Motivation – Part One

What motivates you in your daily living? What drives you to get out of bed and go forward for another day and then another day and then another? Scores of people are motivated by fame, money, power, and pleasure. In fact, these motivations have become a $10 billion industry with folks eagerly handing over their time and money for self-help books, on-line courses, and motivational seminars. We want to know the secret to becoming a one-minute manager and a millionaire next door. We want to enjoy a shorter work week and the sculpt our bodies in ten days so we can master the art of attraction. We’ll research, pour over countless quotes from historical figures, and analyze the habits of successful people in order to distill the truths of what truly compels us.

Your motivation is the reason why you do what you do. It’s the thing, person, feeling, or goal that drives you to act. It’s whatever you’re living for.

To put it simply, we’re either driven by eternal motivations or by worldly motivations. 

One example of worldly motivation would be money or financial reward. Employees work hard for the promise of raises, incentives, and bonuses. Professional athletes work tirelessly for large contracts and signing bonuses. Sales teams rally together to achieve the best sales in their region and win their all-expenses paid trips to costal destinations. Money is a powerful motivator, albeit a temporary one. After all, as Proverbs 23:5 says, “Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.”

For some money means nothing, but success and accomplishment are everything. Parents will make big financial sacrifices in order to prepare their child to become the next president, CEO, or neurosurgeon. A college student will practically live in the library in order to make the dean’s list. Musicians may practice until their fingers are bloody for a standing ovation. Success feels good. Like the other motivations, it can be quite seductive – making us feel important, even ‘better than’ others. Success leads us to believe we have done something worthwhile wth our lives. But again, it is only a temporary motivator. 

Another popular worldly motivation is the desire to affect change and influence. Every year millions of people from around the world give to causes larger than themselves, wanting to make a difference. Church mission outreaches to indigenous people groups, marathons for medical research, disaster relief teams, the Peace Corps, the Red Cross, and many more organizations draw volunteers from all walks of life, all of them hoping to show that their lives mean something. 

The desire to make a positive change on this planet is a good thing, and there are many important causes to rally behind. But if that becomes our main focus, or we seek to obtain meaning and significance in our charitable work, we miss an incomparable opportunity to make a spiritual and an eternal difference in the lives of others. 

Temporary motivations distract mankind from the truth. Even as Christians we may fool ourselves into believing that making money or being liked is more important than preaching or sharing the Gospel of the Kingdom. Success, notoriety, and influence can call to us like sirens, pulling is into their unfulfilling whirlpools. Clever deception masquerades as authenticity, and temptation abounds.

We live in a day and age when sound doctrine is being replaced with self-serving ideas that are devoid of spiritual truth and life. Churches across the world are dying because they no longer accurately preach and teach God’s Word. It is quite possible that we have arrived at the dreadful hour Paul warned his disciple Timothy about. A time “when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (2 Timothy 4:3)

Paul also predicted that there would be terrible times in the last days. In 2 Timothy 3:2-5, he wrote:

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.”

Does any of this sound familiar to you? To love oneself is humanism. To love money is materialism. To love pleasure is hedonism. All three are major motivators in the world today. 

As believers and disciples of Jesus we must not allow these worldly motivators dictate how we live our lives. So what should be our motivation as Christians?

  • The answer next time…

THE LIGHTHOUSE …

On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur there was once a crude little lifesaving station.  The building was just a hut, and there was only one boat, but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea, and with no thought for themselves went out day and night tirelessly searching for the lost.  Many lives were saved by this wonderful little station, so that it became famous.  Some of those who were saved, and various others in the surrounding area, wanted to become associated with the station and give of their time and money and effort for the support of its work.  New boats were bought and new crews trained.  The little lifesaving station grew.

    Some of the members of the lifesaving station were unhappy that the build­ing was so crude and poorly equipped.  They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge of those saved from the sea.  So they re­placed the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture in the en­larged building.  Now the lifesaving station became a popular gathering place for its members, and they decorated it beautifully and furnished it exquisitely, because they used it as a sort of club.  Fewer members were now interested in going to sea on lifesaving missions, so they hired lifeboat crews to do this work.  The lifesaving motif still prevailed in this club’s decoration, and there was a liturgical lifeboat in the room where the club initiations were held.  About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boatloads of cold, wet, and half-drowned people.  They were dirty and sick, and some of them had black skin and some had yellow skin.  The beautiful new club was in chaos.  So the property 

committee immediately had a shower at house built outside the club where victims of shipwreck could be cleaned up before coming inside.

