It Was A Worthwhile Investment

I am in the Dallas-Forth Worth airport and it is just 6:00a. Up at 4:00a and then shuttle to airport at 5:00a – check-in, security, etc…ad now a VERY LARGE COFFEE as I sit at a Burger King table answering emails waiting for the 8:15a flight to Denver – then on to Regina. It is +5C here and I believe with the wind chill it is -45C in Regina. But it is home.

This has been a worthwhile investment of my time and this ministry’s finances… I have been encouraged, challenged, strengthened, and had both my mind and my spirit stretched. I have been renewed in vision and in what is truly possible with God if we will simply totally trust Him and take everything to Him in prayer trusting. I have made a few connections and strengthened several – especially the one with my mentor, Bill Lewis. It has been an enriching experience for our relationship as we shared these three days together.

I had difficulty getting here – flights that didn’t show up. He had tremendous difficulty getting home yesterday with flight delays in Kentucky which was his central transfer point. So, he arrived home many hours later than planned and scheduled. However, winter weather is unpredictable and you simply need to take delays and seriously early mornings as the norm when you do a lot of travel.

God is truly doing amazing things in His Kingdom and in His Church. I heard the story of a man who was saved – you know, the guy you never expected to come to Christ. He got saved and was discipled by his pastor – and is not pastoring a church which he took over when it was ready to close and they have averaged 3,000 people a year making first time commitments to the Lord for the last 5 years…He is simply preaching Jesus and believing that every person he meets needs to have a relationship with Jesus. In other words, he believes the Bible and is doing something with what he believers going into all his world and winning the lost, the sick, and the dying.

This was just one of many stories I heard these past few days – and then had the opportunity to chat with those involved in the churches being spoken about. Many stand-up meetings in hallways, coffees late into the evening, and chance encounters in restaurants and while standing in line for a fresh coffee during the breaks. Not an introvert’s delight but definitely God’s hand touching, altering, and stretching my personal walk and my ministry perspective.

It was a worthwhile investment of time and money.

Apostles Working Together

As I have mentioned before – by survey the young people today in many nations are asking a basic ten questions. Regretfully, many times the Church is not listening to them and does not realize that they are asking good, solid, spiritual questions. And, by research and having worked with this for over a year now, it has become obvious to me that the answer to their basic ten questions are the basic ten doctrines of the Christian faith. I have written extensively on these ten questions in earlier blogs (2012) but now it is time to take this the next step.

I am working with Bob MacDonald of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada and Bill Lewis from Butler, Ohio, in the United States writing position papers for these ten doctrines. Each of us are working on three of these doctrines (I have the extra one so working on four of them) and then our research and writing of a ten page paper (approximately) will be reviewed by the other two members of the project. The final copy of the ten apostolic doctrines will then be published in English, Russian, Armenian, and Spanish.

There is a tremendous demand for these doctrines – pastors and leaders of churches in the nations where I work have asked me for written teachings on these doctrines after I have quickly mentioned them while doing leadership schools. So, this project we are embarking on is a result of the demand for good, solid teachings on the basic doctrines of the Christian church as many leaders in numerous nations have never received any training in this area.

So, the list includes:

1> Can we trust the Bible? – Doctrine of Scripture
2> Does God really exist? – Doctrine of God
3> Whose world is it anyways? – Doctrine of Creation
4> What is God like? – Doctrine of the Trinity
5> Is my future fixed and predetermined (fate)? – Doctrine of Predestination
6> Why do human beings suffer? – Doctrine of Evil
7> What’s so different about Jesus? – Doctrine of Christ
8> Why was the cross necessary? – Doctrine of Salvation
9> Why do I need the Holy Spirit? – Doctrine of Supernatural Power
10> Where is the world heading? – Doctrine of Eschatology (of the end times)

Another project this ministry has initiated and is involved in. It is good to see three seasoned apostolic men working together and advancing the Kingdom as we train and equip leaders in many nations of the world through this research and writing project.

