Tree of Life Blog

Engaging Culture with the wisdom and power of Christ!

When Honour Becomes Idolatry


I am all for honouring those people God has called and anointed, especially when it is clear they have developed a lifestyle of wisdom and submission to God to walk in their dreams and have significant grace to impart to you. I have a number of people who are my mentors, my pastors, who I honour, who I give to, who I listen to, who I will do whatever I can to help and bless.And having said all that, I am seeing over and over situations where honour becomes idolatry. That instead of honouring someone for the grace of God on their life, we worship them.

I was in a church meeting where someone actually prayed to God in the name of their pastor. That is going way too far. Trust me the quickest way to live a life of unanswered prayer is to pray in my name! I don’t even pray in my name!

But I am seeing it in more subtle ways too, a culture creeps in that focuses on the great man of God more than the man of the great God, and there are some warning signs I am going to – in love – list here. I believe it will help ground some of you back on Christ and His grace and sweetness.

1. When we spend far too long introducing a guest speaker. This is something I used to see years ago, and it seemed like the church was outgrowing this sort of adolescent gushing but recently I am seeing it again. Speakers being introduced as the Apostle Paul of our generation, the greatest preacher on the planet, the only solution to this nation, the man who invented worship. None of these are exaggerations of things I have heard in the last year or so.

That is an introduction by someone who simply has lost sight of the simplicity of our completeness in Christ.

A good introduction should, if you are host pastor, let the church know why you invited the guest speaker, that you feel safe with them, and lend your credibility to them. It should not, unless telling an anecdote, take more than 2 or 3 minutes, and certainly should avoid superlative language.

If people want to clap a speaker when they get on stage, I have no issue with it, but trying to force it, or even make people stand, is manipulative. We are there to hear the Word of God and the Spirit of God through a person, not see a superstar performer.

2. When we expect other people’s prayers to be answered before ours. This is fine for a new Christian who is not established in their righteousness, but once we know who we are in Christ, we should know we have free access to the throne of God. Nothing wrong with getting someone to agree with you in prayer but this running to others and believing in their prayers and chasing the laying on of hands is just a symptom of ignorance of your identity, and that is what leads to idolizing people.

3. When we utterly disregard previous generations and their wisdom. Any of us who can see anything can only do so because we stand on the shoulders of giants. Without the Reformation, the Methodists, the Pentecostal Revival, the Welsh Revival, the Voice of Healing, the charismatics, the Word of Faith and so much more none of us would have a clue. We would still be struggling to realize if we even had a place in heaven. Our part of the race of the church age is just a breath compared to the generations who went before us. When we realize that we are only what we are be aise of the hall of faith of the last 2000 years, we learn not to take ourselves so seriously and not to elevate ourself so much.

4. When we travel great distances to hear our idols, but are not planted locally. I am amazed at people who will drive 5 hours to a conference but think thirty minutes is too far to go to church. What is wrong with that… Idolatry and an unwillingness to fellowship at the normal level. When we want to be around all the names, but don’t want to be around the no names making teas, ushering, plugging in cables, then we have a problem.

5. When we spend more time listening to someone than we listen to the Lord. This preacher says this, this preacher says that. Well, I am glad you are listening to preachers, but what does the Word say? And who do you say Christ is?

6. When we forget how big and how broad the Christian pond is. One minister is not the kingdom of God on earth, and to confuse one ministry with the kingdom leads to pettiness, hierarchical thinking, dismissing our brothers and sisters who haven’t got “the message”, and an elitism for our tribe that dismisses what other people are doing all over the world that we could never do. Every good ministry is part of the solution, no ministry is the whole solution.

7. When the brand eclipses the kingdom. I believe in branding, people should know who you are and what you stand for. I have taught a lot on building culture and marketing your distinctiveness. But, never ever exalt that above the kingdom of God. Put the kingdom first. You are to make Him famous first.

8. Putting a ministry above family. I have seen people lose their families for a particular ministry, sometimes it is their ministry, sometimes it is a ministry they have gone beyond loving and started idolising. I have seen people lose their marriage and lose their home base because of idolising a ministry, and not being able to say no to it or miss a minute of it.