   At the next meeting, there was a split in the club membership.  Most of the members wanted to stop the club’s lifesaving activities as being unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal social life of the club.  Some members insisted upon lifesaving as their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a lifesaving station.  But they were finally voted down and told that if they wanted to save the lives of all the various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own lifesaving station down the coast. They did.

As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old.  It evolved into a club, and yet another lifesaving station was founded.  History  continued to repeat itself, and if you visit that sea coast today, you will find a number of exclusive clubs along that shore.  Shipwrecks are frequent in those waters, but most of the people drown! 

A Sense Of Direction

Do you have a sense of direction? Any person who wants to grow as a person but doesn’t know himself will fail to accomplish any growth as a person. To grow you must know yourself: your strengths and weaknesses, your interests and opportunities. You must be able to gauge not only where you’re been, but also where you are now. Otherwise you cannot set a course for where you want to go, And, of course, every time you want to learn something, you must be able to take the new thing you’ve learned today and build upon what you learned yesterday to keep growing. That’s the only way to gain traction and keep improving yourself.

To reach you potential, you must know where you want to go and where you currently are. Without both of those pieces of information, you’re liable to get lost. Knowing yourself is like reading “You Are Here” on a map when you want to find you way to a destination.

I have observed that there’re really only three kinds of people when it comes to having direction and thus purpose in life.

1> People who do not know what they would like to do

These people are often CONFUSED. They lack a strong sense of purpose. They don’t possess a sense of direction for their lives. If they are growing, they are unfocused about it. They dabble. They drift. They can’t reach their potential because they have no idea what to shoot for; what direction to go in.

2> People who know what they would like to do but don’t do it

These people are usually FRUSTRATED. Every day they experience the gap between where they are and where they want to be. Sometimes they aren’t doing what they want because they worry that it will cause them to neglect other responsibilities, such as providing for their family. Sometimes they aren’t willing to pay the price to learn, grow, and move closer to where they want to be. Other times fear prevents them from changing course to pursue their passion. No matter what the reason, they, too, miss their potential.

3> People who know what they would like to do and do it

The third kind of people know themselves, possess a strong sense of passion, are focused on purpose, grow in areas that help them move closer to their purpose, and do what they were created to do. The word that best describes them is FULFILLED.

Most people fall into the first category. They don’t know what they want to do. I believe the main reason is that they don’t know themselves as well as they should, and thus remain unfocused in their growth – if they grow personally at all. 

Knowing yourself isn’t necessarily an easy thing for everyone to do. What makes finding themselves and growing to their potential difficult for some people is that it can be a bit of catch 22. You have to know who you are to grow to your potential. But you have to grow in order to know who you are. So what’s the solution? Explore yourself as you explore growth.

The way to start is to pay attention to your passions. In my life my passion is to teach and mentor young men, raising them up into the calling that God has on their lives and releasing them to accomplish their purpose in the Kingdom. This involves four areas represented by the word REAL: relationships, equipping, attitude, and leadership. My passion led to my growth. But then my growth led to my passion as I discovered my love for and ability to mentor the next generation of apostles and prophets. That continues to be a major focus of my life and ministry even today after 40 years. 

So, self-awareness is the key to growing, changing, finding one’s passion and purpose, and then moving from where you are to where you should be and need to be to live fulfilled and on purpose.  

Paying The Price

I have had a number of prophetic words over my life that I need to write books. I like writing. I enjoy working with words. I think deeply and often. I would enjoy the challenge of researching and writing a book or two or three. I wouldn’t do it for money. I would simply post them as ebooks and give them away. And, of course, pay to have them translated into Russian as in most of the countries where I work, Russian is the predominate language. 

So, what is stopping me? Several of those prophetic words are now over a decade old. And, I am getting older. So, what is stopping me? Well, there is a price to pay and I have wrestled with the price that is required to be paid often over the past decade. I will need to spend more time in my study researching, reading, and writing. I enjoy doing all of those. But, that means less time travelling and ministering. This will also mean less income being earned as I travel and minister for a living.

