Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Fruitfulness: A Principle for a Successful Life

It’s a big thing when an author extracts a new principle from God’s Word, even if it is only new because we have never seen it as a principle before.

Edward A. Smith’s book, Fruitfulness: Seven Secrets to Getting More Out of Life (Vision Publishing, $8.99, ISBN: 978-0-9762730-3-5) uncovers such a principle. The book can be purchased soon through Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, and other major online booksellers.

Smith is founding pastor of ZOE Christian Fellowship of Whittier.

He deserves a salute.

Unfurl the flag!

Strike up the band!

Shout the glory!

What Smith has uncovered could greatly impact the body of Christ.

It’s the principle of bearing fruit and multiplying.

Oh, I know. You’ve heard the term “be fruitful and multiply” before. But consider this:

Every living thing in Creation has the same mandate: Be fruitful and multiply.

With God, this is not an option. He expects fruitfulness from whatever He created. Every time God told the earth to bring forth something it did

Genesis 1:12:
And the earth brought forth grass, and the herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

“God established that everything in the earth must be fruitful.” Smith writes. “Notice, the earth that He created did what He told it to do; that is, create after its kind and bear fruit. When the creation did that, He called it good. Now ‘good ground’ by definition is ground that bears fruit. God called his creation good because it bore fruit.”

But guess what?

God also commanded fruitfulness of Adam and Eve.
And, of course, you and me.

“You don’t have an option as to whether or not to bear fruit,” Smith tells us. “Evidently, the fruit you produced last year is not enough. It may have been enough for last year, but it does not satisfy your responsibility to bear fruit this year.”

As an example, let’s say you have an apple tree that has continually brought forth apples year after year. It’s being fruitful; it’s being productive. But multiplying is another stage, and it goes far beyond simply being fruitful. If you want to multiply you have to produce more trees.

To multiply you take seed from one tree and plant others. In fact, plant an orchard. If your one tree produces ten baskets of apples a year, consider what a hundred or a thousand trees can produce.

It seems so simple, so obvious. But if most people look at their lives they can identify a lack of productivity, a lack of fruitfulness.

Smith believes that in today’s world people have learned to accept the lack of productivity as being okay. But God says it’s not okay. It’s going against the way we’re designed.

Smith explains another problem as well. Many people see God’s principles as techniques rather than truths.

“If you see scripture as a truth, you will apply it in every area of your life,” he writes. “Conversely, if you view it as a technique you only use it in the area in which you learned it.

“In college I studied physics and structural engineering. I learned principles from these disciplines while applying them to various structures such as a hospital building. If I view what I learned as a technique then I will think that all I can build with the knowledge of physics and structural engineering are hospitals. I won’t know that I can also build a church or a skyscraper.”

It’s the same with the principle of sowing and reaping, according to Smith. Most people apply the principle of sowing and reaping to the financial arena, but fail to see its application to other areas of life such as marriage. Many men and women keep constant watch over their investments in real estate, stocks, and bonds, but they have no idea why their marriages, which they routinely ignore, are failing.

In marriage, as in so many other areas of life, you have to give what you want in return, Smith says.

He reminds us of another critical oversight Christians often make. Our lives work best when they are connected to the power source. As John 15:3-4, 7 says:

Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
…If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

There is no question that many people succeed outside of Christ, but what kind of success is it? Does it endure? Does it engender peace, joy? Or does it cause, worry and ulcers?
Smith continues:

“One of the reasons God requires us to be fruitful and multiply is to effectively have dominion and expand His purpose and glory throughout the earth. In Genesis 1:26, God said, Let us make man in our image…”

“God wants us to be like Him, to follow His pattern. God has authority over the whole universe, but he delegated dominion on the earth to man. We are to multiply and expand God’s influence throughout the earth, not just the local community or city.”

So here are Smith’s seven secrets?
· Fruitfulness is a principle, not a technique
· Fruitfulness is a part of your purpose
· Stay connected to the source
· Give what you want to get in return
· Multiplying is the highest level of fruitfulness
· Multiplying is duplicating your success
· Your harvest is in your seed

“There is a direct connection between being fulfilled and satisfied in your life and bearing fruit,” Smith writes. “People who are fruitful in their lives are happier people. They’re getting results and they’re pleased with themselves. They’re bearing fruit. They’re doing what they were born to do.”