On My Way Sort Of

I am on my way – well, sort of. I arrived at the airport at 5:15a to check in for an international flight. It was United Airlines – a flight (plane) that was to come in last night and would simply fly back this morning to Denver. Well, due to fog it never came in. So, no plane and thus no flight. An hour later they have me rebooked on an 11:30a flight through Calgary to Dallas-Ft. Worth. So, hopefully I will get to the conference I am scheduled to attend but definitely not on time. I will miss the complete first evening. Welcome to international flights and winter travelling.

I will be in Dallas-Ft. Worth until Thursday morning. I am attending a conference put on by The Significant Church Network. These are people who are in smaller locations (towns and small cities) and who want to make a significant contribution to their town regardless of size of the church or the location. I am attending hoping to network with others, build some relationships, and also receive some direction and a deeper understanding of how to do what the Lord has called me to do in the North American section of my ministry. So, several long days to connect and to grow. I return home Thursday afternoon weather permitting. I teach Thursday night in Regina on the supernatural.

This is the first conference I have been to as a participant in a large number of years. I am not a conference goer or conference attender. However, I felt it was time to broader my understanding of what is happening in North America and to hear what other men are doing to plant and grow churches in North America. Of course, there will be some things that are specifically American but I am old enough and wise enough to simply take what I can use and just leave the rest. It is also an opportunity to share an “outside” experience with my mentor from Ohio who is also attending. He arrived on time last night Columbus, Ohio to Dallas, Texas. Hopefully I will do the same by the end of the day!

Your prayers for the next few days would be greatly appreciated.

The Youniverse

We live in a day when what sells best in the Christian world are books, sermons, and television programs that are aimed directly at you – “This Is Your Day,” “You Are the Reason for the Season,” “Become a Better You,” “It’s Your Time,” “The Me I Want to Be,” “The Life You Have Always Wanted,” and similar titles orbiting around the Youniverse. We need to take all the arrows that point to YOU and aim them where they belong – The Lord.

He is what this is all about. It is not about you; it has never been about you and never will be about you. It is, always has been, and always will be about Him. We need to rediscover who it is we are following; who we are disciples of… Jesus is much more than our personal Lord and Savior. He is:

Your Shepherd, your Advocate, your Mediator, your Bridegroom, your Conqueror, your Lion, your Lamb, your Sacrifice, your Manna, your Smitten Rock, your Living water, your food, your drink, your good and abundant land, your dwelling place, your Sabbath, your new moon, your Jubilee, your new wine, your feast, your aroma, your anchor, your wisdom, your peace, your comfort, your Healer, your joy, your glory, your power, your strength, your wealth, your victory, your redemption your Prophet, your Priest, your kinsman redeemer, your teacher, your guide, your liberator, your deliverer, your Prince, your Captain, your vision, your sight, your beloved, your way, your truth, your life, your author, your finisher, your beginning, your end, your age, your eternity – your all and all.

He is the same yesterday, today, and forever; yet He is new every morning. But beyond all this, He is your King, your Judge, and the True Witness.

So, time to exit your youniverse and enter His Kingdom and begin to worship, adore, and see the true Jesus for who He is and bow your heart and then your knee to Him. It is, after all, all about Him.

An Extra …

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness. We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values in absolute, relative and intrinsic ways.

We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life. We’ve added years to life not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not found inner peace. We’ve done larger things, but not better things. We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted our collective hearts. We’ve conquered the atom, but use that accomplishment as a threat. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less as defined by the boundaries of Twitter.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, overweight men and undernourished character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality and pills that do everything from elevate, to quiet, to end lives. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and little in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring my musings to you from a boat anchored on a distant island, and a time when you can choose either to pay attention and perhaps learn something or delete what I write and silently or loudly admonish the author.
Mark J. Grant
Managing Director
Corporate Syndicate
Structured Products
Southwest Securities
U.S. 954-463-6001

A Story From China

Sharing a story that touched my heart … a wonderful pastor’s trip in China to teach house church leaders…

A few years ago I made a teaching trip to China. Twenty leaders of the house church movement from a nearby province came together for leadership training.

I was told to be ready to stand up at 8:00 A.M. and teach until 6:00
P.M.- thankfully, with a short break for lunch.

We’d repeat the regimen for three days. It was fatiguing, demanding, and one of the most moving experiences of my life.

