05 November 2010

What's Love Got to Do With It?

"Thank you for letting me love you, and for loving me back. For letting me hug you, for hugging me back. For letting me say, "I love you", for saying it to me. For letting me encourage you, comfort you, listen to you, share with you, strengthen you... and for doing these things for me."

Of all people, Christians ought most to love and be known for their love. But in so many ways we seem terrified of that very thing.

Too often we are afraid to hug, because we might lust, or cause someone else to lust. We're afraid to open up, because someone might think less of us or betray us. We're afraid to listen because we might have to keep secrets, or be accountable, or hold someone accountable. We're afraid to touch in case it's seen the wrong way by someone else (leading to fear of public disgrace and lawsuits). We're afraid to be or even appear vulnerable, but many of us are also afraid of appearing cocky.

Perfect love banishes fear. (I Jn 4/18) Why, then, do we fear? The clear implication is that we lack love-- or at least perfect love. But we don't lack love. Daddy God loves us; He proved it by letting his only begotten son die on the cross for us. That same son, Jesus, loves us; He proved it by walking among us, healing and forgiving us (among other things), dying, and kicking death in the teeth for us. The Holy Spirit loves us; [s]he proves it every moment of every day by living in and with us.

So we don't lack love. We either don't fully understand that love, or we don't fully accept it (or both).

"By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (Jn 13/35) Love isn't distant. Love isn't afraid to be honest, to hug, to laugh and cry, to touch, to comfort, to be vulnerable. (Love also feeds, clothes and houses, but we're not as afraid of that part. Usually.)

The greatest commandment, according to Jesus, is to love God with every bit of our being. Hot on its heels is to love each other as we love ourselves. These two commandments are the basis of everything God has said to us. (Mt 22/36-40) So... where is our love?

You might well have assumed the opening paragraph was written to my wife, Sharon. While everything in there applies to her (and I've said it to her), and while I love her more than any other human being, these were thoughts I wished I had said to a woman half my age right after I got off the phone with her last night.

Shock! Horror! Scandal!

Not quite. Ashley is my spiritual daughter. It still gets to me that God not only gave Sharon and me two awesome biological children (whom we love dearly), but that He has put so many other awesome people in our lives as family, to love... and who love us back.

But for years I felt that I had to keep some of that bottled up because some in the Church couldn't deal with love that expresses itself purely and passionately in this fashion. (Even the word passion can be dangerous in the wrong hands!)

If we really believe God... if we don't think He's a liar or a fool... if we really want to call ourselves His children and be like Him, we need to get serious about love. We need to let it flow into us until all the fear is washed away or squished to death under love's great, joyous weight. We need to let it flow through us, out of us, into and onto everyone around us, in tangible ways. Far more than a smile or "God loves you", though those are a good start, we need to look people in the eye and tell them they are loved (and mean it!), to hug them, to laugh and cry with them, to listen... to be real.

Who do you love? Have you told them lately? How? What are you waiting for?

01 November 2010

Pennies: A Parable. Or Something.

(Originally journalled 2010-Oct-11)

Back in September while walking to warm up for a run during lunch time at work, I noticed a half dozen or so pennies in the dirt by a light pole. Their appearance made it clear they had been there a while. Since I was about to run and they were only pennies, I left them there for whoever else might find them.

On a run a few weeks later I thought to glance down to see if they were still there. I stopped when I hear that still small voice I've come to know so well. "Pick up the pennies." That proved difficult as I could only find one. I picked up the lone penny; it hit me then how often I must have passed up opportunities in life because I was distracted, or unmotivated, or didn't see much value in something or someone.

But the urge that had come with the voice was still there, so I kept looking. And pondering. How many people had I ignored, discouraged, belittled by not seeing their worth? I made up my mind to never do that again... and promptly found several pennies.

"Keep looking." So I did, and quickly had 10 pennies, which was definitely more than I had seen before. The voice got specific. "You will find 20." I kept looking. A nudge, so I looked in a new direction. "Too far, back up." Now I had 19. "Look at your shadow, over by the bushes." 20.

The whole thing took about two minutes. After this I looked for another two or three minutes. 20. No more, no less. Just as I was told to expect.

