Principles of Success 02: See You The Way God Sees You

You cannot succeed in life until you see yourself the way God sees you.  Your mind is like soil, it just takes all the seeds sowed into it and reproduces them according to kind.

If I took some soil and planted wheat, I would get wheat. I could not get anything else.  The soil has no power to produce anything different than the seed.  So it is with thoughts.  What you think is what you produce.

Your life cannot produce different to what you think, and nowhere is that more true than when it comes to what you think of yourselves.  If you think you are going to fail, you will.  If you think you are going to succeed, you will win.

God thinks of you as a winner but that doesn’t make you win.  Only when you agree with Him and submit your thoughts to His thoughts will success suddenly become a visible harvest.

What you think about you is what will bring the abundant life to you or keep it forever put of your reach.  Your mind just produces what you think like the soil just produces what is sowed.

When was the last time you went to the Word of God and wrote down who you are based on what God says and spoke it out loud to yourself.  You have a book that describes you in the most powerful way. Stop ignoring it and blabbing your mouth with your stupid opinions of yourself all the time.  You have to get a grip of your thoughts by speaking the truth about who you are.

You are not who anyone else says you are.  You are not who you say you are.  You are who God says you are, but you will only manifest who God says you are if you think it and say it too.

You are who God says you are.  You manifest who you say you are.  So speak what God says!

Stop letting other people’s opinions root in the soil of your heart.  That produces a paradigm of us as a loser and we start to lose.  Then because we keep losing we reinforce the paradigm.

There are different ways to define the word paradigm but it is a picture of the world and your place in it that is painted in your heart.  Change the painting, change your life.  Or in Paul’s word… Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Why does our image of ourself need renewed?  Because it was old even when you got it.  Your parents and the people around you started painting a picture of you in your heart as soon as you were born.

Think, if you were born to English parents you will grow up speaking English.  If someone kidnapped you as a baby and took you to China, you would grow up speaking Mandarin, and you would not know English.  The environment matters because it paints your heart.

You speak the language of the people you grew up surrounded by, but you also got your self image from their words too.  You painted a picture of your self using their words and I guarantee a lot of their words were wrong, so we need to repaint the image properly using God’s Word. Otherwise that image will dominate your life and hold you back from godly success.

That painting of your self in your heart, which you didn’t paint yourself, dominates your life and limits your ability to win. You must repaint it, and you must do it right.

There are limitations in your life you didn’t paint, problems you didn’t cause, lack you didn’t ask for. You need to repaint. That image more than anything else controls the way you behave. You have to grasp this and then put the effort in to change that image.

You went to school and learned maths and English and science, but no one taught you the most important thing to succeed: to repaint your self image in your heart. So we know what to do, but we don’t know how to make ourselves do it.

As a pastor, I meet brilliant, wonderful people nearly everyday who are having terrible results. Broke geniuses. Smart people who don’t know how to love their wife or submit to their husbands. Christians who are sick and sinful.

Their problem is not external, they don’t need a new course or new church or new job or new wife. They need to repaint the image in their heart. It’s that vital. Let’s make it personal… You need to repaint the image of you in your heart.

You can talk about the virtues of poverty as long as you like, but it doesn’t take long to realize that money helps you serve God, invest in others, and do what you are designed to do, not to mention it really helps you enjoy life. Broke people are not broke because they have no money, but because in their heart they see themselves as broke. Repaint the image and money will suddenly fly at that person!

We will continue this discussion later, but today make a commitment to go through the Word and find out one or two things it says about you and start declaring it and thinking it and start repainting that image.

Principles of Success 01: Success is Your Right as a Christian (and your responsibility)

I recently got an email correcting me for preaching a “success and prosperity” gospel. I thought of replying “well, it’s better than preaching a failure and poverty gospel”. How can failure and poverty be good news? No – being rich and successful is our right as Christians! Our redemption takes care of poverty and brings us into a place of prosperity. The entire curse is dealt with and all we have is the blessing of the Lord, which according to the Bible makes us rich, with no sorrow!

