Identity Crisis – Part Three

We have been looking at the identity crisis we are facing in the Church around the world today. We are trying to be so many different things to so many different people and cultures that we have lost the essence of who we are as the Body of Christ and what we are called to accomplish in His Name. As we have been briefly examining this we have looked at two thing – the Christian faith and the Christian Church. Let’s review my definitions…

The Christian faith is a daily, ever-deepening, very dynamic, personal, inique, intimate LOVE RELATIONSHIP with God the Father and Jesus Christ whom He sent, empowered and enabled by the Holy Spirit and lived out in long-term committed relationships with others who follow Jesus in a local family known as the church.

The Christian Church is a family and community of those who have chosen to follow Jesus Christ, known as the body of Christ, the Church. The Church has Jesus as it’s Leader and, as a healthy organism, with members walking in power towards wholeness, we invite all others to share in His love and life.

Let’s complete this brief look at a major issue we are now facing by examining briefly at what a Christian is.

A Christian is a disciple (apprentice) of the Lord Jesus Christ and thus an ambassador of the Kingdom reaching out to the lost’ proclaiming the night-and-day difference that Jesus has and is making in his or her life on a daily basis.

A Christian is someone who sees the Bible as a book that will enable them to become more and more like Jesus and that will equip them to do what Jesus did (the words ‘complete’ means to be like Jesus – 2 Corinthians 3:16-17). So, they are daily in God’s Word so that they can mature and become like Him whom they follow (character and nature) and then do what Jesus did (John 14:12). This means that they will be reaching out to “seek and save the lost” as Jesus did (Luke 19:10). This was His mission as He went about the Father’s business. When He ascended into Heaven before the Church was birthed on the Day of Pentecost He told His disciples that now they were to be working in His father’s business. So, we are called to “go into al the world and make disciples (Matthew 28:19). This is what disciples – every person who is a true follower and apprentice – do as they live their daily lives in their world.

We are ambassadors of the Kingdom (2 Corinthians 5:20) delivering the now Word of the Lord to those to whom we are sent. Our message is the Gospel of the Kingdom because we are sent as ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-20) to declare and demonstrate that Jesus is alive and the only way into Heaven. We do this by sharing the difference that Jesus has and is making (1 Peter 2:9 The Message Version) … the night-and-day difference. Of course, everyone who is truly converted and a disciple of Jesus will experience Jesus regularly and thus see the consistent involvement of Jesus in their daily lives as He brings about radical and permanent change. This testimony along with the Gospel of the Kingdom and the demonstration that the Gospel is true (1 Corinthians 2:4-5; Romans 15:18-19) will bring many into His Kingdom on a regular basis.

All of this is basic to who a Christian is… and I believe we have a long way to go to see this reality achieved in the life of believers. Of course, I am hopeful it will happen in my life time and accept the challenge to be one of those who disciples, trains, equips, and mentors people into the fullness of their unique and individual calling.

Identity Crisis – Part Two

Last time we were looking at the changes needed to really, once again, become a soul-winning, alive, Bible-based church. We saw that the first thing we needed was to understand what the Christian faith is really about. Many who talk about ‘being a Christian’ have never really though about what and who a Christian really is. We saw that The Christian faith (life) is a daily, ever-deepening, very dynamic, personal, unique, intimate, love relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ whom He sent; empowered and enabled by the Holy Spirit and lived out in long-term committed relationships with others who follow Jesus (disciples) in a local family of God (local church). Let’s now look at a decent, although I am sure inadequate, definition of the Christian Church.

The Christian Church is a family and community of those who have chosen to follow Jesus Christ, known as the body of Christ, the Church. The Church has Jesus as it’s Leader and, as a healthy organism, with members walking in power towards wholeness, we invite all others to share in His love and life.

The Church is not meant to be an organization. It was birthed as an organism and was always meant to remain a living, dynamic organism where the love of God can be encountered daily and the life of Jesus can experienced at all times. This “life” is what allowed Jesus to be the Light of the World. John 1:4 states, “In Him was life (Zoe) and this life was the light of men.” Jesus was not the Light. The life of God in Him was the light… So, Jesus states that we, the Church, are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). Really we are not the light – it is the life of God within us (because we are born again) that is the light. It is this “life” that we are to share with others as ‘the Church.’ If we don’t share this life so others can come to know God’s love then we really are not part of the Church that Jesus is building (Matthew 16:18). His Church is all about the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) as they go and make disciples in every nation and their local neighborhood and community. Sharing the life and the love that they encounter and experience themselves every day (1 John 1:1-4).

