Gothard Message

I write this just a few weeks after Bill Gothard stood down from leadership of the IBLP ministry which he created and has led for decades. Accusations of impropriety have been levelled against him and will be sorted out in due course.

While many people have placed their sights on the ‘man’ I would like to take a moment to reflect on the Message and Ministry which this man of God brought about.

I first heard of Bill Gothard in the early 1990’s when he and a team of young people first came to Australia to present his world famous Basic Seminar. My oldest son, Stephen, in his late teens, attended and returned home wonderfully impacted and transformed by the message and ministry of the IBLP.

Stephen had new perspective on himself, selfishness, godly living, the powerful relevance of God’s word in his life, life purpose, the importance of lifting his game spiritually and much more.

What impacted Stephen was a combination of the teaching received in the Basic Seminar and the encouragement of several young men, not much older than himself, who had applied the things Mr Gothard taught and had wonderful fruit in their lives as a consequence.

My wife and I were so impressed by the impact of the IBLP message and ministry on our son that we quickly made plans to hear the seminars ourselves and to look into the ATI home schooling program. We were already teaching our children at home and wanted to understand this alternative approach.

To attend the seminars our family (minus my two youngest sons) flew to New Zealand and were blessed by what we learned and saw. The young people and families who sought to apply the Biblical principles taught in the seminars were clearly blessed and enriched by doing so.

My family not only began the ATI home-schooling but my three oldest sons enjoyed time at IBLP Headquarters in Chicago and I headed to the USA to attend a seminar for dads, where I was privileged to make some small input as well. I was also privileged to travel with Bill Gothard between Indianapolis and Chicago. One of my sons later attended the Alert training program and we assisted the ministry to get set up in Melbourne, Australia.

As I reflect on that wonderful and life-changing season in our lives I have to thank God for the message and ministry of Bill Gothard. His desire to seek God and to minister effectively led to the creation of a ministry much bigger than himself. Few Christian leaders have had as much impact internationally as Bill Gothard has enjoyed for decades.

Does that make Mr Gothard infallible? Of course not. He is as human as the rest of us. He, like each of us, also has his own personality, style, gifting and focus.

I don’t hold equally to all things taught by the IBLP. But then I don’t hold equally to all things I hear from the pulpit in my home church, or from popular Christian speakers, or from Focus on the Family, Hillsong, the various prophetic voices or Spurgeon.

Whether Bill Gothard has things to answer or his accusers have wronged him there is no mistaking the call of God on his life and the grace of God at work through him to multitudes. My family is testimony to the impact of the Gothard Message and there are tens of thousands who have much the same fruit.

Sadly that fact may be lost in the rumblings that inevitably occur in situations like this.

I have seen several sad evidences of Christians rejoicing that Mr Gothard has ‘fallen’. I can only assume they do not like the message and ministry and cannot see that when a Christian leader is shamed we all suffer. I wonder if those people would be keen to have their past actions exposed for public scrutiny and ridicule.

A Christian leader commented to me in light of Bill Gothard’s current challenges, “There isn’t a preacher alive today who doesn’t have past actions and choices they wouldn’t want made public.”

We also see the inevitable opinion posturing too. People quickly forget our important principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ and readily spout their opinion without having first hand knowledge of any of the facts. Christ warns us about this kind of judging of one another – “judge not that you be not judged”. That’s a road I don’t want to go down.

At the same time we see something fresh in the IBLP world. I once observed to Bill Gothard that he does not have a succession plan in place. He was probably little more than 60 at the time. The following day Bill asked, “What if God doesn’t want a successor in place?”

Corporate programming led me to make and impose assumptions on God’s work without thought for God’s plan and purpose. I had to recognise that the IBLP ministry does not belong to me and I have no right to any opinion about how it should be run. That ministry was brought about by God through Bill Gothard and those around him. Any opinion I held was presumptuous and out of place. I left the matter with God and Bill.

With Bill Gothard stepping down we now see the beginnings of a succession process. Others whom God has prepared are able to step into the current gap and exercise their gifts and calling.

