Apostolic

“The Weakest Link” in Becoming One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church

Link5After working with ministry leaders over the last 30 years I believe that we must address the “weakest link” in our efforts to see the prayer of Jesus for us becoming “One” in our communities. If the Gospel of the kingdom is to become a functional reality we need the courage to recognize and repair this weak link. It’s not the theological differences one might suspect that separate us. It’s something more difficult to recognize and deal with.

Before we get to the number one weakest link, let’s look at what some leading thinkers commonly consider are the top five. Stating with number 5…

Number #5 – Kingdom Ignorance

There is still considerable ignorance about the Gospel of the Kingdom in most Christian communities. Local pastors building their kingdom in Jesus’ name, still has a monopoly on how most of us do “church”. The Gospel of salvation rules most mindsets, yet Jesus preached and proclaimed the Gospel of the Kingdom everywhere He went. The Church tells people how to get a ticket to heaven but not much about how to live beyond church life in the very communities in which they live. The fact that most ministry organizations don’t teach their disciples how to work with the different parts of the Body of Christ is an indicator that they don’t understand how to live Kingdom life themselves. No wonder we haven’t shown the way. Many believers are still stuck in the grooves that their first teachers and their denominational networks emphasized. These tutors should have prepared believers for life in Christ’s Kingdom, but regrettably these organizations gave them hitching posts instead of guide posts.

Number #4 – Structural Idolatry

It is one thing to finally accept the Kingdom vision for the world as set forth by the Scriptures, but it is another thing to insist we should unite believers using the Old Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, Anglican or Episcopalian ecclesiastical structures. The same holds true for the new breed of leaders in the New Apostolic Reformation who believe we need to go back further in history and use the original template of the first century. We must appreciate the old and the new. That way the wine and the wine skin are both preserved. Our seminaries and denominational networks have a vested interest in promoting “their” franchise and have done a poor job explaining how the other parts of the Body of Christ are to interact. That’s why I wrote “Working Together For Jesus”. The Kingdom of God is a work made without human hands; God is supernatural and we need discerning eyes to recognize how He is supernaturally weaving His tapestry together.

Number #3 – The “Anti-Denomination Denomination” Syndrome

Sadly, some of the most elitist, isolationistic, reclusive and independent believers and ministries are being led by “pastors”, “bishops”, “apostles” and “prophets” who claim they are uniting the “true” Body of Christ under the banner of the Kingdom of God. Many are unaware they are operating in the same sectarian spirit they criticize in traditional churches. This is known as “anointed self-deception” where we believe the part we have from God is “the” most important thing God is doing.Link An important litmus test to determine if you or your ministry is free from this deception is to ask; “Does your ministry and its leader(s) actively pursue and develop, year in and year out, relationships with other ministries and leaders in your community?”  I emphasize doing it “over time” because we have a Scriptural mandate that we can’t give a try and then give up on because it’s difficult. I emphasize “your” community because it’s easy to preach among your network but forsake the community where you live. Ironically we end up becoming an unhealthy ministry, a “tumor-ministry”. Remember, a tumor is a group of cells that grows unto itself without regard for the rest of the body. In fact it sucks the life out of the host Body causing death if left unchecked. Jesus said by our love for one another would we prove we are His disciples. Therefore the world needs to see our love for each other demonstrated in our community.

A friend reminded me that the very nature of apostolic and prophetic ministry to blaze new trails and expand the borders of the King’s domain into enemy territory requires a bold and a courageous disposition. These fearless pioneers don’t easily lend themselves to developing relationships between ministry settlers (pastors) among the people of God. Yet if these leaders don’t grow up and model these collaborative kingdom relationships, who will? We have to advance beyond platform rhetoric and be the change we want to see. The Body goes where the Head goes. It usually takes years and many broken relationships before these independent ministers realize they would do things differently if they could go back in time.

Number #2 – The “Heaven/Earth” Blindness Syndrome

Perhaps one of the most stunning blind spots we all struggle with is the inability to properly discern what the Scriptures teach us about the culture of heaven. Remember, this is essential because we are commanded to pray that earth be just like heaven. So just what is going on up there that we want down here? For starters we can stop jockeying for the head position in our communities because the “head” position is clearly filled by Jesus Himself. In heaven, everyone with a title or crown of achievement throws it at the feet of Jesus with their face on the ground. When was the last time you saw that spirit among leaders down here? In heaven, everyone is so grateful, so overwhelmed by the fact they are allowed to be in His presence; there is no envy or jealousy in anyone’s heart. Worship explodes from the redeemed; there is no critical commentary and sectarianism. Finally, we know Jesus rules His kingdom with clarity and perfect order. The confusion and disunity down here reveals many of our leaders are not truly receiving from heaven’s broadcast. Another similar excuse people give for not working together is the “untruth”… “We will never get along until Jesus comes back”. Well if that’s truth then why did Jesus tell us to pray “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done here on earth”? Are we suppose to obey the command or shrink back because it’s too expensive for us?

This leads us to the question…”What is the number one weakest link to one holy catholic apostolic church?” The Weakest Link is…

Number # 1 – The Psychology of Our Theology

The number one weakest link to becoming one holy catholic apostolic church is our spiritual and emotional immaturity. Yes it’s that simple. Like self-absorbed siblings who cannot seem to get along with one another, we have need of maturity. Once we don’t get the attention or honor we think we deserve or our feelings get hurt, we usually take our ball and bat and go home; and the joining and connecting of the Body of Christ is often postponed, if not abandoned all together. We often unconsciously hide our immature selves behind the facade of commitment to sound doctrine or our critical appraisals of other believers. Instead of seeing kingdom transformation we are left with advancing a narrative that justifies entrenchment and the status quo. Each believer does their best to carry on doing their own thing, but the grace God releases through the “joints” (the parts that meet together) remains missing. Regrettably the Church remains disjointed and anemic. We often run back to our individual studies and redouble our efforts to explain our point of view. We write a new book, start a Bible School, create a new website, a blog, etc. When all that is needed is an apology, a humbler heart, a teachable spirit, a phone call and a sober recognition we truly need each other. In other words, more of us need to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Christ.

I have seen it happen time after time. Misunderstanding and confusion over another leader’s gifting and level of maturity. One Christian leader offends another by some cultural insensitivity or a believer over-emphasizes some doctrinal position because their identity, their sense of significance or their income is tied up in its uniqueness. I was standing in the parking lot during one of our ministers meetings, when one apostolic leader said, “We are 40 years away from seeing the Church get it right”. He was referring to another leader in the meeting who was basically using his title, to control the people in His ministry, so no one would ever challenge his authority. I told him; “As long as we were having this discussion outside and not with him, he was right, it may take another 40 years; but why don’t we go talk to him right now?” He didn’t seem to want to engage in this kind of dialogue. The emotional and psychological minefield was apparently too scary for him to step into. It is difficult getting real and being real with other humans.

This illustrates why we are not addressing the weakest link. It is expensive tackling these emotional-maturity issues. Just seeing Jesus suspended between heaven and earth speaks to the cost of reconciling two parties who are separated. But this is what we must do. All of our preaching; all of our conferences and seminars will fill our heads with information; but if we don’t deal with our inner heart issues we will be nothing more than a lot of intelligent people consistently coming to the wrong conclusions. Sadly, that sounds like Washington DC; doesn’t it? For those wanting the character and culture of heaven flowing through your life and ministry but have felt stuck where you are at, we wrote “Roadkill Seminary”, “The Inner Journey” and “Working Together For Jesus” just for you. You don’t have to wait 40 years to be the answer to the prayer Jesus prayed. Welcome to the Movement!

