Is There Life Before Death?

As Christians we have not shown the world another way to live; another way of doing life. We live very much like everyone else, we just sprinkle a little Jesus along the way. And doctrine is of little to no interest to those who are not believers – so what we believe is of little relevance in the fight to win the world for Jesus. What the world needs to see is changed lives.

Here is a profound truth: Few people are interested in a religion that has nothing to say to the world and offers them only life after death, when what people are really wondering is whether there is life – real life – before death.

Tony Campolo – teacher and Baptist preacher asks, “Even if there were no heaven and there were no hell, would you still follow Jesus? Would you follow Him for the life, joy, and fulfillment He gives you right now?” Good question – a question about life before death.

I know that I would still follow Him as He has given real meaning and purpose to my life. I am excited about Heaven and the afterlife and the celebration we will have as we party as if there is no tomorrow (because there is no tomorrow in heaven). And yet I am seriously convinced that Jesus came not just to prepare us to die but to teach us how to live. Otherwise, most of what He says has no purpose as His wisdom about life will not be needed in the afterlife. It was wisdom for now.

Think about it … Jesus said, “Love your enemies.” Well, you will not have any enemies in heaven – just other believers, brothers and sisters in Christ. That was advice for life before death and not life after death. So was most of everything Jesus taught. Maybe, just maybe, it is time to take what Jesus said and that is recorded accurately in God’s Word, our Bibles, and to live it in this life, here and now. After all, the Kingdom of God is at hand…the Kingdom of God in within us… the Kingdom of God is among us. At least, that is what Jesus taught. And I for one believe Him.

11 Leadership Questions You Should Be Asking

 1. When was the last time I heard from God? Am I doing what he called me to do? 

This is the “Acts 6″ question. Acts 6 is a great reminder that it’s possible to be doing the ministry of God without doing the ministry God has called us to do.

  • Busy for God and not busy with God
  • Working from the head and not the heart
  • Meeting needs and bending to people’s expectations – People Pleaser
  • Not working for the audience of One
  • Letting people control and manipulate you

Read more

When I Grow Up I Want to Be…

Were you ever asked what you wanted to be when you grew up? I was – many times. And, of course, the answer changed the older I became – fireman, policeman, farmer, accountant. I became the latter. Today, when people first meet you and are trying to get to know you better they often ask, “So, what do you do.” It seems that what we are planning to do or are doing for a living is suppose to be defining us somehow.

However, could I suggest that what you become is much more important that what you do for a living? Maybe what you are becoming is more important than what you are doing. You see, the question is really not whether you will be a doctor or a lawyer but what kind of doctor or lawyer you will be. What would a twenty-year-old Jesus have said if they asked Him, “What are you going to do when you grow up?” Maybe something like, “I’m going to turn the world upside down. I’m going to hang out with prostitutes and tax collectors until people kill me.” Or what would Peter have said? “Well, I was going to be a fisherman, but then I met this dude, and he messed all that up.” Mother Teresa once said, “Do not worry about your career. Concern yourself with your vocation, and that is to be lovers of Jesus.”

So, my point: How are you defining yourself? What is it that gives you your sense of worth? What are you striving to be – not do? Because out of who you are – your personal identity – you will do the greatest good for others. Out of who you really are will flow the things that you do and the things that potentially can impact the world.

The issue here: You need to take the time to have a good look at yourself – inside, deep inside. And, be prepared, this can be painful as you may not like what you find the first time you are serious and go looking. In fact, it is guaranteed that you will not like what you see. But, as the Lord shows you who you are, who He wants you to be, and who you are in Him it does get better – much better. But first comes the hard work of being still and letting Him be God as He shows you the real you that He dreamed about, planned and created.

So, the question for the day: Who are you going to be when you grow up? You see, this really does determine what you are going to accomplish in life.

Constantinian Christianity

We would all like to include everyone in the Church and to love them. We would like to include people like the rich young ruler and Ananias and Sapphira whom we were talking about a few days ago. However, we would end up with the sort of Christianity that arose after Constantine, in which everyone can be a Christian because no one knows what a Christian is anymore.

We (that includes you) need to think about some of the basics of the Christian faith – such as:
1> What is a Christian?
2> What is a good working definition of the Christian faith?
3> What is a good definition of the Church?

