You Are God’s Gift – Part One

We are the Church. We don’t go to Church, we are the church. And since we are the church, God wants to use us to serve Him. And, we serve Him by serving others. We are His gift to the world which does not yet know Him. As we serve they see His love, His mercy, His forgiveness and will be drawn to Him.

And, He has given to us gifts that He wants us to use as we touch lives through serving. He wants us to use our gifts to strengthen the Body of Christ, the Church. And, of course, to reach out to others and fulfill the mandate of the Church to “make disciples of all nations.” 

God’s Word offers several different lists of spiritual gifts that God gives to people. One of my favourites is in Romans 12 – the motivational gifts that the Father gives to every human being. These are the gifts that determine who you are and what motivates you.

Paul tells the Roman Christians, “In His grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well (Romans 12:6 NLT). When you think about it, surely there are certain things that just naturally come easy to you. You’re wired to do things that other people can’t do, and they often admire that you can do those things.

Paul listed seven different gifts: “So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.” (Romans 12:6-8 NLT my emphasis)

You likely have at least one if not two of these gifts. One of the ways to discover and remember which gifts are yours … Imagine you’re at a table in a restaurant with your close friends, about to share a delicious dessert. You see one of your friends is about to stick their fork into their piece of cherry pie. As the fork descends towards the dessert, you notice that the plate is dangerously close to the edge of the table. Before you have time to warn them, they push their fork into the pie and it plops into their lap. What you do next might be a clue to your gift or gifts.….

      • Do you jump up and offer to help? Do you grab a napkin and rush to do whatever you can to clean up the mess? If so, you probably have the spiritual gift of serving.
      • Do you look at the poor victim and offer wise advice? “You know, there’s really a better way to eat pie. First, you should always keep it half an arm’s length from the edge of the table.” If you’re inclined to lead a Bible study on the subject, you might say, “You know, this incident reminds me of when Jesus gathered His disciples at a table. In fact, I discovered that the Greek word for table is…” If you find yourself offering instructions, you likely have the gift of teaching.
      • If you slap your leg, laugh out loud, and exclaim that you’ve done far dumber things, because you want to make your friend feel better about what happened, you probably have the gift of encouragement.
      • If you offer to buy your friend another piece of pie and then offer dessert to everyone else at the table, you can be pretty sure you have the gift of giving. (Or a sweet tooth and a giver’s heart).
      • If you start organizing a crew, getting everyone else to follow your detailed instructions to clean things up, you have the gift of leadership.
      • And if you look on and say, “Wow, I can’t believe you didn’t notice how close your plate was to the edge of the table. You should have seen that coming,” chances are that you have the gift of prophecy.

No matter what your gift, God has given it to you not just to make your life better but to serve Him and others in the Church and in your neighbourhood. If you are just going to church and not serving, I can promise you that God wants to do more in you and through you. 

God wants you to serve in His Church. His Church is a body. And every member, every part is important. So if you are a part of a local church but you’re not serving, then something God wants accomplished isn’t getting done. Because God wants to use everyone – and that includes you – to serve in His Church. Because we don’t go to church; we are the church.

God uses His Church to feed and nourish His people. God wants you to contribute, not just consume. Your spiritual food is to do the will of God and to finish the work of the One who sent you.

What are some ways you’re serving others in your community? In your church? Where – or whom – do you sense God calling you to serve next? 

On a notepad or in a journal, describe a couple of places or ways you believe God wants you to serve others and His Church?

The Burger King Church Culture 

All of us can be a bit self-centered. By nature, we are selfish people. Just think about it: you don’t have to teach a child to be selfish. Have you ever seen someone sit down with a two-year-old and say, “Sweetie, today I’m going to teach you to be selfish. It won’t be easy, but I think you’re old enough now to make the jump. So I just want you to hold this ball, and when I ask for it back, you scream as loud as you can, ‘Nooooo! Miiiine!’”

That’s never happened in the history of the would. When push comes to shove, as it often does, we all look out or number one – me, myself, and mine.

