Sunday, December 1, 2013

Deus ex Machina: The Machine of God

In my imagination, I have replayed it a thousand times. I have played the part of the father looking at dusk for a lone soul to come straggling over the far hill. And a thousand times my prayers have lit the candle and placed it in the window: always in hope. Of late the bitterness has been strong in my thoughts. Perhaps it is the holidays and the blaring absences of presences that once called me by my rightful title of father. I have often wondered how the ones who no longer allow me that think on times like these. I have no doubt there is a spot a vacuum and a darkness of soul that chills to the bone and the ever present doubt that what action was taken is somehow like an unbalanced equation where one always tries to find the solution yet their result is always the same. At least I believe that is the case. Yet on the other hand, the action my wife and I have witnessed from their hands has not really allowed that reverie, what is there has been cold and cruel and it is those actions that make me think whatever we had in common even blood is not enough to sway them. It was what the Psalmist penned regarding the hearts of the cruel:  ‘they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear.’

I have been in that position and I have been that way. I did not heed the warning of perhaps the greatest spiritual law: ‘for whatsoever a man soweth, that he shall also reap…’ and there is no getting around it. I can just hear the chuckle from those who look at the barrenness of my soul and say ‘Well then, take a look at your decisions and see where it has led you…’ Yet there is a story they do not know and one where I hold and come under this great and lasting principle. So let me tell you the story:

My father-in-law was a man of faith and his relationship with God was one of the healthiest I have seen this side of the grave marker. At one time I did not think so and only saw a man of prideful stubbornness that would not allow himself to change certain views that lined up with what I saw as the real truth. But he saw better than me, perhaps discerned better than me regarding certain things, people and places I had taken as the ‘upward way’ . I did not listen although many times he tried and I could hear the frustration in his voice and even the exasperation that could easily pass for anger yet my ears were like the adder’s and my way was set and would not alter. This estranged relationship went on to the point of his death and along the way I wish that I could say there was a reconciliation but honestly, there was no such thing. Oh we met and had many dinners and times together from the point where we walked separately until his death but it was never the same and that was a weight I now know he bore and the pain of that carrying never was assuaged. My wall never came down. You see, it was the way I believed one should walk versus how he believed. In my mind and in my reading of the scriptures with the slanted view I had at the time, he was not even a believer. I had such a narrow view of what it was to be a Christian that almost no one measured up to that ideal…we were the remnant and he was not part of it. In my spiritual world at that time in my life, there was no mercy, especially for those who rejected the teachings under which I was following. So the rift was made and the breach never repaired. He grew ill as time passed and the guards he once had were slowly washed away by the malady he suffered. In the end he could no longer put up any fronts. I can recall that he had an episode where mentally he became unwound due to his illness and some would say it was the illness but in that moment, it was not the illness that made him do what he did…it was the pain, the pain of unrequited love. Of a hand that had been extended for years that was never clasped and an embrace that never came.  As he sat across from me in an emergency room in early morning hooked up to the equipment, the scowl that came across his face and the epitome of anger embodied in an expression of all the years of that pain came rising from the depths of his soul. There was a lewd gesture he made that fully expressed all his face was saying. Quite a different thing from a godly man but now as I look back on it, I understand it. It was not really me it was directed to but what I had done, what I had stolen from him. What was it I had stolen? Time… the one precious element that cannot be replaced with anything. I had stolen time from him and had withheld from him acceptance from myself and so my family. This is the blackest of crimes one can do to another and I am guilty and remain so.

What is the moral of the story? I now reap what I sowed. That which I took from others has been taken from me…there is no getting around it. What awaits my kin is not what I would wish on anyone yet the ‘Deus ex machina’  is already set in motion and will produce what it is given as  fuel. 

I have so many times prayed for them to come to their senses yet I know full well that there may be nothing that can be done unless God intervenes and I pray that he does. Yet Jesus speaks from the gospels regarding the hearts of men and it is a warning. In the story of Lazarus and the rich man after both of their deaths and now in the place called Sheol, the rich man implores Abraham to send Lazarus back to speak to his kin in what awaits them if they do not change. Abraham replies back: ‘If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead…’

Oh, I know the parrot response they will mutter to themselves.  I know it well because I used to say the same thing but that is an illusion and not the real nature of a real life. I think to myself now, what presumption to say such a thing knowing there is the underlying inertia of a life running headlong into a cold reality that awaits. I seek to spare them but given what I have witnessed so far, there is only the working out and production of what they have chosen.

If my father –in-law could express it now, I am sure he would utter the same words. They are now the words on my own tongue. When I get there, my first words to him will be ‘You were right’. And I am sure his first to me will be ‘All is forgiven.’  They say in heaven there are no tears but on that day, I am sure I will break that rule.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The God of Parting

When I think of all the partings that are to be found in the scriptures, I am turned back to the partings that I have experienced personally. It was first my grandfather when I was ten then my grandmother followed suit many years later in my mid-twenties, then my father in my thirties, after that my Uncle Bob, my ‘favoritest’, my father in law then my sweet mother. It says in the scriptures that it is precious in the eyes of the Lord the death of His saints but on this side of it, it is anything but precious…it is loss. One thing I am convinced of in this life, we as the last in a long line do not face strength but weakness and the proud knee will bend to the weight of time but also in the awe of a God who never changes.  If there is one crime that goes unpunished it is the crime of stolen time. Stolen by misconceptions of right …and wrong, the twisting  of scripture to bend it to one’s will and purpose and the sweetest of deceptions that whispers in our ears that there will always be time. We can stand on misguided principles that we ourselves question yet all the while it is not conviction that drives us to our stances but fear. What fear? The fear we do not belong.  If this course is pursued it does not lead to more light but more darkness and hardness calcifies in our hearts to the point where we feel nothing at all.

