Branching Out

The continuing growth and development of Tree of Life Church

Your Children’s Children 03: Leave Your Father’s Household

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Today I want to talk to the first generation believers.  Those of you who are starting a new lineage, liked we talked about two weeks ago. And that is that you are creating a new lineage – you are building something so powerful. Now in that same situation, Abraham had very specific instructions from God:

Leave your country, leave your people, and leave your father’s house, and go to the land I will show you. I will make you a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great and you will be a blessing – Genesis 12.1-2

Now, God is speaking to you today – and He wants to make you a great nation, He wants to make your name great and He wants you to be a blessing! That’s awesome news isn’t it. If you struggle to believe that, spend some time this week meditating on it: God wants you to be a blessing, God wants you to be great, God wants to make something out of you! No matter your past, no matter your heritage, no matter your background.

But the first instruction God gave Abram, in fact the very first word God told Abram when He spoke to him wasn’t “Great” or “Faith” or “Righteousness” or “Covenant”, but it was “LEAVE”.

You will never be great in the kingdom of God unless you realize the power of leaving. Now remember Abraham was the first of a generational line to believe in a God that his parents and grandparents never knew. That is a major deal whenever it happens, and there is always a great battle when a first generational believer comes to Christ. And the key to winning this battle is not fighting hard, but learning to leave!

You have to leave your country (that’s a place), you have to leave your people (that’s your culture), and you have to leave your father’s house (that’s your family). God had a plan for Abraham that would change the world, but it couldn’t happen with Abraham staying in his father’s house.

This leaving is not just a physical move – it is a change of culture, a change of identity, a change of thinking, a change of everything. It was going to affect how he related to his nation, his culture, his tribe, his family, habits, mindset, his paradigms – everything. If Abraham did not leave, he could not have done what God wanted him to do!

No-one has to grasp this “LEAVE” in the way a first generational believer does. In fact, if you are a first generational believer, you are doing the leaving for your children’s children! There are battles you face being a second generational believer, but nothing like the battle of learning to leave. I have seen many people fail to learn to leave and cut short their productivity, their fruitfulness and their discipleship. I have seen people fail to disassociate with the idols of their ancestors, I have found people who cannot worship in a multi-cultural church because they never reach the point of maturity where they can step out of their cultural norms, I have seen people who have never grown in Christ because they are still tied to the apron strings of heathen mums and dads.

We need to learn to leave, and as best we can on our side, leave with dignity and keep the door open. And you need to realize that in Abraham’s day there wasn’t anywhere else to go – your whole livelihood was in the father’s house. No one went to uni and chose what they wanted to do, they did what dad did. Walking away from your family left you with nothing, but that’s ok because God is your source. I have seen too many people become Christians, move out from mum and dad, but still are totally dominated by them mentally, emotionally, financially. The old family line doesn’t easily let go and they never grow in Christ.

So the first word that God has to say to every first generational believer is what He said to Abram: LEAVE. It sound easy, but as many of you know, it is not. It is hard work, but the lineage you create is worth it. The fruit of the wisdom of learning to leave will change the lives of your children’s children.

Your Children’s Children 02: Conception and Pregnancy

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So last week we talked about the fact that there are people inside you, and that we need to make decisions in the light of this reality.  Today, I want to discuss the point of life beginning.

I want you to think about and consider the process in which life begins.  Conception, then pregnancy, then birth.  When a woman is pregnant, she believes that the baby is alive.  She doesn’t think one day I will have a baby – she has a baby.  She knows she has a baby.  The baby is alive inside her.  The mother is also aware that what she does, how she feels, what she eats will affect the baby even before it is born.

Now if mum goes to church while she is pregnant, the baby is going to church too.  That environment is shaping the baby. All our children love church, and have all been to church since before they were born!

When Jesus’ mum and John the Baptist’s mum met each other, their babies – inside the womb – reacted to each other!  That is amazing. And that proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that a baby still inside the womb has intelligence, has emotions, knows what is surrounding them.  Imagine if a pregnant mum went to Celebration Church every weekend, and Living Church once a week in the evenings.  Baby would have been in church 78 times before he or she was even born!  It would be born loving God and loving the things of God, loving the Word!

Don’t start missing church because you are pregnant – get to church, you are carrying life inside you!  Think like that and you are now thinking “children’s children”, you are now thinking like God.

