When the Leaders Do This….

At any given service we should strive to allow those in attendance to find and experience intimacy with the Lord. The worship and prayer should invite the people and the Lord to come together in such a way that hearts are touched. And, the teaching of God’s Word should impact the thoughts and the lives of the people listening. These two elements are essential to a good “worship experience” on a Sunday.

If we bring these two elements together – intimacy and impact – we get a third component – “buzz.” It is electrifying to a congregation when the corporate ministry is both personal and powerful. For visitors – both saved and unsaved – it means that they are able to experience the presence and power of God in the midst of His people and have a valid encounter with God in a safe and welcoming environment. They are able to let their guard down and actually have their hearts touched by God the Father and hear God’s Word being applied to situations they face in their daily lives.

Of course, this does not come without a price. It means that the main leaders – worship and pulpit – must spend quality time with the Lord and in His presence preparing for the service. They must be in touch with God personally but also seeking His face for the service on Sunday so that intimacy and impact have an opportunity to happen. The leaders must lead when it comes to having their hearts ready and having prayed for and worked through what the Holy Spirit wants to accomplish at that special time each week.

It cannot be “business as usual” any more. Each service and each Sunday is special and unique. God wants to do something specific – focused for that time and specifically for those He knows will be gathering. So, we need to be creative and open to new ideas and approaches as we seek to experience Him corporately together.

To have “buzz” that is contagious and creates excitement and momentum we must start work on Monday to be ready for the following Sunday – praying, fasting, seeking God, and preparing our hearts and the content of the service. When the leaders will do this then the people will experience the living God, be touched and even transformed by Him, and return the following week for another encounter.
This means the key leaders of the Church may not be available right when you want them. This means you might wait a while for them to answer your text message, email, or phone call. This means your needs will not be the most important thing on their agenda for the day. This might even mean that they don’t show up at the church office until well into the morning or early afternoon. But, it also means they will actually be following their calling to lead the people of God…

A good worship experience on a Sunday does not just happen. It takes focus, hard work, and daily preparation. Even the people of God should be preparing their hearts on a daily basis for this time of personal and corporate intimacy and impact. The resulting buzz will last all week and touch many other lives.

Onwards Into Siberia

Today we finish our work here in the cities of Yekaterinburg and Revda and take a 20+ hour train ride into Siberia to begin work tomorrow evening (Monday) in the city of Nyagan. Today, we have had a morning service in The Church of the Living God with about 300 people in attendance. It was powerful and filled with tremendous potential. It was awesome. It always is when God’s people come together anticipating good things from their Lord and to celebrate His goodness towards them.

During our week in this area we have met with leaders one-on-one, ministered in a leadership training school, ministered in a number of public services, prophesied over numerous people – too many to count – and watched the Lord impact, challenge, and change many lives. This has been an anointed and appointed time from the Lord and it was so good to be a part of what He is doing here. And He is doing amazing things.

As we venture into the north and begin our next week in Siberia we ask that you focus on the cities of Nyagan and Yugorsk and the work we will be doing there and the cities surrounding them. We will, of course, be busy with daily services, meetings, and many opportunities to minister prophetically and from God’s written word. However, each day brings special circumstances and situations that are unique to the day and the trip and we don’t want to miss these opportunities simply because we are busy ministering and doing what we do each and every day on these trips. We don’t want to miss those wonderful serendipitous moments when the Lord opens a door to a special moment when He moves powerfully and heals and delivers – often interrupting out plans to do so.

Please pray that even though our team is somewhat tired after a full week of ministry – that we will be open to and sensitive towards these special moments and respond correctly.

It’s Saturday and…

It is the end of our first week of ministering in Russia and in the city of Yekaterinburg. It has been a great week and the School is drawing to a close. This is always sad as we have such great times together and hearts really do bond and relationships formed. As people head for trains and buses to take them home – some with more than 12 hours to travel – we know it has been a great time together in the presence of the Lord and that lives have been changed forever. We are thankful for the people who have taken time out of bust schedules and taken holiday time or simply gone without pay to be with us and to learn from us.

Tonight, after the School is over, we will be meeting with the leadership team of the local church to debrief and receive feedback about the week days we have been ministering. it will be a time of fellowship, food, fun as well as a time to look back and see what the Lord has done and what we could do differently next time – and there will be a next time. This is our first visit to the city but it will most certainly not be our last.