Not only do we have our sinfulness working against us, much of what we see in culture affirms our self-centred tendencies. Some argue that a massive cultural shift in 1973 changed everything and made being focused on self culturally acceptable and solidly confirmed as right and okay. You might not have been even close to being born then, but it was a change experienced by my generation. It was a major cultural climate change. A new perspective on life. 

For decades, if you wanted a hamburger at almost any fast food restaurant, it would come however that restaurant prepared burgers. If you didn’t like the tomatoes, you could take them off yourself. If they used mayonnaise and you preferred mustard, you were free to scrape off the mayonnaise as best you could and squirt a mustard happy face across the bun.

Perhaps the best-known fast food chain at the time, McDonald’s, had a song about one of their burgers. When you ordered a Big Mac, you got, “two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.” If you didn’t like the special sauce, the lettuce, the pickles, the onions, or the sesame seed bun (and trying to pick off the cheese was the worst), too bad for you. Why didn’t you order a Quarter Pounder instead? The song told you what you were getting. That’s how to burger was meant to be eaten.

Until the competition changed the rules.

In a move that rocked the fast food world, Burger King boldly declared that you had choices, options, decisions to make: if you wanted a burger, you could “have it your way!” You read that right. It was crazy! It was your burger, and you could choose what you wanted on it. No mayonnaise? No problem. No pickles? No big deal. No onions? No worries. Extra ketchup? You got it. Burger King even developed a song that, once you heard it, was stuck in your brain forever:

Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce,

special orders don’t upset us.

All we ask is that you let us serve you your way.

Have it your way.

Have it your way at Burger King.

And the self-centered, consumer-is-king mindset spread like wildfire. There was a new sheriff in town who was always right – you.

You deserve it.

You’re worth it.

Get what you want.

Enjoy life your way.

It’s natural in our world (and even today in the Church) to want it our way, and Burger King nailed it, even if it was just a smart marketing move. According to Jesus, life (and Church) is not all about us, and everything in culture tries to tell us that it is. Without realizing what a rabid monster we’d unleashed, we became more obsessed with self than ever before. 

One of the quickest ways to forget about God is to be consumed with self. It is also one of the fastest ways to destroy the Church. Jesus had pretty direct works for those who wanted to follow Him. He said, “Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). We are called not to celebrate, promote, or advance ourselves but to deny ourselves. To pick up our cross, to suffer through not having everything our way, to die to our selfish tendencies.

God wants us to have it HIS way.

And we’re not talking burgers. 

“Yes, But…?”

I connect with believers every day. Even when I am not on the road ministering my “office time” is usually absorbed by connecting with people. I love it. After all, ministry is about people. So, as I sit in my sunny office in the morning I connect with people through emails, texts, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber, Instagram, Twitter, iMessage, and FaceTime. Topics vary. People are looking for help. A prophetic word. Some information. Planning of a future trip when flights go back to normal (hopefully). Just to touch base with a person who cares because they are on lockdown like most of the world. Some people are connecting because we are friends and so keep in touch on a regular basis regardless of where life is taking us. You get the idea. 

I also hear from leaders and believers who want to share what is happening in their lives and ministries. That’s good. I want to know. I care. And, I read a limited number of “Christian” newsfeeds. I don’t read or watch or listen to anything anyone “forwards” to me. If I didn’t ask for it, I don’t have the time or the interest to work with it. 

In the midst of these connections with leaders and believers I hear about the “Christian” conspiracy theories. I hear that people are focusing just on prayer and no longer teaching on the Church, the fivefold ministry, or other topics. Just prayer. I relate to people who are convinced that ‘the government’ is behind the Coronavirus pandemic. All night soaking meetings of worship and prayer. “Burn” meetings. That we need to fight the demonic powers that are preventing Christians being free to minister and preach – especially in the prisons during the COVIT-19 outbreak. Christian television and radio and the deception and false teachings propagated through this segment of the media. Prophetic words being declared. Prophecy being examined and interpreted in light of the pandemic. The anti-christ that is now loose on the planet.  And, on the list could go. 

