Powerless and Pointless Preaching

I work in many countries and listen to sermons in a number of languages and I have to admit that the preaching is very often boring. Recently I have sat through several teachings from very well seasoned men of God and, I hate to admit it, but they were boring, irrelevant, and wandered all over the place. It was like they were ill-prepared but they had notes and outlines in front of them. They are not just beginning to preach … they are seasoned, well recognized leaders.

The Bible is relevant to every aspect of life. God is always speaking to His people about what is taking place in society, the various cultural communities, the world, and the Kingdom. There is a lot of biblical culture and history that can be explained that would give an interesting foundation to the message of the messenger. The Good News (the Gospel) of the Kingdom and Scripture in general is never boring – never! It is always relevant and applicable if explained and presented in a reasonably interesting manner. But the teaching has to have substance and be presented in a way that it is understood and received into the hearts of the listeners.

I shake my head in disbelief when I listen to what passes for “God speaking to His people” or, “the Lord is saying.” Sad! The Holy Spirit is the best communicator on the planet and if we are listening to Him in our preparation time then those of us who are honoured to teach God’s Word will also communicate well. If, and it is a big if, we are listening to and hearing the Spirit and following His lead in our preparation time. If, and it is a big if, we are taking the time to prepare properly. There is simply no excuse for boring, pointless, rambling teachings. It is a ‘current day sin’ in the Church.

The Holy Spirit inspired the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit is the Teacher of the Church. The Holy Spirit lives in us and teaches and guides us … and so, as we follow His lead, sermons and teachings should be dynamic, full of spiritual meat, and well presented and understandable. God’s people need this feeding to remain strong and effective in life and as labourers in the now ripe harvest fields.

The prophet Amos wrote: “‘Behold, the days are coming,’ declares the Lord God, ‘when I will send a famine on the land – not a famine for bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.'” (Amos 8:11). Well, in many places I go there is famine in the land. I don’t believe God sent it. I believe it is a famine manufactured by man. Man has placed his thoughts and opinions higher than God’s thoughts and God’s direction. Man seems to believe that his opinion is more important than what God is thinking. Man is not taking the time to adequately prepare the meal God desires to serve His people week by week.

And, it is very apparent that there is a serious lack of hard work – leaders, pastors, teachers are simply not taking quality time to study and accurately understand God’s Word. There are, according to them, so many pressing needs of the people that they need to meet. Yes, of course there are, because they are not hearing God’s Word from the pulpits and classrooms of the Church and so are not armed or strengthened to face life and handle issues with godly wisdom.

So, we have powerless and pointless preaching that is not transformational … lives remain the same and God’s Word is not given the opportunity to impact and influence people’s lives. The Word is not being preached or taught in the majority of places. But, we go through the motions, talk for the allotted time, and think everything is okay. The people come up afterwards and tell the preacher how much they appreciated his teaching (mostly the stories) and the game continues week after week and month after month. And, in general, the Church remains powerless.

It is time to get honest. It is time to go up to the preacher and admit that you got nothing personally beneficial out of the teaching and, in many cases, simply didn’t’t even know what he was trying to say. Then, just maybe, some of these men will get the message and make some changes in their life – preparing good food from God’s Word for God’s people … presented in an edible way.

We have a famine in the lands … a famine for God’s Word. But it was not sent by God. It is a man-made disaster in the making that will have dire consequences for many decades and generations to come. It is time to come back to the basic foundational truths of God’s Word.



A Change In the Way We See Things – Part Two

Question: Why must people wake up early on Sunday, get all dressed up, and drive to a specific location to sit in rows looking all morning at the back of some person’s head while a person they usually don’t know talks to them about the latest prescription of three steps to a better life! Is this experience of “church” really supposed to change their lives forever? Really, it is a strange thing to do. And, I am convinced that most of us are so familiar with it as to not see how strange our customs really are to those who are not part of our community of faith.

It amazes me to consider how much effort and how many resources (time, money, and people) are expended for a single hour to 90 minutes once a week. Maybe we have made “church” nothing more than a religious show that takes place on Sunday, and after it’s done we all go home, until church starts again next week, same time, same place. Is this what the Bride of Christ is suppose to be biblically?

The heart of our message is that God didn’t expect us to come to Him in Heaven. He came to us. He lived life on our terms and on our turf. He became incarnate. That is a theological word that is worth explaining. Incarnate means He was “in flesh” or “in a human body.” When someone orders chilli ‘con carne,’ they are ordering chilli with meat, or flesh. Jesus is God incarnate. He was truth “fleshed out” for all to see. He “became flesh and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

So, as Jesus came to touch lives so He sends us to touch lives. The day when we could invite people to come to church to experience Jesus or come to know about Him is past and gone. It is no longer a matter of “gather” but now a matter of “scatter.” We, as believers, should be like Jesus and be incarnate in our local neighbourhood, apartment building, or sports arena. In our post-Christian world people are no longer waiting to be invited to attend church with you. But, they would come to your home and have a coffee and there see how your faith and values impact and influence your life.

