The Airport Ride – Part Five

As we draw this mini-series of “questions on the way to the airport” by a senior leader to a close … Let’s talk about the Sabbath. I asked all the leaders of this particular church if they kept a regular, weekly Sabbath. I defined this Sabbath as a decent quantity of time (not necessarily a whole day) where they focused on their relationship with God, rested, and generally spent downtime … not catching up on laundry, housework, banking, and shopping. So, quality as well as quantity. When I asked for a show of hands as to those who had a regular, weekly Sabbath … not one hand went up.

Here is another reason “life” was not being experienced by the individual leaders as well as why “life” did not flow at the assemblies of this local church.

God has Ten Commandments. And only one starts with the word “remember.” This is because God knew that in the rush of life and ministry we would tend to forget. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work …For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (Exodus 20:8-11)

The Sabbath is an integral part of our intimacy with God. This intimacy and resulting relationship is essential to seeing life released in any and all ministry. And, you determine the level of intimacy you have. You must be intentional about gaining and then maintaining this relationship. You must be focused and not allow things to distract you. Without this, those in ministry are working for God and not with God. Without this there is no “life” being experienced by the disciple or the local church.

So, take the time to establish and maintain a Sabbath. It does not need to be Saturday or Sunday. Paul tells us there are no “holy days” so pick the day that is best for you and slice out a good chunk of it for your personal Sabbath. No Sabbath means you are in sin as you have broken one of the Ten Commandments. The biblical definition of sin is “the transgression of the law” and keeping a Sabbath is part of that moral law known as the Ten Commandments. Time to climb out of sin!

This way you will come to be “rooted and grounded in love” because “God is love.” You will know “the mind of Christ’ (1 Corinthians 2:16); you will know the heart of God the Father (Matthew 5:8); and you will experience His feelings, His focus, His plans and His purpose (John 17:3). This is called intimacy – knowing the God we worship and serve.

When you were born again God gave you the “gift of eternal life” (Romans 6:23b). This gift is defined in John 17:3 as the supernatural ability to deeply, personally, and intimately know God the Father and Jesus, whom He sent.” It is time to unwrap the gift.

It was a great discussion on the way to airport. personal and powerful. Worth the whole trip into that city and local church. A life-transforming conversation.

The Airport Ride – Part Four

To have this “life” we were speaking of in yesterday’s blog one must cultivate an intimate relationship with the giver of life – Jesus Himself. To have a daily and deep intimacy with Jesus you must be intentional. It will never happen by accident. Wishing and hoping does not work. Planning and organizing does. One must be determined and desire this intimacy more than anything else. And, the goal must be a daily intimacy with Him who is life – a daily relationship that has depth and that realizes how dependent we are on Him for “everything that pertains unto life and godliness.”

This means that there are a number of steps each leader (and every disciple) must take:

1> Separate yourself from the everyday scramble of life. Schedule some time each day in your calendar for a meeting with Jesus. Just as you schedule time for coffee with a friend or spouse – schedule time daily to be with God.

To note: If you are a leader who teaches you must separate your time in the Word to find teaching content from your time in the Word of God for personal spiritual feeding. If a good teaching idea pops up as your feed your own soul, take a minute and write it down somewhere (a separate sermon notebook or journal) so you don’t forget it – but then come back to your personal time with the Lord and His Word.

2> You will need a journal to write in (paper or electronic) so you can record what Jesus is saying to you personally. When you hear Him speak to you – this is God speaking so write down what He is saying. If it is God then it is important, in fact, vital to your spiritual life. This way you have a record of it and can review it later. It will also help you in the long run to actually trace the steps you have taken to follow Him.

3> Learn to listen to Him first and then respond to what He is saying. This is what I call prophetic prayer. He speaks first and we respond. After all, He is God and so has the right to speak first. To accomplish this you will need to:

Learn to be still. The Bible states, “Be still and know that I am God.” This means being physically still on the outside but also still on the inside. That means recording your thoughts as they wander … because as you write them down on a piece of paper your mind realizes that it does not need to continue to remind you of this event, phone call, appointment… and you thus clear your mind of such clutter in the first few minutes as you “still” yourself. The same is true for your emotions – these too need to be still.

