church

For the inaugural podcast of The RIFT Online Church, the Lord led me to Ezekiel 37 in regard to the coming move of God that so many of us have been waiting for.

There are many of you living in what looks like defeat and reproach, but God is overturning it to bring you into your intended purpose.

Do you want your vision to really grow?

“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” –Proverbs 29:18

There is a direct correlation between a righteous lifestyle and clarity of vision. I know, preachers, you love to use this verse to convince the people that they need to be under your vision in order to achieve their destiny, but that’s not what this verse is dealing with.

While your vision as a leader may be instrumental to their walk, there is a vision God intended for their life, their family, their career, their influence in the world. Your highest function as their leader after watching for their soul is not to find some clever way to cajole or manipulate them into fulfilling your vision, bt rather equipping them to insure the fulfillment of theirs.

Oh, shepherds of the house of the most high! How long will you preach on the value of serving and not serve the underlying purpose for which God brought those people to you in the first place? Do you not see how great a sin there is in serving yourself?

If you only knew how your vision would grow if you would but repent of this.

Your children will tell on you!

As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate. (Psalm 127:4-5)

Many of the principles that apply to our natural children hold true when it comes to our spiritual offspring. They are indeed our fruit, and bear seed for the next generation. In both cases, our influence helps to shape the kind of people they will become, for good or ill. An apple tree may not appear as such to the untrained eye, at least not until it produces some fruit. Likewise, there are often aspects of our purpose, our vision, and even our character that may not become apparent until it finds expression in our spiritual children. Furthermore, just as new strains and varieties of apple may come forth from later generations descended from that same tree, there can be characteristics, good, and bad which may not show up until our spiritual offspring have had a chance to produce some of their own.
I do not resemble either of my parents. In fact, when my brother and I once worked at the same facility, our co-workers had originally thought we were friends because we share no resemblance at all. However, I have been told that I am nearly identical in many ways to my grandfather. I did not grow around him and only saw him for a few days during a trip to Puerto Rico when I was three years old. Nevertheless, I smile, laugh, talk, and walk like him, I have been told, and share the same height. Unfortunately, I also apparently inherited his unique gift for exaggeration, and the Lord dealt with me for years until I finally broke the habit. At the same time, I am persuaded that there was an anointing upon his life that was passed on to me that has, in my life, found expression.
These things I say both as encouragement and admonition to those of you called to lead God’s people in whatever way He has called you, that there may be some beautiful things that Lord will do through the people you serve, so take care how you prepare your arrows. Likewise, let us ever be mindful of our influence that we prepare them well, not only for their immediate role in the vision God has given us, but also for the specific call upon their life.
In this respect so many of us in leadership find ourselves guilty of a truly heinous crime: we have, in many cases, developed people only just enough to be of immediate usefulness to our vision, our ministries, and sometimes even our own personal agendas. I once knew a leader who had in his church at least 5 people called to function as apostles, and more than a dozen called to be leaders with their own ministries, but he would not disclose this to any of them,and used a variety of tactics to actually prevent their further development. He was known to frequently say “Don’t get too hot, because I got some wet blankets.”
In his case much of the motivation for this was simple jealousy arising from an incident in years’ past when a trusted minister actually attempted to take over the church. Because of this, a powerfully anointed man of God called to raise up many leaders and bring clarity, focus and consecration to many others became jealous and controlling, and this eventually robbed his ministry of much of its potential.
What can we learn from this? Arrows are made for shooting. When God gives spiritual children to care for, it is our sacred duty to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and to release them into His purpose. That purpose may involve continuing to be a part of the work He gave us to do, or it my very well involve them picking up and heading to some remote corner of the globe, but whichever it may be, we had better shoot that arrow, and mind our aim when we do.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)

A great deal of what God has called us to do in the lives of His people is to provide them with guidance. In modern terms, think of your spiritual children as smart bombs and you’re God’s ballistics engineer installing the guidance systems. Remember, that we are to train them in the way they should go. God has not called to raise spiritual couch potatoes, He has called us to raise up a people who will do His will. Part of our own walk of faith is trusting God enough to let our “kids” grow up and move on, even if that means they must leave our church or ministry and seek out a purpose that is divergent from that of our own call.
All this having been said, what testimony will your spiritual offspring bear? Will they resemble you in deep consecration, or in having none at all? Will they preach a word in season, inspired by God and full of His power, or will they have empty words full of men’s wisdom? Never forget that a father will often gain most of his honor through his sons. Abraham was the father of the faith, but he never conquered Canaan, but David did. David conquered the Promised Land in a way that even Joshua did not, but he could not build the Temple, that was given to Solomon to accomplish. Generations later, the great Promise was fulfilled by Jesus Christ.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phillipians 2:5-11)
God’s glory in redeeming man from the Fall was accomplished and expressed through His Son, and we as leaders ought to always bear in mind that Christ is to be our example in all things. Let us then therefore humble ourselves, be obedient unto death, deny ourselves the questionable privilege of personal agendas, and shoot the arrows the Lord gives us, that we may see God’s glory manifested as He has purposed.