Something about reading Fruitfulness: Seven Secrets to Getting More Out of Life puts a spur in your side. It’s impossible to read this book without both seeing your failing and being inspired by how much more God wants to do your life.

The great thing about God is He never counts you out. As long as there’s breath in your body, you have a chance to be fruitful.

And multiply.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Making of an Apostle

Thousands in Los Angeles and perhaps millions around the world witnessed a remarkable event last week.

No, it wasn’t an eclipse of the sun; nor did parts of California flake off into the Pacific.

But it might have been just as significant.

What, you ask, did we witness?

It was the Apostle’s Affirmation Service of Dr. Frederick K.C. Price at Crenshaw Christian Center.

The service was the culmination of the annual Fellowship of Inner-City Word of Faith Ministries convention. Dr. Price is the founder and president of the organization, familiarly known as FICWFM, which ended on July 25th.

My guess is that about 7,000 people were in attendance, thousands more watched it over the Internet and, perhaps, millions more over the Word Channel, which we were told was broadcasting the event live.

If you don’t know Dr. Price from his Ever Increasing Faith television broadcast, the next questions might well be, Do you live on this planet? Or are you a Christian?

I had never seen such a thing before.

I had never seen Dr. Price involved in such pomp

It was different. It was well done, and it stopped well short of being overblown.

Before the Apostle-Designate (Dr. Price) appeared, several things preceded him.

There was the first procession, consisting of flags, young candle-lighters, Knights of the Kingdom (male pastors), the Bible-bearer, the Cross-bearer, the Torch-bearers, and the Crozier-bearer.

A second procession consisted of deacons, ministers, elders, visiting clergy, visiting prelates, the Apostolic Honor Guard, members of FICWFM, and the FICWFM board.

Next, came the Episcopal Cross-bearer, the Acolytes with the Apostle’s Appointment, the Apostle-Designate, the Co-consecrators, the chaplain to the Presiding Bishop, and the Chief Consecrator.

The Apostle-Designate wore a beautiful Roman cassock and was presented with a Bible, a tippet (a symbol of the preaching scarf), and a ring (a symbol of authority). He was also given a crozier (a staff as a symbol of the Shepherd’s office).

It was by turns joyous and moving.

My, what a fine picture-book it would make!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Book on the Inside of You

It’s amazing but true.

Many people who spend time reading books or watching programs about the lives of others actually have more interesting lives themselves.

We’ve all run into people who have lived through great adventures.

It can be an immigrant who entered a new country in some novel or dangerous way, a soldier who barely survived a ferocious battle, a mother who almost died in childbirth – twice, a father who raised several children after his wife’s departure.

How about the lessons of living with a disability, or living with someone who has a disability?

Even if you find your own life uninspiring, how about those of your ancestors, like your pioneer great-grandparents – or even your grandparents or parents? What about the history of the business your family founded?

I’ve often thought that some day I might write something humorous about my dog, whose greatest joy as pup was chewing up my socks, or maybe a series of children’s books, or a novel based on some of my own experiences.

Obviously, such ideas only get you started, but if you work on regularly fleshing them out you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can put muscle on the bones.

Evangelist Myles Munroe, founder of Bahamas Faith International Ministries in Nassau, Bahamas, is a prolific book writer, dealing often with the subjects of leadership and purpose. Somewhere in one of his books he remarked about a graveyard and the hundreds of people who had died without birthing the dream within them.

There are many people who have not given birth to the books within them.

The shame in all this is that they often delight in debased creations from Hollywood, but can’t see their own true-to-life experiences as anything out of the ordinary.

Someone once said within every person is at least one great book – their own life story.

One of the most involving books I have had the pleasure of publishing was by a woman whose husband and five-year-old son were run over by a hit-and-run drunken driver. Dad and son were bicycling home from a neighborhood convenience store when they were hit from behind.

Though the impact threw the dad over the car, he was not too seriously injured. But the child was crushed under one of the wheels. Paramedics prepared to put his corpse into a body bag, but then discovered a pulse.

God had miraculously intervened, and little Ryan Eubank was offered a reprieve from death. Author Donna Eubank chronicles her (and her husband Roger’s) long, arduous struggle to keep the flicker of their son’s life from being extinguished, first by Satan and then by a medical establishment that had little faith in his survival. Along the way, they discovered how God had miraculously put people in place to aid in their son’s recovery.