Whatever the end result of all of this, I continue to rejoice in Bill Gothard’s message and ministry and the thousands of young people and families established with godly wisdom and insight that I did not have at that same time in my life.

I praise God for the tens of thousands of godly, talented and wise men and women raised up and still being raised up to impact our world with the gospel and the truth of God’s Word.

I pray that God give grace to Bill Gothard and the IBLP ministry. As is always the case when human life is compared with Christ, “He must increase but we must decrease”. But it is also true that “God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him”.

I encourage all those who have also been blessed by Bill Gothard’s message and ministry to hold fast that which is good and continue to live for the one who is eternal and for His eternal purposes on the earth.

Frank Talk by Dr Frank Hultgren

frank hultgren.jpgI was recently asked about my early days.
A younger pastor was looking for the secret to my long life of ministry and the peculiar anointings I have enjoyed.
That prompted me to reflect on sixty years of ministry, as a Pentecostal pastor, a Charismatic leader, a sought after speaker, an internationally recognised prophetic voice and more recently a chaplain and teacher at Oral Roberts University.

Yes, it is true that God has used me in wonderful ways.  And on top of all that there are dealings of God and spiritual challenges I have had to face that were outside the public view.  And in it all God has been faithful and God has given me amazing opportunities beyond my expectation.

So, what is the secret to all of that?  How did an insecure, lanky Aussie lad end up on the global stage?  How did I, with all my limitations, get to speak powerfully into the lives of some of the world’s best known names in Christian ministry?  How is it that doors of ministry and the doors of hard to get into homes and places opened up to me?

Let me tell you, it wasn’t through education.  I’m no dummy, but I never sought academic merit.  My approach was much simpler than that.

And it wasn’t through mentoring.  If there is one pain I carry after all these years and all the wonderful things I have been privileged to do it is that I never had anyone to train me and guide me through those difficult pioneering years.  If I have a word for today’s upcoming leaders, take advantage of the abundant input that is readily available to you.  Listen to the voices of those willing to speak into your life.  You have no idea how precious that is and how much I longed for it through decades of my life.

It wasn’t through perfect theology.  As I think back on those early sermons I preached to those small AOG congregations that us early Pentecostal preachers cared for in the first half of last century I know there are things I’d never preach again.  In fact, Jesus personally visited me on at least one occasion, just to make sure I didn’t preach what I had been preaching.

And it wasn’t through my denomination.  In those early days there was only one Pentecostal denomination, Assemblies of God.  It was the light to my nation for all who would open to the Holy Spirit.  Yet the day came when God instructed June and me to pull out of the AOG.  We cried for days.  We had so little to rely on, and Jesus took even that away from us.

So, what was it that made all the difference?  How did God get through to a young buck who had so little to get him through?

What I had, and I had it in good measure, was Desperation!

God gripped my heart with a sense of the sheer futility of what I was trying to do, preaching a message people didn’t care for, in a land that was so needy, with so little to give and so little power to change anything.  I became desperate.

I became desperate for the church.  I love the church and I hurt for those believers who so needed the power of God and so needed the touch of God, but who seemed to come up empty so often.

I longed to see the power of God.  I longed to see the church grow.  I longed to see a smile on the face of Jesus as His bride was made ready for Him.

But all I had in those early days were the simple messages we had been taught, and a handful of people, standing up for a truth the mainstream churches rejected, and having to go alone in just about everything we did.

Then Jesus heard my cry.

I can’t say that everything changed overnight.  It didn’t.  Many changes took years to take shape.  And many of the changes came at a price.

I mentioned having to give up the AOG.  How bitter the pain of that breach!  I knew it was God’s leading, but I could not understand it.  I had to die to my own understanding and be humble and simple enough to do what He wanted, when it tore me apart.

Yet in just a few short years I ended up pastoring a Congregational church, and was in the perfect position to make a major deposit into the emerging Charismatic revival of the 1960’s.  How wise God is!  The Charismatics rejected the Pentecostals but they looked to me for input, because of my Congregational label.

