It’s Broken – Let’s Fix It! (Please read)

The title – that has been the cry of my heart for many years – and only becoming louder and louder as the days go by and I see more and more wounded leaders and believers and fight more and greater spiritual wars that are politically motivated as man seeks to control and manipulate God’s Church and His people.

Recently this comment came in from my friend Bill Lewis whose writings and thoughts occasionally become a blog here at Ralph Howe Ministries. The title is mine – the words expressing his heart are his. Feel the pain and the cry of his heart – the heart of all true apostles…

I just returned from taking part in a memorial service for a man who had been a pastor in my town for over 13 years. He moved a few months ago and we received word a couple of weeks ago that he had committed suicide.

I do not presume to judge the man, his relationship with God, or his eternal destination. It is above my pay grade – actually everything is since I do not get paid for any ministry work – but that is beside the issue.

I do presume to judge a religious system (modern church in 21st century America) that is destroying men and women of God. A system, that statistics tell us, chews up and spits out 1200-1500 ministers per month. Eighty percent of those leaving the ministry say that the ministry was harmful for their families. Over 30% ended up in moral failure. Most never return to the ministry. Some never go back to church. What is wrong with this picture?

We can blame the ministers themselves – it would be easy to do. However I believe the real culprit is a the false system of church we have created and maintain with a fury. A system that expects more of a person than is reasonable. A system that has never been scriptural, nor in the mind of God.

I am not even sure where I am going with this article or if anyone will read it, I just feel I have to write it, to get it off my chest – perhaps as closure for the brother who died. Perhaps because it so unfortunate and vividly illustrates the things I see wrong in the Church today. I just know that the more I look at “church as usual” the more convinced I am that it is the very structure of modern church that hinders the Kingdom of God. The suicide of a pastor is an exclamation point in the commentary.

Those of you who know me know I am not “anti-Church.” I serve on the pastoral team of a church we started last year. I love the Church (big C). I love the Body of Christ and gathering together. I love teaching, sharing and hearing others in the Body share things on their heart that God is showing them and things He is doing in their lives. I love it when the Body of Christ is free to express Christ in the midst of the congregation. A major emphasis of my ministry is to encourage and train leaders for the Church. However I sometimes wonder if I am doing them a favor.

I do love the Church, however, I can’t stand the traditions that define church experience for so many people. I can’t stand the structures that hinder the growth of the Body of Christ. The clergy/laity mindsets that hold back good people from serving the Lord. The false emphasis that focus more on the needs of the organization than the needs of the people. The religious politics, the jockeying for position and the behind-the-scenes string pulling for control of the church. These things, which ought not be, are normal fare for many churches and the bane of many pastors. I’ve experienced some of these things myself. I also thank God (and the local Body) for those churches I served that did not have these problems.

The bottom line is that “church as usual” isn’t working. And it isn’t because God’s Church doesn’t work – it is because we are no longer doing Church God’s way. We’ve substituted man-made stuff. We have reaped man-made results. I am reminded just now of the tower of Babel. The Bible tells us they “had brick for stone and slime for mortar.” Brick is a man-made substitute for God-created stone. Slime is – well slime. They were going to “build a tower whose top reached to heaven and make a name for themselves.” How much this sounds like our denominational systems today. In another passage God cried out against His chosen saying, “They have forsaken Me the fountain of living waters and have hewn out for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

Pastors today are left with an impossible task of leading those that don’t want to follow. To follow those that don’t know where they are going and to make sure everyone is happy about the whole thing. Is it any wonder so many are worn out and burned out? Something has to change. We must do two things. 1. We must be willing to step out and provide an alternative; 2. We must speak out and reveal the fallacy of expecting different results while maintinaing the same structure.

God will have a Church that displays the glory and power of Jesus Christ on earth before He comes back to wrap this thing up. That has never been the question. The only questions is, who will be a part of it?

I pray for my fellow pastors and ministers. May we have the courage, strength and grace to lead in paths of reformation in these last days regardless of the cost. Jesus is worth it.