Points for Consideration:

1.What are some ways in which you can improve your aim with the “arrows” God has given you?

2. Consider the people God has given you to lead, or called you to lead, and prepare a definitive outline for their spiritual development.

3. Take some time to consider a particular person under your care, and pray about their specific development and what the Lord would have you do to to give them direction.

4.Do you plan for the future development of the budding leaders in your midst? If so, name 5 elements of how you intend to develop them, and determine whether in truth such development has been progressing. If not, prayerfully consider what the Lord would have you to do in the interest of specific discipleship for His people.

Church growth blues…

Leaders, it’s foolishness to complain about people not wanting to ‘sit under’ your leadership when your church is full of people whose life has no genuine direction outside of whatever role you’ve assigned them in furthering YOUR personal agenda of ministerial ambition. God may send some to specifically help with your vision, but most people will be sent to receive guidance for theirs. Until you can recognize that God’s ‘big picture’ is bigger than yours, don’t expect your church to grow much spiritually or numerically.
#apostleship #lead4real

Think you’re not traditional?

For the first 300 years of the church, there were no church buildings, no professional class of clergy, no Sunday worship, no Easter… these things came into play when Constantine hijacked the religion, blended it with the pagan Roman religion, of which he was Pontifex Maximus. Does that title sound familiar?

Yet today, we place so much emphasis on these traditions, to the extent that we will actually refuse to fellowship with people who don’t conform to them…

Spiritual authority?

You will never have to lecture people about your spiritual authority as a congregational leader if your character commands respect and inspires trust.

Preacher, work harder on YOU than you work on your sermons, and you’ll stop struggling to lead.

A season for breakthrough?

Prophets, have you been telling people that THIS is the year of breakthrough for decades while the only people getting a ‘breakthrough’ are you, by way of the larger offerings excited (and gullible) people give?

Come on, folks. Wise up. You’re still broke, year after year listening to these charlatans. Keep your money and do something useful with it. When Isaac sowed in a time of famine, he sowed into HIS OWN BUSINESS, not into some preacher’s pocket. That’s where YOUR hundred fold increase is, in the stewardship of your own house, not in someone else’s. It’s good to give, and God will bless you for it, but please use better judgment in your giving.

Your vision should be bigger than you

One of the reasons people leave churches is that our basic paradigm of what constitutes a church is fundamentally flawed. We tend to build an organization rather than a community, an institution rather than an embassy of the kingdom. Because of this kind of focus, the foundation of a ministry is usually centered around one person, who will usually style themselves as some sort of visionary, when all the while they are blind to the fact of their lack of omnipresence. No real vision from God is ever intended to be confined to your preaching, teaching, and plans… in fact, a genuine vision from God will make it necessary for you to be inadequate to meet its needs and carry out its mission. Moses led Israel out, but they had to be trained for war, and Moses did NONE of the fighting. This never means you should lay every burden on the people, but rather that you are intended to so equip them and intercede for them that victory is inevitable.

 

Old Testament vs New Testament prophets?

Some will say that the ‘Old Testament’ prophet was more predictive, or that New Testament Prophet is really just in place to confirm things God has already told you. However, the NT prophet isn’t always just in place to confirm. I’ve often told people things they had no clue were going to happen, usually with them insisting I was wrong until it came to pass. John, the writer of Revelation, wrote a whole book of predicting prophecies. The prophecy of Agabus in Acts 21 wasn’t a confirmation to the disciples; the narrative makes it clear that they didn’t know until then that Paul was headed for more trouble than usual at Jerusalem.

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Real faith, right now

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

–Hebrews 12: 2

Faith is not the ability to believe that God will do some particular thing or answer some particular request, but rather it is the ability to believe that God will always do what is best.

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God does NOT clear the guilty

And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. 6 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, 7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty ; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’ children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

–Exodus 34: 5-7

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There are no idle details in the Bible

For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:

–Isaiah 28:10

The written Word of God was established as a witness to mankind of God’s purpose, plan, and design, and as such, there is no part of it that is unimportant, trivial, or meaningless. Some may challenge this by reciting some passage or other that may not be readily understood by this or that person, or even passages which seem to merely record lineage, names, and seemingly minor events. However, passages containing family histories can contain some interesting, as well as revealing, facts.

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There are no idle details in the Word of God

For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:

–Isaiah 28:10

The written Word of God was established as a witness to mankind of God’s purpose, plan, and design, and as such, there is no part of it that is unimportant, trivial, or meaningless. Some may challenge this by reciting some passage or other that may not be readily understood by this or that person, or even passages which seem to merely record lineage, names, and seemingly minor events. However, passages containing family histories can contain some interesting, as well as revealing, facts.

