As disciples of Jesus we have to make a decision – a very important decision. Are you going to please God in your life and ministry or are you needing to please people. Many disciples are trying to please people – in their daily life, their ministry, and their leadership. And, as a result often the people dictate their actions, thoughts and therefore their life. Early in your walk with the Lord it is imperative that you examine your life and make a quality and permanent decision that you are going to live your life so that it is pleasing to God regardless of the consequences.

Paul talks about this in several of his letters to the churches found in the New Testament. In Galatians he states, “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10). He decided early in his Christian walk to please God. As a result, he had a tremendous impact upon his world that extends even to today through his writings.

The most important thing that I have learned in ministry as a leader is that you must choose who you lose. You are not going to make everyone happy. You need to figure out who you are going to make unhappy – and it should not be God. This means that there will usually be someone who does not like you or does not like what you are doing. There will be those who simply write you off. And, this is okay because even Jesus could not and did not please everyone. But, He did please His Father who publically acknowledges this a number of times by saying “This is My Son with whom I am well pleased.” (Mark 1)

We are to live our lives before an audience of one – our heavenly Father. We are to focus on pleasing one person – our heavenly Father. We are to look for approval from one person, our heavenly Father. We are to work for one person – our heavenly Father.

This will be difficult for some because they are co-dependant and need to be needed. Helping and pleasing others makes them feel good and feel wanted and needed. This will be difficult for those who are grace motivated (Romans 12) because their compassion and caring is often in overdrive and they want to help everyone who has a problem and fix them. This will be difficult for those who believe that God accepts them and is pleased with them because of what they do; those who are performance driven.

As disciples are called to do what Jesus tells us to do – these are called good works (see Ephesians 2:10 and John 14:12). But only those things Jesus tells us to do. There were many in the days when Jesus was training His disciples who did many good things but did not receive the blessing or thanks of the Lord for doing so. They did good things but not under the direction and leading of the Holy Spirit and so were not pleasing to God and simply fulfilled man’s agenda. (see Matthew 7:22-23). They were not God-pleasers in the least.

So, the decision that all true disciples have to make is simply put as: popular or powerful. You can’t be both.

Attitude Isn’t Everything

A long time ago I learned from one of my mentors that attitude makes a big difference in life. He taught me that my attitude towards life, although shaped by many different aspects in my past, my current situation in life, as well as my hope for the future – really boils down to a choice I need to make on a daily basis.

Each day I face many issues in many nations – legal, governmental, religious, relational. I work with and in difficult situations and often with people in crisis mode. There are time pressures, shortages of needed resources, lack of adequate manpower, and people living in very difficult and dangerous situations who need help right now!

I feel inadequate. I know I am limited in what I can do. I often feel powerless and overwhelmed. I pray and still bad things happen to good people. There never seems to be enough soon enough to make a major difference – an earth-shattering, world-changing difference.

But I live with tremendous hope in the midst of all this. I choose to be hopeful and optimistic. In many nations I disciple and mentor young people and these young people live with tremendous hope and optimimism and thus see and experience God’s power in the midst of very difficult circumstances. These young people are hungry for God and want to learn to minister supernaturally to their own people in their nations. Great things are happening -and we, who have so much to be thankful for, need to follow their example and live with hope in our hearts and an optimistic attitude about life and the future and move forward in God.

So, although attitude is not everything – but it does play a major role in moving forward the Kingdom of God in the midst of difficult situations. I am tremendously optimistic about what the young men I am discipling, training, equipping and mentoring can and will accomplish in the coming months and years as they continue to grow and mature in the Lord and reach out to the lost in their respective nations and elsewhere. Yes, things can be hard and we can appear to be making little progress in turning things around – but I choose to be optimistic because I see a younger generation who are hungry for the Lord and eager to learn and who are willing to do whatever it takes to turn their nations back to God.

Here in North America I see a slightly different picture but I still remain optimistic because “with God nothing is impossible.”

Good Works – Good Will – Good News

If you want a sure-fire way to win the lost here it is. Study the way the early church in the book of Acts did it and adopt their practices. Their format was simple – at the tail end of Acts 2 we see that the Church was already very successful in the impact it was having in their world at that time. Their strategy for reaching their world was good works, which leads to good will, which leads to openness to the Good News.

The good works we are called to do – see Ephesians 2:10 – are not acts of righteousness as seen in Matthew 6:1-2. No, good works involves doing what Jesus did and even more. It means walking in the power and anointing of God and touching lives supernaturally so as to let them know Jesus is alive and touching their lives right now! Jesus said, “The things that I do you will do also, and greater things…” (John 14:12). These are the good works – prophesying, giving words of wisdom and words of knowledge, releasing the healing anointing…These supernatural gifts which only born again and Spirit-filled believers can flow in will certainly let non-believers know that Jesus was raised from the dead and is truly alive today. These good works gets people’s attention.

