Knowing God and Doing Nothing?

“If you really have been born again, the evidence that your faith is genuine is demonstrated by whether or not you have gone and borne good fruit for the Kingdom of God. If you really know God, you will be serving His purposes and working for His Kingdom. You won’t be able to sit around while the world goes to Hell.” (Living Waters by Brother Yun – Pages 236-237)

Very strong comment by someone who, over the years, has been on the front lines of the growing Church in China and has suffered for his faith and his boldness in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A comment that Christians in North America need to hear and heed. At least the majority of Christians.

Let’s admit it – there are really only a few who are out there witnessing to the lost with their words and actions. Apparently – at least by my observations and most survey results – there are few actively sharing their faith with the lost.

So, in general, the Church needs to heed these words by one who has been through the fire of persecution and pain because of his boldness to reach the lost and teach and equip the new disciples as they enter into this new life of following the Master. He has earned the right to be heard.

We are born again by grace through faith – not of works (Ephesians 2:8-9). But – read verse 10 – God, after we are born again, lets us know the “good works” that He has prepared for us to do. These good works will, of course, line up with His plans to win the lost which is why He came and is the one common feature of all that He does upon the face of the Earth. Luke 19:10 states that Jesus came to “seek and to save the lost”. And Matthew 28:18-20 states that He wants us to share in this work as He sends us out into all the world to preach the Gospel or Good News that He saves. So, everything we do in His name should be a means to an end – the end is to tell people that they are sinners who are in need of a Savior.

Jesus said: “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men“. If you are not fishing – you are not following!

Jesus taught that you you can’t claim to know God yet do nothing to serve Him.

Matthew 25:41-46 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

We need to take His comments seriously. Afterall, He is the Head of the Church and Lord of our lives. It seems from these verses that our deeds are imporant to God. In this parable, people’s eternal destination apparently depended on the fruit of their lives that was expressed through their actions. What mattered here was what they had done because of who they believed in. There should be no such thing as an inactive or non-ministering believer or disciple.

And, the purpose of our serving and ministering is to show people the unconditional love of the God we worship and serve. As we serve others we must remember that we are doing this so that we can verbally share with them the Good News that Jesus saves. It is not simply ministry or loving action for the sake of loving action – the purpose of all we do is to tell people (in words and deeds) that Jesus died for their sins and is offering them forgiveness, a new life, and an eternity and relationship with Him starting right now.

So, a believer is someone who has accepted God’s offer of forgiveness through Jesus Christ. When we recognized that we are a sinner and, with godly sorrow and repentance, turned away from sin and towards God asking and receiving forgiveness – He gave to us a gift called “eternal life” (Romans 6:23). This gift is defined in John 17:3 as a relationship (an intimate relationship) with God the Father and Jesus Christ His Son. You begin, as a born again believer, to walk out this relationship and every day you come to know more and more of His heart as well as His plans and purposes … which always includes saving the lost as this is His heart.

Thus, it is hard to believe that a person is really in a dynamic and intimate relationship with the Lord (as many say they are) when they are not actively sharing their faith and talking about their relationship with God – and His offer of forgiveness and a new life with others …. inviting them to enter into this ‘new life’ as they have already done. I mean, how can you know God and do nothing? How can you know God and not be sharing your faith (and your Jesus) with others who you know need Him and who, without Him, will go to an eternity in hell separated from God forever? I mean, how can you say you know God and do nothing? How can you?

I don’t believe you can! Which means my other conclusion is that many who declare they are saved and thus in a dynamic relationship with the Living God are not and are sadly self-deceived.

Every Street – A Pulpit

Jesus told His Church – all believers – that as they went about their daily lives they were to be spreading the good news that through Him a person can be saved and born again. Jesus gave believers the authority (Matthew 28:18) and the power (Acts 1:8) to invade places of spiritual darkness and let the Light shine. Jesus told His people that their task between His ascension and His return was to “make disciples” – not Christians, not converts, not believers – but disciples. The word disciple can best be interpreted today as “apprentice”. Someone who follows and learns from so that they actually become like the ‘master’.

Here is how Jesus said it: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 The Message Version).

We are to go into our every day world – grocery shopping, getting our hair cut, the oil changed in our vehicle, walking the dog – and share our “way of life” with everyone we meet (if they will, of course, stop long enough to listen). We are not to wait for doors to open. We are not to wait until invited to share about what we believe. We are not to witness simply by our life-style. We are to live our lives INTENTIONALLY – looking for and even making opportunities to share Jesus with others … all the time and everywhere we go!

But it has to be intentional. If we do not approach this command from the Lord seriously and intentionally it will never happen. It will get lost in the activities of the day. If we simply wait for opportunies to open up – they seldom do. So, we need to find ways to start conversations as we go about our daily activities and then quickly direct these converations into spiritual matters. Then, we need to narrow this focus so that we can present the truth that Jesus saves. This takes some practice – but it really becomes a daily adventure as we watch the Holy Spirit use our feeble attempts and actually touch lives with the eternal.