9. Vieing for attention. When the minister becomes your idol you start to vie for attention. You start to do what James says and look for the front seat. You stop being a disciple and start being a groupie. It’s immature, foolish and will never lead to a fruitful ministry or life.

10. The inability to question. Now, I know some questions are an excuse for rebellion, but not all are. Some questions are genuine, and we should be able to be questioned. Any time you think a minister is above questioning you are ascribing Godlike qualities to them. That’s not the way forward for anyone.

When Cornelius bowed before Peter he told him he was just a man, Paul said it to a crowd who worshipped him. We need to have the same passion, all of us are treasures in earthen vessels. I was among a group of followers of a particular minister and they were discussing the revelation that we are as righteous as Jesus, and they were so excited about that revelation. To throw the cat among the pigeons I said “We are as righteous as this certain minister”, and the people starting shaking their heads and telling me how special the minister was and how we were definitely not as righteous as him. If you think you are as righteous as Jesus, but not as Righteous as a certain minister, you have an idolatry problem.

The solution is to ground ourselves in Jesus, realize the greatness of Jesus, realize God is not trying to make you a clone of another minister or your pastor, but He is shaping us into His image.

Yahweh or the Highway?


According to an email I got today, unless we use the name “Yahweh” to worship God we are worshipping an idol.A word never once used by Jesus, Paul, Peter, that never appears in any of the New Testament – even when quoting the Old Testament.Paul happily called Yeshua Iesous because that was His name in Greek. So I am not unhappy or ashamed to call Him Jesus, His name in my native tongue, English.A lot of this sacred name teaching is based in three things:1. A desire to make God unknowable. Jesus came to make God known. To be God in the flesh, to be the fullness of God in a form we can see, and examine, and know – face to face. To remove that name, to insist we spell it in a different way, that it only works in a certain language is to suddenly restrict Jesus to one culture, to being unknowable without special secret knowledge. It undoes the revelation of the Incarnation, and posts Jesus back up to heaven leaving us without the full revelation of God, which is always found in Jesus Christ.2. It brings us back to legalistic Hebrew culture and practise, just by using the language. I am all for learning about the Jews, learning about the original audience of the Old Testament – and most of the New. The more you know about them the more you can understand Scripture. But don’t idolise Judaism, it’s the religion that produced the Pharisees. It’s the framework that Paul dedicated his life to dismantle. We are not trying to get back to the ceremony of the Passover, when the Passover lamb Jesus Christ is right here, right now, alive forever more. Jesus rebuked Jewish experts for loving the Word but not using it to draw near to Him. You don’t find people insisting on Jewish names for God who are free from the law and living under the joy of grace.3. It reduces faith to witchcraft. Faith is expressed in words, I have said that and taught that strongly for years. I have lived it. I have put declarations at the heart of our church services. But you don’t need the special, magic words, you just need some positive heart felt worlds It’s the heart of faith that moves mountains not finding out the magic Hebrew word for mountain. It’s believing God is good and loves you, and standing on that which brings a flow of God’s power not getting His name right in a language you don’t even know.The simple fact of the matter is this. Jehovah, Yawheh, or however you spell it or pronounce it, is not once in the New Testament. I believe that was to allow us to focus on an even greater name that the New Covenant opened up and revealed: Father.In the Old Testament, God is revealed as Yahweh, the great I am because in the Old Testament God is the one and only. But Jesus then came and brought many sons to glory. And God’s highest revelation is as one of is love, and relates to those He loves as a Father. He provides as Father. Loves as Father. Gives good gifts as Father.Jesus told us to pray, not to Yahweh, but to our Father. Jesus told us the most exciting thing about heaven is that it is His Father’s place. He cleaned the temple because it was His Father’s house. He told us that if we have seen Jesus we have seen the Father. Why go back to the name of the invisible God who has no sons apart from Jesus?Why crawl back under the system of religion that fights over pronouncing His name correctly and yield to your reborn spirit which is right now crying ABBA, Father.

Apostasy – but why?