What will I do with twenty pennies that had sat out in the weather oxidizing for weeks, or more likely months? I have no idea. But I won't forget the lesson. If God watched over these pennies, how how much is he watching over the forgotten, weathered people around me? And how can I ignore them or put them off til later?

So far, I can't. I pray I never will.

(Notes added later)

The next time I walked past this spot, God again said to look down, and there was a penny. He said I'd find one each run, and every run since then (an average of two a week), I have. Usually it's in plain sight but once he said to look in a specific shady spot, and there it was. Two times in a row, a penny was in the exact, same spot. Another day I walked past the spot again (as I often do) and he said to look again, and I found a second one. Occasionally I look around a good bit after finding one, but never find any more that day.


Today as I walked up to the spot, for some reason I had no hope of finding a penny. The song, "Turn, Turn, Turn" started playing in my head, and I thought the penny season was over. It's not a big deal, right? Just pennies. But something in me was really sad. And I couldn't find a penny ANYWHERE. Finally I asked that the pennies would continue (I can't really explain why; somehow it has become important), and the tone of the song changed from lament to joy, and I found a penny, half buried, half in the clear.

After my run, I heard, "Look for something greater than pennies." My imagination, of course, took off. Nickels. Dimes. Quarters. Half dollars. Silver dollars! Hundred dollar bills! Gold doubloons! Cue the heavenly laugh track. Have you ever been laughed at by angels? It's a very different feeling. Anyway, instead of getting offended, I laughed with them, and threw away the box I was putting God in. I spent the next few minutes staring at dead grass, new, tender grass, lovely flowers (mostly yellow and white, the reds, blues and purples mostly having given up for the year), rocks of all shapes. And walls. And dales. Vines, trees, cane brakes, the odd bit of trash, and buildings of somewhat organic design, working with creation rather than against it.

The pennies? They're all in a safe place. Intrinsic value? Just shy of thirty cents. Life lessons? Priceless.

The pennies are close to my heart, not because they're money, but because they remind me of you, of those I've loved, those I should have loved but failed to, and those I have yet to meet and love. And the One who made us all, and loves us even more.


The pennies keep showing up right on time, each and every time I run. With bonuses now and then. One day I didn't stop to look for a penny; there was a car parked right by where I've been finding them. Later, after my run, I heard to look in a different spot. I found a penny there (50 feet away from the normal spot). "Keep looking." Across the street from the usual spot, I found six pennies. I got to thinking about why I hadn't stopped at first. What was I afraid of, that someone else would find pennies? I mean, if this is a God thing (and it is) he can put plenty of pennies there for everyone.

Another day it was raining, so instead of running I went somewhere to eat. In the parking garage, right by my car, I found... a penny. It was definitely not there earlier that day. It looked just like the ones I've been finding, like a penny that's sat out in the weather and dirt for a long time. God's provision isn't dependent on me, on whether I do "the right thing", or anything else. It's just that, grace. And it's sufficient!

09 October 2010

Religion - a Struggle I Don't Need

A friend asked me a question about (in part) whether I think religion is a struggle that just happens to have friends along to hang out with. Here's more or less what popped out in reply.

I'd say religion is a struggle, period. Because when I think of religion, I think of rules. And that's what I lived under a lot of my life-- just another set of rules that happened to have "GOD" stamped across them. But when I really encountered God, I found He wanted a relationship, not a bunch of rules. and that's what I find in the Bible as well. It's pretty well summed up when the lawyers (what a great translation of a word that means "the religious leaders who worried about the law all the time") asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was. "Love God with everything in you. And the next greatest is just like it-- love your neighbor."

When you really get who God is and how much he loves you, when you really get how he sees you (his child that he loves like crazy, a part of the Church that's going to be the perfect bride for his perfect son), then it suddenly gets a whole lot easier to love him, and to love each other. The rest of it-- a great deal of typical, modern Christianity-- in my personal opinion is just a recipe for disaster.

Are there rules? Sure. But they're secondary, and they're there for our protection, not to lock us down. The more we recognize God's love, the more we love in return, the more we grow in love for one another, the less the rules matter, because we honor and cherish one another, and want only the best for each other. If I truly love my wife, I don't need a rule to tell me not to murder her, or not to cheat on her. If I truly love my neighbor, I don't need a rule to not steal from him, or lie about him in court.

