Change in the Wind

Today, after more than 2,000 years of the Christian Church, most parts of worldwide Protestantism lie in a veritable depression, The symptoms? Deep resignation, self-centredness, and the absence of growth. Other symptoms include churches that seem to be at a standstill in spite of hectic activity, alarming burnout rates (especially of the “good leaders”), a need to cling to the old and trusted, idolizing and even worshipping tradition, and seeking security and identity in denominationalism or religious confessionals. We often see the result of this in what could be called “a vicarious revival” – an attempt to partake in other people’s breakthroughs by copying their spiritual experiences and pragmatic how-to methods.

It seems that this depressed state represents a Christianity that God has pulled the plug on – but no one has yet noticed. There is the story of the Korean pastor visiting the west for the first time. After being shown around for some time, this pastor finally exclaimed, “It’s amazing what you people can do without the Holy Spirit.” We need to stop consuming – and start learning.

Martin Luther spoke of a Babylonian captivity of the church, and it appears that the majority of the church is still captive, after centuries of breaking every rule in God’s Book, preferring human traditions over apostolic patterns, and literally celebrating the absence of any biblical order as if doing so were freedom.

But this unfortunate set of circumstances is changing as a result of a huge initiative of God’s Spirit. Those people who echo what the Spirit is saying to the churches are beginning to get restless and are starting to move. It’s time to get back to our roots and return to a genuine, apostolic and prophetic understanding of the Christian faith. This call has gripped the hearts and minds of millions, and today it lies at the centre of the present realignment and reconfiguration of the church. It has begun.

A global spiritual migration usually happens in phases and it is a bit like moving from one mountain peak to another. From Peak B (Babylon), we have a great view of Peak P (prophetic-apostolic Christianity). Though it looks like you can almost touch one peak from the other, you can’s move from B to P easily. You must embark on an often difficult decent from one mountaintop, and then ascend an entirely different mountain. Not everyone is willing to make the journey. Not everyone who tries will succeed.

Four Phases of a Paradigm Shift

As I travel to minister I see the beginning of a paradigm shift with regard to how God’s people are looking at the Church. People are no longer happy with ‘religion as usual.’ They no longer see the value in a lot of what we do as the church or as a local church. They are looking for more than a well run and oiled organization – they are looking for life – the very presence and power of the living God among His people. This means that are looking for things to change.

If we want to see practical changes, our paradigm must change first. A paradigm is the way we see and interpret the world according to a built-in pattern or worldview. A paradigm shift typically has four stages.

Search for it…
False contentedness is the biggest enemy of change. Unless we ask pertinent and pointed questions, and unless we have a burning desire to search for new answers, we won’t have room to accept a new insight, let alone a new paradigm. But typically a paradigm shift starts with a crisis, an occurrence that causes our safe and sound world – our traditional way of explaining things – to simply fall to pieces. This crisis can be caused by an accident or a revelation, a negative or positive experience with something that simply does not fit into our worldview. Fortunately, crisis tends to give birth to creativity.

Preach it…
When we find what we have been searching for, we also experience the overwhelming thrill and excitement of finally “finding it.” For this reason, we can call this phase “the eureka phase.” We may be so excited that we want to tell everyone about our discovery – in an almost evangelistic or apologetic fashion. It may be, however, that we’ve found only a piece of the truth – a fragment of a larger piece – but we have been thirsty for so long that all we want to do is drink, drink, drink. This phase is the most dangerous, because our excitement may drive us to immature and naive statements or actions that are difficult to redeem later.

Live it…
In this third phase we symbolically sit down, wipe the emotional foam off our lips, and start to become an integral part of our new found paradigm. We stop preaching and defending our discovery, and we begin to live it.

Teach it…
This last phase turns us into an agent of change, as we begin helping others to discover the paradigm we have found ourselves and assist them in making the necessary changes themselves.

As we change from what we now see as ‘the church’ today into an apostolic-prophetic model, a New Testament model of the Church that Jesus is building, we need to be aware of these four stages and not rush our discoveries nor our implementation.

More on this change next time…

A Move of God Among the Youth

I just returned from Sacramento, California where I was working with Melchizedek Church. A very powerful time at each and every service, meeting, and event. I had the privilege of meeting each day with some young men who are being discipled by the pastor and who are also discipling others their own age. They are very actively involved in the life of the local church. One was the young person assigned to drive me from place-to-place. They were all excited about the Kingdom, the King, and the Church. They were hungry to learn more and to hear about what God is doing in the nations of the world. They were, of course, also wanting to receive a prophetic word and God did not disappoint.

The church has a powerful youth service on Sunday nights. Great worship with powerful lighting, “smoke,” backdrops, and terrific music that the young people can relate to. It was an amazing experience for everyone, including those, like me, who are not part of the youth. You just needed to be young-at-heart. Again, they sat, listened, participated, and responded to the teachings and the prophetic ministry. They were so excited to be taught and ministered to. Before and after each event they wanted to talk and ask questions. They were hungry to learn, to grow, to become more mature and knowledgable in the things of God.