I have never written a book before although I have written 30 different training manuals over the years and a number of conference or seminar manuals. But, writing a book or books is a little different and much more involved. However, I believe I am up to the challenge. So, I have made the decision jump in and dedicate a good portion of each week to the task at hand thus fulfilling the prophetic words and that part of my divine destiny. 

I recently came across a piece called “Dream Big.” It’s full of encouraging words but also captures what it takes to follow your dreams and fulfill your prophetic words.

If there were ever a time to dare

To make a difference, 

To embark on something worth doing,

It is now.

Not for any grand cause, necessarily – 

But for something that tugs at your heart,

Something that’s your aspiration,

Something that’s your dream.

You owe it to yourself to make your days here count.

Have fun.

Dig deep.

Stretch.

Dream big.

Know, though, that things worth doing seldom come easy,

There will be good days.

There will be bad days.

There will be times when you want to turn around,

Pack it up, and call it quits.

Those times tell you that you are pushing yourself,

That you are not afraid to learn by trying.

                                           Author and source unknown

Taking the steps necessary to live your dreams and fulfill the prophetic words spoken over you thus doing what you want to do will cost you. You will have to work hard. You will have to make sacrifices. You will have to keep learning and growing and changing. 

Are you willing to pay the price?

I certainly hope you are. But know this: Most people aren’t. 

Confrontation – Speaking the Truth in Love – Part One

Paul writes to the Ephesian Church and tells them that, as believers, we are to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). Most people I relate to see this as “confrontation.” And, worst still, they see confrontation as negative and difficult. So, let’s look briefly at this whole area of speaking the truth in love.

The question we always need to ask: Do I care enough to confront the right way?

When working with relationships we instinctively know the following:

1> Conflict is unavoidable

Perhaps we ought to add conflict to death and taxes as one of the things we can count on in this life. The only way to avoid conflict is to isolate ourselves from all other people on the planet. So, we need to learn to deal with issue that cause conflict because they are inevitable.

2> Conflict is difficult

No one likes confrontation, so almost everyone avoids it. And those who do like it have their own psychological issues! Why is it difficult to confront? We fear being disliked, misunderstood, or rejected. We fear the unknown. We are not use to sharing our feelings. And we worry that we will just make things worse. Let’s face it: few people have been taught healthy confrontational skills.

But this I know: How we handle conflict determines our success in tough relational situations

So, how do you handle conflict in your relationships? Did you know that conflict always compounds when confrontation is not done quickly and correctly? That’s why your approach matters. Here’s a sampling of harmful strategies that we see people using when they deal with conflict:

      • Win at all costs. It’s like a shootout at the OK Corral. It’s quick, brutal, and destructive.
      • Pretend it doesn’t exist. If you hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil, evil will not exist.
      • Whine about it. Winners aren’t whiners and whiners aren’t winners. Playing the victim doesn’t cure conflict. It just irritates everybody.
      • Keep score. People who keep a record of wrongs can’t ever start over fresh. And nobody can ever get ‘even.’
      • Pull rank. Using position never really resolves conflict. It merely postpones it.
      • White flag it. Quitting is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

None of these approaches will give the help a person needs to resolve conflict in a healthy way. 

Conflict resolution isn’t complicated. Intellectually it’s simple. But emotionally it can be difficult. It requires honesty, humility, and dedication to the relationship. Let’s look at the first two points of what is a six-step plan to help you tackle the task of confrontation. 

1> Confront a person only if you care for that person

In rare instances people must confront someone they don’t care about, such as in legal trials or when abuse has occurred. But there are not typical relational conflicts. In nearly all relational situations, it is most productive to go into a confrontation keeping the other person’s interests in mind.

In the past when you attempted to resolve conflict with another person, what has been your goal? Sympathy? Quick relief? Victory at all costs? Next time try to go into it with the goal of making it a win for both parties. And if you attempt to ensure that the other person wins first, then you know you have the most beneficial perspective.