Therefore, it is important to realize that success is your right as a Christian, but it is also your responsibility. The kingdom of God (and your pastor) needs wealthy, happy Christians with strong marriages and great children!

I remember the first time I listened to a cassette tape in my car called “The Financial Statement of Jesus”, by John Avanzini, it changed my life forever to find out Jesus had money. I listened to the tape four times, I finished my drive and just sat in my car listening to it again! That began a study about what the Bible says about success and prosperity, and I have discovered some things that I know most people – and sadly most Christians – do not know. For most people, success, prosperity, walking in your dreams, getting out of debt, making it financially is a mystery, a puzzle, something that keeps slipping out of their reach.

I want to take some time to present some ideas to you that you may not have considered before. You might even be surprised I even believe what I am saying, but I don’t just believe it, I live it. I get up early and pray in tongues, I read my Bible, I study it, I listen to great dreamers, I study favour and grace and the blessing every day of my life. Every single month I read the book “Don’t Limit God” by Andrew Wommack, I have made understanding this a major part of my life. The Bible says “With all your getting, get understanding” (Proverbs 4.7), and it is so important you understand what the Bible says about wisdom and prosperity.

I don’t care how much you know, you can know more, understand more, grasp more, live more, increase more, earn more, give more, live more. Understanding is the best way to deal with your doubts and confusion. If you doubt God can make you rich, get understanding. In all your getting, get understanding. And as you saturate your mind with the truth, as your mind is renewed, your life will be totally transformed.

Becoming what you think you are is a Scriptural principle. We are what we think we are, we move in the direction of our most dominant thoughts. When we set our minds on things above, not things on earth (Col. 3.2) and we devote ourselves to apostolic teaching (Acts 2.42), when we hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches we will conquer and eat from the tree of life (Rev. 2.7). In short, our thoughts can bring us to paradise on earth.

Quantum physics is only starting to catch up with the Bible. We have found out everything is always moving. The laptop or phone you are reading this on, it looks like it is still – but it is moving. The electrons inside it are spinning around so fast – at the speed of light – inside it, at a level you cannot see. The whole universe is moving around, and our thoughts and words can even make mountains move! God has designed the whole universe operate by laws and principles, and we need to study them and grasp them and work them for us.

I got saved in 1993, by 1996, I was absolute broke, with no money, I was in hospital and saw no hope of getting out and my marriage was in a mess. My attitude stank, and I was a terrible and feeble excuse for a Christian, but I knew one thing – I did not like those prosperity gospel people. Thankfully, I grew up, got understanding and I’m healthy, wealthy, and my marriage is days of heaven here on earth.

Some of you to get to that place will have to do what I have done – reject some of the prejudices and preconceptions you have. You need to stop being arrogant and choose to listen to people who know more than you. You might have rejected people because you did not understand what they were saying, and you need to repent of that. You might not want to accept a truth, but do not let your mind tell you what to think, you dig into God’s Word and God’s promises and let that tell you what to think.

The power to think is the highest thing a human can do. You can formulate a thought – no animal can do that, but I find a lot of humans never do that. We are in the image of God, but we never visualise light and say “let there be light” and we grope around in darkness when we should be living in the light that we shine across the world. The light is already in your spirit if you are born again, but you need to let that light shine through your soul by thinking light. It’s the same for success, prosperity, health and wisdom. You need to think it! Thinking it is what makes it manifest. Consider it, dream it, visualise it, meditate it.

I have seen a lot of Christians recently receive information, information about love and prosperity and success, information about humility and truth, and they nod their head, but it is clear to me it never once gets into their heart. They approve of the truth on a mental level, what John Wesley calls “mental assent”, but never let it change their thinking. They treat the word trivially and they never hold onto the truth. You need to work at getting understanding. Stop thinking you are smarter than you are, and just start to think! Use your mind to think about God’s Word and presence, to imagine yourself in the midst of God’s promises for your life.