Sameness is not in God’s Dictionary

As someone who is in worship services in numerous churches on a regular basis (sometimes weekly, sometimes many times a week, and often 3 to 5 times a day when ministering overseas) I have to admit that a lot of services are fairly predictable (I know we don’y have a liturgy – but we really do), often seriously centered on us and not honoring to God, and downright boring. Come on now – be honest!

Something needs to change. God is not boring and so the way we represent Him and honor Him on a Sunday should not be boring either. Also – just a side comment – He is not weird, wacho, or flaky so the services and believers should not be either. We need to get a grip on regular, every day life and a grip on the One, True God and bring them together so that non-believers (we exist to win them to the Lord) find God exciting, dynamic and alive – and, may I suggest, find our churches to be the same. When church is creative, it helps to keep faith and the desire for God alive in believers and becomes mighty attractive to non-believers, especially those honestly seeking God. But, of course, some people will get mad if you are constantly changing things. They like sameness.

The problem with being predictable and doing the same thing each week is that it presents to people a wrong image of our God. The same was true is Jesus’ day and so He was known for His surprises and the fact that God continually invaded people’s lives through His life and ministry. Each day was different – each meeting was different. Sameness is not in God’s dictionary.

Yes, I hear you say, but if things are constantly and continually changing people will get mad. So what? Who are you trying to please? Welcome to Jesus’ world. It’s obvious that Jesus preferred their anger to allowing a polluted view of God to continue. Better some emotions rather than no emotions whatsoever. Church isn’t suppose to be a place of comfort and be without challenge. It is suppose to be a place that wakes the dead – and there are a few Christians with spiritual lives in that condition. They need us to worship, preach and pray in such a way as to wake the dead.

Church needs to reveal that God is still alive and working. If people get mad about that truth, so what. The church needs to be creative and innovative because God is. Being fresh and creative is not merely a good idea – it is our God-given assignment. It’s the church’s job. And, as a by-product, it will then grow because it will be dynamic, powerful, and attractive to non-believers just as Jesus was, is, and always will be.

Baptized With Fire

When you read the Gospels – it becomes obvious very quickly that no one ever knew what Jesus was going to do next, not even those closest to Him. He kept surprising people, and it ticked off the religious people and their leaders, the Pharisees. They preferred routine, sameness, some of which had become tradition. Like so many Christians and churches that seem to walk in the footsteps of the Pharisees, they thought it was appalling that Jesus kept breaking routine. Afterall, they had determined who God was, how God behaved, and how God would accomplish things – such as who the Messiah would be and the way He would behave when He came.

But the Bible makes it clear that Jesus came to reveal God to us (John 14:8-9). Along with many other characteristics, He revealed a compelling, powerful, relevant, passionate, unpredictable, exciting, and personal God. Totally foreign to the religious people of His day and today. Certainly not the God being spoken of in the synagogues and worshipped during the temple services.

Since the Church was birthed on the Day of Pentecost, churches (believers) have been given the same assignment – to reveal God to the world. Unfortunately, when the church is old and tired, irrelevant and boring, powerless and predictable, people conclude that God is also like this. When the Church becomes stale, it paints the wrong picture of God. And, in my experience, travelling from church to church and ministering in many situations, this is often the case today as well. It is time to bring about a radical change.

The world needs churches that allow the real God to stand up and stand out. If the church is going to represent Him properly, the church must always be fresh and creative, alive and dynamic, powerful and relevant, passionate and purposeful. Believers must be on fire.

An interesting prophetic word (soon to be posted on this site – from a prophet in the city of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan) talks about the Church not being lukewarm (Revelation 3:16). Here in part is what it said: “…My Church, My Church that belongs to Me, is not lukewarm. My Church is baptized by fire!…” John the Baptist said that Jesus would baptize people “in the Holy Spirit and with fire.” The early church was birth in the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire. Fire is always unpredictable and so alive and dynamic that it consumes everything it comes into contact with. Ah! An ideal picture of the Church of Jesus Christ. And someone baptized in fire can never be lukeward or cold.