Today I am about to leave the comfort of my study – it’s Monday morning and it was a long Sunday ministering in two different locations and driving 560 Km. between them. So normally I stay home on Mondays and do paperwork. But today I am heading out to a different city for a lunch meeting regarding a church plant we are working on and then a coffee appointment with a young man I a met in another city several months ago and that I would like to have the opportunity to isciple and mentor. Then into my home city for some physical exercise at an exercise club – the evening I will be training my people in evangelism and witnessing.

Monday or not – I am excited. I will fill up with gas and talk to Wendy who will be behind the counter. I drive to the city of Moose Jaw and have an opportunity to talk with Joan who will take our order at the restaurant. I will talk to the young man who will come and take away our dirty dishes. I will speak to Susan who will serve my coffee at Tim Hortons, witness to the young man behind the counter at the Esso station as I buy a Diet Coke to sip on my return trip to my own city. I will talk with the attendant at the exercise club – she is fresh from Ukraine (all five who take care of the front desk are from Ukraine) and speaks very limited English and we are bulding a relationship (I have been going there for just a month). As well, there are three guys I speak to on an irregular basis as I see them on occasion in the locker room… Then another opportunity as I pick up the mail and speak with the British lady who is managing the Post Office and has recently returned from a three week holiday there …. you get the idea – next a refill of the gas tank (Wendy will be off shift but
Raymond will have taken over)…and so the whole day will be an adventure of meeting people and building relationships (even though only briefly making contact with some), and actually verbally sharing Jesus as well as handing out life-changing tracts. This is how I live every day – taking my every day life events and schedule and infusing these events with the Holy Spirit by stepping out and intentionally witnessing.

This is how Jesus did it. This is what The Great Commission commands that we do. And, we simply need to become obedient and do as we are told!

I thought We Believed in Freedom of Speech and Religious Freedom

President-elect Obama has recently asked Dr. Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in southern California to offer the invocation (opening prayer) at his soon-to-happen inauguration. This has caused quite the controversy.

Dr. Warren – as pastor of one of the largest and most influential churches in America has been in the forefront of a global crusade to eliminate both poverty and HIV/Aids. And, he has become close with many world leaders as a result. He is well known and very biblically based in all aspects of his ministry, teaching, outreach and preaching. He holds to the doctrine of the Southern Baptist denomination which, although not officially in favour or endorsing the baptism in the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit, has a number of leaders who are Spirit-filled and openly practice the supernatural gifts. I’m not sure where Dr. Warren stands on this issue. But, born again and biblically balanced as well as an advocate for the born again message is a given when referring to this outstanding pastor.

The problem – he welcomes people involved in the gay lifestyle into his church because the Lord loves everyone and everyone is a sinner. However, he does hold to and preach the biblical doctrine that homosexual behaviour in non-biblical and contrary to God’s order and thus a sin. This is the one thing that is causing such an uproar in the lead-up to the next president’s inauguration.

On Christmas Eve Fox News Channel carried a special interview with Dr. Rick Warren to discuss the stand he has and continues to take regarding biblical truth even when it is contrary to public opinion and the belief of many groups within the social fabric of the United States of America. It was a very interesting interview and Dr. Warren handled both himself and biblical truth very well. He was extremely loving and accepting; yet strongly upheld truth as he was ordained to do as a pastor who lives his life by biblical standards and scriptural truths and principles. And, as always with Dr. Warren, the gospel of Jesus Christ was explained very clearly to any who chose to listen to the interview.

If you would like a copy of the interview on a DVD just let us know by emailing and a copy will be made for you free of charge and mailed to you within 5 days of us receiving your request.

Easy Believeism

I believe it was Dietrich Bonheoffer – a German pastor, seminary professor, and theologian who spoke often about “cheap grace” and “easy believeism”.

His concern was that the Christian message was simply not being embraced because we lived with and accepted sin in our life – using the idea of grace to receive forgiveness as the reason why sin in its various forms did not concern us (cheap grace). And that the Christian faith was about taking up our cross daily and living a sacrificial lifestyle so as to invest in the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all nations and people groups around the world. He believed (and I share that belief) that to be a believer and embrace the Christian faith meant willingly embracing sacrifice and being willing to die, if necessary, for what one truly believed. He did die at the hands of Hitler just as World War Two was drawing to a close.

I was reminded of this man (one of many Christians who have impacted my life and walk with God) as I was reviewing my marginal notes in a book I finished reading on a flight to somewhere a number of months ago. When reading I seriously destroy books by marking them up with various symbols and notations – then go back when time allows and transfer these ideas, thoughts, insights, and tid-bits into my computer filing system for use in my preaching and writing.