If nothing happens in your thoughts, nothing will change in your life. If your mind is not renewed, your life will not be transformed (Romans 12.2). If you want a more loving marriage, you have to think more live If you want your ministry to grow, you have to think about it.

Never reject an idea that lines up with God’s Word. Never accept an idea that does not line up with God’s Word. Read the posts I post on this, and let it change you from the inside out. You need to become obsessed with success, with doing what God has called you to do, with walking in His will and His Word and His promises – we need to be preoccupied with God’s Word and His promises of success and prosperity. We need to be unreasonable in our obsession.

You are a born again human, your spirit is one spirit with Christ, you are love and joy and peace in the spirit, you have all the power of the resurrection in your spirit. You have dominion over this planet. You must start to think that though for it to manifest. If you starting thinking it, considering it, and rejecting any ideas contrary to it, you will dominate this planet and nothing will in any ways harm you. No weapon formed against you will prosper.

You are in the image of God, that means you have the power to change your world. You can turn darkness into light, chaos into order, lack into abundance, water into wine. The way you do it is by renewing your mind – changing the way you think. What you think changes everything!

Your spirit is perfect – the core of your being is the image and likeness of God. Start to think like it. Start to speak like that. You are not greedy because you want more, you are not selfish because you want increase and success. It is who you are in the spirit, a winner, someone who increases, someone who has stuff. That is who you are!

When I started at the gym, and I am still like this, I want to lift heavier. When I manage to lift a certain weight, I want to put more weight on the bar and lift more. Increase is in my heart! When I plant a church, I expect it to grow. When I receive an offering, I expect it to be bigger than last week. When I invest in someone I expect them to succeed. I am thinking like God there. If you are in sales, expect to sell more. If you are a runner, expect to run faster. If you are doing this or that, expect increase. It is your nature. Expect miracles, expect healings, expect mountains to move when you speak. You are a being with a perfect spirit. Learn to live from your spirit by thinking about your spirit more than your body! Your body is the most rubbish part of you. The best part of you is your spirit, and you can use your soul to think spiritual thoughts and change your entire world.

Any object in your house right now – look around at each object – was originally a thought. Someone thought about the idea of your sofa, the lightbulb, the TV, the cup I am drinking from right now was originally thought. Thoughts change the world. Thoughts create. Thoughts take the power of the spirit realm and change and create in the physical realm. If you hold a thought long enough, it will become a thing in the material realm. That is the power of thinking. Renewing your mind transforms your life. As a man thinks in his heart, so is he!

In modern language, if you want better results you need better thoughts. If you want more money, you need richer thoughts. If you want to be healthier, you need healthier thoughts. You can think success and have success.

You are in control of what you think. No one can make you think anything you choose not to think. Your mind is mud though, whatever thought you hold in it, it will make it grow. So choose your thoughts carefully. Plant wheat – food, rather than poison in your mind! Plant what you want a harvest of. Think thoughts about what you want in your life!

Have you ever wrote down in a notebook what you actually want in your life? What your definition of winning is? What dreams God has given you. Right it down, but use “I AM” statements. I am successful. I am the pastor of a healthy growing church. I am the apostle who has planted a hundred churches. I am a champion. I am the father of many nations. God speaks like that, and we need to do the same, as beings in His image and likeness. When you write, read and speak and think these things, your mind starts to produce the harvest and your life will be transformed. Things will literally change in front of your eyes!

That’s why I say right it using “I am”, it makes it both personal and present tense, these things are essential in dreaming big. When you speak it and think it in the present tense, then your mind holds those thoughts, starts to be renewed and your life transforms. That’s how God transformed barren Abraham and Sarah into the father and mother of multitudes.