As a believer you have probably never thought through your working definitions of these three things because you have been so immersed in the Church culture for so long that you assume you know what the answers and definitions are. You will be amazed, if you take my suggestion seriously, how hard it can be to adequately capture the essence of being a Christian, the Christian faith and the Church and thus define it. Add to that the need to define it for the non-believing world and those who don’t know Christianese and it can become a major project.

That’s a good project to grab hold of and to take the time to work through. It is defining who you are, what your believe, and what and who you belong to. Nothing more basic than that really. That is certainly ground zero for any follower of Jesus today. And, absolutely essential and foundational if you hope to win others to the Lord, have them become Christians and active and contributing members of the Christian church. Spend some time thinking it through today and we will talk more about it tomorrow and the day after.

In Constantine’s time the meaning of what it means to be a Christian was totally destroyed. He was born again after becoming emperor and then declared his empire – the Roman Empire – to be a Christian empire. Thus, you became a Christian simply by being a member of his empire. No personal repentance with godly sorrow, no change of heart, no declaring Jesus as Lord and walking with Him daily, no taking up of a cross, and certainly no understanding of coming under new ownership and following your owner.

Thus the concept of being a Christian lost all meaning and the faith nosedived and did not resurface in a healthy manner until after the dark ages many hundreds of years later.

Let’s not let that happen again simply because it might be somewhat difficult to nail down who we are, what we believe and what we belong to. Let’s think it through for ourselves and share our results together in the comment box below.

I May be Flying or I May Not Be

If you are reading this I may be on my way home and flying over some area of the world. I am suppose to arrive home Monday in the late evening. However, that is if everything works out right – flight connections, weather, mechanical issues with the planes, security issues in the airport. I have seen all of these things and other issues mean a missed flight. It only takes one small thing to set off a chain reaction of missed flights and overnight stays. I started my journey on Sunday flying from Sochi, Russia to Moscow. Monday I fly from Moscow to London, London to Edmonton, and Edmonton to Regina.

If I arrive home it will be to bed almost immediately due to jet lag. It may be evening in my home city but it is mid-morning body time. The difference is called jet lag. So, Monday is fly day and Tuesday is jet lag day. And, my body will need to take time to catch up and adjust to the current time where it is located. This will mean I will sleep frequently during the day and find myself waking up when I didn’t even know I had dosed off again. My brain and my body will not be coordinated and so I will not be driving my care. Reading is useless. And, if I speak to someone I will not always finish my sentences because I will lose my train of thought. I will also not remember what I did or what you say. It can be worse than the worst bad hair day you ever experienced.

By Wednesday things will even out more and I will be meeting with family members and touching base with my administrator to see what happened while I was away. I keep informed as best I can and with internet connections almost everywhere it is getting easier and easier to stay in touch with all parts of the world and of this ministry. However, there are always small details to be looked into and things missed while ministering overseas.

If you have been praying for this apostolic trip and the last 21 days – thank you. Prayer is a powerful and effective weapon in our warfare and I want you to know your time and effort in prayer have brought great results and wonderful change to many lives over the past three weeks. Truly life-changing things are happening as we teach and prophesy. So, thank you so very much.

My next trips are to the twice-a-year apostolic roundtable meeting in Ohio / Indiana. I will be there in mid-April and staying an extra day to work with a young man that I am mentoring there. Then at the end of April I will be returning to Kazakhstan where I last ministered in early winter 2010. I am already applying for the visa to allow me to enter that country.

Again, your prayers for these important ministry trips would be greatly appreciated.

Believers Don’t Believe

The more I read the Bible the more my comfortable life is interrupted. There are simply so many things Jesus states that I need to consider and every one of them will bring radical change to my life if I truly believe the words that He speaks – and He is speaking to my heart each and every day.

Here’s the problem – I believe what I read in the Bible. I can hear you saying … “Well, so do I!” Really. Do you have a passport – because if you don’t you don’t believe Matthew 28:18-20. Oh! Go ahead, look it us.

Do you believe the words of Jesus? So, you take up your cross every day and do as Jesus has asked of you?

The Bible says that we will be witnesses – do you witness? Did you know that the word “witness” in Acts 1:8 is the word for martyr? Still game to follow Jesus? Willing to die for the faith?

The Word of God states that we should sell everything, give it to the poor, and follow Jesus. Willing to do that yet or are you hanging on to all those things hoping they might one day bring you satisfaction and happiness?