The book I was taking notes from is by Brother Yun and it is called “Living Water”. If you have not read it – you should. It is a slow read as it involves serious, indepth analysis of one’s walk with the Lord, much repentance, a few “Aha experiences” when the lights go on and someone is home … a book that will transform you and your relationship with the Lord.

In this book – page 203 – Brother Yun states…

“In China we always teach five things that all disciples need to be ready to do at any time. We need to be ready to pray, regardless of the circumstances. We must be ready to share the gospel and always ready to suffer for the name of Jesus. We also teach every disciple in China that they must be ready to die for Jesus Christ, and finally they should be ready to escape for the gospel if the opportunity presents itself, for Jesus said, “When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another” (Matthew 10:23)

Did you catch these five things they teach new believers – those being discipled into the Christian faith?

1> The necessity and need for prayer at all times
2> Ready to share the Gospel regardless
3> Ready to suffer for the sake of Jesus and the Gospel
4> Ready to die for the Gospel
5> How to flee to safety if the Gospel is being rejected where you are currently sharing it

Were you taught these things when you were first born again and being discipled into the Christian faith? I certainly was not.

I believe we are entering a season when the western Church – the Christian faith North American style – is going to be seriously opposed. In fact, I believe we are entering a season when the western Chrurch and our ‘cheap grace’ and ‘easy believeism’ will be seriously tried and found wanting and lacking in substance. I believe we are about to enter a season when opposition will quickly turn to persecution and all this “fluff” will be removed – and many people will simply walk away because being a Christian will cost them more than they are willing to pay…

I look forward to these tough times as this fire will purify our faith and remove the dross out of our lives and we will see the true Church of the living Jesus Christ which, I believe, is much smaller than the current visible Church. As a result of this opposition and persecution we will look at what we truly believe and what it is we would be willing to die for – the true Gospel as set forth in Scriptures. Much of what is now preached will simply be proven to be non-biblical and man-made. As a result of persecution and opposition we will need to travel light and keep short accounts (be forgiven regularly and deal with offenses immediately) and so will find our relationship with the Lord and the Holy Spirit much more alive and vibrant. And, the Gospel message – Jesus saves – will dominate our thinking and witnessing to others about this salvation will be our primary goal and function in life.

I look forward to this time of opposition and resulting persecution. I am really looking forward to it!

Trivial Treasures

This time of year everyone is running lists of the top ten stories of the year, top 40 country and western songs, top fifty easy listening songs…

Well, I have some trivial treasures of my own to share.

The Bible states:

Ecclesiastes 5:10 Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.

It goes on to say:

Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Well, here are the TRIVIAL TREASURES as reported by Nancy Gibbs – “One Day in America”

Every day Americans buy:
3,972,603 movie tickets
1,683,835 songs and albums from online resources
568,764 Titleist golf balls
443,650 large french fries at Burger King
160,968 bottles of Absolut Vodka
7,500 Samsung LCD TVs

Wow! That’s a lot of money going out for non-essentials every day, seven days a week, year-round. Speaks volumes about what it is we hold to be important. Afterall, if you want to know what people value look at their timetables (where and what they spend their time on) and their check (cheque) books (where they spend their money). These statistics certainly speak loudly about our consumer society and what we value.

Dare we take a look at what we spend our money on and then compare it to what the Bible says would be a good use of our hard-earned funds and our time (which we can either waste, spend, or invest). I think we would, in general, fall slightly short of the biblical life-style required of those who declare themselves to be disciples of the Lord Jesus.

So, as 2009 fast approaches it might be a good time to have a look at how we use our time – do we waste it, spend it wisely, or invest it in kingdom things? And, how are we using the limited wealth that the Lord has given to us to be good stewards or managers of?

I am reminded of a sermon I preached many years ago now from the Gospel according to St. Luke where it teaches us we are to faithful in the small things, the natural things, and the things that belong to others (even to the Lord). Then He will be able to say “well done good and faithful servant (manager, steward)” and give us much for the little, the supernatural for the natural and what belongs to us as apposed to that which belongs to another.

Something to think about in the lull between Christmas and New Years.

Present or Presence

Christmas Day morning – 5:30 a.m. Can’t sleep. No, I’m not excited about the presents under the tree. The tree is only 2.5 feet high and sits on a table and I have reached the stage in life where I don’t need anything nor do I want anything. So, getting a present under the tree is not what it is all about.

Many people and families get excited about Christmas because their families travel back home so everyone can be together. I understand. That’s really neat. However, my six children all puchased homes within 10 minutes of this home where they grew up. And, I see them regularly – in fact, having coffee or a meal with my girls almost weekly … and with the boys whenever work schedules (their’s and mine) allow. So, Christmas is not a big ‘family reunion’ time for me.

