April 27th – Before chopping the tree, examine the fruit



The Reverend Dr. Mark Stibbe is an Anglican vicar, and as I write this, is ministering in a Sheffield parish and is lecturing in Biblical theology at the University of Sheffield. In short, he is a well-respected, academic and evangelical church leader, with his head well screwed on.
In a book review, and an article on what has become known as “The Toronto Blessing” he went to the Toronto Vineyard Church to see for himself, but he says: “I went to Toronto weary of my ministry and on the point of giving up”. While he was there being helped, on the second day, quietly praying after an address, one of the Ministry Team (a complete stranger) came to him and prayed : “Lord, minister to the sense of abandonment in this man’s heart.” That struck him like a sword. What that stranger did not know was that Mark had been abandoned at birth by his mother, as well as his father, and he spent his first months of life in an orphanage.
This encounter led him, for the first time, to go sobbing it all out, to forgiving, and being healed, and receiving love which had never before percolated to that depth of his being.His advice was,as God put his life together, do not be unsettled by the phenomena which people associate with Toronto and other places of renewal phenomena (laughing,crying, laying flat out on the floor). Look at the fruit it produces.
Perhaps it is not our opinions of the noisy phenomena which are relevant, but our willingness to stop trying to ‘do church’ our way, and let God do it his way.
Before all this took place Mark Stibbe had been led to these words in Zechariah, Chapter 4, v.6, originally spoken to a leader in Judah for the new king’s ears:
So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit’ says the Lord Almighty.” Zechariah 4:6

A Prayer:
Lord, you don’t need my opinions about spiritual revival. You need only my obedience to take my sticky hands off the wheel and let you drive.

P.S. A minister friend, who went to Pensicola, told me he came back shattered by the sense of God’s Holiness: “I felt I had never prayed before” he said.

Now read I Corinthians Ch.14.

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