Afraid to Love

It is true:

That those closest to us can, and often do, hurt us the most

Reject, divorce, fail to understand, judge, criticize

And then, often we are afraid to reach out and love again

If you minister to someone in their time of need

Love them, accept, help, pray for, support them – – – That they often walk away, never say thanks, speak against you, gossip, spread rumours, abuse you

And then, often we are afraid to reach out and love again Read more

Youth – Part One

God is interested in young people. And, in my ministry I work with young people between the ages of 16 to 36 everywhere that I go. In fact, many of the team members now coming with me on overseas trips are in their late teens and early twenties. They are an amazing asset to the ministry and I enjoy working with them immensely.

Young people today are looking for acceptance in the Church. Often they don’t feel accepted because they are treated as “kids.” Teenagers today are much more mature and wise in the ways of the world than previous generations. They see life and engage with life at a level that previous generations never did and, in many ways, still don’t. They are looking for meaning, purpose, and something to invest their lives in. And, the Church needs to notice them, work to understand them, and integrate them into the life and finer of the Church in a meaningful and challenging way.

God has always interacted with young people … and there are many examples of this in the Scriptures. A few include:

Joseph (the guy with the coat of many colours) who received two prophetic visions or dreams of his future role for God. He became a leader in Egypt and saved his people from starvation.

Joshua was just a young man when first chosen by Moses to be discipled and mentored and eventually released to lead God’s people into the Promised Land after the death of Moses.

Daniel was used by God as a teenager in the Babylonian Empire as he interpreted the dreams of the ruler and as he received many visions regarding the end times – viewed now on the same level as John the apostle’s Book of Revelation.

Jeremiah was chosen before he was conceived in his mother’s womb and became a prophet while still very young – a teenager. God even had to remind him, “Do not say, I am only a youth…” (Jeremiah 1:7a)

Mary, the mother of Jesus, was in her middle teens when she became pregnant through the work of the Holy Spirit. She was used mightily by the Lord and was a vital part of the early Church.

Timothy was a young man discipled and mentored by Paul and he became an apostle and did some amazing work in the city of Ephesus and elsewhere in his early years of life.

The list could go on … but, my point is that God used and uses young people and we need to not neglect the amazing asset that young people are in the Church today.

And, the young people need to not let the Church and church leaders just brush them off, ignore them, entertain them, or keep them from being a part of the ministry and the leadership of the Church. Young people need to stand up and be noticed.

Paul’s comment to Timothy bears repeating: “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).

More next time….

 

Investing In The Younger Generation

I have been working with young people the last few days as I minister in Western Canada. God is truly moving among young people whose hearts are open to Him and hungry for more. Here, as elsewhere, many young lives have been touched by God’s Holy Spirit and the youth are excited and seriously embracing what God is doing in their personal lives as well as in the region in which they live and the people they relate to.

There is life. There is enthusiasm. There is commitment. There is hunger. There is a willingness to give sacrificially. And, many are totally sold out and willing to go anywhere and do anything that the Lord wants from them. It is refreshing to be working with and relating to them. It is so good to have a small part to play in their growth, development, and equipping.

Young people have a lot of knowledge. They are reading their bibles, they listen intently to teachings – both in person as well as on the internet – taking notes in their personal journals. They apply what they are learning and wrap it into the fibre of their lives immediately after hearing and learning something new. This is good because you really only believe what you apply and live. And, they are believing and applying rapidly.

What young people are often missing is wisdom. And, that wisdom is needed to bring balance into their lives and to help them to not make the same mistakes that older generations have made. Otherwise, they will simply reinvent the wheel. To gain the wisdom that they need, young people need mentors. They need older, more seasoned veterans of the Kingdom to come along of them. They need leaders and mature disciples of Jesus to relate to them, to walk with them, share life with them, to accept them for who they are, and teach them the “unforced rhythms of grace” that are found when yoked with Jesus in the work of His Kingdom.

But, often the older and wiser believers are too busy to help or even, at times, to notice the younger believers. This is sad because often the things that occupy our time are really simply more religious activity which is often unfruitful and of no benefit to the expansion of the Kingdom. It is time for the the wiser, older believers to invest their time in the younger generation and to stop wasting time and energy on often unproductive busyness that is not resulting in the lost being saved. It is time to be focused on “go into all your world and make disciples.” And, in everyone’s world there are younger believers needing discipling and mentoring. It is time to invest your time wisely in those younger than you who are in need of your life wisdom.

It is always exciting to be with young people who are passionate for Jesus and the cause of the Kingdom. There is such life when people are on fire for Jesus and we will share in that life and enthusiasm as we come along side and offer the younger generation an understanding heart and a helping hand.
Who are you investing in?

Such a Precious Gift – Time

Maybe it is because I have reached 70 years of age but I have been valuing my time more and more recently. I feel great, am in good health, still keep active, and work hard in a variety of ministries that the Lord has called me to. But, I must admit, I don’t have the strength nor the stamina that I use to have 40 years ago when I first met Jesus and was born again. I am thankful to have reached this age and to be in decent health and still actively engaged with God’s people and reaching out to the lost on a daily basis.

