Branching Out

The continuing growth and development of Tree of Life Church

I Have to Go and See this Preacher… Interrupted

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A number of years ago I was talking to my wife and planning my week.  I wanted to go to a certain conference, and it didn’t look like I could fit it into my schedule.  I told my wife “I have to go and see this preacher… I really want to go and see this preacher”…  

As I did I felt the Holy Spirit inside speak to me: “You’ve got that wrong!” he said in a small, still whisper I could barely hear.  I went over what I had said and couldn’t work out what was wrong with what I said.  So I took some time to pray and listen and the Holy Spirit explained to me that most people (including me at that time) want to see preachers.  We use visual language.  

But the power isn’t in a man – it’s in the words he speaks.  The words Jesus spoke are spirit, life and truth – that’s why we have 4 excellent records of what he SAID but there are no photos of him!  It’s not looks that matter, it’s words.  The Holy Spirit said you need to go and hear that preacher, not go see him.  You need to realize the power is in the words that he preaches, and the message.  This is confirmed by Romans 1.16-17 where Paul says the power is in the gospel, not in him.  Peter tells the crowds when the crippled man is healed – why do you look at me as if by my power the man was healed – but it is the name of Jesus that brings healing and salvation.

So now I don’t chase after men of God – I chase after their message.  I thought I was the only one who the Holy Spirit needed to refocus in this way, but after Heal the Nations I saw a lot of behaviour which shows that many, many people don’t know where the power is.  One lady thought the meetings were too far to travel to, and she was too busy, but she wanted me to drive one of the speakers to her house so they could pray for her in person.  The power isn’t in the prayer – it’s in the gospel, it’s in the message!  Another lady couldn’t make it as she was too busy, but asked me to invite one of the speakers to attend her wedding as that would make her wedding really anointed!  A pastor was very very disappointed that another one of our speakers couldn’t have lunch with her during the conference – there simply wasn’t time, but barely turned up for any meetings.  It’s all the same problem – the lack of realization that the power is in the messages.  I’ve seen people drive hours to have lunch with a preacher then drive back before their meeting… let me tell you the guy you have lunch with isn’t your spiritual father if you don’t listen to his messages.  

I know you want to see your favourite preachers, but you have to hear them!

An Open Letter Regarding HEAL THE NATIONS

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Heal the Nations is our annual conference.  On Wed 20th August, our second Heal the Nations kicks off.  We have an amazing array of guest speakers and we have a great worship leader.  We also have great ushers and hospitality people—a massive thanks for everyone who is involved.  I really love and appreciate you and your help!

Last year Heal the Nations helped people so much, and this year it is about to do the same again.  There is something about hearing the Word all day, worshipping all day and being in a positive atmosphere.  Healings happen, financial breakthroughs happen.  Lives change.  Freedom comes.  Vision comes.

I am just writing this to say that I want you to come to Heal the Nations, or at least as many sessions as you can.  Some people have contacted me and said “who is speaking when”… I have told them and indeed the speaker schedule is online—unlike a certain conference I have just been too where it was cloak and dagger!  But the truth is that if you come to hear one speaker although you will be encouraged and inspired by the Word, the whole conference has been planned with me carefully listening to God and asking who to speak and who to bring.  The messages I believe will blend together (like they did last year with each speaker mentioning that God was calling us to a feast) in a special way to inspire you and give you a healthy balanced diet that you may grow thereby.

I don’t want people to come so I can say “there were xxx people at Heal the Nations.” I don’t care—in fact the less people the more personal attention we all get!  I don’t want you to come to give in the offering, it has all been paid for in advance because of the generosity of this church and the wise planning of finances.

I want you to come because I know it will be the most awesome time of spiritual growth in your life.  I go to conferences, I know about many conferences—I know some are all about money, I know some are all about bragging that our conference is bigger than that conference.  I know that we are doing Heal the Nations for you.  God wants you to be healthy, He wants you to receive the Word in its entirety, He wants you to be a church changer, a nation changer, a world changer.  He wants you to be fully equipped to do the works of ministry.  All of the preachers at Heal the Nations are equippers—their heart is your best.  They wouldn’t be invited if it wasn’t so.