2> Meet together as soon as possible

When conflict arises, we are tempted to avoid it, procrastinate dealing with it, or ask someone else to resolve it for us. But the truth is that anytime you let conflict go – for whatever reason –  it only gets worse. If people are put in a position to start speculating about another person’s motives to figure out what might have really happened, they often think their worst. Putting off confrontation only causes the situation to fester.

So, don’t store up issues. It is never a good idea idea to save up a bunch of stuff and then give a person a history lesson during a confrontation. Instead meet together right away, face-to-face. If that’s absolutely impossible, then consider a conversation by phone. But under no circumstances should you confront a person via e-mail.

Conclusion next time…

Treat People Better Than They Treat You

In 1842, thirteen-year-old William Booth’s life changed. His father, Samuel Booth, lost his business. The elder Booth had once been a nail maker, but when his trade became the victim of mass production, he started a business as a small-time builder. Unfortunately, recurring recessions took their toll, and finally Booth went out of business. It put him and his family into difficult circumstances. As a result, William Booth, who had grown up in a household with enough money to have him educated, was sent out to learn a trade. He was apprenticed to a pawnbroker in a seedy part of Nottingham, England.

“Make money,” was the advice of Booth’s father, who died bankrupt the next year. Booth did learn about making money while learning his trade. But his apprenticeship also gave him another kind of education. Working in a pawnbroker’s shop, he was in daily contact with the poor and destitute. One biography noted, “He learned as from a primer what poverty did to people.” It’s no coincidence that during his years as an apprentice, he became a person of faith – a Christian.

In 1849, Booth moved to London and took a position in a pawnshop in a poor area south of the Thames River. But after only three years, he gave up his trade and became a minister. He saw faith as the solution to the problems of those who were struggling to survive. And he embarked on a lifelong mission  that had two objectives: saving lost souls and righting social injustices.

At first he became a Methodist New Connection minister, then a travelling evangelist. But in 1865 when some people from the area heard him preach in front of the Blind Beggar Pub in East London, he was recruited to become part of a tent ministry that came to be called the Christian Mission.

From there, Booth ministered to the poorest people in London. The East End contained half of the paupers, homeless, and starving in London. His early converts were some of the most desperate types of people: thieves, prostitutes, gamblers, and drunkards. He was trying to make a difference, but his efforts were not met with appreciation, even from the very people he was trying to help.

He and his fellow workers were harassed and brutalized. Local tavern keepers worked especially hard to undermine his efforts. Even street children threw stones and fireworks through the windows of their meeting hall. Booth’s wife, Catherine said that he would “stumble home night after night, haggard with fatigue. Often his clothes were torn and bloody, bandages swathed his head where a stone had struck.” But Booth would not retaliate in kind. He refused to give up.

Booth worked to feed the poor, house the homeless, and share his faith. His organization continued to grow. By 1867, he had ten full-time workers. By 1874, more than one thousand volunteers and forty-two evangelists worked with him. In 1878 when they reorganized, Booth gave the group a new name. From then on, the organization would be called the Salvation Army. 

Unfortunately, that didn’t stop the group’s opponents. Booth was labeled “anti-Christ” by the reformer Lord Shaftesbury. An opposition group formed to try and stop Booth and his associates. They came to call themselves the Skeleton Army. An article in the Bethnal Green Eastern Post in November 1882 described them:

“A genuine rabble of ‘roughs’ pure and unadulterated has been infesting the district for several weeks past. These vagabonds style themselves the ‘Skeleton Army’ … The object of the skeleton army was to put down the Salvationists by following them everywhere, by beating a drum and burlesquing their songs, to render the conduct of their processions and services impossible … Amongst the skeleton rabble there is a large percentage of … loafers and unmitigated blackguards … [and] the disreputable class of publicans who hate the London school board, education, and temperance, and who, seeing the beginning of the end of the immoral traffic [sic] and prepared for the most desperate [sic] enterprise.”

Despite the horrible treatment they received, the officers and volunteers in the Salvation Army persevered, and they helped hundreds of thousands of people. Often they converted the very individuals who had persecuted them. 

