How do we approach truth?

truth vs lieJust read this today and my heart leapt…!

Jesus calls himself “the truth” (John 14:6), and the Holy Spirit, “the Spirit of truth” (John 14:7; 16:13). Any time we are not living from Jesus’ perspective, the foundation of truth, we are in some way connected to the father of lies, the devil. When we experience negative or painful consequences as a result of choosing to talk in truth, we may be tempted to quit. This is exactly the point where our faith in God’s truth gets tested. To choose to speak the truth in love, even when there is great cost to us, confirms our trust in God’s ways, rather than our own ways.

Are you willing to risk being truthful in love above anything that you fear or anything that you desire? God is truth. Are you willing to put God, His truth and His ways above anything that you fear or want? Are you willing to go beyond your fears and desires and expose whatever needs to be exposed for you to be truly known?

Remember: Truth without love is harsh and destructive; love without truth lacks substance. It must be truth with love.

I say… Yes, yes, yes, yes! Avoiding the truth only leads to bondage. Jesus, who is the Truth, invites us into freedom when we walk in His Spirit who is Love.

Source and learn more from…

Barry and Lori Byrne
Nothing Hidden Ministries
http://nothinghidden.com

What is the true job of a pastor?

The other day I had a delightful call with a young leader who brought up the topic of how a Pastor’s role appears to have terribly wandered today. I did a little digging on what others are saying…

“Most books on church growth and leadership today argue that if pastors continue to do what pastors have done for so many years, they will fail.”

Too many churches today operate with leadership models started in world models and adapted to the church. This is dangerous. Why?

These business models allow people to put pastors on pedestals.

These models puts the needs of the church first and forget outside the church.
The goal becomes building the church’s own kingdom rather than the kingdom of God. (Megachurch mania.) It’s the…, ‘If we build it, they will come’ mentality. And yet, we are called to go

But, pride leads to destruction…

Proverbs 18:12 (CEV)
12 Pride leads to destruction;
humility leads to honor.

And, selfish ambitions destroys a church…

James 3:16 (GW)
Wherever there is jealousy and rivalry, there is disorder and every kind of evil.

Instead, the role of the pastor should be based on a biblical model…


So, what does the Bible actually call a Pastor to do?

1. Pray first.

“Jesus lived a life of prayer. He started every day in communion with the heavenly Father. He ended every day in close relationship with His Father. At times, He even spent the whole night in communion with His Father. Jesus actually was in touch with His heavenly Father all the time.”

2. Do life out of a deep abiding relationship with Jesus.

“Over and over, the Scriptures show us that Jesus placed the highest priority of His life on spending time alone with the Father. His life reveals an intense passion for the presence of God. His heart longed and hungered to touch the heart of God.”

3. Preach the Word that is living and active, for heart transformation!

“We must study the Bible, not for curiosity, but for a new heart.”

4. Be in relationship with others. Do life with people. Don’t just lead meetings.

“Christ’s method builds relationships and meets needs.” Jesus didn’t die and rise again for us to be in meetings.

5. Then teach others how to do the same. (Emphasis on relationships.)

When Jesus began His public ministry, He called and empowered people to be His disciples— who would champion His world changing cause. As Robert Coleman says in The Master Plan of Evangelism, “His concern was not with programs to reach the multitudes, but with men whom the multitudes would follow. . . . People were to be His method of winning the world to God.”

6. And live a life of sacrifice.

Time, resources, and life unto death… willing to get in the muck. I recall this list…

12apostles

God calls us to live the life Jesus lived. Pastoral ministry is not about us, but about Him—about knowing and serving Him.”

Read the full excellent article here: The Biblical Role of the Pastor

Related: Epidemic: Another Pastor Burned Out and Quit Last Sunday

“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)