This goes on even when we are not in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. Believers, churches, denominations, movements … the focuses are constantly changing. There is an old or new bandwagon for us all to jump on (Toronto Blessing, Bethel…). There are church planting movements where we franchise out a form of planting and running a church (MacChurch franchises). 

I sit back as all of this swirls around me. I have been in ministry for over 50 years. I have seen a lot of this many times over … it is like the waves on a beach. New programs. New methods. New presentations. New television shows. New ways to communicate. They just keep coming. New outreach methods. New worship styles. New dress code for with-it senior leaders. And, each wave continues to keep us focused on something other than what Jesus told us to do. Jesus gave a mandate to the Church. Marching orders to His arm. He said, “Go into all the world and make disciples…”

So, as I hear about all this “stuff” going on and everything that people are focusing on I have to ask myself, “Yes, But…” 

Yes, but how is this helping people to know the love of God?

Yes, but  how is this increasing the influence of the Church in the world?

Yes, but is this really training and equipping the saints for the work of ministry?

Yes, but how is this helping people to be born again?

Yes, but how is this working to move people forward in their walk with Jesus?

Yes, but, what about discipling?

Yes, but what about being salt and light, impacting your community?

Yes, but how is this communicating the life-changing gospel of the Kingdom?

Yes, but how is this in any way impacting the culture?

Much of what we do today in and with the church is seriously just maintenance and not ministry. We are maintaining the sheep – caring for them, loving them, making sure they are comfortable. Real ministry is reaching out to the lost as Jesus did on a daily basis. And, while doing so, discipling those closest to us. Again, as Jesus did. If what we are spending our time on does not encourage and strengthen our evangelistic outreach, it is not the right focus. If what we are doing simply occupies the believer’s time and energy taking them away from building relationships in their community … then we are simply spinning our wheels and playing church. 

So, I am constantly asking myself, “Yes, but…” 

In fact, I have become bold and have begun to ask those I am communicating with, “Yes, but…” and the responses are interesting. Very interesting. And, there is a lot of silence and fewer long conversations. But, that’s okay.

In your walk with the Lord it might be good to occasionally ask yourself, “Yes, but …” what difference is ‘this’ (you fill in the blank _______________)  making in my life, the life of the church I attend,  and the life of others who don’t know Jesus?

The answer – if you are being honest – might cause you to pause and reexamine your Christian experience. I hope it does!

What’s The Question?

A note from a pastor I recently read…

Something just happened that made me stop and think. I was sitting in my office, typing away, when Package Delivery Guy dropped off a package. (I know his name but I’m guarding his anonymity). I like this guy a lot. I see him often, and he’s really cool, but he just said something that makes my skin crawl.

Package Delivery Guy told me, “I finally found me a good church.” (This is after several years of church hopping and shopping.) “All the other ones didn’t meet my needs, but this one does.”

Why would I shutter at that statement? Think about it. I’ve heard it hundreds of times: I’m looking for a church that meets me needs.

Can you admit for a moment how incredibly unbiblical that statement is? When did we, as Christ followers, start to think that the Church exists for us? When did we forget that we are the church? And that we’re here for the world?

Here’s our problem … Christians have become spiritual consumers – observers, not participants

Here’s the solution … Stop observing and get in the game. Reach out. Use your gifts. Give recklessly. Serve passionately. Make a difference!

Love those whom others reject, even those who aren’t like us – especially those who aren’t like us. Love not only nonbelievers, but also “second-class Christians.” Jesus did; so should we.

The Church is not here for us. We are the Church, and we are here for the world. When I ask church people to serve somewhere, I often receive a polite, “I’ll pray about it, Pastor.” (Which generally means, “Oh, crap. I don’t want to do that, but I’ll say something spiritual that may buy me time to plan my excuse.”)

I love the story about the guy who waited patiently in line to greet his pastor one Sunday after the sermon. “Pastor,” this eager, sincere Christ followers said, “I have only one thing to tell you. My answer is yes. Now, what’s the question?”

The pastor looked at him, confused, and smiling awkwardly, fell back upon the pastor’s safety net: “God bless you.” The pastor politely brushed the man off and turned to greet the next parishioner.