Image result for people worshipping

I don’t normally comment on stories like this, I don’t think they are edifying, and they can easily degenerate into gossip, judging, and getting in the way of someone trying to walk through things, but because of the sheer amount of this person’s songs that have been sung at Tree of Life, and because so many of you know this ministry, I am going to say a few things about Marty Sampson’s renouncing Christianity.

Let’s look at his own words first of all:

When I read this, I don’t understand what kind of circles this man is walking in.  I don’t identify with what he is saying at all.  There is a huge disconnect with me, and my experience of Christianity.

how many preachers fall? Many. No one talks about it.

Preachers do fall, I agree.  Since I have been a Christian I have seen Christian leaders fall into sexual sin, financial impropriety, into treating people less than human because they believe their own press releases.  That is true.  No one has ever claimed that Christianity makes people perfect, or even wise – living out our faith has to be something we are continually working on this side of heaven.

But to say no one talks about it?  Where are you living?  When I go to pastor’s conferences, and I go to two or three a year just to sit and listen – people are always talking about the need for pastors to have character, to work on their character, to be careful about how easily we can fall into sexual sin, or financial sin, or the sins of the platform and power that being a successful pastor can bring.  Everyone is talking about it.  I record weekly videos for my pastors and before I talk about capabilities and compatibility, I always talk about character.  Our elders are working through a book by Tony Cooke on character, my young preachers class are working through a different book by the same author on character.

Everyone is talking about the need for preachers and leaders to have character.  How could you possibly say no one is?  And then when preachers, pastors, leaders fall – how do we best restore them, how do we help people walk forward?  These are important conversations that are happening.  I have just been at a church planters conference this year, and last year I was teaching final year Bible College students, and these questions were being asked, and we were having a dialogue about these very issues.  You cannot say they are being swept under the carpet, they are not.

How many miracles happen. Not many. No one talks about it.

Firstly, how many miracles do you need to believe in the God of miracles?  After I was healed over twenty years ago now, I believed that God was a God of miracles and that was one miracle I had ever seen.  Sometimes someone will text me in the middle of church on a Sunday morning “the life-streaming isn’t working” – so I look and I see people are listening on the app and commenting, so I know it is working, they are just not receiving.  The problem is on the receiving end, because we are transmitting.  If only one person is receiving the signal, I know we are transmitting.  One miracle is enough to believe in a God of miracles.

But I don’t just see one miracle, I see plenty.  But that’s not the point.  Loads of people are talking about miracles.  I could introduce Marty to twenty people who are living miracles right now.  They would tell him their story and talk about it.  And, yes, we do know people who have not yet received their miracle.  We know people who died in their sickness, who died in their sins, who died without their breakthrough.   But we are talking about it.  People are asking questions and we are answering them.  Preachers preach whole sermons on what to do if you do not receive your miracle.  That topic of conversation is also happening around me.

Why is the Bible full of contradictions? No one talks about it.

Again, there is so much material written on the (supposed) contradictions in the Bible. There are books and books that deal with these things.  I have read most of them because I wanted that settled when I was a young teen interested in the claims of Christ.  People are absolutely talking about these things.  I do an eight week course on how to read the Bible and I talk about these things.  People are definitely talking about these things.  There are Facebook groups, courses at Bible schools, all sorts of things where there are people talking about these things.

How can God be love yet send 4 billion people to a place, all coz they don’t believe? No one talks about it.

Again, people are talking about hell.  The stream of Christianity I am most at home in is also home to a host of people who are denying hell, and guess what?  There are people getting up, and talking about hell.  They are explaining how a God of love and hell can exist at the same time.  They are explaining these things.  People are talking about it.  I was reading books on hell by evangelical authors twenty years ago.   There are still people talking about it.

Christians can be the most judgemental people on the planet – they can also be some of the most beautiful and loving people… but it’s not for me. I am not in any more. I want genuine truth.

