Shifting Priorities

Jesus defined success differently. For Him, success could be summed up in three words: Faithfulness (Matthew 25:21; Hebrews 11:6) fruitfulness (John 15:8) and finishing well (Matthew 25:21; 2 Timothy 4:6-8).

If these three things are what Jesus is looking for to determine our success, both in life and in ministry that we accomplish for Him, then perhaps our priorities should reflect them. Christian put so much emphasis on tasks at the expense of relationships, but actually, it is our relationships that will ultimately reveal our success or lack thereof. Let me explain.

We cannot be faithful to Jesus unless we have a relationship with Him. This supernatural ability to have a relationship is given to us when we are born again and is called eternalize (see John 17:3). For us to be fruitful we need to be making disciples and seeing people come to a saving knowledge of the Lord and an encounter with the living God. This requires for us to be in relationships with non-believers. Jesus speaks of eternal fruit in John 15. And, to finish well we need to be doing all that Jesus asks us in the “race that He sets before us” setting aside everything that would take our focus off of the task He set before us. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

This were the aspects of His life and ministry that made Jesus a success in the eyes of His Heavenly father.

Jesus was not enamoured by large crowds. Though He obviously had the ability to draw tens of thousands to attend an event, it was not his purpose to gather a large crowd, and that was not success to Him. He frequently tried to get away from large crowds (Luke 5:14-16), and even intentionally offended them without worrying about loosing His popularity (John 6:41-71). So, although He was busy with the tasks at hand – introducing the Kingdom, healing the sick, giving hope to the hopeless… He invested the majority of His time in 12 men He named apostles  / disciples (Mark 3:13-14). He build relationships. He took time to encourage relationships. And, within these relationships this rag-tag team developed character and courage and took the Gospel of the Kingdom to the ends of the known earth. Through them Jesus was faithful, fruitful, and finished well.

Jesus invested time in the twelve. He discipled them. He did this because He knew that it is the lives you touch, one at a time, which will be the fruit of your life. And, like Jesus, to focus on the true priority of making disciples (the call upon every believer – Matthew 28:18-20) we must, at times, neglect the distracting but less than significant demands that come from others, the society in which we live, and yes, even the Church. People will always have need, wounds, and desires. There will never be a shortage of things to do, places to go, and things that need doing and accomplishing. We must not let demands and needs dictate the priorities in our lives and thus the daily use of our time. We must measure “success” in the same terms that Jesus did – Faithfulness, fruitfulness, and finishing well.

Building the Church – Part Two

We are looking at the Church Jesus is building and the changes that will be necessary to make as we allow Him to once again be Head of the Church and build it the way He originally designed. This will mean that churches that now exist will need to make some hard decisions as to how they will continue to build and function.

The prophet Zechariah states, “Therefore thus says the Lord: ‘ I am returning to Jerusalem with mercy; My house shall be built in it,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘And a suvsyor’s line shale stretched out over Jerusalem.”

The prophet Haggai had informed the people that the temple was in ruins and it did not please the Lord. The work had ceased and been stagnate for twelve plus years. Now, the prophet is declaring that the Lord is strongly stating: “My house shall be built.”

From my vantage point to issue is that we, without the leading of the Lord, have built to house. We have created churches that meet our needs, that are pastoral and not prophetic, that glorify and exalt a single leader instead of Jesus the Head. We have built the Church in a way that has made it ineffective. Faithful but not fruitful. And, it is time for us to give the reigns of the Church back to the Lord of the Church and let Him build it His way.

Zechariah 4:6-7 (NKJV) states: “So he answered and said to me: ‘This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel; ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts. Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! And he shall bring forth the capstone with shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it.””

Building the temple had become a mountain of impossibilities. But, with God in control and building His house everything is possible – even the mountains will become plains before His mighty power released through His grace.

That’s a word we all use but few think about and even fewer know what it is or live by it – GRACE. For me, grace means: God’s willingness to use His power on my behalf that I might attain to all that He says I can do, have, or be.”

This is, of course, based on the Bible … Hebrews 4:16 states: “Let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

So, as we build the Church and follow the Lord’s direction in the building of His house:

1> At what point in my work for the Lord do I come to the throne of grace?

2> Am I looking for grace or am I seeking affirmation or vindication?

3> Will I let it be done by grace and grace alone or do I want just enough grace to boost me over the top and help me in the hard spots?