The first person who becomes a Christian in any given family is like the loins of that whole family, and should impact the rest of their family.  If you were the first generation Christian, and you now have children of your own, you are actually starting your own lineage! You are breaking from the ungodly patterns of your parents and starting a new family line. That’s something very amazing. You have forged a new beginning for all who come from your loins.

My children are nothing like their grandparents who are not Christian.  They share blood with them, but Spirit is thicker than blood.  There has never been a Conway like me – I am a whole new beginning, a new loins of origin for a tribe that is going to change the world. There has never as far as I know been a Conway preacher, a Conway who prayed in tongues, who moved in the gifts, who loves God with all his heart, who was water baptized, who has pulled people out of wheelchairs. I am the first of a new breed. Amanda is the same, and we have become a new point of origin for a new line.

I’m not saying the old block was bad, just it wasn’t Christian. My parents did the best they knew how to do and loved me. But the truth is that in the light of eternity, we are now changing the world for Jesus in a way no one in my family tree has ever done before.  When Christ found me, He changed me and now the mold is broken forever.

Some of you don’t grasp what I have just said, and it is causing you more problems in your life than you can count. You have old family members who don’t realize you are a new creation, a new breed, a new lineage. They have totally different standards, principles and values, and the two do not mix – they are incompatible. You don’t see eye to eye anymore. You go to family gatherings and everyone is getting drunk and gossiping about who is sleeping with who, your children are well trained, you don’t suffer from sickness, you are so generous and invest in the kingdom – and there is a massive culture clash.  This is why – you are a new breed. It’s a spiritual thing, and you have to realize it or you will not understand what is going on around you.

I am a patriach, just like Abraham, and so are some of you reading this. God doesn’t see you all as seperate, God sees people inside people. Many of the people in Tree of Life are the first saved of their families, and their children will be second generation, and their children’s children will be something very special.  We have to think like this – it is how God thinks.

God has your children’s children in His mind. You should have too.

Imagine you are in a situation now, and you are being tempted to sin in a particular way. Your peers are pressing you to do something dumb – to take drugs, to have sex before marriage, to steal.

You turn around and say “I can’t do that.”

“Why not?”

“Because of my grandchildren”

“You ain’t even married, what is wrong with you!”

“I will be one day, and one day I will have grandchildren!”

“Don’t you love me? If you loved me you would have sex with me!”

“I am not going to sleep with you.  I am not going to have sex with you!”

“Why don’t you like me”

“I like you just fine, that’s not it”

“Are you frigid?  Don’t you want sex?”

“Yes, I want sex, and yes I am tempted, but I am thinking of my grandchildren”

“What?!?!”

“As far as God is concerned my children and my children’s children are already in my loins. They are not going to get a bad start in life so I can make a selfish decision.  Do you understand this?”

He might get it, he might not. But you need to win the battle for your loins!  You need to win this battle once and for all.  You need to develop this and get it.  You need to think of your children’s children.

Next week: Breaking the Cycle

Your Children’s Children 01: The Fight

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Something that has been on my heart for the last few weeks has been the truth that God is generational.  He is not the God of Abraham, but the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  He is generational.

In an age where we like everything instant and this second, God is patient and kind, and wants to build something in your life that will impact your children’s lives and your grandchildren’s lives.  It is my conviction that I am building a network of churches that will not just change your lives, but your children’s and your grandchildren’s.

And so if that is the case where we start is here: there is a fight.  And it is a fight we must win or else darkness will win.  We need to reach cities and nations for Jesus Christ.  We are not fighting for territory or resources, we are fighting for hearts and souls.  It is a battle for the lives of the unborn – your children and grandchildren.  There is a fight going on for the seed.

In Genesis 14, Abraham tithes to Melchizedek (tithing is a great thing to do for all the children of Abraham!).  He gives Melchizedek one tenth of everything.

Many years later, God sets up a priesthood in the nation of Israel, and sets aside all the Levites as priests to collect tithes.  Now in Hebrews, Paul wants to prove that Melchizedek’s priesthood and therefore grace is better than the Levitical priesthood and the law.  Part of his argument is that Melchizedek’s priesthood was first, which it clearly was, but the other part of his argument is that the lesser person tithes to the greater and the greater blesses the lesser.  So when Abraham tithed to Melchizedek, and Melchizedek blessed Abraham, then according to the Bible, Levi tithed to Melchizedek and Melchizedek blessed Levi at the same time.

