Monday, April 5, 2010

Why am I skipping the biggest Christian Conference of the year?

This week Empowered 21 is taking place on the campus of Oral Roberts University only a couple of miles from where I live. The speakers are a who’s who of today’s biggest churches and ministries. Thousands of believers from across the globe are coming to Tulsa to talk about the future of Charismatic Christianity. So, why won’t I be there?

I actually bought a ticket to the conference months ago. I was fully planning to go. But then, the original date for our Ethiopian crusade had to be changed. Because of the political situation in Ethiopia, this was the only week it would work for our crusade to take place.

I had a choice to make. I asked myself, “Should I stay in Tulsa so I can hob-nob with key ministry leaders, or should I travel to the middle of nowhere to preach to poor tribal people?” I decided to go to Africa.

Crusades are for sinners. Conferences are for believers. Far too often Christians are so busy talking to each other that they forget to talk to those who most need to hear. I decided my time was better spent throwing a net into the sea instead of hanging out in on the dock with other fishermen trading yarns. As Reinhard Bonnke says, “The church is not a pleasure ship; it is a life boat and every hand is needed on deck for soul winning.”

I like going to conferences, but my main mission is to go to those who have never heard the Gospel. As an evangelist, my primary calling is to reach the lost. I may miss a big conference, but at least I won’t miss a mighty harvest of souls.

What does it mean to be Charismatic?

This year, the Charismatic Renewal turns 50 years old. So we must ask ourselves, what does it mean to be Charismatic?

For years, I have proudly called myself a Charismatic Christian without being completely sure what the term “Charismatic” means. One day my curiosity was peaked and as I began researching, I was pleasantly surprised by the rich meaning of the word. Traditionally, the distinctives of the Charismatic faith include experiencing the infilling of the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, believing in healing, and preaching the word of faith. What are some other implications of our name?

1. Charismatics are gifted.
The nine gifts of the Spirit found in 1 Corinthians 12:8-9 are often called charismas which is a Greek word which means “gifts.” The term “charismatic” was coined in the early nineteen sixties to refer to the branch of Christianity that believes in the gifts of the Spirit. Of course, as one professor at Oral Roberts University pointed out, “Those who believe in the Spirit-filled life are not a branch of Christianity, we’re the roots.”

2. Charismatics are leaders.
When a political leader has “charisma,” it means he has a leadership quality that is charming and appealing. In the same way, Charismatics are leaders in the body of Christ and have an undefinable glow which attracts the lost like a light draws bugs on a dark night.

3. Charismatics are graced.
The root in the Greek language for the word “charisma” is charis which is most commonly translated as “grace.” It is defined as “undeserved merit and favor.” So Charismatics are those who are smiled upon by God even when we do not deserve it. We literally walk in the grace of God.

4. Charismatics are joyful.
The Greek word for “joy” is chara, which comes from the word charis. Our joy is not based on a human experience that gives brief pleasure, rather our joy is obtained from the Lord and sticks with us in the midst of both the good times and the bad.

5. Charismatics are healers.
1 Corinthians 12:9 specifically mentions the charismas of healing or “gifts” of healing. As Charismatics, we use God’s power to heal people: spirit, mind, and body.

6. Charismatics are givers.
The term “charismatic” refers to a gifted one, but it could equally allude to to one who gives gifts. In 2 Corinthians 8-9, Paul mentions the grace (charis) of giving ten times when urging the church in Corinth to send an offering to the saints in Jerusalem. In other words, the word “Charismatic” could be translated “Givermatic,” defined as people who give automatically and cheerfully. Whenever the offering bucket passes, we are excited about giving.

7. Charismatics are blessed.
A final meaning of the word “charis” is blessing. So, Charismatics are “Blessed-o-matics,” those who are automatically walk in the fullness of God’s blessing.