Tree of Life Blog

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Monthly Archives: November 2016

UKs Coming Revival 02: It’s All About People

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I had a few emails regarding last week’s blog, which added more followers to my blog than anything else I have ever posted.  Most were overwhelmingly positive, and I can see that it is the right time to start releasing some of the things which have been held tight in my heart for years. You see a revelation should not always be released immediately, sometimes it needs to be percolated for many, many years before the time is right.  Now is the time to start talking about revival in the UK. A couple of emails were negative – “why should we believe an angel spoke to you” sort of thing – and the answer is you shouldn’t. I am not asking anyone to believe anything, I am just telling you what happened to me. You don’t have to believe it, I have nothing to gain out of this, I am just telling the truth of my experience.

I believe that one of the things that will hinder any movement – be it church, para-church ministry, Bible School, revival, missionary work – is that if we fail to realize it is all about people. My precious friend, Will Graham, says “I love people”, and that is the heart of everything we do in the kingdom of God – it all revolves around people. God loves people. You don’t have to know your Bible that well to realize that God loves people.

In Genesis 1, you can see that God made the stars, the sun, the moon, the vegetables, the plants, the animals, the fish, the birds and all of it was for one reason – God loved people, and wanted them to have a great world to live in and be in charge of. God made Adam in charge of the planet. God gave Adam and Eve a whole planet as a present, that’s an awesome present, however you look at it, and it was stock full of amazing things:

Then God said, “Let us make a man—someone like ourselves, to be the master of all life upon the earth and in the skies and in the seas.”

So God made man like his Maker.
Like God did God make man;
Man and maid did he make them.

And God blessed them and told them, “Multiply and fill the earth and subdue it; you are masters of the fish and birds and all the animals. And look! I have given you the seed-bearing plants throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food.  And I’ve given all the grass and plants to the animals and birds for their food.” Then God looked over all that he had made, and it was excellent in every way. This ended the sixth day.  (Genesis 1.26-31, Living Bible)

God made everything beautiful and wonderfully with one goal in mind – for people. A builder builds a house for one reason – for people, and God built this planet with one goal – people.  Man was not an afterthought when God created the planet, every star, every planet was created with God in mind. The whole balance of nature was designed by God for humanity.

When Adam and Eve messed up, God stepped in and told them “I will crush the devil’s head. I will smash it up and flatten it for you, and I will do it with the seed of a woman” (Genesis 3.15). God was prophesying the virgin birth and showing how much He cares for people, even fallen, broken, disobedient, faithless people!

You read through the Old Covenant, and God never leaves His people without a sacrifice to cover their sin. Sin has never stopped God from loving and caring for humanity. It has never stopped God from caring about you and loving you. God accepted the blood of animals with grace because He loves people. Then one day, John the Baptist saw the point of it all as He met Jesus, and cried out “This is the LAMB OF GOD, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1.29).

God had provided the greatest sacrifice of all time for His people. Because God loves people. Abraham knew it was coming – God showed Him on the mountain that He has provided a sacrificial lamb to take Abraham’s son’s place. God saw your sin before you were born and made a provision to take care of that sin.

This is such an important truth to learn, because in some places and some ministries people have confused revival and the increased godliness and holiness that flows from revival into the wrong idea that God only loves people who meet a certain standard. This is not true. God loves people when they are fallen, broken, messed up, hate Him, ignore Him, don’t care about people, are lost, lonely, spiteful, petty and mean. GOD LOVES PEOPLE! And if we see revival but don’t hold this central, what we have will slip through our fingers.

Jesus loves people. Jesus’ heart was for sinners – selfish, mean people. He told Matthew to follow Him, when Matthew was a traitor to his nation, a thief, a liar and a wicked man. Yet Jesus called Matthew to be an apostle in the first revival of all, the early church. Jesus then went to Zacchaeus’s house. These guys were well known bad guys, and their friends were not good company, but Jesus got right in the middle of their groups because Jesus loves sinners, and He still loves sinners today.

Here is a question for you, that needs an answer. When was the last time you had dinner with an A1-quality, top level sinner?

