Advancing His Kingdom in 2012

We close out 2011 having seen the Kingdom of God advance in the hearts of many people. As pastor and apostle I witnessed the evidence of His advancing kingdom. The advance of His kingdom in 2011 was preceded by the Truth of His Word, the unconditional Love of His Son, and the good news of Grace toward all who believe.
People who embraced the advance of His kingdom had to make room for that kingdom in their hearts. They released offenses and judgments, discarded wrong belief systems, disengaged from co-dependent relationships. In their place came the kingdom character of pure hearts, truthful beliefs, and healthy interdependent relationships. This was often painful individually and corporately, but those who endured entered a new place of freedom and faith. Every advance of the Kingdom of God starts in the hearts of His people, before it extends to the hearts and minds of governments, educational institutions, denominations, and nations.
As we transition into 2012, the Holy Spirit is leading each of us in the context of a bigger picture. 2012 will be a pivotal year for the church world-wide. Each person in the Body of Christ has a role in the kingdom beginning at the most basic level of the local fellowship of believers. As each person allows the Kingdom to expand in their hearts, the local fellowship expands its corporate heart. As each local fellowship fulfills its call and purpose, His kingdom advances to the pre-Christian, to denominations, and to governments and nations. 2012 will be a pivotal year for each believer to continue their personal expansion of the kingdom at the expense of leaving behind circumstantial distractions, the cares of this world, and the desires for other things(Mark 4:18,19). Personal decisions will affect the destiny of churches, of elections, and of nations. Advance truth. Accept His unconditional love. Embrace the good news of grace!


Christmas Gift...of Competence

As we enter the season celebrating the birth of Jesus, we must remind ourselves that we’ve been given a gift to be competent. We are ministers of a new covenant of grace and peace: the gift from Jesus. 2 Cor. 3:6 says “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” Scripture declares that our competence as ministers comes from the new covenant of the Spirit, not of the letter of the law. What does that mean? It simply means that the Father has made us competent, i.e. skillful in method and effective in action, through the undeserved favor, blessing and love birthed at Christmas 2000 years ago.
Our methods and actions must only come from the new covenant of grace and peace. It is through this Christmas gift that we minister transformation in people’s lives leading them into the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:13). When we try to influence people by the letter of the law we employ wrong methods and actions, thereby undermining the gift of Christmas and rendering ineffective our leadership in the Kingdom. Leading by the letter of the law always stifles, diminishes and even kills. The letter of the law is no longer our supervisor! (Gal. 3:25)
What is the ‘letter’ versus the ‘Spirit’? The letter is the literal content of 3000 dos and don’ts of the 10 commandments, the feasts, the sacrifices, in short, rules of religious living. The letter of the law can only bring death. The Spirit is the Holy Spirit’s intent and ultimate goal. By the Spirit, we love God and love people through our righteous relationship with the Father with whom we have peace through the abundant grace given by Jesus. Leading by the Spirit brings life to those around us. Leading by the law kills joy and brings death to those around us. Paul challenged the Galatian believers who had succumbed to the ‘letter’ when he said 'what has happened to your joy’? (Gal. 4:15)
You are a competent minister….. competent when ministering through the gift Jesus, the competent minister, brought at Christmas. We now minister by the Spirit, through the grace, love and hope, of the Christmas gift. Rejoice in what He has done to make possible what you can do!


Power to Delight

Your words have power to delight. James 3:1-12 says that our words carry great power. Our Father’s desire is that our words powerfully influence people for the Kingdom of God, bringing life and hope into a world of death and despair. Verses 9 and 10 declare the power of our words to praise God and bless people. This is the power to delight; delighting our Father and His people. He loves the praises that come from the lips of His people. He relishes words of love and faith we offer to Him whether in a church meeting, in our devotion time, or during our daily routine of life. We live and declare a life filled with words of praise. We’re like the Psalmist who said ‘My life is an example to many, because You have been my strength and protection. That is why I can never stop praising You; I declare Your glory all day long’ (Ps. 71:7,8). The Father accomplished everything for YOU and strengthens your life through the grace of Jesus every day. We offer words to delight Him in response to what He has done in us and for us.
But what about words to delight people? We can speak words of destruction or delight toward people. We have a choice based upon what’s in our heart. The words of James say that it is not right that we praise God then speak curses toward people. To do so is to be double-minded. We are to praise God and bless people, in spite of what people may say about us. In fact Jesus said that even when people speak words of destruction, we are to speak words of blessing (Luke 6:28). The word ‘bless’ literally means ‘to speak well of’. When we speak well of someone we delight their heart. There will be people who do NOT speak well of you in leadership. Not everyone is going to like you or speak well of you. In spite of their words you can offer words that delight.
Now some of you may ask ‘how do I speak words of correction that may not seem like a blessing at the time they are spoken’? Parents certainly know what I am talking about relative to raising children. We know that Paul and the Apostles brought words of correction to the church to straighten things out that had gone awry. Words of correction will be a delight when spoken from a Father’s heart for the good of the person and the church. Words of correction undergirded by grace can bring people, churches, and ministries into alignment with the Father’s word and His Kingdom. Such words, when received by grace, are a blessing and delight to the Father and to people. While not all people may receive them as a blessing, they are still offered as a blessing.
Leaders; consider the words you speak. Remember that your words carry power. They have power to direct, to destroy and to delight. Allow the grace of God, the undeserved power of transformation and blessing, to transform the well of your heart into a source of words that glorify the Father, reveal the Son, and carry the presence of the Holy Spirit. You will direct people toward the Kingdom of Jesus; delighting the Father and His people.


Destructive Power

Words have the power to destroy. James 3:1-12 gives us understanding of the power of words to influence people and the spiritual atmosphere around us. The scripture says our words can be so destructive as to cause great forest fires, corrupt our bodies and set our lives on fire. Wow! That is power….power to destroy! Our words can destroy hope, trust, unity and peace. They destroy hope by sabotaging the hope of glory we have in the good news gospel. They destroy trust by speaking publicly those things that should be held in confidence. They destroy unity by speaking strife and division in the church. They destroy peace by bringing doubt and anxiety into the lives of people around us.
But there is good news…..we have a choice in the words we speak…..and that choice is found in James’ depiction of two wells: a fresh well and a bitter well; the well of the heart. The heart is the decision station of life; the intersection of soul and spirit.
Patterns of speech give insight into the attitude of our hearts. Negative patterns of speech reveal negative attitudes of the heart. Positive patterns of speech reveal an optimistic outlook on life undergirded by grace based attitudes of the heart. Let’s face it. We would much rather hang around with people who speak words of life and encouragement than words of death and destruction. I find that I can handle negative people only so long, then I try to avoid them….even if they are friends!!! Just because you’re a believer in Jesus and or a leader in the body of Christ does not guarantee you draw your words from a fresh well.
Out of the overflow of our hearts we choose the words we speak. (Luke 6:45) The inner transformation from bitter water to fresh water is in the transformation to a good and noble heart. No matter how bad life circumstances may be, we can still choose to develop a good and noble heart (see Luke 8:15) that brings forth words like fresh water. We gain a good and noble heart as we embrace the gospel of grace and peace rather than a gospel of wrath and judgment. We gain a good and noble heart by cultivating our soul with the good news of Jesus’ victory over hell and the grave. We transform the heart by embracing the unconditional love of the Father. From this fresh well of the good and noble heart we terminate the words of destruction and germinate the words of delight. We infuse life in those around us and into the spiritual climate of our lives.Transform your heart and you will transform your words from destroying to delighting. Transform your heart and your words will no longer start fires or corrupt your life. Jesus said he came to bring good news. So should you!!