Why?  Because Levi was still in the body of his ancestor.  Levi tithed because he was inside Abraham.  He wouldn’t be born for over one hundred years, but he was implicated in the actions of his great granddad even though he had not been born.  He was “still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him”.

So Levi was one hundred years before his birth, but as far as God saw things, the actions of Abraham directly affected the entire life of his great-grandchildren.  The KJV Bible says that Levi was in the loins of Abraham.  The Hebrew word for loins means “the place of generative power”.  So when Abraham tithed, Levi did too, and God counted that.

This is a way of thinking that many of us in the West do not embrace easily.  We are individualistic, we do not think generationally.  We do not make decisions based on the awareness that inside us right now are our grandchildren.  We seize the day rather than prepare for the future.

Here is some great news for everyone: you can do more than your lifetime.  You can do things that will still bear fruit and change lives after you are gone from this mortal coil.

We need to be a little less sure Jesus is going to return in our lifetime and consider the next generation.  We need to prepare something that is going to stand the test of time and bless our children and our grandchildren.

When you reach one person for Christ, you reach everyone inside them.  All their potential children and potential grandchildren.  We have to wait decades to meet them, but God knows and God is excited about that potential – that is how God sees the world, and it is how we should too.  Your parents might have been surprised to hear you were on the way, but God was not surprised and He planned you and has plans for you and those plans are to prosper you and not to harm you.

We need to think not just of the people in our towns and nations, but think of the people inside the people.  We need to think of the children, and the children’s children.  We need to lift our eyes beyond our summer holiday, beyond the next birthday, beyond Christmas, and look to the children and children’s children.

All of us can to some degree or another show how our parents have affected us by their decisions and actions.  You should be able to grasp what I am saying.  Some of you reading this feel very disappointed by decisions your parents made, maybe even before you were born.  Others feel very pleased your parents lived for God and laid down a foundation for you.  It works for good and bad!  And we need to deliberately work it for good.  Our thinking has to change.  We are going to reach people, and we are going to reach the people in the people too!  That is a multitude.  That is exciting!

So the greatest battle is over the seed.  Not the seed of money, the seed of time, the seed of good works, though they are all seeds.  But the most precious seed of all – the seed of humans.  Who will control the future of our children and grand-children?  Who will shape the lives of the children still inside the people alive today?  Who will bring life and wisdom to them?

If we can think about this right, and develop and grow in this – we will win this battle.  This battle for the seed, for the children and grand-children.  We will build a future church.  The ultimate size of this future church is greater than all the people in your town or city living today.  This is a bigger battle than you might have previously seen, because we are fighting for the people inside people.  The prize for getting this right is far bigger than you have ever dreamed.

Today, ask the Holy Spirit to help you see this principle – that there are people inside people.  That our future is huge, and that the battle ahead will produce greater rewards than we can ever imagine.  I will explore some of these ideas in the weeks to come.

Next week: Origins, Lines and Pregnant women

7 Reasons You Need to Share Your Faith

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  1. With no harvest, there are no sheep for the church!
    1. A church needs people!  It needs people to pray, people to serve, people to love, people to give, people to marry, people to fellowship with and worship.
    2. All ministry begins with you sharing your faith with others.
  2. The workers for the harvest are few!
    1. So you need to do the work.  Timothy was not a pastor, but Paul told him to do the work of an evangelist.  It’s the same for all of us – if we are evangelists we need to do the work of an evangelist, if we are not evangelists we need to do the work of an evangelist.
  3. The whole point of growing as a Christian is so you can bear fruit.
    1. The most natural fruit of a Christian is Christians
  4. The first thing Christ did when calling apostles was tell them to be fishers for people
  5. The harvest is HUGE.  We need loads of workers
    1. I never get upset a new church in town – the harvest is HUGE
  6. Christ did not just pray and hurt for the harvest, He went out there and met people.
  7. Maths.  94% of all ministers are reaching 9% of the world’s population.

12 Lies That Are Keeping You Out of the Promised Land

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  1. Everything that happens is the will of God.
  2. God has a purpose for you being poor.
  3. Jesus was a poor man.
  4. That you need to do something to get faith.
  5. That you need to do something to get blessed.
  6. That God’s blessing is linked somehow to your behaviour.
  7. That the devil works for God.
  8. That God’s love is merit based.
  9. That grace works without you believing it.
  10. That God only hears prayers if you pray long and hard and after midnight.
  11. That some people have special anointings to be healed and rich, and others don’t.
  12. That God is angry or wrath with you about something.