Learn to be silent. This, again, is silent on the outside and the inside. Turn off the praise and worship music. Turn off the noise on the inside. Do whatever it takes to be seriously “silent.”

Learn to have solitude. You need to be alone and not in the line of activity within the home or office. In other words, find a place where you will not be bothered or interrupted in your intimate time with Jesus. If this means rising early before everyone else in the household or getting to the church office hours before others arrive, then do it! You need to be alone. And, right, your time worshipping and praying in the car does not count towards an intimate time with Jesus.

Learn to fellowship with the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 13:14 (in the Russian Bible it is 2 Corinthians 13:13) states that we are to have “fellowship with the Holy Spirit.” This means taking the time to know Him. He is separate from and even different than Jesus or God the Father. He has feelings, an attitude, a task to do, and a personality. We need to come to know these and spend time personally with Him.

If we implement these suggestions and not become discouraged we will soon find that we are getting to know Jesus and the Holy Spirit (and thus the Father God) better and are discovering His heartbeat. This will lead us to intimacy and desiring even more than we are experiencing. Thus we will continue to work at having depth in our daily time with Him.

There is still one more thing we need … we will discuss this tomorrow as we bring this mini-series to an end.

The Airport Ride – Part Three

On the way to the airport recently I was asked a number of powerfully important questions by a senior pastor and leader who, for all outward appearances, is very popular and very successful. One of those questions dealt with the real root and substance of the local church. He was talking about the basic, essential ingredient that is needed for a church to succeed.

My answer was that the very “life” of God needed to be felt, experienced, and received by the people attending any given service. It is the “life” of God that attracts people, brings people back, touches people, transforms people, and even brings them into the Kingdom. People, Christians and non-Christians, know when that “life” is present and when ‘it’ is not present. It is this “life” that draws them and this “life” must be experienced to keep them coming.

The Bible states (John 1:4) “In Him (Jesus) was life and the life was the light of men.” Jesus was not the ‘light.’ The “life” of God (Zoe) within Him was the light that drew men to Him. The word “life” is used by John, the apostle, 36 times in his Gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus. He refers to it in several contexts.

First the word “life” is in reference to the actual creation of the world. It refers, in the broad sense, to the created world through His involvement as the agent of creation. John 1:3 states: “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life…”

However, the word “life” is also referring to the spiritual ands eternal life imparted as a gift through belief in Him. This is seen in John 3:15: “…that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” And in John 17:3: “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” We also see it in the writings of Paul, the apostle. For example, Ephesians 2:5: “…even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved…”

Thirdly, this “life” is the very life of God (Zoe). It is the very life and nature of God the Father in Jesus. And, in every believer there is also this life – the presence of God, the fruit of the Spirit (the character or nature of God), and the very essence of who He is. It all resides inside the born again believer. As a result, when true believers and disciples of the Lord Jesus come together this “life” should be evident. It should be encountered and experienced by all who are present and whose hearts are open. Jesus said, “when two or three are gathered in My Name, there am I…” and if He is there then “life” is there.

In the specific case we were discussing on the way to the airport, this life was missing in the local church. There was a well run, well designed event (let’s not call it a worship service) that contained singing, announcements, offering, and a teaching. But, there was no “life.” There was nothing moving in the spiritual realm. You didn’t need the Holy Spirit for anything that happened that night at the assembly. It was dead. There was no life. It was simply program and activity. And, a vast majority of the people there – by the look on their faces and their lack of response – knew that “life” was not there.

This “life” must first be experienced by each leader in the leadership team before it will be felt or seen in the weekly gathering. You cannot export what you do not have and have not experienced. And, having met with the leadership team during my visit, I would say that it was not there either. So, each leader must work to connect with the Living God and experience “life” for themselves. Then we can work on the assembly experiencing life. This means each leader must make time to be with Jesus and grow a depth of intimacy with Him that they have yet to achieve and experience.

