Give Up Why Don’t You!

There is an amazing verse in the New Testament that I don’t believe I have ever heard anyone preach on. In fact, until recently, even I had never preached on it. But, as I was reading and journalling recently the verse really has become seriously important in my life and in my ministry with and for the Lord.

Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

The Message Version “Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

I believe we need to come to the place in our spiritual journey where we give up trying to live the “Christian life” whatever that might look like in our context and culture.

Why – well, a number of reasons come to mind…

1> I was sick and tired of trying to live up to the expected Christian lifestyle and falling short thus feeling frustrated at my attempts at being a good Christian and living victoriously.

2> I came to the realization and eye-opening conclusion that I could not live the Christian life. If the Christian life was going to be lived, according to this verse from Galatians, the Lord Himself was going to have to live it through me.

3> I discovered that Jesus Himself did not try to live the Christian life. He said, “By Myself I can do nothing.” Over and over again Jesus testified that He did nothing of Himself, but lived by His Father’s indwelling life instead.

4> I decided that Paul’s words in the above verse (Galatians 2:20) were not special for him but were written down for each and every one us. Paul was not special. What he experienced and understood we too can experience.

As someone once said, the Christian life – and the living of it – is impossible for all of us. It is only HIMpossible.

So, I am working to fully understand what it means to give up trying and just allowing the Lord to release His life within me and then live His life through me. 

Another step in my adventure and journey with Jesus.

Hebrews 4:1-11a “For whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest…”

Random Thought 23

Paul was a Master Builder (Apostle) and He always built with “Christ as the foundation.” Too often we are building with something or Someone other than Christ. For example, our foundation is:

  • Some major Christian personality or preacher like Bill Johnson
  • A church system like Bethel
  • A new church program like “Living in Freedom Everyday”
  • A new style of music like Hillsong
  • A new approach to ministry – multi-campuses
  • A new approach to evangelism – relational and not crusades
  • A fresh revelation – the Kingdom
  • A restoration of an old truth – Ministry of the apostle
  • The prosperity gospel

Paul writes, “For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11). And yet we keep trying to build on so many other foundations. We continue to preach and teach so many other truths and principles – most of them good, I suspect – but do so at the neglect of the foundational message, Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 corinthians 1:23).

I work with a young apostolic leader in  Southern Manitoba (Western Canada) who is passionate about returning his house church to the proper foundation. He talks about Jesus all the time. He shares Jesus, teaches about Jesus, and installs a love and passion for Jesus in his people. As we chatted the other week after a lunch of home made soup with his wonderful family he again mentioned the need to lay this correct foundation. He was deeply concerned that we lose Christ or miss Him all together in the midst of the hectic life of a regular local Church with all of its programs and various ministries. And, that we often short-circuit what God is wanting to do by helping people in the natural instead of pointing them to Christ.

Then here in Ohio where I am while writing this blog I just had lunch with a local pastor. He spent almost the whole two hour lunch talking about the ministry he and his people are accomplishing. He mentioned how busy and active they all were as if it were a badge of honour. There was a quick reference to Jesus and the rest was activities, programs, events, people, places, and plans. In the midst of this one of his people sent me a quote from a new version I had not heard of until yesterday. It reads, “Surrender your anxiety! Be silent and stop your striving. And you will see that I am God” (Psalm 46:10 TPT). We can quickly lose God in the midst of all this religious activity. Ministry can kill intimacy.

So, you don’t have to ask TPT is The Passion Translation… Yup! New to me too.

My point is that Jesus is God and often our busy activity for God prevents us from sensing His presence, walking in His power, and knowing deep inside His peace that passes all human understanding. We settle for religion and not a relationship because we have laid the wrong foundation (performance religion) and thus are building on another foundation other than Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

Just a thought but maybe a game changer for some.


Random Thoughts 21

There is too much “huff, puff, and fluff” in the church world today. I believe the Lord spoke that to my heart recently.  And, I have been mulling the thought over and over again during the last few weeks as I travelled into the United States to minister.

His people don’t need more surface level teaching that tickle their ears. They don’t need more “smoke and mirrors” that sound good, look good, and are polished and professional. They don’t need more self-help teachings that arise more out of pop-psychology than from the Bible.

The Church needs to be taught God’s Word – the fullness of God’s Word, the depth of His Word. To teach for life change and transformation the leaders – preachers and teachers – need to be actively engaged in the ministry of the Word on a daily basis. In the early church the leaders found themselves being drawn away from their main ministry of the Word and prayer by the valid and often serious needs of the people. So they made a quality decision to not allow the pressures of ministry and the rapid growth of the church to derail their primary mission and calling. Acts 6:2 states, “And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables….”