The Epistle to the Church of Sanford

BibleEpislte

CHAPTER 1

Our Common Salvation

Paul, an apostle and bondservant of the Lord Jesus Christ. To the saints of Sanford and surrounding region who are in Christ Jesus. To the city the whole world watches, to see what will become of the races in your country.

  1. Grace and peace from God, the Father of Jesus Christ who has begotten us by His grace, through the blood of his only begotten Son. We give thanks for each of you praying always that the Lord will continue to give you revelation of His love for us, to Him who is eternal and true.
  2. Whose kingdom is coming in ever increasing power and glory. May your sanctification be evident to all before His coming.
  3. I write to you to remind you of those things, which were spoken by the prophets and the apostles and the Lord Jesus Himself.
  4. Those things concerning our Lord, which He prayed on the night of His betrayal.

Don’t Be Deceived by Satan

  1. For I fear for some of you who may have fallen asleep and have forgotten your first love and have accepted the serpent’s substitute for Christ.
  2. You may have a form of godliness and religion, yet deny the power of God in your midst as if it were something to be ashamed of. I beseech you to not allow the wisdom of this world to sway you from the simplicity of Christ, lest the message of the cross be of no effect.
  3. For the power of God is in proclaiming Jesus Christ crucified, buried and raised from the dead, not with persuasive words of man’s wisdom.
  4. For we are not ignorant of the devil’s devices in which he seeks to fix our attention onto lesser things and not the supremacy of Christ. Yes the enemy of our souls will seduce us with the things of God as long as we are not worshipping God Himself.
  5. This has been his most effective deception as he seeks to enslave believers in religious pursuits for righteousness as he blinds their minds to the finished work of Christ on the cross.
  6. Believing they are gaining the approval of God, they are driven to and fro; to everywhere, except to the costly sacrifice God has provided for their lost souls.
  7. And even some of the very elect have fallen into this delusion as they continue in lifeless religious traditions and the pursuit of reputation among men.

CHAPTER 2

Remember the Power of God’s Might

Therefore, when I saw that this was so concerning some of you, I believe it was needful for me to address those obstacles presently besetting the advancing Church of Christ in Sanford, according to the grace I have received.

  1. For you know perfectly well how the enemy is like a cunning serpent, twisting the purposes of God in the earth.
  2. But our weapons are mighty to tear down these strongholds. Therefore let us not be afraid to fight the good fight.

The Sins of the City Are Widely Known

  1. It is reported and known abroad that Sanford has been struggling to rise up out of its poverty and the past wounds of racial injustice, which hinders the unity of the Church of Jesus Christ.
  2. The root of bitterness has been allowed to defile many. Instead of receiving the Lord’s healing, some who try to honor the suffering of their forefathers have unknowingly passed on this wound from generation to generation.
  3. This “victim identity” impoverishes people and withholds from them their true identity in Christ that leads to abundant life and joy in the Lord.
  4. This is the same slave mentality that kept the children of Israel from possessing the promise land, and caused them to waste away in the wilderness.
  5. Some even teach their disciples to remain separate from members of His Body because of the color of their skin. They forget that it was God who reconciled Jew and Gentile to Himself and made all peoples from one blood.
  6. It has also been reported that some of your shepherds are sexually immoral as were the sons of Eli, causing the people to despise the house of the Lord and no longer assemble with the saints.
  7. Others have greedily run after profit as Balaam, prophesying to those with itching ears for worldly prosperity.
  8. I rejoice in the Lord for those who have been faithfully praying for Sanford to rise up and become the city of light set on a hill.
  9. I call upon you “Friendly City” to remember your first name in which you were called the “Gate City”. For through you many have entered the central regions of Florida looking for hope and purpose.
  10. And yes, people arrived through your River Gate, through your Railroad Gate and Airport Gate. The Gates of the County seat still sit on the shores of Lake Monroe. Truly you are a gate city and the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church of Jesus Christ in Sanford.
  11. Let us go forward in the full assurance of God’s power to root out and to pull down, to destroy and throw down, and to build and to plant.
  12. Let us obey the Lord’s command to remove the altars and sacred pillars, the mental images of anything that exalts itself above the knowledge of Christ’s victory and His prayer for us to be one in Him.
  13. If there is any teaching that draws men to principles instead of to the person of Jesus Christ, then let us rise up and confront it in His name. If there are leaders who are living contrary to the Scriptures, let us confront them in love, rebuking those who resist the truth.
  14. Let us hear the admonition to speak the truth in love. Let us no longer just think the truth. Now is the time to shout it from the housetops.
  15. It is time for the Church to come out of her closet. The voice of one crying in the wilderness is once again preparing the Bride for her Bridegroom.
  16. No longer will the Church in Sanford be subservient to the controlling spirit of religious and cultural traditions.
  17. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty, and liberty is what the truth produces in those who know and obey it.

CHAPTER 3

Confronting Religious Control

Let us remove those strongholds that are hindering the glorious manifestation of the Lord Jesus Christ through His Body in Sanford.

  1. Do not forget our Lord’s Prayer that we would be one as He and the Father are one. Herein the lost will acknowledge that God truly sent Jesus to save the world, when they see us as one. Let not the Gospel fall on deaf ears because our lives contradict what we preach.
  2. Therefore we confront the sin of religious control that forces the people of God into sectarian groups, making disciples of ourselves that are isolated from the rest of the Body.
  3. We charge those who shepherd the flock to edify and work to join and knit the Body of Christ together, so every part does its share.
  4. We confront the error that teaches we are only responsible to build our group without any thought for the whole Body.
  5. Don’t become a cancer, a tumor growing without regard for the rest of the Body. Let him who thinks he stands, take heed lest he be found outside saying “Lord, Lord, didn’t we do all these things for you?”
  6. We are not speaking about “sameness” but about “oneness”, otherwise where would the foot, or the eye or the ear find their purpose?
  7. If Christ is your head and He is building a Body of every tribe, tongue and nation, then work out that purpose in Sanford. Confront everything that exalts itself against His Lordship over His Body?
  8. Truly are we not to pray that His Kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven?  Are we not to expect it to be manifested here in our generation? Anything less would be unbelief and vain repetition that displeases God.
  9. Who has bewitched you to depart from the unity of the Spirit that already exists? Why haven’t you worked with the elders of the Lord in your city?
  10. How is that you can strain at nat-size doctrinal differences while swallowing a camel-size Church divided against its self?
  11. Are you building your kingdom in Jesus’ name? Is it really the Lord you are bringing people to, or is it to your own enterprise you are bringing them to? Consider this and the Lord will give you wisdom.
  12. Remember that each tree will bear its own fruit. Is there liberty and life in your tree? Does the fruit of your ministry tree heal the tribes and nations in your city and your country?
  13. Let us consider one another and provoke one another to work the works of Jesus. He who has called us is faithful who will perform it.
  14. Herein is the love of God, that we love all the brethren. By this the world will know that we are His disciples.
  15. Therefore I beseech all the servants of God to break out of the religious traditions and isolationism that works against our Lord’s Prayer, lest you be disqualified on the Day when Christ will judge the secrets of all men.