If there is one thing I could say to those who take such pleasure in being set  in their positions and look in the end at the Last Judgment to be vindicated, I have a surprise for you. The industry of your religion will not save you and in the end, you will be as all the great and small as this great sea of humanity gives up its dead. No, it is not about the building of churches and the crushing of self-will, it is about loss. Loss is not something that can be taught or trained into a person by discipline, it is the living of a holy life. Not in the sense that it is without sin, on the contrary, it is living a life set apart and one open enough, honest enough to be exposed to fire and light of the presence of God. It is said that this light causes those to run and hide and to call upon the mountains to cover them and some even desire the floor of hell rather than the great halls of God. What is the light…really? It is honesty with one’s self. To lay bear one’s very person to the light of God. To admit failure and sin and darkness and…our depravity and yet to embrace the hand of God who would lift us from the miry clay and plant us unbelievably in another world.

It is to be honest enough to admit:

1.       The reprobation.

2.       That we doubt.

3.       Our faith is weak and impotent

4.       Our love grows colder with each passing year

5.       Our hearts point back more than they do ahead.

6.        Confusion over just what is the will of God.

7.       We grow weaker with each passing day, we truly are but a shadow

8.       We are prideful to the point of causing personal and collateral damage

9.       We are fearful that we have failed.

10.   We are horrified that our lives go up in the balance and are nothing.


Quite a requiem for a Christian isn’t it. Yet I would venture to guess more than one of my points resonates in your inner most self. Why? Because as I said it is all about loss, in the list above all grandeur and self aggrandizement is lost in the sands of the Negev that strips us of life, expectation and position. It is in this crucible, that the man or woman of God is truly forged – in the forge of honesty – the courage to face who we truly are in all our ugliness and to despair of having any semblance of life outside of the grace and mercy of a Holy God.

The other day, I was on my usual run through the neighborhood at dusk. Turning up a hill and feeling the strain of moving uphill I bent my head low as if to somehow compensate for the upward slope when my eye caught a small object in the road. I swept past it barely missing it and kept on. But something made me look back again and again. Drawing up to it I found it to be a fledgling that had somehow popped out of its nest and onto the street. Quietly sitting there in the middle of the road waiting on something or someone. There we were eye to eye. I did not know what to do, so decided that it was best that I continue my run and leave it where it was. I made up my mind that I would return to see if it was still there and hoping that it would not be. That somehow, the mother would count the heads and decide one was missing and so search and find it, taking it home to the nest. Thirty minutes later as I returned to check on it, my little friend was still where I had met him. I decided that I was going to save him. Take him home and take care of him if need be. My wife was surprised to see what I had brought  in and the look on her face was one of compassion and yet helplessness. What could we really do for it. We gave it some milk believe it or not and it perked right up. So much so it started to pop out of the large cup where we had made it a little resting place. We covered over it and through the evening we would check in on it to see if it was doing okay. It was but you could tell it was only a matter of time before it would succumb to the inevitable every created thing will one day face. My heart broke. There I was a grown man, with a tear in my eye for a little thing that was yesterday a bump on the road. I knew what had to be done and so on my way to work I took my little friend back to the place I had found him. As I let him go, my prayer went to heaven that this wasn’t a loss I wanted. As I let him go under a bush for protection, I saw him stop for a moment and look back at me as if to say ‘Why are you letting me go?’ and then skittered off under the bush. Driving into work, I could not get over that last moment. It replayed over and over in my mind. Maybe it was the loss I thought I could somehow stem and change but in the end, I realized by doing so, I was intervening in powers and forces too great for me and in the end the result would have been death and eventual loss. I couldn’t help but wonder why such things happen even to the birds of the field.

In my reverie, I believe God whispered something of truth to me. I remembered the scripture of Jesus regarding the Father’s care:  Not one sparrow will fall to the ground apart from your Father (Mat 10:29) – His eye is on the sparrow. It is as if God for a moment let me see the situation from His point of view and His words to me were not about keeping but letting go. It is not resignation, it is submission to the will of God and to see His hand in it all, even the parting of a man and a little bird on a neighborhood street. I thought of my children and my wife and all that had happened now years ago. The parting was so bitter and jagged. Yet God was there and saw it all. He was there and I have no doubt His heart broke. Children can a times think only of the immediate and the momentum that drives them inexorably towards eventual regret; in that frozen moment nothing is more important that what is perceived the right way. Who can blame them? I had a key part in that momentum being not only their father but pastor. And I had taught them well to be soldiers in a desperate battle and to think only of the mission and purpose and not focus on anything else…and they had learned well. They had learned to cut losses, measure relationships in a balance to find them wanting, to pack and move to another theater  and unpack, to march to the beat of an authority blindly, to take any hill at any cost of life. They had learned from me how to shoot their own wounded – no longer of use to the cause. This is the bare nature of dysfunction and misplaced allegiance, it is what it is: idol worship. When men and woman stand in the place of God all the while proclaiming themselves to be conduit of that presence yet having lost it long ago—if they ever did have it.