The Airport Ride – Part Two

On my way to the airport late on a Sunday night I was asked a question by the senior pastor of a church that I had been working with for two days. The question: “What is the role of the senior leader in a local church?”

This young leader has a good sized church with an active leadership and about 100 people attending. He has a well designed and implemented worship service geared very much like an American church service one might see in a larger church in that nation. And, he is wondering what his key role is in the church that he is leading.

The answer: I believe the most important role or function of the senior leader is to cast a vision for the people. This vision must first be of God. The Bible states, “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint.” The word translated “restraint” could also have been translated as “discouraged.” This ‘vision’ we are to have – cast by the senior leader – is first a vision of God.

We need to see our God for whom He is as revealed to us through the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus said, “If you have seen Me you have seen the Father” while talking to Philip. And, Jesus also said that His reason for coming was to ‘reveal the Father.’ So, we need to know our God. We need to know and be aware of His plans and His purposes. We need to know His heart for the lost. But, most of all, how powerful and loving He really is.

From this vision of God the local leader can then share the vision for the Kingdom worldwide. The Kingdom is bigger than the Church. The Kingdom has been established through the birth of Jesus, the King. And, according to the prophet Isaiah, the Kingdom will continue to grow and expand constantly. And, the Kingdom is the place where Jesus, the King, reigns. This Kingdom will be established in its fullness when Jesus returns. However, it is here now and a powerful reality.

Build upon this vision of God and His Kingdom is the vision of the Church that Jesus is building. Prophets today have the blueprint for the Church that Jesus is building (Matthew 16:18) and apostles, being master builders, know how to build it. So, a local leader will need to team up with an apostolic-prophetic team to bring the vision of the Church to their people. This is because the ministry of the apostle and prophet is foundational (Ephesians 2:20) and must be first and second in order in the new Church (1 Corinthians 12:28).

The local leader can then talk about and share the vision of the local church that he leads. Every local church has the same basic calling of “seeking and saving the lost” and “making disciples.” However, how this is accomplished and what the life of the local church is going to look like is all part of the vision of the local church. This vision must be built upon a vision of God, the Kingdom, and the Church that Jesus is building.

Then and only then can we share with each individual disciple of the Lord Jesus the vision for their call. Then and only then can we really focus on what the disciples of Jesus are called to do within the vision of the local church that they belong to and are a vital and active part of. Their call and vision for their life must fit within the vision of the local church where God has planted them. And, their ministry is there to help the local church complete the work it has been called to accomplish, not the other way around.

The issue is, as I explained to the leader on the way to the airport, that most churches and believers start with the vision for their own roll and call or ministry. It must never start there – it must always start with the vision of God and who He is. That is what the Bible states: “Where there is no prophetic vision (of God) the people cast off restraint.” It is foundational to everything else.

The Airport Ride – Part One

I was on my way to the airport recently when the pastor who was driving me began to ask some serious questions. I was tired. It was the end of two weeks of ministry. And, I was facing two full days of airport layovers and flights. However, his questions were important and I worked hard to stay focused and answer them as best I could.

He asked me what his focus should be with his leaders. I had spent half a day with them earlier and had been asked to speak on “Intimacy with God.” It had been a powerful morning session of worship, teaching, and prophetic ministry. Then a few hours of fellowship over a late restaurant lunch. So, I had some idea of who the leaders were and where they were at spiritually. My answer: That there was a need to work on character.

Often we have the gifts of the Spirit flowing, we have decent teachings, we have great worship, and the numbers attending can be substantial and enough to have a dynamic movement and growth. However, all believers, especially leaders, need to focus on their character.

The base of character in one’s life is the fruit of the Spirit as listed in Galatians 5:22-23. So, we need to focus on the fruit of the Spirit and see these aspects of one’s character grow and mature.