CHAPTER 4

Test and See If You Are of the Faith

Brethren examine yourselves to see if you are in the faith before the Lord comes.

  1. When we are received into the glories of heaven we will all be of one mind and one spirit because we shall see Him as He is.
  2. Let us provoke one another to consider how we can see Him that way now in the Spirit.
  3. The shepherds of God must model this reality for the flock to follow. What we will be in heaven we must be now in the earth.
  4. Those who discern the presence of the Lamb that was slain throw their crowns at His feet. Those who proudly cling to their titles or positions haven’t seen the Lord.
  5. Remember that the Kingdom of God births the Church. When we live from the life of the King and His Kingdom we become the true Ecclesia that represents the King. Greet one another as fellow citizens of the Kingdom.
  6. Know this, the Lord Himself is coming to His Church in power before He comes for His Church in glory.
  7. To the only wise and omnipotent God and Savior, Jesus Christ, be all the praise and glory forever and ever; Amen.

5 Ways We Hinder Our Own Spiritual Journey

5With so many Christians in America giving up on their active pursuit of God, I believe we need to help them diagnose the reasons for their apathy. It seems as if they have the attitude of; “I did the church thing, got the t-shirt and I am over it”. “I don’t see the need or the payoff of seeking hard after God the way I used to”.

Some researchers estimate that tens of millions of evangelical believers have stopped active involvement in a community of believers.  You may find the “12 Reasons” why some believers are actively “unchurching” informative as to why your friends or relatives are no longer part of the traditional church scene. My article “The Church In Transition” addresses why the institutional church may have a blind spot about how we “do” church and why it results in so many dropping out from boredom. In a nutshell, believers need exposure to not only pastoral ministry, but apostolic and prophetic graces to go onto maturity and find spiritual employment in the kingdom of God.

However on an individual level, some of this apparent lack of passion and zeal for God may be a maturity thing; a realignment of our kinetic, youthful activity to a more balanced and educated approach to God. Perhaps a more knowledgeable understanding of the Gospel of Grace and the finished work of Christ reduces the amount of striving in our lives.  In other words we are no longer driven by the condemnation of the Law and the fear-based, performance trap that comes with it. For more about the Grace Movement you may want to see “In The Year 2023”.

Yet sadly most Americans haven’t found the sweet spot of a mature marathoner, running toward the prize of the upward call in Christ. They have become spectators who are no longer running the race with patience. Even the sporadic trip to church to appease their conscious is insufficient to dissuade their unconscious “knowing” that they have in reality quit the race altogether.

The following heart issues address some of the wrong thinking that hinder or hurt us on our own spiritual journey that we often are unaware of.

1. The Cain Syndrome – When our human efforts to serve God and fulfill His will have have fallen short of God’s approval or validation, it can leave us feeling dejected before the road of life. We can pause and ask the Lord; “What would you have me to do; what are you teaching me in this?” Or, we can respond like Cain; who felt rejected and ended up so angry he murdered his brother and spent the rest of his life aimlessly wandering. What Cain failed to understand is that God didn’t reject him, but his human, sacrificial efforts. If God rejects some human work on our part, it should free us to more fully discover what He really wants… not cause us to quit, hate our brother, criticize the Church and wander through life with no purpose.

This self-life or what some call the sin-nature we all wrestle with, consistently produces a misunderstanding or a miscalculation of God’s ways and leads us to dejection. Listen to how Oswald Chambers describes the danger of this spiritual self-pity.

Every fact that the disciples stated was right, but the conclusions they drew from those facts were wrong. Anything that has even a hint of dejection spiritually is always wrong. If I am depressed or burdened, I am to blame, not God or anyone else. Dejection stems from one of two sources— I have either satisfied a lust or I have not had it satisfied. In either case, dejection is the result. Lust means “I must have it at once.” Spiritual lust causes me to demand an answer from God, instead of seeking God Himself who gives the answer. What have I been hoping or trusting God would do? Is today “the third day” and He has still not done what I expected? Am I therefore justified in being dejected and in blaming God? Whenever we insist that God should give us an answer to prayer we are off track. The purpose of prayer is that we get a hold of God, not of the answer. Dejection spiritually is wrong, and we are always to blame for it. My Upmost For His Highest; February 7.

Entertaining thoughts of self-pity and feeling sorry for yourself hinders your spiritual journey.

2. The Saul Syndrome – I think it was Albert Einstein who said “Premature responsibility breeds superficiality.” In King Saul, Israel’s first king, we see an insecure individual coming to power without the necessary trials and testing that Joseph, Moses or David experienced to prepare them for the weight of leadership. Saul acted in a way that was harmful to his spiritual journey. He was in it more for the accolades and the approval of the crowds than the approval of the Lord. This “fear of man” caused him to react in impulsive ways, worried what the people would say. Saul’s impatience and impertinence to wait of the “pace of grace” led him to further frustration and rejection. When Saul tried to govern his own life and the kingdom without relating properly to the prophetic Word of the Lord, he got off track on his journey and lost everything.   

The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe. Proverbs 29:25

Worrying about what others think of you hinders your spiritual journey.

3. The “Little-Big” Blindness – When we are led by our carnal intellectual nature we almost always miss what God is doing and then wrongly conclude God is not working in our lives. It is our addiction to the strong impulses of our flesh that governs us most of the time and keeps us from being sensitive to God’s gentle spiritual impulses. It usually takes many more trials and tribulations to tenderize our hearts in order to hear and feel the subtle whispers and promptings of His Spirit. It’s amazing just how blind and deaf we can be to the Spirit of God. Ironically we have no problem daily using a radio or a cell phone that operates on invisible and inaudible radio waves and tiny bits of micro-electrical impulses. Yet we struggle tuning our human equipment into heaven’s broadcast. In my article “Be Encouraged, God Will Come Into Focus” you may find some perspective.

Failure to recognize God in the smallest acts or events in your life hinders your spiritual journey.

4. The Hitching Post Syndrome – Our intellectual pursuits can lead us to a dead-end. Nowhere is this clearer than watching our government leaders in action (or inaction) these days.  Never have so many intelligent people logically and consistently come to the wrong conclusions. Proverbs 14:2 states; “There is a way that seems right to man, but the end thereof is death”. Head knowledge can be “dead knowledge” if it doesn’t become flesh and dwell among us by God’s Spirit. Holding on to the last thing the Lord revealed to us can cause us to die on the vine as well. The Scriptures teach us that heritage is good, landmarks are good, traditions are good, and liturgy is good, if they are used as tools that lead us to a vital, living, experiential God. One of the Ten Commandments states we are to have “No graven images”… even if they are only in our minds. We hurt our spiritual journey when we hold on to what God said at the expense of what God is saying. What should have been a “guide post” becomes a “hitching post” of dead religion and old wineskins. The Lord taught me to distinguish Expectation with Expectancy.

Clinging to what God did in the past in order to feel more in control hinders your spiritual journey. 