Tomorrow, Sunday, we will do several services (most take about 4 hours from start to stop) where I will teach and the team will prophecy over elders and leaders as well as some of the people as the Holy Spirit directs. And there will be several meals with various leaders where we will get to know them better and simply enjoy the Lord together and laugh a lot – as well as, most likely, eat too much.

Your prayers today for Sunday services would be greatly appreciated. Remember we are 15 hours ahead so as you read this at noon Satuday it is already 3:00a on Sunday morning and the team will soon be up preparing and praying. Pray that it will be a powerful and productive day for the Kingdom. And pray for our travels as we go by train into Sibera on Sunday evening (a 15+ hour train ride) and begin ministering as soon as we arrive on Monday evening.

Looking Ahead Into This Decade

It seems that prophets have fallen upon hard times. Some have issued prophetic words that are not from the Lord. Others issue words about events after they have happened – not prophetic, just historical and hysterical. Why hysterical? Because they interpret the event giving it spiritual significance and proclaiming some major ‘Kingdom revelation’ as a result of the event. Some have issued sound words direct from the heart of God and yet because the Church is following after false revelations, myths, and leaders who “tickle men’s ears” they are not gaining an audience for the Word of the Lord. Of course, this is simply a repeat of what has been going on among God’s people since prophets first appeared in the Old Testament. Read more

People Are Hungry

We are still working with a school that is three days in length and teaching people how to prophecy among many other things often off topic. Along with any School comes many opportunities to talk to people and as we do we learn more about where they are at spiritually and what they are facing. So, we adjust topics and teachings as we go along to better fit where people are spiritually.

This often means late nights and early mornings finding material on the laptop I bring with me. There are thousands of teachings in this wonderful machine and I often need to find the right one, adjust it, and then polish it. When doing three to four teachings a day that means a lot of off-stage work. And, sometimes the situation simply means thinking through a new teaching and outlining it just before presenting it – hoping it is what the Lord wants and the people need.

This, of course, means that schedules change and the day gets longer but that is the nature of ministry when on an apostolic trip overseas. You are here to do what the Lord asks you to do and you work under the authority of the local leaders and so things change and needs arise and the team – especially the leader and main teacher – needs to remain seriously flexible. YWAM has a proverb which I totally agree with, “Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be broken.” Very true.

Today, I would appreciate prayer for the 100 or so people in our meetings during the day and double that in the evenings – that both the teachings and the prophetic would continue to be seriously anointed. Pray for my team members – especially Miroslav (Ukraine) and Derick (South Africa) and their work with me as well as team dynamics which right now are seriously powerful. Your prayers are very much appreciated and powerful.

Life-Purpose Statement – Part Two

It is so important to know your Life-Purpose. This is what God has called you to be and then to do. It is foundational to everything else you do, not just in the Church and for Jesus in ministry, but in your entire life – every second of every day. Developing your own Life-Purpose statement is the most important thing that you can do after becoming born again. Either you will decide the character of your life and set your own agenda according to your understanding of God’s will for your life (your Life-Purpose statement), or someone else will decide it for you.

Your Life-Purpose statement acts as your GPS and keeps you pointed to the plan and purpose of God for your life. Your Life-Purpose statement helps you to keep your priorities straight and keeps you focused on what is important in life so that you can please God. Reviewing your Life-Purpose statement on a regular basis will help keep your heart burning for the Lord and helps keep your passion for the Lord and His cause in the center of your life.

When you write out and settle on your Life-Purpose statement it should be clear enough that the following is true:

• It gives you evidence every step of the way through your life – family, work and play
• When you come to the end of your life, you can use it to measure whether or not you feel good about your life
• Your personal Life-Purpose Statement is short enough for you to easily remember it

Life is beautiful when lived in line with God’s revealed plans and purpose for your life. When you live within the authentic call of God on your life and see the fulfilling of your Life-Purpose on a daily basis it leads to great satisfaction and a security and strength that only comes from knowing you are walking in God’s will for your life.

However, you will need to be intentional in thinking through your Life-Purpose and building your thoughts and feelings into a Life-Purpose statement that accurately expresses God’s heart and your response to His plans and purpose. It cannot and does not happen by accident. It takes hard work but is well worth any effort and time that you will invest in the process. Begin today … you will not regret it.