Jesus is still incarnate; we are now His feet, His hands, His eyes, and His mouth. We are the Body of Christ. We are His temple, and His Spirit dwells within our flesh (1 Corinthians 6:19). We are not deity, but Deity dwells in us, and I suggest that this truth is such a dramatically life-altering reality that all should notice as we live out our every day life as “Jesus incarnate” in our communities and work places.

Sir Walter Moberly stated: “If one-tenth of what you believe is true, you ought to be ten times as excited as you are.” This is the word of a non-Christian who has listened to our message and studied our behaviour. It hurts because it is true. It should sting. We must begin to let the Word of Christ and the Spirit of God richly dwell within us so that His divine presence is noticeable. It was for this that Christ died. Lesslie Newbigin rightly says, “The Church is sent into the world to continue that which He came to do, in the power of the same Spirit, reconciling people to God.” (John 20:19-23)

It is time to return to our roots. Let the Church be alive, organic, in the flesh. Let the Church be birthed in places where it is most needed. Let the Church be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth as Jesus intended, as He paid for.


Church According to Jesus

There are two times in which our Lord spoke of “church” directly in the Scriptures

The first time Jesus mentioned the Church was when He and His disciples went to Caesarea Philippi on a retreat together

A city in what is now in the Golan Heights in Israel

Nearly uninhabited currently but once a thriving city dedicated to the Greek god Pan

A tourist destination during the time when Jesus was ministering in Galilee

While there Jesus gave His disciples a “pop quiz” (Matthew 16:13-20) Read more

When Jesus Said ‘Thank You’


Two men were walking through a field one day when they spotted an ENRAGED BULL.

Instantly they darted toward the nearest fence.

The storming bull followed in hot pursuit, and it was soon apparent they wouldn’t make it.

Terrified, the one shouted to the other, “Put up a prayer, John. We’re in for it!”

John answered, “I can’t. I’ve never made a public prayer in my life.”

“Do it now!” implored his companion. “The bull is catching us!” Read more

Radical Intimacy

What is the key to a vibrant, dynamic Christian faith?

What is the key to experiencing enthusiasm, expectancy, and excitement when coming together on a Sunday?

What is the key to an exciting and dynamic assembly (worship service) each and every time we gather to honour Jesus as our Lord and Saviour?

What is the key to winning the lost?

What is the key to seeing nations changed and the world transformed? Read more

A Change In the Way We See Things – Part One

I believe that every Christian is a church planter, every home or meeting place is a church, and every church a training center. I understand that this is a whole new way of seeing Church. But, it is biblical and exactly what young people are embracing in nation after nation. If we see Church in this new way then we will be a part of a contagious movement regardless of our age. If we see church this way we will connect with many people who are disengaged with the old conventional church but still seeking an experience with Christ. If we can change the way we view things we will influence others and impact our community with the power of the Gospel.

This new way of seeing things increases involvement. After all, this means that you are a church planter. Well, at least you have the potential to be one. However, this will mean changing the way we view church and evangelism. Instead of bringing people to church so that we can the bring them to Christ, we will need to learn how to bring Christ to people where they live. People will meet with you in your home or at a local coffee shop much sooner than meeting you at the main door of your church building arriving in time for a Sunday worship experience. Think about it, why would someone want to come and sing songs to a God that they do not know and listen to a teaching from a book (the Bible) that they do not believe? But, they would come and have a coffee in your kitchen or at the local coffee shop in the mall to talk and share life with you. We must take Christ into people’s lives, and it must be in the context of relationships.

Think about it: We expect people to come to church in order to find Christ and be born again. However, the people of the world in our post-Christian society want nothing to do with the church. We are so obsessed with our own religious club (the church) that we actually identify those who do not have a relationship with Jesus as the unchurched. It is as though just joining us on Sundays for an hour and a half is enough to say that we are “in.” Salvation is not determined by your Sunday calendar or your smiling face in a church pictorial directory. We know that this is true doctrinally, but nonetheless we still divide the populace into the churched and the unchurched, as though all they need so as to be right is to come to our organization. Not wonder our message is so convoluted. We have lost sight of our prime directive and substituted creation of more people who are like us, rather than like Jesus, in its place.

If we see each believer as a church planter then we would be fulfilling Jesus’ command to “go into all the world.” We would go out and build relationships with non-believers and begin, in time, to share our Christian journey with others. People will come to Christ right there in familiar and comfortable places that are real and a vital part of their daily experience and their real world.

