Tuesday in Ohio

Early morning and the fog in all over the mountains here as the sun is just rising and has yet to burn off the moisture from all the rain we have had in the last two days. Mountain streams are now rivers and everything is a lush green. Yesterday I had the opportunity after a four hour prayer time with the elders to travel through several areas I had yet to visit on previous trips. Beautiful. And, I saw some of the Amish area of Ohio – buying cheese and drinking great coffee in the area.

Today I am doing some prophetic counselling in the morning; lunch with the pastor and one of his seven children (an apostle-in-training) of a church in the city of Mt. Vernon where I ministered on Sunday. It was my first visit and they have asked me back for this Sunday night and, most likely, Friday night (arrangements still being made). Then a supper with a couple from the church in Butler – a man who relocated to be with this church to help build it. A tremendous man who loves to tell others about Jesus. He is in his mid-seventies. A late night with more prayer time I am sure.

Tomorrow I am in the city of Columbus. This was added to my schedule just before I arrived. I really have no idea what I am doing so please simply pray for the leading of God and His guidance minute-by-minute. Your prayers are appreciated. Greatly appreciated.

Picture: Young man receiving a prophetic word at the youth meeting Sunday evening at The River of Life Church in Butler, Ohio.

Day 4 – Monday in Ohio

It has been a busy but a good weekend. Arrived Friday after a full day of travel. Spent time Friday evening and Saturday with my mentor who is an apostle and leader of a church in Butler, Ohio. He lives in Bellville. Ohio. The church touches lives in many villages, towns and cities in the area as a regional apostolic church. Saturday night – a night of fellowship with some time to prepare for Sunday’s events…

Yesterday was a full day. Mt. Vernon is an hour’s drive from Butler (where the main church is I work with) and Belville (where I stay) and it was a beautiful drive through the mountains and valleys to arrive early for the service in the city of Mt. Vernon. God is simply very evident in the life of this Church, the leaders, and the pastor and his family. Makes ministering so much easier. Are there problems – of course! Every family, every minister, every church has issues, difficulties, pressures and circumstances that they are facing. Problems are part of being human. But, with Jesus the burden is much lighter and you can approach every issue with hope and even some enthusiasm.

Please continue to pray for my time here in Mt. Vernon and Butler. You and your prayers are greatly appreciated. Thanks for being such a vital part of this ministry.

Sunday Express

Well, it is official. According to the sign outside a church here in my city you can now attend a 45 minute service on a Sunday. It is called “Sunday Express” and it starts at 9:00a and ends at 9:45a. In this time frame I assume you will experience ht presence of Jesus and hear His voice clearly in your heart with regard to His will for your life and His agenda for your new week that has begun. Not to mention, any issues with your character that might need to be spoken into and the hearing, heeding, and applying what you hear in the teaching of His Word. I say “assume” because I have not attended and don’t plan to.

I find it difficult to believe that we have reached the point where God must do everything within an hour. If you take out the commercials then you have a 45 minute program just like on television. Might we call either or both of these 45 minute productions entertainment? I don’t know. I don’t find much of any entertainment value in the current hour long programs (minus the commercials as I watch programs that are taped so as not to be insulted by the advertising). And, I don’t believe the assembling of believers on Sundays should be entertaining either.

When true disciples of the Lord come together to worship the Lord as a family and to hear God’s Word taught and explained what gives us the right to tell God He has 45 minutes to do all He ants to o? Oh, I hear you; what gives me the right to expect He will do everything he wants to do in 90 minutes or 2 hours? Well, I don’t have that expectation. Yes, I work regularly with services that are both 90 minutes and 120 minutes planned. But, never do we declare that you can be in and out in those time frames. They are general guidelines and often we are together much longer and occasionally we find that the Lord has accomplished all that He was desiring to do in a time frame shorter than the schedule allowed. But, to schedule it for 45 minutes allowing 15 minutes to exit before the people attending the non-express service begin to arrive is presumptuous to say the least.