No, it’s not about ‘family’ per say although we do get together with each family unit during this two week span of time and share a meal and the whole gang gets together for an evening. And presents have not been a focus (never were THE focus) for a number of years. But, I do look forward to the season as things slow down and I travel less and so have more time at home – allowing me quality time to take a spiritual inventory and see where I’m at – to take stock of what the Lord has done over the past 12 months in me (not looking at ministry – but at my personal relationship with Him). It also allows me to look at how things are right now and what might be the direction for my relationship with Him in the coming new year. I call it a time of spiritual inventory. King David would have said: “Search me O God and know my heart…” I find it is often me that has lost touch with his own heart due to constant activity and so I am the one who needs to become reacquainted with my own heart. The Christmas / New Year’s break is a good time to do just this if I can avoid too many additional seasonal activites.

One thing I have discovered over the past 12 months (one of many) is that when I am in need of something – and I go to God with this need (personal or ministry related) – I expect Him to give me something (wisdom, financial blessing, healing…) He often responds with His “presence” and not with a “present” (the money I need, the healing I asked for…). And, in His love and grace this always turns out to be exactly what the doctor (Dr. Jesus) ordered.

Oh, I am often disappointed that the specific thing I asked for was not directly given to me by the Lord. I am often perplexed about the way He is or (to me, at least) is not answering my prayer request. But, during these times (usually twice a year – Christmas and a week-long summer break) I quickly come to realize that although I didn’t get what I wanted (present under the tree syndrome) I was seriously blessed by an increase of His presence during these times of waiting for Him to give me the “present” I was asking for. If you are reading this … I hope that made sense.

One of the changes I am planning to make for 2009 and beyond is to stop asking for “things” (presents) when there is a need in my life or ministry. I am going to try and remember simply to ask for more of Him (presence). Surely He is really all I need and if I have Him everything else (all those needs and wants – presents) I may mention in passing as I walk in His presence will then be there if it is His will to answer my prayers in that way. If not, that will be okay as well – for I will still have more of Him and there is really nothing else I want “under the tree” anyways.

Just more of You (and less of me) in 2009 Lord! And, I’m in tears because of His presence in my study right now – early on Christmas Day – so I will simply leave it there.

Merry Christmas friends!

A Monk’s Revival

Revival came to Florence, Italy in 1496 to 1498. God’s human instrument was the Italian Roman Catholic monk Savonarola. When this revival began Martin Luther was just a small boy. Savonarola, as a youth, would walk beside the River Po and talk with God about the vice and immorality he saw in Italian society and the corruption he witnessed in the Church. He wept and grieved over the lewdness, luxury, and cruelty of many leaders of the Church. He would lie for hours prostrate on the altar steps in the church, weeping and praying about the sins of the age and the sins of the Church.

What can one unknown monk do in an age of immorality both in society and in the only church exisiting at the time? He prayed. Savonarola’s prayers and spirit-filled life helped prepare the way for the Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther called him a Protestant martyr. His life is a glorious testimony that one prayer warrior by the grace of God can be used to turn the tide and prepare the way for a mighty revival.

History states (Revival Fire – Chapter Six – pages 44-47):

“For years Savonarola studied Scripture, waited for God, and prayed. Suddenly one day God gave him a vision: the heavens opened and a voice commanded him to announce the future calamities of the church to the people. Filled with a new powerful anointing of the Holy Spirit, Savonarola began to preach to the people.
When the Spirit of God came upon him, the voice of Savonarola thundered as he denounced the sine of the people. Revival power gripped the whole area. Savonarola’s audience – men and women, poets and philosophers, caraftsmen and laborers – all sobbed and wept. People walked the streets so gripped by conviction from the Holy Spirit that they were half-dazed and speechless.
The Spirit of the Lord was upon Savonarola. He prophesied that the city ruler, the pope, and the king of Naples would all die within a year, and so they did. For months he predicted that God would punish Florence with an invasion from across the Alps. King Charles VIII of France and his army crossed the Alps and prepared to attack. Savonarola went alone to meet them. He faced the French army single-handed and twice persuaded Charles to turn back and not attack Florence.
The wicked city government was overthrown…the revival brought tremendous moral change…(But) the corrupt pope, the cardinals, and the priests were outraged. In time, the political and religious enemies incited a rough mob against Savonarola. They battered down the doors of the sanctuary of the convent where he was staying and captured him.
Savonarola was severely tortured as his enemies tried to get him to confess to heresy … Returning to his cell, Savonarola would kneel and ask God to forgive the people. Finally Savonarola and two companion monks were brought out to be executed before a mob of thousands of onlookers. An awesome silence settled down over the crowd. Savonarola’s last words were, “Should I not die willingly for Him who suffered so much for me?” … He and his two friends were hanged in the public square, and then their bodies were burned.”
On lone man, totally surrendered to God, burning with passion for revival in the Church and nation and the salvation of the people, had for several years turned the tide against evil in church, government, and the lives of the people. If God could use one Savonarola to bring such a mighty revival at such an impossible time, what could he not do in answer to a movement of truly prevailing prayer by the thousands of believers and Chistian leaders who love Christ today?”