Then we would see churches meeting in restaurants, offices, homes, university campuses, high school facilities, and beaches. How about churches meeting in bars, coffeehouses, parks, and locker rooms. Yes, church would look different in each of these locations. But, all we need for “church” to happen is for Jesus to manifest His presence. He promised to do that when two or three gather in His Name and focus on Him. Instant church. And, the possibility of having a church within walking distance of every person living in your community, town, or city becomes a reality.

This would mean planting seeds of the Kingdom within existing relationships. Relationships that are real and are formed and flow in places where life happens. Is this not what Jesus did? He went where the people were and planted seeds of the Kingdom and the Gospel of the Kingdom. Out of these relationships He formed we see the church rising up and becoming a very powerful force in the then known world. In fact, it was life-changing and impacted all aspects of every day life. Is this not what Jesus wants for His Church still in our day and in this new season in which we find ourselves? Then the church would arise as “incarnation communities” in places where people would normally meet. Then we would have a living organism in every neighbourhood and on every street… and not some institutional organization on an occasional street corner. We would have life and not rules and regulations. We would have the Church that Jesus is building.

Every Christian a church planter, every home or meeting place a church, and every church a training center. Think about it!




Jesus Is Lord – Part Two

As followers of Jesus we have declared Him to be Lord and Saviour. Too often people want Him to “save them” but don’t want Him to be their Master, Leader, Lord. In my understanding of Scripture He cannot be your Saviour if He is not your Lord. Saviour and Lord are inseparable. You can’t have one without the other. We looked at this fact yesterday.

There is more to it than simply calling Him Lord. If He is Lord – when He is Lord – then you will lay down your life and your plans and allow His life to flow through you to others and thus accomplish His plan and His purpose for your life within His Kingdom. We become a living sacrifice as expressed by Paul the apostle in Romans, chapter 12, verses one and two. Calling Him Lord means His will and not our will; His plan and not our plans; His agenda and not ours.

There were a number of Jesus followers referenced in Matthew’s retelling of the story of Jesus. These disciples were true followers of Jesus. They were walking in His anointing and functioning under His authority as did the 12 key disciples called apostles. However, they were not listening to the voice of God and doing what He wanted – they were simply ministering to others as they decided. Were good things happening? Yes! Were people being set free? Yes! Were miracles, signs, and wonders being experienced? Yes! But, God did not direct them to do these things. They were fulfilling their own desires and wishes, meeting some deep need (maybe they were co-dependent – needing to be needed). They were building a ministry as well as a reputation. But, they were not, obviously, building the Kingdom. And, that is what Jesus the King came to do. And, this is why we call Him Lord.

The Scriptures read:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”

Jesus is Lord. This means we do what He asks of us – nothing more and nothing less. Jesus is Lord! This means we obey Him – His every command and every Word that He speaks. The power and the authority belong to Jesus because Jesus is Lord. So, we use the power and authority we have as born again, baptized in the Holy Spirit believers, under His direction and according to His plan and purpose. Because, Jesus is Lord!

My question: Have you really made Jesus Lord of your life? Do you have things mixed up a bit – thinking He is here to serve and help you when just the opposite is true? Are you instantly obedient to everything He says? Do you understand that you are here to serve Him and do whatever He asks without question or hesitation? This is what it means to make Jesus Lord.

Have you really done that?


Jesus Is Lord – Part One

The day that the Church began one of Jesus’ disciples preached a sermon. God touched the hearts of many people because they believed what Peter spoke about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. They were convicted by the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:37)  of their sin, Jesus’ righteousness, and the coming judgment (John 16:8-10). Peter shared that Jesus is God in human form who died to save us from our sins allowing us to then have a dynamic and daily relationship with Jesus and our Heavenly Father. This is called the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23b and John 17:3).

The people responded. They cried out “What shall we do?” (Acts 2:37) They believed what they heard but believing in Jesus requires more than intellectual assent. Another Bible preacher, James the apostle, wrote: “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shutter”  (James 2:19). And, they are not going to Heaven. So, obviously, there is more needed than mental assent or knowing the facts about Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection and all that this accomplished..

Before and after the original sin that separated man from God, man believed in God. The problem was not a lack of belief, but instead the lack of lordship. To be truly born again and thus assured of eternity in Heaven with Jesus; in other words, restoring us to a right relationship with God, requires both belief and surrender to the Lordship of Jesus.

Jesus is Lord and not just Saviour. In fact, He cannot be your Saviour unless He is also your Lord. So, “What shall we do?” Good question. We need to look at our life and see who is actually running it. Who is calling the shots? Are we still chasing our own dreams, hopes, and aspirations? Or, have we bowed the knee to Jesus and thus working on fulfilling His plan and His purpose for our life? Are we building our empire or helping Him in the expansion of His Kingdom? When making daily decisions in life do we pray and ask for His guidance and direction or do we simply do what we think is best in the situation?