Religion and God’s Power

People are really excited about hearing God speak and the gift of prophecy. For some here in city of Yekaterinburg, Russia the type of ministry we do is turning their world upside down. They have held to a “form of their religion but denied the power thereof…” and so, when the supernatural begins, they are astonished. In some ways it reminds me of the reaction of the people to Philip’s ministry in Acts 8 when the Gospel was spreading and being fully preached with words and signs and wonders. Here their regular understanding of Christianity is based on the Russian Orthodox model (an archbishop pictured in this blog) and so we are certainly somewhat different from their norm.

We are currently in a three day school for leaders and people and we are finding the people hungry for God and wanting all that He has for them regardless of the cost. They come early in the morning and stay till late at night. They bring their bibles, their journals and a pen and write notes on what is being taught and what God is saying to them. They seldom look up as they want to write extensive notes so they can study their notes later after we are gone. They are very appreciative of all that we are doing and in many small ways honor us as God’s ministers. Of course, the best reward is that they are so attentive and hungry and excited about what they are learning.

Please be in prayer for our three day school and for those in attendance. Pray for power, miracles, signs and wonders. We need more of God, His presence and His power. He has prophetically spoken words over this ministry three years ago about power so we are now asking Him to fulfill that prophetic word and allow us to walk in increasing power. We desperately want to see more lives impacted for the Gospel and the Kingdom in this city. Please pray against the spirit of religion and the spirit of tradition as they have a powerful grasp on the people and we would like to see many people come to know the Lord while we are here. You and your prayers are greatly appreciated.

Life-Purpose Statement

I am sitting on the 8th floor of a very tall apartment building in Yekaterinburg, Russia– a city of 2 million – and have just responded to an email from my home city. It was from a young man who is excited about sharing the grace of God with people. He has just moved to the city where he has lived before and left a position as “youth pastor” in a church where I have had some connections and a little input recently. We are looking to connect and get to know each other.

It set me to thinking – along with an early morning look at thousands of cars driving down busy, wide city streets here in this city in Russia.

Do people really understand the purpose of life? Do the disciples of the Lord today understand who they are and what He is calling them to do as His Church (corporately) and as individual disciples? Are we aware of our unique calling from the Lord or are we all simply putting one foot in front of the other hoping to simply survive and make it through another day?

In the Christian Church what I am asking about is referred to as a mission statement. Sounds religious doesn’t it. Well, let’s call it a Life-Purpose Statement instead. Then others who are not disciples of the Lord might have some idea what we are talking about. Everyone who is following Jesus has a plan they are to follow and a purpose they are to fulfill – God’s plan and purpose for them. It is not just the generic plan of “going into all the world…” for the purpose of “seeking and saving the lost.” It is always more specific and detailed than that. It is always very directed and focused. However, it starts as a generalized statement about your life and what He is calling you to do.

Example of my life-purpose statement – not because it is special or better than other people’s but because it is mine and I have the right, therefore, to share it with you. Mine is: “To intimately know and touch the fullness of God through Jesus Christ and to invite others to personally experience His life and love.” From there it becomes much more detailed as to when, where, why, with whom, to whom, how, and how… but the details are not important when you are first starting and only come from spending time with the Lord and listening to His heart for you.

So, I challenge you to sit down over the next couple of days – as these blogs on Life-Purpose are published – and take a long hard look, a good and honest look, at your life as it is today – the good, the bad and the ugly – and think through, with the help of God’s Holy Spirit, what it is God has for you to be doing with the remainder of your time upon this planet no matter how long or short that may be.

This is important – otherwise we simply become one of many caught up in the fast pace of life driving to and from work each day without really knowing, understanding, or fulfilling the plan and purpose of God for your life. And, that would be seriously sad – worse still, a failure to honor and please the Lord.

A Little History of Yekaterinberg

I am in the Russian city of Yekaterinberg and in my first full day of ministry for this apostolic trip. I am dragging a bit due to two days of travl and a 15 hour jet lag / time zone issue. However, it will be fine, it always is because God’s grace is more than sufficient. We have begun a three day school on the prophetic here is a rather large church with many from other churches also in attendance.

