Tag Archives: lord of the rings

The Holy Spirit: Do We Make Waves, or Ride Waves?

I just finished watching Francis Chan’s lesson on the Holy Spirit via the free Basic Series preview I told you about yesterday.

He said something around the 11:00 minute mark that got me thinking. Here’s an imperfect quote:

“When you surf, you don’t make a wave. You don’t know when the wave’s coming – it just happens, it moves, and once you’re on it, it’s got a power of its own. You don’t manipulate it – you just get on it and go along for the ride. That’s what you see in the book of Acts multiplied 1000 times.”

He spoke this in an attempt to illustrate the work of the Holy Spirit, specifically in the context of the unity of the early believers. In other words, “You can’t create waves of the Spirit just like you can’t create waves in the ocean – you simply ride them.”

I first ran across this teaching from Rick Warren years ago in his book The Purpose Driven Church. Rick basically says near the beginning of that book, “If you want your church to make an impact, find out where God is already moving in your community and join in. Ride the wave, because you can’t create waves of divine activity just like you can’t create waves in the ocean.” I’ve since heard this teaching repeated by a number of preachers at lectureships and leadership gatherings continuing through this present instance with Chan.

That’s disappointing, because I have an inherent problem with this illustration and teaching, and believe you should too.

Here’s why: a great truth revealed through scripture is that things happen when God’s people pray.

When the Holy Spirit first appeared in Acts 2, what were the believers gathered together doing? Leading up to that time, Acts 1:14 says the believers “joined together constantly in prayer” – prayer was their main activity. Did Jesus tell them earlier to wait on the Counselor to come? Yes. Would He have come if they hadn’t been praying? Probably so, but I find it interesting He shows up in the middle of their prayer meeting, and believe we would do well to note the connection.

The story continues, and after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the baptism of thousands, prayer was one of several things the people “devoted” themselves to every day.

In Acts 4, after Peter and John were threatened with imprisonment for preaching Jesus, what was the first thing they did? They gathered with believers, and prayed for God to give them power to “speak the word with great boldness,” and He did. In fact, the whole room shook as if God were saying, “You got it!”

In Acts 6, the apostles delegated the work of caring for Grecian widows to others so they could “give their attention to prayer”, in Acts 10 the first Gentile convert was made so because “God heard his prayer,” and Acts keeps going like that – there are many other examples I could cite from that book alone.

And what about the rest of scripture? Were you aware that the apostle Paul’s number one request to churches he corresponded with was that they pray for his evangelistic work to be effective? Why? Because Paul understood prayer moves the Spirit to touch the hearts of men and women – to prepare them to decide to enter into new life with Christ.

And what about the prayer life of Jesus and the things He associated with it? What about the enormous number of Old Testament stories involving massive moves of God specifically due to prayer – sometimes a single person’s prayer at that?

I could keep going, but I think you get the point.

Were massive waves of Holy Spirit activity present in the life of the early church? You bet there were.

But what were these waves of the Spirit in Acts always accompanied by?

Prayer. Heartfelt, genuine, God-moving prayer.

I can tell you many stories about souls Airiel and I have prayed for who came to Christ, I believe, specifically because we prayed earnestly and consistently for them – that the Spirit would move and touch their hearts. God answered those prayers, and this has been repeated over and over in our ministry.

Those that know my story are aware I was a pretty rough character when I was younger. Want to know when my heart began to change? When my parents requested a group of disciples get together and spend time praying specifically for me. Things began happening in my life almost to the day that led to my eventual conversion, and I didn’t even know anyone had been praying for me until later.

That being said, when a person says something like, “We don’t make waves of the Spirit, we just ride them,” they’re putting on display, for the world to see, a shallow theology of prayer.

Prayer is not just something Christians practice because it’s what Christians practice – prayer is a weapon against the dark spiritual forces that surround us.

And the Holy Spirit doesn’t just guide our path, He is also a weapon who revels in bringing light to dark places – He loves it! That’s why He’s here – to assist us in this ongoing war against the darkness!

Speaking of that, there’s a battle scene in one of the Lord of the Rings movies (I forget which) in which the wizard Gandalf appears with a group of mounted soldiers riding down a hill, weapons raised, toward the goblin army. His staff, held high above his head, suddenly begins to emit a great light that not only illuminates the battlefield, but is also used as a weapon against the enemy.

That’s what the Holy Spirit is like. He illuminates, nudges, leads, guides, but not just that. He’s also a warrior adept at destroying the strongholds of Satan. He moves before us, shining brilliantly, but not just to illuminate. He moves before us through prayer, I believe primarily, to fight.

While it’s true that in some respects we’re just along for the ride on this journey, make no mistake: we are allowed to give input as to the direction and focus of divine activity along the way.

And that’s why prayer is so powerful, because prayer is our way of having a say.

Prayer moves the Spirit, therefore, prayer is dangerous.

Prayer makes waves.

When have you witnessed prayer “create a wave” of the Spirit that had amazing consequences?

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Christians Enjoying Harry Potter – Good Idea, Bad Idea?