This is not just playing games with words. This is really a serious matter. Jesus is Lord! And He is not your best friend, your co-pilot, or an emergency switch to pull when you don’t know what else to do. He is Lord – Ruler, King, Master, Leader. He does not settle for second place. He is Lord! And, until He is Lord and you have offered Him your whole life as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2) then you are simply a nominal Christian, a cultural Christian, a Christian in name only. You may believe you are safe and that, when you die, you are going to Heaven but this is not biblically true.

Not only must He be Lord but … tomorrow we will look at what else is needed.


Living Waters

In the days when Jesus ministered and trained His disciples – at the heart of each Jewish community were a synagogue and mikva baths for ritual and physical purification. There are two kinds of mikva baths: those filled by workers using water collected from rain; and those dynamically filled from active, running, fresh springs. Those from fresh springs were of utmost importance, and that kind of water was referred to as “living water.”

In John 4:14, Jesus told the woman at the well, “Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Jesus’ message, His life, His death, and His resurrection are the source from which eternal life springs…. from which we receive salvation. Isaiah the prophet spoke of this “well of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3).

Jesus is the living water. And, we are called to take this living water into our communities, pouring it out and letting it permeate into every crack and crevice of society. In John 7:38 Jesus speaks of “rivers of living waters” that are to flow through us and fill every corner of society. However, often the channel is clogged with ‘dirt’ (concerns, worries, sin, daily life) that stops the flow of living waters and thus the flow of life to those who live in spiritual dryness and death. And, at times, people leave the church and become a bit of water separated from the river channel and thus eventually make little to no difference at all – touching no one with His life and the Gospel of the Kingdom.

However, when a group desperately pursuing God and His calling come together, they turn their individual contributions of living water into a powerful flowing river. This is what God wants the Church to be: the fullness of Jesus in us, flowing through us, to this generation. Then we will see the river of living waters flow and lives changed with the Church impacting each and every community.

So, we are to live life devoted to our personal call to “go into all the world and make disciples” where the river of living waters can flow. God’s call on your life and on my life is all about bringing life to us and then through us. When we see carrying the fullness of Jesus into our community as our personal mission… when we stop focusing on our individual achievements and worldly successes … and, instead, define success in terms of eternity, we can then join hands with others in the faith community, the family of God, the local church, and serve together as a channel for carrying God’s abundance and fullness to an incredibly dry and dusty world.

And, people will respond and drink deeply of the living water finding salvation in Jesus.


The Plan of Jesus to Impact the World – Personal Calling #2

We were talking about the call upon every true disciple. There is a plan and purpose that is basic to every believer to “follow Jesus as a disciple.” But, there is also a unique call upon every believer to make a difference in their world in a way that fits who they are and how God created them – their personality and life history.

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, Paul says that the Church is to be the fullness of Jesus who fills everything in every way (Ephesians 1:23). Create a mental image of what it looks like for one thing to completely fill and engulf another thing. leaving no crack or crevice untouched. Think of water filling an aquarium, completely surrounding and engulfing every object within the tank, including the bricks, the coral, and the artificial castle; 100 percent of the available surface area contacts the water. In a similar way, Paul says the Church is like water, permeating every crack and crevice of society, leaving nothing untouched by the fullness of Jesus.

Hear that again. We are to be like the water, leaving nothing untouched by the love of God.

Sounds impossible? That’s because of our experience and trust in the ways of the physical world. Think of the most impactful organizations in recent history. You might consider corporations like Apple, Google, Amazon, eBay, Microsoft, and Ford Motor Company. Combine their collective skills, capacities, and abilities. Add in the rest of the businesses in the world. Multiply that by 1,000,000. Could the resultant entity “fill everything in every way?” Not a chance.

Yet we are promised that the Church, in all its shortcomings, has that capacity. God gave it a sacred design with a sacred plan and purpose. The Church is the most powerful movement in the history of the world with the capacity to fill everything in every way with the fullness of Christ.

That is a game changer, but here is the challenging part. Do you believe that the potential of your personal calling (see yesterday’s blog) is connected to the fullness of Jesus in your community? That God’s perfect plan for your life in this generation is about the fullness of Christ touching you and the people around you deeply?

If so, then you need to be a vibrant part of the Church. Forget preconceived notions for a moment; set aside your vision of ‘church’ with any negative association. Just take God at His Word – the Church is the instrument of the fullness of Jesus intersecting with us.

When seen in that light, calling and Church are inseparable. And, there is much that each one of us needs to be doing.