“Doing” Church in North America – YouTube – Graham Cooke – “We make victims of our heroes.”

Graham Cooke brilliantly describes how “doing” church today must start with leaders who can model freedom.

Graham goes onto say that church revolves around 3 types of people:

  • Initiators,
  • Enablers and
  • Resisters.

He skillfully describes if churches want to succeed, they must learn about each group and explains that if we have any hopes of accomplishing anything in church, we must understand each people group and learn how to lead them.

Graham warns that if we’re not careful, we will unconsciously make victims out the people we value most.

Visit: www.GrahamCooke.com for more.

What should women do?

womenbuildup“Just imagine what would happen to this church if all the women left.”

The looks on the men’s faces turned from indifference to shock and horror. They realized that the vast majority of the ‘hands on’ ministering was happening because of women. The women were faithful and valuable to building God’s kingdom!

Jesus has tons of things to say about women in his ministry. Just look at: Luke 8:1-3 to see their significance for Jesus’ ministry. And these were even women once considered castaways…

Jesus traveled around from one town and village to another. He announced the good news of God’s kingdom. His 12 disciples were with him. So were some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses. One was Mary Magdalene. Seven demons had come out of her. Another was Joanna, the wife of Chuza. He was the manager of Herod’s household. Susanna and many others were there also. These women were helping to support Jesus and the 12 disciples with their own money.

(Luke 8:1-3)

I love this quote from Dr Scot McKnight…

When we ask the question of women in ministry, the debate almost immediately gravitates to traditional “women in ministry” texts. But I’d like us to ask another question — one both more biblical and more answerable:

Do women DO in your church what Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, Priscilla, Junia, and Phoebe did?

Do they do what Mary did?

Do they do what Jesus encouraged women to do?

Here’s a deeper look at what these women did…
(and which the Bible honours.)

Miriam was a prophet who offered what has to be considered one of the most potent interpretations of what God did at the Exodus (Exodus 15:20-21).

Deborah was judge of Israel (Judges 4-5).

Huldah also served as a prophet (2 Kings 22:14).

Priscilla was a teacher of the gospel, a “co-worker” of Paul —this is a virtual title for a distinct group of apostolic ministers of the gospel —and a leader of the church (Acts 18:18-19, 26; Rom. 16:3-5; 1 Cor. 16:19; 2 Tim. 4:19).

Junia, and this is now a consensus among scholars, was an “apostle” (Rom.16:7). We might try to minimize the word “apostle” to “missionary,” but we do so only out of prejudice.

Phoebe is called a “deacon” (not “deaconess”) and an epistatis, which might mean “benefactor” or “president” (Rom. 16:1-2).

(Excerpted from an article written by Dr Scot McKnight, a Professor in Religious Studies at North Park University (Chicago, Illinois) called: “Women Ministering” on www. cbeinternational.org)

So… what can women do when their hearts are surrendered to God?

According to the Word, they prophecy, judge/lead, teach the Gospel, minister, lead the church, become apostolic, building God’s kingdom and not their own.

The most beautiful thing is not what women do with their own talent, but by the power of the Holy Spirit…

bringing light
…to a dark world.

This is what God calls and empowers women to do!

When Men are Silent

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What happens when men keep silent…?

(I wrote a post recently… When We Silence Women …but let us also highlight the value of men’s voices…) 

We need to hear both voices of men and women, not spoken in fleshly anger, but in bold Spirit-led risk-taking obedience… Dr Larry Crabb reminds us of the value of men’s voices…
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I always wondered why Eve put up a fight with the serpent, but not Adam…? …and this was before the Fall. Whatever the reason, it is a perfect example of why we need both men and women to speak truth and defend it together…for the sake of the world! We need each other. Remember, God created Adam and the world was not yet complete. It goes both ways vice versa.

My prayer…

I’m praying for our men to hear God’s voice clearly above all other voices… Praying for more of the Holy Spirit to give them courage to live out their calling… Praying against overwhelm and confusion, against shame and paralysis. Praying instead for their unique Holy Spirit anointing so that they may enjoy a victorious walk with Jesus!