And whatever happened to the saints lingering in the presence of the Lord and experiencing His power over an extended period of time? Remember when people arrived early and stayed late? I do! And, I remember simply resting in His presence and power for hours and not wanting to leave – in fact, still enjoying His presence as the lights were being turned off. Am I longing for the good old days? Nope! Just for God’s people to be so in love with Him that they will want to spend quality time as well as a good quantity of time with Him together as a family – not just coming for a “quick fix” that allows you to tick mark another item off your weekly Christian “to do” list.

Just a thought I needed to express – and please, don’t attend any service where I am ministering as you will not find any “express lane.”

Sunday and May God Be Glorified

Sunday in Overcomers’ Christian Church in Mt. Vernon. Please thank the Lord for all He is doing here as the Holy Spirit ministers powerfully. His presence and His power are both very evident here in the Church events and as I meet with people, leaders, and families. Sunday is a great time here at this local church as people come early to fellowship, stay late to fellowship and, most importantly, come expectant ready to receive from the Lord.

It is summer and so some are away today. However, God does not take a vacation or stay away from the assembling of Himself with His people simply because the weather warmed up. He is present and actively involved in the midst of His people. All He is looking for is a heart that is open and expectant. Size of the place – the city of Mt. Vernon has about 17,000 people; size of the local church is not relevant; neither of these matter to God. Size of the heart of the people for the Lord is what matters. These people have tremendous hearts for the Lord.

After service there will be a fellowship meal with the leaders of this local church and their families – then an opportunity to minister. I will be spending time listening to the hearts of those who are gathered for the meal so that I can then speak to their hearts the words that the Lord gives to me and any wisdom He might want me to share. Listening is so important – listening to the Lord but also listening to those He has placed in authority in the local church. Apostles are good listeners.

Thanks for praying for my time with the church and people of Mt Vernon, Ohio. Thanks for partnering with me in this ministry. You are greatly appreciated.

Butler and Mt. Vernon, Ohio

I am in the city of Mt. Vernon and the local Spirit-filled church (Overcomers’ Christian Church) here pastored by Joe Overholt and his great team of leaders. This is my first visit to this local church and God’s people here in this city – although I have been to the city a number of times visiting with elders from the church in Butler who live here in Mt. Vernon.

I arrived in Columbus, Ohio from Toronto yesterday and then had an hour+ drive to Butler, Ohio where I spent the night and Saturday with my mentor and his wife. Then today a short drive to Mt. Vernon and a day of ministry here. God has shown me what to teach and share on and even some of the people He wants me to minister to when the prophetic ministry begins after the teaching. I believe I am ready and have heard the heart of God for my time here in this church in Ohio.

As always, the work here in Ohio is very flexible. Yes, I know there will be Sunday services; often I am told of one or two other things I will be doing; but, generally, I become involved in a large number of ministry opportunities that simply arise – or that they planned and neglected to tell me. So, “blessed are the flexible as they shall not be broken.”

Please pray for Pastor Joe, his son Jamie and the leaders of the church and their families; for the people of Overcomers’ Christian Church; for the events and activities that will be taking place over the next few days as I continue to minister to the leaders in various lunch meetings. Your prayers are appreciated.

Some Changes in Approach For the Church Today – #5

As we bring this short series of blogs to a close – let’s refresh our memories…

There are a number of changes that are currently underway in nations around the world. This changes or shifts include:
1> From Reaching the lost to Making Disciples
2> From Teaching God’s Word to Modelling
3> From Attending Sunday assembly to Participating in the daily life of the church
4> From Connecting to others to being Transformed by in-depth relationships

Today – last but not least, “From Attracting to Deploying.” I have written in-depth a few months ago about this shift but let me comment again as we all learn by repetition.

in the past the major way to see people saved and the Church grow was to invite others to come to a service on a Sunday and let the pastor or teacher share the Gospel. The church held events to ‘attract’ people so that people could experience life lived as a Christian. Now we are seeing more and more leaders using the weekly assembly and other events to train and equip the believers and true disciples. This training and equipping is to enable them to share the gospel in words and deeds as they go about their regular everyday life. They are trained and equipped to be deployed just like an army – and the Church is seen, in Scripture, as an army.