However, we also need to focus on a number of other “character traits” as seen in daily life… an examination of which would help him, as the senior leader, know the nature of the character of each of his leaders…

1> Fruitfulness – Does the person, by their lifestyle and testimony, see people come to Christ on a regular basis.

2> Faith – What is the person believing for. What are they believing God for that is impossible if God does not move on their behalf. Matthew 10:29 speaks of personal faith and applying one’s faith towards something.

3> Faithful – Is the person faithful to the call as a disciple and to the ministry they are fulfilling. Most importantly, are they faithful in their attendance at the local church where they are leaders.

4> Finances – Paul tells Timothy to pick men who are of good reputation inside and outside the local church. If a leader is not handling their finances correctly and has a bad reputation with local businesses and banks then this is a clear character issue as they are living beyond their means. The leaders, as with all true disciples, should also be tithing to the local church and giving over and above the tithe.

5> Friends – Who are their friends? Bad company corrupts good morals the Book of Proverbs states. So, to know what a person is like you should see who they consider as friends and who they hang out with when they have down time.

6> Fun – What does the person do for fun? How a person entertains themselves in their off time speaks loudly to their character.

7> Family – Are there good relationships within the family? Do they have a decent relationship with their family members – children, wife, and other relatives? If those closest to you do not love and respect you then there is an issue.

These are all additions to the first mentioned character issue – the fruit of the Spirit.

So, I examine or look for these 8 things when determining character. This is especially true regarding someone you are thinking of placing into leadership. However, all believers should focus on character issues. We become so focused on skills, abilities, giftings, and callings that we often fail to focus on those things which are more basic and seriously foundational.

More on my ride to the airport tomorrow….

Home and Preparing to Go To Armenia

It has been an amazing 18 days. I worked in four cities in Russia. I ministered to leaders and people from 12 churches. That count could be greater but these are the ones I specifically know of because I ministered to their leaders. I worked in several churches I had worked with last fall when I was in the area and a good number of new ones. As well, several new doors opened up for ministry in September when I will be back there doing more apostolic work.

The people were very receptive as they are extremely hungry – looking for life and truth and not just more religion. They listened, took notes, asked questions. Of course, many received prophetic words – and pastors who were not involved in the meetings would come during meals and between services asking to visit and receive a prophetic word. They wanted to hear from God and He did not disappoint them.

This was the “most apostolic” trip I have ever been on. The topics were apostolic and foundational; the work with the pastors (I lived with them in their homes and always had a car full when travelling the thousands of kilometres we drove) was direct to the heart and both revelatory and healing. The people wanted to know what Jesus was doing in the Kingdom and how they could be more involved. The leaders wanted to know more about Kingdom leadership and how to guide and direct the churches during this season. Some pastors spoke of leaving their religious organizations and starting new, fresh wineskins for the new wine.

And the young people. Every church had young people who want to move on with God and move as far away from religion as possible. I enjoyed my time with all of them – the children of the pastors I was working with, the church kids, youth groups, even young people visiting from other churches because they heard that I was going to be there. All amazing. All in love with Jesus. All wanting more of God and less of religion and all the programming and smoke and mirrors. I will be working with a good number of them over the coming months and years. Many have already connected.

For me this was the most fulfilling of all my trips over the past few years. It was the most “apostolic” in content, topics, and connections. I felt like God was doing something powerful and foundational. I sense now that it was much more focused than much of my previous work – there and everywhere. The Kingdom was first and the Church second. Because I had pastors travelling with me and forming my team for the trip it was also more personal and had a tremendous connectedness to every activity and place. Great changes came about as a result of having so much time together as we traveled and ministered.

A personal thanks to Sergei and Marina, Alexei, Andrei, Dana, Dima, Dennis and his leaders, Max, and Alina… And everyone else that I met with and those I came to know. Thanks to the leaders of Cornerstone for spending time together – and for the invitation to minister in September. You are going to be a powerful apostle-prophet team as you move into your joint calling. Miss you all already … Young people – continue to learn English and I will continue to work on my Russian.