I realize there are many who will disagree with me. There were many who disagreed with Jesus as well. (I know that will sound arrogant to some people. Oh, well.) Those who love the law for its own sake, or who are simply bound up in it, for instance, will think me mad, foolish, downright perfidious, maybe even evil. Law and Rules (Religion) any more.

22 September 2010

Why do we see so few miracles and healings today?

Before Jesus showed up in the flesh, miracles and healings seemed to occur only for a few people, at least on any kind of regular basis. But Jesus did them routinely. In fact, John surmised that if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. (Jn 21/25, NIV). And so did his early followers. These still occur in third world areas today, and occasionally in the more developed countries. But why are they so infrequent?
I believe there are three main problems: lack of faith, lack of hunger and desperation, and the western mindset in general.
  1. Lack of faith / misplaced faith
    • Even Jesus could do few miracles (he merely laid his hands on some sick and healed them) some places because of a lack of faith. (Mk 6/5, Mt 13/58)
    • As a rule, western, modern cultures have little faith in God. Missionaries report far more miracles and healings in parts of the world where people have not been taught not to have faith in God.
    • As a culture, we seem to have faith in everything but God-- science, doctors, positive energy, crystals, good thoughts and vibes, politics, money, the system. So we trust in those rather than God.
  2. Lack of hunger / desperation
    • We always have a fallback plan (or several) such as doctors. So even if we want to be healed or see a miracle, we often don't really care if God does it, because we have a Plan B. That's assuming God isn't already Plan X, to be used only when all others fail.
    • Like many people in Jesus' time, we view miracles more as entertainment, or at best demands for proof that we will then attempt to analyze away, than something necessary or which we care about. Jesus referred those people the sign of Jonah-- the three days he would be dead, and then resurrected. If that isn't enough of a sign for you, what would be? (And yet, God still provides signs!)
    • Too often we just don't care-- we're apathetic or jaded. Given the same circumstances, who's going to get to a goal first, someone apathetic or a desperado?
    • We're already so full of junk we're not hungry. Full of ourselves, full of life's pleasures, full of stuff that keeps us content where we are, full of junk food so we're not hungry for the things that will keep us healthy, help us grow, let us reproduce. Sometimes, even full of poisons.
    • Some people would prefer to starve to death, or eat poison or razor blades rather than be hungry for God, or even if they are hungry, rather than admit it.
  3. Rules, not relationship
    • We don't really know God. Many of us aren't sure we can-- or that we want to.
    • We try to codify, understand, package, teach and reproduce the methods so we can get quantifiable, reproducible results like an assembly line. This gets us out of any real work and lets us compare ourselves against one another (it's generally not healthy, but we love to do that).
    • Jesus almost never did the same thing the same way twice, at least as recorded in Scripture. That doesn't sound like sound, modern manufacturing!
    • Instead, Jesus stayed close to the Father. In Jn 5/19, He says, I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. Apparently the Father is more into relationships than rules, because Daddy didn't give his son a bunch of rules about how to heal or do miracles; he sent him in among people and just had Jesus be his body to love on them as they needed at the moment. And he did it individually and uniquely.
    • Why did he do it that way? I suggest that it's because God wants relationship with each of us, not a bunch of drones on an assembly line, punching cards and answering to bosses back in an office somewhere. As Patrick McGoohan's character said in The Prisoner, I am not a number. I will not be stamped, filed, indexed, briefed or debriefed.
      I think God says that and more. I will not be scanned, reduced to a set of rules or equations, programmed, and reproduced en masse by human machines, packaged and shipped to everyone on the planet with your poorly understood and thought out, and even more poorly translated, instructions ('Step 1: Please to placing hand on subject's hair at 44.2 degrees to vertical while repeat this praying in James's King, in a louding voice, beginning THUS SAYETH THE LARD')
      But we, the Church-- when we are even open to the possibility of healings and miracles (rather than giving up and hiding behind walls of doctrine)- try to emulate Jesus in all the ways that don't matter. Let's see... last time I just touched their eyes, so next on the rotating list I mix spit and dirt to make clay. But what's the ratio of dirt to spit? Does it matter what I ate? Do I need to brush my teeth and gargle, or is purely organic spit better? (That's what Jesus did, better stick with organic.) Does the kind of dirt matter? Maybe I should get some dirt from the Holy Land and carry that with me at all times. Since I don't have that today, would dirt from Palestine, Texas be better than beach or desert sand, whichever is in my carpet in the car? Should I write in the sand? Wait, that's for a woman caught in adultery. Is this guy an adulterer? Does writing in the sand work on guys caught in adultery? If so, should I just make the clay and put it on his eyes and write on that? Even if he's not an adulterer he might have adulterous eyes, so that might be best. ARGH! God!!! Why didn't you make this all clearer in the Bible?
      But he did! I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. It's about relationship, not rules. When you pursue that relationship (as the disciples did) you learn who God is, and who you are, and the miracles and healings will just happen. You, after all, are made in the image of God (Gen 1/26-27), and are perfected in Christ (Heb 10). In fact, I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. [You] will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. (Jn 14/12)