So, this change “From Attracting to Deploying” requires a change or shift in the focus and purpose for any assembly that a local church has during the week. This requires the focus of the church to shift from maintenance to real ministry; from an inner focus to an external and out-there focus. It sees every believer as a minister and begins to break down the non-biblical division of sacred and secular as well as clergy and laity. This requires the church to see all vocations and jobs as a calling from the Lord and a place of ministry for the believer that God has placed there. This shift will see the Church of Jesus Christ become “incarnational” and thus living out their faith in plain sight in the public and secular domain.

So, the church will still be “attractional” because believers will be “attractive” as they live out their faith in the real world of everyday life and work. However, the main focus will no longer be to bring non-believers to an assembly so that they can be influenced for the Gospel. It will be the training of disciples so that they can influence others for Jesus where they live, work, and play.

Summer Apostolic Trip

I am on the road in spite of it being summer … on my way today to Mt Vernon and Butler, Ohio via Regina, Toronto, Columbus. Leaving home at 4:30a and arriving at 4:30p. Normal travel day. Good time to read and catch up on articles, eBooks, and writing projects. Just keep the Coke Zero coming and I am happy otherwise don’t bother me unless the plane is going down in emergency.

I will spend the first full day with my mentor in Butler and then head out Sunday morning to Mt. Vernon for a full day of ministry. There I will preach and minister on the Sunday and meet with the leaders. This will be my first visit to this local church (Overcomers’ Christian Church) and usually on the first visit I speak very generally or generically into the life of the Church and the work of the leaders. First visit you familiarize yourself with the Church in general and come to know faces and names, history and issues. Then, on the second visit you dig a little deeper and speak into foundational things as well as the vision (plans and purpose) of the local church. Prayers appreciated.

This trip is an eleven day summer visit to this area of Ohio. The pace will be slower with more time for fellowship and in-depth discussions with both Pastor Joe Overholt and his son Jamie in Mt. Vernon and my mentor Pastor Bill who is in Butler. As always, I am going with a list of things to discuss with my mentor and I am looking forward to lots of relaxed times with him as we drink coffee and chat. Prayers for both Bill, Joe, and Jamie and their families would be greatly appreciated. And, prayers for this whole summer apostolic trip.

Thanks for being a part of what the Lord is doing through this ministry.

Some Changes in Approach For the Church Today – #4

As we continue our look at the shifts we are needing to make as a Church that Jesus is building #4 is “From Connecting to Transforming.” The Christian faith and thus a life lived as a Christian involves:
Believing – trusting in the Lord 100%
Belonging – connecting to the Lord’s Body – the local church
Becoming – more like Jesus in character and perspective
Building – the Kingdom along with the King

Connection is the second “B” as all Christians need to be part of the Body of Christ. A Christian not connected to a local church is not a Christian – just someone who is self-deceive. However, the shift that is upon us is to be more than simply connected and belonging but it is to be so connected and relationally bonded that we are being transformed (Becoming) because of the depth of the relationships that we are forming in the local church.

To be transformed within relationships means that our connectedness must be more than a surface interaction. It must be much more than just being a member of the Sunday assembly and a part of one of the weekly growth groups or cell churches. It means moving beyond talk about the weather and the current sports star; the latest governmental scandal or the current local gossip. It means being transparent and vulnerable – opeing your life up “in some depth” so that others come to know the real you.

More than this – to be transformed – means you will need to be accountable to others who you are allowing to ask you the tough questions any time they want to. It means allowing others to see the good, the bad, and the ugly. It means opening your home to others, opening your life to others, and hardest of all – opening your heart to others. Otherwise, there will only be nice “fellowship” of the Christian variety – but no real change in anyone’s life.