Word Power

Our words carry power. People often associate power with human size and strength, electrical voltage, big trucks, jet airplanes, and the suit sitting in the corner office. However, there is dimension of power that transcends those traditional perspectives. It is the power of our words. The Apostle James expounds on the power of words by comparing the tongue to a bridle that turns a horse, a rudder that steers a ship, and a spark that ignites a forest fire (James 3:1-12). Wow! That small physical attribute is really an instrument of power!

As leaders we must consider the influence of words in the spiritual and human atmosphere. There are three distinct powers of our words revealed by James’ writing. The first, to be addressed in this blog, is the power to DIRECT. James says that those who use words to teach will be judged more strictly (James 3:1). People will judge the words of a teacher more strictly than those who do not teach. It is the power of the pulpit. When you speak in group of 5 people or 500 people you bring immediate attention to the words you speak. People analyze your words, compare your words to your behavior, and receive your words as one speaking with a degree of authority.

Gifted speakers can direct nations. We have good and bad examples of word power in people like President Obama who evoked the mantra of ‘hope and change’ carrying this man with little leadership experience to the presidency of the most powerful nation in the world. People liked what he SAID! Winston Churchill, a former prime minister of the UK, invoked courage and strength to their nation in World War II as Germany bombed London on a daily basis. He said ‘we will never give up…we will never give up!’ People believed his words! Adolph Hitler turned the people of Germany toward believing in a ‘master race’ leading them to war against much of Europe and attempted annihilation of Jewish race. The nation was directed by his words. These are but a few poignant examples of the power of words to direct people, direct nations, and influence the spiritual atmosphere around them.

You may not lead a nation but you influence people. Whether it’s 5 or 500 you have word power!!! You have the power to bring words of grace and peace, spirit and truth, life and abundance. On the contrary, you have power to bring legalism and wrath, unholy spirits and false teaching, death and poverty. As you embrace the gospel of grace and peace through Jesus you will bring more words of life and less words of death. Words spoken with little forethought or consideration of their power can still direct those around you. Consider your words. Do they reflect the gospel of grace and peace? Do they bring life and hope to the people you lead? Do they speak life and abundance into the spiritual atmosphere? Do they direct people to worship in spirit and in truth? You have the power to DIRECT………the power of the tongue to turn people toward good news or bad news. Turn them toward the good news gospel!


Come to Worship and Bow Down before the Lord God your Maker.

Every time believers gather for the purpose of corporate worship of our God, we make a choice to worship and bow our hearts to the One who is the author and finisher of our faith. I find that worship is defined differently by different people. Some say it is when the music and singing starts. Some say it is when we have communion. Others say it is when the Word is taught and spoken to edify the body of Christ. Yet others say it is when we offer the Lord tithes and offerings from our financial storehouse. In reality all of these are facets of worshipping God, yet they do not completely encapsulate the concept of worship. Romans 12:1 says you are to ‘offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.’ Worship is a daily individual lifestyle choice that manifests itself corporately when a body of believers comes together for a few hours to offer their bodies together as living sacrifices. Our will is the gatekeeper to whether or not we sacrificially offer ourselves. Our will is like an eye of the needle, that narrow place that stands between entering in or staying on the periphery.

As a pastor who has traveled extensively, I’ve experienced many styles and formats of corporate worship. Most have the basic elements I mentioned above, but only a few church bodies really enter in to unified corporate worship. Few get beyond the cultural trappings of their brand of worship and beyond the gate of their will to touch the spiritually tangible hem of Jesus’ garment.

The one area of corporate worship that gets more scrutiny than any other is music, especially in the USA. Even strongly grace-minded people often see worship in music as a performance to be evaluated rather than an opportunity to access heaven. Seemingly mature Christians will criticize a musical worship team for ‘the worship’ without considering their own willful choices. Some are more tuned to their 5 natural senses than their spiritual senses. People say things like ‘I just couldn’t get into the music today because of the choice of songs’ or ‘I think the worship was poor today because a certain person was or was not leading the music’ or ‘I have a hard time worshipping when a certain person is here’. Their eyes are more dominant than their spirit, so to speak. Many church bodies do not enter into that awesome, sacrificial place of corporate worship because people choose to stay on the outside using peripheral issues as excuses for their personal willful act of not entering in. They choose to be part of the problem rather than part of the answer.

Leaders….it starts with us. Teach the people to willfully enter in to a place of worship at the time they step into that corporate gathering place. Teach them to choose kingdom minded worship rather than carnal minded worship. Teach them to focus on the One to be worshipped rather than the people involved in worship. Encourage them to press beyond the narrow gateway of the will into the tangible presence of the Holy of Holies. And…..be willing to be the one who leads the way. Be the example! Just as Paul said ‘imitate me’, so we as leaders should be able to say ‘imitate me in worship’. Choose it and see the glory of the Lord!


Release Something Close to YOUR Heart to Gain Something Close to HIS.

"What must be given up to make room for what is coming?" Many times for each of us to increase in spiritual dimensions of life, we must release something else to make room for the next level of the kingdom of God to grow and mature in us. Jesus told the disciples that He had to leave to make way for the Holy Spirit, known as the Counselor, the Advocate, and the Comforter. He said in John 16:5-7 that His leaving was for their good, their benefit, their best interest. They had a hard time believing Jesus’ leaving was for THEIR GOOD! How could Jesus’ departure to the Father be good for them? They were saddened and grieved at the idea of life without Him. Even though Jesus himself said it was for ‘your good’ (John 16:7) they really didn’t want to release the right-now, physical, tangible presence of God for a promise of something intangible, unknown, and BETTER for them. They didn’t want to take Jesus at His word!
We often do the same thing. The Lord often speaks and promises something to us that demands letting go of one thing that is tangible, comfortable, and known in exchange for the promise of something intangible, uncomfortable and unknown. Those things in our life with which we have become comfortable, even when they are good things, require little faith in our walk. However, those things that are a promise, a prophetic projection, AND require giving up something known, good, and tangible require faith, believing, and trusting that He who began a good work in you shall finish His work. We must believe in what He says. We must trust that there is a bigger cause, a greater good, a kingdom purpose for leaving something behind to gain something ahead. These are conditional words from the Lord…..we can’t move ahead unless we leave something behind. If we hang on to what we have, we will not gain what we don’t have.

Jesus proclaimed to the disciples the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon them in exchange for his death, resurrection and ascension. However, the disciple’s world view was small. It was confined to a very small group of people in a very small geographic area, and dependant upon the physical presence of one man, Jesus, to bring forth Kingdom goodness into their realm. But Jesus promised the Holy Spirit that would not be limited by a physical body, a geographic boundary, or the presence of any one man or woman. Jesus was speaking of the expansion of the Kingdom of God through all men and a spreading of the gospel to all nations. It could not happen unless He left and the Holy Spirit arrived.

What is there in your life that must leave in order for the greater good, the capacity of Christ, or the design of destiny to come forth in a greater way in you and around you? What must be given up to make room for what is coming? Check your heart today. Check for barriers, comfort zones, soul ties that may hold you back from the next level of your kingdom purpose. Jesus promised the disciples that what was coming would be for THEIR good. You may grieve what is left behind, but you must embrace what lies ahead. What is coming is for YOUR good!!


We Will Never Give Up!

Your victory parade is near!

Many people, when mired in the trials of life, have thoughts of giving up, of taking the easier road, of flowing with the current rather than against it. It means we want to give up! This is especially true for people in the Church who speak and live the gospel of grace and peace in a world blinded by the culture of conformity.

