A Rule For Life

Some people live by a rule of life … this is something Christians have done almost right from the start of the Christian faith. All of the religious orders have a rule of life – a set of values leading to a series of activities around which their daily life is geared and organized. These are joint, community activities as well as individual activities and spiritual disciplines.

But I am talking about a “Rule for Life” which is somewhat different. These rules release life. They release your life from the bondage of the normal and the mundane. They allow you to experience life in fresh and new ways. Dare I say, they might even release the very life of God within you. These rules for life will allow you to soar to new heights and accomplish much more with your life and in your life. These simply rules will allow you to make a difference in the lives of others.

So here they are:
Care more than others think wise
Risk more than others think safe
Dream more than others think practical
Expect more than others think possible

Too many of us live normal, low-keyed lives that are not impacting the people we live with or the society we live in. God called us, as disciples of Jesus, to live in a radical way that is so different from the way the world of non-believers live that our lifestyle would let others know we are believers. The Bible states that others will know we are His disciples by the love we have for one another. But love is hard to see and for others to experience unless it has some “feet” under it. Caring, risking, dreaming, and expecting are the feet – the way that others can and will see the love of Jesus in action.

So, we are entering into a long weekend here in my nation when many will relax more, party more, drink more, travel more, spend more, eat more… and I am suggesting an alternative way to invest our lives and the precious time that we have been given. There are only three things we can do with “today” and the time the Lord has given to us here – waste it, spend it, or invest it. I believe the Rule For Life enables us to invest it.

The False and the True

In the last several days there has been a decent amount of Christian press about a “prophet” by the name of Chris Oyakhilome who now has a worldwide ministry including numerous churches in Canada (18), the United Kingdom (39) and in some of the major cities of the United States that follow his teachings. His teachings have also spread to Eastern Europe where I do a decent amount of ministry year-round. And here is the problem. His teachings are not exactly Christian nor biblical. And the power that he works in is “questionable” to say the least. Although he denies being a disciple of T.B. Joshua – a Nigerian occult healer – his ministry has the same foundational teachings, the same look, feel, and mannerisms. And, Christians worldwide are being deceived by this man and his ministry just as they are by the ministry of T.B. Joshua.

How can so many be deceived? Easy – deception is very powerful. The lethal thing about deception is its close proximity to truth. For a thing to have the power to deceive, it must look as close to the real thing as possible without being itself real. Take banknotes as an example. Counterfeit notes would not deceive anyone unless they were as close as possible to real banknotes. So it is with spiritual things. The devil is a master counterfeiter. When he attempts to deceive people he does so by imitating God’s work. The devil is incapable of either originality or creativity. He is a forger, a copier, a dissembler. Therefore he works by producing demonic imitations that are close to God’s original design. Deception wouldn’t be so deceptive if it was not so close to truth. Paul put it this way in 2 Corinthians, speaking about false teachings in the city of Corinth:

These people are false apostles. They have fooled you by disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. But I am not surprised! Even Satan can disguise himself as an angel of light. So it is no wonder his servants can also do it by pretending to be godly ministers. In the end that will get every bit of punishment their wicked deeds deserve.”

Of course, one of the major problems is how biblically illiterate a lot of believers are. So, they are unable to “rightly divide the Word of truth” and so do not sense or see the false teaching because they honestly do not know the real teaching…You see, there is no “gift of discernment.” Discerning truth from error, the real from the false, comes only by knowing the truth. That truth is found only in the pages of Scripture where the Bible interprets the Bible and we come to be rooted and grounded in that truth. Then as we hear men like Chris Oyakhilome and T.B. Joshua teach the Holy Spirit (the true teacher of the Church) will give us a “check in our spirit” and we will simply turn off the teaching and the teacher and return to the truth.

These men are dangerous and deceiving many. A number of men I have ministered for in Eastern Europe have been deceived by these types of ministries and travel at least annually to visit, listen to, and receive from these men. And sadly, they take large numbers of Christians with them when they go – thus many are deceived believing a lie and declaring the devil’s counterfeit as truly the hand of God. And, if you dare to speak against these men – they strongly react and refuse to consider your comments and input. The deception is strong and powerful. And continues to spread, it seems.

The answer: teach the truth and teach it every opportunity that is given to us – in season and out of season. Because the eternal destiny of many hangs in the balance.

Embrace Change

We are looking at things that need to change if we hope to be a dangerous church. We saw that we need:

1> To see things through the eyes of the unchurched and de-churched

2> Let guests and visitors be anonymous

Today – Let’s look at the need to EMBRACE CHANGE

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False Prophets, Foreign Charlatans and Global Deception

Wednesday, 27 June 2012 07:41 AM EDT J. Lee Grady Newsletters – Fire In My Bones

Chris Oyakhilome, a popular African preacher with questionable credentials, is sparking international concern.