“Men are uniquely called to remember what God has said and to speak accordingly, to move into dangerous uncertainty with a confidence and wisdom that comes from listening to God.”

Enjoy the book by Dr Larry Crabb: Men of Courage: God’s Call to Move Beyond the Silence of Adam

A Future Not Our Own – Oscar Romero

romero9

This comes from Archbishop Oscar Romero who was killed in his church in El Salvador by a right-wing death squad on March 24th, 1980 out of his commitment to the poor…

A Future Not Our Own

It helps, now and then, to step back

and take the long view.

The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,

it is beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of

the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.

Nothing we do is complete,

which is another way of saying

that the kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.

No prayer fully expresses our faith.

No confession brings perfection.

No pastoral visit brings wholeness.

No programme accomplishes the church’s mission.

No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about:

We plant seeds that one day will grow.

We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.

We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything

and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.

This enables us to do something,

and to do it very well.

It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,

an opportunity for God’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results,

but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders,

ministers, not messiahs.

We are prophets of a future not our own.

 

via Prophetic | Emotionally Healthy Spirituality.

via A Future Not Our Own.

9 Changes to Make Before a Church Dies

My heart ached when I read this post from Thom Rainer… It triggered pain that I have known… I pray for churches across North America (my heart lies there)…

urgent-church-nine-changes-we-must-make-or-die

“..Many of our congregations must change. They must change or they will die.

I call these churches “the urgent church.” Time is of the essence. If changes do not happen soon, very soon, these churches will die. The pace of congregational death is accelerating.

What, then, are some of the key changes churches must make?”

Read: URGENT CHURCH: 9 Changes We Must Make or Die

From Word Curses to Blessing – Uncanny Story

Is life a bit nuts for you? …with people’s word curses rather than words of blessing?

Do you live in a series of uncanny events?

Free video and free pdf summary below…

{This book recently has taken me back to my Old Testament prophets class in Bible school and my professor weeping over the disobedience of Israel and the curses and the blessings…

(He was a parent. Can you blame him?)

Rest assured the book took me through the New Testament, showing where curses and blessings were recorded even spoken by Jesus Himself.}

For a period of my ministry life, there had been a series of uncanny events around me that blew my mind… especially people’s growing word curses and a lack of words of blessing…

People who once were encouragers became accusers,

People who stood for truth, began to spread lies,

People who stood for something, bowed at the slightest persecution,

People I respected, became disrespectful.

I thought I was going nuts. I began to ask myself,…

“Why the madness and crazy making?

What happened to integrity, and risk-taking obedience because of our Holy Spirit conviction?

What happened to building God’s Kingdom and not our own?

Why are we bowing down to others rather than God?”

My body crashed into exhaustion and slow motion. My speech delayed and stuttering, and my mobility diminished. My heart broken and mind confused. My doctor ordered me to stay away from my environment immediately…

In my path toward healing, along with much time resting and seeking the Lord, a mentor …who with a team of prayer warriors who prayed for 3 hours over me because they could feel the spiritual attack over me, (Hallelujah – someone else could feel it!) …then for further repair, he directed me to this reminder on curses and blessings…

I began to apply what I re-learned and began to experience a tremendous freedom.

I have prayed numerous freedom in Christ prayers and prayers of spiritual protection over 10 years of pastoral ministry and the spiritual warfare that comes with being a shepherd of the people, but this seemed to cut things off at the root; at word curses spoken over me and perhaps also over those leaders who had gone before me who were attacked and who also had crashed.

We shall see…

Time will tell.

My body slowly repairs… with a circle of specialists telling me to rest, and delight in truth, and have fun with tank-filling family and friends.

I think it is no coincidence that at the same time I began to pray these prayers, a group of people and leaders began repenting on behalf of a larger community breaking generational sins. I am told it was a beautiful, long overdue process of confession and surrender to the Lord for a community in long-time brokenness!