The Church is also a family. This means we are related to each other and there for one another. Not just in a time of need but at all times. To fellowship with others in the family is a two way street where everyone is in “give and take” mode. We are there for one another in the good times and the bad; we love, support, encourage, give, pray for, and bless all others in the family. No one uses or abuses others within the Christian family.

Jesus, not the pastor, is the Head of the family, the Church. And, every true believer who is a disciple of Jesus is connected directly to the Head as well as to those within the local church, the body of Christ. So, they all relate to the same Leader and to those around them in this Christian community or family. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 12, teaches that every person is a member or part of the body – one a finger, one a toe, one a knee and another the elbow – but we are all inter-connected and part of the same body. To separate out would be similar to cutting off a finger. The finger would die and shrivel up but the body would heal, be somewhat limited in some things because it lost a ‘member,’ but would continue on regardless.

The Church would not be ‘the Church’ if it had no power. The Church was borthed in power (Acts 1:8 and Acts 2:1-5) and immediately began to walk in that power (Acts 3 and onwards) seeing miralces, signs, and wonders. Healing and deliverance were powerful ministries in the early church and should still be today. So, I firmly believe that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is a basic necessity if we are going to be active Christians in the Body of Christ. All Christians need to be empowered through the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and need to be trained and equipped in the 9 supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit. Without this they cannot do what the Head of the Church states all disciples are to do – the things that He did (John 14:12).

So, the Church is a powerful instrument in the hands of the Lord when we are functioning fully in the way He has called and designed the Church to function. We have a lot that needs to change, new understandings that need to be received and believed, and must training and equipping is needed so that we can become effective and efficient labourers in the vineyard as Jesus asks us to be – invivting others to experience His life and the Love of God the Father.

Identity Crisis – Part One

I believe that, in general, the North American Church in all of its expressions is facing an ecclesiological identity crisis. I believe that the most critical issue in North America – in the life of the local church as well as in church planting – is an ecclesiological issue. We struggle in answering the question, “What is the Church?” And, if we don’t really know what the Church is, what God intended for His Church, what it is Jesus is building – then we are working in vain because the Lord is really not building His House. We are simply playing a game called “church.”

Many years ago I sat down and spend considerable time thinking through what I believed the Church was to be according to the Scriptures. As a result of this heart and head exercise I also needed to think through what the Christian faith was really all about and then what a Christian (disciple) really was. It seemed to me that I had ended up opening a much larger issue than I first thought. Instead of one item I was dealing with numerous items – all of which formed a package that needed to be unwrapped and assembled together.

I ended up with three definitions which I have, over the years, refined, adjusted, updated, changed, and added to. These definitions are still a “work in progress” but they do form the basis of all I do as a church planter and leader. Let me give you my definitions. Not that they are the best there is – but they are mine and so they influence everything that I do in life and in ministry. And they may help you to begin to think these things through for yourself if you have yet to do that in your Christian journey.

The Christian faith is a daily, ever-deepening, very dynamic, personal, inique, intimate LOVE RELATIONSHIP with God the Father and Jesus Christ whom He sent, empowered and enabled by the Holy Spirit and lived out in long-term committed relationships with others who follow Jesus in a local family known as the church.

Let’s talk a bit about this one and move on to the others tomorrow….

The Bible states that a Christian is someone who has been born again. That means many who attend church on a regular basis and call themselves Christians are really cultural Christians and not biblical Christians. Biblical Christians are disciples, followers of Jesus who are walking with Him on a daily basis, coming to know Him better and better every day, and becoming more like Him. As a result of this, the disciple can then do what Jesus did (see 2 Timothy 3:15-16 and John 14:12). But let’s back up a bit…

To be born again a person must admit that they are separated from God because of their sin and the resulting life-style that sins creates. Everyone every born is a sinner by the very fact they are part of the human race and a descendant of Adam and Eve. Of course, it does not take long to commit sin which is breaking one or more of God’s Ten Commandments (1 John 3:4b). This sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2). But while we were still sinners God sent His Son, Jesus, to live as one of us (the Christmas miracle – John 1:1-14) and to die for us (Romans 5:8). He took upon Himself our sin and became sin for us. He shed His blood so that we could be forgiven because without the shedding of blood the Bible states there is no forgiveness.