Hey, if I only believed in God because Christians were nice, I would be the biggest atheist on the planet.  Surely at this stage of ministry and life, someone should be mature enough to know a Christian who doesn’t reflect Christ doesn’t mean that Christ is not real any more than a barber with bad hair proves there is no such thing as hairdressing.  Part of Christianity (and definitely part of Christian leadership) is loving the unlovely, and that includes unlovely Christians.  I have offered my back to those who would beat it again and again, and that is part of pastoring.  Clearly some people have judged this man, his church, the ministry he is part of, there are a lot more critical articles on Hillsong than on Tree of Life, but you are not dancing for the crowd.  You are serving Jesus.  You have to learn to live above criticism of your faith.

Science keeps piercing the truth of every religion.

Again, this is something people are talking about.  A Christian worldview is not unscientific.  You want unscientific, the idea that everything came from nothing can never be scientifically proven or shown.  You want unscientific, look at how people are trying to go against science and make there be more than two genders!  Christianity and science are completely compatible, and again – there are many, many people talking about this.

Unfollow if you want, I’ve never been about living my life for others.

You should definitely try living your life for others. I am not talking about living for their praise, but there are so many young people who love this man and his music and ministry, he should have taken the time to get good counsel, to find the people who are talking about the issues in the areas he has ignorance, doubt and poor information and had these conversations before going public with these kind of ideas.

Christianity just seems to me like another religion at this point…

This to me is the most remarkable – and unbelievable – comment in this entire post.  How on earth could anyone think Christianity is just like another religion.  It has a Saviour, who died, who resurrected, who opened the path for us.  It is nothing like any other religion on the planet.  It provides unconditional forgiveness just for receiving the Lord and His work for us.  It is utterly and totally unique.  The cross is bringing life and hope to Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and atheists around the globe because it is and will always be utterly unique.

Now, what can we learn from this as leaders and Christians going on?

  1. Let’s make sure all our leaders, and our musicians, are part of the dialogues that we have.  That they can hear our discussions about fallen pastors, about science and the Bible, about alleged contradictions in the Bible.  Let them know.  Make sure they are in the services listening to the Word being taught.

    Don’t platform musicians who only want to come in, play and then soar out the room.  I don’t know if this man was doing this, but he seems to have missed a lot of conversations I know are definitely happening.  He needed to be in the Word, in the meeting, listening to the preaching.

  2. Make sure our preaching deals with the issues that are invading people’s consciousness.  Make sure we address the alleged contradictions in the Bible, teach people how to read the Bible, teach people about hell and why there is a hell, refute false and meaningless ideas, get Creation ministries to come in and deal with evolution and creation.  Preach the Word, in and out of season.
  3. Provide a safe place for people to express genuine questions that will not impact other people.  I feel for this man, I really do. (I wanted to say young man, but I am only three years older than him, but his writing feels young, it feels like he just hasn’t thought things through, it’s the kind of text I expect from a 16 year old who is leaving church).  But I feel more for the genuinely young people who love his music, who have been inspired and challenged by God listening to Oceans, have encountered God’s sweet presence singing What A Beautiful Name, who have been at his concerts and re-committed to Jesus.  These people are now going to be confused, to be full of shock, doubt, fear.  Sadly, we do platform people so high that if they fall, they hit other people coming down.  That’s just human nature.  But why couldn’t this singer be in a room with a pastor or two, with some ministries that are talking about these issues, have lunch with some people who have thought these things through, who deal with alleged Bible contradictions… why is this discussion, which is still obviously raw and not thought through totally suddenly in the public eye.  Where is the shepherd helping this man find green pastures and still water?  Why is he so hungry?  Who is feeding him?

    Now, the best pastor in the world cannot make someone eat and drink the Word, and cannot fix the doubts of someone who is not open to listening, so I am not blaming anyone.  But on the other hand, someone who is going through this much should not be platformed either.  Not in a church.

  4. We must pray for all our leaders, and that includes worship leaders.  It’s not easy doing what they do.  You hold a conference and you have 4 speakers doing 2 sessions each and the worship leaders do a set every single session.  They are amazing people and we put a lot on them.  Pray for them!  I walk in on Sundays and preach.  They choose songs, make sure that the band know the songs, make sure the sound system is working, make sure the band is in sync with each other, make sure the band is sweet with each other (worship pastors pastor musicians!) and then make sure I sound great on top of that.  I get to preach to people hungry for the Word, ready for the preaching because they have taken people who have just ran into the building with 400 things on their mind, and led them to focus on Jesus.  Remarkable!