(I remember doing prayer walks every week around the main building with my 80 year old prayer partner for 5 years (once a missionary in a part of the world that experienced spiritual warfare and deliverance on a regular basis), praying for such a day of repentance and renewal! Eight years later, it finally happened! I visited with her to celebrate the good news and we wept and gave thanks together. Though we had experienced individuals and families in repentance within our community over the years, this appeared to be the mother load.)

A new chapter in freedom?
It takes a long time for a ship to be turned around and so we continue to pray…!

Watch the video below and read through the pdf summary of the talk yourself…

If you are in a series of uncanny events, what have you got to lose? The teaching all stems from the Word of God and the importance of what comes out of our mouths… that we can speak death or life over others.

How to Pass From Curse to Blessing by Derek Prince


1) Video teaching:

2) PDF talk summary with prayer:

http://www.dieakker.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/explaining-blessings-and-curses-derek-prince.pdf

My prayer is that YOU will be free from curses spoken over you. And that YOU will use your mouth to bless others, and not destroy!

(And if you were one of those who spoke curses over me, I am learning to walk in forgiveness and praying blessing over you… I’m deeply and prayerfully all about long-term generational freedom.)

You reap what you sow. Let us plant seeds of blessing for the next generation.

P.S. You can read the full book here if you need more info…

Blessing or Curse: You Can Choose: Freedom from Pressures You Thought You Had to Live with

And here is the 2nd part of my healing journey… Prayers that Heal the Heart

My Changing Mind on Church: Learning to Fly

Baby-Bird-Learning-to-Fly1

I feel my mind is changing about church.

After 10 years of pastoral ministry, I think I’ve been wrecked, but in a good way…

The mother bird pushes it’s young out of the nest to learn to fly…

I think I didn’t want to leave the nest…

Though I received several job offers over the years, and plenty of invitations to speak throughout the conference across provinces, and mentor other pastors and entire church elder boards, I felt deeply loyal to the church that was my home for 5 years before I first became a pastor. It was the church that had adopted me, called me, and equipped me. I loved my teams of volunteers spread throughout the church in multiple areas.

Church, as I’ve always known it, has been a safe place… until it no longer became safe for me… Somehow, it became dangerous for my health to use my spiritual gifts and exercise my love of disciple making, and engage my heart for prayer… I received more ‘persecution’ inside the church than outside. Did I seriously just write that? What? How is that possible?

At times, when I took one step outside the church… BANG! Somehow, I found myself discipling double digits and baptizing people left and right…

I think I am in a paradigm shifting…

While on a time of rest from pastoring 10 years within a formal church leadership, I was further stopped in my tracks while reading these two books below. I think these books saved me from utter despair. They gave me hope!

Have we been like Jesus’ parents who left him behind and continued traveling ahead without him?!

(Honestly, I always scoffed at that story. What kind of parents of the Messiah were they?!) But, are we that far off as spiritual leaders? Have we completely left Jesus behind in our journey?

Feel free to read these two books below which are pdfs you can download into your reader. And then share your thoughts…!

Read with caution.

You may have many questions along the way.


Keep reading to the end of each.

You may never be the same… 

Confession:

I feel like Martin Luther approaching the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, and nailing a piece of paper to it with 95 revolutionary opinions that would begin the Protestant Reformation.

Yikes…

“Lord, have mercy on us… Help us to seek your will while choosing to love, as you call us to love…”

I think the modern day prophets are right, we are in a NEW reformation…

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Jesus Has Left the Building
 by Paul Vieira
Read this book first.

If you have been so thirsty and hungry within your church, your heart will cry out like one finding a living spring of water with a fresh loaf of bread! It will take time to chew on each chapter. Don’t read more than a chapter a day or it will go completely over your head.

 

Book Quote: “God is calling His people to consider their ways and to make sure they are directly connected to Him. These are serious times, not to be taken lightly, or to go on with “business as usual.”

41p95MVjSpL


Houses that Change the World
 by Wolfgang Simpson
Second book to read.