What did I learn in that moment where bird and human eye met? I saw it from God’s perspective and understood sovereignty more that I had ever studied. It was allowing the force take precedence and to let what had been set into motion play out. Moreover, in witnessing and letting it happen, letting his own heart break over it.  It is not that God does not care or does not see the injustice…He does. It is not that God is immune to the situations that do not go as planned…baby birds have always fallen out of nests…some are rescued and others are not. But one thing I learned that cool autumn morning….

His eye is on the sparrow…his eye is on me and my wife …His eye is on our children; and His heart breaks. His is the God of parting and in that moment where one becomes the part of another’s past,  there is God and it is as B.B. Warfield once said – ‘To believe that God Is not in control is to remove all comforts’. 

In the end of it we will all see that literally we peered through a glass darkly and this it is those who say they see that are blind…and their sin remains. To those of us who have an inkling of this opaqueness, there is a chance of compassion and graciousness and reconciliation. That is my hope. In the end, there is a great feast in the halls of heaven and all will sit down together and eat with the Master. All the soldiers from all the theaters will beat the swords into plowshares like the rest and take their place at the table. Eyes will meet and understand and all will be forgiven.

He is the God of parting and yet He in the end will draw together the loose ends and frayed pieces and weave the most beautiful of tapestries.





Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Knuckleball

It is the fear of every big leaguer when at bat. All their power reduced to nothing in the face of it. All their skill, training and physical prowess is drained out of them leaving them knock kneed as a sandlot toddler facing their first at bat. There is no control and there is nothing that can stop its willy-nilly bumble bee approach towards the plate ripping bare by its pure unpredictability. So what is it? It is the knuckle ball thrown by some of the most famous but obscure pitchers in history. No one understands how they do it and many have tried to perfect the art of the knuckle ball and how to throw it but the pitch eludes a degree of training and even skill-set. It is almost as if in the heavenly design where the gifts are given, these receive a special one: the ability to throw it. It would seem that the pitch finds you and not vice versa and therein is its power: it cannot be understood and no one not even its famous bearers admit to being its master. They like a child on the back of a full throttle tiger running through thick jungle are as much inundated and eclipsed by its power it seems all they can do is hold on to the ball, grip it in a form that is as unique as a fingerprint wind up and let it go holding their breath and trusting not even in their skill but the physics of the pitch itself. Each team member and manager holding their breath because they know they are along for the ride as well left to the mercy and randomness of the pitch. The whole team understands they are exposed to the random factors of the pitch and they too with laser beam precision watch unflinching at the horror of the pitch reflected in the batter’s wince. Many a bat has been broken out of frustration reducing them to a three year old with a huge and fat plastic bat wiffling away at a pitch that cannot be tamed. This is the nature of the knuckleball.

It as a pitch has saved many a career and livelihood and turned fading stars into center stage players delivering the pitch to the delight and abject fear of every team mate. They are an odd bunch and never would have made it as far as they did without the pitch that found them ,changed them and exalted them. Yet, all the while it whispers in their ear that the power did not rest in them at all but in the pitch itself. Even those who made their career with it seem short for words when they talk about the pitch. It is as if they are as in the dark about it as the rest of us. Right now there is only one in the majors that is wielded by the random power of the pitch. His wind up and delivery even seem a little herky-jerky and random…oh but the pitch almost seems to come with the lethal force that baffles the most feared hitter. They are a bunch of guys that look out of place on a major league field. They are usually older than the spry and strong ones, their bellies hanging over the belt maybe on the paunchy side. But when they wind up and throw, theirs is the power of a lightning rod in which is channeled the divine gift. When they first find it, they seem to rely on it as their ‘ace’, You know, one of many pitches that they can wield with skill but in the end the heater cools, the slider chops, the curve straightens and the one multi-talented player is left in the shadow of the pitch. Phil Neikro perhaps one of the most famous riders of the pitch said in the end it was all he threw. He grew to love the pitch and probably was one of the very few to breathe the trail of the pitch and to comprehend its power and sporadic beauty. I cannot know for sure this is true but having seen him on documentaries talking about the pitch with other peers, there is a mist in his eyes that gleams bright as a ballpark Saturday and reflects the smells of the field, the hotdogs, the pretzels and the sound of the roar of the crowd as the dull slap of the pitch is lost in a mitt just south of home plate.

In the Pitch’s Shadow

So what does this have to do with our faith? Why do I expend such metaphorical effort to one discrete pitch thrown since the game began? It is because I believe every Christian believer is a knuckleballer. We have a pitch that makes us as powerless as the batter and there is no real skill we can truly claim to master in its delivery. The gospel is a knuckle ball and will not be tamed by any one denomination or person. The ones that truly are its most famous will readily admit the power is not in themselves at all but the pitch. It is devastating in its delivery when the Spirit of Godthe seeming only master it hastakes over and wraps himself around the seams.