BUT, will we prepare the way of the Lord through prayer like Savonarola did? Will we feed on God’s Word and memorize much of the Bible by heart as he did? Will we spend the nights and hours in prayer and fasting as he did? Will we obey the voice of the Lord as he did? Will we fear God more than we fear man and demons? Will we spend the quality time necessary to know God and hear His voice accurately? Will we be willing to declare a prophetic word that calls people to repentance and drives regions and nations to their knees (instead of the mostly “bless you My children” prophecies we hear today)? Are we willing to take the time needed to hear God accuarately about future world events and coming natural disasters so as to proclaim them accurately ahead of time (and not release the words afterwards – or reinterpret a previous word to match the current situation)? Are we willing to be instruments in God’s hand regardless of the cost to us personally?

Those are questions I have been wrestling with since I recently re-read the story of Savonarola, the Italian Roman Catholic monk. This man (and there is a lot known about him and the revival that he was instrumental in releasing) was a step beyond anything I see in the Church today – or, in my own life for that matter. His dedication, focus, commitment, passion, determination, willingness and sacrifical approach to the Lord’s call on his life are amazing and, at times, overwhelming (if you think about them too deeply).

It makes me realize that I am so busy with so much but with so few real and lasting results. That maybe, just maybe, if I spent more time with God and in His presence (which I love to do) then more could be and would be accomplished in less time because the hand of God would be upon all that I do. How a person manages that in the “ministry world” in which we function I am uncertain – but I do plan to spend time during this Christmas season thinking upon such things as I work towards my annual spiritual review that I do every year during the Christmas and New Year’s break in travel and ministry. Much to think about. Decisions need to be made.

What is an Evangelical Christian?

And the survey said … No, it’s not Family Feud. Just a survey by Ellison Research who surveyed American adults and asked them “What is an evangelical Christian”? Here are the answers (in percentages)…

What is an evangelical Christian?
I have no idea…..36%
A type of Christian…..9%
Impose their beliefs on others…..3%
Rely on the Bible…..8%
Follow Christ……1%

Boy, is that ever bad press. It means that in spite of the countless multi-millions of dollars that go into North America Christian media – television, radio, newsprint, books, magazines, and internet – we are not communicating with our audience. As I have suspected for some time now we are simply talking to ourselves. And, when outsiders listen in we are talking Christianeze and they simply don’t understand us. We are a sub-culture cut off almost totally from the culture we are called to influence.

The evangelical Christian should be known as “someone who believes you need to be born again”. It should be the one thing – the one message – that comes to mind as soon as someone, anyone, mentions the term evangelical Christian.

But, of course, that leads us to another issue – the number of people who are clueless as to what it really means to be born again. These days we have many who declare themselves to be born again (evangelical) Christians who are not even believers. They neither believe the Bible is the authoritative Word of God upon which you build your life nor do they believe that Jesus is God in a human body who came to die for their sins so that through the shedding of His blood they can find forgiveness.

And, if they are truly born again and not simply false converts we find that many of them – although saved – have no idea what that really means to everyday, day-by-day life. They do not understand that God gave to them a gift when they were born again. Tht gift is called ‘eternal life’ (Romans 6:23b). If they have that much understanding – ask them what they believe is the Bible definition of eternal life and they will tell you it means to live forever. Not so! The Bible definition of eternal life is found in John 17:3 … “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” The gift of “eternal life” is a personal relationship with the living God now and forever.

And, we have an internal issue that we need to be aware of and deal with – many who declare themselves to be evangelical believers are not – and many of those that are seem unable to communicate what it is they really believe. They have trouble expressing their core beliefs verbally and their life-style is not that much different than the non-believer. As a result, the gospel message is not being communicated.

So, we have bad press when it comes to the world understanding what an evangelical Christian is and what they believe. Our Christian life-style is not being seen (it may be it is not different than that of a non-believer) and our verbal expression of what we believe is not being communicated to the average man on the street. Things need to change and change NOW!