5. The Judas Syndrome – We know Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver but the real story is how Judas betrayed himself by not seeing what was truly valuable in his life. He was his own worst enemy. He was riding the popular wave of Jesus Christ Ministries for reasons that were evidently not pure. In truth, some of us unknowingly do the same today. As the treasurer of the ministry perhaps he saw the potential of Jesus’ ministry and a position in His administration as the future king of Israel. He imagined himself moving up the corporate ladder only to find out Jesus’ ladder was leaning on the wrong building in his eyes. The final straw was the “wasteful” use of expensive perfume by Mary upon Jesus. Judas was infuriated at the financial mismanagement. And to make things worse Jesus didn’t rebuke her, but rather praised her while making some remarks about this being for his burial. Burial!? Regardless if Judas fully understood what Jesus’ burial reference meant, he may have gotten a glimpse of Jesus’ “kamikaze mission” and decided to cut and run. The next verse says “Then” Judas went to the High Priest to get the best severance package he could leverage under the circumstances. (Matthew 26-6-15)

There are many in America who stopped following after God simply because they were in it for the wrong reasons. They were trying to fill their financial, emotional or social status bank accounts in hopes it would give them “their idea” of a life of peace and security.

Failure to recognize why you should be following Jesus in the first place hinders your spiritual journey.

If you’ve become bored with God and whole church scene; if you stopped earnestly going after Him it simply means you have gotten your eyes off of the resurrected Jesus. Somehow you became focused on the box or the container He came in. If you are truly beholding Him, you will be captivated by the One who breathes galaxies into existence. This will keep you from being one of the Walking Dead.

What Does It Feel and Look Like When You Are Doing It Right?

Let me let you in on a secret. When your heart is right; when you have been tenderized by life instead of hardened by it because you kept your eyes on Him instead of the problem, you will gladly remain on your spiritual journey.

As you read His word you come with a spirit of expectation that something is always flowing from a limitless God; and it is priceless not matter how small it is. Even something as small as an atom can have an explosive impact in your life. You come with neutral buoyancy, with no agenda and you are willing to be led by Him. There is a childlike sense of wonder and awe at the slightest glimpse of Him and His world. There is a liberating fear because you fear the right things. When you properly fear or respect God, nothing else scares you. You experience a pride shattering awe and awareness because you are near such awesome, yet holy power. You are overwhelmed by an intellectual comprehension on the one hand, while receiving the essence of knowing something beyond knowledge on the other. Yes, we are full of God when we yield to the unique knowledge that surpasses human knowledge.

…to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:19

You understand what the apostle Paul meant when he said we would see with the “eyes of our understanding”. This is where our Spirit is refreshed and our soul is fed with the living water and bread from heaven. Staying on our spiritual journey is a joy when you do it this way. Nothing in this world even comes close to the fulfillment of laying down your old life and following Jesus. Do I have a witness?

23 Ways Leaders Dominate Their People by Sam Storms

DominateI thought Sam Storms listed some clear abuses of authority that would apply not only to church-world, but the family and the business world as well.

Proverbs 28:16 states; “That a ruler who lacks understanding is a great oppressor”. Many times these insecure alpha male/females types don’t even recognize they are oppressive leaders. They think their assertiveness and control is a sign of good leadership, but they are often unaware they are masking deep insecurity. Read Sam’s list below and see is you can identify any of these traits in yourself.

1. A man can “domineer” or “lord it over” his flock by intimidating them into doing what he wants done by holding over their heads the prospect of loss of stature and position in the church.

2. A pastor domineers whenever he threatens them with stern warnings of the discipline and judgment of God, even though there is no biblical basis for doing so.

3. A pastor domineers whenever he threatens them with public exposure of their sin should they not conform to his will and knuckle under to his plans.

4. A pastor domineers whenever he uses the sheer force of his personality to overwhelm others and coerce their submission.

5. A pastor domineers whenever he uses slick verbiage or eloquence to humiliate people into feeling ignorant or less competent than they really are.

6. A pastor domineers whenever he presents himself as super-spiritual (his views came about only as the result of extensive prayer and fasting and seeking God. How could anyone then possibly disagree with him?).

7. A pastor domineers whenever he exploits the natural tendency people have to elevate their spiritual leaders above the average Christian. That is to say, many Christians mistakenly think that a pastor is closer to God and more in tune with the divine will. The pastor often takes advantage of this false belief to expand his power and influence.

8. A pastor domineers whenever he gains a following and support against all dissenters by guaranteeing those who stand with him that they will gain from it, either by being brought into his inner circle or by some form of promotion.

9. A pastor domineers by widening the alleged gap between “clergy” and “laity.” In other words, he reinforces in them the false belief that he has a degree of access to God which they don’t.

10. Related to the former is the way some pastors will make it appear that they hold sway or power over the extent to which average lay people can experience God’s grace. He presents himself in subtle (not overt) ways as the mediator between the grace of God and the average believer. In this way he can secure their loyalty for his agenda.

11. He domineers by building into people a greater loyalty to himself than to God. Or he makes it appear that not to support him is to work at cross purposes with God.

12. He domineers by teaching that he has a gift that enables him to understand Scripture in a way they cannot. They are led to believe they cannot trust their own interpretive conclusions and must yield at all times to his.

13. He domineers by short circuiting due process, by shutting down dialogue and discussion prematurely, by not giving all concerned an opportunity to voice their opinion.

14. He domineers by establishing an inviolable barrier between himself and the sheep. He either surrounds himself with staff who insulate him from contact with the people or withdraws from the daily affairs of the church in such a way that he is unavailable and unreachable.

15. Related to the above is the practice of some in creating a governmental structure in which the senior pastor is accountable to no one, or if he is accountable it is only to a small group of very close friends and fellow elders who stand to profit personally from his tenure as pastor.

16. He domineers by viewing the people as simply a means to the achieving of his own personal ends. Ministry is reduced to exploitation. The people exist to “serve his vision” rather than he and all the people together existing to serve the vision of the entire church.

17. He domineers by making people feel unsafe and insecure should they desire to voice an objection to his proposals and policies.

18. He domineers by convincing them, ever so subtly, that their spiritual welfare is dependent on his will. To cross him is to cross God!

19. He domineers by misinterpreting and misapplying to himself the OT command: “Don’t touch God’s anointed.”

20. He domineers by building a culture of legalism rather than one of grace. People are thus motivated to embrace his authority and bow to his will based on extra biblical rules that supposedly are the criteria for true spirituality.

21. He domineers by arguing or acting as if his movements and decisions are ultimately determinative of the spiritual welfare of others (cf. 2 Cor. 1:23-25).

22. He domineers when he leads people to believe that their faith hinges (i.e., rises or falls) upon his life and decisions.

23. He domineers when he uses people as a means to his own satisfaction rather than enabling them to experience satisfaction in Christ alone.

http://www.samstorms.com/enjoying-god-blog/post/pastoral-bullies

The Tension Between Those Who “Defend” And Those Who “Extend” The Faith

Clip 21To help illustrate the tension between Christians and the ministry leaders in our towns today, we will initially categorize them into two basic groups. Just as the human heart pumps blood away from it to the body and back to it, Christian Ministry also flows in two directions. Please allow me the liberty to generalize these groups for our discussion. Those who “Defend the Faith” are primarily Pastors and Teachers. Those who “Extend the Faith.” are primarily Apostles, Prophets and Evangelists. Those who defend the faith are similar to a mother caring for the kids at home. Those who extend the faith are similar to the father taking the kids with him to work. One is wired to be care-takers, while the other is wired to be risk-takers. For more on this see God’s Ministry Assembly Line.