So whatever you are doing Aug 20th-23rd, plan to be where you can be equipped to be all God wants you to be.  Plan to be where the Word and the Spirit come together, where grace and faith are mixed together, and where dreams come true! 

Plan to be at an event that is going to help you, heal you, equip you, inspire you, challenge you, encourage you and lift you!

Plan to be where revival isn’t prayed for but is happening.  Plan to be where you are going to find out your destiny and begin to walk in your destiny.

Plan to be at Heal the Nations.

http://www.healthenations.net

Kings, Politicians and Civil Servants

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There are three kind of people in most churches – kings, politicians and civil servants.  Kings have authority because of birth right.  The crown prince could be a holy, generous man or he could be a selfish, mean man – but he is still going to become king because of who his parents are,  It has nothing to do with him, but everything to do with his parentage.

But the truth is when a king realizes that he has authority and that he has done nothing to earn it, but it is a free gift from his lineage, then his gratitude means that he uses his power to help people and encourage people and lift people.  And because he knows that the people that he is helping cannot take his authority or life away, so he is not scared of them.  He doesn’t oil the squeakiest wheel, or get upset if someone is more talented than him or more confident than him, because he rests in the reality that his power and authority come solely from his birthright and not his abilities. 

In fact, the king rarely thinks about his own abilities.  He is just so grateful to be a king, that he uses every opportunity he has to serve others.  He is not self-obsessed, not worried, not manipulated – nor is he manipulated.  If people don’t want his help, he just moves on – there are enough people in the world that celebrate and welcome his help for him to worry and fret or get tetchy with those who don’t.  They just shake the dust off their feet, smile and move on!

Politicians on the other hand believe that their power comes from people.  So their whole life is spent afraid of people, every action is carefully calculated and planned so it doesn’t annoy people.  Politicians always gravitate to the grey as it offends the least amount of people.  A king will wear a beautiful, colourful suit or something a bit wild – they wear what they are comfortable and what they look good in.  Politicians will never step out of wearing what will offend the least amount of people, and they very quickly end up looking like clones of one another!

Kings welcome individuality, politicians want to reduce people to numbers – cogs in the machine who only have one purpose – to like the politician.  Politicians won’t stop destructive behaviour in case it upsets the perpetrator,  Politicians will never do what is right, they will do what is expedient.  They will never preach a message that bring life and revival, they will bring the message that never upsets anyone.  They will never feed you the bread of life as some people might not like bread, but will reduce their messages to baby food and gruel in order to avoid offending anyone.

Politicians are happy when people like them, but when people fail to like them and when people leave them they are sad – even if the people were destructive and everyone else is glad to see the back of them, the politician is still sad because they believe they have lost power by losing people! 

The problem with the political life is that you cannot please everyone.  Trying to do so will cause a huge problem!  This will lead to lying, pretending to be who you are not, it will lead to insanity as you become less and less like yourself to impress people who just are not worth impressing but you think they are because you think people are the key to power!  

Many pastors, due to a natural love for people, are politicians.  It’s not easy telling someone they are in the wrong, it’s not fun when people despise you or leave your church.  But listen – some people have to leave, sometimes the most powerful thing to do is to let some people leave: blessed subtraction I call it.  The whole church feels good because the one prodding and poking is gone!  Your authority, and wisdom, and life does not originate in people’s opinion – it originates in your birth to the King of Kings and Lord of Lord.  It originates in His love for you as His child – His love that will never end.

Civil servants find their source of power and life in the rules and regulations.  They pride themselves in the fact that they do things right, and are constantly criticising others for not doing things their way.  They are also – because of their brilliant ability and other’s glaring incompetence – overworked all the time, and will make sure you know it.  Their identity is found in their work and in their knowledge of their work.  The easiest way to upset them is to suggest that they are incompetent at work, and their constant source of fear is their line manager!

The problem with that is that civil servants are not perfect – so the only way they can truly shine is to knock as many other people’s lights out as possible.  And when someone comes along who knows who they are – the civil servant doesn’t know how to manage them.  Have you noticed that org charts don’t include royalty – so the civil servant doesn’t know what to do with a king, and generally tries to control them – and fails as the king knows their identity is secure so they are not afraid of manipulation, lies or control.