Trip Coming To An End

Early morning here in Russia. Events last night ended at 1:30a local time Thursday and the trip to the airport started at 4:00a Short night – most likely a long day as I live the same 12 hours twice. Now in one of four Moscow international airports waiting for my flight – 7 hours between landing and taking off again. Then on the Frankfurt, Germany, Toronto, and then Regina. Home late Thursday night local time and noon Friday body time. If you have never had jet lag – the 12 hour variety – you don’t want to know what the first day home is like.

I am drinking a $9.00 coffee in the airport – nothing special, just airport prices. But there is wireless, it is quiet, no one is bothering me and I am not having to minister. Yesterday there were four different sets of pastors I met with – none of which were originally scheduled… so it was an extra busy day and somewhat heavy spiritually. But, I am here to give apostolic input and oversight and so I simply did what needed to be done. The September trip back to the same area (Yekenterinburg) has gained three churches I didn’t visit this time, a city-wide conference, and a lot of apostolic follow-up connected to this trip. I will also be running a three day seminar twice in two locations (cities). So, things are developing and multiplying in this ministry here. Connected to the trip will be a four day visit to Moscow to work there as well.

While here I have also been talking with Kyrgyzstan setting dates for November (October sees me in Marion, Ohio and in Denver, Colorado so the earliest available dates were in November and early December. That fills the year … with 4 or 5 invites still outstanding and needing scheduling. Certainly no shortage of work and I feel that much is being accomplished and many lives and churches are changing as they become more apostolic-prophetic and no longer pastoral … the church Jesus is building versus the one that man has built and controlled.

As well, I need to be focusing on writing more material. The demand and requests for written material is almost overwhelming. Material in Farsi, Armenian, Russian, and English, Spanish, and French. Another concern that needs to be solved. A series of opportunities that can be met – because nothing is impossible with God.

On arriving home I am preparing for a television show on Access Communications (province-wide) that will be taping the weekend after I am home. I will be doing a complete program on “rebellion and disobedience” with the opportunity to give my testimony as well. Please pray as I prepare and tape the show for summer broadcasting and rebroadcasting. As well, I will be just two and a half weeks away from leaving for Armenia and there is much to prepare before flying to Yerevan, the capital city through Toronto and Paris, France. Maybe God can add an extra day to each week, an extra week to each month or I simply need to find someone who can clone me. Kidding aside, these are great opportunities to minister God’s Word and set people free. Please pray!

Now that this trip is over I will be going back to regular blogs … on the Church, it’s DNA, and how to transform what is into what must be – the Church that Jesus is building. Hopefully it will start on Monday.

Blessed Are the Flexible

Last night did not turn out as planned. it was to be a night off. Instead we held a meeting for the elders in the first church I worked in when I arrived – the church in the city of Nagil. By 10:30 we were wrapping up. So much for a night to relax. The meeting was good however and much was accomplished.

This morning we drove from Nagil to Yekenterinburg – and took four hours to make the 90 minute trip. Traffic and road conditions. Then an hour to eat and the first service from 3:00to 5:00. A break and the second service from 7:00 to a little after 9:30p. Then some fellowship time with several people around the kitchen table.

Tomorrow (Wednesday here – after 11:00p there on Tuesday) I will be meeting for a second time with a pastor from this city. Two weeks ago he drove to Tagil and now we will meet here and continue our conversation. Then a service at 3:00 and straight through to 9:00p+ with a tea/coffee break… this with leaders and people here in this house church. I ministered here last year so this is my second visit in 7 months.

Hopefully early to bed as I have an early start for the airport – 3:30p Wednesday Central Canada time and 3:30a Thursday here Russian time. Long last day but I will be home hopefully by the end of it.

Please pray for our last day of services and my Russian team members who have been with me every day at every service ministering beside me. They have really grown and become very powerful prophetic ministers. Tomorrow I train a young man I ministered to the last time I am here and he was asking how he can grow in the prophetic – so I invited him to help. Picture above.