People will be set free, and they will come from miles around to watch you burn without being consumed, just as Moses went to the burning bush, and just as people did for Jesus.

10 September 2010

Got vision?

Without a vision the people perish.

When the dreams die, so, in a sense, does the body (of believers). It gives up and falls back on tradition (whatever tradition it knows and feels comfortable with at the moment). It lives in the past.

You've probably known, or at least seen or heard of, someone old who lives in the past. Maybe they gave up, maybe they've become senile. But they no longer dwell in the present, they no longer look to the future, they no longer make an impact. They become self-absorbed. No longer care-givers, they need to be cared for, or they wither and die.

Without a vision the people perish.

Got vision?

(If not, go talk to the vision giver!)

05 September 2010

Lover? Or troll?

Relationships, like people, are organic. They change. They grow. They bear fruit. Some things die and fall off. They bloom. The hues and colors change and sparkle. People come together and form new things, they dance, they sing, they discuss, they challenge, they are constantly in motion, even when sitting contentedly together, or laying in the grass, peacefully staring at the sky.

When there is no change, no growth, no fruit, no color, no action, no movement, no death of old wood and leaves, you no longer have a relationship; you have an institution. You no longer have anything organic; you have a statue, a sculpture, old trolls tricked into staying out past sunrise, turned to stone, one with a birds' nest behind its ear.

Statues and sculptures, and even stone trolls, have their places. They can be awesome and wondrous to see, even beautiful (except the trolls). But none of them begins to compare to the awesome, wondrous beauty of a good relationship. This is true whether it's our relationship with God or with other people. Don't let your relationships ossify. Do something that only an organic life form does to keep them going. Dance, give gifts, hug, play in the rain, write a letter, call, eat, do something loving.

Without the love, you'll become a troll. Without the motion, the change, the organic involvement, it'll all turn to stone, bird's nest behind an ear, an object lesson for travelers, and nothing more.

29 August 2010

Who Do You fear?

(apologies to George Thorogood and the Destroyers)

Friends recently related a story about visiting a college campus here in central Texas. They ran across a guy preaching. The preacher railed against everyone there, out to save their souls by telling them how horrible they were, how God was against them, how they were going to hell. Oddly enough, he wasn't winning any converts that day.

My friends hollered in response, telling the crowd that God actually loved them. Finally, one of them couldn't stand it any longer. He ran over, jumped up on whatever the preacher was standing on, and just hugged him, telling him God loved him. After a moment, the guy pushed my friend away, furiously proclaiming, "How do I know you aren't a homosexual?"

Leaving aside numerous other issues we could discuss here, one thing that struck me was the preacher's fear. I don't know if he was afraid merely of being tainted by association, or if he was afraid of actually getting a demon if someone "unclean" hugged him, or what. The point is simply that he was afraid.

What's to fear? This man had apparently memorized quite a bit of the Bible. How is it that he didn't remember, or couldn't apply, 1 John, 4/4 ("Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.")? Or Luke 10/17 ("Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name!")?

For that matter, had he recognized his own fear, an obvious, pertinent verse provides the antidote. Back to 1 Jn (4/18): "Perfect love casts out fear." It's even better in context (4/16-18): "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." (NIV)

Why did Jesus come live among us, die on the cross, and return from the grave? Because "God so loved the world." (Jn 3/16). Jesus hung out with sinners all the time- thieves, hookers, those who cheated on their spouses, tax collectors, pagans in the occupying army, all sorts of people. He didn't fear them. He wasn't afraid of being tainted, or of demons (just ask that guy who used to live in the graveyard (with hundreds or thousands of demons) until he met Jesus!) or even the biggest, baddest demon of all, whom Jesus faced down in the desert after not eating anything for 40 days (Mt 4/1-11).

