Giving In Life Rather Than Death

Many years ago during an offering time in a church camp-meeting, I sensed the Holy Spirit whisper to me, “That which is given in life is more precious than that which is given in death.” Although charitable giving from your estate by means of your last will and testament is a very good thing (I believe every Christian should at the very least tithe from their estate in death as in life!), giving while you are still alive allows you to see the impact of your giving with your own eyes. It also positions you to personally ensure your gifts have the impact you intend them to.

While I may have different priorities that govern my own giving, I find Chuck Feeney’s example both inspiring and instructive. I remember many years ago as an offering was being received in a church camp-meeting, I sensed the Holy Spirit whisper to me: “That which is given in life is more precious than that which is given in death.” Although charitable giving from your estate by means of your last will and testament is a good thing (I believe every Christian should at the very least tithe in death from their estate as they did in life!), giving while you are still alive positions you to personally ensure your gifts have the impact you desire. It also affords you the privilege of seeing their fruit with your own eyes.

Sadly, the American economic landscape is littered with examples of people who left fortunes to perpetual endowments in order to fund things dear to their hearts, including the preaching of the Gospel, that are today being redirected to causes antithetical to the original donor’s intent. As a case in point, I vividly remember leafing through a thick paperback book listing all of the scholarship funds available at one of America’s most elite universities. I was grieved as I saw page after page of entries detailing endowments that had been set up over a century prior in order to fund ongoing Christian missionary activity in specific parts of the world. In spite of the fact that the school in question was founded by Christian revivalists, today that same institution is renowned as one of the most socially liberal in the nation, one which whose leadership would likely be vehemently opposed to training and sending out Bible-believing missionaries. I am not privy to the details of how those funds are currently being dispersed, but I am quite confident it is for things that would grieve the hearts of the original donors.

Given the rather appalling track record of many Christian institutions at staying true over the centuries to their founding purposes, and the total absence of any biblical basis for perpetual giving arrangements, I urge you who are followers of Jesus Christ to only make outright gifts, whether in life or in death, or otherwise to arrange for the funds from your donation to be distributed over a finite and relatively short number of years instead of in perpetuity, i.e., by funding term endowments instead of perpetual endowments. I know full well the mathematical arguments regarding the power of compound interest set forth by financial advisors as to why we should make “gifts that keep on giving,” in other words to set up entities that only distribute gains and never principal, so that over the long-term we end up giving a larger amount. However, that perspective on philanthropy, I stress again, is utterly without any biblical foundation.

If ensuring the long-term survival of a ministry you hold dear is what motivates you to consider a “perpetual giving” approach to your stewardship, then please prayerfully consider the following: If after your passing, the institution you love today continues to further God’s purposes, carry His blessing, and attract the favor of His people, then the Lord will continue to provide for it and the hearts of His people will be continue to be moved to support it. On the other hand, if at some future point that entity changes to the extent that God withdraws His hand of blessing from it and withholds His provision to it, would you really want your money to be go on funding something God is displeased with? In such a case, it would actually be better for that institution to be forced to close its doors than to continue operating because of your historical largesse.

Be all of that as it may, in the final analysis, robbing future generations of future leaders of the necessity to seek God’s face for direction while also trusting Him for provision as they act in obedience to His revealed will, would more likely prove to be a curse than a blessing. Provision or the lack thereof is one of the clearest and kindest ways God has to train us, pace us, and direct us as we serve Him. That is true today and it will always be true tomorrow. As the biographical profile in this article vividly illustrates, when it comes to money, sometimes the “children of this world” are wiser than “the children of light.” (Luke 16:8) May God help us learn from their example!

We Prayed for Healing. God Brought a Pandemic. | Christianity Today

I urge you to take the time to read this interview about the impact of COVID-19 upon the church led by my friend, Pastor Samuel Peterschmitt and Pastor Claude Greder, that has been so unusually used of God over the years in divine healing. In my view, it resonates with some very important truths that every Christian (especially spiritual leaders!) needs to embrace.

 

A coronavirus outbreak at France’s biggest Pentecostal megachurch changed their view of providence, judgment, and fellowship.