It is time
we sorted out true disciples from simply those who are ‘converts’ or those who have said a sinner’s prayer and so think everything is fine when it is not. It is time that we note the true difference between ‘religious Christians’ who have made up their own personal beliefs without too much reference to a proper understanding of the Bible and true believers who base their life on the Bible. It is time to look at the fruit in a person’s life. You cannot judge (or even see) a person’s heart – but the fruit should be visible and evident for all to examine. Good roots (“rooted and grounded in the love of God”) will bring forth good fruit. It is time to get honest with ourselves – take a good, hard, long look and see if we are followers of the Lord Jesus Christ (disciples) and thus truly born again or if we are simply holding on to a born again religion… but religion none the less. It is time

It is time to press on past the basics so that we grow up and mature and become what the Lord wants us to be and then do what the Lord would have us do. It is time…


Apostles in the Church

Apostles are builders of the Church of Jesus Christ. There is no other ascension gift that can match their consuming passion for the advancement of the Church in the world. Apostles will challenge anything that hinders the Church’s progress. This ministry, planted within the local church, and ministering locally and trans-locally, puts a demand on every believer to understand the importance of the local church. The apostle will appear to be obsessed with the importance of the local church and the need to plant one in every viable location. Read more

Hang On Tight

We are in for another rough ride folks! Oh, I know, it has been a rough year and now that Christmas events and activities have been added to an already wicked schedule – more than overwhelming and past being a rough time. “Stop the world I want to get off!”

Well, you might want to change that saying – as true as it may be at this time and in this busy season. We could just fine tune it a bit and come up with, “Stop the Church I want to get out”.

Okay, we know that we can’t do that because we are members of the Church – not card-carrying members of an organization but living members of an organism – a living, breathing, alive entity called the Body of Christ, the Church. Impossible to simply slice ourselves out of the body just because the Body is suffering another hit from within its ranks and from outside her ranks.

However, you just might want to hang on tight because it is about to get rougher for those of us who love the Church and are active members of this great organism that the Lord birthed into the world on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). There is some mud-slinging going on and it’s aimed at one or some of our own. Some of those throwing the mud are believers, some are not. But mud is flying nonetheless.

The issue – some accusations – very public ones – against Sunday Adelaja of Embassy of the Blessed Kingdom of God for All Nations in Kiev, Ukraine. So, close to my heart as I have worked in Ukraine a number of times and over a period of almost 15 years. I pray daily for my friends in Ukraine and the Church that I help to lead here also financially supports the work of a local church there as well. So, I’m all ears.

To save you linking to another site (and to save me figuring out how to do that – although yesterday I did buy myself a “Blogging for Dummies” book so I am out to learn what all these other things I can see behind the scenes (the back door of my blogging structure and programming that you can’t get to) really do and how they function. But, I digress.

To save you linking to another site I have pasted the original article that I just read Friday shipped out from the Charisma Magazine web site …

Then I received today the response from Pastor Adelaja which was sent out via e-mail to his mailing list and kindly forwarded by a wonderful pastor in Calgary, Alberta – William Dennie. Much appreciated William as I try not to get on too many mailing lists as I don’t keep up with all that I now receive as e-mails. I’m a binge e-mailer … I do what I can each day and then when the pressure mounts and I am 180+ behind (as I am now) I can’t handle the stress any longer and I spend a day or two of 10 to 15 hours catching up. Someone suggested that I should just delete them all. But, again, I digress.

So, below I have pasted both the Charisma news alert and Pastor Adelaja’s response. One comment from me first – afterall, it is my blog and I can share a thought or two… Whoops, now it”s up to two comments.

First, Pastor Adelaja did not address the issues that he is being confronted with. His brief email mentions an issue that according to what Charisma reporters wrote was not an issue at all. And he did not address the real issues (accusations) regarding lying, exaggerating the truth, causing the Church in Russia and Ukraine a lot of pain and agony with the government by misreprersenting his church’s role in the Orange Revolution, and so on.

Secondly, with a world-wide ministry through his books and trans-local ministry Pastor Adelaja cannot afford to remain silent and simply state that it will all work out and he is “being hated for My Name’s sake”. Nonsense! No one is hating him. He was confronted by other Christian leaders within the Charismatic and non-Charismatic Church in Ukraine and asked to be accountable for what he has and is saying and doing. That is not being “hated”. It is being accountable and responsible. So, let’s not play martyr and simply answer the concerns being brought up – repent, apologize, get things right IF there is something to get right and let’s get over this speed bump and get on with the work of the Kingdom – winning souls.

So, the article…

Sunday Adelaja Accused of Supporting Investment Scheme
Pentecostal leaders in Ukraine have accused the prominent Kiev pastor of involvement in a failed business that has lost $100 million.

Ukraine’s most prominent charismatic pastor, Sunday Adelaja, is at the center of controversy over his alleged involvement in a business venture that some claim bilked investors out of $100 million.

Adelaja, pastor of Embassy of the Blessed Kingdom of God for All Nations in Kiev, was accused in November of being involved in the dealings of King’s Capital, a financial group led by a member of his congregation. The company drew many of its investors from the church, also known as God’s Embassy, promising as much as 60 percent returns on investments.