One camp could be characterized as settlers, the other as pioneers. Similar to our early American settlements, one would be concerned with establishing Boonsboro. The others, like Daniel Boone himself, would be looking over the next mountain ridge to scout out new territory for God. Without pioneers, the Church would never take ground; without settlers, the Church would never keep the ground which has been taken.

One group is mostly concerned with “Maintaining the People of God”, while the other group is focused on “Advancing the Purposes of God.” One group desires to establish the people in Biblical Truth while the other motivates the people to exercise Biblical Action.

It is the tension between these two camps that results in much of the disunity among Christian leaders in cities today. These differences are even more prevalent than the doctrinal and cultural differences that divide us! Most of our problems with each other are more psychological than theological. In fact, most of the attacks we suspect are from evil spirits working in other people are actually our misunderstandings of their gifting.

When a person in ministry doesn’t flow the way we are gifted, we can view them as a hindrance to what we believe God has called us to do. Pastors/teachers may see the emotionally charged or “hyper spiritual” services of the prophets/evangelists as a carnal or even demonic attempt to manipulate and coerce the people. Prophets/evangelists sometimes believe the reserved and cerebral emphasis of the pastors/teachers and perceive they are operating in a dead religious or Pharisee spirit. To see this in operation see We Are Jesus Christ Regional Hospital.

This can separate leaders for months and years. Much of what some do in ministry today is often more about slamming the other camp than advancing the kingdom of God. If we remain teachable, the Lord will reveal to us that those other ministers are not from the devil but are the other ministry gifts we are supposed to work alongside of.

The balance we and God’s flock need is not found in our own kind, but in those ministers we often think are working against us or holding us back. It usually takes years and many broken relationships before the typical minister realizes this fact. Unless a minister has attended “Roadkill Seminary” and experienced true brokenness he or she won’t be able to fully incorporate the revelation of the Scriptures into their daily lives. The reason is, we are too busy building our kingdoms our way to be bothered with material like this that addresses the believer’s inner life. Be forewarned! God is much more concerned about reaching all of you than He is about you reaching all of the world!

Excerpt from “Working Together for Jesus”

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Overcoming “Anointed” Self-Deception

DeceptionOne of the most common reasons why Christians may divide into different camps even within their own ministry networks or denominations is how they perceive what God is doing in their lives and ministries. Believers can have tunnel vision, where they only see their perspective. For example, when a Gospel minister operates under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, God Himself is flowing through them to preach, teach, or heal. When we minister like this it can be exhilarating to know that a mere mortal, can be used by Omnipotence to affect another person’s life for eternity. This anointing allows us to experience real results as we operate under the influence and power of the Holy Spirit.

There is no mistaking what is flowing through you now; you know this is God and the people’s response seems to validate it. Not only has this touch of God blessed those you were ministering to, but it also greatly affected your life as well. Fresh in your mind is the new contrast between the “normal you” and the “empowered, anointed you.” Suddenly this contrast exposes weeks, months, even years of un-anointed preaching or teaching in your ministry. Now you are really sure you know what is God and what isn’t God. This is like your first teenage crush; often the emotions are so overwhelming you aren’t even aware of how you are acting.

This “anointed” endorsement convinces you that this fresh view of God certainly must be the ultimate one. This often results in the strong human desire to start building something, by trying to package what you’ve seen and heard or even by starting a new ministry. Read Matthew 17:4:

Then Peter answered and said to Jesus “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

Here we see Peter beholding the transfiguration of Jesus, plus Elijah and Moses. “This is really anointed!” Yet Peter’s desire to build a monument (or a ministry) to this revelation wasn’t the “anointed” thing to do. Peter’s excitement blinded him to the whole purpose of what God was doing. This is “anointed self-deception” and it occurs to all of us at one time. Anointed self-deception is when you are so amazed, even intoxicated by what God is showing you that you are convinced you have the whole picture. You think your understanding of God’s ways is now the way. Our human nature easily gets these things messed up. This can be especially true if you and I have been rejected in the past and are longing for some kind of affirmation or validation. Most of us need to be delivered from hidden psychological wounds and issues before we can successfully minister at higher levels. Even the great apostle John, upon seeing the most amazing revelations from God, missed it in Revelation 19:10:

And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God!”

John almost worshiped a man instead of God. He probably would have been convinced he was right to do so. After, all, he had seen all these marvelous revelations from God Himself; surely he wouldn’t be wrong. Oh yes he would be wrong! John even blows it a second time in Revelation 22:9. Even things God has clearly given to us can become stumbling blocks or idols such as the “bronze serpent” fashioned by Moses in Numbers 21:4-9. It was a symbol of healing in his day, but in 2 Kings 18:4 it had to be destroyed because it became an idol.

If you are a believer, a pastor, teacher, prophet, an apostle or evangelist and you have given yourself to the Lord to minister to others, He has no doubt at times anointed you to minister to His precious Body. You must remember that you are only seeing a part of what God is doing — not the part. The Bible says now we know in part.

Excerpt from “Working Together For Jesus”

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Leaders Often Get Along Until The Children Come Into The Room

leadAnother way to describe this tension in the Church would be to use parents as an illustration. Let’s imagine three or four couples along with their children, having a dinner party at someone’s house. The kids are in the back yard playing while the parents are relaxing over coffee and conversation. There is apparent unity and consensus among them as they enjoy each other’s company.

However, when the children come into the living room to join the conversation so does the potential for friction as the different parenting styles become evident. Everyone keeps their thoughts to themselves but on the ride home each car is filled with comments like “I can’t believe they let their kids act that way,” or “They are so mean to their children,” or “That’s not how I would deal with that situation”. These parents got along until the children came into the room.

This family analogy can also illustrate the sentiments between ministers of the Gospel. It may be easy to get along with other ministers, even from different camps… until the sheep (children) are in the room. Suddenly the gifting in each minister wants to impact the people of God according to their abilities. We sometimes presume we know what the people of God “really” need. Instead of each of us affirming and preferring the other ministers, we can doubt their validity.

Sometimes just being in the same room with someone with a different ministry gift can drive you “bonkers” as they seem to over react or under react to certain things. They can appear to be too intellectual or over spiritual. It is difficult to appreciate where they are coming from and why they are coming from there in the first place! Understanding God’s Assembly Line and Jesus Christ Regional Hospital will give us great insight into how His Kingdom works. As we mature we will be able to love and really appreciate them and their ministries just like our Heavenly Father does. Remember… Jesus is building His Church. It’s the leadership of our churches that must decide if they are going to be part of the bigger picture. If we fail to be mature in this area, our churches and our communities will deteriorate from a place of “completing” each other to a place of “competing” with each other.

Excerpt from “Working Together For Jesus”

The “TOP 10” Reasons Why Christians Should Be Working Together in Their City

10What you are about to read may be new to your understanding about the way Christians are supposed to do “church” and live out their Christianity. Most of what you are about to read will not be taught in the typical local church or Theological Seminary. Most Bible Colleges and Seminaries exist to only emphasize their distinctiveness. In effect they are there to teach why they are different than the other teaching institutions across the country. This isn’t all bad, but it is also not all good. We will show you why in a moment.