Unexpectedly I found myself invited to places I had never dreamed of, including monasteries, speaking powerfully into the lives of Catholic priests, nuns, mothers superior and hungry souls from all manner of churches.  What a privilege!  What a wonder!

But the desperation did not lift even with all of that.  Instead it has remained with me.

A life verse for me is found in Jeremiah 29:12: “Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.”

That verse was my call to prayer.  I am recognised by some as a man of prayer, but I don’t try to be.  I simply respond to the desperation to know God and to see His hand at work.  He has called me to call on Him.  He has promised me that when I call out to Him He hears.  Hallelujah!

And He has listened!  He heard the longing of a long-legged preacher from the backside of Australia and He opened the world to me.

And let me assure you that the dealings of God are far from over in my life.  Just in this past week God gave me powerful revelation about significant spiritual things in my life.  That’s what He often does before opening up amazing new doors for me.

Before I was invited to be on staff at ORU God did a deep work in my heart.  When Richard Roberts called me personally and urged me to be part of what God is doing there I was already prepared by the dealings of God.

God hasn’t finished with me yet and I’m keen to keep flowing with His will, because the church isn’t ready yet.  There are needs to be met.  There are churches to plant and lives to see transformed.

I am privileged to be part of God’s work in this past century.  And I am pleased to be able to say that I am totally unqualified for all that God did in and through me.  It is HIM!  And I say that with delight, knowing there is a whole army of men and women waiting to serve the Lord who need to know that if God can use me so wonderfully as He has, then God can use them too.

Let me be Frank with you (excuse the pun), but I don’t have a lot of time for today’s church programs.  I miss the Bible songs and I don’t like lightweight messages.  I urge you not to be a product of your generation, but to be desperate for more.  Be desperate for more of God, more revelation, more miracles, more power, more of God’s Kingdom on earth.

I can’t tell you that it will lead to an easy road.  It certainly didn’t for June and me.  But I wouldn’t exchange the past sixty years for anything.  And I am in anticipation about what God is yet to do through me before my use-by date comes up.

Be Desperate for God.  He’s watching your heart right now to see if you’ll be desperate for Him.

Dr Frank has permitted me to post this article for him.
For those who do not yet know this wonderful man of God he is based in Perth, Western Australia, where he has spent most of his ministry life.
Frank not only pastored AOG churches and became a significant Charismatic leader in the past century, but in recent years he was based at ORU in the USA, where he was a profound and prophetic voice into the lives of significant Christian ministries. Much of what he was privileged to input is not for public knowledge, but suffice it to say that Dr Frank has had significant impact in those lives.
I hope to present further contributions by Dr Frank if and when they become available.
Dr Frank authored several books which you may care to check out, including Breaking Eve’s Curse and Prophetic Insights into Spiritual Warfare.

Dr Clifford Wilson Passes Into Glory

Dr Clifford Wilson, Australian Archaeologist, Author, Academic and committed Christian worker died on the evening of Wednesday April 4, 2012 just a few weeks short of his 90th birthday.


Clifford Wilson was well known and much loved internationally, having contributed widely in Christian apologetics, academia, psycholinguistics, archaeology, Christian broadcasting, publishing and public speaking.

At the same time Clifford was cherished as a father, grandfather and great-granddad, with the ability to engage in encouraging conversation with people of all ages and walks of life.
He was truly a remarkable man with tireless energy and unbounded vision.  He contributed above and beyond the call of duty, boldly stepping into issues where others shrank away.
And his many wonderful achievements would not have been possible without the capable and devoted support of his first wife, Avis, and his second wife, Barbara, who both preceded him in death.