The next week, the same guy waited in line and repeated the same words. “Pastor, my answer is yes. Now, what’s the question?”

The pastor pondered this enigma. Wanting to get to the bottom of it, he invited the young man to lunch. Over a midweek meal, the young man once again blurted out the intriguing mantra: “Pastor, my answer is yes. Now, what’s the question?”

Finally overcome with curiosity, the pastor asked, “Can you please tell me what you mean by that?”

The young man smiled and, with passion, began, “Pastor, I was hooked on everything bad, about to lose my family, sliding down a slippery slope toward certain destruction. Then Jesus intervened.” Tears welled up in his eyes. “Because of what Jesus did for me, my answer to you in yes. You are my pastor, and I’ll do whatever you need.

“If you want me to rock babies, I’ll rock babies. If you want me to usher, I’ll usher. If you want me to mow the churchyard, I’ll be there at 6:00 a.m. every Saturday. My answer to you will always be yes. Now, what’s the question.?”

When it comes to your church (assuming you have one), what’s your answer? Is it, I’ll pray about it, while you look for an escape? Or is it …

Yes?

Act In Faith

Here is a truth to remember: You can’t play it safe and act in faith at the same time.

At a meeting of church leaders in the late 1700’s, a newly ordained minister stood to argue for the value of overseas missions. He was abruptly interrupted by an older minister who said, “Young man, sit down! You are an enthusiast. When God pleases to convert the heathen, he’ll do it without consulting you or me.”

The reason that attitude is inconceivable today is largely due to the subsequent efforts of that young man, William Carey. Carey worked in various jobs to support his family while he continued to educate himself, even teaching himself New Testament Greek. In 1792 he organized a missionary society, and at the first gathering he preached a sermon with the call: ”Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.” Within a year, Carey, his family, and some like-minded daring people were on a ship headed for India.

In many ways, Carey was a catalyst for change, helping to inspire a big-thinking, risk-taking, faith-filled approach to modern missions. He served the rest of his life in India at a time where there was no modern travel or communication systems. He was a minister, a translator, social reformer and cultural anthropologist who founded the Serampore College and the Serampore University, the first degree-awarding university in India. Carey even translated the Bible into Bengali, Oriya, Marathi, Hindi, Assamese, and Sanskrit. He also translated parts of it into twenty-nine other languages and dialects. He helped educate horticulturists, which raised the quality and productivity of the nation’s agricultural industry. His life was a living, breathing example that big things happen when we expect great things from God and attempt great things for God.

Our tendency is to make decisions that we are comfortable with, to play it safe and do only what we feel is rational. But God has called us to acts of faith. We’re not meant to spend our lives as mere observes and spectators who hang out in the bleachers and offer commentary as world everts play out in front of us. We’re here to engage potential, explore possibilities, and act in faith. 

Scripture tells us, “we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved” (Hebrews 10:39). If you’re a Jesus follower, this applies to everything God has for you. When you have challenges, setbacks, even failures and mess-ups, you are not meant to be like those who shrink back. No, you are meant to take on the challenge and push through resistance that tries to contain you.

God has something for you to do for Him and needs you to keep walking by faith. Remind yourself that big things happen when you act in faith. Keep going big. Keep believing in what you don’t see. Pray bold prayers. Your life story will be dramatically different with acts of faith. Doors will open that would otherwise stay closed. Relationships with like-minded people and God-assigned connections will happen that would have otherwise never happened. When you live out of faith and not in fear, you will accomplish more, experience greater fulfillment, and leave a lasting legacy. 

Rather than seeing a need, you may start to see the opportunity. Rather than just thinking, Why doesn’t someone do something?, You may find yourself saying, I’m going to do something. 

Expect great things from God and attempt great things for God. You won’t regret it!

 

A Time …

During my last apostolic trip into the United States to minister I was involved in the final transition of a local congregation. This church which had been ministering for the Lord for over 50 years in the valley in which it was located had come to an end of its life and needed to be closed.