Many years ago when I was in my first seminary there was a wonderful little book written by a Jesuit priest called “Good Old Plastic Jesus.” Even back then, as an unsaved church attender, that book impacted my life. In spite of reading 100+ books a year I still remember that specific book – long ago lost in books piled everywhere in my office, study, library, basement…. The world is not looking for a predictable, containable, controlable God to worship and follow – a plastic Jesus!. The heart cry of believer and non-believer alike is still the same as when Jesus was training His disciples … to know the One True God and not the religious counterfeit often presented by churches today and seen in the lives of many followers today.

Jesus was a radical revolutionary who came to reveal the One true God to the world that He created. He did not come to establish another religion but to enable us to have a personal dynamic relationship with our heavenly Father. The Church – a gathering of men and women who have dynamic daily walks with the living God through Jesus Christ – should be and must be the most actively alive, vibrant, dynamic and relevant gathering upon the earth.

Time to see some changes in what we do and how we do it so that we can reveal the Father as He truly is.

Your Life Purpose?

Paul the apostle wrote: “But my life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus – the work of telling others the Good News about God’s wonderful kindness and love.” (Acts 20:24 NLT).

I, like Paul, and am amazed at the work that he did as an apostle in the early Church. After a number of years of preparation after his conversion his ministry began powerfully and impacted the then know world; and since, the whole world for the last 2,000 years. He was a powerful preacher; a terrific teacher of God’s Word – teaching by revelation; a church planter; worked in miracles sign and wonders; discipled, trained, equipped and mentored young men for apostolic ministry; developed and deployed teams; earnestly contended for the Christian doctrine (defended the faith – Jude 3); powerfully confronted various works of the devil; and was one of the leader of those who turned the world upside down.

But, by his own admission, all of this and everything else he accomplished for the Lord in his lifetime would be worthless and pointless if, intermingled with all this activity and work, he had not been involved in THE basic ministry of soul winning … “…telling others the Good News about God’s wonderful kindness and love.”

In other words, stack up everything else that he did and accomplished for the Lord in his lengthy ministry – including receiving revelation from the Lord that became the content of half of the New Testament – and he states, it would all amount to absolutely nothing IF he had not also been, in the midst of all of life and ministry, telling others the Gospel of salvation. This from the man who was honored to visit the third heaven by personal invitation from the Lord – the only way anyone is allowed to do so as the Bible does not state this is a right or even a priveledge of believers.

Paul had discovered a truth. Every believer is called – called to be a soul winner for the Lord. This is the basic call on every Christian’s life. Oh, I know, people chase after prophets and apostles to find out what their call is, what ministry the Lord has planned for them and the details of that ministry. However, even when a believer receives this type of prophetic word and comes to know something about their destiny in the Lord… this should not be the focus of their walk with the Lord. Jesus did not say “follow Me and I will make you a prophet (apostle, pastor, worship leader….)”. He said, “follow me and I will make you fishers of men (soul winners).” This is basic to every believer’s life and must come first.

If a believer does not pursue and fulfill this first calling upon their life – there will be little likelihood of any subsequent calling ever coming to pass. If a believer is not working with the foundational structures of a healthy Christian life (witnssing and winning souls, tithing, prayer, Bible reading and study, forgiving, loving, accepting) there is little fear that the Lord will ever allow a building (ministry – calling) to be built upon the faulty or imcomplete foundation.

As well, if a building is built – a ministry is launched – by effort and will power (in the flesh and not by the Spirit) it will not last. It will, one day, collapse due to the faulty foundation it is built upon. And, regretfully, many undiscerning lives that have been influenced by the ministry will be damaged and defiled. This is why the scriptures tell us to “know those who labor among you…” There will be wolves dressed as sheep, false teachers, prophets, apostles and even false Christs. Much will be taught “by revelation” that is not from Heaven or from the heart of the Father even though it sounds good and is presented using Bible verses.

One of the key Bible tests for all ministries – and all true converts to the Christian faith – is whether they are fulfilling the basic call upon he life of every believer, ministry, church, network (denomination, union) to seek and save the lost. If they are not – don’t follw them as they are not following the Master who specifically stated to His first followers (and all since) “follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.”