A friend of mine shared this book with me who once lived in a country that intentionally persecuted Christians. She and her family were forced to be the church in the manner the book describes. Today, her heart often longs for that kind of pressure once again in order for church community to be so intentional. The author gives 3 possible ways to stop going to church and start BEING the church once again.

Book excerpt:

“Church is a Way of Life, not a series of religious meetings. Before they where called Christians, followers of Christ have been called ”The Way”. One of the reasons was, that they have literally found ”the way to live.” The nature of Church is not reflected in a constant series of religious meetings lead by professional clergy in holy rooms specially reserved to experience Jesus, but in the prophetic way followers of Christ live their everyday life in spiritual extended families as a vivid answer to the questions society faces, at the place where it counts most: in their homes.

Time to change the system. In aligning itself to the religious patterns of the day, the historic Orthodox Church after Constantine in the 4th century AD adopted a religious system which was in essence Old Testament, complete with priests, altar, a Christian temple (cathedral), frankincense and a Jewish, synagogue-style worship pattern. The Roman Catholic Church went on to canonize the system. Luther did reform the content of the gospel, but left the outer forms of ”church” remarkably untouched; the Free-Churches freed the system from the State, the Baptists then baptized it, the Quakers dry-cleaned it, the Salvation Army put it into a uniform, the Pentecostals anointed it and the Charismatics renewed it, but until today nobody has really changed the superstructure. It is about time to do just that.”

 

Could God be pushing us out of the nest, in order to fly in the freedom Christ died for us to know and live out – within His body and church community?

What could God be calling us as His people today?

I welcome your thoughts but AFTER you’ve read the books. 🙂 (At least the first one!) I don’t pretend to have all the answers. I’m just in listening mode to the voice of God and learning all that I can…

Relationship, Not Religion

is43-19
Source: bible.com

Update: My heart is full! I’m slowly gaining strength physically as my nervous system heals since my doctor ordered me to leave my place of ministry for peaceful rest back in June 2016. Though, last week I was in bed 3 days and one was in the house with all blinds drawn, ear plugs in and sunglasses on. I was over stimulated by light and noise. But, my heart is full of joy!!!!

I hear God’s voice in a fresh new way than ever before! (No distractions.) He has affirmed me over and over. While I spent regular days in prayer as a pastor, annual prayer retreats with my ministry team serving with me, and on prayer walks with prayer partners seeking His voice before doing any kind of ministry, He just didn’t get enough time with me I guess. 🙂 It feels like He pulled me out to rest and linger with Him.

This morning I meditated on how Jesus lingered longer so that he would show up only after Lazarus died in order to reveal the Father’s power! I realized that lingering with Jesus longer in my physical state will only breathe testimony to His power whenever the time is right to follow my next assignment. We truly need to die to self in order for God’s new life to spring forth!
For now, He invites me to linger longer.

Proverbs 3:
3 Don’t let love and truth ever leave you.
Tie them around your neck.
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 Then you will find favor and a good name
in the eyes of God and people.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart.
Do not depend on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways obey him.
Then he will make your paths smooth and straight.

I once preached 3 specific sermons on Sabbath rest, the nurturing heart of God, and being family together leaving no one behind. Those messages I once spoke both comforted and convicted. I see how the enemy hates when God’s people learn that God longs to linger with us, rest with us, and invite us to be family together. I think he’d much rather us believe that God must be put in a box, and that we get to tell God how to operate.

Isaiah 43:
19 I am about to do something new.
It is beginning to happen even now.
Don’t you see it coming?
I am going to make a way for you to go through the desert.
I will make streams of water in the dry and empty land.

 
Acts 2:
17 “ ‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Holy Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your young men will see visions.
Your old men will have dreams.
18 In those days, I will pour out my Spirit on my servants.
I will pour out my Spirit on both men and women.
When I do, they will prophesy.
21 Everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

God has encouraged me over and over how Moses spent more time with God than the people and delegated leadership in order to be face to face with God. A mentor has been reminding me that how well we lead (as spiritual leaders) those who follow us, is the result of how much time we have spent with God, not necessarily to seek answers but to minister to the heart of God. Yes, to God. He longs to be in relationship with us and out of that, He leads us. We cannot lead out of our own human convictions – even human convictions we have after ‘figuring out’ our doctrine.