Source: We Prayed for Healing. God Brought a Pandemic. | Christianity Today

Define Church – How Jesus Still Heals Today – Mark Brand 06282020

In this livestream recording from Antioch Church in the heart of Downtown Dallas, Texas, Pastor Mark Brand talks about how Jesus still heals through His church in the modern era. This is part of a series of messages dealing with the Book of Acts. Find out more at: www.MarkBrand.org / www.TeamAntioch.com. Antioch Church – Helping People Everywhere Know Jesus and Love Others…!

NOTE: This message was recorded via a Zoom during a period of COVID-19 quarantine, so the audio quality is degraded.

My latest podcast episode

Define Church – Why Jesus Still Heals Today – Mark Brand 06212020

In this livestream recording from Antioch Church in the heart of Downtown Dallas, Texas, Pastor Mark Brand talks about why Jesus still heals through His church in the modern era. This is part of a series of messages dealing with the Book of Acts. Find out more at: www.MarkBrand.org / www.TeamAntioch.com. Antioch Church – Helping People Everywhere Know Jesus and Love Others…!

My latest podcast episode

Define Church – What is the Church? – Mark Brand 06142020

In this livestream recording from Antioch Church in the heart of Downtown Dallas, Texas, Pastor Mark Brand talks about the significance of what the Church is, in a series of messages dealing with the Book of Acts. Find out more at: www.MarkBrand.org / www.TeamAntioch.com. Antioch Church – Helping People Everywhere Know Jesus and Love Others…!

My latest podcast episode

Define Church – The Day of Pentecost II – Mark Brand 06072020

In this livestream recording from Antioch Church in the heart of Downtown Dallas, Texas, Pastor Mark Brand talks about the significance of the Day of Pentecost in a series of messages dealing with the Book of Acts. Find out more at: www.MarkBrand.org / www.TeamAntioch.com. Antioch Church – Helping People Everywhere Know Jesus and Love Others…!

My latest podcast episode

Early Pentecostal Hermeneutics and Female Empowerment

Early North American Pentecostals allowed women to engage in a wide spectrum of spiritual leadership activities, including the public preaching and teaching of Scripture when men were present in the audience. My research for my M.A. Dissertation at the University of Birmingham (U.K.), which included a thorough review of all of their extant newspapers (1906-1908), led me to conclude that the right of women to minister in these ways was so widely considered to be a desirable and godly form of praxis that the authors and editors of these journals did not feel any particular need to defend or explain their position.

This was the result of several factors:

First, experiential evidence of the Holy Spirit’s sovereign gifting carried tremendous weight as Pentecostals evaluated all manner of manifestations and issues, including questions pertaining to biblically appropriate female empowerment.

Second, understanding the mechanics of embodied Spirit fulness and gifting as something more akin to actual Spirit possession than to mere Spirit influence confirmed and strengthened Early North American Pentecostal belief that God had clearly chosen to empower women for ministry functions.

Third, the initial perception of gender-inclusive xenolalia as a God-given means for missionaries to overcome linguistic barriers to the communication of the Gospel was taken as added proof that women could be called to preach.

Fourth, the widespread conviction that the Pentecostal movement was the fulfillment of Joel’s end-time prophecy pre- disposed early North American Pentecostals towards gender-inclusive ministry and provided them with an identity framework that linked all of the above factors together in a synergistic relationship.

These realities were undergirded by a pneumatologically-centered hermeneutical method that accorded great value to legitimate spiritual experience, both externally in the acts of God in human history and internally through supernatural illumination of the human mind and spirit during the consideration of the biblical text. The pattern within the early North American Pentecostal newspapers and the interpretive models advanced by both Archer and Thomas parallel the approach taken by the Early Church in its evangelistic efforts and are supremely biblical.

Simply put, the faith of the first Christian disciples and the Gospel they preached were grounded in historical events rather than in concepts or ideas. At its heart were the narratives of human experience connected to the birth, life, ministry, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. These experiential testimonies carried such weight in early Christian thinking that it caused them to reevaluate and, in some instances, totally change the way they viewed the Hebrew Scriptures. They wrote the New Testament in order to document, understand, defend, and ultimately communicate these experiential truths. Since their faith flowed out of and rested upon a foundation of experience, it is not surprising that experience also weighed heavily in their hermeneutical thought processes, including during the Council at Jerusalem. Similarly, when the earliest North American Pentecostals became convinced that the risen Christ was deliberately and actively pouring out the Holy Spirit upon them, distributing gifts as a function of His divine prerogative, this profoundly informed the way they viewed and interpreted the Scriptures relative to the question of women in ministry and leadership.