Leaders today need to return to their first calling…to know the word of God and teach the Word of God to the people of God. And, the people of God need a renewed hunger and thirst for the Word of God in its fullness no longer tolerating badly thought out and prepared teachings that are blamed on the Holy Spirit. In the early church there was a serious hunger for God’s Word among His people … Acts 2:42 states, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

When Paul began planting the Gospel of the Kingdom in the city of Berea it states that the non-believers there “…were entirely ready and accepted and welcomed the message [ concerning the attainment through Christ of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God] with inclination of mind and eagerness, searching and examining the Scriptures daily.” That’s a powerful statement  and one that believers should take to heart.

I believe that God’s people would be hungry for the Word if it was actually taught under the guidance of the Holy Spirit who inspired it. I believe that deep down inside God’s people want the unadulterated truth and don’t want a watered down, tickle-the-ear version of the truth. I believe that God’s people honour and respect God’s Word. In fact, as the Bible states, His people are standing in awe of His Word! Psalm 119:161b “… my heart stands in awe of your words.”

The Bible also states that His people are to have an actual fear of God’s Word, trembling when it is spoken to them.  – Isaiah 66:5 “Hear the word of the Lord, you who tremble at his word.” It appears that this is lost in the Church today. However, I believe this is because the leaders, the teachers and preachers, are not preaching the Word but instead they are sharing their thoughts and opinions, their huff, fluff and puff.

God’s Word when it is honoured and taught correctly brings freedom and life to His people. This is what they need; this is what they are seeking; this is what is available IF the leaders will devote themselves to studying, understanding, and teaching God’s Word and teach it by revelation (Ephesians 1:17).

I encourage all leaders to set aside a number of hours every day to be in God’s Word for their own personal edification and growth and so that, saturated in His Word, they will know what God wants to speak to His people and will then teach a now word of the Lord each and every time they stand before God’s people. I believe that the people are ready – that it is a basic leadership problem.



Random Thoughts 1

A week after returning from Kazakhstan I have recovered from jet lag, caught up with life a bit, and begun to minister here in my own country again. As always I am taking time to think through what I experienced while overseas. I allow the experiences I had to settle in my heart and soul. Then the Holy Spirit begins to show me things about the trip – about me personally as I am on a journey with Jesus; in my ministry because I want to be constantly learning and growing; about the nation and people where I ministered; and about His plans and purpose for the Kingdom in that region. This is a “private debriefing” with Him whom I work with – the Holy Spirit.

Two things have risen to the surface as I think about my recent experience with a number of churches in Kazakhstan and especially with the youth of those churches.

First, the young leaders of these churches have a GOD CONSCIOUSNESS. They are constantly talking about Jesus, the Kingdom, and all that the Holy Spirit is doing. There is an enthusiasm and passion that is obvious in their attitude, actions, and words. They are committed to the cause of winning the lost and world evangelism. They are willing to “go into all the world…” and take the Gospel of the Kingdom with them so that the Kingdom expands, churches are raised up, and people come to know Jesus personally. Every conversation, every event, every one-on-one conversation had a GOD CONSCIOUSNESS element in it and Jesus was the centre of each conversation and connection.

Secondly, the youth and the young leaders have a KINGDOM FOCUS or perspective. They are looking past their own personal situations, the local church, the persecution and resulting limitations they live under as believers. They see the Kingdom and their role in it. They see something greater than their own lives and the life of the local church. They see the Kingdom that Jesus came and established and then left for us to continue its expansion into the spiritual darkness, nation after nation. They are willing to pack up their belongings and move wherever the Lord directs and start planting ‘gospel seeds’ so that the Holy Spirit can raise up a group of believers and thus Jesus can then build His Church there. They are willing to sacrifice, obey, and go. Nothing is too difficult and everything is possible in their hearts and minds. This attitude and perspective is powerful and influences every aspect of the life of the local churches.

These young people have “life.” The Bible states that “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:4) Jesus was not the light. The very life (zoe) and nature of God in Jesus was the light. And, Jesus told His disciples, “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). The God-life in them was the light. These young people and leaders have this life and thus are a light to their people and to their nation. Because of this ‘inner life’ these people have cultivated a consistent and constant GOD CONSCIOUSNESS or awareness of what the Lord is doing and have a KINGDOM FOCUS or perspective in their every day life.

Powerful is the only word to describe it.