In 1912, William Booth, then age eighty-three, delivered his last public address. In it he stated his commitment to investing in people:

“While women weep as they do now, I’ll fight; while little children go hungry as they do now, I’ll fight; while men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do now, I’ll fight; while there is a drunkard left, while there is a poor lost girl on the streets, while there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I’ll fight – I’ll fight to the very end.”

Three months later, he died. As one observer put it, the “general” who had led the Salvation Army for more than thirty years was ‘promoted to glory.’

William Booth spent a lifetime treating people better than they treated him. And as a result, he lived on the highest level, personally and unprofessionally. He travelled the high road. 

There are really only three roads we can travel when it comes to dealing with others. We can take

        • The low road – where we treat others worse than they treat us
        • The middle road – where we treat others the same as they treat us
        • The high road – where we treat others better than they treat us

The low road damages relationships and alienates others from us. The middle road may not drive people away from us, but it won’t attract them to us either; it is reactive rather than proactive and allows others to set the agenda for our lives. The high road helps to create positive relationships and attracts others to us; it sets a positive agenda with others that even negative people find difficult to undermine. 

We, as believers, need to work at taking the high roads with others every day. Treat people better than they treat you!

Transforming Lives

Over the years I have pastored churches and planted a number of new ones. I do so because I believe that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation and that one of the main instruments in spreading the gospel is the local church. I am currently involved in a number of church plants in Canada and overseas as well as my first “replant” which is in the United States. 

Over the last 40+ years of preaching I have learned a lot and seen a lot. But nothing tops seeing someone’s life totally transformed by the power of the Gospel. 

Romans 1:16-17 “I refuse to be ashamed of sharing the wonderful message of God’s liberating power unleashed in us through Christ! For I am thrilled to preach that everyone who believes is saved—the Jew first, and then people everywhere! This gospel unveils a continual revelation of God’s righteousness—a perfect righteousness given to us when we believe. And it moves us from receiving life through faith, to the power of living by faith. This is what the Scripture means when it says: ‘We are right with God through life-giving faith!’”  (The Passion Translation)

So, the Gospel moves us from an impotent faith in something or someone – including ourselves – into the explosive and dynamic faith of the Gospel of Christ. This Gospel is life-changing, life transforming. And, there is no other joy on the face of the earth like seeing someone go from death to life, darkness to light, bondage to freedom. It is life-changing for the person receiving what Christ has accomplished for us through His death and resurrection. But, it is also life-changing for those of us involved in seeing people released from the domain of darkness and ushered in to the Kingdom of God through the love of the Father.

As I enter the third and last season of my ministry (a prophetic word from October 2015) I have continued to work in various aspects of ministry – discipleship, mentoring, leadership training, raising up five-fold ministry teams and regional apostolic centers. However, more and more my heart has been turning to working with church plants and replants in a bigger way than ever before. So, I am entering a new season of church planting.

To facilitate this renewed focus I have joined with a number of younger men in several provinces of Canada to form “Transformation Ministries.” This new ministry will be incorporated in the province of Manitoba, Canada and so will be able to offer receipts for income tax purposes. This ministry will be involved in and focused on raising money to enable the next generation to plant born again, Spirit-filled churches where the Gospel is not being preached in the nations of the world. We are not looking to recycle the saints but to start fresh where the Gospel is not being preached – touching a whole new young generation with the true life transforming Gospel.  

We will also be working to raise up leaders for these new churches from among those whose lives are rescued by the power of the Gospel. We will be rescuing the lost and raising them up to be reproductive disciples in the Kingdom and leaders in the local church. 

A renewed adventure for me personally as I originally began church planting in 1978. A new venture for the King and His Kingdom as we focus on church planting for the next generation in places where the witness of the Gospel has never been heard or has gone silent for whatever reason. 

More information as we move forward with Transformation Ministries. 

Recognizing the Zone You Are In

As followers of Jesus we need to be continually ‘following’ Him. Now, that may sound like a stupid comment because we are called followers because we follow. However, in my experience most believers are not moving forward but are in the same place spiritually, relationally, and mentally as they were yesterday, last week, last month, and last year. Most believers are not on a ‘journey with Jesus.’ They are simply maintaining what was and is as if that was the reason for being here and how to be a good Christian.

So, wrong. And, I would like to challenge you to make a substantial and foundational change today as your read this short blog.

