Oral Roberts: a Wide Swath

Oral Roberts: R.I.P 1918-2009

I graduated from Oral Roberts University so my connection with Oral Roberts is perhaps slightly more direct than most people’s. I have a little more context to understand this fairly enigmatic man, but I believe it’s what I’ve been learning in the last 5-10 years that has given me a greater appreciation for him. His methods have often put him at odds with many people, but I believe his impact for the Kingdom has been undeniable and is worth honoring.

In recent years I’ve become interested an excited to greater and lesser degrees by various movements an teachings. Here is a sampling:

  • 24/7 prayer
  • Making the supernatural a natural part of life
  • God is a good god in a good mood
  • Sowing and reaping
  • Christian education
  • Healing
  • etc.

As I look back at Oral Roberts, I see that, while the language and practice might have a different “look n’ feel”, he pioneered all of these things in a big way LONG before I ever got on the band wagon.

  • ORU has had 24/7 prayer in their Prayer Tower since well before the world-wide “prayer movement”
  • “Expect a Miracle” was a foundation slogan of Oral Roberts’ ministry. It was even printed on the basketball court in the arena at ORU! (and sometimes miracles were needed there…and sometimes they happened!)
  • “Something good is going to happen to you” was the theme song of Oral’s TV show. Expectation in God’s goodness was an integral part of what he was about
  • “Plant a seed to meet your need” was another famous Oral Roberts slogan. Sure the “prosperity gospel” muddied those waters somewhat, but Oral’s main book “The Miracle of Seed-Faith” could easily have been written by some recent teachers that I have heard and respect.
  • Right now we’re amongst “pioneers” in Christian Education in the Francophone world. Having a “Christian University” is in our vision here and is considered as the pinnacle of the vision. Oral Roberts University was preceded by MANY Bible colleges and seminaries and many Evangelical colleges and universities existed before ORU, but ORU was probably the first liberal arts university where the Holy Spirit was honored specifically and encouraged to move freely. Sometimes messy…but hey, God’s creative activity often is!
  • Hello! Healing?! Well, duh! Actually, it’s not been until recently that healing has been “redeemed” in my eyes. But one cannot deny Oral Roberts’ place in paving the way for praying for the sick and watching God move powerfully.

Many have said that the era of the “big name” ministries is coming to an end and I think that I agree with that in general. I do think, however, that there are “Paul Bunyan” types who make a way for others to follow. They don’t “walk softly”, which means their faults are also out there for all to see and if you’re cynical, you’ll have plenty of fodder to work with. They do, however, make an impact. They swing their ax and clear a path and take new territory. Many people benefit from their efforts. We don’t realize the debt we owe to so many pioneers.

Oral Roberts was such a man.

Martin Scott – Changing the World, One Gate at a Time

Martin Scott, a key prophetic voice from the UK has been instrumental in the shaping of my theological growth in the last 6-7 years or so. I’ve had the privilege on a few different very brief occasions to work with him in the UK, but mostly in France. His is a catalytic calling. He’s called to be a catalyst in different geographic contexts. Currently that has included the UK, continental Europe and North and South America principally. He has the gift to challenge and stimulate in such a way that individuals and corporate expressions of the Body of Christ begin to walk out more fully what their identity is (i.e. he’s not interested in people serving his vision), but in connection with what God is doing on a more global basis. Additionally, he’s one of the few people (in my opinion) from the UK/Europe in the Body of Christ who speak with clarity/objectivity with respect to the United States. I find this very refreshing and appreciate him all the more because of it.

Lately, he’s been investing in the development of his web site, especially his blog. It is becoming a very effective tool for expression and exchange and I highly recommend it to you (especially the blog): https://www.3generations.eu/

In the podcast part of his blog, he has a message that he gave a few months ago in Orangevale, California (he’s had quite an investment and impact in California). It’s main themes are that:

  • The faith that we steward individually and corporately has as its main goal, the transformation of this present world and
  • That what God is “up to” right now is strategically positioning the Body of Christ into the “gates” of our societies in order to be agents of the manifestation of God’s Kingdom in the world

Martin typically throws out a thought-provoking statement and then moves on quickly to another one! So don’t be surprised if you keep coming back and listening to this again to reflect on something you didn’t get the first time. In fact I encourage you to do that. I think I’m on my 3rd or 4th listening to this message right now!


Risky Business…

…gotta blog about it…

…gotta say something!

I’ve had the impression in the last couple of months that God is dropping various “threads” in front of me and saying, “Make something with this.” I think my first several strands had me thinking of “braiding”. Then perhaps, “knitting”. Now, I wonder whether God might be saying, “Stop thinking about a tiny macrame plant holders and begin to think BIG!