Then you will find favor with God and with man and doors will open for you to share the love of God with others. Many opportunities will suddenly open up and move people towards faith in God. And, when God opens the door no one can close it, believe me – no one! And so, because you have found favor and people’s hearts are open to hear what you have to say – then you have a tremendous opportunity to tell them about God sending His Son to die for them.

They will receive the Good News because their hearts and minds have been opened. Then they can decide if they want to receive or reject the Gospel of the Kingdom and the salvation that God offers only through Jesus Christ. But your work has been done – you have managed to grab their attention and help God open their hearts by walking in obedience to His Word, walking in faith and flowing in the supernatural power of God AND you have shared the Good News. The rest is up to the Holy Spirit and the person. The Holy Spirit will convict them and they will need to respond by repenting with godly sorrow …

So remember, good works leads to good will which leads to openness to the Gospel.

Elijah Standing

Just as Gabriel stood in the presence of God so too did Elijah. In fact, Elijah had this expression, “As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand.” (1 Kings 17:1). Elijah claimed, “I stand before God, that’s what I do.” This in spite of the fact that the Lord had cultivated him and his gifts for ministry. He was a fairly fine-tuned and well-oiled ministry machine. But God had placed him on the shelf and had him in a “hold pattern.” He was to stand before the Lord.

During this time the Lord tested his claim that he was “one who stands before the Lord in His presence.” He was put under house arrest for three years. In the widow’s home during the famine, he couldn’t stick his head out the door because every nation on earth was looking for him. He was stuck in this hot, stuffy, bleak little house. No friends, no visiting prophets, no other voices to comfort him or to give him perspective. And the food? Frycakes for breakfast, frycakes for lunch, and more of the same for supper.

I can imagine Elijah thinking,Lord, why do you have all this ministry potential holed up in this widow’s house? I mean, in the last three years I could have raised up a whole graduating class in the School of the Prophets. We would be taking the nations by force! But no, here I stand and rot!” But Elijah didn’t respond that way because God had already taught him to stand before Him. So, when the time of testing came, Elijah was able to persevere and just stand before His God and minister to Him.

The Scriptures show us that God has mighty angels who stand in His presence, in some cases for hundreds of years, and wait for His bidding. With all their strength and might, God just has them standing before His throne and waiting on Him! If it were a matter of strength, God has all the strength and power in Heaven He needs! So, He is not looking for our strength or wisdom – in fact, if you listen you will hear the Holy Spirit whisper to you, “I don’t need your strength.”

It was not the strength of the eternal Son that bought our redemption; it was the fact that He was crucified in weakness that brought us salvation. God does not need our strength; He needs our availability. He’s just looking for us to stand in His presence, gaze upon Him, love Him, and fulfill His Word when He speaks.

Do you feel like you are between assignments? Then just stand there before Him, enjoy Him, and let Him enjoy you.!

Missional or Maintenance

It is important to understand that in the change that Jesus is bringing to His Church we will see an apostolic presence in each and every church that He is building. This does not mean each local church will have a resident apostle as there are simply not yet that many trained and released. However, each will have an “apostolic presence” where apostles have influence and input by remaining in good relationships with the elders that are in place. Read more

Gabriel Standing

Yesterday I was sharing about not always doing something but simply standing and waiting on the Lord. The best example of this is Gabriel. I love the story in a book by Bob Sorge,

When the angel Gabriel came to tell Zecharias that he would father John the Baptist, it was Gabriel’s second appearance in Scripture. Actually, Gabriel is seen three times in the Bible. He appeared the first time to Daniel, and then almost 600 years later he visited Zecharias, and then he came to Mary six months later to announce her impregnation by the Holy Spirit. When Gabriel came to Zecharias with God;s message, Zecharias dod not believe his words. In response to Zechariah’s unbelief, Gabriel rose up to reinforce the certainty of his message by declaring, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God.” (Luke 1:19)

“So what do you do, Gabriel?” we might ask.
“I stand in the presence of God.”
“Yes, we understand that, but what do you do?”
“Actually, I stand in the presence of God.”
“Yes, yes, Gabriel, we understand that! But what we’re asking is, who do you DO?”
Gabriel would say, “That’s what I do! I stand in the presence of God. I stand there, beholding His majesty and splendor, burning with His holy flame, and wait upon Him until He speaks. If He says nothing, I just stand there. When He gives me a word, then I move out to fulfill it. But mostly what I do is just stand there before God and wait on Him.”

Between Daniel and Zecharias is a 600-year period during which we hear nothing from Gabriel; then between Zecharias and Mary was a six-month period. That was the busy season! What did Gabriel do between assignments? He just stood there.