But last month, several church members went to authorities saying they were unable to recover the money they invested, which left many of them bankrupt. Police later arrested one of King’s Capital leaders, Aleksandr Bandurchenko, on suspicion of fraud.

Speculation about Adelaja’s involvement with King’s Capital grew after reports surfaced that he was part of a bank in Nigeria known as GS Microfinance Bank Limited. Some speculated that Adelaja, a native of Nigeria, invested funds from King’s Capital in the African bank and planned to leave the country.

Adelaja, however, said those accusations are unfounded. He said he has never been involved with King’s Capital but denied that it is a Ponzi scheme, which uses later investments to pay dividends to earlier investors.

Adelaja said King’s Capital is a legitimate business that failed under the pressure of the global financial crisis. He said because the company poured most of the investment capital into real estate, which has decreased in value, it has been unable to pay investors.

“When the [economic] crisis came, all the real estate is no more selling,” Adelaja told Charisma. “The land is enough to pay back the money owed. … The problem is … everything is stopped in the country—nothing is selling now in Ukraine.”

Adelaja said Interior Affairs Minister Yurii Lutsenko accused the church of involvement because he wants to undermine the evangelical movement in Ukraine. With several thousand members across the nation, God’s Embassy is one of the most influential congregations in Ukraine.

“[Lutsenko] is in a very bad situation,” Adelaja said. “He’s got to prove now that [King’s Capital] is a pyramid scheme, but he cannot.”

Adelaja said he never encouraged his church members to invest in the company and cautioned them to invest in businesses that offer insurance. “Of course … if you invest with insurance you get less percentage,” he said. “What happened was many people said they didn’t need insurance because the [King’s Capital leaders] were Christians.”

He acknowledged being affiliated with GS Microfinance, but said he invested his name and influence in the bank, not millions of dollars. He said GS Microfinance was formed to give small loans to poor Nigerians as a way of lifting them out of poverty. “It’s not about what you can get, but the vision of the program [is] to elevate and get as many people out of poverty as possible,” Adelaja said. “That is one of my lifetime passions … because I grew up in poverty.”

Although Adelaja has repeatedly denied any involvement in King’s Capital, which has not officially been deemed a fraudulent business, Pentecostal and charismatic leaders across Ukraine are calling on him to repent, saying they heard him encourage church members to invest in the company on several occasions.

“He was not a president of this company, but he was the No. 1 spiritual leader, and he told them what they have to do,” said Bishop M. S.Panochko, leader of the All-Ukrainian Union of Pentecostal Churches of Evangelical Faith, which is comprised of 1,500 churches across the nation. “He can do everything to tell them [he is] not involved, but all [the] leaders have a lot of facts, and we have a lot of video of when he was pushing people, and he encouraged people to invest in this business.”

Panochko was one of 10 leaders who met with Adelaja on Tuesday to confront him about his alleged support of King’s Capital and the negative impact some of his actions have had on the evangelical church in Ukraine.

The Pentecostal bishops, who together represent more than 2,500 congregations, listed seven items of concern and said Adelaja has a pattern of making exaggerated statements. They pointed particularly to his alleged claim that he led the 2004 Orange Revolution—when Ukrainian voters protested a presidential election many considered fraudulent—and his reports that God’s Embassy has 100,000 members across the nation. The bishops say those and other statements are untrue.

After the meeting, Adelaja issued a statement saying he did not organize the Orange Revolution, though his congregation participated in the demonstrations. He also asked forgiveness for the negative impact the King’s Capital scandal has had on Ukrainian churches, but he added that he did not personally have any involvement in the company.

Despite the statement, Panochko said the bishops would continue waiting for Adelaja to apologize for allegedly endorsing King’s Capital. If he does not repent, Panochko said the bishops would issue a statement to Christians in Ukraine and abroad, and to the Ukrainian government, denouncing Adelaja and claiming no affiliation with him.

Moscow-based pastor Rick Renner, founder of the Good News Association of Churches and Ministries for Russia, Latvia and Ukraine, said Adelaja’s claims are hurting Christians in the former Soviet Union. He said reports about God’s Embassy’s involvement in the Orange Revolution have led some governments to crack down on churches out of fear that Christians are political revolutionaries.

“Pastors and Christian leaders are now trying to maneuver through new restrictive laws that have been passed because of Sunday’s claim that he and his church organized the Orange Revolution,” Renner said. “He owes the body of Christ an apology, first for lying about the fact that he organized it and carried it out, and second, for creating this very difficult environment for which others are now paying a very high price.”

Renner and other Pentecostal leaders say they have long been concerned about Adelaja’s claims that God’s Embassy has 100,000 members across Ukraine when they believe the church has closer to 10,000 members nationwide. But Renner said the King’s Capital controversy provoked him to speak out.