Dealing With Difficult People 06: Be Two Faced!

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Two-Face was one of Batman’s most difficult villains to deal with because you never knew exactly what he would do next.

Now you may be reading the title of this week’s blog on dealing with difficult people and think either I have made a mistake or I have lost my mind. Well, neither is true. I believe we need to be two-faced in dealing with difficult people – will you let me explain?

I don’t mean that we are nice to people’s faces and spiteful behind their backs. That is what the definition of two faced generally means. Someone who is polite about you when you are in earshot, and then rude about you when you are not. That person lacks the fear of the Lord because Lev. 19.14 says one of the hallmarks of someone who fears the Lord is that they do not curse the deaf. In other words, they are not rude about someone when they cannot hear them. We need to be God-fearers and God-honourers! We don’t just do what is right and talk good about people to benefit us, we do it because it is the right thing to do before God. So I am not talking about that definition of two-faced.

My definition of two-faced in terms of a way of helping you deal with the difficult people in your life comes from the life of Moses. Let’s look at two Scriptures describing Moses, shall we:

And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him. (Exodus 34.29)

And afterward all the children of Israel came nigh: and he gave them in commandment all that the Lord had spoken with him in mount Sinai. And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face.(Exodus 34.32f)7

When Moses spoke with the Lord something very special happened to him – his face began to shine.  So Moses had a shining face. He fasted and prayed and climbed a tall mountain and on the mountain God spoke to him face to face. He enjoyed a great fellowship with God and that made his face shine. So it is correct to say that Moses had a shining face.

But when Moses spoke to the children of Israel he covered his face with a veil. So it is correct to say that Moses had a veiled face. Why did Moses cover his face? We can see here why:

So when Aaron and the people of Israel saw the radiance of Moses’ face, they were afraid to come near him. (Exodus 34.30, NLT)

When Moses came near the people who were not walking with the Lord as intensely as he was, who were not in the presence of the Lord like him – quite frankly, his shining face scared them.

This principle or picture is something that happens today across the church, and as a Christian you may have been on either side of it. If you start becoming a radical disciple of Jesus Christ, and start living a Christ-like life, it scares people. If you genuinely bless those who persecute you from the heart, it scares people. If you pull someone out of a wheelchair and they are healed, it scares people. If you have heard God speak to you and He has told you things to come, it scares people. If you spend hours praying in tongues and worshipping your Father, it scares people. If you give 10% of all you earn and gain to the house of the Lord so there is meat in His house, it scares people. If you fast for a couple of days, it scares people. If you go to church every single week, even if your in-laws are round, even if it is a nice sunny day, it scares people. If you are patient and kind and always hope and always believe, it scares people. If your strength and joy come from the Lord and you rejoice in all circumstances, it scares people.

What often sadly happens in response to the people being scared – and often the people who are most scared are in the churches and Christian, but just Christian enough, if you know what I mean – what sadly happens is that people then back off from the Lord. They lower their level of faith and commitment to that of the crowd around them. They let the peer pressure get to them and they lose their shining face to fit in with the people.

That is not a good way to deal with the difficult people who cannot handle your level of faith and intimacy with the Lord.  Don’t give up the shining face – don’t back off from prayer, from giving, from faith, from feeding on the Word, don’t back off. Never never give up the shining face – be radical, be audacious, be a disciple!

But you have to learn to veil your face so you don’t scare people. Your faith in God might be at Ferrari level, and you might be able to drive at 280mph, but it is not wise to do so in a built up area! Someone will get hurt, or they will get scared.

Learn to veil your face. What does that mean? It means a number of things in a number of different situations and all of you reading this need to ask the Lord for wisdom in this, because there are times your face needs to shine and the people need to know you have been with Jesus! But here is some practical wisdom to help you begin:

  • Don’t discuss your prayer and worship times with people who don’t understand prayer. If someone is struggling to believe that God even exists, they are going to think you are crazy if you tell them about the two hours of tongues you talk in every day. If they are a new Christian it’s just going to condemn them. When you come back from a conference and tell them how amazing it was because you spent three hours singing the same song and the glory was just everywhere they are not inspired or challenged. Learn to veil the face. Keep the secret place secret!
  • Be natural about supernatural things. When ministering healing to someone, don’t put on a false voice or false words or trying to be someone else. Learn to be yourself and be casual about moving in the power of God. That way you don’t unnecessarily scare people.
  • Not everything has to be shared at once. One of the things that used to happen in Dagenham and is now happening across the Network as we raise up young preachers is that people cannot tell time – you ask them to take the offering and they speak for 20 minutes. No – we don’t need all that, we just need one Scripture, and one point and 3 minutes is fine. Learn to veil the face – you don’t have to share everything all the time.
  • Make sure you still spend time with God. Don’t forget to take the veil off, get in your prayer closet and pray and worship and love and read the Word and listen to the Word and be in church every Sunday.
  • Make sure you have some close friends who are never scared about your face.

 

 

Dealing With Difficult People 05: Backpacks, Avalanches and the Good Samaritan Gone Wrong!

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We all want to help people. As Christians we really want to help people and love them – as Christ has loved us, so we should love the world. I get that, and I believe that. But sometimes what we think is loving is not helpful to someone and is actually hurting them. One of the key things we need to understand to be successful Christians is there is a difference between hurt and harm.

Once I had to have emergency root canal surgery, but I had a funeral to speak at in the afternoon so I decided not to get my mouth anaesthetized. The dentist really hurt me, but he did not harm me, he made me better. Drinking Cokes harmed me, but didn’t hurt. We need to act in ways that don’t harm people, not don’t hurt them. It might hurt your adult child if you tell them they cannot live at home if they smoke drugs and don’t get a job, but it will harm them if you don’t. It might hurt someone if you do not let them minister in the church because their lifestyle is lacking in some way, but it will not harm them. It will harm them and the whole church if you let them minister.

So how do we know when to help someone and when to let them help themselves? It’s a great question, and thankfully, the Bible (as always) has some great answers for us.

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ… For each one shall bear his own load. (Galatians 6.2 and 5, NKJV)

We have to bear one another’s burdens, but we also have to let everyone carry their own load. The KJV sadly has the same word as both which I am sure has confused many people, but the Greek has two different words. The word burdens is the word that gives the picture of a rock falling on you, a massive crushing weight. Sometimes avalanches happen in life, things just fall out the sky and crush you. I would imagine most of you reading this have had days like that and events like that happen – the death of a loved one, a car crash, losing a job. Something that comes out of nowhere and it feels like it might crush you.

The word for “load” is the Greek word for what today would be a backpack, the load that we have to carry – our stuff, our life, our daily load.

So that is a great divide and great wisdom about when to help people and when not to help people. If it is a crushing weight that has fallen out of the sky, you have to bear it with that person. If they have lost their job, their washing machine breaks and their car fails its MOT in the same week, get in there open your wallet and help that person.  But if someone is month after month spending more than they earn, you are not helping them by giving them money – you are harming them. You need to let them carry their own load.

When things fall out the sky and crush people, we should stand with them, help them lift the load. But we should not be carrying people’s daily life about – they need to do that. If someone doesn’t work, they shouldn’t eat says Paul. We can pray for people, but people need to also learn to pray themselves every day. We can help feed people the Word, but they need to daily feed themselves.

You should jump in and help anyone if an avalanche has fallen on their head, but your goal should be to lift that burden and encourage that person to carry their personal load.

We need to re-read the parable of the Good Samaritan, and realize he helps the man who had an avalanche fall on its head (being mugged and left to die is definitely a burden not a load!). But he also leaves the man to carry his own load.

If the Good Samaritan had been a modern Christian this might have happened:

…And when the Good Samaritan said he was leaving the man cried out, “Oh please don’t leave me now.  Stay with me.”  And so the Good Samaritan did as the man bid.  But in staying the Good Samaritan was not able to keep his business flourishing so he lost all his money.  After caring day and night for the man his strength was gone. Soon the Good Samaritan and the man were thrown out of the inn. Homeless and penniless they were soon both taken away and killed by thieves. (found online at http://utahmentalhealthservices.com/the-parable-of-the-good-samaritan-with-no-boundaries/)

We need to make sure that we set healthy fences in our life.  Yes, of course we should love people – especially people with crushing burdens. But it is also God’s command that we enable everyone to carry their own load.

I will not carry someone’s daily load for them. It hurts them. It makes them dependent, and I am then their enabler. We have to help people mature, not keep them perpetually immature.

 

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