As this becomes a reality – as we grasp our lostness in our heart and not just understand it in our head – we respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8-10) – and experience godly sorrow which leads to repentance and forgiveness resulting in our salvation (2 Corinthians 7:8-10). We are then born again. This then means that God the Father can place a gift in our new born again spirit or heart. This gift is called eternal life (Romans 6:23b). This gift of eternal life is defined in John 17:3 as a personal and intimate relationship with the living God. This means we can walk with Him daily, hear His voice, see what He is doing, and become involved in His plan and purpose for our lives. This is what it means to be a believer, a disciple, a Christian.

Just because you go to church does not mean you will go to heaven when you die. You must be born again and have this personal relationship with Him here and now and thus this allows you to enter into heaven and avoid hell when you do leave this planet at the time of your death.

So, back to my definition…

The Christian faith is all about having a relationship with the living God as revealed to us in the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus (God in human flesh). This relationship means we are part of His family and thus members of the Church. You can not be true Christian and not be active in a Bible believing church family. Just not possible biblically. So, we work out this relationship within the relationships found with others who share our values within the local church. And, this whole effort and life is empowered and enabled by the Holy Spirit – because God is supernatural and so we need the help of His Spirit to function within this new relationship.

To come to understand and define the Church we first need to understand how we can become the church. You see, the church is simply God’s people. So, we become part of the church, a member of the Body of Christ, by being born again.

Need more information, have a question, disagree, or want to become a true believer and born again Christian – give me a call +1 306-536-9574 (Central Canada). Leave a message if I am not available

More tomorrow…

A Christian Hot Button

Guest blogger – Bill Lewis, apostle working with The River of Life Church in Butler, Ohio

Search the web and you find about any opinion that you want. Some of the Christian postings are vehemently attacked by atheists in the comment sections. Follow a few of these down the column and you find atheists and Christians going back and forth with argument and hot comment. This means there is a lot of heat, but really no light produced.

Sadly, this type of approach applies to argument in the Christian community as well. Take any sensitive subject and you will find the heat rising.

One of these hot button topics is tithing, giving, and benevolence. The real sticking point is usually tithing. Tithing is setting aside a tenth of increase to the Kingdom of God. The French use the term “dime,” meaning the dime or tenth. Most Christians believe in giving something, but the idea of a tenth requires re-organizing priorities and budgets.

The opponents of tithing make a severe separation of the Old and New Covenants. Their primary argument says that there is no such command in the New Testament; although Jesus says to the Pharisees that they should tithe, but not neglect weightier matters of the law like justice and mercy. Paul speaks of special offerings for the poor. However, little was said of tithing since the church was based in former Jews who would have been practicing tithing as a way of life from birth.

If we follow the logic of the anti-tithe argument, there would be an increase of income to the Kingdom of God, not a decline. The New Covenant principle was always a greater response, not a lesser response. So, if we were to follow the principle espoused by Jesus then the anti-tithe group would be the largest donors to the work of God.

Following those who hold to the tithe, the preponderance of the scriptural support comes from the Old Testament. There the principles and instruction for the tithe are outlined. The Old Testament says the tithe is to be used to support those who minister such as the Levites and the High Priest. Offerings were used to support the temple and of course, the alms were set aside for helping the poor.

Our eldership team holds to the Biblical pattern of tithes, offerings, and alms, We have categories and accounts for each. Our tithes support four staff members and is the primary way of financing all activities of the church. We tithe from the tithe to missions; so 10% of all our tithe goes to missions. All the offerings go to support the general fund. Designated offerings are applied to the desire of the donor. Alms are given regularly by a few that is used to help, mostly our members in special need.