As you think about the answers to these three questions – regarding the building of the Church and even your life in Christ… remember:

“And he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will boast in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

And, it is only by His grace and power that we can build anything of eternal value in our work and work for the Lord.


Building the Church – Part One

The Bible states that “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labour in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” (Psalm 127:1)

To labour in vain means:
1> To have no real substance, value, or importance; empty; void; worthless; unsatisfying.
2> Destitute of forge or efficacy; effecting no purpose; fruitless; ineffectual; as, vain toil; a vain attempt.

Having spent many decades building a church and planting a number of them in my country and helping plant them in other countries … this verse is of vast importance to me and my understanding of ministry today.

If I truly “built the church” then it is not of the Lord and it is not something the Lord can bless. Matthew 16 tells us that Jesus is building His Church. We can help Him to do so by receiving revelation and then doing as He directs. However, if we build any other way we are doing the building our way and we are “building in vain.” To claim that we built the church is to bring it to nothingness and literally say it is ‘our church’ and not the ‘Lord’s Church.’

If I truly believe that the Lord has built the house (the Church) that I am a part of then I must be content with what it is. The Lord does not get involved in failure or defeat. So, IF He has truly built the church that I am in I must be content with what it is – because He built it this way. I need to stop wanting it to be different; bigger; more prominent; more influential…I need to stop comparing this church to that church because each church is different and was meant to be different, even unique.

Today, the Lord is getting seriously involved in the building of His house. Many of the existing churches in the world today have been built by man. He is coming to these leaders, and thus these churches, and letting them know that they have been built wrongly. And, He is planting the desire and hunger in hearts for more and for what He wants … so that they will seek Him and see what He is wanting to do and how He is wanting to build. If the leaders (and eventually the people) respond there will be major changes in the life and direction of the local church. If the leaders fail to respond they will continue as they are but it will simply be lifeless religion based on programs and not God’s presence and power.

We are entering a time when a decision will need to be made and then many changes embraced and walked out. Exciting times Powerful times. Godly times. Good times for those who are following the leading of the Lord who is building His house.

More tomorrow…

Television and Music Videos

I am currently in Kazakhstan. However, no matter what country I go to as I eat out with leaders after meetings and services every restaurant has their large screen televisions tuned to their country’s equivalent to North American MTV – Music Television. And, in every country the music and the music videos are seriously similar to each other. The language may be different – sometimes it is even in English – but most everything else is the same.

In my mind we are seeing the rise of a worldwide generation who share one youth culture created by the media like MTV as well as the social media of Facebook, Twitter, and the like. I think I am up to 15 different social media apps on my smart phone. As a result, young people are dressing the same, thinking the same, living the same. It is amazing that over the last decade I have watched the rise of a worldwide youth culture where all young people are alike with very few regional differences.

I have noticed that the music videos are very sexual. Well, they have moved past sexual and are literally sexual. Not suggestive. Outright sexual. And, this has translated into the lifestyle of the generation. Maybe it is the other way around… the generation is very openly expressive of their sexuality and actual sex lives and thus the music is mirroring the life-style and not forming it. Either way, the music and the music videos are very sexual and the young generation speak in a very frank and open manner about their sexual lives.

At issue, of course, is that many of them – even those who call themselves believers – are having sexual relationships outside of marriage. This is biblically wrong and simply called sin by the God whom we worship and serve. However, because their music is forming the culture they see nothing wrong with sex outside of marriage. In fact, often they see it as normal and their right. Some believers  understand that it is wrong but do it anyways. In one conversation a young man (for the second time  in two visits) admitted that he is having a sexual relationship with a women he is not married to and is still a youth leader in his church. And, his pastor knows about this issue.

We have a problem. When Christians – followers of Jesus – no longer believe the Word of God nor live according to the Word of God then we are simply no different than the culture and society that we are meant to influence for Jesus. Thus our witness is nil and we have absolutely no impact. We become a sub-culture instead of a counter-culture. This is certainly the case with the younger generation and the one world youth lifestyle and ethos that our electronic connections has created.

Getting Below the Surface

When you see an iceberg floating on the water you are really only seeing about 5% of the whole – the part that is readily visible on the surface. The remaining 95% is below the surface of the water. And, it is not the part that can be seen that is dangerous but the part that is under the surface that can do the most damage to a ship that gets too close.