I for one will be praying that Marty Sampson finds the dialogues that he clearly has missed out on, and will be led to encounter books and individuals who can help him find the answers he wants.  He is not the only person who wants genuine truth, all Christians want a genuine faith that challenges their mind as well as their heart.  But let’s not seek for truth so wildly we end up trying to find it outside of Christ!  You can have your questions answered and intellectual integrity without throwing the Bible out and without throwing Jesus out!  Smarter and more godly men than me will no doubt reach out to him, and I will pray for a restoration.  But I will also re-double my efforts to make sure those conversations are happening around me, and that those who need to hear them are hearing them.

Our wonderful worship pastors in the Tree of Life Church, who are always in the service when I am preaching – sometimes 3 times a weekend, and always at our conferences, and who I know I have discussions about all these topics with – open hearted, pure hearted, disciples of Jesus.   They posted this to my wife about this situation:

We must make sure we stick to the simplicity of the Gospel and relationship with Jesus.  The enemy is picking weak people off who are playing the “Christian” game.  It has to be reality of relationship with Jesus not religion!

Not one person’s “take” on this word or that thought or that denomination… or that stream… following this person or that person.  Just being hidden with Christ in God.

We worship only God, not man or organization.  He is the Creator, not us.

They then said they were sure we would understand.  We do!  We understand it so well.  The question of handling success is far more important than how we handle failure.  John Wesley said any Christian can handle failure easily, but very few can handle success.  We have to keep our eyes on Jesus.  We have to not get carried away with issues that are unhelpful.  I encourage everyone reading this to spend some time today worshipping Jesus and reading the Word.  And if you have questions, go and get somewhere where you can have that dialogue.

Speaking to those affected by this: if one worship leader’s doubts can infect your heart, you need to turn and look to Jesus.  He is the head of the church, He is the Lord of all.  Let’s not get carried away by things that do not matter.  How can someone coast along for so long – and let’s admit it – these doubts do not happen overnight – because a system has been set up to allow it.  Again, these are all thoughts that all of us need to have, to examine ourselves to ensure we are still standing.

To quote Marty Sampson himself:

Have you heard of the One called Saviour?
Have you heard of His perfect love?
Have you heard of the One in Heaven?
Have you heard how He gave His Son?
Well, I have found this love and I believe in the Son
Show me Your way

Jesus you are my best friend and you will always be
Nothing will ever change that
Jesus you are my best friend and you will always be
Nothing will ever change that

Let’s make sure these are more than words, but these are an expression of our heart to Jesus Christ.  Let’s not just start our race well, let’s finish well.


Church Life 02: The Primacy of Church


Two or three times this week, I was discussing the idea of planting a church in a certain place and someone else suggested rather than start a church, start a Bible College or a meeting or ministry.

Now, leaving the fact that Biblically the only way Christians ever advanced the kingdom of God was through local churches a loond opening new local churches, there are real issues that go wrong when people don’t put the church first before any para-church ministries.

Firstly, most para-church organisations fish in local churches. Take your average Bible school – it isn’t looking to seek and save the lost, and nor should it. It isn’t looking for dysfunctional Christians who need counsel, assurance of salvation. It’s looking for on fire Christians who can work for or believe for fees and who can give up a year or three to prepare for life and ministry. You find those Christians in local church. If you are pioneering to a new nation, with very little Gospel coverage, and you start with a Bible school and do not start with a church, then you might be fishing in a very small pond, leading to very little growth. A good church training and raising disciples would create people who would be willing to go to Bible school, or help with a specialised para-church ministry, or volunteer and give to other ministries.

By trying to start a para-church ministry without there being strong local churches, you have no churches to support and no Christians to support you. That’s a big mistake and it won’t go well.

Secondly, you need to see the church as the first port of call. I often liken it to a GP. If someone is unwell, they go to a GP. A general practitioner. Someone who is good at everything. If they think you need specialist help, they send you to a specialist, who knows a lot about one thing. But the generalist is who you see first because he can get the big picture and help you there.