Primarily the load of the ministry financing is carried by those who tithe regularly. Historically and experientially, those who tithe have invoked the blessing of the promises in Scripture. Famous people through the years have been tithers. Many of those who believe in tithing have made it their goal to exceed the tithe pushing to give greater percentages. Some of these who believed in tithing were not even known as Christians i.e. J.D. Rockefeller.

Giving is really a matter of one’s heart. The axiom of where your treasure is that is where your heart is, or it can be stated, where your heart is there your treasure will be. If your heart is convinced of the work of God, you will be investing. Laying up treasures in heaven is not your money, but where you invest your money now.

Life Can Be Busy!

Life can be busy. There always seems to be more to fill the day than we are able to accomplish. More left on the ‘to do’ list then what is listed on the ‘to done’ list at the end of the day. It seems that the day is no longer long enough to fit in everything that is demanded and expected of us. Quality personal time and has almost disappeared. What spare time we do have is absorbed by mindless watching of television because we are simply too tired to think or interact in a healthy way with other people.

Recently I have been working at unflattering my time and this freeing time each day to be me and to have quality time for both me and for God. It seems that the first consequence of this fast-paced life we lead is that we lose a meaningful connection with both ourselves and then with the living God whom we are called to worship and fellowship with. So, I have been examining everything that happening in an average week – What I do, when I do it, why I do it, with whom I do it, and the results of the activity. The result of this questioning and probing is I have found three filters that help me to eliminate unnecessary clutter in my life. These are really simple:

1> Satisfaction
The key question here is: Will it bring true satisfaction?
A lot of things I was involved in were simply ‘spinning my wheels.’ I did them because I have always done them. I was comfortable doing them. I even enjoyed doing some of them. So, I am learning to ask: Is this something that will bring true satisfaction to my life? Is this linked inside to “God-given desires” that are in my heart? Because, if it is not something that enables me to see these God-given desires come to fruition then I should not be investing my time in them.

2> Purpose
The key question here: Does it align with God’s purpose for my life in this season?
The call upon our lives changes regularly as we mature in our relationship with the Lord and become trained and equipped to accomplish the things He has called us to accomplish. As a result we need to be aware of what we are currently being called to do for the Lord. Then, we can ask the question: Does it align with God’s purpose for my life in this season of my life? If the answer is ‘no’ then we have every right to say ‘no’ to the many opportunities we have to become involved in good and even wonderful things. Maybe we can become involved in these things later, in a different season – but right now there are other things God is asking us to invest our time in.

3> Significance
The key question here is: Does it help me lead a life of significance?
By keeping my eye on what God has called me to do, I can filter out things that only hold temporal value. This doesn’t mean I say yes only to deep, spiritually significant commitments. If something of godly but temporal value is refreshing and spiritually challenging, empowering me in my walk with the Lord, then I become involved. It helps me to lead a life of significance. It encourages me in my overall call and vision for my life.

Following these three key areas and answering these three key questions is allowing me to filter out many activities and involvements that were good and, at times, even enjoyable but not always productive or beneficial to the Kingdom or to fulfilling the current call in this season of my life. Time is limited and there are only three things we can do with it – waste it, spend it, and invest it. God wants us to invest in significant things that help Him to expand His Kingdom upon the earth.

One World Religion

Listening to the news yesterday and heard the mother of Peter Kassig speaking about her son who was recently beheaded by Muslims in Syria. My heart goes out to the family and to all those effected by this brutal slaying done in the name of religion. During her brief comments about her son she spoke about the need for people around the world to pray to “the one God of many names.” One assumes by this comment that she believes that the god the Muslims worship is the same God that the Christians worship. This is not so. And, the God Christians worship goes by the Name Jesus – the Way, the Truth, and the Light. The only way to have eternal life and the only entrance into Heaven and the presence of the Creator.

The Pope is convening a two or three day consultation on marriage and it is being attended by leaders of many faiths – many branches of the Christian faith, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, and on the list goes. And, no real surprise here, a number of high profile Christians who are known to be born again and still others who are born again and Spirit-filled are going to be in attendance. This past summer Kenneth Copeland, John Arnott, and other well known Charismatic leaders had an audience with the pope over a period of three days according to Christian news outlets. Again, I wonder what can be accomplished when we join with others who do not believe that you must be born again to enter into the Kingdom of God – those who believe that there are two sacraments necessary for salvation – holy baptism and the Mass or Lord’s Supper.