Often a church that starts with a tremendous move of the Spirit and a flow of life – God’s life – touching and transforming lives finds itself in a situation where that ‘life-flow’ is no longer there. Oh, there are always numerous reasons for the decline but regardless it reaches a point where the congregation, the local assembly of believers, simply need to recognize that this ‘life / zoe’ is simply no longer there and we are going through the motions of a weekly worship service without seeing lives changed or new people born again and saved. Often that realization comes along with the practical issue of the congregation no longer being financially viable.

In this case we – the three apostles who oversaw the work – knew that the time had come. And, we knew we were responsible to move into this “death stage” with grace and love. So we began negotiating with another church in the same area that has been doing a fantastic job of reaching the lost and especially touching the lives of the young people. 

With the help of the Holy Spirit we came to an agreement to pass the ownership of the building (fully paid for) and parking lot and adjoining park as well as all the contents of the building (substantial) to this other active and alive assembly. We gifted it to them. 

We initiated the conversation and they responded. And the move we made and finalized a few days ago was confirmed by several visions (dreams) received several years ago and then further confirmed by several prophetic words from prophets in two different states who called after-the-fact and let us know that what we had accomplished was God’s will. God had showed them that a major change was going without them having any idea what was happening or when it took place. 

So, we scattered the remaining sheep, releasing them to attend other churches as the Lord leads them. Never easy because we all love and care for one another. Of course, we can continue to fellowship with each other no matter what local church family each one ends up becoming a part of. And, we recognized the work of those who came before us who in many ways sacrificed so that the Gospel of the Kingdom was faithfully preached and people were reached. 

And, the new owners of the building will continue the ministry to the valley as they open a new chapter in the life of a building that people call a “church.” 

I understand that this has not been easy on those involved. But, it is the right move. To be blunt, “If the horse is dead, dismount.” And so we did.

But the Church of Jesus Christ has not suffered defeat. She continues on with new direction, new understanding, and a renewed vision, and new leadership to further reach to the ends of the earth with the good news of the gospel.

The other thing I heard as I was leaving the building and getting into my car was “Well, done good and faithful servants.” The Lord is pleased with the faithfulness of those who were part of this amazing family to which we bid goodbye.

Four Things God’s Love Won’t Hold Against You

Do you ever question whether or not you are good enough to be a Christian, or holy enough to be loved by God? Well, here are four things God’s love won’t hold against you.

1> Your Past

Relax. You have already been forgiven. When it comes to a relationship with Jesus, don’t ever expect to run into resentment for Christ Himself. The future looks brings for all those willing to walk in the light of His presence. Jesus will forgive you all of your past, even if you have yet to forgive yourself.

Romans 6:6 ESV “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.”

2> Your Mistakes

We’ve all made mistakes, but the beauty of the cross is that Jesus died for them. Your sins have been wiped clean, and your heart has been renewed by the grace of Jesus Himself. Your mistakes do not define you. Your failures don’t have to haunt you. Your mishaps don’t need to be accounted for. God forgives you for your mistakes, even if you have yet to forgive yourself.

Mark 3:28 ESV “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter…”

3> Your Confusion

It’s okay to be hurt, confused, and question what taking place. God understands everything you are going through, even if you do not. He can take the punches, if you will take the time to seek His guidance. The reality of your confusion may be due to a lack of biblical knowledge or spiritual guidance. Confusion comes and goes, but the love of God is eternal and constant.

Proverbs 2:6 NIV “For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”

4> Your Addictions

Everyone is addicted to something. No matter if your struggle is drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography, or whatever. Your addictions will not keep the relentless love of Jesus from embracing you. Take a deep breath and find peace in knowing that you are not alone or ignored.

Romans 5:20 ESV “Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more…”

There you have it. Four things God’s love will never hold against you. Embrace His love and experience freedom and peace of heart and mind.

Born Again or Bored Again

The Barna Group found that 68% of unbelievers would describe Christians as boring. I can’t handle that statistic. Jesus was many things, but boring was not one of them.