Life is filled with ups and downs, troubles and trials, but it is still life. Jesus said He came to give life ‘to the full’ or ‘abundantly’. He didn’t say what ‘full’ or ‘abundant’ meant, but we can ascertain from His life and the life of the 1st century believers that it was filled with opposition to the good news, overflowing with abuse by religious ones, and targeted by arrows slung from the evil one and……….. a life culminating in overcoming victory!

Paul said it best when he said he was pressed but not crushed, perplexed but not in despair, persecuted but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed.(2 Cor. 4:8,9) This is the man who was flogged with 39 lashes on five occasions, beaten with rods on three occasions, shipwrecked three times, spent a night and day adrift in the sea, imprisoned for his faith, almost starved, stoned to near death, and often lived with little clothing and slept in inhospitable conditions (2 Cor. 11: 23-27). Yet this same man said ‘we will never give up!’ Wow! He was convinced that the good news of grace through faith in Jesus was worth all of the pressing, perplexing, persecuting and striking he experienced. What a testimony to the power of a transformed heart and mind--------he refused to give up when times got really tough!

Many of you have thoughts of giving up in some aspect of life and ministry. You may not have experienced what Paul experienced, yet the pressure and opposition seems too much to bear at times. Be encouraged that you can make it!! The word says that despite the circumstances, Jesus leads us in a triumphal procession of victory as we follow Him. (2 Cor. 2:14) Don’t give up! Whatever is opposing you or pressing on you is temporary!! Get ready for a victory parade!


Does Your Message Bring Glory to God?

Does your message bring glory to God? There are many things for which we believers should be thankful, but the one thing that stands above all others is ‘GRACE’. Were it not for God’s grace, He would not have sent Jesus to die in our place. If it were not for God’s grace, we would have to obey the Law of Moses to gain access to the Father. If it were not for grace, we would never have an assurance of salvation. The Apostle Paul told the church in Corinth ‘as God’s grace reaches more and more people there will be great thanksgiving and God will receive more and more glory’.(2 Cor. 4:15 NLT) It is because grace is ‘undeserved’ favor and blessing that it causes us to be thankful. You can’t earn grace; you can only receive it as a gift. Because it is the gift from the Father, we thank Him for it. We didn’t earn it by obeying the 10 commandments. We didn’t receive it after following a 12 step formula for salvation. We received it as a gift by faith in Jesus, the one who brought grace to us.

If we earned eternal life, we would only gain eternal life by our own good deeds thereby being thankful to ourselves and our own ability. If we earned victory over evil we would be thankful for our own power and strategy to conquer the enemy. If we earned favor in the eyes of God we would credit our own wisdom and work in gaining that favor. But the scripture says that there is great thanksgiving and God gets the glory. Why? Because grace comes from what Jesus has done, not from what we have done. Therefore ALL thankfulness goes to Him and He gets the credit for what we have received.

Note that Paul DID NOT say 'as God’s wrath reaches more people, or God’s judgment reaches more people, or God’s punishment reaches more people’. Paul say’s ‘as God’s grace reaches more and more people there will be great thanksgiving’. Who would be thankful for wrath, judgment, and punishment…..except for the self-righteous? It is up to the church to extend the message of grace to more and more people. The church is the messenger of His gift of undeserved favor and blessing. As we extend that message to our friends, family, and nations we help bring forth thanksgiving and glory to the Father. And…..we rejoice with Him!


A Cost of Leadership is Your Choice of Words.

A cost of leadership is your choice of words. Jesus lays out the cost of being His disciple In Luke 14:28-33. He stripped away any impression that following Him would not come with a cost. A cost is something you give up or pay in return for something gained. In the context of leadership it is giving up certain ‘rights’ in exchange for gaining the trust required to lead.

Leaders in government, business and, especially, the church have the responsibility of watching over those whom they are leading. In the context of the church those we lead are becoming disciples, giving up life as they knew it for the life of Christ. Leaders pay a price for the greater responsibility to fulfill the intent of our foundation scripture, i.e. the cost of the leader is greater than the cost of the follower.

One such cost of leadership is the freedom to say whatever you want just because you want to say it. The Bible is very clear in James 3 that our words carry power. The tongue is a mighty force to direct, guide, affect and influence people for good and for evil. The Apostle Paul made it clear, regarding acceptable and unacceptable food, that believers have the freedom to eat whatever they want, though not all of what we eat is beneficial. So it is with our words; we have freedom to say what we want, but not all of what we say may benefit us, the people around us, or the cause of Christ. In America we have constitutional freedom of speech. We can say just about anything we want…………legally. So it is with leaders …….we can say anything we want……legally. But is what we say beneficial to us, to people around us, and to the cause?

Many years ago I had an employee who got into a heated public exchange with another person in our organization. The employee got caught up in the intensity of the moment and was carried away by the current of the conflict. My employee was right in terms of this view of the issue and I agreed with that view; however, the words used, the anger of the exchange, and the public venue only served to hurt the cause. I later counseled that person of a better way.
Leaders; we are held to a higher standard of using our tongue to benefit the cause, especially the cause of Christ. It is one of the costs of being a leader. Ask yourself these questions before entering an intense verbal engagement; (1) is what I’m about to say bringing forth truth? (2)Is what I’m about to say conveyed with an attitude to benefit the hearer, i.e. for their ultimate good? (3)Is what I’m about to say delivered in the correct forum, public or private, that will best benefit the cause?


True Prosperity Is Soul Prosperity

True prosperity is soul prosperity. 3 John 2 (NIV) says ‘I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.’ The King James translation uses the word ‘prosper’ rather than the phrase ‘getting along well’. The Greek word from which the translators derive this understanding is ‘eudoo’, literally meaning to have a ‘well journey’. Every person desires to have prosperity, a ‘well journey’, in life but we often view prosperity solely through the lens of the external economic and material such as bank accounts, houses, land, debt, size of ministries, etc. John’s view here is primarily the soul, and by extension, the body. It is very little about the external, but the internal. Our soul is our mind, will and emotions.

Notice in the next verse he congratulates them because they ‘walk in the truth’. When our soul is immersed in the truth of the gospel, the good news of Jesus, and the unlimited grace of God we have internal prosperity. We choose to walk in truth, good news, and grace. The walk of truth is a choice; therefore a life of soul prosperity is a choice. I’m not saying it’s easy or instantaneous but it is a choice we make daily, weekly, yearly in the midst of good and bad circumstances. The walk of truth is not a life without challenges and trials, but it is brings the abundant life of soul prosperity.

As a pastor I often counsel people inside and outside my church on decisions in life; choices to make, how to make them, and the consequences of those choices. Very often believers already know the right choice to make. The comment I most often hear is ‘I want to’. They know what’s right based upon the written word of God and their inner witness. They want to do the right thing based upon that word, but their struggle is really believing it firmly enough to say ‘I will’. Soul prosperity is discovered in moving from saying ‘I want to’ to saying ‘I will’. It is found in moving from knowing the truth to walking in the truth. To know the truth in the depths of your heart, brings you from ‘I want to’ to ‘I will’. Then, and only then, do you have a ‘well journey’.