We stumble in our delivery and see our inadequacy in ‘throwing’ the pitch but we must remember, it is not in us but in Him and His power and not in us. I believe that Paul understood this principle and we would do well to follow his perspective:

‘And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men but the power of God…’ I Cor 2:4-5

Here’s a suggestion, deliver the pitch in all your weakness and stumbling…just throw it. It is not up to you. You perceive your life is too out of order? Don't think your 're ___________ (you fill in the blank )? Throw it anyway…throw it with your last breath. The great truth is we will never master it but from God by our being given that divine spirit, have been given the pitch. It is in your weakness that the power of God can be truly delivered. Stop listening to perhaps yourself, your life and your place in life and just let it go. The world is dying to hear it. Will there be times when you throw it and the batter just eats it for breakfast? Oh yes, any knuckleballer will tell you that it is a risk you always take. But what they will also tell you is that they have learned to trust the pitch. They use it not because it is always successful but they have seen first hand its devastating power so many times, they know it is their best hope. We have to realize that we are all benefactors of someone who pitched to us. We are in a long line of those who stumbling and fumbling threw the pitch and someone received the power of the gospel through such means as the uniqueness of each pitch…they are all different. I have to stand back and laugh and shake my head at such a pitch and the people God uses to deliver it…people like me. But that is the wisdom of a God too deep to plumb. One thing is for sure, in the end, because we throw it, we give the pitch one thing, a chance to work. All God is really asking us to do is throw it because the results are really not up to us: it is in the pitch.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Caught In The Rain - Part III


In this last section, the current state of Latter Rain is assessed and all that has been presented in parts one and two are inducted to form conclusions. What follows is as objective as I can make it having time and distance expended from what I had experienced in that world. What I attempt to do here is add perspective and look at what happened. Not to judge in a critical sense but to present what history has recorded about Latter Rain and many of its leaders. This is not to in any way cast aspersions of those that still are ‘Caught in the Rain’ following their leaders faithfully – for it is not them who will be held accountable for the damage caused to so many. This is to lend perspective and as much objectivity to take the facts, not as one would feel about the movement and present a case that balances the ‘revelation’ some within this movement allege to hold. All this has been done before over and over. John the Apostle fought new revelation and exhorted those who were his friends in the faith to stand against the tyranny that such a mindset possesses. We fight the ‘new revelation’ in our time – these are those who add to the teachings of the Bible and take away others by their misinterpretation and their personal misrepresentation. As this study closes, conclusions can be made. It is my prayer and hope that the scriptures will in the end speak and shore up those who have been unwittingly used and abused and for them to no longer live in dysfunction but make for the exit and into the light.


Current State of Latter Rain

The influence of the Latter Rain movement has impacted most of the movements surrounding and after the Charismatic renewal during the sixties and seventies. The most prevalent ministries today that hold to Latter Rain teachings and their variants are moving more and more towards the sensational and experiential. While there are a few obscure groups that are what could be considered ‘hard-line’ Latter Rain, there are only a handful of these and they face the entropy of time as key leaders face end of life.  In most cases the key teachings of Latter Rain still exist in most Charismatic circles and in the remnant churches of Latter Rain that hold at least to some of the tenets of it. In the next exhibit, the key teachings will be enumerated and the current application of these tenets will be presented. This is to show the decline of application of whatever truth that was believed to have been re-discovered as suffering the mis-application that mostly time and the passing on of these tenets to the next generations would cause.

Laying on of Hands for:    
 1> Healing Forms varied amongst the Healing ministries and Latter Rain Proponents: Divine healing was practiced with the laying on of hands and prayer by the meeting leaders or those appointed. I some cases, demonic-caused maladies were identified and rebuked as the cause of such diseases. This lead to some of the doctrines regarding demonic possession of the believer Same
2>Baptism of the Holy Spirit Through the laying on of hands Same
3>Bestowal of spiritual gifts/blessings Same Same
4>Directive Prophecy For the sending forth of missionaries to foreign soil and for the equipping of saints in the ministry While still practiced for this purpose. Modern usage has devolved somewhat into less directive and more encouragement based. Blessing is sometimes emphasized and the identification of personality types and flaws are listed for the purpose of correction or encouragement. Prophecy takes on the character of condition-based. If the person performs adequately, the prophecy will hold and be fulfilled if not the prophet and the prophecy is absolved from the error. The example of Saul is often cited in these cases.
Manifestation of the Sons From the Body of Christ there would arise a company that would represent and so legislate the Kingdom of God starting from the End Times through Eternity.  This company would be a product of those who accepted the Latter Rain teachings. There are many forms of this teaching that survive today:
1. Dominion – Those that teach when the Sons of God arise, they will takeover the nations and so prepare the Earth for the Kingdom of God – Dr. Bill Hammond is a key proponent of this as are many others.
2.Elitist – Those that believe this company of people are the true church and that their particular belief systems will be identified by the Lord as being the true sons of God. The eschatological theories of how this is to be fulfilled are many and varied through out Latter Rain based ministries yet the common element is clear: these believers are set apart from the nominal church and will be the inheritors of the Kingdom of God while the nominal believer will be saved but their role and position will be of a lesser station ranging from being residents to being those who dwell in the twilight outside the New Jerusalem. True hard-liners of Latter Rain hold to this school.
Restoration of the Office of the Apostle and Prophet Mainly for the purposes to move the church into the full maturity – scriptures cited by key latter Rain proponents has been Eph 4:11-end of chapter. These ministries are required because they reflect the true form of church as set up by Christ through his apostles in the first century. The role of the Apostle and prophet had developed into full governmental authority and control by the 1980’s. This gave birth to the Discipleship movement and other groups who sought to implement the biblical pattern of leadership. After the demise of the shepherding or covering movement, many of the aspects of true biblical authority in practice were re-evaluated. There are some groups who still practice high degrees of authority and control at this time although they refuse to call themselves shepherding churches. What began as leadership by example became leadership by rule of law and precepts of the leader. Entire cultures in microcosm sprang up that revolve around the teachings of those that led.
Song of the Lord Experienced as a sovereign move of the Holy Spirit that took over and flowed though the congregation raising them in one voice/key in spontaneous praise. There are currently two forms of the song of the Lord today:
1>     freestyle –this is a major devolvement of the original heavily influenced by the Charismatic Movement. Contemporary worship services spanning many denominations allow for individual expression but the corporate and spontaneously Spirit lead worship is all but gone. Because of this, the services more appear as a concert than as worship.
2>     Liturgical – also a major devolvement. This is where at a certain place within the worship service, ‘spontaneous’ praise and worship is offered. This can occur and the beginning, end, etc of the songs being sung.
In either case the nature and origin of the Song of the Lord is suspect. For the most part it is sheer emotionalism (as in 1) or out of duty (as in 2). In either case, it is a rare occurrence to experience genuine praise and worship because the seeker of such has been conditioned against it.