You hold the thought in your mind and it will transform your life. We live in a dangerous age – because there is too much information. You get it from social media, from 24 hour TV, from the internet, and it overwhelms us. Now more than ever you need to actively choose what you think. You need to learn how to stop a thought getting in your mind – you speak words, words like “I do not want that thought, I am so glad that is not happening to me”. That is how I do it. This is how I live. If an advert comes on the radio, and it says “men over 40 struggle with this”, I say outloud “not me, that’s not my portion”. When someone tells me their healing testimony, I say “Praise God, that will never be my testimony, I will never get that sickness”. I might not say it in front of people, I love people and want to bless them, but I make sure I speak my life and reality into being, and think renewed thoughts in line with my righteous, all-powerful, all-loving spirit.

Stop leaving your mind wide open to crazy, small, petty thoughts. Negativity will also produce, just like weeds will grow in soil.

Next part, we will look at the most important thought of all. Who do you say you are?

Principles of Local Church 14 Focus on the Invisible

The Christians that win are the Christians who focus on the invisible. The Christians who focus on the visible are those who fail and lose. The Christian who focuses on the invisible has a different world, different peace, different ministry from the Christian who focuses on the visible.

This is so important. This is the difference between a brave, bold, world changing Christian and a cowardly, weak Christian. What they look at! Our earth-bound religious ideas and traditions have created a very weak church in the UK, unwilling to fight for Jesus’ name, to glorify Him, to build great big churches, to speak out on moral issues, to stand up for Jesus and what He stands up for.

We need to take our eyes off the visible and look at the invisible. All our goals and dreams should never be achievable with what is visible and require invisible help!

We need to see angels. We need to see the invisible. We need to see the Lord and His glory. We need to see Jesus. We need to look at the invisible. We need to do it by faith. We do that and we start to win in life.

I do not look at the money in the bank, I look at Jesus and what He is saying. I do not look to my abilities and my strengths and weaknesses, I look to Jesus and what He tells me to do. I do not look to my capabilities, I look to Jesus. I do not look to anything that is seen, but I look to what is unseen. I look to the Word of God and trust the Word of God.

To be an asset in local church, you need to learn to live by faith and not by sight. We need to look at the invisible. We need to be people of faith. We need to value not anything visible and value what is invisible.

A Church Split? Or Maybe Not.

One of the nine Tree of Life Churches that I have planted in the UK in the last decade once had what I wrongly called a church split. We had raised the church up to about forty people, and it was thriving. We saw cancers disappear, broken bones healed in the middle of the service, someone got out of a wheelchair. There were many salvations. It was a glorious place to go.

Then one of the elders starting lying about me. It was vicious, nasty, and just relentless. I took my son Joel one time to the church, to lead worship, and we got there and there were suddenly six people left. And they were all in the same family. Joel said “Dad, what do we do?” I said act like there’s a hundred people there, and he did, and I did, we had some worship and a great sermon like it was a packed out standing room only service. It was great.

At the end someone told me some of the lies that were being told about me, and I said none of that is true. The person said well, I didn’t believe it, and even if I did, I would still come here because God told me to come here, so we are going to keep coming.

I was impressed with that level of maturity. We went home and I was not sure what to do next. So, I called Dave Duell. He was my spiritual father before he went to glory, and was a man full of God’s wisdom. When I called, he was out of the country, he was in Mexico or Brazil or somewhere preaching. But his wife Bonnie answered, and kindly offered to listen and help.

I told her we had just had a church split. She said “oh that’s really sad to hear, I always thought you and Amanda were such a good couple, and were so good together, and I thought you had a great marriage”. I was confused and said so and explained my marriage was doing well. Bonnie laughed and said “I thought you said you had a church split”, she said “Unless you and Amanda break up there is no such thing as a church split, it’s just a few people leaving at once.”

That has always encouraged me. Churches do not split. There will never be another Tree of Life Church started by someone storming out the door in rebellion. It’s just people leaving. And I don’t take it personally, because it is invariably not about me – or Amanda, or any of our other wonderful pastors.

I have found over the years that when someone leaves a church it’s either the Spirit or the flesh leading them to leave, and about 75% of the time it is the flesh. That matches Mark 4, where only one in four people actually produce fruit. If you leave a church in the flesh it will take years for you to be able to bear fruit, if ever. It’s a real tragedy.