As Jesus was going on down the road, he saw a tax collector, Matthew, sitting at a tax collection booth. “Come and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him, and Matthew jumped up and went along with him.

Later, as Jesus and his disciples were eating dinner at Matthew’s house, there were many notorious swindlers there as guests!

The Pharisees were indignant. “Why does your teacher associate with men like that?”

“Because people who are well don’t need a doctor! It’s the sick people who do!” was Jesus’ reply. Then he added, “Now go away and learn the meaning of this verse of Scripture,

‘It isn’t your sacrifices and your gifts I want—I want you to be merciful.’

For I have come to urge sinners, not the self-righteous, back to God.

(Matthew 9.9-13, Living Bible)

Jesus loved, and Jesus loves sinners. Matthew 11.19 calls Jesus the friend of sinners. He was a friend of the people that religious people would never accept, that religious people would never get to know. That is our God, that is the heart of our God, and if you want the heart of God you need to find some sinners to befriend and love.

Some people love God with all their heart, but cannot stand people. But the second command is like the first – love your neighbour as yourself (Matthew 22.39).

Think of the great apostles of the early church – they were nobodies until Jesus spent time with them. Peter walked on water, Peter divided food to feed thousands – yet what happened when Jesus was betrayed? Peter denied he even know Jesus, in fact, Peter lied like a dog and swore like a trooper. Do you think that the Last Supper was where Peter picked up his language problem, or do you think he had an issue with swearing for some time before?

Some of the jobs I have had in my life, you would think people had a degree in swear words. They were fluent – but if you could swear and shout after three years of walking with Jesus you must have had a real problem to start with! But the great news is that despite Peter swearing, despite Peter denying that he was even a friend of Jesus, within just seven weeks, Jesus chose Peter to preach at the first revival meeting ever. That’s grace, that’s love, that’s the heartbeat of Jesus!

James and John were called “sons of thunder” – they wanted to torch a whole village of people for rejecting Jesus. Jesus’ disciples were not super-men, they were no different than today. People haven’t changed. Sin has never changed. Grace has never changed. People who lie and swear today are just like the lying, swearing people from Bible days. The prostitutes today are just like the Bible days prostitutes that were friends of Jesus!

Jesus said you don’t need me if you are well, only the sick need a doctor. The person who is not right with God has a disease called sin, and this is not a bodily disease, it is a spiritual one, and only Doctor Jesus can change the inside of a person. And God loves sinners because God loves people.

We have to change our hearts, because revival is not about hiding in the prayer closet and wishing people around us would magically stop being wicked, selfish, liberal, whatever it is about people that makes us not like them. No – it means going into all the world and meeting people, and liking them. It means you as a Christian dealing with your prejudices and hatred, and bigotry, and indifference, and callousness. Do that, and your life will be louder than life. Most Christians their actions and body language speak louder than the  gospel they claim to believe.

Some Christians are racist. They won’t even go to a church with people from other races. Some Christians cannot put their arm around all kind of people – there are certain kinds of people who they just couldn’t love, and that needs to change.

What about you? Can you demonstrate the love of God to all people? Can you embrace the world? Could you die for the world? How about live for them? This is the heartbeat of revival – it is where revival must start, and what sustains it.

I will talk more of this next week, and will discuss the Good Samaritan, the greatest example of love. Subscribe to the blog to ensure you get on board to read it, and why not comment below and let us know how God is dealing with you to love all humanity.

 

Fight For Your Heart!

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John 14.1 says “Do not let your heart be troubled”. Jesus is telling the disciples that it is not His job, or the pastor’s job, or the church’s job to guard your heart, but your job.

If it is your heart, it is your job to guard it – to protect it. No one else’s!

I have dealt with so many people recently who are – despite what they may say or what hyper-spiritual language they may use to wrap it up in – totally offended by things that are so minor it would embarrass me to get upset about them.

And trust me, you can call it something else, but if it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck it is a duck. If you are unable to make eye contact with people, unable to return their call, if you don’t speak to them and fellowship with them the way you used to you are offended. If you leave a church you are part of without discussing it with the church leadership, and just sneak off you are offended. If you cannot bless someone freely, you are offended. It’s that simple.