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Turnover in the Kingdom: Fruit that doesn’t remain.

For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

–Hebrews 5:12-14

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Integrity doesn’t just slip…

Integrity is more than just avoiding the various pitfalls of obvious sin, though it is difficult to overstate the need for a holy life. Some of us are good at avoiding the more flagrant kinds of sin, but still allow room for seemingly minor (and yet often no less problematic) lapses of conduct, conscience and composure to occur. In Solomon’s case, the slide into flagrant disobedience began immediately after he used deception to take revenge on Shimei in 1 Kings 2. David had promised not to kill Shimei for cursing him years ago, and he instructed Solomon:

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Rob Bell and the Gospel without Convictions

Rob Bell has now told Christians to ‘adapt or die.’ Now, I don’t like the term ‘evangelical,’ since it is now almost exclusively used instead of ‘Christian,’ and for good reason, and even in the rising debate concerning morality and homosexuality in the context of Christianity, this very distinction has gone entirely unnoticed. While many are freaking out over Bell’s latest departure from sound doctrine, they fail to notice that as a whole, even we who are of a more conservative bent have already given up so much ground just in the acceptance of the term blanket term ‘evangelical,’ which I believe is a strong indicator of where we are in our stand for the cause of the gospel.

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A quick thought for church planters…

“Gather before me seventy men who are recognized as elders and leaders of Israel. Bring them to the Tabernacle to stand there with you.”
–Numbers 11:16
Church planting rule #2 – It’s not about YOUR vision. It never was, never will be. When Moses brought Israel out of Egypt, it wasn’t about his plans, his vision, or his ideas. It was, in fact, about God and HIS people. When you can release ownership of the vision to God, not only will he release the help you will need, but the responsibility of leadership will go from being a yoke to being a mantle.

A word on Integrity

Now if you walk before Me as your father David walked, in integrity of heart and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded you, and if you keep My statutes and My judgments, then I will establish the throne of your kingdom over Israel forever, as I promised David your father, saying, ‘You shall not fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.’ (1 Kings 9:4-5)

David had some problems, most notably in regard to the matter of Uriah the Hittite (2 Samuel 11). However, aside from that very notable and consequently destructive misconduct, David had walked in integrity. For the purpose of this writing, it is this we shall focus on. However, before we delve into the matter of personal and ministerial integrity, let us more carefully examine the above passage.

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Church, or Christ?

“No man can come to me, except the Father who has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.”
-John 6:44

Leaders, we sometimes come up with a great number of reasons why people leave our churches, or why they just don’t come in the first place. I charge you today to lay aside your light shows, dance troops, Youth Disco Nights, and whatever else you’ve concocted to try to be ‘relevant,’ and come to the realization that what the unsaved soul needs is not Madison Avenue tactics or Seeker Friendly services and a pretty barista at the coffee lounge, but a genuine REVELATION of Christ that can only come when you stop being a better you and start surrendering your opinions, ideas, ambitions, and strategies in favor of a consecration that will unveil the Father to a world blinded by sin and draw them not to your church, but to the Son who paid the price for their redemption.

I’m climbing on this train. Are you?

#Lead4Real #apostleship

Safe, or dangerous?

It is essential that a church be more than a place for worship, fellowship, and instruction. It must also be a place that is both safe and dangerous; safe to those in need of healing and restoration, and dangerous to the wicked, a place where the wounded, destitute, and troubled can find hope, and a place where the wicked are confronted by the convicting presence and judgment of God.

#lead4real #apostleship

Do clothes make the Man of God?

Listen up, my brothers who lead in churches of color. I know, churches of all ethnicities are often guilty in this area, but today I am appealing to you. Please, stop trying to emulate the catholic church with the elaborate vestments and ‘pope’ hats. If you do some research, or investigate the matter in prayer, you will find that the vestments and croziers of which you have become so enamoured originate in ancient Babylon’s mystery religion.

Put off these pretentious garments, and put on Christ. Emulation is a work of the flesh, and God has called you far above the need to indicate your office by what you wear.

There was once a man who was said to be an apostle. While at a conference, he fell behind the group that was on its way to the hotel penthouse for a private meeting of the apostles. Now, a special keycard was required to reach the penthouse. Without it, the elevator would stop at the 10th floor. The man got on the elevator, hit the button for the penthouse, and a few moments later, he stepped out onto the top floor and went to the meeting. For the duration of the conference, he was the only person who could access the penthouse without a keycard.

When God has really called you, his hand upon your life will set you apart in a way that no attire can, and it will open doors that no man can shut. #PutOnChrist