Let me share a little of Yekaterinburg’s history …

In the spring of 1723, by the emperor Peter I’s decree, construction started on one of the largest iron producing plants in Russia located on the banks of the river Iset. Ekaterinburg was built as the capital of the new mining region which eventually grew to occupy a large land mass on both sides of the Urals, in both Europe and Asia.

Ekaterinburg’s new plant, in the beginning, was very advanced technologically and soon outpaced all the metallurgical plants not only in the country but in the world. They had the brightest minds working to build the most effective and cost efficient plant in the world.

Catherine II presented Ekaterinburg the status of a district town of Perm gubernia and this was soon reflected in the coat of arms of the city. During Catherine II’s government the main road of the Russian Empire was constructed through this young city – Bolshoi (Big) Siberian Road. So Ekaterinburg together with other Permian towns became a key city and the entrance to the expansive and rich Siberian portion of Russia – “a window overlooking Asia” like Saint-Petersburg was a Russian “window overlooking Europe”.

From the end of 19th and early 20th century Ekaterinburg was one of the centers of revolutionary movement in the Urals. Former Russian emperor Nicholas II and his family were shot in the city in July 1918, in Ipatyev House. A Russian Orthodox Church-on-Blood was built on this site recently.

From 1919 the city was the center of Ekaterinburgskaya gubernia district and from 1923 till 1934 it was also the center of Uralskaya oblast (province). On October, 14th, 1924 it was decided to rename the city after Yakov Sverdlov, a prominent Communist Party member and the Soviet state.

In Soviet time Sverdlovsk city being a small provincial town turned into a magnificent industrial center of the state. Among Russian towns it was among the first five of the most developed towns in Russia. In the 1930’s further economic and technological development took place and an intensive construction of machine-building and metallurgic plants began in the city.

After the World War II new industrial and agricultural plants were put in operation, construction of new houses began, heating and gas maintenance were changed and upgraded and in 1980 the construction of an underground subway (Metro) began.

On September 4th, 1991, the city was renamed Ekaterinburg or Yekaterinburg. Since 2000 trade, business, and tourism has been developing rapidly in the city. In fact, it has become a commercial center for much of the provincial region … From June 15th till 17th, 2009, SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) and BRIC (Brasilia, Russia, India, China) summits took place in Ekaterinburg which greatly influenced the economic, cultural and tourist situation in the city.

Today the city attracts many tourists from around the world and is well known as a cultural and tourist center in central Russia attracting people from around the world.

What Would Jesus Do

From a very old book that was eventually made into a black and white movie (I actually have a copy) the Christian world has come to know WWJD – what would Jesus do. The thesis of the book or the main concept is to think about what Jesus would do were He in the situation that you are currently facing. Then, of course, to do it.

I believe we need to upgrade this familiar concept and ask ourselves WIJD – What Is Jesus Doing?. I believe that Jesus is active in each and every life; He is doing something in each and every situation and in all circumstances. So, it is best to ask ourselves what is He doing right now and then get involved in that very same activity. It is better to say, “What is God doing and thus blessing right now?” and become involved then to hypothetically try to figure out what Jesus might do and then maybe do it. So often we start something – even what we believe Jesus might do were He in this situation – and ask Him to bless out actions. It is far better to find out what He is already blessing and get involved in that.

Jesus is very active in the life of His people and in the lives of those who do not know Him. He told us that the Holy Spirit would convict the world (John 16:7-11) and so this means that His Spirit is with every unsaved person we meet each day (John 14:17) working to bring them to the point of recognizing their sins so that they would come to the cross and be saved. So, as we approach someone, talk to the person behind the counter at the store, ask yourself “What Is Jesus Doing right now in this person’s life?…” and then jump in with confidence and speak on His behalf to the person. It will be blessed – empowered.

Every Christian can see, hear, and touch God. (1 John 1:1-4; John 10:10) and so daily we need to be walking with Him (that is what His disciples do) and listen for His voice and simply obey whatever He tells us to do or say – thus becoming involved in what He is already busy doing. This way we become involved in what He is blessing already and become blessed ourselves.

It takes practice to become sensitive to the spiritual realm that is all around us but it is not difficult to do if you are truly born again and thus have a personal relationship with Jesus. A relationship presupposes that you can see, hear and touch and be touched by Him.

So, what is Jesus doing right now?