In the Christian walk as believers and disciples of Jesus we tend to focus on the part of our lives that others see – the surface issues. We are concerned for our reputation and our image – all surface things. And, we often wear a mask so as to put our best foot forward when in public and put our happy face on when we come to church and gather with others who are following Jesus. Often, therefore, the part that is seen above the water is not real and certainly does not fully represent what is below the surface.

Of course, what is below the surface comes into play on occasion. Just as the Titanic came into contact with the 95% that can’t be seen so others come into contact with our buried self – the 95% which forms our inner life. People run into this very real part of who we are when we get angry and say what we are really thinking and feeling. Our anger, our frustrations, our impatience, our critical view of others, our judgements, and how we reject people all reveal who we really are. And, when these overflow within our relationships we are revealing to others the hidden part of the iceberg.  Jesus said, “out of the abundance and overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” In other words, our inner person comes to the surface and can be seen by others. These times put the real you on display. These times allow others to see what usually remains hidden. These times can be seriously damaging to others and to our relationships as well.

Christians tend to focus on what can be seen and simply ignore the 95% that is under the surface and is not seen. However, as believers and true disciples of Jesus, we need to be aware that He, our Lord and Master, is actually much more interested in the 95% than He is about the 5%. It is in this “under the water area” where we find feelings, motives, attitude, and character issues. It is here that we find the foundation of life … and many are building on the sand so that when a storm comes (and it always does) it wipes out their whole life because it was built while focusing on the visible 5% and ignoring the real issues that are found in one’s heart or spirit (See: Matthew 7:24-27).

As a result Christians are often seen by others as plastic and unreal. In other words, people can see past the mask and the 5% we put on display. They see us when we let the mask slip and come to realize that we are simply, in reality, hypocrites. Confessing one thing and living another. Stating that we believe but living like we don’t.

Yet, Jesus calls us to be “new creatures in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17) and, as a result, we are to have new priorities, new values, new morals, and a new perspective. Literally a new way of living life. And, to actually live out what we believe and the new life He has given to us we need to deal with the 95% of our personal life that is seldom see by others and often ignored by us.

An accent philosopher once said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” I agree! And, I would add that as a true Christian an unexamined life is dangerous. Not only are we deceiving ourselves but we are not representing the Lord whom we claim to follow in a way that allows others to see Him. We live in such a way that many others are simply damaged as they encounter us in every day life. They see the beauty of what is visible – the part we put on display for others to see – but quickly run into and encounter the other 95% that can’t initially be seen. This always ends in people being hurt and relationships being destroyed. The ship sinks. And, as a result, the Kingdom and the local church suffer and both receive a bad reputation.

So, have a look in the mirror and realize that what you see is only 5% of what there is … and then take some time in the next few days to look under the surface of the water and begin to deal with what you see … who you really are.

You will be glad that you did.


Change – Always Necessary

After walking with Jesus as my Lord and Saviour for almost 40 years I have discovered that the one constant throughout this time has been change. The night I was born again I was instantly and dramatically changed from a sinner to a saint. This meant that I was a “new creature in Christ.” I saw the old ways begin to fall away and I discovered a whole new way to live (see 2 Corinthians 5:17). Changes came quickly and they were permanent ones because the Lord was pouring a new foundation upon which He would then build my ‘new’ house (Matthew 7:24-27).

Throughout the years change has been a constant. I have seen my lifestyle change; my worldview change; my perspective on life change; my concern and compassion for others change; my priorities have changed; my understanding of what is important in life has also changed. And, in spite of how long I have been walking this Christian journey the changes continue to this day.

I have discovered that change in the one constant in our walk with the Lord – as individuals and as the Church. Jesus, the Head of the Church, is constantly moving forward as the Kingdom expands. It grows by seeing more and more people enter the Kingdom through His death and resurrection and all that He accomplished on the Cross and offers to us by grace and which we receive by faith. The Church is constantly changing as we work together with the Holy Spirit to reach the next generation with the Gospel of the Kingdom.

It is important to note that the message never changes but the way we live out this message and the way we share this message with others must be constantly changing so that it can be understood and received. The message is always relevant – but its relevance is, at times, not seen because the method in which it is presented in no longer connecting with people.