“Thousands of people have been saved and filled with the Holy Spirit, and many lives have been changed [through God’s Embassy],” Renner said. “There was never a need for him to exaggerate on such a massive scale as he has been doing in recent years. … I have never wanted to call Sunday a liar, so most often I tried to ignore the subject of Sunday’s falsehoods when I heard them. Now in light of the lies being told by Sunday, denying that he ever recommended that his people invest in this company, I was taken to a new place of prayer and concern. It was in the midst of this that the Lord impressed me to speak out.”

During a recent sermon, Renner told his congregation that the members of God’s Embassy should leave the church if Adelaja doesn’t repent.

“They are not obligated by God to sit up under deception,” Renner said. “ … It’s not the position of a pastor to say to his people, ‘Sell everything you have and put all your money in this particular company,’ especially if that pastor has an interest in that company. That is a very impure recommendation.”

The challenge provoked a firestorm of response, pitting Christians on either side of the debate. Dmitry Kirichenko, pastor of World Harvest Church in Kiev and director of Brightstar Publishing House, issued an open letter expressing his support of Adelaja.

Kirichenko said there are no facts proving Adelaja’s involvement in the establishment and operation of King’s Capital. “The Ministry of Internal Affairs … currently is investigating the case, but even this administration has so far not presented any formal charges against Pastor Sunday,” he wrote.

However, Sergei Shidlovsky leader of the Seeking God movement and a former member of God’s Embassy, said he attended many meetings during which Adelaja called on people to invest in King’s Capital and “laughed over those who have not yet done that.”

“I personally sat in the room when he explained to everyone how important it is to take the credit out of the house or apartment and invest precisely in this company,” said Shidlovsky, who invested 1,000 Euros himself and encouraged his mother to sell her apartment in Belarus and invest the profit. “I became a contributor of King’s Capital only by trust in Sunday Adelaja and his calls to invest in this company.”

Adelaja said Shidlovsky’s claims are “absolutely not true.” He said he invited a church member to discuss investing as part of ongoing teaching on financial stewardship. He said the financial talk was not about King’s Capital but may have been misinterpreted.

Alex Mykhaylyk, dean of History Makers Bible School, a Philadelphia-based ministry affiliated with God’s Embassy, said those attacking Adelaja are looking for someone to blame for the collapse of King’s Capital and Ukraine’s economic woes. “Sunday never told people to invest in this,” Mykhaylyk said. “He told them basic principles of business and investment. I know my pastor too well. He will give away everything and not take anything from anybody. The biggest problem is that the church is divided in opinions.” –Adrienne S. Gaines

His response …

Date: Sun, 21 Dec 2008 17:59:10 +0200
And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved…
Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. (Matthew 10: 22, 26)

Dear Friends of Pastor Sunday and the Embassy of God,
Greetings to you in Jesus’ name!
We are writing this letter to all of you today because probably you have heard of the false accusations that have been coming against Pastor Sunday in relation to the economic crisis Ukraine is going through.
However, we do not fear because God’s word says that there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.
As a result of the Ukrainian credit crash, the country has suffered a lot, and was even recently rated as the country that suffered the most from the world economic crisis, being left with the greatest amount of casualties.
Approximately 25 banks have declared themselves insolvent, and therefore received support from the national bank of Ukraine before completely closing.
25% of Ukraine’s population cannot pay their mortgages and thousands of companies went down as well.
One such company that went down was a financial company by the name of King’s Capital; one of the founders of the company being a member of our church.
Even though thousands of companies nationwide failed, the opposition of the church would like to use this situation of King’s Capital to raise false accusation against Pastor Sunday of being involved.
Because one of the founders comes to the Embassy of God church, a lot of church members invested in his company. Even though the company has real estate to back-up the investments of the people, they are not in a position to pay anything back at the moment due to the real estate collapse in the country.
The government is not officially accusing Pastor Sunday and the church, but some brothers and sisters have come out to launch a massive media attack against him to damage his reputation and character.
Their false allegations have been that Pastor Sunday encouraged people to invest in the company, when contrarily he discourages people from high interest investments.
In Pastor Sunday’s own words, .The God Who sees secret things of every man’s heart knows that I don’t have anything to do with the organization, management or finances of King’s Capital.
Any company from any church could go bust and the pastor does not have to be held responsible for that. The company collapse has nothing to do with me or with GS Microfinance Bank in Nigeria, and they have confirmed this..
We are asking our friends to pray for Pastor Sunday and against these false accusations.
Even though these charges don’t have legal consequences, they are raising a lot of noise, particularly from Christians.
None of this has affected the membership of the church – on the contrary the church has grown and there has been better attendance since these allegations started – as they all know the truth and what Pastor Sunday has taught.
Many blessings as the year comes to a close and may God show you His grace and favour in the new year!
Merry Christmas from Pastors Sunday and Abosede Adelaja,
and the entire Embassy of God family!

Love to hear what you think…