The Hard Part

I have now been in The Church of Jesus Christ here in Russia – the city of Lysva – for four days. I have heard much during all the meetings; I have sensed issued and foundational weakness in many things; I have seen (discerning of spirits) things as God sees them. There is much that needs to be discussed. The team met where I am staying and ate a late supper together and managed to sort through some things. But, Monday morning at 10:00 I meet with the local leadership team and they will be asking me what I saw, sensed, and know. I will need to word things carefully and watch reactions…

If things don’t change this church of 100+ will, at worse, cease to exist and, at best, have a church split (a third one in its short 24 year history. There is much that needs to be spoken of and many changes needed. And, as always, people are not always ready and willing to receive input and begin the process of change and improvement. It is going to be a very difficult first two hours as I am on my own to express things. Then at noon the team will join me and we will fellowship and discuss even more (there is unity in my team as to what needs to be said). Maybe if the key leader hears it from three or four of us it will sink in and be received. maybe! But people are somewhat unpredictable.

Then, after these two meetings (3:00p) we head to Tagil where I started this trip ministering 10 days ago. We will arrive at 7:00p and then some of us are going to an all-night shopping plaza to look around and see what it is like. Just trying not to sit and talk “business” really. maybe we can find some North American type ice cream and a good cup of coffee. Then a sleep and into the city of Yekenterinburg on Tuesday morning. I minister twice on Tuesday and three times on Wednesday before getting on an early flight from there to Moscow… the first of four flights on Thursday.

Please continue to pray – still much work to do and some of it is vitally important to the life of several churches and to the ministry of several team members whom I am also mentoring. Thanks for being a vital part of what is happening here.

Picture: Young man named Slava who received a powerful prophetic word from the Lord and whom I will be mentoring as he grows into what the Lord wants him to do in the Kingdom

Sunday in Russia

Sunday in Russia and it is still early. I am up as the floor is hard and the “mattress” thin… It is another cool day – yesterday was a very warm day and the first since I arrived. Back to overcast, cool, and rain it seems. I prefer cool as they heat their homes and buildings up to 26C+ and I just die. You open a window and everyone puts on a sweater or their coat. Hopefully the church building (see pictures) today will be a bit cooler.

They added one new event to the day. So, my day looks like:
10:00 breakfast meeting
11:00 Service until 2:00
2:00 meeting with the youth
3:30 lunch at a local restaurant (soup)
5:00 second service
8:00 late supper and meeting
11:00 bed

Somewhat normal. The youth meeting was added and I am glad. The Church of Jesus Christ that I am working with here until tomorrow at noon has a few youth. The majority of people are 50+. So, I wanted to encourage the youth and minister to them for a few minutes. It makes a really busy day but Gof’s grace is sufficient as always (picture of a youth named Max).

Monday I head to Taigil where I was a week ago for four days. it is a stop over for the night on my way to Yekenterinburg. I arrive in the latter on Tuesday morning and minister Tuesday and Wednesday to a house church before heading to the airport on Thursday at 4:00a. The trip is coming to a close – the end is in sight.

Please pray for Pastor Dima, Leo (rehab leader), Regina, and the other leaders here in the local church. pray for the youth – several of whom have just returned from compulsory military service (2 years) and are having some major adjustments – especially Timothy. Pray for Max as he is a young man just called out to be an apostle (in training) and he is a bit overwhelmed and reaching out for information, encouragement and support. I want to be a help when I can. Please pray for our safe travel on Monday (driving and roads here are seriously different than back home). We have a 4 hour trip – Sergei, Marina, Alexei, and myself (that has been my team for this entire trip).

Could you also pray for Faraz – he and his wife are from Iran and they have been living in Armenia for about two years. They are now at a decision point. They can’t stay much longer in Armenia as foreigners and they can’t return to Iran because they are born again believers. They have asked that we pray … I promised them that we would.

Your participation in this ministry is highly valued by me and those I am working with.