The Call to Leadership Costs

The call to leadership is a costly call. The Apostle Peter brings revelation to the call of leadership, being a leader at both the apostolic (trans-local) and pastoral (local) level; the revelation of personal cost to lead. In 1 Pet. 5 he encourages local leaders of churches to willingly and eagerly take care of the people within their sphere of leadership. But he very pointedly encourages them to do so with the right motive of heart, i.e. for the cause, NOT for what they will gain from their positions of authority! Peter said we should lead “not for what you will get out of it” (1 Pet. 5:2 NLT). That same phrase in the King James Version is “not for filthy lucre”. In the New International Version it is “not for money”. Whichever translation you prefer, Peter is saying don’t take up the call of leadership for personal gain!

Leadership comes at the cost of flesh-based motives of personal benefits, personal prosperity, and personal glory. Those have got to go! Now you might say that this does not mesh with the world system or the church system, which typically pays greater amounts of money to those in leadership positions. People do receive larger paychecks for larger responsibility; however, what is the non-monetary cost of those larger paychecks?

Peter makes two key points. First, our motives to gain a leadership position are IMPORTANT. Are our motives for the money, the authority or the responsibility? You may say ‘all of the above’! Most of us want the authority and the money!!! But seldom do we really want the responsibility.

In my leadership experience over 30 years I have observed that each time I was given more money, responsibility and authority, I only had a preliminary hint of the real responsibility of that promotion. Very often financial compensation and authority are appealing, but seldom is responsibility appealing. In other words we like having authority to lead and govern and enjoy the money that comes with it, but we many not truly want the responsibility that accompanies it. However it is in our perspective of the responsibility of leadership that we discover the motives for our desire for authority.

Secondly there is a cost to entering into all leadership. In our desire for a better paycheck and/or more authority we often lose sight of what we must give up in gaining it. Note 1 Pet. 5:3 says leaders should ‘lead by your good example’. That is a huge cost of leadership! The Apostle Paul said three times that people should imitate his life. Paul said the apostles were ‘on display’. A leader’s life, especially in the church, is very public!! To be an example means we give up the right to ‘do whatever we want,’ and take on the responsibility of doing what is right. We give up the right to quit just because we have a bad day. We give up the right to be ruled by emotion. We give up the right to go places and do things that would cast a shadow over our organization, family, or church. We give up the right to be entangled in unhealthy relationships. This is a cost of leadership. The cost is paid in the family, business, workplace, and church. We are on display as examples to people and to God. We are accountable to the organization and its mission of which we are leaders.

Are you willing to pay the price of leadership; the price of right motives and being an example for all to see? Check your heart, check in with the Holy Spirit and discover your motives and your willingness to truly lead as God intended. Here is the good news when you walk in leadership with the right motives and pay the price. 1 Pet. 5:4 says as we walk in Godly leadership there is an eternal gain…..the crown of glory!!! Praise His Name!


Leading People is a Sobering Responsibility

Spiritual Authority Requires Spiritual Accountability.
Leading people is a sobering responsibility. The Bible says ‘Obey your spiritual leaders and submit to them…continually recognizing their authority over you; for they are constantly keeping watch over your souls and guarding your spiritual welfare, as men who will have to render an account of their trust.’ Heb. 13:17(Ampl.)

Many leaders focus on the first part of this scripture…..demanding that people obey and submit to them. However, I find myself drawn to the last part; the responsibility. Leading people in the church comes from God-given authority to oversee the assembly of believers: authority to watch over their souls, guard their spiritual welfare, and be accountable to that responsibility.

With authority comes responsibility. With responsibility comes accountability. With accountability comes the sobriety of leadership; proving faithful to the trust given by our Father
The Father called me to pastor people by being a shepherd of the local church. It took thirteen years of seasoning, equipping, character building and, at times, personal resisting before being commissioned and ordained into the role of pastor. At the time of my ordaining, the apostle who laid hands on me also prophetically declared the apostolic call on my life. Wow! I had just become a pastor……how could I even think about being an apostle? It was another eight years before I entered into the role of apostle. Today I am accountable to God’s authority to lead those who are part of our local Crossfire church and those who choose to become part of the CrossFire International Alliance. I am not accountable to whether anyone obeys or submits! I cannot control a person’s decision to apply the ‘obey’ and ‘submit’ of Hebrews 13:17. Response to new covenant authority is voluntary. However, I can control how I ‘watch over’ people’s souls and ‘guard’ their spiritual welfare. I am the conservator of the trust given me by the Father. I soberly test myself on what I have done with that trust. I am accountable to the Father and to people.

Every servant-leader in the church should consider this perspective of leadership…it’s not the ‘obey’ and ‘submit’ we need to attend to. It is the ‘watching over and guarding’ that we must attend to. We are not accountable for what someone does in response to our authority, but we are accountable for what we do with our authority. Be very blessed as you carry out your responsibility of leadership!!


Back from Africa!

Pastor Rick Rapp and Pastor Harvey turning the first part of dirt for the new church building being built in Nabusozi Village.

I’m back on American soil after two weeks in Uganda, a land springing forth with the good news of Jesus. Our powerful team from New Mexico ministered to over 2000 people and 8 different churches. People received Christ. Many were baptized in the lake. Pastors were encouraged and filled with leadership knowledge for the Kingdom. And seeds of grace were planted in Nabusozi village that will soon bring forth a field ripe for harvest. We continued to push back the darkness in this remote part of Uganda with a key local political official accepting Christ. I had the honor of baptizing him in the local lake. Several local Islamic leaders were present during our ministry in the village. They listened to the good news of Jesus as the team revealed the only way, the visible truth and the abundant life available in Jesus Christ. We are seeing a great advancing of the Kingdom in this remote locality with new territory being established for Jesus. Be encouraged that the Holy Spirit is living and moving and having His being in Uganda.


CrossFire Nabusozi - The Shofar of God

Above: Ugandans worship in their church in Kampala.

I am bringing my blog today from Uganda, East Africa. I am leading a team from Gateway Church, New Mexico to minister the life and abundance of the Jesus to a forgotten people. Well…..maybe forgotten by some people, but not by our Father nor by this powerful team of ministers. We are in Nabusozi village in southern Uganda near Tanzania. We planted a new church here in 2010 and are now continuing this apostolic work by watering what was planted and helping to firmly establish these people in the Kingdom of God. Today we are ministering in an open air crusade, teaching people in the church, ministering to children, and bringing natural health in the form of a medical clinic to this remote area. The Lord has declared prophetically that this team will spring up to be the ‘shofar of God’. In turn, this village church will be the ‘shofar of God’ to this area of Uganda. To be a shofar is to bring forth loudly as a trumpet the sound of Jesus Christ in open declaration of His lordship and government to this land. We are going to walk the hilltop where a church building will be constructed for this body of believers. We will pray over the land and sound the trumpet of the King of Kings to be heard from the hilltop to the valley. Can you hear it? Can you feel the sounds of the shofar? Wow! What an awesome time to be living for Jesus!


Your Kingdom Come, Your Will Be Done....In Me!

Our Father in heaven, hallowed is your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus said those words when asked by his closest followers to teach them how to pray. (Matt. 6:9,10; Luke 11:1,2). I bring closure to my series on ‘The Government of God’ by emphasizing that Jesus desires so much for His kingdom to come to us, individually and corporately. The eight essentials for God’s rule in your life as a leader will be the marks of your effectiveness in leading. We know from scripture that we are already seated with Christ in heavenly places. Our challenge in leadership is to rule from that heavenly position rather than an earthly position. The eight essentials are:
  1. Grace is your base,
  2. Righteousness is your identity,
  3. Love is the connective tissue for the body,
  4. God’s process of transformation is your cross to bear,
  5. Giving is your way to make a living,
  6. Worship is a lifestyle,
  7. Asserting Godly authority is necessary for ruling your assigned territory,
  8. The Great Commission is your mission.