For the Love of Ryan: Why Heaven Had to Wait (Vision Publishing, $13.99, 0965178390) is one of the most inspirational books I’ve ever encountered. Somewhere along the line I will publish the review, but even today I cannot read the book without getting emotional. (You can order it on, or any of the online booksellers.)

God had to keep nudging Donna to write it, but she wasn’t able to handle the task until years after the accident. Still, the book didn’t happen until the Eubanks received a prophecy from their pastor.

The point is this: There is something inside you worthy of being written about.

You may have to dig down deep to bring it out, but it will be well worth the effort.

Even if you never find anyone to publish what you discover, just think of how much you’ll learn about yourself along the way.

Then, once you’ve learn the knack of self-discovery, it’ll be time to start another one.

Stanley O. Williford

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Hunters: Ministers to the Sick

If you’re convinced that God wants to use you to heal the sick, then get To Heal the Sick by Charles and Frances Hunter (Hunter Books, 215 pages, 0917726405).

If you’re not convinced that God wants to use you to heal the sick, get the book anyway, and any doubts you have will fly away.

In fact, God wants every Christian to minister to the sick and hurting.

I’ve read other books that chronicled outstanding healings and books that explained the Scriptures in a deeper way. But I’ve never read a simpler, more satisfying, more exciting how-to book on the subject of healing.

And guess what?

This book was published in 1983!

You see, Charles and Francis aren’t exactly spiritual spring chickens. They’ve been clucking around on the planet for more than eighty years.

They’ve also been teaching how to heal the sick for a long time. In chapter 2 of To Heal the Sick they write:

“We are in the very end of this age, and there is an urgency in the entire body of Christ to prepare the world for the soon-coming return of Jesus!

“We must reach every kindred and every tribe and every tongue with the supernatural.

“How can this be done? By believing that the supernatural can be taught! We feel in our spirits that the masses of ordinary people around the world will suddenly arise to the supernatural move of the Holy Spirit and will be healing the sick, casting out devils, and presenting a living, vital Jesus to the multitudes.

“This will not be limited to the ordained ministers of the gospel, but will include the multitudes. God has anointed us and directed us to present the simple ways of healing the sick that He has been teaching us for the past few years. They have worked for us and multiplied thousands have been healed. We have taught others how to heal the sick and cast out devils, and it has worked for them. And it will for you.”

Sections of the book are written by Frances, and other sections are written by Charles. Isn’t it typical that Frances wrote more than Charles?

Kudos to the women!

“It seems to me that the simplest way to heal the sick is by the laying on of hands,” writes Frances, while also allowing that the Bible mentions many other ways of healing.

She also admits that she and Charles experiment sometimes, exploring new avenues of healing.

The Hunter book is a case study in healing. I cannot begin to chronicle a representative sampling here. Obviously, the great majority their healing are unknown even to the Hunters because many who receive healing don't report it. But over their many years in ministry the Hunters have more than enough recorded.

“One of the most unique miracles that I remember happened as I was coming down an aisle of a church,” she writes. “God impressed me to reach out and touch the top of a woman’s head. This woman had cancer of the tongue. That one little touch, releasing the power of God, caused her to be totally healed of cancer and her tongue was completely restored!”

Just in case you are confused, we need to clear up one point: sickness comes from the devil, not God. God does not send sickness to His children to “teach them something.” He gets no glory from sickness, though He does get glory from seeing His children well.

Acts 10:38 tells, How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.

Healing is clearly what God wants for His people. As for who can be used to heal the sick, Charles answers by asking this question:

“Have you ever turned a light switch on or off?
“If you have, you are smart enough to heal the sick.”

Charles sees the believers’ hands as the light switch, situated between them and the power generator, which is the Holy Spirit. “The person needing healing is the light bulb.
“Now, it is entirely up to you whether you turn the switch on or off,” he writes.

Charles suggests that believers stand as close as possible to the person being healed, “because the power actually flows from all parts of your spirit, through all parts of your body, into the person near you.”

Sometimes, he says, a demonic spirit is the source of disease.

“In the case of scoliosis, you need to command a spirit to come out (incurable disease), and then command the bones of the spine to straighten. Even though the spirit comes out, the back doesn’t necessarily straighten until the command is given, so if you don’t do both, the spine could remain crooked.”

