Why Are We Here Anyway?

Every church needs to know why God decided to birth this particular expression of the body of Christ in that place and at that time. Why did God want another church and what specifically is He calling it to be and thus to do.

This begins by first understanding and accepting the basic reason why all churches exist – to glorify Jesus and continue the ministry that Jesus has upon the Earth. Jesus is and must always be the center of the vision for the Church. After all, it is His Church and He is the Head of the Body of Christ, the Church . So, vision always begins and ends with Him.

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Vision Is Vital

It is vital to have a vision. The Bible states that without a vision God’s people perish (Proverbs 29:18). This verse was spoken prophetically in reference to an accurate vision of God. Without an accurate vision of God – His people will perish. So, recently I have presented some adjustments that needed to be made regarding who the real Bible Jesus is.*

This is important because the Bible states that Jesus came to reveal our Heavenly Father to us. And, the Bible states that Jesus is the exact representation of the Father.So, as we come to accurately know the Bible Jesus we come to know our heavenly Father.

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Salt and Light?

When Jesus told His disciples to be like salt and light, He meant those as positive metaphors: salt causes others to thirst for God, while light illuminates truth and shines compassion into dark places of despair. But salt and light can have negative connotations too. Salt stings when rubbed into a wound; light causes people to avert their eyes when someone fails to dim a car’s high beams on a two-lane highway. In a similar way, inauthentic Christians can cause others to recoil from God. Read more

Whatever God Expects – God Enables

There is an old-but-true saying that warrants repeating: whatever God expects, God enables. In other words, He does not ask us to do anything that He won’t give us the ability and resources to accomplish.

It this is true, what does it tell us about Jesus’ famous instructions that He gave to His disciples – and therefore to us if we truly are disciples – right before His ascension into heaven? He said in Matthew 28:18-20: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

These words make up what is commonly referred to as The Great Commission. But were they merely a lofty expression of wishful-but-unrealistic thinking, or did Jesus back up His great Commission with His Great Provision in order to make it attainable?

We can find answers by applying the basic rule of sound Bible study: examine the context, which refers to the verses immediately around the passage we are studying. When we do this, we find encouragement in Jesus’ words right before and after His famous command.

The first example is in verse 18, where He begins by saying, “All authority is heaven and on earth has been given to me,” which builds our confidence greatly about who is telling us to “therefore go and make disciples.” And in the verse right after this command, Jesus assures us by adding this promise: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

What does that mean for you and me today? Simply that as we obey His Great Commission, we never do so in our own strength or authority. The same one who is the Commander is also the Provider, and He will literally be with us, enabling us to obey His words and giving us assurance that we will have impact as we embark on the adventure of telling others about His amazing love and truth.

Time to launch out and begin the journey of a life time!

The Law of Evangelism

Evangelism is always an unexpected adventure. Doors open for us to share the Gospel when we least expect them to and with people we thought were not the least interested in spiritual truths. I like what one evangelist said, “Unexpected adventures (in evangelism) are, well, unexpected. So the time to get prepared is now, not when you are already sitting down with someone who surprises you with his or her sudden receptivity to the Gospel.”

Here is a little-known Law of Evangelism: the better we are equipped, the more God seems to use us. It is almost as if He is reluctant to inflict us on others when we are not appropriately trained. The Bible states, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:13)

Now, in a lot of churches the saints are not being taught to evangelize. They are not being taught how to approach people – known or unknown – and start a conversation knowing how to then steer that conversation, once started, to spiritual issues so that opportunity may arise to share Jesus and the Gospel of His Kingdom. Often they don’t even know how to express the Gospel – they know enough, we hope, that they are truly saved but have never taken the time to learn how to share it with others in a conversational and relevant way. And could not even if they wanted to as training is not offered in their local church.

However, statistics would also prove that in those churches where evangelism is a top priority and training is offered – most believers do not take the time or make the effort to receive the training being offered. They are busy or as someone I spoke to a week or two ago said – it is not their ministry gift. It is not listed as a ministry gift anywhere in scripture. The gift of evangelism does not exist in spite of what some denominational churches teach. Every believer is called to evangelize. It is the basis of a healthy spiritual life. In spite of that, many do not take advantage of training when available.