In almost every case, Latter Rain and its subsequent variants, as Ron And Vicki Burks in their book Damaged Disciples so succinctly phrased it, are all culpable of a common practice:

“The present and former leadership maintains that it was not what was taught, but in how the teaching was applied. Bob Mumford expressed the problem as one of orthodoxy versus orthopraxy – doctrine versus practice. The concepts were misapplied. Overzealous application of spiritual authority has devastating after effects…”[1]

As so often occurs through church history, it is rarely the doctrines ‘recovered’ or touted to be ‘better’ understood that are ever at issue, it is the implementation them. Perhaps it is the wisdom of God to have not created a codex for the New Testament believer to live by. No, we are to follow the examples of those who have gone before us such as Paul and all the other apostles and prophetic writings of the Old and New Testaments under the direction of the Holy Spirit. It is challenging to do this given the passage of time and culture but our link to them is the Holy Spirit and His personal ministry to each and every believer. The Holy Scriptures and the Holy Spirit being the only infallible elements we will ever possess in this time must be the foundation of our faith and no other. The fallacy of Jesus’ time is our fallacy. The Jews over centuries had digested the law and the prophets and had constructed the mishna-torah – that is the second law. This was a collection of several hundred directives that if the Jew followed them would fulfill the law of God. This became the focus, the teaching of the rabbis and the gifted as they interpreted the oracles of God for the rest to follow. This created a way of life for the Jew that they could identify with the Laws of God in a complex but better understood form than the more general laws of God as given to Moses. In essence, when Jesus appeared on the scene, they did not recognize him from the very fact that he did not quite fit in or support the mishna but applied His own interpretation on the true meanings of the original Law instead of supporting the ‘precepts of men.’ How does this relate to the context of this work? It relates because history has repeated itself in every generation. The cycle is:

1.that the ‘revelation’ comes, it is received excitedly, the few that receive it spread it,

2.To the leaders, questions arise as to the application of the present revelation to the practical. Directives are developed that would allow for those attempting to follow in integrity of the revelation to do so, culture is formed, teachings published, teachings interpreted and applied as close to form as the original.

3.Miscommunication and misconception occurs leading to misapplication. This leads to variants that stress characteristics that seek to proffer the original spirit of the revelation but fall short due to lack of perspective by those left to implement from the originator.

4.That which was a spiritual walk becomes a natural walk (following the codex) and spirituality is directly assessed from the performance of the individual according to the codex of the group.

How does this differ from the times of Christ? It does not. It is history and human nature repeating itself…in every generation. The final stage of any movement can be summarized as follows by the Burks as they, from their exit point, assess the Discipleship Movement (A Latter Rain teaching) from which they were extracted:

“…does misapplication, though, explain the serious and lasting damage that has been done…Our problems go far beyond misunderstanding and misapplication. If misapplication were the only problem, then we would all have been guilty of being willing participants in our own abuse. No, in some way we had to believe that what was being done to us was somehow right – that those in the leadership over us were only doing what the scriptures taught and eventually things would work out for us. The doctrines we believed kept us from seeing the abuse that was happening right before our eyes”[2]

This is the lethal nature of misapplication of biblical truth. It leads the person to question not those who lead but causes the person to focus on self as the main cause of the misapplication, not those who have led them in the misapplication. This is its power over the individual –this is a key indicator of spiritual abuse in  its most deadly form. Here is the tragic dynamic: How could anyone leave a movement who espoused the doctrines of the Bible? There is the conundrum that many find themselves in presently. If the doctrines are followed by those who lead, then what one is sensing is one’s own rebellion and iniquity. The path is self-destructive and even if that one leaves or is extracted because of their lack of performance and their unrepentant attitude, the destruction continues. It continues in the very fact the person that left remains in the state of mind that they originally are at fault and because they are no longer with the fold, they are failures in the sight of man and God. Those who continue on in the movement look upon these who do not go on with the group that they no longer serve God. In many cases, those who leave the group lose their faith. This is a common over-reaction to the damaging environment in which they were steeped perhaps for years.  Those that are inside the group look at the mode of life and assess that the person no longer with them was not genuine in their faith and were essentially spiritually inferior and corrupt. Thus their compassion for the one who has left the group is absent and  their mindset towards these ‘apostates’ were justified - When in fact, it is the very damage inflicted from within the group that causes them to lose hope and thus their way.