So, we are moving from connecting (belonging) to transformation (belonging and becoming). This transformation emphasis builds on the other changes we have already briefly discussed – it is seriously intertwined with “making” and not just ‘reaching;’ “modelling” and not just ‘teaching;’ “participating” and not just ‘attending.’

This is a good shift but one that will take time as first Christians will need to seek healing for deep wounds experienced in previous relationships. As well, Christians will need time to build respect and then trust for the “one anthers” that they are wanting to connect to.

Some Changes in Approach For the Church Today – #3

We have looked at two shifts in this series: “From Reaching to Making” and “From Teaching to Modeling.” Today let’s briefly look at the third shift – “From Attending to Participating.”

We have been sensing a shift for some time now. In the past a church was judged successful by how many people it could gather under one leadership. At one time this was in one location; recently it has resulted in multiple campuses for a number of the larger churches. Attendance or size has been a sign of success and God’s blessing. Gathering has been the focus – attending is what the people of God do.

Now we are shifting from just attending to actually participating in what is happening. This is more than standing and singing, sitting and listening and drinking coffee greeting others at the fellowship time. It means recognizing that ‘every member is a minister’ and that most ministry takes place outside of the four walls of the church or the fellowship. It means recognizing that the division between clergy and laity is false and not biblical. It means seeing success and significance in the number of people actively involved in ministering where they live and work and play. So, it literally means redefining ministry and differentiating between ministry (taking place outside the church fellowship) and maintenance (what takes place within the church fellowship among believers).

Another change that this shift will require is to recognize that the Church functions need to be designed for equipping the saints for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:1-15) so that they can effectively minister to those who have yet to encounter God as found only through Jesus. So, Sundays and other event in the weekly life of the church will need to shift the focus from teaching principles for a better life and how to live as a Christian – to literally equipping the believers with tools that will enable them to be an effective priesthood of all believers and a holy nation bring glory to God.

No longer will warming a seat on Sunday so as to fulfill some religious obligation be satisfactory in the life of the believer. Sundays will become more than a spiritual discipline, a great time to fellowship with other like-minded believers, or an item on a spiritual ‘to do’ list to check off. You will go because you recognize that you need to be trained and equipped to do the work of the ministry (John 14:12; Ephesians 2:20; Ephesians 4:11-15).

Church events will be a school to equip all of the saints to be powerful, supernatural, ministers of the Gospel of the Kingdom.

Some Changes in Approach For the Church Today – #2

Along with the shift “From Reaching to Making” we are also seeing a drastic shift in the way we share truth. The shift can be described as going “From Teaching to Modeling.”

The Church in general is well taught and well informed. We have many who hold the office of teacher and do a great job of sharing Scriptural truth with those they teach. Information, inspiration, and knowledge are all there for the receiving. However, what is missing is wisdom and transformation. We have settled for information when The Lord of His Church wants transformation.

To have people’s lives transformed we need to have more than the truth taught. Yes, the truth will set you free when applied to your life. However, hearing and knowing the truth does not mean you have applied the truth. So, the challenge before the Church today is to do more than teach – we need to see the truth modeled or lived out before us. We need more than teachers we need spiritual fathers – people who will model and live out the truth while walking with us so that we can actually see the truth applied and working in practical, everyday life situations.

This means we need to mentor those that we lead to the Lord and disciple. We need to invite them into our lives and allow them to experience the Christian faith at work, at home, at play; the Christian life being lived out by a real person. This means we will need to be vulnerable and transparent; open and real; authentic and honest. Those who are learning from us will need to see the good, the bad, and the ugly.

This will mean a major shift in the way we view teaching. It does not mean we stop the current format of sermons on a Sunday and Bible studies during the week. But, it will mean we have a different goal in mind as we teach which will certainly require that we make adjustments to the format and the substance of the teaching. Many are already making these changes and adjustments. All will need to do so if they want to stay in step with what The Lord is doing in His Church.