Clifford’s achievements were listed at the Thanksgiving Service as:
*    Naval Seaman during World War II
*    Missionary to India (see comment added below with detail of his work there)
*    First Regional Director of Emmaus Bible College (see comment below for a review of the early history of Emmaus and Clifford’s involvement)
*    Hansard Reporter for the Fijian Government
*    Pastoral service in Australia and USA
*    Passionate supporter of Essendon Football Club (Aussie Rules Football)
*    Lecturer at Emmaus Bible College, Melbourne Bible Institute (MBI), New Zealand Bible School, Collumbia Bible College, Pacific College of Graduate Studies, Toorak Teachers College and Monash University (among others)
*    Named in America as an outstanding Educator of the Year
*    Academic degrees in History, Education, Theology, Divinity and Psycholinguistics  (B.A., M.A., B.D., M.R.Ed., Ph.D.)
*    Founder of the Word of Truth Ministries and Pacific Ministries
*    Radio Broadcaster in Australia, USA and internationally
*    Founding President of Pacific College of Graduate Studies and Pacific International University
*    Director of the Australian Institute of Archaeology
*    Author of approximately 100 books
*    Editor and Assistant Editor of New Life Christian Newspaper (Australia)
*    Husband to Avis for 54 years
*    Father to Bruce, Elaine, David and Lynnette and Father-in-law to Shirley, Alan, Debbie and Greg
*    Grandfather to Darren, Debbie, Phil, Michelle, Ray, Bruce, Benj, Dee Dee, Marney, Jabin, Ryan, Brianna and Geordie
*    Great grandfather to 23 children
*    Husband to Barbara for 12 years
*    Friend to ‘millions’

Dr Wilson, May 10 1923 – April 4 2012, was interred at a private burial on the morning of April 10, and a Thanksgiving Service followed at Canterbury Gardens Christian church that afternoon.

An article on the life of Barbara Wilson, who passed away in 2010, can be found at: http://chrisfieldblog.com/2010/06/03/barbara-wilson

Additional information about Clifford’s life can be found in the comments following this article.

June Sutton Died Sept 8 2009

June Margaret Sutton, Veteran Missionary to Hong Kong and Pioneer of Wholeness Through Christ International, died in Melbourne on Tuesday September 8, 2009, at 11pm. She was in intensive care following chemotherapy treatment for bone-marrow cancer.

June Sutton

June is remembered as a tireless and dedicated woman of God with a forthright manner and unbounded commitment to build God’s Kingdom. In her young adult years June lived in Hong Kong and ministered among the Swatow speaking communities.

The Funeral Services for June Sutton were as follows:

10.30am – burial at Lilydale Memorial Park, on Tuesday 15th September.

A Thanksgiving Service followed at 1pm at New Hope Baptist Church, Blackburn North.

Brief Biographical Notes

Born November 14,1936, first child to Len and Iris Sutton. Siblings: Barrie, Julie and Colin.

14.11.1936 ~ 08.09.2009

June received theological training at Melbourne Bible Institute which later became Bible College of Victoria. In 1965 she began missionary service as an Australian Baptist Missionary with American Baptists in Hong Kong, where she trained hundreds of Chinese Christians in children and youth ministries, evangelism and discipleship.

After leaving Hong Kong in 1984 June founded Wholeness Through Christ Ministries Australia, through which hundreds have been equipped to minister Jesus’ healing to emotionally hurt and sick people.

At the same time she pioneered a ministry in China, visiting house churches and taking Hong Kong Christians with her to train house church leaders.  Hong Kong Christians still continue this ministry, visiting China twice a year.

June was always an excellent student, being dux of her subjects in her final year at school. She pursued further studies over the years and was awarded an MA in the USA.

In 1995 June was led by God to visit Eastern Europe and here He showed her the need to equip Christians, now freed from behind the Iron Curtain.  She established World to Christ International (WTCI), with a qualified Christian Board, to develop a ministry of training Christians in former communist countries in discipleship, evangelism, children ministry, Jesus Healing of the Whole Person and leadership development for the Church.   In 2005 the Lord directed a change in focus nations towards Asia, and WTCI sent teams to Nagaland (NE India), India, Cambodia and Hong Kong, with many opportunities opening up in Asian countries.  June served as International Field Director for WTCI and oversaw the ministry in each nation.

June created Jesus Healing of the Whole Person as a ministry to lead people into release from spiritual oppression and inner pain. She was privileged to train workers in the former Communist country of Slovakia and ultimately hand that work over to the locals.

For much of the past decade June attended Full Gospel Assembly Melbourne (directed there through prophetic encouragement), where she was actively engaged with the Chinese congregation led by Ps Shirley Ma.