There is much to be charged to the shepherds who perform in such manner and there is much to be reckoned to them before the judgment seat of Christ. It is one thing to feed the flock with the word of God and quite another with the practices of any movement – Latter Rain has been notorious for making such errors.  It must be stated clearly, the faux pas of Latter Rain is nothing more than the ‘teachings as doctrines the precepts of Men’ – no matter what may be their basis, the teachings are not and never will be the in the spirit of the Scriptures and will ultimately lead to error and misapplication within the body of Christ left suffering in its wake. We wonder why movements do not go on but are replaced – it is ultimately the orthopraxis that is judged and found wanting. Eventually, there is only room for the teachings in these types of movements and sects ( in Hawtin’s  own words), and as such, when the teacher reaches end of life so do their movements.


In summary, in Jesus’ words, ‘you will know them by their fruits…’, is perhaps the basis upon which any movement must be assessed. It is not what is said or developed and taught that measures the true value of any movement. It is what it produces. Latter Rain has produced:

1.In the beginning, denominational exodus of churches from Pentecostal denominations that for the most part these churches that left do not exist today.

2.Spawned the Charismatic movement that caused many to leave the traditional safety of their church home and is a fore-runner to the Emerging Church Movement gaining momentum today (which is nothing more than the Charismatic Movement in another form or should I say no form at all).

3.Initiated the Prophetic movement of the 80’s and 90’s that perhaps in the beginning had the best of intentions but due to lack of oversight and accountability lead to the fantastic, heretical and in some cases the immoral. 

4.Birthed the discipleship and ‘covering’ movements of the 70’s and 80’s which caused untold damage and required spiritual recovery for thousands.

5.Produced the Apostolic Movement of the late 80’s up to the current time whereby the ministry of the Apostle and Prophet can and often do circumvent the teachings of the scriptures through their orthopraxis of the very same scriptures.

6.Caused stress on doctrines that divide the body of Christ into the camps of the elite and non-elite. These teachings can be taken to extremes that have eternal implications in terms of exactly where the believer will spend eternity.

7.Ultimately interject earthly authority between the believer and Christ. Much akin to the concept of vicar in the Roman Catholic church. The way, purpose and direction of the believer is through the direction of the vicar or their representatives. The eternal state is determined, judged and presented as the assessment of the one so positioned.

If the fruits be the judge of something, then the above is evidence laid at the feet of Latter Rain and its proponents. The lasting impact of Latter Rain perhaps will not be assessed and measured fully until the next century. However from this point in time, the vision of Belshazzar in the book of Daniel is relevant ‘MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPSHARSIN’.

MENE -God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it

TEKEL = You  have been weighed on the scales and found deficient.

UPHARSIN =Your kingdom has been divided and given to someone else.



It has been a long journey for me. I for one was caught in the Rain for over twenty years. Through those years I finally reached the conclusion that the direction I was going was not where I believed was wholesome and good. Even then, due to my own dysfunction, it took my dismissal. I know now that it is before the judgment seat of Christ the final assessment will be made. I have much to answer for I am well aware, as do we all. For those I have hurt, I ask heartfelt forgiveness. It is the only thing I can offer some. For those I have disappointed, I point to the One who will never disappoint. For those I love, there is a light in the window for you and I look everyday in hope for your return.

I have come out of the ‘rain’ and have seen the side of human nature when welded with the religious nature of man. I have lost my family, my ministry and perhaps my eternal place in God’s Kingdom according to some but as it says in Romans chapter 14.

Rom 14:4
Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

In the end, we stand by no man’s assessment and each will answer to God for his own life. This is the way of the scriptures. Let it be our way from now on.

I leave you with some last thoughts which echo the final perspective of every movement (even the good ones) that will eventually run its course and dissipate. It is a quote by J.E. Purdie of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada in the publication The Pentecostal Testimony, October, 1948 that at this time proves to be prophetic and yet will no doubt be the final thought of any movement that forgets the Rock from which it has been hewn:

“The history of the Church demonstrates that if any group of Christians leaves out the proper teaching on the infilling of the Holy Spirit and His normal operations, barrenness is bound to follow. On the other hand if they over-emphasize the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit at the expense of the Person of Christ and His finished work on Calvary, and justification by faith plus nothing, declension, unbalanced emotionalism and fanaticism will follow. If the revelation of the cross and the grace of God given to the Apostle Paul is left out, the enemy will sooner or later take the field.”[3]

Let us return to the Cross of Christ and cling to that stanchion and sure place. Let those who seek to go on in God never forget the finished work of Christ because surely error will follow. Latter Rain’s influence produced many tragedies. Let us learn from history and from the very voices who brought it forth:

“But we did not know that like Ephesus we had lost our first love, and must repent and do the first works over again…I shall never cease to thank God that I was vomited out of the belly of this whale also.

For we never know the depths to which we have sunk until we are able to view Babel at a distance. Then and then alone our heart gives thanks to God for deliverance from another of the harlot daughters of Babylon.” – George Hawtin

“But after a few years I was becoming more and more aware that the Spirit of God no longer hovered over us as He once did…Perhaps all of us who were involved, were responsible in one way or another, for causing the Holy Dove of God’s Spirit to be grieved. I knew I must leave…but I never lost confidence in what God had done, and would yet do”  - George Warnock

“When he observed that the teaching, revelation and practice was starting to clearly depart from the standards of the Word of God, he challenged the leaders. When the leaders continued to promote an extreme position on the manifestation of the Sons of God, and continued to accept revelation and prophecy without carefully balancing it with the written word, the writer withdrew…” – James Watt

May God bless us all and may those who find themselves ‘Caught in the Rain’ find the only shelter from the storm – Jesus.



Many thanks to:


My immediate family who have helped my through the most difficult and dark period of my life – they have truly visited the ones in prison and are examples of Christ to us all.