I am not the best preacher on certain subjects, for pretty much everything I preach on I could name a travelling speaker who could outpreach me in that topic, but I know very few preachers who could preach a good message on as many subjects as me. I am the generalist. So is every good pastor.

And if you let us call in the guest speakers, put you in touch with specialist ministries – whether to help you or for you to serve, and go to Bible College while you are rooted in a local church, not only will you be far healthier you will get the most out of para-church organisations.

If you have a spiritual issue, first call should be local church.

Third, you do not get a better chance to grow than in local churches. Growth isn’t sitting in a room for hours listening to videos. That can often be part of preparing for growth, but Christian growth is service. No one is bigger than the last person they served! Your Bible College doesn’t have a children’s church, your para-church ladies worship meeting or business men meeting doesn’t have street outreach. There is nowhere with as many opportunities to grow as local church, because there are so many places to serve. That’s how you grow!

Finally, you don’t get anywhere more diverse than local church. There are people in Tree of Life Church this weekend who would never and will never (and don’t need to) go to Bible College. There are people who should go but never will too. There are people not called to the men’s weekend, the ladies glowing meeting, the other meetings. There are the nod to God people too, who only go Sundays. We have new born babies and octogenarians. We have over thirty nationalities.

We have people who are in all sorts of stages of life, some would be thrown out of some para-church ministries (some have been) , but as church we cannot afford that luxury. We are the pillar of grace on the planet.

You need to spend your time with as wide a range of people as possible to grow and learn.

During my last year of Bible College I found out not only were all my friends now Christians, they were all the same style and brand and type of Christian. That’s not healthy for anyone let alone a trainee pastor. I quit a weekly prayer meeting and headed to my local to find some friends. Thankfully I was plugged into local church and volunteered to do some home visits to people that, quite frankly, wouldn’t be invited or welcome at most para-church events

You need to keep it real. Church does that by introducing you to real people with real problems every day you want to meet them. You will grow like never before if you invest and sow in them

Jesus’ body is the church. If you want to be more fruitful than ever before, plug into the body – the church. Go to church, get on a rota, start serving… And watch life surround you.

Church Life 01: Why Bang on About It


When I started Tree of Life Church nearly ten years ago, I always knew there would be perseuction.

The Bible is so clear that if you want to live godly in Christ Jesus you will be persecuted, and I know there is nothing more godly than planting new churches and building up the church, so I knew it would come.

I assumed it would come most when I talked about God’s grace, and that righteousness is accessed by faith not works. Failing that, I assumed it would come when I preached on prosperity and abundance. Both issues that in the UK, many Christians struggle to see what the Bible teaches such are the overwhelming religious traditions being taught on the shores of my island.

However, it has been proven over the years that the number one thing I am persecuted about, the number one thing I am criticized for, attacked for, called names about, falsely accused over, uninvited to speak because of is this: I believe with all my heart, and teach with all my passion, that the will of God is that every Christian should be in a local church no matter what, and that God wants a plethora of growing, healthy, strong, happy, blessed mega-churches. God wants every single church to grow big!

Now reading that above, doesn’t seem controversial to me at all. But it is to many people. But then again the fact that I am right with God because of Jesus, and that God’s will is abundance for every Christian don’t seem controversial with me. But the problem is people develop traditions, people get hurt by church, lots of Christians just don’t dream big. So, it becomes a big issue for some people.

I am absolutely committed to growing big churches across Europe. So when I point out that many churches are small, because the pastors are thinking small, some pastors take it as a personal attack. They accuse me of hating small churches – when I have some of our churches smaller than theirs, when I drive 6 and 8 hour round trips to preach to a handful of people. I don’t hate small churches, everything must start somewhere! I pastored Tree of Life Churches with 1, 2, 3 people. I don’t mind small, but I believe that a well fed church, like a well fed baby, will always grow. But people who wouldn’t dream of investing as much as I do in small churches accuse me of hating small churches!