Through grace, the gift of God, by faith in Jesus Christ we have receive His kingdom in our spirit by believing in Him as Savior, Lord and Messiah. But in order for His kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth we must allow the kingdom of God in our spirit-man to infuse every fiber of our soul. As it does, we desire His will more than our will; we make decisions based upon the kingdom; our relationships reflect the kingdom; we lead our ministries and churches into kingdom-minded thinking; we worship from a heavenly perspective; and we govern in grace, mercy, love, and righteousness.

Leaders across the world need God governing their soul. We need His internal government in order to bring forth a righteous, kingdom-minded external government in sphere of influence. Be the answer to your own prayer as you pray ‘your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’. Leaders must lead in this way. First, allow the Holy Spirit access to your soul to reveal the places where He does not govern you and your decisions. Second, repent of holding back and protecting areas of your heart where you have knowingly, or unknowingly, refused to let the Holy Spirit bring truth, healing and alignment with His kingdom. Third, study and become immersed in grace, the base of all kingdom thinking and governing under the New Covenant. Without a generous understanding and revelation of grace you will rule by works having fallen from the kingdom of grace.

Know that your Father is for you, not against you. Know that His grace is not only undeserved favor, but the transforming power of change in your soul. Know that as you submit to His process of transformation you walk into leadership dimensions, understanding, and effectiveness you have never before experienced. And, finally, because Jesus accomplished victory for you and for His kingdom on the cross, He is now leading you in a triumphant procession of victory in your own soul and against any power of darkness that would try to hinder His kingdom will on earth. He forged a path of victory for your family, business and ministry; a victory based in His governing in you and through you.

So I pray “Father, we agree in one accord that Your will is being done on earth as it is done in heaven. Praise be to Your Name forever and ever and ever, Amen”!


The Great Commission is Our Life Mission

or the last several posts on my blog I have revealed seven essentials of the heavenly kingdom; essentials that must be established in each of us in order for God to govern our lives and our sphere of influence on this earth. Those seven essentials are (1) grace is your base, (2) righteousness is your identity, (3) love is the connective tissue for the body of Christ, (4) God’s process is your cross to bear (i.e. transformation), (5) giving as the way to make a living, (6)worship is your lifestyle, and (7) your Godly authority must be asserted over your assigned territory.

Those first seven essentials are critical if we want to be effective in fulfilling the eighth essential of the kingdom; the great commission is our life mission. In Matthew 28:18-20 the Word says; ‘Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” If you truly desire to lead people into a place where the Lord governs their life and their influence on others, you must have an external focus. This external focus must be so well established that you will sacrifice your very life for the sake of ‘going to make disciples of all nations’. The great commission is grounded in a passion to lead people into the kingdom reality of God’s rule in their hearts, their families, their businesses, their civil governments, and their churches.

The Great Commission is the external reality of God’s government established within you. We will never have a passion displayed externally if we don’t have it established internally. We won’t occupy the marketplaces of the world with God’s government if His government does not occupy every fiber of our heart. Every essential of the kingdom of God ultimately serves to fulfill the great commission. The commission MUST become our life mission!!

Leadership is key in demonstrating to the people of God the essentials of God’s government. The Apostle Paul said ‘imitate me’ (1 Cor. 4:16). It starts with those of us in leadership providing the example, showing the way, charting a course in our lives to be the model of God’s rule inwardly and outwardly. Paul told the church in Thessalonica ‘you became the model to all the believers……’ (1 Thess. 1:7). For all of us in positional or relational leadership we must lead the way in establishing a supernatural internal government that is so powerful we will literally sacrifice our natural lives go and make disciples of all nations. It is so powerful that the Commission is our life mission.


Assert Your Authority

Speak No Evil, See No Evil, Hear No Evil - An example of some Christians' denial that the devil exists and we must assert our God-given authority over him.

To truly take new territory for the Kingdom of God you must assert your authority. ‘In the area of our authority most Christians practice passive neglect or blind denial. Passive neglect is having knowledge of the need to assert spiritual authority but being too passive, too busy, too preoccupied with other things to actually appropriate the victory of Jesus Christ in their territory. They simply don’t consider it a high enough priority to establish the government of God in this area. Blind denial is choosing to deny or ignore the reality of an enemy who prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Pet. 5:8) There is an enemy who has been defeated by the finished work of Jesus Christ, but still looks to feed upon those who don’t open their eyes to see the enemy of the cross. Neither approach will establish God’s governing authority in your territory.

Think of it this way. When the Allied forces won the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, German officials not only recognized defeat but they signed a document of surrender. The Allies freed prisoners of war and those in concentration camps. The German leaders submitted to Allied occupation and establishment of a new government in Germany. The Allies won the war and Nazi leaders agreed to surrender all. The Allies occupied the land preventing Nazi resurgence and instituting new government. The Allies asserted their authority over that territory to establish a new democratic government.

This analogy is important in this context. The devil was defeated by Jesus through the cross and the resurrection. Jesus mediated a contract, or covenant, bringing that victory to all who would sign the covenant. Jesus signed it in blood and we, the believers, signed it through our believing by faith in His victory over death and grave. We gained freedom from the devil’s dominion. The covenant is between the Savior and the saved. Jesus has been given all authority. (Matt. 28:18) We have the authority of Christ in us, the hope of glory. (Col. 1:27) We have His authority to make known the wisdom (true nature of things) of God’s rule. (Eph.3:10) The wisdom of God includes the reality, or the true nature of, the devil’s defeat by Jesus Christ.

Christians are the occupying force on earth. However, the devil never surrendered or signed the surrender document. He never agreed to the covenant! We, the church, must enforce his defeat irrespective of his agreement. We are the occupiers of what used to be his territory. He can’t have any territory we do not cede to him through passive neglect or blind denial. If we choose to stand up and appropriate our authority over him, we win!! Jesus always leads us in triumphant procession of victory! (2 Cor. 2:14) To the extent we neglect our authority or deny his activity, he moves in and occupies the vacuum. He can only possess what we choose not to actively possess.

Leaders, teach the people to assert their spiritual authority in Christ! Appropriate the victory won by Jesus. And, as you pray ‘Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’, you will see God’s government established around you.


Pastors Harvey and Deborah with leaders of the Moravian church in western Tanzania.
The government of God will only be firmly established in the hearts of people if leaders assert spiritual authority over their territory. Your Godly authority, when asserted, brings the fragrant knowledge of Jesus Christ. The church has been given authority to establish God’s rule in the willing hearts of people. Not all hearts are open and willing, but when they are, the church offers a supernatural aroma of God to the people.

Every leader has a sphere of authority, territory assigned to them to influence people for God’s rule in their lives. If you effectively use your authority there will be a legacy for the Lord for future generations. Joshua and the Jewish nation asserted their authority as they crossed the Jordan and spread themselves out over territory assigned to them. This was apostolic territory before we had apostles!!! In more recent history I know of missionaries who have asserted authority in specific areas of the world that today still reflect those efforts.

A couple years ago I was in Tanzania ministering to leaders of a Christian denomination; the Moravian Church. Moravians are few and far between in the U.S. and only a few are scattered across the world today, but they have a presence in select areas. In the 1800’s the Moravians responded to the call of God to send missionaries into western Tanzania. They moved into this new territory for the Kingdom of God. Upon arrival they found the Lutherans were also called by God to evangelize that part of Tanzania. So, in the spirit of unity, they met together to decide where they would place their feet for the gospel believing that the Lord would give them ‘every place they set their feet’ just like Joshua. As the story goes, the leaders simply agreed ‘the Lutherans will go that direction and we’ll go the other direction and wherever we go the Lord will give us the land for the gospel’. So today, if you go to western Tanzania you will find specific tribes predominately Moravian and others predominantly Lutheran. Both missionary groups were effective in asserting the authority of the Lord in such a way that a semblance of those territories remain today. The authority they asserted is a legacy for the governing of God in that part of Tanzania.