We will show you Biblical truth that heretofore hasn’t been taught with the preeminence that the Bible teaches it. We will also try to explain along the way why it isn’t readily taught by most of our current leaders. We do this with the hope of removing the religious and psychological barriers hindering the advancing Church of Jesus Christ. Hang on, this is a road less traveled.  It is a little bumpy, but you are going to love the view.  Jeff Krall

Reason #10

It Was God’s Idea to Comprise the Nation of Israel from 12 Different Tribes

All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father spoke to them. And he blessed them; he blessed each one according to his own blessing. Genesis 49:28

In the beginning God created His people, the Nation of Israel from the 12 sons of Jacob/Israel. Each of these tribes had a specific identity and calling on them. They were unique and played a different role in the national affairs of Israel. They conquered different parts of the Promised Land. They had their own inheritance they were to fight for and settle. From this observation we can also see how the many Denominations and Independent Christian groups are simply tribes in God’s family; they are tributaries that comprise the Great River of God. Each one of these groups are stewards of the manifold wisdom of God as it is being unfolded through the centuries (Ephesians 3:10). They were given some truth or revelation from God for their generation. They aren’t supposed to be like the other tribes. In fact the only two areas where they were supposed to be unified, is in worship and warfare. They worship the same God, Jehovah; and they fought the same enemy, Satan and his imps.

The reason this is important to see in our contemporary setting is that there are many Christian leaders today who fall into two extremes. The first is to think their tribe or religious organization is the only correct one. It is good to be proud of your spiritual heritage. It is good to be a faithful steward of the particular scriptural emphasis God has given your organization. But there is a dangerous kind of pride that results in elitism and territorialism. This results in an arrogant superiority complex that insists on everyone being like them before they will fellowship and work with them.

Be Careful – Don’t Start Another “Anti-Denomination Denomination”

The second extreme is the belief that all denominations are wrong and not of God. This results in some starting their own organization. Remember, the prideful separatist spirit that often comes with denominations is unhealthy; but the truth or revelation that God has revealed through them is not.  People who believe that all denominations are bad usually end up starting their own movement, which unbeknownst to them results in another denomination called the “non-denominational denomination”.  The same separatist spirit they criticize in other organizations results in them forming another separate organization, church or network that isolates itself from the rest of the Body of Christ.

Our point here is God likes and designed unified diversity in His creation, in Israel and in His Church. Let’s not try to make everybody like us. Let’s also realize we need each other to be the whole Body of Christ, the whole Nation of the Lord. We are here to complete each other, not compete with each other. Therefore let’s lessen the hyper criticisms about denominations and ask ourselves, what are we currently doing to unite the Body Christ?

Reason #9

There Must Be Unity Before There’s Power

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is; For brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, Running down on the beard, The beard of Aaron, Running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, Descending upon the mountains of Zion; For there the Lord commanded the blessing— Life forevermore. Psalm 133:1-3

These three verses of scripture hold a powerful key the Church in our communities is missing. The place where the brethren dwell together in unity is the place where the Lord commands the blessing. In Acts 2:4, they were in one accord before the power fell. Peter’s shadow could heal the sick because the Church was in one city in one accord. Just like Jesus who was all together in one place in His human body did awesome miracles, so we will see the miracles again when we assemble all the parts of Jesus’ body today in one place in our town. Concentrated Jesus is what is lacking in our churches and communities.

Think about this scenario. A father comes home from a day of work and walks into his house to hear his children fighting and screaming at each other. One stole a toy from the other. One smacked the other and the third one is cussing and calling the other one terrible names. Do you think their father is about to bless them and take them out for ice cream? No way! Blessing isn’t what is about to rain on them … a swift paddle on their back side is more likely to come into their world. Yet much of the Church is treating their brothers and sisters the same way and are praying and expecting God’s blessing. No sane father blesses his children when they are fighting and attacking each other. However when they love on each other it pleases him greatly, resulting in him giving great reward. So whether it’s a home, a church or a city, to the degree there is maturity expressed in oneness there will be power released from the Lord.

That’s Not Satan We Are Fighting; It’s God!

Another example of how we are often far from God’s full blessing can be illustrated by some intercessors and pastors who were praying and fasting for revival in their city. One of them said the Holy Spirit told them the name of the principality hindering the move of God in their city.  Its name was “Yahweh”. The Lord showed them that God Himself was actually resisting the Church in their community. Why? God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. God was showing them they didn’t need to worry about the devil and his crew. If He was displeased by their divisions and strife in the Church, He was the One who they should be concerned with.

The Bible states in Psalm 133, that God will command the blessing “there”! Where is there?  There, is the place where the brethren dwell together in unity. God commands it because of the nature of spiritual warfare fighting against this unity. He commands “life evermore” because “life” is what we need in our churches and cities. Life is that essence or force which stops atrophy, decay and death. Life is the one commodity man cannot produce in spite of all of our sophisticated religious knowledge. We need God’s life to manifest, to sprout in our midst and push back the death and demonic power in our families, our churches and in our communities.

Look Where the Oil Goes

We see from the Scriptures that when there is unity among the brethren the sacred anointing oil representing the precious Holy Spirit descends upon the leadership (the head of Aaron) of the Church or community. It is God’s endorsement that the organization’s leadership pleases Him so much that He anoints it with blessing – life evermore. Dear leader, could this anointing oil also represent God’s acknowledgement that we have effectively led the people of God into a mature understanding of unity? Do we have the necessary humility and maturity that qualifies us for more heavenly endorsement?

Reason #8

It’s About Our Father

Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven… Luke 11:1, 2

Here we see what is commonly called the Lord’s Prayer, but is really the Disciples’ Prayer. The disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray.  It is important for every believer to realize that when addressing God, Jesus wanted us to remember that He is OUR Father, not just My Father.  The very model of prayer Jesus gave for every believer starts with an emphasis on our relationship to God and one another. Jesus wants us always mindful that when in prayer we have brothers and sisters with whom we need to be in right relationship. Everything about God’s being reflects relationship.

The Godhead itself screams diversified unity as the very essence of God’s nature and being. We cannot escape the fact that our Christianity is irrevocably connected to other brothers and sisters in Christ. The Bible has over 30 “one another” commands which show us that we can’t be an authentic Christian who is isolated from other believers.

Reason #7

Your Will Be Done On Earth As It Is in Heaven

Your kingdom come, Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Luke 11: 2

Perhaps one of the most astounding blind spots in the Church today is the disconnection between what is going on in heaven and what is happening here on earth. What is going on in heaven?  Discerning what is going on up there is the key to what we need to believe for down here. First of all, at the risk of sounding like a “space cadet” out of touch with reality I will tell you that I have been to heaven. So have you if you have read your Bible with a heart of faith. Have you experienced the Holy Spirit and discovered the language of the Spirit, visions and dreams? Have you seen yourself seated with Christ in heavenly places? Has your inner man breathed heavenly atmosphere? All believers who have been born from above will at some level experience heaven before we get there. Let me tell you what I have seen in the Spirit, I trust it will bear witness with you and the scriptures.