  • Boring people don’t have five thousand followers flocking to hear their boring message
  • Boring people don’t get approached at weddings to make the party better
  • Boring people don’t get crucified for their boring beliefs
  • Boring people aren’t greeted with palm branch parades when they enter cities
  • Boring people don’t inspire martyrs to give up everything for their boring cause
  • Boring people don’t change the world

My point is simple: Our God is not boring!

The world altered its calendar and gauged human history by everything before Christ (BC) and after Christ (AD). His life made a mark. His life made a difference. His life was everything but boring.

So obviously the question is: If the Christ we follow isn’t boring, why in the world are we?

If you look around at those who claim to follow Jesus – believers – they really are generally very boring. They lack angst. They lack a faith that cost them anything. But, I think the situation is far worse than it looks.

I don’t think Christians are just boring. I think Christians are bored.

I think many older Christians were once born-again Christians and now they are just bored-again Christians. They are waiting on the next message, the next conference, the next experience that will ignite their faith. All the while the Great Commission is at their doorstep. The reality is, we are bored because we are disobedient. I bet painters that don’t paint are bored. I bet dancers who don’t dance are bored. I bet writers who don’t write are bored. And I am convinced that disciples that don’t disciple are bored (and boring).

There is a true story I read just a few days ago. It is about a dog named DeSoda. When the owner’s children were young, he got them a puppy. This puppy, like all puppies, had a ton of energy and lacked a lot of wisdom. DeSoda always tried to run away when the door opened, always tried to jump on any stranger who walked in the home, and always barked obnoxiously. Then a decade went by. DeSoda was now an old dog and no longer a young puppy. His energy was gone. He desire for adventure was gone. Heck, he didn’t even care when a stranger walked in the house. He would just lift his head from the mat, give them a nod, and go back to sleep. In dog years, DeSoda was really old. The family was pretty sure he was going to die soon.

So the kids, now young teenagers, asked their dad, “Dad! Dad! Can we please have a new dog? DeSoda is so boring now! He never plays with us anymore. He just wants to sit around the house all day.”

The Dad conceded and got the family a new puppy. And the process repeated itself. The new puppy, Beau, had a ton of energy and no wisdom. Except one difference was, their puppy Beau had DeSoda to show him the way. Beau and DeSoda became really good friends; they were like peas and carrots. All the puppy passion and energy in Beau would get DeSoda to do things he normally wouldn’t do. DeSoda was playing outside again. He was modelling for Beau where to go to the bathroom. DeSoda was now wrestling with Beau. He had a renewed energy, and the kids could tell.

The dad noted, “The crazy thing is we thought DeSoda was going to die that year. It just wasn’t looking good for him. But he ended up living four more years. And I’m convinced it was because of Beau.” Then he said a profound thing we have all heard before but never in this way. He said, “You may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but you can give an old dog a new purpose.”

I just wonder how many old dogs in the Church are bored out of their minds, and their lives would be radically changed if they’d just find a young puppy.

That is what the Great Commission is all about. “Old disciple, go into all the world and make a new disciple (or two). Find a puppy and end boredom.”

THE LIGHTHOUSE …

On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur there was once a crude little lifesaving station.  The building was just a hut, and there was only one boat, but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea, and with no thought for themselves went out day and night tirelessly searching for the lost.  Many lives were saved by this wonderful little station, so that it became famous.  Some of those who were saved, and various others in the surrounding area, wanted to become associated with the station and give of their time and money and effort for the support of its work.  New boats were bought and new crews trained.  The little lifesaving station grew.

    Some of the members of the lifesaving station were unhappy that the build­ing was so crude and poorly equipped.  They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge of those saved from the sea.  So they re­placed the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture in the en­larged building.  Now the lifesaving station became a popular gathering place for its members, and they decorated it beautifully and furnished it exquisitely, because they used it as a sort of club.  Fewer members were now interested in going to sea on lifesaving missions, so they hired lifeboat crews to do this work.  The lifesaving motif still prevailed in this club’s decoration, and there was a liturgical lifeboat in the room where the club initiations were held.  About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boatloads of cold, wet, and half-drowned people.  They were dirty and sick, and some of them had black skin and some had yellow skin.  The beautiful new club was in chaos.  So the property 

committee immediately had a shower at house built outside the club where victims of shipwreck could be cleaned up before coming inside.