Frances relates a case in Florida when she was relatively new to the healing ministry and was asked to stop by a sick woman’s home to pray. The woman was lying on a mattress on the floor, almost too weak to move.

“Would you do just one thing for me?” the woman asked.
“Certainly, I will do whatever you want,” Frances said.
“Would you stand right over here?” she asked. Frances said “her voice was so weak, and she began to inch across the mattress until she got to the very edge. Then she said, “Would you come real close to me?”
Frances said, “Sure,” noting that the woman had not asked her to pray.
“Would you get a little closer?” the woman asked again.
“I kept getting a little closer, but I didn’t understand what she wanted. Suddenly, she looked at me with the most beautiful faith I have ever seen in the eyes of any grown person. She said, ‘If I could just touch the hem of your garment, I KNOW that I would be made whole.’
“…She reached out and touched the hem of the skirt I was wearing, and when she did she was instantly made whole by the power of God!”

Fourteen years later when Frances was back in Florida she saw the woman again. There was “no recurrence of the horrible cancer that was causing her to hemorrhage to death,” she writes.

Charles relates an occasion when he ministered to a man who had suffered a stroke.

“The man had been paralyzed down his right side for three years; his leg was stiff as a board and he could not bend his knee at all; his right arm was totally incapable of moving and had been drawn up against his waist with the fist so tightly closed that his hand was white from lack of circulation.”

Charles says God spoke three words to him: “Spirit of death.” He then commanded the spirit of death to come out of the man in the name of Jesus. Then he told the man to say, “Jesus, I love you.”

The man repeated the words, though they were not very distinct. But his wife got excited because previously he had not been able to speak.

Charles then took the man’s immobile arm and began to bend it. It was stiff at first, but it became more limber as he continued bending it. Soon the man could move it by himself. Charles did the same thing with his leg. He also began opening the man’s fist and bending his fingers back and forth.

Charles writes, “Within about five minutes, he was able to lift his arm and walk, bending his leg without help. Within four days he had almost completely recovered.”

The Hunters believe that a healing Jesus is the Jesus much of the world is waiting to see.

I think they are right.

The Hunters’ books and tapes can be ordered from:
City of Light
201 McClellan Road
Kingwood, Texas 77339

Stanley O. Williford

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Christian Books: The Money Is There

I’m sure my figures are low, but according certain online sources, Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life has sold about 30 million copies. Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkin’s Left Behind series of 16 books cashed in on more than 65 million volumes. And Joel Osteen’s Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential, as of March 2006, had scored more than 3 million copies. Other associated works, such as journals, daily devotionals and study guides, made their profits soar even higher.

My point is this: writing books can be a very prosperous profession.

An indication of how popular Christian books and authors have become can be seen in the fact that many of the biggest sellers are published by subsidiaries of major secular companies. Osteen’s book was published by Warner Faith, a division of the Time Warner Book Group. His second book went to Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster.

Although Warren’s book was published by Zondervan, a Christian publisher, the company was bought in 1978 by HarperCollins, a large secular publisher. The LaHaye and Jenkins’ books were published by Tyndale House, a Christian publisher.

The Free Press reportedly paid Osteen several millions – some indicate more than $10 million – to woo him away from Warner Faith. Osteen’s profits on Your Best Life Now are believed to have exceeded $10 million on just the $20 hardcover version, which doesn’t include his likely income from other related books and journals.

Most of these authors have given away large portions of their fortunes. Warren reportedly donates 90% of his income. Osteen reportedly gave up his 2006 annual church salary of $200,000. And LaHaye has given millions to Christian and conservative causes he believes in.

Of course, there are many other best-selling Christian books and authors. We'll discuss many of them in the future.

While the three best-selling authors we've mentioned have racked up mind-blowing numbers in sales, all of them together do not begin to touch the estimated 5 to 6 billions books sold by perhaps the best-selling author of all time – the Father God. That’s billion with a “B.”

If you haven’t guessed by now, this blog is about books – Christian books. We’ll deal with classics as well as contemporary books; books that teach and preach as well as books that entertain. And we’ll occasionally throw in some other information that we feel you should know.
Check us out often.

Stanley O. Williford

Next: Review of Charles & Frances Hunter's To Heal the Sick.