[anzac] LIE # 8 - "PROGRAMS, PROGRAMS..."

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From: "ANZAC Prophetic List" <revival4@...>
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2004 16:32:32 -0500
-by Andrew Strom.

The fact that today's church revolves largely around MAN and not
around God is obvious to many who observe how she functions 
from day to day. The sad fact is, when the Holy Spirit is not moving 
in any great way, man is always ready and willing to step in and
"help God out" by taking over the running of the church. And
humans are always full of "great ideas" for expanding the work as well.

Much of this activity can be excused as being "good" activity, of 
course. We can find every reason in the world why we should be
adding new programs, activities and meetings - and keeping
the Christians busy, busy, busy with church things.

But the sad fact is, it is often the truly essential things that get
neglected - like prayer meetings - where we might actually get in 
touch with GOD instead of just running around "DOING, DOING, 
DOING." But strangely, getting in touch with God does not seem 
to be very high on the agenda today. Instead it often seems to be 
"building up OUR church" - and all the activities related to that.
Man's ideas rule and God's voice is crowded out by all the 
busy-ness and self-promotion.

When I was compiling all the emails from "Out-of-church" Christians
last year for my book on that subject, I noticed that one of the
biggest reasons that these people gave for leaving the churches
was this glut of 'activity' and the LACK OF GOD. They simply could
not live with this overwhelming "program-mentality" in the church. 
-It simply reeked of MAN.

It is also significant that many of these "Out-of-church" types had 
actually been leaders of some kind in the church. Often they had
been very active for years and years. They had seen the whole thing
from the inside and they wanted out. Enough of MAN. They wanted
more of GOD.

So what was the Early Church like in this regard? What kind of
programs and activities did they become involved with?

Well, the first thing we need to realize about the Early Church is
that this was a people truly in love with God. The Holy Spirit was 
in charge of the church - not man. (-Which is not to say that there 
weren't human leaders. There were men of great spiritual authority,
anointed of God to lead the church. -But they were constantly
sensitive to the Holy Spirit in every decision they made). This was
a GOD-LED church, not a man-led one. It was a church living in 
the midst of a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit. What a difference 
that makes!

Now, apart from gathering together in the open-air and from house
to house, we find that the only real "program" the Jerusalem church
seemed to have was one to feed the poor. They appointed seven
'deacons' (-the word literally means "servant") who were "full of faith 
and of the Holy Spirit" - and they put them in charge of feeding and 
clothing the widows and orphans in a regular and systemized way. 
-That was about it. This was their one real 'program'.

Now, I am not saying here that this is the only legitimate kind of
program we can set up. But the point is, anything we decide to
do must be DIRECTED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT - not yet another
of man's "bright ideas". Also, I believe that, like 'Acts', most 
programs today should be aimed at reaching out to the poor and 
needy. (Widows, prisoners, shut-ins, etc). -This is clearly uppermost 
on God's heart. -But even then, we need to be sensitive to God's leading. 

Some people have gone right over to the other extreme in this 
whole thing. They say that anything "organized" at all is completely
wrong. -That God should be literally doing everything Himself, and 
man just 'waiting' on Him to do it. Obviously, I cannot go along with 
this. It does not line up with the Book of Acts at all. God has always 
used HUMAN BEINGS to preach, teach, heal the sick, hold 
gatherings and prayer meetings, minister to the poor, etc. We see
this in Acts. If it were ANGELS who were meant to be doing it, 
then they would. But God has given all of these tasks to us humans!
And most of these things require at least some 'organizing'.

It is very clear that in Acts they did not wait for some "revelation 
from God" to tell them to meet together each day. They simply
loved God and loved one another - so they gathered together
in their homes every day - probably at a specific time. And it is 
obvious that there would probably have been a 'set time' when the 
apostles ministered in the open-air at Solomon's Porch each day 
as well. There is absolutely nothing to suggest that they would wait 
for some kind of 'angelic visitation' or a lightning-bolt from heaven 
before gathering together. -It was simply the natural thing to do.
And praying together and feeding the widows were natural things 
to do, as well. -As I said, all of this involved some degree of 
"organization". (ie. Arranging times and meeting places, etc).