The Church around the world is in a time of amazing and immense change. This change is seen in more than the way the message is communicated. The current changes are “all inclusive” and the Holy Spirit is leaving nothing untouched. The way we teach, the way we worship, the songs that we sing, the style of music heard when we assemble to honour the Lord, the translation of the Bible being used, the way we speak about the Lord with others. Nothing is off limits to the current changes the Holy Spirit is bringing to the Lord’s Church and thus to the believers today.

No one really likes change. But change is inevitable in all living things. And, the Church is a living, breathing, dynamic, growing ‘Body of Christ.’ Thus, it is always changing and growing just as our physical bodies do on a daily basis. Jesus is the Head and He is bringing these many changes to His Body. Our task is the “push past our preferences” and embrace what the Holy Spirit is doing even if it is uncomfortable or not specifically something we were wanting. It is His Church and He can change whatever He wants. He is simply asking us to follow His lead.

In my country there was once a national change of stores called “Radio Shack.” They no longer exist. They did not change with the times. They did not relate to and communicate with the next generation and their electronic needs and wants.

MacDonald’s is no longer just selling hamburgers as the first restaurant in the now worldwide chain did. They are constantly changing the menu, the buildings, the way they serve (have you noticed the new electronic kiosks where you place and pay for your orders?) and on and on the changes go. Otherwise, they will not continue to gain an increase of the market share. They will appear to be irrelevant and no longer in touch with their customers. People will look elsewhere to have their needs met.

Jesus said, “occupy until I come” (Luke 19:16-19) This simply means that He is expecting us to continue His work and ‘seek and save the lost’ (Luke 19:10). He is wanting a return on His investment – and He has invested a lot in us. One commentary (The Be Series) states:

Each of the servants received an amount of money equal to three months’ wages for a laboring man, so you can figure out its buying power today. Occupy means “do business, put my money to work.” They could give the money to investors and earn interest, or purchase goods and sell them for a profit. The important thing was that they give back to their master more than he had given to them. How they did it was up to them, so long as it was legal and profitable.

For us to give the Master a return on His investment we need, like MacDonald’s, to be constantly changing. The message remains the same but our presentation, our lifestyle as believers and our life together as the Church, must be constantly changing so as to each more and more of our generation and culture for Jesus. His return on His investment is to see more and more people embrace the life changing message of the Gospel of the Kingdom through our influence.

It is a time of immense change in the Church worldwide – and I hope and pray that God’s people and those who call themselves disciples of Jesus embrace and run with the many changes we have seen and are about to see. These are challenging times but they are good times.

WHY We Don’t Hear God Regularly

The Bible states:

“All people have sinned and fail to fulfill God’s plan and purpose for their life”

Romans 3:23

“The wages (consequence) of that sin is death”… separation from God now and for all eternity

Romans 6:23a Read more

Pushing Past Our Preferences

In my walk with the Lord Jesus I have discovered that He is always asking more of me. Never more than I can do with His grace and enabling power. But, more than I would do if I followed my feelings and preferences. Recently He has been requesting that I begin the process of “pushing past my preferences.”

Most of us want to love and follow Jesus with our whole heart, mind, soul, and strength as the Scriptures ask of us. But, I personally find that my preferences sometimes get in the way of doing just that. My s pirit is willing to give it everything I’ve got and do whatever He asks of me; but, my flesh and my soul have a will of their own and so God’s will is often placed to one side because of what I prefer. My preferences get in the way.

I believe that most of us, by nature, prefer to be safe. secure, and comfortable. We love the Christian faith and the Church but we don’t want to be overly challenged or asked to do things that we find uncomfortable and outside our preference box. We want a pastoral church that doesn’t rock the boat. But, Jesus is building and leads a prophetic church where He wants everyone out of the boat… out of the four walls of the building telling other about His love and the offer of a personal relationship with Him made through the Cross of Calvary.

I have been hearing these words in my spirit now for several months… “Push past your preferences.” Jesus did. His preference after three years of public ministry was not to die a horrible death on the Cross. He prayed for ‘this cup to pass’ if possible. But, He submitted His life to the Father and clearly indicates that “not My will but Your will be done.” He pushed past His preference. He preferred not to die on the Cross but pushed past His preference to fulfil the plan and purpose of God and the divine destiny that was His.

Why did He push past His preferences? I believe it is because He saw the value of each individual and had a deep passion for lost souls. He did not want any one – even the least of the least – to spend eternity in Hell. He knew the value of a human soul and so was willing to push past His preferences and do whatever it took to give that soul the opportunity to come into a personal relationship with His Heavenly Father … to receive personal salvation. So, He stretched out His arms on the cross in love and died for our sins. He pushed past His preferences.