Mr. Craig Branch, Apologetics Resource Center, Birmingham, AL – whose insight and personal ministry to me and my wife has helped us regain a healthy perspective of ourselves and most importantly of God. I cannot call him my mentor but I hope one day to call him my friend.


To my Children because they are and always will be.


Lastly and most of all - To my wife who has lost more than anyone will ever know yet has had the courage to press on in what is right -- All my undying respect and love.



The Rogue’s Gallery of Latter Rain

Here are some figures that were influenced by Latter Rain that perhaps you were not aware.

Jim Jones – Jonestown, Guiana“By 1953, Jones began to recognize the potential in Pentecostal-Style, evangelical faith healing for attracting crowds, raising money, and serving as a pretext for integrating churches. Jones attended a Pentecostal, Latter Rain  convention in Columbus, Indiana , where he was told he had a special prophetic ministry; he created a sensation at a conference at the Bethesda Missionary Temple in Detroit by manifesting all the gifts of the Holy Spirit; he began to hold services at Elmwood Temple in Cincinnati, Ohio, calling people out from the congregation, discerning their ailments and healing through the laying on of the hands; he even traveled to Los Angeles at the invitation of O.L. Jaggers to participate in a healing convention” [4]


O. L. Jaggers – founder, The Universal World Church, Hawaii Jaggers was originally an Assembly of God pastor who was influenced by Latter Rain in 1952. There were many revelations that Jaggers and his wife Velma received. Currently, the church they founded states that they possess the Golden Altar that stands before the presence of God in heaven at Rev Rene Villanueva states: ‘Every manifestation of the Holy Spirit into the lives of the people on earth come from the Golden altar, that the prayers of all saints, of all ages, including every Christian on earth today ascend to God and are answered because of the Golden altar." (referring to Rev.8:3-4) (The Golden altar on earth Rev. Rene Villianueva P31).


Earl Paulk (Manifestation of the Sons/Dominionist) - In August 2005 long-time church member and soloist Mona Brewer and her husband Bobby, who was a major financial supporter of the church, filed a lawsuit against Earl Paulk alleging that she was manipulated into being his paramour for 14 years. Brewer says that the members were conditioned to give unconditional obedience to the pastor, who called himself “Archbishop Paulk,” and that he taught her that those who are spiritually exalted can have sexual relationships and it isn’t adultery. He called it “kingdom relationships.” She says that Paulk even shared her with family members and visiting Charismatic preachers. This case was featured on CCN’s Paula Zahn Now program on Jan. 19, 2006, but as of March 2006 Paulk’s television program was still broadcast on Trinity Broadcasting Network.


Paul Cain (Protégé of William Branham, Kansas City prophet/ Toronto Experience/Todd Bentley mentor) - In 2004, PAUL CAIN, the most prominent Pentecostal prophet, was exposed as a homosexual and an alcoholic (“Paul Cain, “Latter Rain Prophet of Renown Is Now Discredited,” The Plumbline, December 2004).


[1]  Burks, Ron and Vicki, Damaged Disciples,  Zondervan Publishing House, Academic and Professional Books, Grand Rapids, MI 49530. Copyright 1992, ISBN 0-310-57611-3, pg 87
[2] Ibid. ,pp87
[3] Riss, Richard, Latter Rain Honeycomb Visual Productions Ltd, 1295 Eglinton Ave. E, Mississauga, Ontario, LAW 3e6, Canada Copyright 1987.  pp 81.
[4]Chidester, David Salvation and Suicide: Jim Jones the Peoples Temple and Jonestown. Indiana University Press, Copyright 2003. Pg 3.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Caught in the Rain - Part 2


In this second part, what is explored is the life cycle of Latter Rain. It should be said that the movement is all but disappeared but the doctrines formulated in latter rain have been far reaching in the churchscape to the present time. What has resulted from the doctrines as seen below has caused damage to believers that is incalculable. The table presented below will document the time line of latter rain, it’s major players and their influence on the church at large. Please pay careful attention to the Detail  column: it is to serve two purposes: 1> to detail the teachings and to show the links between the original proponents of Latter Rain and subsequent movements. It is recommended that you do your own research on these individuals. I do not have the time to go into the teachings of each but the first part should give you an idea of what they held to be true.

The question to be asked is ‘What has been added to the body of Christ with all the below?’ My answer to that would be the following:


In each case, these individuals while expounding spiritual power brought in heresy through ‘modern revelation’ where the scriptures teachings have been extrapolated to the point of breaking. There has been losses to the cause of Christ in terms of His people who have been damaged – most irreparably, untold millions of dollars misspent to promote ministries that practice self-aggrandizement, at times gross immorality and spiritual abuse.

This is a reminder to you. At the outset in part one I mentioned that a key scripture to keep in mind is in Mt 7:15-23. In this passage Jesus warns us all to beware of those who come to us with various teachings. His conclusion is ‘by their fruit the tree is known’. I can go no further than that. The below is a detail of the Life cycle of Latter Rain.