Many people take the concept of "resting in the Lord" too far. Are 
you someone who has truly learnt to REST in Him? Great! But
does that now mean you do nothing at all? Of course not! Some
people have grown spiritually lazy and are stuck in a rut - simply
because they misunderstand "resting in the Lord". Go and do all
that God is telling you to do - but this time in the Spirit and not
with fleshly striving like you used to! -That is what 'resting' enables
you to do. You can actually be very busy, as Jesus often was, yet 
still be "resting in the Lord".

The fear of 'organizing' or "leading" has actually been known to 
hinder or even destroy a number of Revivals in history. The Welsh
Revival died after little more than ONE YEAR, when Evan Roberts
(-the man that God anointed and raised up to lead the Revival)
actually HID HIMSELF AWAY because he was afraid to be the 
leader any longer (-he was convinced it would mean stealing glory
from God). But really this was DISOBEDIENCE. -Because God had
raised him up to lead and he had a job to do. -The most "humble"
thing that we can do is simply WHATEVER God is telling us to do.
If we are called to lead then it is a disaster if we shrink back from it.
Times of Revival are always times when leadership is at a premium
and God searches the earth for those who are willing to pay the 
price and respond to His call.

A similar attitude to Evan Roberts prevailed in the Azusa Street
meetings - where the leaders would hide themselves in prayer and 
allow ANYBODY to speak from the platform. Not just Christians but
all kinds of charlatans and demonized characters sometimes were
able to get to speak, and this caused endless problems. A little
authority sometimes goes a long way - and God raises up leaders
for a REASON. There can be little doubt that the Azusa Revival
faded away before it's time - largely through failings like these.

It is a very delicate balance that leaders in Revivals face - how to
keep everything on the rails without being too heavy-handed. -How 
to give the Holy Spirit free reign - but not allow things to become
so "loose" that the devil is able to wreak havoc as well. -A difficult
balancing act that requires great sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and
a lot of wisdom. Many have tried and failed down the ages. But it
is not impossible.

I think it is a very important fact that two of the most long-lived
Revival movements in history were also the MOST ORGANIZED.
They definitely involved powerful 'OUTPOURINGS' of the Holy
Spirit, and yet there was a well-organized 'New Wineskin' that
was formed to give the whole thing structure and long life. The
moves of God that I am talking about here were the Wesleyan
Revival (ie. the Great Awakening in Britain) and the early
Salvation Army. Both of these movements remained pretty
much in a 'Revival' state for about 40 years apiece. -Much longer
than most Revivals by far.

What was the major key to this success? -I believe it was the
fact that both of these movements left behind the "old wineskin"
and formed a totally new one - far closer to the Book of Acts.
They did not try and cram the new move into the existing
churches, but took the bold (and controversial) step of forming
a truly NEW wineskin. -They left the old one behind.

Interestingly, both of these movements were "OUTDOORS"-based.
-They held great gatherings in the open air - out where the people
were. They also had smaller meetings just for the converts. And
they raised up "lay-preachers" (-to the churches' great horror). 
They prayed without ceasing and preached fiery Revival sermons 
on repentance and the new birth. (-The early Salvation Army 
modeled a lot of it's preaching on Finney). These were some of the 
most glorious and long-lasting Revival movements in history. And 
not forgetting - they were also the MOST ORGANIZED.

So let us not fear leadership and organization, my friends! But let it
always be by the leading of the Holy Spirit. It is the programs and 
"good ideas" of men that we need to beware of. Somewhere there
is a healthy balance in all of this. But I believe the only real balance
can come when we are truly in a 'Revival' state. Then we will see
the Holy Spirit truly take charge!

God bless you all.

Kindest regards in Christ,

Andrew Strom.