You have to realize that you are a king.  You are not a politician – your power does not come from people.  Jesus was hailed and praised one day and crucified the next.  People are fickle.  Never put your security in people, you will end up bound and led by those people away from your mission.  You will become bland – and you will become a mixture of patches crudely sewn by others and added to your pure satin dream.  You don’t need people to enter into freedom, you have it!

You are not a civil servant.  Foolish rules can be put aside.  You don’t get upset if people go above your head because your line manager might be your boss on the org chart – but ultimately your authority does not come from your position on the org chart but from your heritage and lineage.  You don’t get upset if people don’t do things the way you do things, because people are more important to you than protocol – you are a king.  You are secure, your authority was decided the moment you were born and you do not have to worry about your position, what the people think, how many people are following you, what the regulations say about X or Y, and all that kind of things.  

So today, be a maverick.  Do the right thing because it is the right thing.  Have lunch with someone four rungs below you on the org chart.  Tell someone who is being a nuisance to get lost.  Don’t take praise – or criticism – too seriously.  Learn how to know your Father in heaven and draw life from Him.  

 

 

Completeness01: When did the devil fall, and what has it got to do with me

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This month we are looking at our completeness in Christ. To build a complete picture of what Christ has done for us, it is important to realize how limited and how defeated the devil is. There is a teaching that has gone around that Lucifer was the worship leader in heaven for billions of years before the earth was created, then he started a massive war of angels versus demons. This idea leads to many people being scared of the devil. They magnify the devil. As we find out we are complete in Christ – it’s also important to find out that the devil is incomplete!

This study is going to show up some of the lies that we often believe about the devil because we do not check things out with the Bible.

LIE#1: satan was the worship leader in heaven

This is a common idea that satan was the worship leader in heaven before the fall. Ezekiel 28.14 refers to satan as the “anointed cherub who covers”, and the teaching goes that he covered the throne as a worship leader. They cite Eze. 28.13 which says that he has tabrets and pipes in him – picturing him as a walking musical instrument. But the words “tabret” and “pipes” are references to the place holders for precious stones.
Satan didn’t cover the throne – he wasn’t the number 1 guy in heaven! There is no Scripture that even calls him an archangel. JESUS WAS THE NUMBER ONE GUY IN HEAVEN – STILL IS! NO SCRIPTURE TO BACK UP IDEA SATAN WAS THE WORSHIP LEADER IN HEAVEN! This is important because it leads directly to our views on music.

LIE#2: satan has all the best tunes

The truth is he doesn’t have ANY TUNES! The lie goes like this: the devil was a big worship leader guy and therefore knows all about music and the power of music. Therefore, certain beats and melodies are the devil – sometimes we are told if the harmony is greater than the melody, it’s devil music; or if the beat is too dominant, it’s devil music.
When people say “that song’s anointed” “that song’s demonic” = talking about the MUSIC – they are completely saying “I like that” “I don’t like that” … you are allowed personal taste. It’s great we all like different music – but don’t start saying this is holy, this is unholy: reserve that judgement for the words! The lyrics! The lyrics of a song can be about adultery or fornication or glorify sickness or death – then the lyrics are wrong. But the tune is neutral. David wrote Psalm 84 to a Gittite tune – they were a Philistine tribe. He took the tune and wrote godly words to it! That’s a clever idea, and it may surprise you to know that a lot of old hymns were to the tune of old bar songs. So, let’s stop attacking the worship leaders: they don’t have a Lucifer spirit; and stop judging people on their personal taste in music.

LIE#3: There is a big war going on in heaven with angels and demons

This is another image that we have picked up – big war in heaven, God and the devil. When Jesus rose from the dead He stripped the devil of all power and authority. Satan was not always the accuser of the brethren – he fell. Not always God’s enemy! He was created an anointed cherub! Satan was created BY GOD – there is only one CREATOR. Satan and GOD ARE NOT EQUAL IN POWER, they are not even CLOSE!

