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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Sustainability

Sustainability... I was thinking today about sustainability. What if we, the church, had kept all the ground in the world that we had once claimed for the Kingdom of God? Great Britain, for example, was once well evangelized but now has become what is called a ‘post Christian’ society. It needs to be evangelized again, but now has become somewhat resistant to the gospel. What if we had held the ground we had gained?  The answer is the whole world would likely have been evangelized by now.

What if we had sustained the great moves of God through the years past? Revivals have broken out numerous times through the history of the church but only lasted for a relatively short period of time, usually they only covered a specific region, and then they fizzled out. A few of those revivals were so powerful that whole nations were changed! Now though, here we are in the 21st century. We are in a time when the church in much of the world seems to have lost its fire for God. This is especially true of the American Church. We are lukewarm and with the exception of the occasional flame in one place or the other, it seems the church is growing colder and colder. What if the church could have sustained those great moves of God from the past?  Again, the answer is that our assignment would likely be accomplished by now.

Some would say that only God can sustain a move of God.  I understand that sentiment, but I disagree based on my observations of the Word of God. I personally believe that every move of God in this Earth comes solely because of a great hunger in God’s children which causes them to pursue Him.  In turn, our pursuit brings His nearness.  I believe God is ALWAYS willing to pour out His Spirit upon us.  Look at these scriptures to see His willingness… If WE seek Him with our whole heart we will find Him (See Jer. 29:13). “Draw near to me, and I’ll draw near to you” (James 4:8).  Acts 2:17 even tells us “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh…”  If God is willing to pour His Spirit on us if we seek Him, then He clearly must also be willing that we see a sustained move of His Spirit.  He didn’t call us to win this world for Him, to only lose ground once again to Satan.

Here is an observation that parallels with this type thinking. Pay close attention: “IF it was God’s job to sustain His movement in the Earth, it would be sustained. If it was God’s job to hold the ground that has been taken for the Kingdom of God, it would be held.”  God never fails at anything. I clearly see it as our job to create an atmosphere of sustainability. Here are a few another scriptures to support my view that WE are responsible for the sustaining of God’s work.  Matthew 5:13a tells us,  “You are the salt of the earth…”. (Salt preserves.)  Hebrews 10:13 (NASB) says that Jesus was seated at the right hand of God and He is “waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET.” The KJV tells us He’s “expecting till His enemies be made His footstool”.  Also, we’re told in the parable of the Minas (Luke 19:13) that a Nobleman (Jesus) gave to his servants and told them to “occupy” until I come.  The word ‘occupy’ is a military term which speaks of holding the land!

It’s our job, church, to seek God and thus birth the move that He desires to bring to our city and our world.  It’s also our job to prepare for that move, so that we might sustain it.  So how do we sustain a move of God? It takes prayer, fasting, study of the word, spiritual warfare, evangelism, worship and the list goes on… but I can condense the description of what it will take to one word.  Sustainability in the Kingdom of God requires “discipleship”.  We can have a revival that shakes our region, but if people aren’t discipled to carry on the work properly, it will be short lived. 

Let me ask you two questions. “Are you willing to do your part to welcome and sustain a move of God?” “Will you be discipled, and then help to disciple others so that we might pass the torch to the next generation of Christian and see sustainability in the Kingdom?”  Count the cost, but if so please get to work! 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Missing Link in Modern Christianity...

I have been in a time of extreme pursuit, for clarity of God’s plan for our church, Abundant Life Tabernacle, Mansfield, Ohio. I have prayed, searched the Word and looked deep within my heart to see what God was saying and what I was missing, or even resisting. I feel like I have heard some things.  Some of them are hard to accept and some are pleasant.  I am about to share many of these things during the next few Sundays (from the time of this writing), but you may or may not have heard the crux of them by the time of this printing so I want to share a few things here.  What I am sharing today deals with Discipleship.

One of the missing elements of the modern church, Christianity’s missing link if you will, is a real focus on discipleship.  It's been lost as a focus it seems, for more than 100 years. Remnants remained until about 40 to 50 years ago, but those have mostly been lost now as well.  Sure, we do some discipleship naturally because of relationships that form within the Body, and that’s great!  Discipleship should happen naturally. But in large, it seems to me that it has been missing from the majority of the Body of Christ for a very long time. 

Biblical Discipleship has been so ignored in the modern Church that few even know what it is now.  I recently saw a study that was done by the Barna Group and published by the Navigators.  In the study, a host of things were explored but the question was also asked, “What is discipleship?” The researchers found that it was unclear, to much of the church, what a good definition of Discipleship is.  Many disagreed upon the particulars, as we Christians so often do.  It was found that most in the church didn’t particularly like the term either, preferring “Becoming Christ-like” or “Spiritual Growth” to the term “Discipleship.”  And that’s okay, these are valuable terms, and the Bible doesn’t particularly use the term “Disipleship”. Still these terms fall somewhat short of the biblical idea of a disciple. Furthermore, the ‘principle of Discipleship’ is clearly biblical whether the exact term is found or not.  Jesus called followers to himself and then told them that if they were not willing to forsake everything, they were unfit to be disciples. Certainly, He’s still looking for people who will put Him above all else! So, what is discipleship?