June Sutton (1)

June also ran monthly training sessions for Jesus Healing of the Whole Person, and maintained overseas ministry trips. As recently as January 2009 June spent time in Hong Kong, as God was opening that mission field to her once more. She also met with and encouraged Christians in China as well.

In 2005, June was led by the Lord to write her autobiography ‘To God be the Glory: Forty Years in Missions Ministry’. Her book was launched in Hong Kong to the great delight of those she had blessed there.

June never married and was single-hearted in her desire to serve the Lord. She encouraged, trained, ministered to people, exhorted and prayed, drawing others into her various strategies for building God’s Kingdom.

In May 2009, June was diagnosed with blood and bone marrow cancer.  During the short period of illness, June was never in despair; she was full of hope and believing for a miracle.  Her prayers were filled with thanksgiving for the love and peace of the Lord.  Those around her were lifted up by her great faith and devotion to our Lord.

She was visited by several of the Slovakian pastors whom she had taught and encouraged over the past decade, since they were visiting Melbourne. June took a short holiday to Queensland before undergoing chemo therapy for her cancer. It seems that the first dose of chemo so impacted her physically that her kidneys, lungs and heart were compromised and she was quickly in intensive care. She never recovered.

June died peacefully surrounded by loving family members and close friends on September 8, 2009.  June was 72 years old.

June is sadly missed by people who she blessed around the world. Ps Shirley Ma expressed on Tuesday morning, the day of June’s death, that the Chinese congregation were grieving, wishing to have opportunity to show their love to June who had been a wonderful spiritual mother to the work. Sadly that chance did not come.

June at grave of Robert Morrison (1)

I knew June from many years ago. I can’t even remember how we met. About eight years ago, very shortly after I began attending Full Gospel Assembly Melbourne, June turned up. She was sitting right in front of me and was delighted to see me there. She told me how the Lord had impressed her that she was to attend a Chinese congregation not very far north of her home. She did not know such a church existed and was surprised and delighted to find out about FGAM. She attended there faithfully, joining the Mission Committee, introducing the church to her Slovakian contacts (which led to several ministry trips there by leaders from FGAM, including my ministry there a year ago – Sept 2008), blessing many of the members through the Jesus Healer of the Whole Person training program, and finding great blessing through her connection with the Chinese congregation of the church.

June was a very forthright and determined lady. She took everything seriously and displayed great persistence and wisdom. She got things done and gave of herself as far as she was able.

Karen and Ed Seymour assisted her wonderfully at WTCI and took on much more responsibility in the inner healing training program this year. June’s brother Barrie was Chairman of the Board for WTCI for a time, before retiring.

The World To Christ International (WTCI) ministry will continue to build upon the work that June has established in obedience to God’s leading, in Australia, Slovakia and Hong Kong.  WTCI is the provider of Jesus’ Healing of the Whole Person (JHWP) training course. Many of those personally trained by Sis June are well equipped to bless others and so they will continue to minister faithfully, as June has prepared them to do.
WTCI Contact: Karen Seymour, JHWP Training Director  www.wtciaus@gmail.com

We praise God for June’s ministry and example. Our prayer is that this “seed” that has fallen into the ground will cause a whole new generation of selfless servants of the Lord to be raised up in the spirit and commitment of June Sutton. We also pray that the monthly prayer initiative which June set in place for outreach into China will bring forth new churches and increased fruitfulness in that land.

A further note – from Sophia Hunter….

I am privileged to have shared many precious moments with Sister June.

June’s passion was Missions to the Nations, and to the last days, her thoughts and plans were for the lost and hurting – in need of Jesus and healing.

Sister June, your total dependence on God and obedience to His plans, is an inspiration and role model for me and co-workers in the Kingdom of God. You are greatly missed.

– Sophia

june sutton and sophia hunter

Ignatius – Bishop of Antioch

Antioch in Syria is the first place where believers were called “Christians” and it was the home church for Paul and Barnabas, from which Paul launched his missionary journeys. Other early church writers identify Peter as the first bishop of Antioch, even though the New Testament bases him in Jerusalem.