Life Cycle of Latter Rain

In the historical patterns of the church, there is a life-cycle. Latter Rain has not been exempt from the ravages of time. In essence due to its lack of organization, it has most likely sped up its entropic slide. It has been stated that during its hey day, Latter Rain could claim over  1,000 churches in the United States alone, yet as the leaders have passed, so have their churches to where those that are true proponents of Latter Rain are perhaps a handful (although it must be said their influence over Christendom is vast). They are a diverse group and staunchly independent. As a result of this, they are no more, for the most part. Perhaps the best approach is to list the timeline of Latter Rain by the leaders and the major thrust of their ministries as they themselves would present. At present, most teaching of Latter Rain proponents are internet based and historical in nature, it is quite rare to see any particular ministry claim to be moving in Latter Rain doctrines at the present time – they usually call them something different than what they really are. As a side note, it is ironic that during the rise of Latter Rain, there was also a revival that spanned denominations and catapulted ministries such as Campus Crusade for Christ, The revivals at Asbury, Wheaton and Lee Colleges and Billy Graham Crusades.[1] It would appear that God did not leave out those outside of the North Battleford brethren during this period of time.

 To 1947
Frankin Hall
Authored Atomic Power of Prayer and Fasting – Used by Hawtin(s) during North Battleford Latter Rain outpouring
To 1948
William Branham
Holds meetings in Vancouver , B.C. which Hawtins attend and receive laying on of hands from Branham.
February 1948
George & Ern Hawtin, Percy Hunt
After Prayer and fasting, Latter Rain outpouring begins: Directive prophesy is activated (Persbytery)
Apri 1948
Feast of Pentecost meetings held at Sharon Orphanage that year. In latter part of year, satellite meetings occur in Vancouver where Presbytery teams from North Battleford are used.
June 1948
Doctrine of restoration of the office of Apostle and prophet is preached in meetings by George Hawtin[2]
July 1948
Sharon Camp Meeting held in meeting Latter Rain doctrines are espoused: 1> laying on of hands for baptism of Holy Spirit 2> Restoration of Apostles and Prophets as foundational ministries 3> Concept of Present Day truth – present day revelation extension of scriptural truths (eisgesis) 4> Laying on of hands for impartation of spiritual gifts.
October 1948
James Watt
Joins North Battleford Brethren – becomes teacher and minister of Latter Rain – Holds first meeting where ‘Song of the Lord’ is initiated. It should be noted that Watt was influenced by the teachings of Marie B Woodworth-Etter (cira 1885). The song of Solomon was key in her teaching and would later be adopted by Myrtle Beall and her followers as a key teaching of the deeper relationship Christ desires with the corporate church. [3]
George Warnock
Joins North Battleford from being associated with Ern Baxter who was William Branham’s secretary.
Manifestation of the Sons of God appears in Vancouver after meetings held by the Hawtins. Doctrine embraced by North Battleford. Many variants of this doctrine are spawned but central themes are common (see above).
Publishes Feast of Tabernacles, field manual for Latter Rain
Assemblies of God
Denounce principles of Latter Rain as heresy. Movement begins decline
William Branham, Oral Roberts, T. L. OSborne, A.A. Ash, Kathryn Kuhlman
These all were predecessors to the Charismatic movement in the sense that they had para-church ministries and ministered healing the impartation of spiritual gifts across denominational lines.
David Du Plessis, John Wimber, Kansas City Prophets
Charismatic Movement begins. Many doctrines of Latter Rain persist and are embraced, a  major apparatus consisted of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International (FBGMI). Guest speakers uncluded many of the notaries of Latter Rain and The Healing Movement that ran tandem during this period of time. The baptism of the Holy Spirit began to breach beyond Pentecostalism and into mainstream, traditional and even Catholic churches. The vision of restoring the baptism of the Holy Spirit to mainline denominations was spearheaded by David Du Plessis during this period of time (1960s). The movement had extended and touched the Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian,Methodist, Mennonite and Catholic churches by 1980.
Ern Baxter,James Watt, James Beall
Publishing of materials based on Hebrews 6;1-2. Watt was  principle in initiating this form of teaching – although principals of Latter Rain, revelation occurs 20 years after to produce materials for deeper life in Christ.
Ern Baxter,Bob Mumford, Derek Prince, Charles Simpson, Preston Eby
Discipleship movement  begins – spawned on concept of authority (five-fold) and government in the church as through leadership.
Kansas City Prophets
Resurgence of the Apostolic Movement through Paul Cain (associate of Ern Baxter and William Branham) and others.
Toronto Blessing – extension of Latter Rain – James Watt , Paul Cain associated and supports movement
John Wimber
Signs and Wonders ministry – associates with Kansas City Prophets to bring them into Vineyard Fold.
After 2000
Mike Bickle (Kansas City Prophet)
International House of Prayer comes to forefront – 24/7 praise and worship initiated.  Sparks world wide movement
Todd Bentley
Florida Outpouring – claims foundational truth of resurrection of the Dead being restored. Identifies ministry with the angel (Emma) of William Branham’s ministry of the 40’s-60’s and that of Bob Jones’  (1980 – Kansas City Prophet)


As the above chronicles, the root of Latter Rain for the most part has influenced many spiritual movements in the Pentecostal world in the last 60 plus years. There have been some exemptions but for the most part, the roots of Latter Rain have found fertile soil in the Pentecostal circles of the church and this is where most spiritual abuse has originated.

[1] Riss, Richard, A Survey of 20th Century Revival Movements in North America, Hendrikson Publishers, P.O. Box 3472 Peabody, MA 01961. Copyright 1988, pp 125-147.
[2] Riss, Richard, Latter Rain Honeycomb Visual Productions Ltd, 1295 Eglinton Ave. E, Mississauga, Ontario, LAW 3e6, Canada Copyright 1987.  pp 71.
[3] Ibid, PP 83-86