   At the next meeting, there was a split in the club membership.  Most of the members wanted to stop the club’s lifesaving activities as being unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal social life of the club.  Some members insisted upon lifesaving as their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a lifesaving station.  But they were finally voted down and told that if they wanted to save the lives of all the various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own lifesaving station down the coast. They did.

As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old.  It evolved into a club, and yet another lifesaving station was founded.  History  continued to repeat itself, and if you visit that sea coast today, you will find a number of exclusive clubs along that shore.  Shipwrecks are frequent in those waters, but most of the people drown! 

Let’s Get Biblical

In a recent discussion I mentioned that the word “revival” did not appear in the New Testament. It may be there as a heading in certain versions of the Bible but the headings were added by men and are not part of the inspired Word of God. We were looking at the way we as human beings attempt to make things happen instead of just waiting on the Lord and responding to what He is currently doing. And, He is always doing something in our lives and church assemblies.

So, I was commenting that revivals are not found in the New Testament and that the early believers simply lived radical and revolutionary lives, sharing the good news with people and the Holy Spirit moved in amazing ways. A God-wave of the Spirit verses a man-made wave or emotion and hype that we call revival.

As I shared someone asked about Charles Finney, known as a revivalist, and his revivals. I mentioned that they were called Awakenings not revivals. But, really that was not an adequate answer. A better answer would be to go back to Bible once again. In the Bible we do not see the role of “revivalist.” We have five main ministries – apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher. These are the fivefold ministry or the ascension gift ministries Jesus gave to the Church. They represent the fullness of Jesus’s ministry while ministering for three years in Galilee. It seems we don’t think they are enough so we invent other ministries – revivalist, intercessor, burden bearers, exorcists, priests, and the list goes on.

So, man has made up the term ‘revivalist’ just as we have created this vehicle called “revivals.” We even schedule revivals. They last several weeks and run in the summer. They are a means to bring the lost into the Kingdom. The Old Testament revivals had nothing to do with the lost – they were simply to call God’s people back to God. A call to repent. John the Baptist had such a ministry as the Old Covenant was coming to a close and Jesus was about to start the new covenant between the human race and God our Father. We call it a revival. John saw it as a call to repentance.

So, in church life today we have youth revivals, laughing revivals, prayer revivals, tent revivals, church revivals, spring revivals, fall revivals… One church I visited recently has every Friday night revivals with coffee and cookies nonetheless. Add to the revivals such events as “Burn” nights of worship that have sprung up all over North America. There are a vast number of man-made events that continue to pop up and occupy a great deal of the limited time people have today. It keeps the believers busy and occupied, feeling good about what they are doing for God and the Kingdom.

It might be good to cut back on these events that we don’t see in the New Testament Church. Recognize them as religion for in many ways that is what they are. Our attempt to please God and convince Him to do something that we think needs to be done. And, then, free up the believers to become involved in what the Lord has expressly told us that we must do.

He told us to “seek and save the lost” going “into all the world and making disciples.” This, in most cases, is not the focus of believers and the local assembly. We are busy instead waiting and praying for the next move of the Spirit. When, in reality, He is busy moving the hearts of the lost, convicting them of sin so that they would respond and repent and come into the Kingdom. We need to join Him in what He is already doing and commanded us to do … and that is biblical.

It would be good to look at and examine what we believe and what we are doing in our churches to see if it is really biblical. So much of what we do and the activities that we can become involved in are simply man-made programs in an attempt to have a move, a new wave, of the Spirit. Let’s just build deep in our relationship with the Lord and obey Him as we go about our daily lives. Opportunities abound to build solid relationships within which we can then share the Gospel. This is what the Lord is calling all of us to do.

Some are writing on Facebook that revival is here. It is not. Some are constantly praying for revival. Not the way they happen. If you want a revival then go out and do what Jesus told us to do. Get a few people born again, begin to disciple them, and watch how that revives your love for Him and commitment to His command to make disciples in your family and community and even the wider world.