These young people are involved in all aspects of the local church. They are witnessing to their friends and inviting them to their small groups as well as to the regular weekly services. At each and every event we had visitors and always there were a few who did not know Jesus. The youth are serving in all aspects of the life of the church and not just in the youth ministry. They are powerfully involved and committed to the vision of the local leaders and the church. And, they tithe, give, and make special offerings.

This is my experience in many of the nations that I travel to. Young people on fire for God and working to expand His Kingdom. Young men and women hungry to know their place in the Kingdom and in the Church; wanting to know what God has called them to accomplish for Him in their neighbourhoods and in the world. God is moving mightily among the youth, raising them up to be a force to be reckoned with. They are excited, enthusiastic, and anticipating that God will touch their world through them. It is “electric” just to be around them. I have discovered young people like this in every church in almost every nation where I minister. The future is bright and the Holy Spirit is powerfully touching young lives who are seeking to have more of God and know more about Him.

I am very optimistic about God’s Kingdom. Whether it is house churches in Kazakhstan, established churches in Russia, underground churches in a number of nations, decent size churches in America, or simple small groups of believers meeting together to learn and pray … God’s Holy Spirit is moving and touching lives and the young people are responding and becoming strong and powerful ‘labourers in the harvest field’ as well as trained and equipped disciples of the Lord.

I am honoured to be a part of this powerful move of God’s Spirit. I am, at least, young-at-heart.

A Year of Bold Leadership

In 1792, an unknown English pastor, part-time teacher and shoemaker began a revolution. His name was William Carey. He refused to accept the teaching in his day that the Great Commission was no longer relevant for the church. When he had the opportunity to address a group of ministers, he challenged them to give a reason why the Great Commission did not apply to them. They rebuked him, saying, “When God chooses to win the heathen, He will do it without your help or ours.” Yet Carey believed in his vision so strongly that he became a part of it and sailed as a missionary to India, thus launching the modern missionary movement.

Few today possess the boldness to launch out into the deep, leaving behind conventional wisdom in order to blaze new trails. Most people prefer the status quo – the tried-and-tested.

In the book, :The Leadership Challenge,” authors James Kouzes and Barry Posner say, “Leaders venture out. Those who lead others to greatness seek and accept challenge. Leaders are pioneers – people who are willing to step out into the unknown. They’re willing to take risks, to innovate and experiement in order to find new and better ways of doing things.”

I believe we are being challenged at the start of 2015. I believe the Holy Spirit is challenging us to step out of our little man-made boxes, our limited expectations, our lack of anticipation, our walk of sight and not faith … and grab hold of a vision that arises from deep in our hearts that yells: “Thy will be done on earth and in my life – just as it is done in Heaven.” It is time for true disciples of the Lord Jesus to stand in faith and apply that faith to fulfilling God’s will in their life – especially what He wants each one of us to accomplish during this new year 2015.

Like William Carey, we need to think biblical and act radical … and watch God use us to transform people’s lives and change the nations.

Well, It Is 2015!

The year has changed and it is now 2015. So what? Will 2015 actually be any different than 2014? I mean, what is going to make 2015 different than 2014 for you personally? You will, if you are like most believers, make a few New Year’s resolutions – all of which will fall by the road side by the end of the first month if not sooner. And then you will be back to “same old, same old” and will simply repeat 2014 all over again. But, it does not have to be this way. Things can change.

The Bible states that we, disciples of Jesus, are “new creatures (creation) in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17). This means we are, by being born again, different than we were. We have entered God’s Kingdom; we are children of God; we have the Holy Spirit leading us into truth that will set us free; we are guided and directed by the living God in all that we do (if we ask); we have godly wisdom (again, if we ask); we walk in His presence as we are ‘people of His presence;’ and, we have the power of God residing in and upon us. So, excuse me for being so bold, but every day should be different than the day before thus making each new year really different from the previous year.

So, let’s make 2015 the year we literally take being a “new creation” seriously. Let’s decide to walk in the presence and power of God very day of the new year – how about, every minute. Let’s pay the cost to be powerful and different… which means deciding to be powerful and not popular. You see, you can’t be both. A decision like this will separate you from some family members, friends, and even other believers. But then, Jesus said that He did not come to bring peace but a sword and to separate mother from daughter, son from father…

What is it that you want in 2015? Comfort, security and safety? Then you will not be empowered and embolden by the Holy Spirit. You will not accomplish what Jesus has called you to do. More importantly, you will not become all God wants you to be. For 2015 to be different than 2014 you will need to be different, changed, emboldened, empowered, will to risk everything for the King and the Kingdom regardless of the cost.

2015 will be different than 2014 – if you are different. It will be better than 2014 if you will embrace the challenges that Jesus has prepared for you as you walk with Him; as you walk by faith and not by sight.

Time to “walk up” spiritually and release the “new creature in Christ” that we became the moment we were born again.