That’s religion and not relationship.

If persecution arises and we merely lead out of human conviction, we easily deny our ‘convictions’ in fear and betray those who trust us and follow us. We lash out at others, resort to envy or jealousy… But, if we are so deeply convicted by the Holy Spirit, and desperate for Him, nothing will deter our courage.

Let us be led by the Spirit, and not by fear, programs, tradition, religion…

Let us linger with the One who breathes life!

The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy.
Jesus came to bring new life. (John 10:10)

Intentional Friendships

Friendship-Quotes-4
http://www.prettydesigns.com

I am ALIVE and investing in other people, because of people who invested in me. My parents were intentional in recruiting others to invest in me in partnership with them. Friends and mentors obediently stepped up at crucial times of brokenness in my life. They saw something in me, prayed for me, battled for me, and have celebrated with me. They were the hands and feet of Jesus to me.

 

Last weekend I gave a workshop on Titus 2 and I continue to ponder the truths…

We are all impacting others whether we know it or not. Let us choose to be in ‘intentional friendships’. It’s exciting to be intentional. You don’t need to be overwhelmed by it.

‘Mentoring’, as some may call it, isn’t about knowing all the answers. It’s less about telling someone what to do and more about listening and knowing the right questions to ask. The Holy Spirit already wants to speak to each person. Often all you need to do is ask open ended questions for the person to hear what the Holy Spirit has been already trying to reveal. And if you don’t know the answer to their questions, pray together, and refer them to someone else who knows that topic better than you. Invite others to be apart of the journey!

You don’t need to be perfect. No one is.

God uses our mistakes, our victories, our ordinary moments to fulfill a greater purpose. We leave fingerprints on the lives of people every day. May they be God’s fingerprints and less of our own.

Pray: “Less of me, more of you Holy Spirit!”

We each long for someone to come alongside us, walk with us, teach us, challenge us, encourage us, and believe in us.

We can ‘mentor’ our friends the same age as us and they can ‘mentor’ us. (Peer mentoring.)

We desire friends we can trust, a relationship we can depend on, a mentor to guide us, someone to love us for who we are.

Problem is, we live lives too busy for the intimate relationships we desire. Our lives are so fragmented.

‘Intentional friendship’ as a lifestyle means that we live our lives as if they matter, because they do!

What difference are you making in the people around you?

What mark are you leaving in the lives of your family, your friends, your co-workers? Do you hope others will duplicate what they see in you?

Think of the impact when we choose to be intentional about the time we spend with others. Families, neighbourhoods, churches, cities, an entire country, and even world can be transformed.

Let’s Be Intentional Together While We Wait for Christ’s Return

(Read Titus 2.)

  1. Spend some time thinking of 1 or 2 older people in your life who has played a key role in investing in you.
  • What was/is it that has impacted you?
  1. Spend some time thinking about 1 or 2 young people you know in your life whom you have been blessed by, someone you wish your kids would become like, or someone you are proud of.
  • What was/is it that has impacted/impressed you?
  1. Spend some time thinking about an employer you have had or a leader of some kind who has believed in you, encouraged you, and cheered you on, or taught you a valuable lesson.
  • What was/is it that has impacted you?

Consider sharing with a friend your reflections. Ask them the questions above to learn from them.

Activity:

  1. Write a thank you note to a person/mentor/life coach thanking them for the investment they’ve made in your life.
  2. Write a note of thanks or encouragement to your employer.
  3. Write a note of encouragement to a young person in your life. Give them a verse of Scripture to bless them with.
  4. Google sample prayers for the next generation, for parents, for employers, etc. Find specific Scriptures to pray over them.