When I arrived in eastern Europe•a few days ago I learned that Romanian Christians have quite a spiritual battle on their hands. Believers here struggled for years under communism. But now that they are free, they face an equally sinister struggle against cults, New Age teachings and—worst of all—charlatans who claim to be powerful Christian prophets.

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Let Guests be Anonymous

We are looking at things that need to change in some churches so that we can better be about the Father’s business of seeking and saving the lost. Last time we look at the need to see things through the eyes of the unchurched or de-churched…Today, let’s look at how we make visitors or our guests feel – when and if we have someone new attend our service.

When people go to watch a movie, many people like to sit in the back row, just like the many people who enter our churches wanting to test the waters. They appreciate and value anonymity. Unfortunately, in many ways, our good-intentioned desire to recognize and honor visitors in our services often has the opposite effect. Imagine if you can what it feels like to darken the doors of a church for the first time. Most visitors want to be warmly welcomed, accepted as they are, and allowed to journey at their own pace. Are we letting them do that?

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Your Religion is Showing

As we examine the life of Jesus (a good thing to do but first take off your religious glasses), we see that He was amazingly brilliant at cultivating relationships with people who didn’t fit in with the established religion or had been rejected by the religious leaders. Jesus at times even went out of His way to disrupt the established religious practices in an attempt to help people grasp the passionate core of His mission: reaching lost people.Establishing another religion was the last thing Jesus wanted to do. His real goal was to make disciples, devoted followers who would carry forward His mission with the same passion and commitment to reaching people who were far from God.

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Stop Playing God

The fourth step towards showing the love of God to our unsaved friends and neighbors and thus becoming dangerous disciples … STOP PLAYING GOD

Hypocrisy in our lives (see the last blog), hiding who we really are to cover our sin, always leads to judging. When we judge others, we play God and excuse our own sin by focusing on the sins of others. While there is a need for wise discernment and loving confrontation of sinful behavior, this is different from being judgmental. I once wrote in the margins of my Bible (I’m not sure where I heard it), “There is a world of difference between making judgment and being judgmental.” The problem is not that we make judgments but that we make judgments to excuse our own sinful behaviors.

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Stop Being a Hypocrite

The third step to change so that people will be attracted to us, to the Church and, of course, to Jesus. The third step to becoming different and dangerous…  STOP BEING A HYPOCRITE

A pastor writes: It was a Saturday afternoon, and I was in the parking lot of a downtown Portland mall… We were in a bit of a rush, as I had just realized that I was going to be late for the start of our weekend services. That weekend, I was preaching a message about God’s love. As we were rushing to enter the mall, we passed a young teenage girl. She was obviously homeless (Oregon is in the top 10 percent of the nation for homelessness), and as we walked by, she looked up at me and asked, “Sir, do you have any spare change for the bus?” Without hesitating, I mumbled a quick no and kept moving. But as I pushed open the glass doors, I clearly heard God speak these words into my heart: “You are a hypocrite.”

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Remember Jesus

Last time we saw that we, the Church, need to change. The first change desperately needed is for each of us – and thus the Church -to simplify.

The second change we need to incorporate into our lives as disciples of Jesus if we want to be dangerous Christians is to REMEMBER JESUS

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Sheep Among Wolves

Can you imagine the look on the disciples faces when they heard Jesus say, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.” (Matthew 10:16) Sheep are among the most helpless of all domesticated animals. They are also some of the most senseless. Harmless noises can send them into a frenzy, and when they face danger, they have no defense mechanism. All they can do is run, and unfortunately they are slow. As a result, the dumbest thing a sheep can do is to wander into a pack of wolves. So why in the world was Jesus, the Good Shepherd (John 10:11), the Great Shepherd (Hebrews 13:20), telling His sheep to hang out with wolves?

Jesus was saying to His disciples then – and, by implication, to you and me now – “I am sending you to dangerous places, where you will find yourself in the middle of evil, vicious people. And you will be there by My design.” Jesus told them, “Go to great danger, and let it be said of you what people would say of sheep wandering into the middle of wolves. ‘They’re crazy! They’re clueless! They have no idea what kind of danger they are getting into! This is what it means to be My disciples.'”

We don’t think like this. We say things such as, “The safest place to be is in the center of God’s will.” We think, “If it’s dangerous, God must not be in it. If it’s risky, if it’s unsafe, if it’s costly, it must not be God’s will.” But what if these factors are actually the criteria by which we determine something is God’s will? What if we began to look at the design of God as the most dangerous option before us? What if the center of God’s will is in reality the most unsafe place for us to be?

These are the kind of questions that Matthew 10 poses for each of us. Are we willing, as the first disciples were, to be the first to go into danger and possibly even to die there in order that those who come behind us might experience the fruit of our sacrifice – not just of our labor but of our sacrifice (as in die there among the wolves). What if such sacrifice is exactly what it will take for many of the unreached people in the world who are presently hostile to the Gospel to one day surrender their hearts to Jesus?

There’s a question to ponder for the rest of the day! And one we really do need to think deeply about. The eternal destiny of millions if not billions hang in the balance.