down, I might “go over the deep end”.  I told her it was much more satisfying than the shallow end and walked away.

The whole landscape shifted from spiritual to political, and I suddenly felt that this church was not the place that I thought it was. I felt a sense of resistance from the leaders towards the purposes and agenda of God.

There was good deal of financial trouble in that church for several months, because people were questioning things for the first time.  I kept getting calls from the child care department that they needed help on Sunday mornings so I helped with the children many times. I knew that the minister did not want me in the services until he could repair the financial damage.  I felt disillusioned, and betrayed by this man that I looked up to and trusted, and it hurt me a great deal.

But my faith grew because of this experience.  I learned to trust Jesus more, and man less.  I saw that all people have flaws, but Jesus doesn’t.  It ended the idolatry that had been going on in my heart.  It revealed to me that many people are idolizing religious leaders instead of looking to Jesus.  Because of my obedience and the ostracism I encountered, I grew closer to Christ and shared in His suffering, and that gave me great joy.

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me…”  (Exodus 20:3)

OLIVE TWIST ©2012

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I wanted to share the titles of some of my favorite books and other writings with you, many of which I read during my graduate studies.

Please let me know if you have any recommendations to share with me. 

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Augustine, Saint. The Confessions of St. Augustine. New York, NY: Barnes and  Noble, 1999. Print.

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. The Cost of Discipleship. Trans. Chr. Kaiser Verlag Munchen by R.H. Fuller. New York: Simon & Schuster (Touchstone), 1959. Print.

Buxbaum, Yitzhak. Jewish Tales of Holy Women. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2002. Print.

Claiborne, Shane, and Chris Haw. Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals. Grand Rapids, MI: The Simple Way, 2008. 150. Print.

Claiborne, Shane. The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2006. Print.

Dubus, Andre.  Broken Vessels:  Essays by Andre Dubus.   Boston, MA:  David R. Godine Publisher, Inc, 1991. Print.

Edwards, Jonathan. The Works of Jonathan Edwards. Vol. 4. New Haven, CT: Yale UP, 1972. Print.

Elliot, Elisabeth. The Path of Loneliness. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1988. Print.

Finney, Charles G. The Autobiography of Charles G. Finney. Condensed and Edited by Helen Wessel. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1977. Print.

Fox, George. The Journal of George Fox.  Edited by Rufus Jones. Richmond, IN: Friends UP, 1976. Print.

—.”Selected Epistles of George Fox.” Renascence Editions. U of Oregon, 1998.Web. 4 Nov 2010. <http://www.luminarium.org/renascence-editions/foxep.htm&gt;.

Graves, Michael P. “Functions of Key Metaphors in Early Quaker Sermons, 1671-1700.” The Quarterly Journal of Speech 69.4 (1983): 364-378. MLA International Bibliography. EBSCO. Web. 24 Nov. 2010.

Hosek, Dr. Pavel. “How Does C.S. Lewis do apologetics?.” (2003): n. pag. European Leadership Forum Research Center. Web. 20 Dec 2010. <http://www.euroleadershipresources.org/resource.php?ID=76&gt;.

Jarman, Mark. “To Make the Final Unity: Metaphor’s Matter and Spirit.” 301-318. Southern Review, 2007. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 24 Nov. 2010.

Kierkegaard, Søren. Kierkegaard Spiritual Writings: A New Translation and Selection by George Pattison. New York: Harper Collins, 2010. 57. eBook.

. Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard. Ed. Charles E. Moore.  Farmington, PA:  Plough, 2002. Print.

—.  The Present Age. Trans. Alexander Dru. New York: Harper Row (Torchbook), 1962. Print.

—. The Journals of Kierkegaard (edited by Alexander Dru. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1959), 324.

Lewis, C. S. The Complete C. S. Lewis Signature Classics. New York: Harper One, 2002. Print.

—. The Four Loves. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1960. Print.

Maharaj, Rabindranath, and Dave Hunt. Death of a Guru: A Remarkable True Story of One Man’s Search for Truth. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House, 1977. eBook.

McKeever, Dr. Joe. “Why We Need Parables.” (2009): n. pag. Web. 20 Dec 2010. <http://www.biblestudytools.com/pastor-resources/11610729.html&gt;.

Merton, Thomas. The Seven Storey Mountain. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1948. Print.

Miller, Donald. Searching for God Knows What. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004. Print.

Miller, Donald, and John Macmurray. To Own a Dragon: Reflections on Growing Up Without a Father. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2006. Print.

Moody, Dwight L. The Best of Dwight L. Moody. 6th Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1971. Print.

Mouw, Richard J. Uncommon Decency: Christian Civility in an Uncivil World. Downer’s Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2010. Print.

Neihardt, John.  Black Elk Speaks: as told through John Neihardt by Nicholas Black Elk.  Lincoln, NE:  U of Nebraska P, 2000. Print.

Nouwen, Henri J. M.  The Inner Voice of Love:  A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom. New York, NY: Image Doubleday, 1996. Print.

—. The Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society. New York, NY: Image Doubleday, 1972. Print.

Norris, Kathleen. The Cloister Walk. New York: Berkley Publishing, 1996. Print.

Savant, John. “Follow that Metaphor.” Commonweal 132.20 (2005): 17-19. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 24 Nov. 2010.

Sempangi, F. Kefa. A Distant Grief. Glendale, CA: Regal Books, 1979. Print.

Spurgeon, Charles H. Finding Peace in Life’s Storms. New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 1997. Print.

—. “Songs in the Night.” Spurgeon Collection on Bible Bulletin Board.  Tony Capoccia, 2004. Web. 4 Nov 2010. <http://www.biblebb.com/files/spurgeon/2558.htm&gt;.