Done much standing recently? Jesus called us to “be with Him” and not just do for Him (Mark 3:14) and some times that simply means to just stand there.

Don’t Just Do Something – Stand There!

I am a doer. I hit the floor each morning running and there is always much to do, people to meet, things to write, places to visit, trips to plan, and teachings to prepare. I don’t mind in the least as I am a doer. I like busy and I seriously know that I am in the center of God’s will for my life. My life is based on “don’t just stand there, do something!”

But recently it seems the Lord has reversed that on occasion. He has recently said on several occasions, “Don’t just do something, stand there!” In other words, when you don’t know exactly what to do, don’t just so something – rather wait on God. He has asked that I wait on Him, stand before Him, minister to Him. Until…until He speaks. When He speaks then I can can move out in response to what He has said, But, until He speaks, I have not been free to move – simply stand there.

It is like being a Levite as found in Deuteronomy 10:8 where they stood before the Lord to minister to Him. It is like Psalm 16:8 where the Psalmist records, “I have always set the Lord before me.” Now this is not always easy for me as I am a doer. Oh! I said that already. Well, I am a doer and just standing there is not easy for me. I had to learn to do nothing – but yet it is something. I had to learn to not accomplish – but really, in the long haul, I accomplish so much more. I had to learn to be still and know that He is God – which I already knew, sort of. I had to learn to trust Him and just stand there. I had to stop worrying that others might think I was slacking off and overcome the feeling that I was.

It has been a tough but somewhat short journey. Maybe it has not ended yet but I have learned to just stand there. Even when thinking about what to teach on a Sunday I now first just stand there and minister to Him. The last two Sundays I have ministered away from my own local church on Sunday mornings. I dove in and began to write teachings for both when the were scheduled many months ago. But each time I heard the Lord say, “Don’t just do something, stand there” and so I did. Not easy – but important. And, a different way to receive guidance and direction for me when it comes to teaching direction (topic or subject) and content. But, in both places God blessed people and set people free and the results were amazing.

So, the next time you are thinking of rushing out to do something you are good at and having been doing for eons – pause for a second and see what the Lord is saying. If he is not talking to you about the specific thing you are rushing out to do for Him – stop! Don’t just do something, stand there. When you have heard from Him … then you can move forward with Him and not just for Him. The results are amazing – and will seriously amaze you!

The Missional Church

One of the things we need to come to understand in this current season of shaking going on in the Church is the idea of being “missional.” Missional is not a form of church. It is a label we give to the qualitative or descriptive aspect of how a church actually lives. It is about how much like Jesus the people of the Church become and how muck they influence, woo, and transform the culture in which they are placed. Read more

Vision Collision

One of the reasons that churches are not healthy and thus the disciples belonging to them are not reproducing more disciples as they lead people to the Lord is that there is often a conflict of vision within the church. Thus they are experiencing a vision collision.

The vision of the church is not something that we need to seek or that we have to design and decide for ourselves. The vision for the church is literally dictated in Scripture. The Bible states that Jesus is building His Church and so it is His vision. The Scriptures are clear on many aspects of this Church that Jesus is building; activities (Acts 2:42), mission (Matthew 28:18-20), doctrine (book of Romans), way to worship (book of Hebrews)…. So, our task is simply to seek the Lord on a daily basis and follow His leading. His vision is clear. The problem is we each have our own ideas of what the Church should look like and how it should function. Thus we have a vision collision.

There are usually two problems that arise. The first vision collision is that the leader often has a vision of his own based on what he believes and thinks the church should look like and how it should function. He has his hopes and dreams; his desires and passions; his strengths – and he builds around these. Thus there is an immediate vision collision between the visible leader or head of the church – the pastor – and the actual Head of the Church – Jesus.

But also many of the gifted and called within the body of the church also have a vision – for the church and for their own ministry. And. thus there is a second vision collision. Their vision is that the local body and especially the leadership will recognize their gifts and calling and launch them into ministry by giving them a place to minister and then releasing and supporting their ministry full-time as they move out to the wider body of Christ. Of course, this is not why the Church exists. Your gifts and calling and thus your vision for your ministry and place in the Kingdom must fit within the larger vision of the local church. Your ministry and calling must serve the larger calling of the local church to which you belong. Again, a vision collision – a double vision collision.

For a local church to be healthy and for it to be built biblically and thus the way Jesus wants it built every member of the body of that local church must share the vision of the Church as set out in the Bible. And, they must submit their gifts and callings – their personal vision – to the wider vision of the local church… serving and ministering to bless the church and do so with correct motives. They must submit and serve.

All and every vision collision must be dealt with so that the local church can be healthy and whole – thus reproducing itself as it plants more churches and each and every disciple within the church must be actively evangelizing and making disciples.