If you would like to find out more about my research in this area, you can obtain a free copy of my entire dissertation by clicking here. It is entitled, “Theological and Hermeneutical Considerations Regarding Female Empowerment Within Early North American Pentecostalism (1906-1908).”

God’s Plan for Women in the Last Days

I have been asked by a Christian university abroad to record five hours of teaching explaining what the Bible says about women preachers and leaders. In the attached series of YouTube videos entitled, “God’s Plan for Women in the Last Days,” I set forth my understanding the biblical basis for this by means of an overview of what the Scriptures say about this subject. Please note that these videos were recorded “live-to-tape.” Although they are unpolished and contain thoughts that I want to develop further, they represent the essence of my thinking this issue.

I received the invitation to undertake this project against the backdrop of my having written my Master’s degree dissertation in a related area. You can click here to read a copy of that online. I feel a sense of calling from the Lord to write a book on this subject that presents a balanced biblical foundation but that also gives practical counsels as a “father in the Lord” to young women who sense God calling them to preaching, teaching, and/or leadership ministry and who do not know how to respond. While other people are very capably tackling these issues within the academic realm, I want to write a popular, but theologically and exegetically sound book that includes sources and documentation, along with suggestions for further reading. Once I am finished, I want to get this translated into as many languages as I can and disseminate it without concern for profitability to as many nations as possible, including inside Iran. That nation now has the fastest growing church in the world and features a very large proportion of women pastors and church planters.

I just finished uploading the first four videos in the series. I also plan to do a fifth video that deals specifically with 1 Timothy 2, 1 Corinthians 14, and Ephesians 5 in the biblical text. I have uploaded these videos without any post-production and/or edits, so if you watch them, you may notice a few times where I mispronounce a biblical name or mistake a Scripture reference, etc., but since this is the kind of thing that can happen in a live classroom presentation, I offer them to you “as is.” I also intend to share these recordings in audio-only format via my podcast. I would love to hear your feedback and suggestions, but please understand that I am unable to invest any time in extended debates about these issues if you happen to hold a position in contrast to my own.

John Wesley’s Ecumenism

“By these marks, by these fruits of a living faith, do we labour to distinguish ourselves from the unbelieving world from all those whose minds or lives are not according to the Gospel of Christ. But from real Christians, of whatsoever denomination they be, we earnestly desire not to be distinguished at all, not from any who sincerely follow after what they know they have not yet attained. No: ‘Whosoever doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.’ And I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that we be in no wise divided among ourselves. Is thy heart right, as my heart is with thine? I ask no farther question. If it be, give me thy hand.”

+ John Wesley (1703–1791), the founder of Methodism, played a leading role in the development of the Holiness and Pentecostal movements. He wrote prolifically on diverse subjects such as salvation, the power of music, and anti-slavery, and his tracts were widely distributed. In “The Character of a Methodist” he refers to the “marks” of a Methodist as loving God and loving neighbor, praying without ceasing, rejoicing always, giving thanks in everything, and desiring only to please God. At his death Wesley was considered by some the “most loved man in England.”

Source: Ways Forward for Western Evangelicals – Fuller Studio

God’s Way With People

“God sees according to his wisdom, so he can make an impression on each soul in the best, that is, most effective, way. The methods, occasions, and hours are different for all so that one cannot determine it. The Lord takes hold of one in preaching, another in his house, overcomes a third in the street, another again out in the field, and seizes a fifth in the very act of sinning. Therefore, it is not in accordance with the gospel to lay down fixed rules, or to set forth methods and forms in which souls must first be situated, or to expect a coincident method in the seeking and gathering of souls. One must entrust to the Savior’s free grace and judgment how he can and will reach souls.”

+  from Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf und Pottendorf (1700–1760) in Christian Life and Witness: Count Zinzendorf’s 1738 Berlin Speeches. Zinzendorf was a reformer of the Moravian church, an acclaimed hymnwriter, and ultimately was named an Anglican saint.

Source: What Does Fuller Mean by “Evangelical”? – Fuller Studio