One Year Ago – The Death of Michael Jackson

It is appointed unto man one to die and then the judgment. That’s what the Bible states. And, one year ago yesterday Michael Jackson, the king of pop, died suddenly and unexpectedly and stood immediately before the King of kings and was judged.

Believers in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ who have received His forgiveness and worship Him as God (which He is) and serve Him with their whole hearts honoring Him in all their ways (having made him Lord and Savior recognizing He is the only way to Heaven) are not judged for their sins as they have all been forgiven and the penalty has been paid by the Lord when He shed His blood on the Cross of Calvary. They are, however, judged for the good works that God prepared and planned for them to accomplish in His Name (Ephesians 2:20). These good works see us doing what He did in His ministry during His three years leading up to the Cross and Good Friday – Easter Sunday (John 14:12).

But, non-believers, the instant they die face judgment for their sins because they have condemned themselves by refusing to believe on the only One who offers forgiveness and life – Jesus. The Lord said this Himself immediately following the most famous and well-known verse in the Bible, John 3:16. Let’s look at it for a minute.

John 3:16-21 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

Belief (total trust) in Jesus Christ as the Way, the Truth and the Life is the way to be forgiven and to enter into Heaven. Failure to acknowledge Jesus and accept his sacrificial death on the Cross on our (your) behalf means we have condemned ourselves to an eternity in Hell without Christ and the love of the Father. Good works will not get you there – even the good works that have been attributed to Michael Jackson. Nothing counts except knowing Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. And, regretfully, having grown up as a Jehovah Witness and then converting to the Mormon faith Michael was not a born again believer and thus the king of pop stood before the King of kings and was judged for his sins as all unbelievers – even religious ones – are.

Yesterday thousands of fans flew from all over the world to walk past where Michael Jackson was buried. Others worldwide celebrated his life and legacy in numerous ways. I hope someone was there letting them know, either by preaching or through literature, that there are two things they need to know and two things they need to do to have a personal relationship with the living God through Jesus Christ His Son and thus be assured of a place in Heaven when we die.

Two things we need to know:
1> That God loves and that He loves everyone equally. And in this love He wills that all people would be saved or born again so they can spent now and forever in a relatiosnhip with Him. Their choice.
2> That like all those who are in love He gives a gift to us -the gift of His Son to die on the cross for the forgiveness of our personal sins to open the way for this personal relationship.

Two things we need to do:
1> Believe in Him (Romans 10:9-10) which means to totally trust Him in all areas of your life and recognize that He is the only way into Heaven and not one of many ways.
2> Receive from Him the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23b and John 17:3) which is a personal relationship with Him now and forever.

As far as we know Michael Jackson did not believe and did not receive. The Jehovah Witnesses and the Mormons do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as revealed and declared by the Bible. So, one year ago yesterday, the king of pop stood before the King of kings and faced eternity without having his sins forgiven and washed clean. Really not something to celebrate nor a life worth following regardless of his accomplishments. Really just simply a sad man who needed to find true meaning and purpose in a personal relationship with the living God and failed to do so.

Heavenly Minded But …

Well, let’s see what is wrong with this picture. You have a man in a business suit standing on a beach. On a beach guys would normally wear board shorts, a t-shirt and runners or flip-flops. So, a young man fully dressed for the office looks out of place and definitely over-dressed for the occasion.

Let me ask a question to all the believers who read this blog – do you often stick out and look out-of-place. Maybe not over-dressed but simply uncomfortable and uneasy in certain situations? Maybe it is the dress code; or maybe the circumstances you find yourself in (office party); or the direction the conversation is going; off-colored jokes…

Often because we are believers and mostly associate with and fellowship with believers as well as holding to a different moral standard than some who do not follow Jesus – we don’t always feel comfortable among those who don’t share the same belief structure and thus live a different life style. Yet, we are following Jesus and He was sincerely comfortable and very much at home with sinners and enjoyed His time with them in their homes and in public places. He never felt or looked out of place or awkward as the religious people of His day did (the pharisees and sadducees).