He is asking us to do the same. To not let our preferences for comfort, safety, and security stop us from doing what He has called us to do – to “Go into all the world telling others of His love and making disciples.” He is asking us to look at our lifestyle and see what it is in our preferred way of living that is stopping us from simply doing what He asks us to do because we love Him. Remember, Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will obey Me.” and, He commands His Church – that is you and I – to “go into all the world and make disciples.” The question: What is stopping us?

To show His love to the world we need to express our love through obedience as we go. And to obey Him we need to push past our preferences. He is depending on us. There is no “plan B.” We are it. And, we can do it if we simply push past our preferences (feelings, opinions, theology, and comfort zone). Join me, please, in this as we become the light of the world and tell others about Jesus. Let’s push past our individual preferences as well as our church preferences and move outward into the great adventure that Jesus offers each one of is children.

Hearing the Voice of God – Part Six

As we conclude this series we are looking at the basic biblical foundations for accurately and consistently hearing the voice of God personally in our walk with Jesus…

8> Governed by the Holy Spirit (controlled)

Ephesians 5:18 “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit…”

When drunk the alcohol controls or governs your thoughts, words, attitude, and actions

So, Paul is saying … The Holy Spirit must “govern” our thoughts, words, actions, and attitude as born again Christ followers

Then we will actually, without too much thought, walk in #9

9> Glorifying God in our thoughts, words, attitude, and actions

This is dealing with many of the different lifestyle choices that we make on a daily basis as believers living in a culture that does not adhere to Christian values or morals.
10> Gifts of the Holy Spirit

1 Corinthians 12:4-11 … nine supernatural gifts that come to us and reside in us when we are baptized in the Holy Spirit and receive the power of God

Working of Miracles
Gifts of Healings
Special Faith                                                                                                                Prophecy
Public Tongues
Interpretation of Public Tongues
Word of Wisdom
Word of Knowledge
Discerning of Spirits

These gifts are given to us so we can be a witness to the resurrection of Jesus from the dead

Acts 1:8 “And you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be My witnesses…”

Not “do” witnessing …. “be” a witness

1 Corinthians 2:4-5 “… and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”

11> Grafted in to the local church – What the Bible calls ‘the Body of Christ’
Connected, engaged, active, functioning, interdependent

1 Corinthians 12:18 “But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.”


These are the foundational things we are called to and the way we are called to live as followers of Jesus

Often, when we ignore all or any of these, the voice of God is not heard as often nor does He speak as loudly

As we live life His way … we position ourselves to hear His voice on a regular and consistent basis as we go about our normal, daily life.

And, to have a personal relationship with God you really do need to hear His voice…

“My sheep hear My voice…” John 10:3

“My sheep know My voice…” John 10:4

“My sheep follow (obey) My voice…” John 10:16



Hearing the Voice of God – Part Five

We are continuing to look at the basics of the Bible that allow us to have a good, solid foundation in our lives to continue to hear what God is speaking to us today. We need to obey what He has already spoken and recorded in His Word, the Bible, s this forms the foundation to hear what He is currently speaking to us today.

4> Good works – touch others with acts of kindness

Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

John 14:12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.”

Miracles, signs, and wonders are to follow the believers… Mark 16:17-18

Right now we chase after them… they should be following after us

We are to walk in supernatural power and confirm our message to the world through miracles, signs, and wonders

5> Gripped by His Word

1 Corinthians 15:1-2 “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

Philippians 2:16 “… holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.”

Collisions 3:16a “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…”

As believers we are called to “tremble at His Word” (Isaiah 66:5)

6> Guided and directed by the Holy Spirit

God gave to us “another Comforter” who would do for us what Jesus did when walking with His disciples in the pages of the New Testament …

Guide; direct; teach; lead….
John 16:13 “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”

1 John 2:27 … Holy Spirit – the Teacher – lives within us and teaches us….

7> Giving to others

We are to become like God and He is an extremely giving God… very generous and pouring our abundant blessings

“…blessing up on blessing heaped upon us” (John 1:16)

“More blessed to give than to receive…” (Acts 20:35)

Giving of our love, time, effort, emotion, encouragement, support…

Actively engaged and giving – – – Not simply passively receiving

More tomorrow…