They endured a thirteen-hour train ride. Meeting at a pre-determined location, they arrived alone or in twos so as not to arouse suspicion. Gathering together in a small, stifling room, they sat cross-legged on a wooden floor.

Most were humble farmers. Every face was weathered with deep lines that held stories of profound trial and supernatural perseverance.

Sometimes when you speak to a large group, you hope that 20 to 25 percent (on a good day) will actually absorb what you’re saying. In this group, it was every person in the room!

The huge smiles on all the faces brightened their simple clothing. They were hungry and eager to hear from the narrators of the Bible. Their eagerness would extract the best from me. They were soaking in everything as though they would never be in such a meeting again.. . which was certainly a possibility.

When they raised their hands in worship, I saw at least one man with scars from the shackles that had been his companions in prison.

Shortly after we began, to get us more acquainted, I asked them to say a little about who they were. One reported with joy that he’d just been released from serving his fifth three-year term in jail.

His crime? Faith in an unseen Messiah.

“How many others of you have spent time in prison for your faith?” I asked.

Eighteen of the twenty raised their hands.

“If government authorities discovered this non-registered religious meeting, what would happen?”

They answered, “Each would be given a three-year prison sentence, and we would be deported within twenty-four hours.”

“Aren’t you afraid?” I inquired.

“No,” they said with a quiet confidence. “We are not afraid. And if you will teach us for another day, we will stay.”

I commended them for their faith, all the while wondering why they weren’t teaching me instead of the other way around.

Since I knew that each of these veteran saints oversaw large numbers of house churches, I continued my let’s-get-acquainted session by asking, “How many people do you oversee in all the house churches, combined?”

After a moment of quiet calculation, one spoke up. “Twenty-two million.”

I couldn’t believe I’d heard what I just heard. “Twenty-twenty-two million?” I stammered.

“Yes,” he nodded. “Twenty-two million.”

After a few moments, I caught my breath and launched into teaching. We’d brought sixteen Bibles to pass out, leaving a few of the leaders to share with one another.

I had them turn to Second Peter, chapter 1. As we were about to read it out loud, one elderly woman handed her Bible to another leader. I thought that was a bit strange, since Bibles were so scarce, but I didn’t call attention to the matter.

After we began to read, I understood why she had willingly given up her Bible.

She quoted the whole chapter from memory!

During a short break, I asked her how she memorized so much Scripture. “I have much more memorized,” she replied through one of our interpreters.

“But how did you memorize so much,” I asked, “when there are so few Bibles available?”

“In prison,” she said.

Pushing back, I went on. “But if you had a Bible, wouldn’t they confiscate it right away?”

“Yes,” she answered. “So people brought me Scriptures written on pieces of paper.”

“And what if the guards found you with those?” I pressed. “Wouldn’t they take away those as well?”

“Yes. That is why I memorized the Scriptures as quickly as I could. You see, they can take away the paper, but they cannot take away what I have already hidden in my heart.”

By the end of two days, I had fallen in love with this part of God’s family. Realizing my own inadequacy to help them in their daunting task of reaching China, I asked them in our final session together: “How can I pray for you?”

“Pray that we become like you,” was their immediate

One of my newfound friends continued: “We do not have
freedom of religion. We have only a few registered churches,
and when the pews are filled, they turn the others away. But in
your country, you can gather whenever you like.”

He concluded by saying, again, “Pray that we can one day be like

I shook my head sadly. “I can’t do that. I can’t pray for you
in that way.”

“But why?” they asked incredulously.

With a sigh, I explained. “You came here after riding thirteen hours on a train. In America, if church is more than thirty minutes away, people won’t go. It’s too far.

“You have been sitting on a wooden floor without air conditioning for three days. Where I come from, if people can’t sit on cushioned chairs and be in the comfort of air conditioning, they’ll find better things to do.

“You don’t have adequate Bibles, so you memorize Scriptures from pieces of paper. In American Christian homes, we have multiple Bibles per family, but we don’t always read them.

“No,” I said. “I will not pray that you become like us. But I will pray.. . that we become like you!”