However, I realized many years ago that there are three things I can do with my time – with every day that the Lord gives to me to live for Him. I can waste it, I can spend it, or I can invest it. I can’t “save time” keeping it for later in the week or later in my life. I can’t “create” more time as the Lord has numbered each person’s days. I can either waste it, spend it, or invest it. I have, in the past, done al three. Over a decade ago I decided to no longer waste time. Now, I am at the point in my life that I am no longer willing simply to spend time. I want to invest the limited time that the Lord is blessing me with.

I work in many nations and in many places in North America. I am involved in many ministries and do a lot of discipling and mentoring. This involves face-to-face time with people and ministries as well as much computer time working on communicating through various channels now available to us. It is amazing work that I am honoured to do for the Lord. But, I digress.

Within the wide range of ministries and churches there are believers who are doing great things for God. They are wrestling with concepts and ideas about the Kingdom and the Church. They are moving forward in their walk with the Lord. They are ministering to the lost. They have open hearts and obedient wills and follow the Lord with great zeal and passion. They are investing their time in the Kingdom and in the plans and purposes of God for their lives, ministries, and local church. They are a joy to work with. They are responding to what the Holy Spirit is doing today and together we invest time – their’s and mine – in things that are important and eternal.

There are others, however, who are parked and not moving forward. They want to spend time with me. They want me to spend time with them – teaching them and ministering to them. They love the Lord but they love their comfort and security even more than the Lord. Yes, I can bless them. Yes, I can teach them. But, if what they are learning does not change them and does not influence and impact the way they are living – challenging them to change and engage more and more with the lost, the least, and the last … then I am just spending time. Enjoyable. Looks somewhat beneficial. But, really very self-centered and non-productive for the Kingdom.

I have recently decided that I am not willing to simply spent time ministering when there is no return for the King and the Kingdom. When the ministry and time spent does not result in change – individual and corporate – then I am simply spending time with believers. And, I am not interested in fellowship and teaching for the sake of fellowship and teaching. My call, as an apostle, is to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry.” So, if they are not changing and growing, reaching out and ministering to the lost then what we (and I) are doing is very narcissistic and self-centered. And, recently I have come to conclusion that I need to remove myself from these situations so as to no longer simply “spend time” ministering … when really the ministry is actually maintenance. And, I have not been called to maintain but to advance the Kingdom.

So, I am changing what I am doing, where I am doing it, and with whom / for whom I am doing it. I have determined that in these latter years I will no longer waste time with people who don’t want to change and grow. I will no longer spend time with those who are not moving forward with the King and the Kingdom reaching out to the lost as demanded and commanded by Jesus. But, if people want to grow, be equipped, and are interested in changing so that they can truly impact their communities and the nations I am certainly willing and eager to invest time in them.

So, much of the current ministry that I am involved in is coming to an end. By mid-October into the early part of winter in November (2017) I will have gently but in a very definite way removed myself from any and all current ministry engagements where equipping is not happening; where believers are not growing, developing, changing; and where disciples are not reaching out to impact the least, the least, and the lost with the Gospel of the Kingdom. It is time to tighten up the ministry and use my time – invest my time – wisely.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You May Not Be A Leader

Being called a leader does not make you a leader. In the church there are many leaders – some called elders – who are not leaders in the least. They have simply been asked to be a leader; appointed as a leader; have always been a leader as long as anyone can remember; assumed leadership because there was a vacuum in that realm.

Leadership is influence and if you are not influencing the direction of the local church then you are not a leader. You may have a few ‘groupies’ following you but that does not mean you are influencing the future of the church. In fact, it may be that you are simply hindering the local church from reaching its future. A leader is someone who can turn around and see the people they are impacting and that their labour among the saints is actually making a difference. If you think you are a leader and no one is following – you are simply out for a walk.

The Bible states that leadership (rulership) is a gift given by our Heavenly Father to some (Romans 12:8). That means many do not have this calling and gifting. And, if they don’t, then true disciples will not follow them as they are known b y their gift and leadership / leading is just not there.

There are too many self-appointed leaders within the church today and thus it often does not move forward and never achieves God’s desired future and plan for the local body of believes. People are given or assume the title of leader but have no spiritual gifting – and thus no spiritual authority – to lead. It is prevalent in many places where I work.

A leader needs to be able to see the big picture of the Kingdom while at the same time seeing the smaller picture of the role of the local church within that big picture. A leader needs to be able to see the “final product” that Jesus is building – the glorious church – and so be moving in tandem with the Lord of the Church. A leader needs to be strong and able to gather facts and opinions and, after consulting with others, make a decision and stick to it regardless.

A leader does not need the approval of the people but seeks for God’s approval. A leader can take a hard stand for what is right and handle, with the grace of God, the blowback from that stand. A leader has a strong personality and is able to make decisions on behalf of the people they lead without always defaulting to their own desires and opinions. A leader seeks for unity among the leaders team and the church in general. A leader is future looking and not enamoured by the past always wanting to repeat what was … and holds what was in such a high regard when really it was not all that great to start with. A leader is not afraid to express his own opinion and to confront those who are causing disunity and simply hindering progress. A leader is not looking to “keep the peace” because Jesus calls us “peacemakers” and not “peacekeepers.” A leader is apt to teach God’s Word – not their opinion, their preferences, and not strange “other gospels” that are so prevalent in the Church today.

It is time for many who call themselves elders / leaders to step down, resign, and stop hindering the movement of the Spirit. It is also time for those with a genuine call to leadership to step up and lead.