When I point out that many Bible Colleges, while providing a phenomenal foundation in the Word of God, are not always preparing people well for church ministry, or indeed training people to appreciate and love the local church, then I am falsely accused of hating Bible Colleges.

I have spent six years in full time Bible College education, and I am currently doing a doctorate in theology and a continuing education for ministers programme. Tree of Life gives thousands of pounds a year to Bible Colleges, and again I travel the world to speak to Bible College students at my own expense often, and spend a lot of time helping students find a ministry after Bible College. To say I hate Bible Colleges, or to even say anything less than I love them with all my heart, is just foolishness.

But to point out that they need to alter to focus on building local churches, and have systems to ensure their students can both be a healthy part of a local church while at college and beyond, and to release people into planting churches, then you cause waves, as this is not yet intuitive or understood by so many people.

Yet, I keep waving the flag for local church, I keep focusing on building churches, I keep speaking. Recently someone asked me “why bang on about it”, what they meant was why keep talking about it all the time. Why preach the importance of local church? Why get involved in conflict?

This was someone who loves me, loves local church and gets it. The issue is that they didn’t realize how vital this is, how hard it is to see believers who are not in local church wither in their souls, become emotional thrill seekers going to conference after conference looking for a high when what they need a church to be in consistently. They had never had the phone call from the arrogant Bible College student who doesn’t go to church who has never spent time with the people of God but who presumes on your pulpit because he has a deep revelation for those people. They have never had the call from the person who needs immediate counsel and as they outline the problem you know that Sundays message would have saved them a week of hurt.

We need to keep reaffirming the value of local church over and over because it is the body of Jesus. Over the next few posts I will share why the message of Church Life is something we must, to be Biblical, to be Christ-like, bang on about no matter the critics.

Last month, I met a student who had graduated from Bible College the day before. As I said, I love Bible Colleges, I love Bible College students, so I asked him, what next?

He said that he wants to be in ministry, so I asked what kind. He said he wasn’t sure, so I asked the simplest question which is “do you feel you should be pastoring or should it be a field ministry?”. He wasn’t sure.

I asked what church he went to. I wasn’t trying to trap him or trip him up, I know a lot of pastors, and I know how to speak to pastors, so I was planning to offer him some advice to get involved in his church, and how to get released in ministry in his church.

He looked at me said “I don’t go to church, I haven’t been all my time at college, I was thinking of going back maybe next month”.

That almost brought me to tears, here is a young man trained with all this Bible knowledge, his heart is to serve and bless God’s people, but there is no one to serve and no one to bless because he had zero idea how important local church was. If he had been at local church while at Bible school, I reckon that he would be already ministering to people. The gap of time between getting involved in ministry would not be there if he had realized the value of Church Life.

If that young man wanted to go to Tree of Life, he would have to come to Tree of Life “brand new” and started at the beginning. I couldn’t take him on as staff or even an elder because although he has a few years of Bible training, he has zero idea of Church Life. That’s a real tragedy. And unless he plugs into a local church and learns the power of Church Life, I could meet that man a year on from now, two years, five years, decade, and they would still be dreaming of ministry, but still no closer to it.

I have seen so many ministries in the UK lost because people did not realize the value of Church Life and therefore never realized their ministry. And the UK needs more ministers. That breaks my heart.

That’s why I bang on about it. If you like the beat of the drum or not, it’s the only beat Jesus has promised to build with. Local Church!

The Fruits of Righteousness 01: First Thoughts about Fruits of Righteousness


Image result for fruitfulness

2 Cor. 9.10 says that God will increase the fruits of our righteousness.  Now, we cannot be any more righteous from the moment we become born again, but we can become more fruitful in our righteousness.  We can be more aware that we are righteous, and more aware of His goodness in our life, and that leads to us having a more fruitful life.  A more-Christ-like life.

The fruits of righteousness are far more than just doing the right thing, but actually fulfilling the will and purpose of the Father on planet earth.  I am talking about pulling people out of wheelchairs, opening blind eyes, raising the dead, speaking the words of the Father and moving mountains and changing lives.  Feeding the five thousand, walking on water – anything at all that is miraculous and changing the world – that is the power of God manifest through humans, and it can be done through us, if we are aware of how righteous we are.  Those are some of the fruits of righteousness.  If we bear the fruits of righteousness then we will live like Jesus.  He is the vine, and we are the branches.  If we are living in the revelation of our rightness with God, we will bear the same fruits as Jesus.