First of all, there are no divisions and strife in heaven. No one is jockeying for the head position for it has already been filled by Jesus Christ Himself. Not one leader is seeking to promote themselves or is insisting to be the preeminent pastor or bishop or apostle in the room. The Lordship of Jesus is so glorious and all consuming no one even considers exalting themselves above another.

There is complete forgiveness among everyone in heaven as the reality of the depth of each one’s sins have been found out yet met with God’s amazing grace. There is immeasurable gratefulness and humility for even being allowed to be there. There is unalterable unity and appreciation among its citizens as they work seamlessly together for the glory of God’s expanding kingdom. There are waves of liquid love and joy unspeakable as the reality of Jesus and His benevolent reign saturates every corner of the heavenly realm in perfect peace. And there is unfettered, explosive worship from everyone whose focus is on the King of kings and the Lord of lords. It is clear; heaven has one star, one leader and it is the LORD!  This is not a fairy tale. This is the real reality of our universe.

This is Our Bull’s Eye, Our Touchdown, Our Finish Line.

This is what we are to pray will happen here on earth, in our communities and churches. Anything less would be ignorance and unbelief, or worse, downright rebellion to the Lord’s rightful place in our midst. Thy kingdom come is more than a verse we hang on our refrigerators, this is a command for us to pray and believe for. This is not a vain exercise without an expectation to see results here. This is our bull’s eye, our touchdown, our finish line. This should be the reality our efforts are working towards.

Failure to discern what is going on in heaven is an indication we have not been fellowshipping with Christ in heavenly places. We have been too immersed in our religious kingdoms. We have become shortsighted, earthly minded. Your focus is your future. It is time we focus on what Jesus told us to focus on. Let’s focus on His kingdom come; His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

I often ask ministers what is the greatest example of the Lord’s presence among us. The common responses are usually people being saved, manifestations of healings or other spiritual gifts. These are great things to behold. I submit the greatest manifestation of the Lord being in our midst is when the elders, the pastors and leaders of our community throw their crowns at Jesus’ feet and fall on their faces in humble worship. There is no greater indicator that the true King is among us then when people who are lesser kings and lords fall on their faces in humble adoration of Jesus. In our minister’s gatherings the tangible presence of the Master is always proportional to how much we are willing to cease from self promotion, preferring the Lord.  It is true of our churches and communities as well.

Reason #6

Jesus Recognizes His Church by Its Geography Not By the Signs on Our Buildings

To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours. 1 Corinthians 1:2

Throughout the Scriptures we see God speaking to cities and regions. Epistles were written to the Church of Corinth, Ephesus, Galatia, Philadelphia, Thyatira, Laodicea etc. What can we learn from this?  Jesus recognizes His Church by their geography not by the signs over our buildings. He speaks to the city elders or messengers of these cities and charges them with the spiritual well being of the Church in that region. If the Lord only recognizes His Church by its geography, shouldn’t we? Do you discern the Body of Christ outside your four walls? Can you see it? As we said before we often become myopic and develop tunnel vision when we only work on what’s going on inside our ministries. The maturing saint will see what Jesus recognizes as His Church.

Reason #5

We are Babies and Even Carnal, If There are Divisions Among Us

Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 1 Corinthians 1:10-12

Scripture tells us to speak the same thing. There should be no divisions among us. What are we doing to obey this? Why do we let divisions to continue? Is your God powerless to do something about this?  Have you become part of “the great falling away” the Scriptures warn us about? What I mean by that is: “Have you fallen from the faith that believes the Lord is going to bring His Church to maturity”?  Where are the fathers and discerning leaders in our ministries and in our communities who can mediate these situations as they arise? Remember, when the Church is in unity we automatically win the battle with Satan and his hordes. That’s why he fights so hard to create divisions, and that’s why God’s leaders need to fight even harder to expose his efforts.

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal? 1 Corinthians 3:1-4

Four times in this text the Bible calls us carnal or fleshly because we are allowing divisions instead of Christ to rule the day. Regardless of how we think of our religious status or our prominence within our religious institution or church, the Bible says we are “in the flesh” when we are divided from one another. It doesn’t matter what we say to each other to justify our condition … the Bible makes it clear who we really are in light of Scripture. I pray we all find a healthy dose of humility from the diagnosis of the Word of God.

We Don’t Make Unity, We Keep It

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.  Ephesians 4:1-6

It is important to note that we don’t create unity; we are to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace that already exists. The discerning believer recognizes the unity of the Spirit and cooperates with it anywhere on planet earth. There is a present unity of the Spirit no matter where you are in the world. Heaven’s atmosphere is available to everyone in every place. We don’t try to work hard to manufacture this unity; it is already in existence because it is the nature of our God who is everywhere. It is like your favorite radio station. It is transmitting through you right now as you read this book. All you need is the equipment to tune into the right frequency. The same is true with the unity of the Spirit (heaven’s atmosphere). It is transmitting through the walls of religious bigotry and legalism in your situation too. It just takes a little teaching on how to tune it in. The fact that you are reading this material will greatly help your reception.

Reason #4

If Jesus Ordained You Then You Will Work to See the Body of Christ Joined and Knit Together

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God … joined and knit together by what every joint  supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. Ephesians 4:11-16

We need to evaluate if our ordination for ministry comes from heaven or from a man made organization. Beware; if your ministry organization “ordained” you, you will often work to see it grow up into maturity instead of the Church of Jesus Christ. This is called building “my kingdom” in Jesus’ name.  If your organization ordained you, you will inevitably work to build it up.

If Jesus ordained you, then you will build the Body of Christ. It is that simple. For many, this distinction doesn’t become apparent until they go through God’s school of preparation and die to their self-life. We write about this process in our book “Roadkill Seminary”. This breaking causes the Christian leader to have a wakeup call to the real ministry instead of just being a company man.

If Jesus Christ ordained you, you will have an unquenchable desire to see the whole Body of Christ grow up into Him and become joined and knit together. That’s why Jesus gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to the Church in the first place. Please look at these verses with fresh eyes.  Have you been building a denomination or a religious company all these years? Or have you been building the “spiritual house” of the Lord in your area?  Are you connecting the body parts?

Maybe you, like so many other leaders, have been focused on the scaffolding rather than the actual House of the Lord in your community. There is a temptation to focus only on our ministry within our four walls because that is where we feel successful and derive our sense of value or our incomes. That is how we compare ourselves with the banker, the doctor and the dentist; by how our practice looks to others. However we should be more concern about how we are pleasing the One who ordained us for the purpose He set forth in Scripture.

Reason #3

This is Authentic Christianity According to Jesus

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:33, 34

According to Jesus the world would know we are genuine disciples by our love for one another. This is how they will know you and I are the real deal – Love for one another (not just love for the Lost!).  Does the world see this in us? Is it hard for us to love Christians who are different from us because we are using our particular religious system to gain God’s approval? Are we still trying to make ourselves worthy of God’s love and acceptance by keeping our camp’s set of rules and rituals? Could it be we are more rule oriented than relationship oriented? Does this leave us loveless and disconnected from the other believers from different camps?