A truth: find me a person who says they are a believer and who is not witnessing on a regular basis and I will show you someone whose spiritual life is weak, unexciting, and in danger of collapse. It will be lacking life – God’s life.

So, it is time for disciples (I choose that word on purpose) to get serious about what Jesus has spoken so often about. If, as a disciple, you are following the Lord then you are witnessing to others. If you are not witnessing (fishing) then you are not following and thus not a disciple. You may be a believer but so are the demons (see James 4). You may be a Christian – but so are millions of others who are not born again and thus are lost and going to hell. The issue is are you a disciple and, if you are, are you obeying the One you are following – the One that said, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men?”

Let’s Try Something Different

When it comes to reaching people with the Gospel, “Let’s try something different” isn’t a bad motto. Too often churches and individual Christians stick with worn-out approaches to speak to people who weren’t reached by that same strategy the last time around. Our biblical message should never change, but our ways of communicating it must. Wise innovation and effective evangelism go hand in hand. Before we get too hung up on redeploying the old, we should consider what it means to genuinely follow the one who said, “Look, I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21:5 NLT)

The apostle Paul said: “I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the Gospel, that I may share in its blessings. (1 Corinthians 9:19-23 TNIV).

Note that Paul was very clear about his goal to win everyone possible to faith in Christ. There was no ambiguity about what he was trying to accomplish, nor was there with Jesus, who said He came “to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10)

We need to embark on each day with the Lord with that same kind of clarity. Our goal should always be to lovingly communicate the Gospel to our family, friends, and others through our actions and words, in ways God can use to draw them to Christ. It’s never about manipulating someone to do something but rather winsomely encouraging folks to consider the forgiveness, friendship and guidance God so graciously offers.

Once we are clear on the mission, God gives us a lot of latitude about how to accomplish it. The instructions are basically this: stay within God’s biblical and moral parameters, seek His wisdom and guidance, act in love, and do everything you can to reach people for Him.

So innovate. Experiment. Stretch yourself. Move outside your comfort zone. Try, fall down, get up, and try again. Find approaches that connect and use them as often as you can. Like Paul, we need to “become all things to all people so that by all possible means (we, with God’s help) might save some.”

Are you in the Priesthood?

The Bible talks about “the priesthood of all believers” and makes no division between clergy and laity. We are all ministers of the Gospel, ambassadors of the Lord Jesus, and empowered to walk supernaturally in the wonderful gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Everywhere I go I disciple, train and equip believers – young and old – to minister to one   another. This is the work of an apostle. I focus on teaching them to speak the heart of God to others – both saved and unsaved – because prophecy changes people’s lives permanently. Even praying for the sick is done prophetically. Read more

Listen and Obey

Listening intently to the teaching of God’s Word with hearts open and ready to obey – this couple heard the Lord speak to them and tell them that they were to move. Both have jobs in Almaty, Kazakhstan. They have just finished building a beautiful home and moving in. Thy have three young children. Thy speak little to no English. But, as seen here at a leadership school they are hungry to hear and obey. They have open and ready hearts. Open to hearing God and ready to obey. Read more

Making Disciples

One of the major changes we will see in the Church around the world in the near future comes directly from the teachings and example of the Head of the Church – Jesus Christ Himself.

Today, leaders in churches spend their time doing so many different things and need to, therefore, be good at doing a variety of very different ministries. Jesus, on the other hand, spent the bulk of His time doing two things with His disciples – modeling faith and equipping them to be true disciples and thus to be the leaders of tomorrow.  Everyone is called to ministry and Jesus saw ministry and thus the role of every disciple to be that of radically transforming the hearts and minds of people. There are two classic texts explaining this view of ministry – Matthew 28:18-19 and John 21:16 Read more

Stop Making Things Complicated

The Christian faith is fairly simple and straightforward. In my mind we often complicate things way too much and too often. Religion is complicated; the Christian faith is simple – profound, deep, often difficult, but simple.

Here is what I mean… for me, loving God means loving people, and loving people means making a difference for God. Read more