Looking at the big picture: Am I the only one who has a slight concern here that we are seeing the rise of a “one world religion?” All religions do not worship ‘the same God with different names.’ God has revealed Himself to us in the man/God Jesus and only He is to be worshipped. Not Allah, not Mary, not many regional gods of our ancestors, not Buddha, not… you get the idea. It seems to me that it is time to “earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints.” And, maybe we need to come to know and understand the substance of that faith (the basic Christian doctrines) so we can defend it.

On the Christian side of things: I am deeply concerned that the born again message is getting lost here in the midst of ‘Christian unity?’ That we are trying to bring unity to the Body of Christ at, it appears, the lowest common denominator and thus ignoring not only major differences in approaches to the faith but major theological differences as well as a number of non-Christian teachings by some of the groups who claim the Name of Jesus. And, that the vital teaching and experience called the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is being seriously lost to the Pentecostal and Charismatic side of the Christian Church – through a desire to be ‘acceptable’ as well as simply through neglect.

I am not one to sound the alarm but as I travel from nation to nation I have become seriously concerned with what I see happening not just on the world stage but in national and regional settings. There is a serious ignorance regarding what we really believe – the basic doctrines of the Christian faith – and so many believers and even some leaders are joining with others who simply do not believe that Jesus is God and that a personal relationship with Him is required to enter into the Kingdom of God now and into eternity. We need to be cautious and steadfast in what we believe and who we join hands with.

I am deeply concerned….

Jesus Never Changes But…

The Bible states that Jesus is the “same yesterday, today, and forever.” This is called ‘immutability.’ However, in our minds and hearts He does change as we spend time with Him relationally day-by-day. This is because He is constantly revealing more and more aspects of His character, His nature, and how He works. He is not changing – but our understanding of Him is deepening and becoming greater each and every day. This makes our relationship with Jesus an adventure, a great and wonderful adventure.

However, we must be care that we don’t settle for what we have and thus miss what He is revealing of His nature and heart to us. Mary, on the day of Jesus’ resurrection, saw the risen Christ and grabbed hold of Him and didn’t want to let go. Jesus told her she had to let go and that things had changed. The change was that He could travel from one place to another instantly, He was going to ascend into Heaven to be with His Father, and the Holy Spirit was coming to enable and empower them. She had to let go of what she knew of the Lord so that she could grasp and grab hold of what had just happened and what was going to happen shortly.

We all have a tendency to hold on to what we understand and thus can easily miss what God is doing. The Jews knew all of the prophetic words indicating that a Messiah would be born. But they missed Him because He came in such a way that they were offended. They wanted a military Messiah and He came as a humble baby born in Bethlehem. The Gospel of John states that “He came to His own and His own people did not receive Him.” Jesus will often reveal Himself in such a way that we can miss Him or even reject Him – persecuting those who do grab hold of the revelation and welcome Him. The Jews missed Him and persecuted the early Christians who believed in Him.

As human beings we apparently seek for comfort, security, and safety. This, of course, is not available for true followers of Jesus. To obtain the comfort and safety we tend to camp in a place where we have experienced something great with God – not wanting to move on to something unknown or risky. Peter wanted to build three shelters on the Mount of Transfiguration – one for Moses, one for Elijah, and one for Jesus. He wanted to ‘camp’ on this experience and remain there enjoying what had just been revealed. Jesus refused Him permission to do so. Because to follow Jesus as His disciple means moving past the last experience of God no matter how wonderful and hungering and thirsting for more of Him. This can not be obtained or experienced if we park on and in the last encounter.

God does not change. But, God does continue to reveal more and more of who He is and what He is doing day-by-day. And, all this can be missed if we are not hungering and thirsting for more of Him – a greater understanding of His nature, His heart, and His mission. If we settle in to a comfort zone we will definitely miss this great adventure.