As far as I can tell, the only thing Jesus might have feared was the cross. At the very least, he would have preferred to avoid it (who wouldn't?) But he refused to be ruled by fear. He went. He conquered. He conquered death, kicked its nasty little butt, and rose from the dead, leading the way for all who follow him to do the same.

What do you fear? Who do you fear? Why? If you are a Christian, you have no reason to fear. Let God's love come in like a flood, and chase the fears away. Let fear be the one to live in fear, fleeing for its very life from the presence of the Living God in you. For you are made in his image, you are filled with his spirit. If God looks at you and sees Jesus, if we are becoming like Christ, then the demons should fear us, not the other way around.

This applies to all fears, real or imagined, public and secret-- outright fear, insecurities, fears of not being good enough, phobias, anxieties-- but especially fear of what others will think, of being tainted, or of anything else that keeps you from loving every person you come in contact with. No matter who or what you think they are. For they, too, were made in the image of God, and he loves them as he loves you.

You can love them, or you can fear them. But if you love God then fearing men, fearing guilt by association, fearing demons jumping on you really isn't an option. Love is the only option available.

Why on Earth would we want another option, anyway?

20 August 2010

Grace and Purity - Finding the Balance

We always want to make it about us.
Often we think something like, "this is my balance (right this instant) so it must be THE balance." Even more often we think (and run across) the attitude that "this is what I think the balance should be (or would like it to be) so it must be THE balance... even though I don't model this."
We do this individually, and we do it in groups-- families, friends, cliques, clubs, political affiliations, as leaders, or within the Church. But this leaves no room to "work out your own salvation" (Philippians 2/12); rather it requires everyone else to perform to our imperfect standards, ignoring both God's ultimate standards and the fact that he made us individuals, and works with us as individuals. (We were never meant to be clones or droids.)
While the concept applies to almost everything, at the moment I'm thinking of it in reference to the balance between grace and purity. (Most of us would have expected the second attribute to be justice, as we see justice and grace as polar opposites. But there is also a tension between grace and purity, especially in the Church today. Some groups are big on grace and some are big on purity; few are big on both.)
Our holy God calls us to holiness. Our pure God calls us to purity. Nothing less will do. But because we are not God, because we are imperfect, God-- in his love for us-- gives us grace, all the grace we need to cover the distance between wherever we are and that place of perfect holiness and purity. The grace to be as he originally made us to be, in his image, his sons and daughters.
But we, as people, often refuse to extend that same level of grace (or anything even close) to one another, though we so desperately need and want it ourselves. We want grace for ourselves, but demand purity and perfection in others. What is God's response to this response of ours?
"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." (Mt 7/1-2, NIV)
So, we can demand perfection, holiness and purity in others, and be crushed under the weight of our hypocrisy, or we can extend grace to others, and dwell in grace.
And yet, his grace is sufficient (I Cor 12/9). Otherwise, none of us would have any hope. Since he has extended this grace to us, we should extend it to others.
If your concept of God is bounded solely by laws, you might spend some time pondering Jesus' words on laws. The two greatest commandments, according to Jesus, are to "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" (Mt 22/37) and to "love your neighbor as yourself". (Mt 22/39)
And how will everyone know that we are his disciples? By how thoroughly we demand perfection from each other? Nope. "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (Jn 13/35)
While true love calls forth purity and holiness in each other (and models it!) if God in his love extends grace, then for us to do anything less is not only foolish, not only hypocritical, not only ugly, but a repudiation of all we claim to believe. At the same time, since he calls us to purity and holiness, we should go for it with everything within us!
Lord, forgive us all, and help us to remember who we are, who we were made to be, loved and loving, graceful and pure.

24 July 2010

Hey, look! I'm an apostle!