Reason #2

Our Relationships Reveal How Much Light We Are Walking In

But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:7

 He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. 1 John 2:9-11

The proof we are walking in the Christ’s light is revealed by our relationships with one another. The level of fellowship we have with members of the Body of Christ reveals what level of light we are walking in. If we walk in the light as He is in the light we will have fellowship with one another. If you can only get along with one other believer you have a small level of light you are walking in. Getting along with people in your home group is another level of Christ’s light you are walking in. As you grow in Christlikeness you will be able to walk in more light which will enable you to have meaningful fellowship with an entire church, denomination, city or nation. How much light are you walking in?  I find it amazing as a leader in a local church that I can walk in fellowship with all who come to our house of worship, yet many within the same church will not get along with people different from them. They’ve chosen to stay at their low level of light.

I don’t know about you but I want more of God. He is light and love. He loves everyone. So if you are going to be like Him or be near Him you better plan on losing your dark areas and step into the light as you fellowship with believers from different streams.

Reason #1

We Are To Be the Answer to the Real Lord’s Prayer

I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. John 17:20-23

The last free night of Jesus’ ministry on earth we get to hear Him pray the most important thing on His heart. The Holy Spirit records the most intimate and precious words the Son of God ever uttered in the Bible and we get to listen in. This is awesome! What would be on your mind if you were on your death bed? What would you say to your family if you only had hours to live? What would be your last prayer for them? I guarantee it would be the most important thing on your heart. What is the single most important thing to Jesus Christ? This is a very important moment so pay close attention.

The answer is, that we would be One as He and the Father is One, so the world would know He is the Savior of the world. It is absolutely astonishing beyond all belief that just about every Theological Seminary and Bible School misses the importance of this sacred point made by our Savior. Almost every Christian organization has a Statement of Faith or list of Orthodox Doctrines necessary to be considered an authentic Christian or minister. Yet according to Jesus Himself the world would only recognize we were authentic followers of His by our love for one another and our Oneness with God and each other. Did Jesus know something about the cynical culture of the last generation? Did He know in the last days the love of many would grow cold and would need to see true love before they would believe Jesus was sent by God? Or is it true that in spite of all the religious jargon we use, people know when they see a sham and when they are witnessing authentic Christian love and unity … the kind that is a foretaste of heaven?

If you are still tracking with me and believe this is the missing element or as they say the “weakest link” in our testimony to the world, then listen to this. The standard of unity we are called to is no less than that of the unity of the Godhead. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three who are one.  This isn’t some surface religious unity we are talking about. This is not about fake smiles and superficial Sunday morning relationships. This is the essence of heaven’s source of life. This is the kind of oneness every true believer is drawn to like protons and electrons are drawn to the nucleus of an atom.

According to the Bible, Jesus’ method for world evangelism is our ONENESS. (The word “glory” is mentioned 8 times and “world” an astounding 19 times in the Lord’s Prayer). Jesus knows the end time generation would need something more than religious activities and buildings. To get the world’s attention, He calls us to Oneness. Due to iniquity abounding and the love of many waxing cold, only the glory of the unified Body of Christ can reveal the Spirit of Christ in a penetrating way. God’s unity of Spirit displayed on the canvas of flawed humanity will erase all the bad reputations of the Church and Christians alike. You may not have faith to believe for this oneness in your city but you can start with teaching your children, your cell group, and your church to believe and be part of the remnant Church, preparing herself as a bride.

Still unconvinced believers will get their act together? Don’t worry! Jesus prayed for this and Jesus always gets his prayers answered.

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! For there the Lord commanded the blessing—Life forevermore.

Excerpt from “Working Together For Jesus”

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God’s Ministry Assembly Line

assemblyNow that we understand the progressive nature of the maturing process we will also begin to understand and appreciate why certain ministers, churches and ministries operate the way they do. The proof of our spiritual growth is played out in the context of Christian ministry where we live. This material helps us understand the “maturity milestones” believers must attain to effectively minister side by side; it’s a maturity/character thing. Our book “Working Together for Jesus” helps us understand why so many elders, deacons, bishops, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers often struggle to get along with each other. It’s a ministry context thing.

Our hope is that we will begin to look at different Christian leaders who we thought were out of order in a different light. We will realize that certain ministers are positioned by the Lord to help believers move along the Ministry Assembly Line, the maturing process according to their gifting. Here we see the division of ministry (those who Defend the Faith and those who Extend the Faith) as God ordained. There are fathering and mothering aspects to bringing Christians to maturity. However Satan and his religious spirits work continually to cause friction and persistent misunderstandings between these two styles of discipleship so he can divide and conquer the Church.

To help understand this division of ministry we should review Hebrew culture. The patriarchal (father) and matriarchal (mother) roles reveal why the Church of Jesus Christ emphasizes two different roles. When a woman had a baby in ancient Israel the father and the mother would often give the baby to a “wet nurse” so the mother would stop lactating to better enable her to conceive again.

Evidently the new mother’s body doesn’t allow her to conceive easily when she is nursing. In the Jewish mind, the more children they had the more they were obeying God’s command to be fruitful and multiply. Wealth was measured by how many sheep and cattle and children they had.

After the child was weaned they would hand the child over to a tutor (“pedagogue” in Greek) until such time as the child would have their bar mitzvah. Then the father would, in a sense officially adopt his own child into his care, his training and his family business. That is why we read about Jesus at around 12 years of age saying “He must be about his Father’s business” when He was in the temple (Luke 2:49).

The Bible says that Israel was kept under guard by this “pedagogue” this tutor, which was the Law.

But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.  Galatians 3:23-25

This is the Way This Plays Out in Our Christian World

The first part of your Christian walk you are brought into a church/ministry family where you are regularly fed and nurtured by a tutor, a church family, and a pastor or home group leader. These loving and caring people along with teachers change your spiritual diapers and feed you with the milk of God’s Word. Some even call the Outer Court the “utter court” because it represents a new believer’s need for milk.

We are given consistent and regular routines and programs to help us more easily understand and assimilate the Bible’s basic doctrines. Providing peace and predictability are essential when we are young. We become committed to our local church or denomination because it is the house we grew up in, the yard we played in and the first bedroom we hung our posters in.

This is the safe and soft place of the Church known as your mother or matriarchal ministry. This is the place of peace and predictability that is so necessary for all young believers. You can click here for a visual chart on how this looks in your church. However, sadly the religious spirit can enter here in almost every ministry and where Satan plans to keep Christians stuck in perpetual immaturity. What was valid and appropriate ministry can become smothering and emasculating. Egypt was a place of provision for Israel but years later it became a place of slavery to man’s egotistical monuments. This environment de-motivates believers to move on to maturity.

Have you ever seen an unemployed 30-year-old man who sleeps in late, watches TV all day and still lives at his mother’s house because there is no father is in the house to straighten him out? The same is true for believers in America. It is so sad to see the great tragedy of wasted spiritual potential for the kingdom of God. What is even more incredible is the fact that most Christians have never had their Christian experience described like this before. They have never been exposed to the anointing and authority of the Apostolic and Prophetic ministries that uncovers the fact that they have been stuck in perpetual immaturity. The following diagram helps us see God’s intentions hidden in the Tabernacle.

AssemblyThe Reason Why So Many Backslide and Fall Away

Some church experts believe that there are as many as 20 million Christians who no longer go to church? Click here to better understand 12 reasons why some believers no longer attend church. If we are to grow up beyond typical church attendance. we must understand why we need all 5 of the ministry graces Jesus gave to His Church. That’s what we address is in the following.

The Inner Journey

Working Together for Jesus