Take a Hike

As I have observed the Christian Church I have noticed that we “take a stand” on many things – abortion, gay rights, Israel … Of course, we are called to ‘take a stand’ and even defend what we believe (Jude 3). But, the issue I have with this is that “stand” mentality seems to have filtered in to every aspect of the Christian faith. For the 500 years of Protestantism we have been in a “Here I Stand” mode. Maybe, just maybe, it is time to move to a “There We Go” mode of mission. In other words, it is time to “Take a Hike.”

The Christian faith is not following a set of principles found in Scripture. The Christian faith is following a Person – Jesus. After all, He did say, “Follow Me” (Matthew 4:19). It is time to recognize that we are on a journey and that this journey has a number of stops along the way.

1> First, we need to get seriously CONNECTED to Jesus. This means to be truly saved. This is more than saying a sinner’s prayer and being “good to go” when the time comes. This means experiencing conviction for our sins, knowing and even feeling godly sorrow, responding to that conviction and godly sorrow with repentance, and receiving forgiveness (2 Corinthians 7:8-10). It is a serious heart encounter. This is the Gospel of the Kingdom as compared to the false gospel of salvation (know the truth in your head and say a sinner’s prayer).

This CONNECTS us to God because He gives us the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23b) and this is defined in John 17:3 as the supernatural ability to intimately know God the Father and Jesus Christ whom He sent. S, we become intimately acquainted with God and this begins a true Christian walk.

2> Secondly, this journey involves God then dealing with us on the inside in the area of our CHARACTER. Here is a step many believers skip and this causes much difficulty and trouble afterwards because CHARACTER is basic to everything we want to do and accomplish in life. So, we need to allow God to work in this area of our inner life that is seen in our behaviour and lifestyle. So, becoming CONNECTED to the living God should mean that we experience much change in who we are – our being. So, areas such as family, friends, what we do for fun (entertainment), finances, faithfulness, faith, and fruitfulness are being dealt with by God and we need to respond. This all help to form our character. This deals with the “fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

3> Third – When we have allowed God to develop and change our character then we are ready to deal, with His help, with our relationships. This involves the numerous COMMUNITIES that we are a part of – home, work, and play. This only works when we have become CONNECTED and have allowed God to deal with and change our CHARACTER. There are many relational issues we are then able to work through and deal with in a mature and Christian fashion. So, here we learn people skills that we will need to handle all future people issues in a Christian and loving manner.

4> Then we can actually be COMPETENT in the things that we do. We can be fruitful for God in our chosen occupation leading many into the Kingdom because they can see that we are different. This is when we can ‘produce’ both in the world and in the Kingdom. This is where we give back to society and are an asset and not a liability. This is where we become givers and not simply takers. We can make a difference in the world and the jerold will be different because we lived on the planet. This is when God gets a return on His investment.

We are on a journey. Time to take a hike (with Jesus). And, remember, the path is marked out for us. These four steps much be accomplished in the right order. If you skip any one of them then it will end in disaster and you will not end up being all that God created you to be nor will you accomplish everything He has placed you here and called you to do.

So, yes – it is good to take a stand and defend what we believe. But, it is also necessary to take a hike and become all that God wants us to be and thus accomplish what He has called us to do for Him during our brief time on the planet.

The Reason We Do or Don’t Evangelize

Do we evangelize because we are commanded to by the Head of the Church, Jesus? Because we feel guilty when we don’t speak to others about Him? Do we evangelize because Jesus can change someone’s “wrongness” to “rightness”? Maybe you don’t talk to others about Him at all and feel nothing – good or bad.

Well, the real reason we should evangelize is because the pearl of great price, our experience of Christ, is so priceless we want others to experience “the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7 KJV) and the sweetness of His presence? And because that is not the normal experience of most people who call themselves disciples, believers, or simply Christians we see little evangelism taking place. You can’t invite someone to share something that you are not experiencing.

In 1 John 1 we see that the early believers, and John the apostle who wrote the letter, invited others to share fellowship with them and that their fellowship was with the Lord Jesus Christ and His heavenly Father. Previous to this summary of verses 1-4 he mentions that they are sharing what they have ‘seen,’ ‘heard,’ and ‘touched’ concerning the Word of Life. So we experience (see, hear and touch) the “pearl of great price” and then invite others to come and share our experience, our adventure, our fellowship. This is ‘evangelism’ at its best.

