Branching Out

The continuing growth and development of Tree of Life Church

5 Reasons You Should Be at Tree of Life Church THIS WEEKEND*

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5.  Tree of Life Church in Guildford has the best cup of tea you could imagine.  Seriously – they have amazing tea.  Worth the trip just for the tea.

4.  Tree of Life Church in Watford is on Saturday night, so you can go to church and not think about the fact you have to go to work tomorrow (unless you work on Sunday, but then you can go on Saturday and not miss church!)

3.  Tree of Life Church in Dagenham is in a cinema, with a huge screen, comfy chairs and you can buy yourself (and your friends and children, and whoever) popcorn before you go in to the service.

2.  This Sunday morning I am going to be doing the Macarena during the worship, during the first song – if you want to see that you need to turn up on time.

1.  At all three services this weekend, Arthur Meintjes, founder of Kingdom Life MInistries, will be preaching.  He is one of the lecturers at Charis Bible College, and just an amazing speaker on the complete work of Christ, His grace and love for us, and our new identity in Him.  I guarantee the service will inspire, challenge and encourage you!

*One of these five reasons is not true.

I Called You To Dream!

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This morning I woke up tired.  I don’t know if you ever have days like that.  Looking at the to-do list (see www.benjaminconway.net for a post on to-do lists and ensuring your life is not moving at a manic pace) didn’t encourage me either.  I’ve had to drop out of a couple of tasks, and delegate some things.  Recently, Amanda and I have been delegating a lot of church work out to people to free up our time – so now I am having to decide what are the most important tasks, what do I have to hold dear to, and what do I let go of.

As all this is happening this morning, and my head is in a fog – I hear the Lord speak so clearly to me: I CALLED YOU TO DREAM!  I called you to dream.  The Bible says that God will do more than we ask or imagine, in some modern translations it says God will do more for us than our biggest dreams.  But for God to do more than our dreams we have to dream!

God wants you to dream big!  He wants you to have big dreams!  If your diary is too full to dream it is too full!  You need to have time to dream!  You need to dream! 

Here are three things which help me dream that God has taught me over the years, and which I am coming back to today:

1. Dreams are pictures painted by the words we speak.  To dream God size dreams you have to speak God’s Word out loud, and fill your heart and mouth with the Word.

2. Worry is the inverse of dreaming.  Worry is a picture of a negative future, dreaming is the picture of a positive future. Often the worry and the dream co-exist pulling us back and forward.  Learn to speak your dream not your worry and it will fade away, so only the dream is left pulling you forward.

3. When we are dreaming a God dream, there is an impatience that comes with it as our flesh responds with selfish ambition.  Trust me – when you start to walk in the dream, you’ll wish you dreamed more, thought more, prayed more, studied more, prepared more.  Get preparing for your dream now!  Whatever the dream is, it should be obvious the person you need to be to walk in that dream – start taking steps to be that person today.

Where Is the Miracle?

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When Jesus feeds the five thousand in John 6, a genuine miracle occurs… thousands of people fed with the lunch of a small boy.  Amazing!

But most people don’t realize the true message of this passage, the real greatness of the message.  If you read v. 41 you find Jesus broke the bread and then gave it to his disciples to feed the crowds.  The miracle happened, not in God’s hands, not in Jesus’s hands, but in the disciple’s hands.

Not only are there miracles in the world today, they are in your hands.  Multiplication is in your hands, healing is in your hands… that’s why we are told we can lay hands on the sick and they will recover, encouragement is in your hands, life is in your hands.  Stop what you are doing right now and look at your hands.  They hold miracles.  Miracles are there in your hands.

If you keep your hands in your pockets, you are keeping miracles in your pockets.  It’s time to work miracles so… do something with your hands.

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!

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