You have leadership territory; personal, ministerial, business and family territory where God has given you authority to establish His government. Ask the Lord to define that territory, and then assert your authority with prayer, declaration, teaching and taking advantage of every opportunity to show forth God’s supernatural government. You can do it. You’re a conqueror just as Joshua was a conqueror. The Bible says ‘but thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him'.(2 Cor. 2:14) There is an awesome aroma in the air where you bring God’s authority to your territory.


Live to Give

(Deborah working in a "soup" kitchen, feeding the hungry during her first trip to India.)
Bringing the governing power of the Lord into your life is a process that begins at being ‘born-again’. It continues as you enter into the fullness and maturity of Christ. To be governed by God means His principles, His purposes, and His nature become embedded in your soul to the degree that you reflect Jesus as you live ‘normal’ life. It is in this place that the Kingdom of God is established within you facilitating an outward expression of His kingdom in your circumstances and your sphere of human influence.

An essential element of God’s government in you is the concept of ‘giving’. The Father gave His only son so we could live. The son gave His life as a sacrifice so we could live to give. The 1st century apostles gave their lives for the sake of the gospel as models of what it means to ‘give your life’ for the sake of the gospel. Jesus said ‘Freely you have received, freely give’. (Matt. 10:8) It sounds so easy but ‘living to give’ for the sake of the gospel is not easy. It requires losing life as you know it, to find life as you will know it. Leaders, like Paul and other ministers, gave their life to the point of death. There are many contemporary examples of men and women who now live to give, and give to live, whether in money, time, teaching, mentoring, counseling, pastoring, etc. They give their lives freely because they received Jesus’ life freely.

I think of my wife, Deborah, who lives to give. She lives for the gospel. She speaks it, breathes it, and converses about it. It is her lifestyle. It is who she is. From the day she was born-again she was a giver. As she entered full time ministry she was a giver. But it took a dramatic turning point before she lived to give. It was many years ago in Calcutta, India where the Lord had told her to ‘Go and see the work’. She did not preach, teach or do any pulpit ministry. She simply went to ‘see the work’ of an American couple, Mark and Hulda Buntain, who had given their life to ministering the gospel in Calcutta. In only a few days of seeing the overwhelming need and the overwhelming sacrifice required to begin to meet that need, she came to a turning point. It was the turning point of seeing what Jesus sees, the need to preach the gospel and make disciples of all nations. It was the turning point of seeing that the American perspective of living for the gospel may not fully represent ‘living to give and giving to live’. From that point forward she lives to give for the sake of the gospel.

As leaders in the body of Christ we are called to this higher level of modeling the concept of giving. Giving is an essential element of the government of God within us. It is an absolute in a world that despises absolutes. You might say, ‘but life is so busy already, what more can I give?’ If you, as a leader, desire this aspect of God’s impact within you, simply ask Him to reveal those areas of your life that can be ‘lost’ so that you can freely give. The Holy Spirit is faithful to show you the fullness of giving for the sake of the gospel. And…He has abundant grace to live it daily.


Worship is Essential to Establishing the Government of God.

Worship is essential to establishing the Government of God. The Lord’s prayer begins with ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’.(Matt. 6:9,10) Jesus taught us that the coming of His kingdom down here begins with recognizing and declaring the Father’s heavenly status and holiness. The word ‘hallowed’ means ‘set apart as holy, honored greatly, revered’. Jesus is saying we are to worship Him for who He is; the awesome, holy, revered Father to be greatly honored!!!

The first time Jesus was truly worshiped as God was after his resurrection when the women at the empty tomb ‘clasped his feet and worshiped him’.(Matt. 28:8) They worshiped Him at his ascension.( Luke 24:53) The divine, messianic fullness of Jesus came forth at his resurrection and ascension. He was worthy of our worship! The fullness of God’s grace became real! There could be no doubt that HE IS GOD.

Worshiping Him is not an event; it’s a lifestyle. As a pastor I greatly value our worship of the Lord through music in our home church. It stirs me, excites me, and releases God’s goodness and gifting from within me every time. We allow freedom in the flow to accomplish the prophetic purpose of our worship through music. I love it!!!! However, I cannot confine my worship or my concept of worship to that brief time on Sunday. Nor can I confine it to any other music related time I spend with Him. That would put worship in a music box. Paul told the Romans ‘I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship’. (Rom. 12:1) Paul is saying that true worship is the daily offering of ourselves completely in response to the incredible grace and mercy offered to us. As a leader I need goodness and gifting to be released every day of the week. Worship is the outward manifestation of an inward transformation. It is a lifestyle not an event!!

What we treasure is what we worship. The Bible is very clear that anything we truly value in our heart will be revealed outwardly. The treasure of our heart defines our focus and we will seek it and speak it. (Matt.6:21; Luke 6:45) It (whatever or whomever it is) becomes, in a sense, an object of our worship. What is your treasure?

As leaders we are called to lead in worshiping the Father as the treasure of our hearts. We do it sacrificially. We do it outwardly. We do it boldly. It is the lifestyle of worship. In so doing the kingdom of God and His will is done IN US! Then………………. we see His government established in us and flowing through us to accomplish His Kingdom purposes here on earth. Leaders: pursue a lifestyle of worship if you desire the Government of God to be established in your life.


Leaders Love the Unlovable

Leaders love the unlovable. Leadership is different than friendship. We choose our friends. We don’t always choose the people we lead. In fact leaders often lead people who seem unlovable. People come into our sphere of influence for various reasons, but two reasons are paramount; to bring influence into their lives and to bring their influence into our lives. This often stretches us as leaders.

As people come into our sphere of influence our intrinsic leadership nature is to impart something to them. However, occasionally we find someone who presents every rough, abrasive element of personality that absolutely grates on us……we feel no warm, affectionate emotion toward them. Let’s be real here! It’s true! Don’t get religious and say you don’t experience this in your leadership! But here’s the revelation …….love does not require affectionate emotion, but it does require benevolent intention.

The New Testament primarily uses 3 Greek words for ‘love’; phileo is an emotional, affectionate love; storge is a familial, brotherly love; and agape is a supernatural, intentional love. Agape is a moral, dutiful benevolence irrespective of emotion or family status. It shows the benevolent in the face of the malevolent. It is intentional. All true, authentic leadership is rooted in agape toward those we lead in spite of emotions we feel. Paul prayed this: ‘And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge---that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.’(Eph. 3:17)

If we desire to have the Government of God established in our churches, businesses, and governments, we must embrace the establishment of love (agape) in hearts toward people we lead, especially those who seem unlovable! Very often they are there to stretch and mature US! Loving the lovable is easy, but God asks that we stretch to love the unlovable. Note in this verse that establishing love brings power and the ‘fullness’ of God. The fullness of Christ is the fullness of God’s government IN YOU. Authentic agape therefore requires benevolent intention from YOU. You must decide to S T R E T C H? Decide today to stretch yourself in the loving the unlovable. You will establish God’s government in you and in your governing.