There are three signs that someone has left in the flesh. Firstly, they leave very abruptly. Suddenly they are not there. It’s shocking how sudden it is. If someone is genuinely called by God to a new area and a new church, we lay hands on them, we tell people they are off, we bless them, we say goodbye. Someone who disappears like a thief in the night, that is not how the Spirit leads someone to leave. Selah.

The second sign is that they will then badmouth the church when they leave. They were in the church, and the church fed them, helped them, loved them, looked after them for years. But now they have left, they have to justify their carnal decision, and the only way to justify something to the flesh is company. You need some other people to agree you should have left, so you call other people who still go to the church and badmouth it.

I never meet up with people who leave carnally if they ask me to – they only want to badmouth me and others in the church, they only want to tear apart the people who are still being humble, faithful, honest, serving day and night to build the church. No, if they want to come home, they can by attending a family celebration service Sunday morning, and I will kill the fatted calf! That’s happened more than once and we have never failed to give someone who stormed off a royal welcome home.

That’s a massive clue someone left in the flesh – fault-finding and whispering after they left. When people leave in the Spirit it sits right in them that they left, so they move on with grace and love. Even if they move because the church was bad in some way, they left in the Spirit, so they left in love, they shake the dust off their feet so they have no dust on their feet, and they go forward looking forward. Even in the church is Sodom and Gomorrah, leaving in the Spirit means looking forward to the next church. Not turning round to criticize the old church or whisper about it. Don’t become a salty pillar! Listen, it takes little or no effort to criticize a church. It’s that simple. Anyone can do that. What’s impressive is actually loving the people of God as well as the God of the people.

Finally people who leave in the Spirit end up at a better church. Not objectively better or worse, but better for them. They are discipled more, they are happier, they bring their friends more. They are growing in Christ more. It’s a cause for celebration for the whole kingdom. I genuinely love releasing people into a new church or ministry when they are following the Spirit.

When someone leaves a church flowing in the gifts, teaching the Word, standing for grace and faith to go to some dead church, or church where there are no miracles, but just noise and shouting, they have not left in a spiritual way. When people leave churches to “study the Bible on their own”, they did not leave in the Spirit. When people leave a life-changing church to go to a convenient church, they did not leave in the Spirit.

Selah.

Principles of Local Church 13: Be a Bit Less Cocky

When God called Moses into his ministry, Moses did not respond “Great choice God. Good move choosing me. I am not really sure how you managed without me the past few years…”

No. He said… Who am I to do this. He wasn’t cocky or arrogant, he was humble. One of my leaders said to me recently “do you mind I struggle to believe I can do this role”, I said a lot less than if you ever struggled to believe you couldn’t do it.

One of the character requirements for an elder is to not be a brawler, the word used means someone who thinks they can handle anything. YOU CANNOT. Not without grace.

It took God four decades to bring Moses to a place where he stopped relying on himself and started trusting God. I see many self reliant Christians today and they cannot bear fruit, because that only comes from God reliance.

I have actually had people say to me that Tree of Life will fail if they leave. They left and we are thriving. They needed to be a bit more humble and a bit less cocky. It’s so important when it comes to the body of Christ you do not think of yourself more highly than you ought. You are not better than others, you don’t get your own set of rules.

When I offer someone a leadership ministry or preaching opportunity I ask them how they feel about this. A cocky, “yeah yeah, I can do that” is rarely confidence in God, it’s mostly self reliance. An arrogance towards church and ministry is deadly. Some people think they are qualified others even think they are over qualified.

We started a leadership course called Qualified, I asked someone to go on it, they said “But I am qualified, do you not think I am qualified?”. What I think doesn’t matter, but it’s a concern to me someone thinks they have already attained it.

The truth is this… When you reach a place where you realize you truly have nothing to offer God or the church and that you are an earthen vessel, then you are ready to be a treasure. Until then, you are the wrong person to be promoted.