What is God’s perfect will for your life and are you well on your way to fulfilling it? The Bible states we can know the plans and purposes of God for our life and that we are called to lay this life down on the altar… Do you know God’s perfect will for your life and are you willing to lay your life down? Where are you at in this aspect of your Christian faith?

We have today what is called “easy believism.” We read the Bible and believe whatever we want to believe and discount, write off or ignore what we don’t like or what might make us uncomfortable or cause us to stretch and change. We read God’s Word for comfort and insight and thus ignore most if not all of the challenges and words that would change us.

This is really sad. No wonder third world nations in Africa and Eastern Europe are now sending missionaries to our nation to win the lost. And, it should not come as a surprise that the Church in North America is weak and ineffective and not doing as the Lord commanded His Church to do – seek and save the lost. It is time to examine what we believe and how it is or is not impacting our lives and to make some changes.

This sounds like “same-old, same-old” and it is. I preach, teach, and harp on it all the time. But, until believers take really seriously the Word of God – the Bible – and the Word of the Lord – the prophetic – I will continue to harp on it and harp on it and harp on it.

The morning I wrote this – I was in a fishing area in southern Russia having a very important meeting when we were suddenly entertaining two unsaved fishermen, drinking tea, and sharing the Gospel with them. They were from another area of Russia but here on a vactation and the host of the meeting invited them to meet us because he had been praying for them and witnessing to them. It was simply normal life here in Russia and elsewhere overseas where I work. They take seriously the Bible and the prophetic. And, although persecuted, their churches are thriving.

Maybe we should do the same here in North America.

Travel Day and the End of This Apostolic Trip

It is Sunday – one last service to preach and minister at – a new one added to the schedule due to the switch in times of my flights by the airline. I travel from Sochi to Moscow by plane Sunday morning and then fellowship and minister the rest of the day in that city of 20+ million. Then, a short night’s sleep, check-in early in the morning Monday at one of four major Moscow airports, breakfast meeting with some leaders, board my first flight towards home.

The route has changed … Sochi to Moscow, Moscow to London, England, London to Edmonton, Edmonton home. It will be a long two days and will involve living the same 9 hours twice as I will be flying through nine time zones flying west and so the time zones do the opposite to when flying to Eastern Europe. I keep gaining time and setting my watch back. So, my body will not be coordinated with my brain on Tuesday which is fondly known as jet lag day and practically known as laundry day.

I want to thank everyone who has helped with this three weeks of ministry but the list would be seriously too long. It takes many people to facilitate a trip like this and I simply appreciate everyone who helps and the flexibility of those I mentor who fore-go meetings with me to allow me to do this. You are all wonderful folks and greatly appreciated. Thanks everyone for praying….

The Discomfort of the Cross

In churches today we water down what it will cost a person should they decide to become a follower of Jesus Christ. We have this radical inclusivity concept where we will do anything to get people involved and to become a part of the family of God and build the numbers in the local church. We simply don’t want anyone to miss out and walk away from Jesus Christ.

So, because of the possible discomfort of the cross we are to take up daily we clip the claws of the Lion of Judah a little bit, we clean up the bloody Passion we are called to follow and woe people into a false sense of security and assurance. They can have all the benefits without any of the responsibilities and obligations.

Jesus is talking to His disciples – that included you and me – about who can get into the Kingdom of God and comments that rich people will find it hard. The disciples react because, after all, they need some rich followers to support the ministry and give the cash necessary to keep the ministry functioning. Therefore, let’s not make it too hard as we might scare them away and lose them permanently. The disciples cry out, “Who then can be saved?” In other words, “why must you make it so hard as we are trying to build a movement here Jesus?”

Jesus does not exclude rich people, He just lets them know that rebirth costs them and everyone else everything. The story is not so much about whether rich folks are welcome as it is about the nature of the Kingdom of God, which has an ethic and economy diametrically opposed to those of the world. Rather than accumulating stuff for oneself, followers of Jesus abandon everything, trusting in God for providence.

The temptation we face today in the Church is to be radically inclusive and I am all for embracing people regardless of their sin and their lifestyle. However, the temptation we face in our tolerant societies is to compromise the cost of discipleship, and in the process, the Christian identity can get lost. We don’t want folks to walk away – we sincerely long for others to come to know the Father’s love and grace and be saved. But, not at the cost of true discipleship.