I’ve done my own inquiry into the subject and I’ve found that ‘it seems’ that Abundant Life has a little better understanding on the subject than most, but then again the Barna Study said that pastors often think that (lol).  Our experience in understanding Discipleship, in general, has been that most people have understood it from the perspective of a weekly Bible Class, or a short term class on Christianity; the art of being Christian, if you will.  Another very good thing, yet it falls short. Some will say that discipleship relates to progress in their own spiritual growth.  Progress in spiritual growth is always a wonderful thing for a Christian, but it’s about half of what is Biblical Discipleship. Many people feel that discipleship is the same as evangelism; preaching and winning the lost to Christ.  It can certainly be argued that it falls within the same category, but I don’t think they are the same.  Discipleship is for already-believers of the Good News, while evangelism is to reach not-yet-believers with the Good News.

So what is discipleship? The study I’ve mentioned has said that from the results, “it’s unclear”.  However, I think Jesus made it very clear. He exampled it boldly with His life and then He told His followers to go make other disciples (Matt. 28:19a), “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you”(Matthew 28:20a).  Jesus took twelve believers into a relationship with Him. He spent time with them.  He ate with them.  They did life together!  He lived His life pointing consistently toward the Father.  He corrected them, when they were wrong.  He applauded them when they did well.  He held them accountable and He taught them everything He could possibly teach them in the time they had together.  He doubtless felt sorrow when Peter denied Him and I’m sure felt sadness when Judas betrayed Him, but He didn’t reject the remaining disciples.  He kept on loving.  He kept on pouring into them and He believed that they would accomplish even greater things than He had accomplished in ministry (John 14:11-13).  Jesus lived it, He taught it, and that’s what discipleship looks like.


So, discipleship is not just about my OWN spiritual growth or just about ME becoming Christ-like. It’s ALSO about helping others do the same.  There is a ‘revival’ of discipleship beginning to happen in the world. I am excited to see it!  I believe that God is taking His church back to basics in many areas and again I’m glad to see it!  There is also a new movement of discipleship about to happen here at ALT, and I’m thrilled.  I am fully in favor of the disappearance of the 'missing link in modern Christianity', or I could say I'm excited for the return of biblical discipleship.  Why am I so excited?  Discipleship properly links members of the Body to one another, it links our past to our future, and it's a return of biblical doctrine to the modern church.  I think we are going there!  (Stay tuned…)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Seasons are changing! Harvest is coming!

“Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.” –John 4:35 (KJV)

We’re probably all relatively familiar with this scripture.  Jesus had just ministered to the woman at the well and she had just left her water pot, and had gone running to tell others about Him.  His disciples were perplexed. First, they didn’t think He should be talking to a Samaritan.  Secondly, they were sure He shouldn’t be talking to a woman, and certainly not this one with such a reputation.  And thirdly, they thought that He should be hungry, but He had made a statement that they didn’t understand about having “meat to eat” that they didn’t know about.

Jesus is often very perplexing, even today.  He doesn’t see things as we sometimes do, through the eyes of doubt, fear, unforgiveness, prejudice, racism, sexism, carnality, or any of these other human discriminating traits that we so often struggle with.  He has the ability to see things from the Father’s perspective.  Of course He does!  He is God after all, even though He was in human flesh.  Yet, His way of seeing things is very hard to comprehend from our perspective.

When Jesus spoke this sentence above to His disciples.  I suppose it must have been in late winter or early spring of the year in His region, nearly planting time.  I say this because He specifically mentions four months until harvest season.  He told His disciples not to say there was “yet four months… then cometh harvest.”  

Related imageThe disciples were ‘stuck’, seeing things through human eyes.  While Jesus saw things from the divine perspective.  Men cannot make the harvest come at planting season.  It’s even somewhat hard to even imagine it.  For us in Northern Ohio, it would be like expecting a crop of corn or beans to mature in May.  It is not going to happen in the natural.

Jesus, however, knew some things that the disciples didn’t.  He knew that God’s timetable isn’t like our own.  He knew that ‘spiritual seasons’, can change instantly! You can be in mid-winter, and one breath of God can change the season to harvest!  He, also knew that seeds which had been sown by others before, were ready to spring forth. They were only waiting for a catalyst to bring forth the harvest, He was that catalyst!


Let me urge you all, stop looking through eyes that are dimmed by carnal prejudices and limited earthly expectations.  Begin to see things as God sees them!  Listen to what He is saying.  Even if it perplexes you because it isn’t what you imagined, trust HIM! Jesus is the catalyst! Seasons are changing! Harvest is coming!