Jesus simply loved people and this enabled Him to look past the sin, the life-style, the expectations of others, the rules of the religious people and what people might think of him and simply enjoyed being with people and showing them the love, acceptance and forgiveness that comes only from God the Father. He was able to fit in and never looked out of place … expect maybe when among the religious hypocrites. He was comfortable with who He was and what He had been sent by the Father to accomplish (seek and save the lost).

Yet His followers often look out of place and certainly feel awkward in certain situations and with certain people. They are “in the world but not of the world” but have taken that to such an extreme that they simply no longer fit in the real world with real people. Often believers are not secure in who they are in Christ and therefore feel threatened by those who live another way or believe something different and thus ignore or, worse still, oppose what they believe as Christians. Believers feel defensive when our approach should be offensive as we storm the gates of hell.

We are called to be salt and light. That means we have to be in touch with and involved in the lives of the people around us who are not followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. This necessitates that we become comfortable with them and in non-Christian situations as non-believers notice when we are uncomfortable or uneasy with what they are saying or doing. Salt, to add flavor, must be in and upon the meat; light to be effective must shine into and will push back the darkness – it was designed to do so.

So, believers – we need to make friends with non-believers; learn to relate; hang out where they hang out; interact and talk about things they are interested in and that they are involved in. Watch the news, know what is happening in the sports world, follow the trends in society -who and what is influencing the teens and youth of your area. Come to know the current affairs of the city or town in which you live. Become part of the community and your neighborhood and connect. Failure to connect will mean fewer opportunities to share the Gospel with others who need to hear it. And, an appearance of being totally out of it and so heavenly minded that you are apparently no earthly good.

It is time to begin to interact with and touch the lives of non-believers in a substantial and eternal way. Jesus did and He calls us to follow Him and do the same – learn the ways of the fish and think like a fish so that you can catch them on their turf and on their terms. Or, as Paul states: “I became all things to all men that I might win some to Christ.”

An Audience Of One!

If you are going to live faithfully and effectively for God as a believer, you must make sure that you are playing to the right audience. So, the question to ask yourself is, “Who are you looking to for your praise and acceptance?”

Often Christian leaders have difficulties making hard choices and harder decisions because they are playing to the wrong audience. They’re playing to the people who pay them instead of to the God who made them. And, almost as bad, they are playing to insiders rather than outsiders.

To please God who made you and to lead a church effectively so that it is winning the lost and doing what Jesus came to do – “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10) – you must be about your Father’s business as He is the one who called you to be a believer and a leader and it is His Church. Often the Father’s business and the demands of the people are not the same.

Leader or believer you must still be aware that you are most effective and efficient as a follower of Jesus when you are playing to an audience of One – God Himself. The praises of men are nice but they never last and often turn on you as they did on Jesus. During His entry into Jerusalem the weekend He was crucified they shouted praises to God for Him as He rode in on a colt. Shortly afterwards the same crowd of people were shouting “crucify Him, crucify Him.” The praises of men and even those you help in some wonderful way will fade. Learn early in your walk as a believer and a leader that you are to play to an audience of One.

I believe this is one of the major “issues” in the life of the Church today. We are trying to please man and by doing so are not pleasing God. I believe this is true in almost all aspects of the life of the Church. We preach to meet a need – instead of preaching to please God. We worship in a certain, acceptable way geared to those who attend and those we are trying to attract. We behave in a certain way that is acceptable behavior in that particular group so that we please man – when God may be asking us to be and do something different and maybe even a little out of the ordinary. The way we dress, the way we speak, the things that we do – almost always done so we can fit in to the group that we are relating to – which means we are playing to the wrong audience.

I believe this is also the issue when it comes to witnessing to others – we are not playing to an audience of One. We are concerned with what others will think; we are fearful of rejection; we don’t want to turn people “off”. In other words – we fear man and not God. We are playing to the wrong audience.

In my life, over the past ten years, I have been working very diligently and on a daily basis to be more aware of why I do what I do the way I do it. What motives this behavior or that response? What causes me to back down in a stuation ripe for witnessing? Why I do certain things and don’t do other things? Major and minor items have all come under examination. And, I have had to make numerous changes – internal ones first (thoughts, feelings, expectations) but they have always resulted in outward changes in behavior, relationships, ministry, and actions. I really do want to be “playing to an audience of One” and not doing things simply because I have always done them, done them that way, or because of people’s expectations.