It is obvious to see that we all tend to fall into one of four different zones when it comes to changing so we can better follow Jesus. 

1> The Coasting Zone …. “I do as little as possible.”

2> The Comfort Zone …. “I do what I have always done.”
3> The Challenge Zone …. “I attempt to do what I haven’t done before.”

4> The Creative Zone …. “I attempt to think what I have never thought before.”

To which zone do you naturally gravitate? Do you tend to live in the coasting zone, casually – even passively – doing as little as possible? Do you tend to stay in the comfort zone, avoiding risks? Do you connect with the challenge zone, where you try new things and willingly risk failure? Or do you try to stretch yourself the furthest by living in the creative zone, where you explore new ideas, seek out other perspectives, try new things, and basically work at changing on a regular, even daily, basis?

The good news is that you have the ability to choose zone different from the one you would naturally tend to lean towards. And, of course, as a believer on a journey with Jesus, you should be living in the challenge zone which will lead you into the creative zone. If you are a Christian leader you absolutely need to be living in the creative zone.

Often what prevents believers from living in the challenge zone is that we tend to have a set of rules that we follow. Some of these rules are the result of our upbringing, some our religious tradition, some were given to us when we were first born again (read your Bible every day….) and some we have created ourselves to help us feel safe, secure, and comfortable. I like Thomas Edison’s quote: “There ain’t no rules around here! We are trying to accomplish something!”

So, for us to be challenged and creative we need to reduce the rules. Author Henry David Thoreau wrote, “Any fool can make a rule and every fool will mind it.” Creativity gets stifled when everyone expends too much energy worrying about following rules. Too many rules cause you to be less than challenged and thus not creative. General Douglas MacArthur said, “You are remembered for the rules you break.” I think that is so true. 

So, be honest with yourself. Discover the zone that you are in on your journey with Jesus. And, then make some changes to break out of your zone and begin to move forward once again on your journey to wholeness and to discovering the real you. 

A Guest – Bill Lewis – Pastor and Apostle

Hungry Still
February 26, 2019 – Pastor Bill Lewis
I realize this whole life has been a journey of discovery. We start with what we are taught. We are influenced by traditions, habits, and the limit of the revelation given around us. If you were Catholic, you grew up with a certain bias, training, and tradition. In the midst of that you were able to experience God, hopefully meet Jesus, and deal with eternal issues. Likewise, if you grew up Baptist, you came from a different perspective, but you were looking for the eternal issues as well and probably met Jesus in some form of conversion. But neither of those traditions and all others were the complete picture, the full understanding. There is so much more.

Personally, I thank God for my upbringing, the church of my youth, and the few traditions we had. The church taught me to respect the word of God. It was in this fellowship that I received my call to ministry at an early age. However, as I grew in faith and relationship with God, it became starkly clear that this church practice and doctrine, while good, was incomplete, not enough, rigid. As a teen, I began to question and look for more. Although there was some doctrine, theology, that I wanted; that was small. What was missing was the vibrancy of faith and life that I saw in scripture. Something was just missing. There was inside a call that was not being satisfied or touched. Oh, there were moments, at church camp and mostly when alone with God.

To this day we are still seekers. There resides in us an unrest, a spiritual unrest. It will not be satisfied in doctrine, a song, or a message. We will have it touched and assuaged momentarily. Like this past Sunday, it got touched, or when we hear lyrics that reach inside, it gets touched. Yet, it fades and recurs with the hunger. Our journey of discovery will continue to touch that part of us and throw us a promise of being filled. We will more readily and steadily have that in us filled regularly as we learn of Christ and this new covenant.

In the current seeking, I find the Lord focusing my attention on Jesus and what he wanted in his new covenant. I do not think we have seriously looked at the new covenant with respect to daily life. We have extolled the new covenant in its aspects of salvation by grace, but we have not fully developed the lifestyle taught and expected. We fall on his grace for salvation and then pull ourselves up and begin to control of lives with a mix of Christianize and Old Testament laws. We want the grace, but we want to judge and rule by some set of religious mandates which actually vary from church to church or denomination to denomination.

I admit that I must somehow begin to strain out the mix and match junk from the obsolete and live in the new. I admit that it takes time and often we are blind to what we really have in our practices that are not apart of the new covenant.