He is not wise, not powerful, not even orderly. He is bound by fear, strife, envy, confusion. HIS KINGDOM IS FULL OF CHAOS – people in his kingdom kill each other! His time is short (Rev 12.12) Also Satan is NOT THE LORD OF HELL! He didn’t torment Jesus in hell (Jesus suffered in hell – he died sin, but he wasn’t tormented – he’s never been there! He will go there – but never to come out and he’s not going there as the lord, but as the conquered enemy – tormented! Don’t over-exalt the devil; don’t sell God short – and don’t paint a picture of man as a helpless little guy between two superpowers. That’s not right!

LIE#4: satan is not better than you

God loves you! You are not an afterthought – you are the pinnacle of creation! You are precious! So we know from Scripture that satan covered something before his fall (Ezekiel 28.14), but it wasn’t the throne of God – he was not worship leader! Not super intimate with God! WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? Because your IDENTITY CAN ONLY EXIST in the light of how you see GOD and how you see satan! If your belief about the devil gives you wrong views of God, you will have a wrong view of yourself.

Some people say: satan was the worship leader, he fell and missed it! So God needed a new worship leader and therefore God made man to be a replacement worship leader Once again – violates idea of a loving God made you out of love! GOD IS LOVE – didn’t need you, wanted you! You are not a pawn, not created for a job – there are works and there is a work. But you were created for fellowship!

Some people think the devil was lord over earth – that somehow it was his planet. It’s not, it isn’t and it never will be – he is the “god of this world” but that is the structures – not the legal right to the planet. Matthew 28.18 tells us all authority is in JESUS – if Jesus has it all, then there is nothing left for the devil. He has no authority, and you cannot give him the right to attack you.

LIE#5: satan is a wise being

No – he is arrogant, and arrogance and foolishness are entwined! In 1 Tim 3.6-7 it says to not appoint novices as elders as they will end up in the trap of the devil. This does not mean the trap the devil sets, but the trap the devil fell into. The trap he fell into was pride. Pride turned Lucifer into the devil – if you think you are so awesome you can mess with God and start accusing the brethren, you have a pride problem – and you also have a foolishness problem.

The devil is not some super-smart guy: you know the most demonised people (except in the movies – but that’s all lies) don’t get super smart – they cut themselves, they engage in destructive behaviour, they tell lies that everyone know are lies – they get dumb. And on a personal level: you know you didn’t fall for that temptation because you were having a good day and you were just totally out-manoeuvred. You know you were just dumb. The devil wasn’t smart, you were just super-dumb.

The devil’s trap is the TRAP he fell into! The trap of pride, and the trap of reproach: the defamation of others. Where 1 Tim. 3.7 says must have a good report of outsiders: it doesn’t mean the outsiders should be talking good about him, it means that an elder should never be critical of people. So the devil thought he was better than he was, and started defaming others. That is his condemnation and his trap. Not the ones he set, the ones he fell into! THIS PASSAGE IS NOT saying watch out for the big bad devil – it’s saying whenever you get given authority – don’t think you are all that, and really, really, really don’t start thinking others are not all that. That’s how the devil fell!

THIS IS SCRIPTURE NOW, not wild assumptions about musical instruments and so on!
PRIDE is a worldview that is solely centred on SELF. When you move into pride your paradigm is myopic: it’s like wearing a pair of sunglasses that blind you to seeing how important other people are. You can’t see what is going on. You can’t see what is important. You can’t see the worth of other people. The Bible says “Only by pride comes contention” (Proverbs 13.10, KJV).

Any situation of strife means someone is walking in pride. Any situation of strife = one or both walking in pride (if you think it’s just them, that’s a good indicator it’s you!) Stop walking in pride and walk in love = switch strife off!

NOW if the devil is FULL OF PRIDE = he is very blind! And PRIDE IS A DESTRUCTIVE FORCE – it doesn’t build anything! NOT PASSIVE! PRIDE centres around you so anything not centred around you – you have to attack. A pride man’s identity is them and their achievements – threaten that and you rip them apart. Prideful people are insecure people. The devil is insecure! Insecure people can’t bear to be wrong, have to always look perfect. If you question them about anything, they will lash out. Psalm 36.11 says “save me from the foot of pride” – pride always leads to violence!