Paul, the great apostle, he said that he was a wretched man. Early in his ministry, Isaiah said “I am undone, I am a man of unclean lips”. Peter knelt before Jesus and told him to leave him alone, he was too sinful to have a future.

If you don’t reach that place where you realize you have nothing, and I mean a genuine authentic humility, not play humble, you will never find your place in the body.

Selah.

Principles of Local Church 12 Love When You Are Winning

Several times in my life I have had someone in our church that is awesome, kind, servant-hearted, always looking out for others, reliable, faithful. Then when because of those attributes I promote them to a position of leadership, they stop loving. They become bossy, they become territorial, they keep asking for their ministry to be promoted, often at the expense of others, they expect others to work hard for them, but they are hardly working.

That is not good! If you are promoted in a local church, do not let it go to your head. When Joseph became prime minister of Egypt, he did not let it go to his head. He exercised authority with kindness and gentleness. The Bible tells us that when the wicked rule, the people mourn. It is sad to have leaders that are not kind and are wicked. I have seen people so kind until they get a position in a church or ministry or Bible College and suddenly they use that position to bully others. We appointed one couple as pastors and within days they wanted people to bow to them and were texting people to improve what they wore to church. That is not how to be a pastor! They did not learn that from me and Amanda!

When people are promoted they either become more wicked or they become kinder. Choose to use your position to show kindness! Choose to remember that you are not perfect and your title does not define you!

You must choose to be someone who sees God’s hand at work in your life and in others. You must be someone who does not just receive grace but who is gracious to others. You get that right, then you will be a good leader! If not authority might destroy you. It destroyed Saul, it destroyed Uzziah, it destroyed Judas, it destroyed Demas, and it could destroy you today if you do not become aware of this!

Principles of Local Church 11 Handling the Skinny Cows

I don’t want to speak negative ever, but life can be seasonal. Sometimes you are in a great season of growth and peace and abundance, and sadly in that place you are vulnerable to be deceived. You are vulnerable to what John Wesley called the temptations of success. Jesus called it the deceitfulness of riches. Doing well can lie to you!

One of the lies that you will face when you are doing well is the temptation not to save or prepare for the future. After all, you are in such abundance, why should you save for a rainy day, when it’s always sunny in your church and your life?

That is one of the greatest reasons rich people become poor – they never prepare for a rainy day. They assume it is going to be year after year of fat cows and they never save for the skinny cow. Good times are so good it is hard to believe that there is a cow out there powerful enough to swallow them up!

I have counselled several pastors to save money during their fat cow years so that the skinny cows don’t destroy them, and I have been told I am negative, don’t get faith, don’t understand things. Oh I understand! I understand as I watch the same pastors struggle and call me and beg me for money. I watch ministries hire far too many people because it is fat cow time and they then struggle later to grow and move into what God is calling them to next.

Do ministries have to lay people off? Do churches have skinny cow times? Are there hardships? We lost a whole bunch of people one year in our church because another ministry lied about me and my leaders, and told those lies so often and so boldly people started to believe them! I had to cope through that, preach through that, and deal with the skinny cow year as much as the fat cat year. I am not saying God cannot provide, but I am saying sometimes God provides double manna on Friday not so we can gorge ourselves Friday but so that we can be prepared for Saturday!

If you understand that some of the fat cow is to be saved you will be wiser, not just with money, but with people, but in life. Joseph believed there were lean years ahead, and that made him so wise, he became prime minister.

All of us in whatever we are doing must prepare for the future. The church must be ready for the future, we must be making disciples who can stand a lean cow year, we must be saving for the lean cow year, we must not be exhausting the fat cows each year. Selah!

Gather the food of good years, and store it! That food will be to keep for the famine years! (see Genesis 41). You need faith to do this, and wisdom. The easy thing is just to enjoy today and exhaust all its blessings today. Why would I spend money on a problem that doesn’t exist? Why would I work hard when I can hire three people to do the job of one today? Why spend money on things that may never happen? Why invest in the dreams of a madman?