Ten Boom, Corrie, and C.C. Carlson. In My Father’s House. Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, 1976. Print.

Vaswani, Neela. You Have Given Me A Country. Louisville, Ky: Sarabande Books, 2010. Print.

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“…And all that believed were together and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need…”  (Acts 2:44-45)

After drifting in confusion throughout my teenage years, I returned to Christ in my twenties while attending a Quaker college. I became a member of a very popular evangelical Friends church. Our pastor was a tremendous orator, and our choir was spectacular, and I enjoyed all of the pleasantries that a church has to offer its members.  I sailed on seas of serenity for several years.  Then one summer, a terrible storm rolled into town.

I forget what year it was that Juan Carlos Ortiz, a pastor from Argentina, was invited to be the keynote speaker at the yearly meeting of Quakers.  We had conferences and services all week at the college where I had been a student.  The auditorium was overflowing in the evenings with pastors, teachers, missionaries, and lay people from our churches, and Ortiz began to probe into all of our hypocrisies with pointed words.

He described a time when he became profoundly discouraged as a pastor leading a lifeless church in his village.  One Sunday, he said it was time for him to preach his usual sermon, and he stepped up to the pulpit, and the Spirit broke into his thoughts saying, “Another one?”

“Yes, Lord, another one,” the pastor replied.

“Why?” he heard the Voice asking. “Did they do what you told them the last time?”

“No, they didn’t,” he said as he continued to the pulpit, but when he got there, he found that he could not preach.  He took the microphone, and said firmly, “Love one another,” and sat down.

Everyone in the congregation looked at one another in confusion.

The pastor rose again and said slowly, “Love- one -another”, then sat down again.  After some whispering and stirring in the congregation, he stood up for the third time, and said, “Love one another!” and sat down.

He did not get back up, and he watched to see what would happen. He says he did not know what he was doing, or why. Everyone looked at one another, and looked at the pastor, thinking he knew what he was doing.

After some moments of silence, people began to mingle, and to ask one another for prayer requests, and to pray in small groups.  The pastor just watched and before long, he saw people in tears and people rejoicing and people crying out to God. This went on for hours. Because of his silence, the Spirit took over in his church.

Pastor Ortiz recounted how a revival broke out that continued long after that day, and it spread throughout the region.  People became determined to love one another as Jesus had commanded.  They went about showing love to one another in a multitude of ways, and there were no church programs for a long time.

After a month or so had passed, one of the elders in the church asked Pastor Ortiz if he was ready to preach another sermon, so he agreed to prepare one for the following Sunday.  He said he was almost terrified to preach to this congregation now, because they were ready to do whatever he said.  He said that before, it didn’t matter, because no matter what he said, they wouldn’t do it.  But now they would, and he knew he had to have the anointing of the Spirit, and a word directly from the Lord.  He had to fall on his knees and inquire of God, to be able to bring a message.

When the next Sunday came, and he stood to preach, he said the enthusiasm of his congregation was a fearful thing to behold.  He said they looked like athletes lined up and ready to run, as soon as they had the Word.  He spoke only a few words.

He talked about Jesus’ commandment to “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”  He explained that this means to love your neighbor, and wish for your neighbor the same things that you want for yourself.  He said to try to help your neighbor to have the things that you have.  He said if you have a nice house, then you should want your neighbor to have a nice house too.  If you have good clothes, you should wish for others to have the same.  He kept his message very simple and straightforward and short.

Following his message, Pastor Ortiz said that his church went out and immediately started obeying what he had preached.  One of his church members was talking to his maid that following week, and found out that she had an epileptic husband who could not work, and that they lived in a shack, along with their children.  This church member arranged to have a fine home built for the maid and her husband and family.

Another church member learned that he had a neighbor who was a plumber, but he could not work because he had no truck or tools.  So this Christian went and bought his neighbor a plumbing truck and the tools he needed, so he could be employed again.  Pastor Ortiz said that he and his church literally wiped out poverty in their village, by following the commandment of Jesus.

Juan Carlos Ortiz then began to explain to us that the early church didn’t get together to have meetings and discussions and to form committees.  They were warriors who came to church to get more strength, so that they could go out and further God’s kingdom and stand in the midst of persecution.  He spoke about how thousands of people were saved every day after Pentecost, and that the apostles accomplished all of this “without programs, without robes, without a choir, and without an altar call.”

He told us that we need to stop playing religious games, and start thinking about our identity as “servants of Jesus Christ”.  He asked us to stand and say to everyone around us “I am a servant of Jesus Christ.”  He said that we have developed spiritual amnesia, and have forgotten who we are in Christ.  His message was that we needed to recommit ourselves to Jesus, and the spreading of the gospel.

After delivering his message, people swarmed down to the altar for prayer without any formal invitation.  I saw pastors and teachers and church members with tears in their eyes, and godly sorrow over their failures.  I was one of them, and I had a renewal in my spirit that day.  I was determined to be a servant of Jesus Christ from that day forward, and to listen to His voice, and follow whatever He asked me to do from then on. I felt the fire of His Spirit burning within me for the first time.

As I was leaving the auditorium, I noticed a close friend that I had invited crying in one of the seats, and I went to sit with her.  She was deeply moved by the message because, she said, she had always believed that all Christians were phonies and hypocrites, and now she was convinced that there are some real disciples.  We were both changed that day, and an adventure had begun.

As my church tried to return to its former state of apathy and inertia, I just couldn’t let it happen after such a prophet had been among us.  I discovered that I “made waves” everywhere I went, because a great storm had come to town.

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For more true stories like this one, click on “The Twisted Cross” at the top of the screen.

OLIVE TWIST ©2012


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