Quiet Personal Prayer Time:

Plan for an hour to focus on this…

1. Do you have someone intentionally investing in you yet? If not, ask God for a name of someone who should be invited to invest in you. This may require prayer and fasting. Don’t let it fall by the wayside. If God gives you a name, don’t outright ask them if they’d coach/disciple you. That will scare them. Invite them for lunch or tea and tell them you have 3 life questions to ask them. Give them the questions ahead of time. If the time together is a hit, thank them deeply for their wisdom and ask if they’d be interested to reconnect in 2 weeks or a month or so. If there was no chemistry, simply thank them. Pray over the outcome either way. Don’t give up.

2. Ask God for a name of someone who is younger in your life that He’d like you to further invest in. They may be one of the younger ones you’ve already thought of above. Then ask God how/what that could look like. Ask Him for His plan of mentoring and discipleship. This too may require prayer and fasting. Don’t let it fall by the wayside and then you miss out on making a difference in someone’s life and you growing in the journey with them. Before you invest in someone, know your limits, theirs and your expectations etc. Not everyone is teachable, and not everyone is a good fit. See resources listed below for a plan for mentoring and discipleship.

3. Have you freely accepted God’s grace in your own life? Do you truly know that God loves you no matter what? If not, what is it that could be holding you back? Were you misled to believe that you have to do good things in order for God to love you? Ask God what it is that you’re clinging to that is keeping you from accepting His grace, and give that over to Him. Make room for God’s best for you!

4. What do you live for? What is constantly on your mind? What are you most passionate about? What is your goal in life? Does it have anything to do with building God’s kingdom? If not, release it. It won’t last forever and will only bring heartache later down the road.

Give God your selfish ambitions, your worries, your fears, your disappointments, your un-confessed sin of self-pity, selfishness, constant complaining, criticizing others, eating too much, not taking care of your body, filling your mind with junk tv shows and movies that paint sin as fun, gossip, lying, neglecting time to worship and pray regularly…

Give it all over to God. He has bigger plans for you!

Prayer of Release:

“Dear Jesus… I release to you… and in it’s place I receive your grace! Fill me with your Holy Spirit. Lord, I receive Your Holy Spirit into my life. Fill me with Your presence, and teach me to clearly hear Your voice so that I may follow You all the days of my life.

Lord, give me the confidence to share your grace with others. Help me to care more about what you think of me, than what others think. Give me the boldness to share your grace with others. I want to be a life changer because of your love through me. I want to build your kingdom and not my own! In your Name Jesus, Amen.”

 

Resources I Highly Recommend:

Book: A Mentor’s Fingerprint. – Ann Griffiths & Donna Inglis
www.fingerprintministries.com
This book will awaken the realization that we all impact and influence others. It will inspire, empower, and equip you to be even more effective in how you invest in others. Provides practical guidelines on how long you mentor someone and how to evaluate along the way.

Book: The Invested Life – Rosenberg & Koshy
The Invested Life: Making Disciples of All Nations One Person at a Time
Key questions: Who is investing in you? And in whom are you investing?
The goal is to make disciples of all nations for Jesus Christ one person at a time fully relying on God. The book challenges Christ followers to have a big biblical vision and lay out the first baby steps to start. The Invested Life lays out a process to not only answer those 2 simple questions, but to live out that answer in a transformational way completely in prayer. “We don’t choose whom to disciple. God chooses for us.”

Article: Why Being A Mentor Isn’t As Scary As You Think by Randy Wollf

http://www.ministrylift.ca/why_being_a_mentor_isnt_as_scary_as_you_think

Article: How Christian Women Can Mentor and Be Mentored by Kelley Mathews

http://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/how-christian-women-can-mentor-and-be-mentored-1409871.html

Article: Titus 2 Prayers by Dawn Wilson

https://www.reviveourhearts.com/true-woman/blog/titus-2-prayers/

Article: Woman to Woman: Answering the Call of Titus 2 by Jean Williams
http://matthiasmedia.com/briefing/2010/03/woman-to-woman-answering-the-call-of-titus-2/

Article: Creating Circles of Friendship by Tammy Strait
http://www.tammystrait.com/circles-friendship/