You get this?  The branch has to bear the same fruits as the vine.  If the vine is a grape-vine, then the branches must bear grapes, if it is a melon-vine, then the branches can only bear melons.  If the vine is a Jesus-vine, then we can only bear the same fruit as Jesus.

If you realize that you are joined to Jesus, that as He is so are you in the world, that you are one spirit with Him, that you are as righteous as He is, that God is not imputing your sin to you, that God is for you and not against you – then the fruits of righteousness in our lives will bless everyone we meet.  You will help people, have no selfish ambition, heal the sick, break the power of the devil over people, showing people how to live in the will of the Father.  The way we walk into a room will change.  The way we say hello to people changes.  It all changes as the fear and insecurity of unrighteous behaviour gives way to a fearless fellowship with the Father, a fearless aggressiveness to the works of the devil, and a fearless glory over any circumstances.  That would be bearing fruit!  That would be the increase of the fruits of righteousness!

This is something many Christians do not know.  We know about the fruits of love and joy and peace, but we do not realize what the fruits of righteousness are.  Righteousness is the ability to stand before God with no sense of guilt, of inferiority, of fear of punishment.

If we just realized how righteous we are through the redemptive work of God, we could change the world in one generation.  We would eliminate sickness and disease in the body of Christ, and we would minister just like Jesus everywhere we go.

We must never be afraid of the Father, He is always on our side.  We must never be afraid of satan, he is a defeated foe.  We must never be afraid of circumstances, of storms, of life – because our words have authority to change them all!

If you know who the Word says you are, you would change the world!  I challenge you – get into the Word today in a new way.  Read it like you have never seen it before, realize that you are never unworthy, never without value, never not right with God, never without faith to change the world!  Grasp the fact that you are a new creation and that as a new creation you are totally righteous!  The moment you grasp this, you will never be sick again, never be defeated again, you will start speaking in tongues instantly, you will live the Word life.  Full of the Word!

(Next post: the unveiling of our righteousness)

Whatever the World Says Think the Opposite 02: You Need the Cooks!


We are continuing our series on the reality that whatever the world says we, as Christians, should think the opposite.

Nearly every worldly proverb or pithy saying is the polar opposite of Biblical truth. One that is particularly important for growing in grace is that you need to understand that too many cooks do not spoil the broth.

Have you ever heard that saying before? It means that if too many people are involved in a task or activity, it will not be done well. Now there are a few times when you just need one person to do a one man job, and no one is suggesting any church or ministry should be run by committee. However, what does the Bible say about having more than one person in a project:

Without counsel, plans go awry,
But in the multitude of counselors they are established. (Proverbs 15.22)

You see every plan, even if you have heard from God, comes in embryo form. It has things that need to be planned, ideas that need to be altered, aspects that need to be compromised. The world would seek to speak to your ego, your flesh, and draw you to do it your way. It would want you fancy yourself as a lone wolf. But in reality, the world is the wolves, and when you are separate from counsel, you are a sheep separate from the flock and you will be easy prey.

No, the solution to you walking in your dreams, to seeing your plans established rather than go awry is to send in the cooks. Get people around you who will have the graciousness to comment on your plans, and have the humility to listen. Search out people and ask for advice.

Now they need to be cooks, not just people who can burn toast! Seek out people who are fruitful, who are successful, who genuinely care about you. You don’t have to ask the most carnal, grumpy person in your church if you should change the services in a certain way. But you need to find good cooks and welcome their advice.

You also need to remember that it is just counsel, you are not running away from responsibility. Only you are called to do what God has called you to do, and only you will stand before Him. Learn to judge counsel, and receive some, and ignore others. I have found if you take on board about 50% that works the best. But pray and listen and get that counsel.

If all your best laid plans gang aft a-gley, then you know what to do: call in the cooks!

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