“There is much to be learned by seeking the face of God.” This was a prophetic word given to me twice by two different people on two different nights at the same prayer altar in a little church where I was seeking direction for my life. Surprisingly, that same word still works today. I am still seeking the Lord for direction.

The Rapture

The Rapture

In Matthew, Chapter 24 we read of the “Great Distress” that will come upon the earth in the latter days

This will be a time of …

A great falling away of believers as Jesus states that “the love of many will grow cold.”

The word “love” here in the original language is ‘agape’ which is “God love.” Only believers have this love in their hearts. So, Jesus is saying that during this time of “Great Distress” there will be a great falling away of members of the Church.

This will be a time of …

The Rapture – a word used by believers but not a biblical word

The Rapture refers to the time when Jesus returns to take His people – the true Church   – into Heaven. We will be “caught up in the air with Him.”

The Rapture – is part of the Second Coming of Christ

This time (without the use of the word ‘Rapture’ is written about in 1 Thessalonians                                   4:13-18.

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word    from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.”

When in the “Last Days” does this happen?

This time of “Great Distress” and “Tribulation” is spoken about in the writings of the Prophet Daniel as well as the writings of the apostle John – the Book of Revelation

It is a 7 year period of ‘distress’ that is broken into several sections each 3.5 years long

                        We are told it will start … go for 3.5 years

                        Then there will be a major event

                        Followed by another 3.5 years

There are 3 camps in the Christian Church regarding how we interpret these prophetic indications

The Pre-tribulation group who believe we will be raptured before the “ever increasing lawlessness when darkness becomes gross darkness” come upon the earth

The mid-tribulation camp that believes the true believers and disciples of Jesus will suffer through the first half of the Tribulation (3.5 years) and then be Raptured to be with Jesus

The post-tribulation group who believe that Christians will go through all 7 years   of the Tribulation and then be raptured if proven faithful

I am often asked which “camp” I am in and thus what I believe.

I reply that my opinion is absolutely not important. God has never asked me my   opinion. What matters is that we be ready regardless of when the Rapture takes place. I base this thought on the words of Jesus found in Matthew 24:44… “Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

So the key is to be ready!

And, how can we be ready?

What does it mean to be ready?

To be ready we need to be born again, born from above, born of God

The explanation of being born again:

When we are physically born into the world we are born into spiritual darkness and separated from God by our human nature and the original sin of Adam and Eve

We are born physically but we are spiritually dead – separated from the source of life and the Creator of all – God, our heavenly Father

This “original sin” and our subsequent sins committed personally keeps us separated from the Creator because He is holy, spotless, and without sin

If we die in this “natural” condition we will spend all of eternity separated from Him

The cost of sin is death – separation from God

The payment required to cancel the ‘sin debt’ is the death of a perfect sacrifice

As there are no perfect people we find ourselves in an impossible situation

So, while we were in this state and condition God had already planned a solution to our predicament

He became a man, born of a virgin, perfect man and totally God, and dies on the cross of Calvary thus paying the price for our sin – death / separation from God

And, by His resurrection from the dead He proved that hHis message is true and that He is God incarnate sharing our human nature and dying for us as the perfect man and thus perfect sacrifice

Jesus talks about this with a very religious man named Nicodemus…

John 3:1-7 “Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.Nicodemus said to him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?Jesus answered, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, You must be born again.

Paul writes about this in the Book of Romans…

Romans 3:23 “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

We miss the mark of holiness and God’s perfect plan and purpose for our unique life

Romans 6:23a “The wages of sin is death…”

Death being spiritually separated from God now and forever because of sin

Romans 5:8 “…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 6:23b “…the gift of God is eternal life:

This gift of “eternal life” is defined in the Gospel according to John, the apostle

John 17:3 “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

This means He gives to us the supernatural ability to have a personal relationship with Himself – God the Father and God the Son

This is enabled by the God the Holy Spirit who lives in us and enables us to have this relationship

Thus we also share fellowship with the Holy Spirit

2 Corinthians 13:14 “and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

Thus we are able to see (as Jesus said to Nicodemus (see above), hear (see John 10:3), and touch God in this relationship

John, one of the early apostles wrote about this…

1 John 1:1-4 “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

Yet, as we have seen, during the increasing of lawlessness the love of many of the believers will decrease and fade completely.

