God Became a Man

The early Christians realized that the scandalous edge of their faith was not that they were attributing deity to a human being (calling Jesus God), but that they were attributing humanity to a deity (calling God a man).

For them, the question was not, Can a man be God? But Can or would the one God, Creator of the cosmos, dare to become a man?

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The Shell That Remains

Many people who start out loving the Lord soon find themselves back in religion and devoid of any real feeling of love for the Savior. In fact, religion is what is left after a true love has been trained away.

Doug Banister writes, “Religion is the archrival of intimate spirituality…Religion , a tiresome system of manmade dos and don’ts, woulds and should – impotent to change human lives but tragically capable of devastating them – is what is left after a true love for God has drained away. Religion is the shell that is left after the real thing has disappeared.”

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No Surprise

“It is no surprise, in view of His teachings and actions, that Jesus was crucified. What is surprising is that it did not happen sooner.” (Ben Witherington III)

Jesus’ teachings and most of His actions would have been seen by religious people as more than mildly irreligious; He would have been considered a complete radical and one who was against what God had set up through Moses thousands of years before. This is because He was against it. He clearly had an irreligious agenda that was determined to bypass the salvation system of His day to connect people directly with God. His teachings and actions, according to the religious standards and teachings of His day, were absolutely scandalous.

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Being Like Jesus

Gandhi once remarked, “I don’t reject your Christ, I love your Christ. It’s just that so many of you Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

The reason the early disciples of the Lord (the Book of Acts) were able to turn the known world upside down in such a short time was they were so much like Jesus. The early disciples were intimately connected with Jesus, like a body to its head. Remember, Paul tells us that the Church is the Body of Christ and Jesus is the Head of the Church. And, as long as the disciples stayed intimately connected to the Head they continued to love as He loved and radically alter the world one life at a time.

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Causing a Scandal

Soren Kierkegaard once said, “Act just once in such a manner that your action expresses that you fear God alone and man not at all – you will immediately in some measure cause a scandal.” I believe that. In fact, if we follow the Lord and do as He asks of us we will find that our days are never boring and will often scandalise others.  We will be somewhat unpredictable and definitely not politically correct.

Dorothy Sayers writes, “The people who hanged Christ never, to do them justice, accused Him of being a bore; on the contrary, they thought Him too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround Him with an atmosphere of tedium.” I also believe this as well. Read more

The fast eats the slow

Looking at the life of the Church and what has happened in the past in the Kingdom and in “Church-dom”  we could say that the big ate the small, so the key was to grow a large church before you got swallowed up and you grew a large church with a lot of programming and complexity

In the present day the fast eats the slow. So, the key to a healthy and growing church is to grow a nimble church of flexible teams and only essential and basic programming. And, the programming must be built relationally. Thus the church needs to abort any ministry that is not working. Our motto should be – must be – “Jesus is the only thing that we promise will never change.”

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Commitment and a Covenant

I have made a commitment to be single-focused in my teaching and preaching in 2012. If you want to see the church grow then you will join me and allow this to be our only focus for the year. The key to growing strong believers and a healthy and thus growing church is the preaching of the person and work of Jesus Christ from the Bible every week with passion and clarity. The issue is always, only, fully, uncompromisingly, and exclusively Jesus.

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Prophetic School and Leaders Seminars

Each day while here in Novomoskovsk I am meeting in the early morning with a union or denominational leader. The host for the week has allowed me to be free of obligations to teach from 9:00a to 11:00a and so I have scheduled meetings with men whom I mentor and work closely with in the nation of Russia. It is good to fellowship and pray together as I help them take the next step in their ministry.

Then I am teaching a Leadership Seminar in the afternoon to regional pastors. The topic advertized was “How to Handle the Messes of Ministry” and I am not sure exactly what is expected to be covered and the host was not specific when we asked him a month ago about the topic he chose. So, I am flying a little blind and hope after some conversations with local leaders to have a better idea of what I am doing.