Establishing the Gorvernment of God - Seasons of Change

Today I continue the series ‘Establishing the Government of God’. One of the great challenges of leadership is leading people through change. Human nature does not like change, especially personal change affecting hearts and minds. Business and government leaders struggle to motivate people through the change process. Large companies send leaders to weeks of leadership training on how to lead people through change. Why? Because most people will resist change if they think it will affect them in any way.

Church leaders face this challenge as well; the difference being that business and government can and will force the change via organizational rules and job performance standards. Leaders of the church have encouragement, prayer, teaching, casting vision, etc. to motivate people in the direction God would have them go. There are no church member performance standards that say ‘change or we won’t let you tithe here anymore!!!' Many people leave churches and ministries because of change. If ‘change’ requires transformation of heart and mind, there will be resistance!!

Moses had a big challenge getting Israel out of Egypt, even though freedom from slavery was the offered vision. He had great challenges keeping people moving toward the Promised Land rather than moving back to Pharaoh’s land. Paul offered the message of grace to the Jews and was beaten, mocked, jailed, tortured, and finally killed. That kind of change elicited that kind of resistance. Martin Luther offered change to ‘justification by faith’ encountering great resistance in the Catholic Church. The reluctance to change is the same today as it was thousands of years ago. The knowns of the present seem better than the unknowns of the future change process.

A life in God is a life that is always changing; changing toward something better. A life following Christ is a life continually being transformed into His image. He leads us into many uncomfortable places for two reasons; our good and the good of the Kingdom. ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.’(Luke 9:23, 24) The cross is the process of change. Change occurs instantaneously in our spirit upon being born-again. It occurs in our soul and body over time as we embrace change; i.e. take up our cross daily. To establish the ‘government of God’ in your life, you must embrace the process of the cross, the process of continual transformation of soul. The human nature will resist it. The spirit nature will embrace it. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, so you don’t have to be the same; same problems….same mindset….same anxiety….same….same …..same. He say’s ‘take up the cross of change and as you change My ‘government’ will be established in you. Be encouraged leaders! The Jews made it to the Promised Land! Martin Luther’s leadership started a change that today has the growth of non-Catholic Christian churches increasing about 4 times the rate of that of the Catholic faith. And, the fledgling church, for which Paul suffered greatly, now comprises 2.2 billion people. Leaders; preach the cross of change; change into the image of Christ; the continual transformation that establishes the government of God in the hearts and minds of the people!


If Only We Had Known What Would Bring Peace!

If only we had known what would bring peace! The approach of the Christian celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus brings to mind the words of Jesus as he entered Jerusalem on His road of destiny. It was a destiny to bring life and peace to all who would believe. He said, ‘if only you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace---but now it is hidden from your eyes.’ A kingdom was coming to bring peace! Jesus knew he was the messiah, the savior, the one who would open the heavens to peace for every man and woman on earth. The people saw him as an awesome man, a prophet, and a rabbi; but did not know him as the one who would bring peace to their hearts. If only they had known!!!

Much of our lives are lived with 20-20 vision as we say ‘if only I had known’. We seek peace in all the wrong places; relationships, entertainment, technology, social media, work activity, and other visible, tangible elements of the culture. We don’t want to say 10 years from now ‘if only I had known what would bring inner peace’.

Christians today, just as the Jews of that day, tend to rely upon the tangible, visible world for their inner reality, believing only what they see. If they see it they believe it. If they don’t see it, they don’t believe it. As leaders in the body of Christ we must communicate the unseen transforming power of grace that brings peace that passes understanding; a stability and tranquility of heart hidden from the visible world.

Jesus knew his death and resurrection would open the heavens to the possibility of PEACE. That peace would be accessible to all who embraced the process of the cross and the power of the resurrection. It created opportunity for people to agree to the process of transformation; a process of old to new, death to life, inner conflict to inner peace. This is the process of the cross, bringing what has been deposited in our spirit at the moment of believing in Jesus Christ, into our soul to the degree it changes how our heart responds to chaotic circumstances in life. It is the supernatural peace of God becoming a natural reality in our hearts.

As we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus this week, we celebrate peace; the kind of peace that stabilizes our very being. As we embrace the process of the cross, the resurrection power of God brings peace to our soul. The Kingdom comes to our hearts. Jesus made it possible. If only we knew we would choose it! But we do know, therefore we choose to make it reality in our hearts.


Are you a ‘resident’ of God’s Kingdom………. or just a ‘citizen’?

re you a ‘resident’ of God’s Kingdom………. or just a ‘citizen’?
Our God is a God that desires to establish His government on earth, but what does it look like? Is it a Christian in every position of authority? Is it a constitution that is a mirror image of the Old Testament law or, maybe, the New Testament law? Or….is it a supreme court of the land occupied only by believers in Jesus? As I travel the world I see more clearly that Christians can be in positions of great influence without governing as Jesus would govern. Christians can even write laws that seem righteous, but merely force modified behavior in the land without modifying hearts in the land. Christians can occupy judicial positions but rule without Godly wisdom.

So, what should we look for as we pray for His government to be established on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:9, 10)? A key is found in Romans 14:17 'For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit'. We also see in Luke 17:20, 21 that Jesus said the ‘kingdom of God is within you.’ While it is good to have believers in positions of authority, how they exert that authority will depend upon their understanding of God’s government in their own hearts. Leaders must understand that God’s government must be established in hearts before it is reflected in nations. When it’s established in us it can then be established through us. We know it’s in us when we habitually experience righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

The foundation of this government consists of three essential elements: His righteousness, His grace, and His love. For God to truly govern our hearts on a continual basis we must embrace the concept that we 'are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus’ (2 Cor. 5:21), we are righteous only because of grace, not because we earned it (Eph. 2:8-10), and righteousness and grace are connected by the unconditional love of the Father through Jesus (Rom.10:3). When righteousness, grace and love become established (firmly fixed, settled, permanent) in our soul just as they are established by faith in our spirit, we then live in the operational reality of God’s government. We are literally ‘governed’ by the Father on a daily basis.

Most believers understand they are citizens of the God’s kingdom, i.e. they have a rightful position in the kingdom because of their faith in Jesus. However, for most, that citizenship has not translated to residential living in the kingdom. They occasionally visit the kingdom. They occasionally experience the power of the kingdom. They have an occasional charismatic experience of the kingdom. They even talk the language of the kingdom, but they don’t reside there.

Think of it this way……it’s is like being a citizen of the U.S. but living in Africa. One may have the rights of a U.S. citizen; have the benefits of citizenship and have a passport validating legal status, but they only visit the U.S. occasionally. They don’t live in and occupy their place of citizenship thereby establishing their influence in that country. They reside in Africa!!!!!

For leaders it is paramount that we are not satisfied by knowing about the essentials of righteousness, grace and love, but we actually live them. We must become residents. It starts with us! Only then can His government be truly established in us and through us.

Want to know more about living in God's Kingdom? Check out this post on Kingdom living.


You Are Established in Holiness!

"The purpose of Jesus’ coming to earth, dying on the cross, and rising from the dead was to establish a new way of life for all who would believe."