So, if we are not having real fellowship with the Father and with Jesus Christ whom He sent then are we really saved? After all, if we are born again the Holy Spirit has placed a gift in our spirit – the gift is called eternal life (Romans 6:23b). This gift is defined biblically as the supernatural ability to know (have an intimate relationship with) God the Father and Jesus Christ whom He sent (John 17:3). So, if we do not have this relationship then we are not truly disciples of the Lord or born again.

To know if you have this daily relationship with Him, ask yourself a question: “Do I hear and see God on a daily basis and touch the things of God throughout my day?” If the answer is “no” then you don’t have a relationship. To have a relationship with a person (and God is a person) you need to be able to see them, hear them, and touch them. This is what makes a relationship happen. The same is true in your relationship with the living God. And, like all relationships, this one with God takes a good deal of daily effort to maintain so that it can be a healthy relationship based in love and not just a 911 call now and then when hit by a crisis.

So, maybe we are seeing so little evangelism because we really have little daily experience of the living Lord Jesus the Christ and thus really have little to nothing to share with others who don’t yet know Him.

Oc course, this is easily fixed – simply repent with godly sorrow and ask God to forgive you and begin or renew your relationship with Him. As you fall in love with Jesus and respond to His love (because He first loved us) then our relationship with Him will deepen, we will hear His voice, see what He is doing on a daily basis, and will be touched by Him. Then we can obey Him (“If you love Me, you will obey Me) and go out and tell others about this amazing relationship you have, inviting others to join you in your amazing fellowship and adventure as you walk with Him.

It is not rocket science!

The Fire of Pentecost

The Church was birthed in the flames of Pentecost. The book of Acts, chapter 2 tells us that on the day of Pentecost, when the Church was born, fire was seen in the upper room and touched each person who was present. The Church was birthed in the fire of Pentecost and has chosen, t least recently, to live in the ashes. Most churches I work with today are seriously missing the fire.

We have built great churches but they function, for the most part, without the fire of God. The Holy Spirit is seldom spoken of; the baptism in the Holy Spirit is seldom explained or experienced; the gifts of the Spirit are not only absent but the people are, as Paul states in 1 Corinthians 12, “ignorant regarding spiritual gifts” and how they function today. As a result we have many who hold to the form of our faith but deny or simply don’t know and have never experienced the power thereof. It is time to return to our roots and recognize that a church without the power – a faith with power – is simply another religion. And, Jesus did not come to establish another religion. The world does not need another religion.

The Church today needs to revisit the Bible and discover that many of the things the New Testament commands us to do in the Name of Jesus cannot be accomplished or even attempted without the power that comes with the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. However, what I see happening is more and more supposed Spirit-filled and Spirit-baptized people living in the flesh.

Of course, we are also witnessing tongue-talking church leaders talking to the leaders of denominational churches that do not believe in the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, working to bring understanding and unity. Talking with leaders of world-wide mainline churches that practice so many non-biblical rituals and believe and teach so many things contrary to the beliefs of the Bible that one wonders what common ground they are seeking and why they are seeking it. Again, the distinctive of being empowered and baptized in the Holy Spirit is being minimized or totally neglected and the born again message is being glossed over as we seek what?

Here is my hope – one I hold on to in spite of the facts that I see telling me the opposite is happening and that many churches that knew the truth are sliding into heresy and becoming simply another religion like so many that already exist. Here is my hope – that there is still enough ‘combustible material’ that should someone light a real holy God-fire there would be an explosion and the Church would once again fulfill its mandate to take the gospel of the kingdom to every nation and people group.

Let me share a story that illustrates what I am hoping for:

Many, many years ago, a Colorado pioneer a rock cabin. After the house was completed, he started a fire in the hearth. In a matter of seconds, the entire cabin became a burning holocaust. It seems the rocks were shale and were impregnated with oil. The oil had survived for centuries within the rock. But when the oil was touched by fire, it exploded instantly, releasing the untapped energy.

May this be true of the Church as the fire of God falls. Remember, the Bible states that God is an all-consuming fire. May He visit His Church and spark an explosion.