A Billboard

There is a billboard in Oklahoma that reads, “Eternity is hell without Jesus.” Cute! True! And also only partial truth because really every place and any place is hell without Jesus. So, non-Christians today who are facing difficult times or have a hard life and say that they are living in hell are right! Because they do not have a personal relationship with Jesus – even if everything were going terrifically well, they would still be living in hell. Because, every place and any place is hell without Jesus – Hawaii is hell without Jesus. The Ritz Carlton is hell without Jesus. And a ‘church’ is hell without Jesus. There is no hope in this life or in this world apart from Christ.

If we, as disciples of Jesus, really believe that any and every place is hell without Jesus we would be telling others about Jesus on a regular basis – daily, in fact. And we all have ample opportunity to tell others about Him – gas stations, grocery stores, when out walking the dog, talking to a neighbour while shoveling snow, sitting in a coffee shop sharing a cup of coffee.

And, it is really not that difficult to start a conversation about Jesus with those you know. Simply ask if you can share something and then tell them about the relationship you have with Jesus. Don’t be pushy or preachy… just share about your best friend. If you don’t know the person then simply strike up a conversation and be friendly and watch for an opportunity to briefly share Jesus with them. It is really not difficult nor frightening if we really do have a personal relationship with Him.

Recently I was with a businessman late one evening ordering fries and a shake (it was a Sunday and I had not eaten since lunch and it was now 10:00p) and before the order was ready he had me praying with a man who had just picked up his order and who was on his way to drive throughout the night to another state. I placed an order and he was talking to a trucker about Jesus. I had been in the same MacDonald’s a few days previous to this (again late in the evening) and had started a conversation with the young man serving me – simply by asking if he was really an employee of the restaurant – he had the right uniform but no name tag. He quickly dragged it out of his pocket (now I knew his name) and told us that he had just arrived for his shift and was a bit late so didn’t stop to make sure everything was as it should be – conversation started…

Each and every conversation you have had today was an opportunity to share the love of God with someone. Every conversation you will have with someone during the rest of your day can also be an open door to share the love of our Heavenly Father with others if you will simply step out in faith, be friendly (and even funny) and begin a conversation with those you encounter in your daily activities. Remember, no matter how good they have it or how bad their situation may be – without Jesus every place is hell.

Problems or Presence

Sometimes as Christians, churches, and church leaders we think our role is to remove problems in our community and in people’s lives. But, think about it, if we removed every problem, I bet the same amount of people would still die with a Christless eternity – maybe even more. It is problems that really often bring people to the cross and cause knees to bend and ears to finally hear the voice of God. So, we must be very careful with he current trend in born again churches where they are moving towards the social gospel, justice, and recreating the social order to establish the Kingdom of God in cities and countries. Much of what is passing for the Christian life, the Gospel Jesus preached, and the ministry we are to have is anything but biblical or right.

We are in the life-changing business. And, lives only change when people meet God head-on and in this encounter discover that the Bible is true and that Jesus is the only way to salvation and life eternal in Heaven. When lives are not being changed in and through our churches, I see the hand of God lifting from them. We are maintaining and doing services. We are being benevolent and doing counseling, but something is not taking place. People are not being attracted to the cross, and so it is time to take a deep, hard look at what we are doing and reinvest in the one thing that matters – changed lives through a life-changing encounter with the living God (salvation).

We are forgetting the church’s core assignment. We can do other things, but don’t forget who we are. The identity of the Church is the place where the presence of God dwells. And when the presence is there people with problems will be drawn to the Church and come to know God their heavenly Father through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Then and only then can permanent change come into a life and the problems be adequately and permanently dealt with because the Holy Spirit now lives in the person and will guide and direct him or her and transform them from the inside out.

So, let us be about our business of telling others about Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to do His work.

I Am Ruined

In our culture today – even worldwide – we often preach or say, “Come to God, and He’ll fix you.” But when you read the Scriptures it is more like, “Come to Him, and He will ruin you (in the best sort of way).” When Isaiah saw the Lord in the temple, he said, “Woe to me, I am ruined.” That experience squashed him flat, squeezed out all of his pride, emptied him of self-ambition. And then three verses later, when God asked, “Who can I send?” Isaiah said, “Here am I, send me.”