It is interesting that one of the stories of the early church in Acts is the bizarre tale of a couple named Ananias and Sapphira, who withheld a portion of their possessions for the common offering and then lie about it. Peter confronts them and God strikes them dead. Not tolerant and not very inclusive. Definitely not “cheap grace.”

Maybe it is time to rethink the way we live?

Blessed Are the Flexible

It is Saturday and I am now on my second day in the City of Sochi. Of course, I don’t really see cities. For example, I flew in to Primorsko-Akhtarsk on Monday night in the dark, saw the airport, the parking lot and three hours of roads as we drove to a house in the country for the meetings I was attending. Then I drove 8 hours to the city of Sochi and by the time we arrived it was dark. Here I have seen the church building and the place that I am staying.

Once in a while the host pastor or leader asks if we would like to have a brief tour of the city or place where we are because of its historical significance. We usually say yes even though it makes for one more event on the schedule. I personally enjoy seeing some of the history that can date back, in Russia, to 600 A.D. But normally, I see the airports and the place where I minister.

In spite of it beng Saturday I am in services all day and evening. Here in this local church Sunday is Saturday. They celebrate with their pastor on Saturdays so that he can be free Sundays to visit his other churches in their union as he is the bishop. And, then they have Sundays as a family day. By tomorrow I begin my journey home and fly from Sochi to Moscow where I will spend the night and do another service for a church I ministered in during my visit in January.

Your prayers for these last two days of ministry and the beginning of the travel days would be greatly appreciated. Already I have had one change in scheduled flights which meant rearranging these last two days to make connections. The airline simply moved the time of my first flight and thus I would have missed all my connections… so we fly on Sunday to Moscow and do a service there where originally we would have flown on Monday to Moscow and onwards. Blessed are the flexible. Thanks for your prayers – they are greatly appreciated.

Highlighting the Bible

Jesus never says to the poor, “Come find the church,” but He says to those of us in the church, “God into the world and find the poor, hungry, homeless, imprisoned.’ And, what we do for and with ‘the least of these’ we do unto Him. It is as if they are simply Jesus is various disguises. Do were have those verses underlined in our Bibles, I wonder?

Dorothy Day says, “Have we even begun to be to be Christians?” And, as I read Matthew 25:31-46 (they are easy to find in your Bible – just look for the verses NOT underlined) I wonder who will be in which group. There are only two groups to chose from – the sheep and the goats; the believers who said “yes, Lord” and those that said, “But, Lord.” The criteria determining which group we are in will be how we cared for the poor, the hungry, the imprisoned, and the naked masses. When all is said and done and we are gathered before the throne I wonder, will we all be with the sheep?

Jesus says to the rich young man that he needed to go and give up everything he owns to give to the poor. That’s because when we come into the banquet of the Lamb there will be so many people there that there will not be any room for all our baggage. The luggage must go now. We must use all of our resources to help others and thus show the love of the Father to others and this love is found only in Jesus.

So, this rich young man who lacks nothing comes to Jesus and asks what he must do to have eternal life – to go to Heaven when he dies. Jesus says an interesting thing – He says, “this one thing you lack…” Good choice of words Jesus as this young man did not think he lacked anything – after all, he was a rich man and could buy everything he wanted or needed.

What was it he lacked? Well, before this story is recorded there is the story of Jesus and the little children where Jesus says that you must enter the Kingdom as a little kid. Little kids trust. So, Jesus says to this big kid – you lack something – trust. So, to learn to trust the Lord go and unburden yourself of all your wealth and give it all away to the poor – and then follow Me and trust your Heavenly Father to meet all your needs.

And remember, Jesus does not chase the young man when he fails to respond in a correct, biblical fashion. He simply lets him go his way. And, the Lord does the same for us. He tells us what is needed to enter into the Kingdom – total trust. He tells us how to receive and build that trust. And, it is then up to us what we do with the His demand.

Jesus redeemed you on the cross. That’s a business term meaning ‘purchased back.’ Your sins were paid for on the cross by Jesus’ death. He owns you. You are not under new management – He owns you because He purchased (redeemed) you. So, He owns everything you have and use… and He has the right to tell you what to do with it.

Maybe it is time to open to Matthew 25:31-46 and underline or highlight those verses, maybe even study and meditate on them a bit.