The full verse of Proverbs 13.10 reads: “Only by pride comes contention, but with the well-advised is wisdom”. There are two kinds of people in the world: the proud and the well-advised. The proud say “I can do it all by myself”, the well-advised say “help me, I can’t do it, I need wisdom”. The proud say “I’ll just skip church this morning, I need some me time anyway”, the well-advised say “I need to hear a message. I need to hear another person preach the Word. I need to get to Living Church and learn and get advise from others. I need to be well-advised”. Those are the people who get wisdom!

YOUR PROBLEM ISN’T THE DEVILS master trap = it’s falling into the devil’s trap by a paradigm that says the world revolves around you, that you don’t need advice, that you don’t need support. Remember you need advice!

LIE#6: satan is closer to God than you

YOU ARE A SON OF GOD – satan is an out of work servant! According to Hebrews 1.14 satan was just a servant! We are royalty – satan is an unemployed butler. We are seated in heavenly places with Christ. We are not even in the victory, but we are in the triumph which is the victory celebration!

LIE #7: satan tried to attack God directly!

Even satan is not that dumb. This brings us back to the original question: when did satan fall? We know his fall was caused by pride. We also know from Genesis 1.31 that when Adam was made everything God had made was good! That means everything – you couldn’t have God saying everything was good if the devil was roaming around. So the fall happened between Genesis 1.31 and Genesis 3. It happened after man was made.

You see pride cannot stand other people getting attention. And when man was made he got a lot of attention. Read Psalm 8.

Psalm 8.4 says “what is man that you are mindful of him?”, v.5 says “you made him a little lower than the angels”. That is a mistranslation – the word is Elohim which means God. Man was made a little lower than God! PRIDE hates people getting that kind of attention, and when the rest of the angels were rejoicing at Adam’s creation, Lucifer was getting jealous. Adam had fellowship with God, a whole realm to be in charge of, a beautiful wife – and worse than that seemed to be God’s favourite. So because Lucifer couldn’t have it all, he decided to destroy it. Ezekiel 28.12 is clear that Lucifer was in Eden. He never fell until he got to Eden – he was a ministering spirit to minister to humanity (Hebrews 1.14). He was Adam’s servant – a butler, a helper, a bodyguard. But he couldn’t hold the number 2 spot because arrogance never can. Satan can never be well-advised, never go to another for help. The well-advised love the number 2 spot as they are always learning, the proud hate it!

Ezekiel 28.17 says his heart was lifted up due to his beauty. He looked at himself and thought “I am covered in jewels, you are naked. I am a beautiful spirit being, you are made from mud.” It also says that his brightness or splendour corrupted his wisdom. He thought “I am so awesome, how can I possibly be a servant?”

Whenever your thoughts are “I am exempt from the rules because I am so amazing” you are about to fall into the same trap as the devil. It comes in different forms “I am too gifted to make teas”, “I am too talented to teach the children”, “I’ve been to Bible School, I don’t usher anymore”. The devil didn’t attack God – he is not the accuser of God, he is the accuser of the brethren. He attacked Adam.

Lucifer could have been the number 1 servant of humanity. Every human in all of history would have thanked Lucifer for keeping Adam safe and keeping the world pure. He would have been the stuff of legend, but he attacked Adam and Eve instead. Next week we will look at how exactly he did that, but let’s end this week’s study on a high note:

Ephesians 4.8 tells us that Jesus took CAPTIVITY CAPTIVE. If captivity has been taken captive then there is no way the devil can take us captive again because captivity has been taken captive. The devil has no way to capture you anymore! He has nothing on you!
The war is over. Jesus once and for all beat satan! And right now it is triumph time. Let’s celebrate the victory with our declaration and let’s say together right now:

I WILL NEVER FEAR THE DEVIL AGAIN

THE WAR IS OVER

I AM AT THE TRIUMPH PARTY

NO MORE FEAR!