Last weekend we had Martin Scott at our church for a weekend of intercession training and, in addition to it being a fabulous weekend in all respects, he said one thing and gave me one thing that are both stirring up “bigger thinking” for what to do with my “threads”.

  • First of all he reminded us that God says that He will give us above and beyond what we can ask or imagine. (Eph 3:20) He showed us that though God goes beyond our imagination, the size of our imagination plays a part. Imagine small...you’ll get more than small. Imagine BIG, you’ll get more than BIG! I have to say that this is not my habitual way to function. I tend to think a bit more like Gideon when he responded to the angel and said that he was a “nobody” just trying to keep from getting squashed by the enemy (Judges 6:11-23)…but of course, God had a different perspective! I believe I just might be starting to think bigger!
  • Then, I was looking at the books that Martin brought to sell. (We don’t often have a selection of books in English to peruse through around here!) I had already 4 of the 10 or so titles that he was selling. I picked up one, titled Church that WORKS that caught my eye because of the title and especially because of one of the co-authors, James Thwaites, whose books like The Church Beyond The Congregation and Renegotiating The Church Contract have been books that I’ve wanted to read for some time now (can you say, ” wish list“?). I expressed my interest in the book and he just gave it to me! What a blessing! Thanks Martin!

So now, I’m thinking like industrial textile mill! (Strangely enough, the textile industry used to be quite big in this valley!)

I’m only on the first chapter of this book, but already I’m very stirred in my spirit about how God would want to use me, in relationship with others in His Body in this area, as a concrete channel of His blessing to manifest His Kingdom here in our town, valley, region, nation and continent. When I say “concrete”, I’m thinking literally of “concrete”…buildings…buying them…working in them…housing people in them…etc. My prayer this morning as I prayer-walked our town was to be this channel…somehow! In fact the prayer walking itself is a good example of how this vision is starting to grow in me.

Thanks to Google Earth!Since we’ve been here in this town, I’ve been prayer-walking its streets with some degree of consistency. I change my route a lot, but here’s the perimeter of my town and I think it will become my route for a while.There is something about walking and praying at the same time that connects in my spirit in a big way…and, of course, I love the images that the Lord presents using Joshua and Caleb about where their foot treads, He will give them that land. For me it’s a big deal already that the Lord would give me Soultz as an inheritance. As with most of Europe, the signs of eternal life in Soultz are calcified, decayed or buried. Seeing a Soultz for Jesus would be a fabulous thing. But God didn’t say, “ask of Me and I will give you the small towns.” No, He used the word nations (with an “S“). (Psalm 2:8)

Well, for me, walking more than Soultz’s perimeter is “more than I can ask or imagine” because of my joints. After about 45 minutes of walking, my hips begin to whine and my knees and ankles don’t really stimulate me to go “above and beyond” either! But, there are three nations within spittin’ distance in this neck of the woods and God is helping me to see bigger!

Thanks to viaMichelin.com!So now there is a project on the table to prayer-walk the borders of Alsace within the next 14 months. It’s not “my project”, but I have a strong desire to be involved and I think the Lord may be asking that of me as well. This is a first-step physical connection to the spiritual reality that God is extending to us (our family) a measure of authority to establish His Kingdom here in Alsace…but as with Joshua and Caleb, this is not handed to us on a silver platter.

The French government has already told us “no” when we requested a more firmly established residency status. To me, God has said “Yes…now go and take this land.” So I want to be like Caleb, who when he was 85 took hill country (the Vosges mountains in Alsace?) from the enemy!

So, I’m “training” on my “Soultz Prayer Loop” but I want to see bigger! things!

In these Bible examples, we see faith, and I’ve heard that the late John Wimber used to say, “Faith is spelled r-i-s-k.” Again, like Gideon, I’ve never been high on the “risk-taking scale”. I can point to more than one personality-typing test that will prove to you that it’s just not me! But if it’s true that “without faith it’s impossible to please God“, well then…?

It’s clear in the Parable of the Talents that God rewards Kingdom-building risk-taking. In the “return-on-investment” category, I’d put us somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd servants. We’ve done more than bury our talents but I think that God is calling us higher. He’s not scolding, but he’s saying, “I’ve given you more than you’ve put to work for My Kingdom. Part of what I’ve given you has effectively been buried, and I’d like you to risk investing that as well.

So, now I’d like to give God all our “loaves and fishes” and see what He will do with them. This probably involves our house and my computer skills. God has been graciously leading us down this path whereby we really do need to invest everything for the sake of His Kingdom in this land, or we risk to lose that which we have managed to hold on to this long.

The Kingdom is risky business…