I believe we need to notice several things:

1>God did not fix any of Isaiah’s problems – at least, not immediately. Nor did He proceed to send Isaiah out to minister to the needs of others – not immediately. The issue was Isaiah’s character and inner life. As soon as Isaiah saw God he was into rapidly taking a spiritual inventory and a rapid season of self-examination. As King David said in the psalms, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew in me a right spirit.” This would have been the inner attitude of Isaiah when he had his first glimpse of the living God. God’s focus is always our character.

Too often our focus is on our immediate issues and the circumstances that we face. God’s view is much more eternal and much less temporal. He is more interested in character than circumstances. He is more concerned with who you are than what you are or will do for Him. If He can work on character and heart issues you will then be ready to walk with Him in an intimate relationship and come to really know His heart. This will then place you directly in the centre of His will. From this place of security and safety you will then reach out and minister to others.

2> The focus was really not Isaiah because on God’s heart was the issue of the multitudes who did not know the Living God and either needed to hear about Him for the first time or encouraged to repent and return to the God whom they once loved and followed. So, once Isaiah’s heart was touched by the Living God He discovered the heart of God – the lost and spiritually dead. God’s focus immediately became Isaiah’s focus and he immediately volunteered to become involved in prophetic evangelism – speaking the Word of the Lord to turn the hearts of the people back to their God.

The same should be true for us today. As we “see Jesus” (John 12:21) and deal with our hearts (character) we must then immediately focus on those whom we know and don’t know telling them about this awesome God we have seen and touched so that they too can join us in our fellowship with the Lord (1 John 1:1-9). The focus is not out temporal and immediate needs but the lostness of all those who have not yet encountered the living God.

3> There is a need in our churches and in our approach to the lost to stop making promises that are not true and cannot be fulfilled. It is time to be much more realistic about the journey of faith we are on and that we invite others to join us on. It is not about us – it is about Him. It is not about our needs – it is all about His mandate to ‘seek and save the lost’ as we ‘go into our world and make disciples’ (Luke 19:10 and Matthew 28:19). This is an immediate switch from the Gospel of salvation which is really not the Gospel at all to the Gospel of the Kingdom…

Our prayer today should be: “O God, that I would see you in all your awesomeness and that you would ruin me.”

The Emphasis Today in the Church Jesus Is Building – Part Eight

We have been looking at the emphasis in the Church that Jesus is building. These are some of the things that will be the key to be aware of and to focus on in 2013 and beyond. Today, the last of the 8 that I am planning to mention and comment on.

Jesus, the Head of the Church and the One building His Church is calling the youth (16 to 36+) to become seriously sold out. This is beyond committed and involves actually being willing to die for Him. He is asking the youth to rise up and respond to the call to take the Gospel of the Kingdom to every nation and people group regardless of the cost or the hardship. So, committed totally to Him and then to actually make His cause their cause. And, worldwide, they are responding to the move of the Holy Spirit and responding to this call – seeking to obey and do what He is calling them to do.

Acts 1:8 talks about the Baptism in the Holy Spirit when the Spirit comes upon people empowering and enabling them to be witnesses for Him. The word ‘witness’ in the Greek (the original language of the New Testament) is the root word for ‘martyr.’ Jesus, right from the start of His Church, has called true disciples to be willing, if necessary, to be martyrs for Him and the message of the Gospel of the Kingdom.

These young people are seeking mentors – fathers in the faith. They need older, more mature believers who will lead them and guide them. They desperately need to be discipled, trained, equipped and mentored. They need to know so much but also need to see how mature men live out their faith walking in the presence of the Lord and ministering in power. Regretfully, there are few willing to help them as this work does not pay the bills, is seldom front and center and thus not noticed, is somewhat thankless, and is often very time consuming and even difficult at times. I believe God is speaking to many mature believers but that so far many are not responding to that prompting in their spirit. This will need to change.

These young people who are responding to the call and the current focus in the Church that Jesus is building are already beginning to disciple those younger than themselves. They understand that those younger then them (both in age and in the Lord) need to be mentored and they are responding and beginning to rise to the serious challenge of imparting life, knowledge, and wisdom to the next generation (those under 16). They have caught the vision of how it works and so the Church has a tremendously bright future and is facing a great opportunity to actually touch the entire human race with the message of the Kingdom.