It has not been easy at times – but it has always been a challenge and I believe it has been very worthwhile and seriously beneficial to my walk with the Lord and the ministry He has called and empowered me to carry out on His behalf.

Students of the Culture

I like what Bred Powell (Senior Pastor of NorthRidge Church in Plymouth, Michigan) said when discussing how to be culturally relevant so that your town or city will listen to you and your message –the Gospel of salvation.

Of course, there are a number of key disciplines necessary for learning to communicate God’s truth in a culturally relevant way. We must become honest students of God’s truth. We can’t allow ourselves to continually accept and embrace what we’ve been told. We must honestly investigate God’s truth on our own. We must become students of people. This is the only way to insure that your ministry (and life) is connecting to the genuine needs of people. And finally, we must become students of the culture.”

We must:
1> Become students of God’s Word – read and realize
2> See Scriptures through new eyes – honestly investigating God’s truth – remove and reveal
3> Become knowledgable of the people around you – reconnect and relate4> Know and understand the culture you are working in – research and relish

As believers and as churches – to reach out and touch the lives of those who are lost and who do not personally know Jesus as Lord and Savior – we must work hard and consistently as there are a number of major changes that we are needing to make. I believe, right now, that most churches are “culturally irrelevant” and that is why so many people choose to simply ignore their existance.

From what they know of the Church (and it gets less and and less with each new generation) they see little to no value in spending time with this group called Christians. They do not know our message and because of the way we have handled ourselves in our culture they do not believe there is any need to come to know the message. In fact, the impression they have of us (the image we are publicly portraying) is so far from the true Christian message and the real issues that they face daily that they have simply written us off.

So, seeing that the Church is God’s idea and that Jesus said He will build His Church (through us), it would be a good idea to become serious students of God’s Word. A fifteen minute devotional reading of some passage in the morning (a jolt of God along with a jolt of coffee or a Red Bull) simply won’t do it. We need to READ and study, delve into the Word of God and come to realize and even practice the wonderful truths that are found there. The Word needs to be read, studied, understood, and applied daily to our personal lives. We – the believers – need to come to REALIZE that the Bible truly is living and active and powerful (Hebrews 4:12 and Isaiah 55:11) and that we cannot live spiritually without our “daily bread” … and we need to hear from God daily what He is saying today for “man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” To offer life to others we must be experiencing it ourselves.

We must see God’s Word through new eyes – we have to REMOVE the colored glasses through which we now view the Scriptures. We all see the words of the Bible and understand them through colored eyeglasses. We see them through the lenses of what we have been taught over the years – some of which has been good and some has been tradition. We see the Word of God through the lenses of the religious group that we grew up with – and every group has an “axe to grind” or a reason they exist and thus a slightly different slant on key teachings of the Bible. We have our own opinions based on our experiences and these are often non-biblical. We need to become honest with ourselves and become ruthless – throwing things out and making room for God to REVEAL new truths from His Word. Of course, it won’t be new – just new to us.

Thirdly – to become evangelistic and effective soul-winners – we need to get to really know those we are going to be reaching for Jesus. We need to RECONNECT and RELATE. We need to really live among them, spend time with them, listen to and come to understand them, and simply come to know who they really are beneath the busy lifestyle and what their deep concerns and fears are.

Often believers live in their own little world relating to other believers (we call it fellowship) and interact with the world in a superficial way because we are so busy in the Church and with the Church. It is time to become part of our local communities and connect with people. It is time to learn their language and stop speaking in a way that only believers can understand. It is time to become involved with the things they are involved in so we can come to know them in their natural surroundings. And, it is time to change the way we present or deliver our message so it relates to and can be understood by those who think we are ancient history and wish we would simply go away.