You are established in holiness! Heb. 10:9 says of Jesus, “Then He said, ‘here I am, I have come to do your will’. He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” The writer of Hebrews quotes Jesus as saying He came to do the Father’s will. The will of the Father was to set aside the first covenant of the commandments and its regulations and establish a second covenant. Two very key aspects of the gospel come through this verse; first, a new covenant has been established, and second, we are made holy through this new covenant by the one time sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

The purpose of Jesus’ coming to earth, dying on the cross, and rising from the dead was to establish a new way of life for all who would believe. The key word here is establish; which means to settle or firmly fix in place so as to be stable or permanent. Jesus permanently settled the issue of how to be ‘holy’. It is only through His sacrifice. No additional ritualistic sacrifices by you, me, or the clergy will make you more holy, more acceptable, or more righteous in the eyes of the Father. If you have accepted and believe in the risen Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you have His holiness on the inside of you…in your born-again spirit! Therefore your legal position from the Father’s perspective is that of holiness. It is firmly established, firmly fixed, and a settled issue in His eyes. When we pray the Lord’s prayer from Matthew 6:9 ‘your kingdom come, your will be done’ we already know one dimension of His kingdom to be present; the dimension of legal holiness in our spirit through Jesus Christ. It is fixed in place. Not because you earned it, but because Jesus earned it for you and you accepted Him by faith.

Now what??? Why pray ‘your kingdom come, your will be done’? Why bother???!!!! Why not just die and go to heaven? Because He desires that that holiness and righteousness permeate your entire soul and body bringing forth His glory and goodness to the people around you. You are His governmental representative! He wants you to represent the new you(Him)…the holy, righteous you(Him) that reflects His governmental principles. That only happens as that same holiness and righteousness becomes established in your soul and body just as it has already been established in your spirit. He wants you to be transformed from a legal position to an operational reality on behalf of His government. So we pray ‘your kingdom come, your will be done on earth just as it is in heaven’ bringing the fullness of His government for all to see.


The Kingdom is Coming....Get Ready!!!

We pray the Lord’s prayer over and over but seldom pray it from God’s perspective. ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’(Matt. 6:9, 10) This beginning of Jesus’ prayer speaks of a ‘kingdom’ that we pray will come. What is this ‘kingdom’ thing we declare to come? What kind of government is this? With this post I begin a series entitled Establishing the Government of God. His kingdom is coming, but it may not look like what you thought?

The writers of the New Testament wrote of this ‘kingdom’ over 130 times, so it must be very important to our life as Christians and even more important for leaders to understand its meaning. Few nations in the world have kingdoms…there are dictatorships, democracies, theocracies, communist states, and socialist governing systems, but not many kingdoms with a king or queen who actually govern the people. So what does that mean today? Jesus gave us many clues, but he said very specifically in Luke 17:20, 21 Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, ‘the kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, here it is or there it is, because the kingdom of God is within you.’ Jesus says very clearly this kingdom is an internal supernatural, rather than external natural government. Paul goes on to write in Romans 14:17 'For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit'. So when we pray ‘your kingdom come’ we are declaring the coming of an internal government that rules within the heart of man. It is a government that does not make rules of what you can eat, how much you can eat, what you can drink or how much you can drink, but a government transforming the heart of man bringing forth righteousness, peace and joy. Righteousness, peace and joy are products of what the Bible calls the ‘fullness of Christ’ (Eph. 4:13) emerging from believers as we are built up, come into unity, and move to maturity. It is a government of the fullness of Christ in the hearts of men and women. It is sustained by the spiritual protein of the Word of God, standing upon the finished work of the cross, administered by the Holy Spirit, and fully governed by the governor….the king of kings and Lord of Lords.

Every leader in ministry, business, and government who is sensitive to world events and the spiritual atmosphere knows we are in a time of accelerated change with potential for new territory for the government of God. As leaders we must establish the internal government of His kingdom if we expect external change in governments around the world. In this case the egg must come before the chicken, so to speak.


Sending You Love from Africa

As you read this post I will be in the heart of Africa feeding the Bread of Life to human hearts and offering a fresh drink of water from streams of the Holy Spirit. It is exciting to know that geography no longer limits bringing the Good News to any place in the world. Praise the name of Jesus!

I will be encouraging the young CrossFire Church in Nabusozi village in southern Uganda where about 100 received Jesus last August. I will be ministering to CrossFire Church in Kampala which lost their senior pastor to tuberculosis last September. That church now is pastored by his two young sons who have a heart for the kingdom of God and are moving forward to lead that church. It will also be my honor to minister to many CrossFire International Alliance partners, some of whom I will meet for the first time. There are also leaders coming from Kenya to participate in an Alliance fellowship day connecting like-minded leaders who desire to advance the kingdom of God in these last days, reaching people with grace and peace that only comes through Jesus.

As I am here in deepest Africa I send you my love knowing that you and I are fulfilling the great commission with footprints in new territory wherever we may walk this week. The good news within you can make a footprint in someone’s heart today…..look for the opportunity! I pray the footprints we make look more like those of Jesus than our own. Be very blessed and I will continue posting upon my return in mid March.


Tyranny, Terror and Fear in Your Life are a Choice

Tyranny, terror and fear in your life are a choice. The prophet Isaiah gave us powerful words of encouragement in Isaiah 54 as he prophesied to the remnant in Israel, a nation overtaken by Assyrians to the north and compromising with pagan practices in the south. He was speaking to a remnant of believers. The words he spoke have application to the nation of Israel, to the New Jerusalem (see Rev. 21), and to the church today. I will focus only on verse 14 of Isaiah 54to teach a fundamental principle of the faith. Stick with me on this!!!!

Isaiah says in verse 14 ‘in righteousness you will be established: tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear. Terror will be far removed; it will not come near you.’ Isaiah’s words prophesied from the old covenant to a future time on this side of the cross; to the era of the church immersed in grace and walking in righteousness without fear. He is saying we must be ‘established in righteousness’ if we want to live free from the control of tyranny, fear, and terror. How does that happen?

As believers in Jesus Christ we are clothed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ (Gal.3:27; 2 Cor. 5:21). To be clothed means to be covered so that the Father actually sees us righteous in His eyes. Jesus purchased that righteousness on the cross and established it in His resurrection. Therefore, our position before our Father is that we are clothed, established, covered, immersed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. That is the essence of grace. We didn’t work for it. We received it by faith. The Father loves us so much he has completely covered us in His righteousness through our faith in Jesus!

But Isaiah prophesied that we would be ‘established’ in righteousness to the point of not experiencing tyranny, fear and terror. To be established means to be firm, secure, fixed, and permanent. Many believers understand intellectually they are righteous only by faith in Jesus, but waver and wobble daily in their thoughts and actions proving they don’t believe it in their hearts. They have intellectual agreement but internal disagreement. They are not ‘established’ in righteousness!! They are saved and have eternal life, but have not come into complete agreement in their hearts to the point of being firm, secure, fixed and permanent in walking that out each day. Therefore they open themselves to tyranny of the old covenant law, wrathful fear of the Father, and terror of man bringing an invasion into their life. They allow the Old Testament law to control their thinking. They embrace an Old Testament fear of God that causes them to run from, rather than run to the Father. They open their heart to terror as they listen to world news, see political turmoil, and experience economic downturn. The new covenant fear of the Father is that of an awesome, worshipful attitude toward ‘Abba Father’!!!
Tyranny, fear and terror becomes THEIR choice. You cannot be controlled by tyranny of the law, fear of the Father, or terror of man unless you choose it!!!! Isaiah prophesied that you can be ‘established in righteousness’ to the point where any kind of tyranny, terror or fear will be far from you!!! It may be all around you but it is NOT near you.

I will close with three points of encouragement. First, come into agreement with Isaiah that ‘tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear and terror will be far removed.’ You are the only one that can make this decision. Second, speak against the demonic powers that try to influence your thoughts and beliefs. Bind them and cast them out from your life. Third, renew your mind by reading and declaring what Isaiah has prophesied; that you are established in the righteousness of Christ and you are clothed in righteousness by faith every day.

Now go forth and be established, you fearless man or woman of God!!