Is Harry Potter good or evil?

That question may sound silly to some readers, but there are many Christians who believe it’s wrong to watch movies like Harry Potter (some very close to me whom I love dearly feel this way). I know because I’ve seen every HP movie in the theater, and have had this discussion with more than one Christian after they heard I was a fan.

Some Christians believe it’s wrong because Harry and his friends make witchcraft look like fun, and guess what – I understand their point of view.

Witchcraft is a serious sin as the Bible points out – check it out:

Galatians 5:19-21
19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;
20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions
21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Those who “live like this” – that is, those who practice witchcraft as part of their ongoing, unchanging lifestyle “will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Wow! Sounds like Harry Potter could be dangerous if it causes someone to want to practice witchcraft, but is it?

Patrick Mead made a post on Tentpegs today that I’d like to share with you … he writes:

… this is a timely question that came in recently via Facebook.

I saw on your Facebook page that you and your wife went to see the latest Harry Potter movie. How could you??? The Bible is very plain in condemning witchcraft. How can you support this evil with your money???

I’ve heard things like this many times since the first draft of Harry Potter was written on the back of napkins over lukewarm cups of tea. Why did I see the movie — and all the others? Because I’ve seen evil, and Harry Potter isn’t evil. It is a fantasy. I am just barely old enough to remember preachers condemning Rex Harrison and “Doctor Dolittle” for talking to animals (and, yes, there was even a Cincinnati preacher who railed against Mr. Ed for the same thing… and claimed that playing the song backwards revealed Satanic messages). I’ve read the articles written against C.S. Lewis for engaging in fantasy, calling him a supporter of witchcraft. Tolkien fought against the same charges.

Some people have a very hard time differentiating between fantasy and fun on the one hand and evil and darkness on the other. In the Bible, the witchcraft being condemned involved ritual murder, the killing of children, bloodletting, serial adultery, etc. I’ve met with witches (self styled), coven leaders, Satanists, people who were convinced they were Warlocks… and found them almost without exception to be sad, lonely people. They are the precursors to the lonely man/woman playing computer games where they are a twentieth level mage… while in real life they work at the Quiklube.

Then I have met others — sorcerers and necromancers and pagans of a different ilk. They were evil. You could see it in their eyes, hear it in their words, and watch them as they spread darkness wherever they could. I have seen photos and films made of butchered men, women, and children; pregnant women whose wombs were ripped open and their babies killed for the amusement of this or that army that stomped its way through their village, raping and burning all the while. THAT is evil.

Harry Potter — and thousands of other like minded books, plays, and movies — are allegories. They are stories of light versus darkness where light is treasured, heroism is lauded, and courage, honor, and loyalty are elevated highly. The characters are told to do the right thing, regardless of personal cost. TRUE darkness mocks the light and encourages people to follow the Satanic slogan of “Do whatever you want to do” (that is translated from their faux olde English styling).

You find witchcraft everywhere nowadays, but it is disguised as comedy, music, and drama. Watch carefully and you see that everyone’s problems are solved by self love, self esteem, etc. and by applying either sex or violence to the situation. Self sacrifice, humility, and grace are never in sight. Light is covered up in darkness. Witchcraft no longer uses brooms and the devil no longer cares about cauldrons and potions. Darkness has moved into the cultural center and calls itself light.

And if Christians can’t see that but, rather, spend their time fighting about Madeline L’Engle, C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, or Harry Potter… if they can’t tell the difference between metaphor, symbol, and reality… then we are in real trouble.

As Patrick points out, I don’t believe enjoying fantasy movies like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, or the Chronicles of Narnia is the same as practicing real witchcraft.

But could Harry Potter and movies like it still be dangerous? I mean, the Harry Potter stories do glorify witchcraft by practicing it in the books and movies, don’t they? Could the books and movies cause a younger person (or even an older person) to become interested in looking into real witchcraft?

Of course they could.

But could watching the latest season of American Idol or America’s Got Talent influence someone to become obsessed with fame?

Could watching Jack Bauer handle business in 24 influence someone to commit an act of violence?

Could watching Judge Judy influence someone to act like a condescending jerk to everyone they come into contact with?

Yes, yes, and yes – the potential for evil is there in all of those things.

Here’s my feeling: almost any television show or movie a person watches has the potential to influence them for evil. I believe it’s up to individuals to decide how they’ll allow themselves to be influenced, and I believe it’s up to parents to do a good job teaching and explaining things to their kids (like the dangers of real witchcraft, and how Harry Potter is just a story that someone made up).

That’s how I feel, and I’m going to stop right there and ask you these questions:

Do you think Harry Potter be should be completely avoided by Christian families? Why or why not?

If you do believe it’s ok for kids to read the books or watch the movies, do you believe any precautions should be taken (i.e. should you talk to your children about real witchcraft before allowing them to read the books or watch the movies)?

What do you think? I’m interested in hearing from you.

Now, for no particular reason, here’s a picture of Harry Potter smoking a cigarette:

Harry prefers menthols ...

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