Following Peter, the next bishop was Euodius, of whom we know next to nothing, and then Ignatius.

His Life

Dates for Ignatius’ life suggest he was born in 35AD and died as a martyr in Rome in 107AD. Some historians believe that the Apostle John survived until as late as 110AD and so Ignatius most likely met John. It is also possible that he met Paul, even though there is no account of it.

Some historians believe that Ignatius was martyred as late as 115AD.

Ignatius was not highly educated but he was a much loved bishop. While little is known of his early life and even of his work as a bishop, we have a richer resource from the time of his death. En route to Rome, where he was to be executed, Ignatius wrote seven letters, mostly to churches. These letters, along with records of his death from others, provide our understanding of this man of God.

Ignatius is revealed as a man who communicates simply and directly and who draws much on Biblical language and idioms. He displays a passionate devotion to His Lord, calling himself ‘Theophorus’, meaning the God Carrier. He is regarded as “one of the most attractive of the early church fathers”.

Martyrdom

Roman Emperor Trajan was not particularly aggressive in his persecution of Christians, but if one was brought to trial the only possibility was a death sentence. When Ignatius was arrested by the Imperial authorities it was decided that he should be executed in Rome, as a warning to the growing number of Christians, since he was a high profile Christian leader.

Guarded by ten Roman soldiers, Ignatius was first taken to Smyrna, where he would most certainly have met with Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna. While there he wrote letters to the Christians at Ephesus, Magnesia, Tralles and Rome.

When he reached Troas, Ignatius wrote a further three letters, to the Christians at Smyrna and Philadelphia and also to Polycarp. It is understood that the local churches welcomed Ignatius as he made his long overland journey to Rome. They held him in great honour.

Ignatius was finally fed to the beasts in the Colosseum “for the gratification of the people” (as Trajan put it).

Theophorus

In his letter to the Ephesians, Ignatius refers to himself as theophorus, the God bearer. He also uses this term to identify himself before Emperor Trajan.

Ignatius explained that Theophorus referred to one who “has Christ within his breast”. Trajan asked, “Do you mean Him who was crucified under Pontius Pilate?” “Do you then carry within you Him that was crucified?” Ignatius answered, “Truly so”.

We see in these comments a very real grasp of Paul’s repeated theme of Christ in us (2Corinthians 13:5, Galatians 2:20, Ephesians 3:17, Colossians 1:27). How wonderful if all Christians could live with this reality as a daily awareness.

The Pre-eminence of Bishops

One of the controversial issues springing from Ignatius’ letters is his emphasis on a single bishop who must be obeyed by the church. The notions of apostolic succession and church hierarchy find strength in the early development of leading Bishops.

Ignatius refers to a single bishop and a presbytery, suggesting a pastoral group under the direction of a single leader, with an office superior to them. Note these quotes from his letters….

“You should all follow the bishop as Jesus Christ did the Father. Follow, too, the presbytery as you would the apostles; and respect the deacons as you would God’s law. Nobody must do anything that has to do with the Church without the bishop’s approval.”

“For there is one flesh of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and one cup of his blood that makes us one, and one altar just as there is one bishop along with the presbytery and the deacons”

Raising Doubts

Back in the fifteen and sixteenth centuries scholars raised doubts about the authenticity of the letters which promoted the role of the bishop. Their authenticity has been supported by scholarship since then, but as recently as the 1980’s it has been suggested by Rius-Camps that a forger concocted some of the letters, using genuine material mixed with additions, to promote the concepts of church unity and the absolute authority of the bishop.

Main Themes

The main themes which spring from his letters are: Christian unity; authority of the clergy; and the glorious privilege of Christian martyrdom. He warns against the development of factions and against the heresy of Docetism, which denied the material existence of Christ.

Of his own sentencing to martyrdom he said, “I am God’s wheat, ground fine by the lion’s teeth to be made purest bread for Christ.” “I thank You, O Lord, that You have chosen to honour me with a perfect love towards You, and have made me to be bound with iron chains, like Your Apostle Paul.”