And finally, taking a larger look at the people we have come to RECONNECT with and now RELATE to we need to come to know and understand the “culture” we find ourselves in (or are ministering to). We need to RESEARCH and RELISH the society… the historical roots, the make-up of the society (the cultural mix), the traditions, the activities, the modes of entertainment, the standards by which they operate, their beliefs… Because you are an “ambassador for Christ” you must understand the culture that you are representing (the Christian faith) and those to whom you are presenting the message (the culture). You are to “be in the world” without being sucked in to being “of the world.” You are to be a valuable part of the culture in which you find yourself – dress like, look like, speak like, and live like – but basing what you do on the unchangable standards and message of the Christian faith. So, enjoy the culture you find yourself in as you are a cross-cultural missionary to them and so RECONNECT and RELATE to those you are called to minister to in the Name of Jesus.

Sound like a lot of work? Yes, it is! But even if one soul is saved and enters eternity knowing Jesus Christ it will be worth it. And, if the church that you attend and love wants to survive and even thrive – fulfilling God’s plan and purpose for it – then it is absolutely necessary that you and others begin to change and become active in the only task the Lord left His Church (you and I) to accomplish – seeking and saving the lost.

If your church is not growing and seeing new converts on a regular basis – then this blog is for you. Take it personally!

From a Move of God to a Mausolem

The seven stages of a ‘Move of God’ – From Life to Death

God MOVES upon a person – Seriously touches life with great “implications in (their) life”
Holy Spirit comes and hammers on a person

As is happening today

As seen in some of the stories in “The God Chasers”

Read more

God Can Only Be Experienced in the Present

People need to personally experience – let’s use a stronger word – encounter the living God. Only then will Church and the events of the Sunday worship assembly have meaning and life. Only then will worship and fellowship come alive and become dynamic and powerful.

Often we come to celebrate the “God of the past” – the things that He use to do. We hear testimonies about what God was doing a number of years ago. It is as if God is some historical figure from the distant past and He is no longer active and alive among His people today. It leaves people with the impression that apparently He use to do great things and transform lives but recently He has been somewhat inactive.

Isaiah the prophet had God locked into the past. This allowed him to preach God’s truth and judgment without taking stock of his own life. That is until God clearly revealed Himself in Isaiah 6… Suddenly, he was personally standing in God’s presence. His attitude changed. Rather than pointing his fingers at others while remaining unaffected, he fell on his face before God. His personal experience with God changed his life and ministry.

The same thing happened in Saul’s life – the Saul who became Paul the apostle. He was living for and worshipping a God who lived in history. He knew nothing of a personal or living relationship with God. His love for God was a love for the academic. He loved God as a person loves the beauty of a museum piece. Then God showed up.

When Paul personally experienced the reality of God in his own life, it changed everything. God wasn’t something to talk about. He was someone to know. God wasn’t about routine and tradition. He was about singing a new song and present-day truth. He transformed Paul’s life and ministry.

This is what needs to happen in the Church today. People need to be personally encountering God during the worship, teaching and fellowship. People need to be having “now” experiences with God – biblically solid and not flakey, solidly scriptural but an encounter with God nonetheless – a touch from the Father that changes their heart and their lives forever.

This will change the Church service. No Sunday will be like and oher Sunday. Each week will be different. People will want to be there and will come early. Testimonies will be fresh and vibrant – about changed lives and renewed hope. Celebration will be the main emphasis. Touching and being touched by God the goal as this honors Him and brings glory to His Name. Life change will become a weekly occurance but always exciting. There will be a new dynamic to the worship as God will be so much more real, alive, a present reality, vibrant and “here for us.”

And, as lives begin changing, people start talking. It creates a buzz around the church and throughout the community (regardless of the size of the church or the community). As a result, people start coming to check out what all the talk is about. Along the way, many of them experience God and their lives change. In no time, the church is working as it should and providing genuine hope in a hopeless world.

But first the leaders need to recognize that God can only be experienced in the present. They need to begin to think about worship as a now encounter with the living God and make this weekly touch from the father the goal of the service and the time the saints spend together on a Sunday. Everything that does not encourage an encounter – remove it. Anything that would enable and release the Holy Spirit to move in a dynamic way – focus on it. And then watch God transform His Church by changing lives as only God can do.