Matthew 24:12 “And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.”

The reasons for this ‘leaving of the faith’ are varied I am sure. Let me suggest several:

1> People received the supernatural ability to have a personal relationship with God but never took the time or invested the effort to develop the relationship. Thus the relationship dried up and died – as happens with any relationship that is neglected.

2> The pleasure of the world drew them back and just as they made a decision to enter the Kingdom, they made a second decision to leave the Kingdom and go back to living like the world

3> They were really not born again in the first place. They were lied to by the Church!

Let’s look at this third one in some detail

The Church has been proclaiming the gospel of salvation. This is not a biblical gospel. In fact, it is not a gospel at all.

As Paul warned us… people will preach “another gospel” which the born again church has been doing now for many decades

2 Corinthians 11:3-4 “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.”

We are called to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom(Matthew 24:14)

“And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

The Gospel of the Kingdomis based on the Gospel I explained earlier in this teaching …

  •             You are born into spiritual darkness because of original sin (of Adam and Eve)
  •             You are a sinner by your thoughts, words, and deeds (actual sin)
  •             These sins separate you from God who is the source of all life and al that is good
  •             While you were still sinning as a sinner God loved you so much
  •             In love He sent His Son Jesus to die on a cross and pay the penalty for your sin
  •             He rose from the dead to prove He is God and that His death paid the price

This is the basics of the Gospel …

  •             The Church has been preaching this and sharing this
  •             Then someone asks you, after you hear the message, “do you believe”
  •             Well, it made sense and was well explained – seems reasonable, so “yes”
  •             You understand in your head the information
  •             Then they ask if you would like to pray and receive Jesus (what He has accomplished)
  •             You pray together – something often called “The Sinner’s Prayer”
  •             Then they tell you that you are born again.
  •             BUT, you are not!

Paul writes,

2 Corinthians 7:8-10 “For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”

So, the Gospel of the Kingdom shares the basic message of the Gospel

And then, the person sharing waits to see what the Holy Spirit is doing in your life

If your heart is ready the Holy Spirit will “convict you of sin, righteousness, and judgement” (John 16:8-10)

This conviction will be obvious to the person sharing with you as it will show on your face, in your body language, and in your brokenness and humility as you recognize that you have offended a holy God and are currently an enemy of Almighty God

This conviction will lead to “godly sorrow” which is sorry that you have offended God. Worldly sorrow is sorry you got caught and/or that you are now paying the consequences for your actions

“Godly sorrow” will lead to “repentance” which is a changing of your mind about God,    sin, and salvation… the Christian faith. And, because you begin to think differently, your lifestyle, your thoughts, actions, attitude, and behaviour will begin visibly changing

Then you pray and acknowledge that you are a sinner, that Jesus is God (Lord, Saviour, and God), and ask Him to forgive you, and receive both His forgiveness as well as the gift of eternal life.

Now, you are truly born again and in a relationship with the living God. Saved and in the Kingdom of God!

Any other message is a “false gospel” preaching a “false Jesus” and a “false spirit.”

When John the Baptistbegan his ministry his message was:

            “Repent, the Kingdom of God is at hand” (Matthew 3:2)

When Jesus began His ministry His message was,

            “Repent, the Kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:15)

When the Church began and Peter preachedthe first sermon, He told the crowd they needed to repent

Acts 2:37-38 “Now when they heard this (the Gospel) they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, Brothers, what shall we do?And Peter said  to them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

                        Notice: conviction, Godly sorrow (cut to the heart), repent…

Peter told them to “repent” and not just “repeat after me” a Sinner’s Prayer.

So, I don’t know when the Rapture will take place and my opinion is not important. What is important is that you are ready regardless of when the Tribulation and Rapture happen.

Matthew 24:44 “Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

Consider the true Gospel, the Gospel of the Kingdom… and let the Holy Spirit move in your heart (John 16:8-10) so that you will truly be “born of water and of the Spirit” receiving the true Gospel of the Kingdom and not “another gospel” as many have done today.