The Grace Message of the Bible

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The grace message in the Bible produced strong local churches, with pastor-appointed elders, it produced a stream of healings and miracles and people added to the churches.

It produced people who could and did live in community with one another. It produced people who had a hope, and who were going into all the world making disciples, devoted to the apostle’s teaching and to fellowship. It produced people who feared the Lord and were comforted by the Holy Spirit.
It produced people who repented, believed the good news, were baptized in water and filled with the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues and flowing in the gifts.

It produced people who were added to the church.

If the grace message you are preaching leads to a couple of people having a pint in the pub and calling it church, leads you to leaving every church in town because none of them are good enough for you, separates you from the people you are supposed to be serving, produces no miracles, and doesn’t lead to your being devoted to the apostle’s teaching and fellowship, doesn’t lead to you seeing people baptized and speaking in tongues and added to the church… you have to seriously consider whether you are preaching it right and believing it right.

5 Reasons You Can Trust God for Complete Healing

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5. If everyone of the Israelites was healed because of the blood of the Passover lamb (Psalm 105.37) which is a type of Jesus Christ, then how much more do you think every Christian can receive healing freely from Jesus Christ, the true Passover (1 Cor. 5.7)

4. If everyone was healed who looked at the bronze serpent Moses made (Numbers 21) which was a type of Christ (John 3.16-18), then how much more do you think every Christian can receive healing just by looking at Jesus Christ crucified!

3. If God turned the captivity of Job (Job 42.10-17) and healed his body (therefore calling sickness captivity, and healing freedom) even though he had no covenant or basis for that healing, then how much more do you think God turns our captivity today when we have the New Covenant that promises freedom from captivity, and Jesus who set captives free.

2. If David sacrificed a lamb and offered a fellowship offering to the Lord and it stopped a plague completely forever (2 Samuel 24:10-25) and that lamb was just a type and picture of Christ, then how much more do you think God will stop every single plague completely forever in our life due to the sacrifice of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1.29) and restores us to fellowship with God?

1. If in the Old, inferior covenant God said “I will take sickness away from the midst of thee” (Exodus 23.25) then how much more do you think that the new, better, superior New Covenant in the blood of Jesus, not the blood of bull’s and goat’s, will take all sickness from the midst of Christians today.

If you want to hear some messages on healing that will inspire your faith, why not visit: http://www.treeoflifewatford.com/14-26.html

10 Reasons to Go To Church This Sunday (and every Sunday!)

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10.  Because in church you are equipped to do the works of ministry!  God wants you doing works of ministry – preaching the gospel, teaching the kingdom and healing the sick; and church is where He wants to teach and train you how to do that.

9. Because the church is a body and a body needs all its parts to relate to one another.

8. Because you need to set an example to your family that they need to develop a habit of regularly going to church.  We have had in-laws and outlaws and all sorts visit, and they would say “don’t go to church this Sunday, let the children spend time with us”.  We have never done that because we have trained and set an example to our children that church is vital to their Christian discipleship.

7. Because you need a storehouse to give to financially and invest in.

6. Because there is nothing like worshipping God with the people of God!

5. Because all those people you are witnessing to and winning to the Lord need somewhere to feed them and love them and nurture them.

4. Because you need a place where you can be consistent and stable.  Conferences are an awesome buzz, special services can do some good, Bible Colleges can get you a jump start in the Christian faith and life, but you will never have a consistent life of victory without being plugged into a church

3. Because God uses people to sharpen you like iron sharpens iron.  As you encounter people in the church – people with different views, different backgrounds, different experiences to yourself it sharpens you and makes you a more effective person.

2. Because if you get sick, fall out with your wife, lose your job, go through tough times – the TV evangelist won’t turn up at your house at 2am and pray with you and minister life to you.  Elders and the pastors will.

1, Because Jesus Christ said “I will build my church” and if you ever want to spend your life building with Jesus and not your own kingdom and own empire, you have to be involved in church. That’s not meeting a couple of guys down the pub and calling it church, it’s where there there is a genuine pastor, called of God, appointing elders and equipping the saints.  That’s church.  And Jesus is building it – so let’s get with His programme rather than trying to write our own.

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