I believe God shows His people things to come. If He does show you something, get ready for it. No one is impressed if you saw the lean cow coming. They are impressed if you have a barn full of food! Selah.

Principles of Local Church 10: Be the Best

Israel loved Joseph more than all his children (Genesis 37.3). There is a real culture in most workplaces that no one wants to be the boss’s favourite, no one wants to be the office creep. But if an organization is functioning properly, being the favourite means you are treating the most important people as the most important. What do I mean? Your colleagues are not paying you, they do not promote you, they do not give you payrises, they do not make decisions that will change your life.

You should be God’s favourite and your pastor’s favourite. You should be operating in favour so much you are the favour-ITE! Now I am not saying be pretentious, be a creep, being disingenuous. I am not saying be a creep! I am not saying be the chief bootlicker.

In most companies, and most churches, promotion is given to the favourites. You do not want someone promoted who you do not want to spend time with. You want to be favoured in local church, be prepared to be favoured – the favourite.

Being a favourite is not easy, it’s not in the slightest. You need to find out what someone likes and help them. In the office, work out what makes the boss happy and do it. He is the one who pays you! Some bosses love it when you are enthusiastic about starting a project, others do not care about progress until it is finished – find out and do that! Discover who is paying you, who is opening doors for you – and do what pleases them, learn to flow with them. You were called to their church or ministry, they were not called to yours. You are the one who has to learn to flow with them! Selah.

For example, I like punctuality. I do not promote people who cannot turn up to someone else’s service on time, because I don’t think they will turn up on time for their own church services or Living Churches. That will not do. That’s a small thing, but it is a thing that matters. I look around before the service starts on Sunday and go that’s who I am drawing my next leaders from.

Joseph was Israel’s favourite, then Potiphar’s favourite, then the jailer’s favourite, then Pharaoh’s favourite. Everywhere he was called to serve, he became the favourite. He worked hard, he found out what was needed, and he did it. He did it in such a way he flowed with them, he did not demand that they flowed with him. He was the one who was adaptable, he was the one who ensured he changed his clothes to visit Pharaoh, he was the one who ensured he was looking out for the prisoners even though he was a prisoner.

I know people who lie to my face and then wonder why I don’t promote them. I have a threefold principle for promotion. Character, Capability and Compatibility. Character – are they a decent person, capability – can they do the job I want to give to them, Compatibility – can they work with me. Some people would be fine elders in another church but could not be elders in Tree of Life because they could never work with me, they would be too demanding that I change to their style. They have no desire to be favoured by me.

I had a pastor once who would come and confront me after I taught something on a semi-regular basis. I would teach a message, and he would come to me and say “that’s not grace, that’s not a grace message, this is supposed to be a grace church”. I would try to show him the Biblical basis of what I was teaching, but he would not listen. Then after a few months, we would have a guest speaker, once it was Greg Mohr, once Greg Fritz and once Andrew Wommack. The speaker came to our church, and said word for word what I had taught. Then this pastor would come to me and go “oh, I see that what you said was grace now, I heard Greg Mohr say it”. We went through this a long time. Eventually I had to say to him, none of these people promoted you to pastor, none of these people gave you a church to pastor, none of these people believed in you and raised you up, I did. I cannot wait for a guest speaker to come to town before you accept what I am teaching as grace. You have to be able to work with me and learn from my preaching and teaching not just guest speakers.” In the end I had to let him go, he had godly character, he was capable, but he and I were not compatible. This is so essential and we must understand it.

If you want to work with something bigger than yourself, you have to work on being the favourite, work on being compatible, be adaptable, be flexible, learn to flow with the church God put you in. That will be essential for you to progress.

Principles for Local Church 09 Serve Even When it is Tough

Sometimes it is hard to use your gift. That is a fact of life, a fact of ministry, and definitely a fact of local church. Joseph was in jail, falsely accused of rape, when he only did the right thing. That’s a tough environment. Sometimes we go to church and we feel accused, we feel passed over, we feel ignored. We feel like we should have been promoted quicker than that, we feel the church has ignored us – worse still, we feel that God Himself failed to protect us, help us, deliver us, exalt us, promote us.