Recent movements within parts of the Church are attempting to recover parts of our heritage long lost and/or abandoned. Among these is the concept of the apostle.
While the Catholics, Orthodox and Anglicans all believe in some form of lineage back to the original apostles (albeit differently than the movement of which I am speaking), those bodies resulting from the Protestant Reformation have generally held that the days of the apostles are past, or simply ignored the issue of modern apostles altogether. The "independent" and "non-denominational" (I&ND) congregations mostly carried on in this vein with the primary exceptions occurring only in small, fringe groups, or groups generally considered cults outside of their membership.
Over the past couple of decades, the title of apostle experienced a resurrection (as it were) among the I&ND groups. The last few years, apostles seem to have popped up like Texas wildflowers in a wet spring. While not as prevalent as bank vice-presidents, they're getting close.
One might expect, with this many apostles running loose, to see a revival of New Testament proportions, a veritable flood of miracles, of salvations, of shadows healing people, of prisons opened and captives set free, of the dead raised, and perhaps of myriads of apostles being martyred as the power structure is threatened.
While there are isolated pockets of such things occurring, in the USA at least it's primarily business as usual with a new title ("Apostle") on business cards, web sites, glossy promotional materials, books and videos. I expect that soon we'll also see "Senior Apostle", "Executive Vice-Apostle" and perhaps "Senior Allied Commander, Apostles".
Oddly enough, the original apostles didn't seem to operate this way (based on what's recorded in the New Testament). Ignoring for the moment their lack of access to DVDs or even printing presses, how did they advertise their apostleship?
As far as I can tell, they didn't.
The apostles were recognized as such by having been with Jesus, and by the incredible power and authority they carried.
The major recorded exception was Paul, who seems to have mainly introduced himself as an Apostle to identify himself in his letters to the various churches. Even that came about only after the community of believers recognized him by the criteria above.

I've seen, met, been taught by, and been prayed for by a small group of people I believe may be apostles (or "carry an apostolic anointing", if you prefer). I have not heard any of them claim to be apostles. I have not seen them claim it in print. I do not notice them having (or allowing) those around them proclaim their apostleship. They simply carry an obvious power and authority, a presence of the Holy Spirit that says, "this person has been with Jesus"; signs, wonders, salvations, freedom and wisdom leap out from their life like bow waves off a huge, powerful ship, and follow like ships' wakes, visible for anyone to see.
I've been rereading Banning Liebscher's _Jesus Culture_ and a couple of things really struck me as I was thinking about this issue--which isn't one Banning addresses, per se. (As far as I know, Banning makes no claim to apostleship, but he carries an annointing of epic proportions.)
"The Lord is releasing an anointing to see entire cities and nations turn to God," (that sounds awfully apostolic to me) "but that anointing can only be secured in the secret place." (By secret place, Banning means the time you meet with God in private, which many people refer to as a 'prayer closet'.)
"...there are some things you cannot get in public; you must press in for them in private... All [revivalists] have (or had) a secret life with God that, for the most part, they don't even talk about."
That sounds a lot like Christ getting off alone with the Father, and a lot like the New Testament apostles after they met the risen Lord, whether devoting themselves to prayer in the upper room, or simply how they lived their lives after the Holy Spirit fell at Pentecost with fire and power (such as Peter's going onto the rooftop to pray in Acts 10).
I have no problem, per se, with someone calling herself (or someone else) an apostle. I have a problem with it if their apostleship isn't evident in that they have clearly been with Jesus and clearly have a level of power and authority far beyond that of the common Christian walk. And I don't mean authority just in terms of followers; in and of itself that means nothing. Any smooth talker can have followers.
Are there apostles walking among us today? Not that long ago, I was skeptical. Now I believe there are. If not, there are at least some who are, as we say in Texas, "close enough as makes no never mind".
I believe, however, that they will be self-evident to anyone who is truly paying attention and seeking God's presence. Like Jesus, Peter or Phillip, apostles will explain the Scriptures so as to reveal things we never understood clearly, to make our hearts burn with passion for God. They will heal the sick, the lame, the blind; they will do things we never expect that glorify God (such as Peter going to Cornelius); they will raise the dead.
But they don't need public relations firms paving the way. They aren't out to build themselves up or build an empire. They're out to glorify God, build up the body of Christ, and set people free; to introduce the hurt, broken, lonely and lost to their loving Father and see them made whole. They're founding churches, calling entire bodies out of sin, despair, or laziness to be beacons of light set on hills, burning with love for God and for his creation . If they show up doing these things, they may be apostles.
If they just come saying, "Hey, look! I'm an apostle!", I'll wait and see, thanks.