In the evenings I am doing a “Prophetic Conference” and it is open to the public. By Friday the conference takes over the whole day – morning, afternoon and evening so as people become free of work obligations the number of sessions a day increases. In total I am expected to teach on 12 different topics regarding the prophetic. It will be a hectic pace between meetings, preparation, and actual meetings with prophetic ministry.

Your prayers for this whole week in the city of Novomoskovsk are greatly appreciated. When you pray my work is so much easier and God accomplishes so much more. I really appreciate you standing with me and with my team of Eastern Europeans in prayer each day. It is so important.

Picture: One of many worship teams who have worked closely with my ministry over the past 10 days

Not Comparing But…

I am now in my 5th city of this current trip overseas to the nations of Moldova and Russia. It has been a good trip and a powerful one with people saved, healed and set free. And, I have had a wonderful time fellowshipping with the saints in each and every city as I have ministered God’s Word. People willingly share their hearts.

Now, in many places in North America where I work that means I listen to their gossip, their aches and pains, their life-issues and all sorts of other complaints. Here many of the faithful followers of Jesus have a much more difficult life and yet, when talking with them, they are seriously on-fire for Jesus and He is their main subject of conversation.

Now, before you get on my case and say that this is to be expected because they don’t have so much pressure in life, their lives are not absorbed by their jobs, they live a slower pace …. and countless other reasons and excuses I often hear. Forget it – they work as hard and as long as you do; they have the same levels of stress; they have the identical family issues; they have the same financial pressures you live with… and they have the added weight of fewer modern conveniences and a lot let ready and available cash. Getting adequate food and shelter is often a main concern. They is really very little difference between them and us and even less difference as the recovery from Communism continues. In most buildings I have worked in these past two weeks – everyone sat with coats and hats on as there was little to no heat. Yet, they talk about Jesus, they are seriously involved getting people saved; and they are planting new churches often at great personal sacrifice.

What is the difference? Why the difference? What can we do about the difference? How can we persuade North American believers to talk about Jesus? He certainly is not currently their favorite topic – far from it as they are in love with themselves and talk about themselves almost all of the time. It can be and often is so different elsewhere and I have been simply wondering why this morning as I sit waiting for my first appointment with three pastors who are making a difference in Russia and are seeing people saved and churches planted because of new believers and not recycled saints.

Have any thoughts? Would love to hear from you!

Picture: Joseph who pastors in city of Novomoskovsk, Russia. A night with absolutely no heat and it was eventually seriously cold in the building.

New Moscow

It is Wednesday and I am in the city of Novomoskovsk in Russia. This is my second day here but my first full day of ministry as yesterday we arrived around lunch time and had only two sessions. It was a long day however as we had been up since 4:00a to fly from Moldova to Russia. Today I also only have two sessions the same as yesterday – a leaders training meeting in the early afternoon and a prophetic conference meeting in the evening.

The morning was to have been a time to relax and maybe even sleep in. However, we are now meeting with a leadership council of a union of churches that are looking for input about some aspects of their life together and how to move into more of the apostolic and prophetic. They contacted us last week while we were in Moldova and wanted us to meet with them twice while in Russia. We are doing so as we really do want to help them. So a full day of meetings and teaching times as well as some prophetic ministry as we slowly move those attending the prophetic conference into the prophetic flow.

Your prayers for our meetings with the council from a union of churches as well as our meetings with individual pastors during the day (coffee and meal breaks) would be greatly appreciated. These unscheduled meetings with pastors who serve in the front lines of the church’s advance here in Russia are a real encouragement to them and so we work hard to stay fresh and ready to help even when the meeting is unscheduled and somewhat spontaneous.

Remember, your prayers do make a difference and we seriously appreciate your joining us in this manner in our groundbreaking work here overseas.

Picture: Sunday morning in Moldova – a local church meets to worship and three people were saved as a result of my testimony…