Joseph is there in jail and he sees the chief butler and the baker of the Pharaoh. He doesn’t sulk, he doesn’t say the time is wrong, he has too much to deal with, it’s not the right place. He still serves!

Even in prison, Joseph interpreted dreams and encouraged these two men. He was not waiting for better people, a bigger crowd, a more anointed meeting with smoke machines and worship leaders. No, he served where he was no matter what he was going through.

He overcome the temptation to be bitter by serving. As a pastor, that temptation is there. I help people in remarkable ways and sometimes they totally forget what I have done. They forget how hard I have worked for them. But you keep going and keep reaching out and keep touching life and keep being grateful and keep serving. This example should help all of us serve in tough situations.

I want to say a lot more, but this account says it all – serve in the hardest times. It’s a principle that will lead to promotion. Go to church this weekend and serve, it will change your life. No matter what you are going through, help someone else in their mess and it will become a message!

Principles for Local Church 08 Avoid Sexual Immorality

Joseph was working for Potiphar when Potiphar’s wife started making advances on him. He wisely refused her advances, saying that to accept her offer would be to “sin against God” (Genesis 39.9). You cannot live in this world long without encountering the fact that our world is very sexually immoral. It is filled with lust and fornication and adultery. You will even encounter this in the local church! Christians living together as if there is nothing wrong with this, as if marriage is no longer holy, and is an outdated tradition rather than the purpose and plan of God!

Within church life I have had to deal with people who are into pornography, lust, fornication, adultery, prostitution and all forms of immorality. All of them have the same choice – to be in bondage to this, or to trust Jesus and find a place of freedom.

And you have to make a choice – what will you do about it! Will you be free? The best choice to make is the choice to overcome! To walk in holiness and righteousness. To be pure.

Avoiding sexual immorality is possible through the new birth and the grace that God has given us, and if we ask for wisdom He will give us wisdom to get out of any situation. One of the problems of course is that we are often fighting not just the world but our own bodies lusting after things we cannot have. That is why staying pure can be a great struggle. But we can and must overcome and walk in victory like Joseph did. Joseph would have been a great asset in the local church – because he did not have sex outside of marriage and stayed pure. A lot of the hard work of a pastor is counselling and pastoring people who never made the strong godly choices Joseph did. Churches fail because of people making bad choices in the area of sexual purity!

A second area of wisdom found in this account of Joseph choosing sexual purity is that Joseph also chose not to be provoked by false accusations. After being spurned by Joseph, Potiphar’s wife falsely accused Joseph of attempting to rape her. This lie caused Joseph to end up in jail. Satan loves to tempt us into sexual sin, but if he cannot, he loves to accuse of being immoral anyway. He is the accuser of the brethren, and if you are in local church with the brethren, at some point you will be accused of something.

Joseph was falsely accused, but he did not let that define him. I know good people who have been accused of terrible crimes, often the exact opposite of their character. If you want to be in local church, especially if you want to be a leader, you must learn how to deal with being accused and moving forward as if you do not even hear what they are saying about you.

Life is not fair. Joseph going to jail was an injustice – he had an experience that he did not deserve. That provokes strong emotions in people – we want to rise up and challenge injustice. I have experienced injustice many times in my life, and my flesh wants to go out there and somehow prove my innocence, and let people know you cannot do that to me, I will not be cheated. But that is not the way of Jesus. 1 Cor. 6.7 actually says “Why not rather be defrauded?”. There are times i have let myself be defrauded rather than speak up against an injustice against me because I will not attack the church, I will not expose my brother’s nakedness. As you grow in Christ, you will find out there is a need to accept injustice in life and just keep walking with God.

There’s a lot in Genesis 39 about how to be a remarkable disciple of Christ. Why not spend some time meditating on it today.