The reason is always the same – people do not guard their hearts. They don’t protect their hearts. There is only one way to access the heart, and no – it’s not through the stomach, it’s through the ears. And that’s both sets of ears, the physical ears and the spiritual ears.

You need to guard your heart by protecting your physical ears. Jesus said take heed WHAT you hear (Mark 4.24). We had a gentleman come to me on several occasions telling me that certain people in the church contacted him to complain about me, and he had listened carefully to their complaints for hours, and now was coming to me with those complaints. I said that’s funny because people had phoned me to contact me and complain about you, but those conversations never lasted more than 8 seconds because I guard my heart by guarding my ears, and I would never listen to someone run you down. You need to shut down people who run down others immediately, not spend hours listening to them!

He didn’t listen to my words, he kept listening to the negative words, and I am not surprised he has now left the church and is going to a non-charismatic, non-faith, non-everything church now. Why? He did not take heed what he heard. When people come to you with gossip, with slander, with accusations – you do not have to listen, you can leave or tell them to shut up. You have to guard your heart, you have to not let your heart be troubled.

But you know it’s not just your physical ears that you need to protect, but your spiritual ears. Jesus didn’t just say be careful WHAT YOU HEAR, but he also said “Be careful HOW you hear”.(Luke 8.18). You need to address what you are hearing by how you are filtering it. Someone will say that the way I am planting churches is wrong, when they have never planted a church in their lives. You need to filter that. When someone is talking to me, I judge their lives, and I realize that everyone is biased and everyone’s voice is not equal.

When Robert Maasbach corrects me, I listen very very carefully, that man not only has a remarkably fruitful life, he loves me with all of his heart and would do anything for me. He can come and visit the church and put more in the offering than his honorarium, he will drop everything to help me in a jam. He is a true servant, and he knows what he is talking about. He has gone much further than me in my journey, so I listen carefully. When a pastor of a church of 30, who has lacked discernment in the past, corrects me, I listen a lot less.

We had people leave our church because a single mum living in poverty lied about us – three kids, three dads, her life was one crisis over another. I would never take her words about a stable person seriously, ever. Why did other people? They never took heed HOW they heard. They not only listened to the wrong things, they gave it the wrong level of significance.

You only have one heart, and you only have one life, it is not a dress rehearsal people. You listen to the wrong people you will die. You listen to the right people you will live. It is that stark and that simple

Why are you poor right now? You don’t guard your heart, and you don’t take care what you hear and how you hear. It is that simple. Why are the mountains in your life not moving? You have doubt in your heart, because you didn’t guard it because you did not take care what you hear and you didn’t take care how you hear.

Why is there no mentor in your life? Because you got offended at the very person that God put in your life to lead you forward – you didn’t guard your heart and listened to gossip about them, and you listened to lies and you weighted the voice of people who don’t care about you and haven’t got a fruitful life over the voice of a person who would give up their live to make you a success.

Today, don’t let your mind play the wrong monologue. Take great care what you let yourself listen to, and weigh carefully the source of what you are hearing. Because a troubled heart will never let you do the works of Christ.

You have a great future. Listen to the voices that tell you that, and listen to the LORD and His Word and grow in grace. Because when your heart is strong, you move mountains, you walk on water, you command demons, you live in abundance.

UK’s Coming Revival 01: It is Coming!

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All across the world, revival is happening. Crowds and crowds of people are coming to know Jesus, to find Him as their Lord and Saviour, to find healing in His name, to find abundance, peace, joy – people becoming disciples, looking like Jesus did when He was on earth. It’s happening in Africa, in Asia, in Muslim nations. Thousands of people gathering in huge crusade to worship Jesus, see salvations and miracles – why not Britain my heart cries – and then I remember:

It will happen in the United Kingdom. Our time is coming, and I know this for a fact. I have kept my mouth shut on this for over twenty years, but in 1996, on my twentieth birthday I was visited by an angel who told me that there would be a great awakening in the United Kingdom, greater than any that we have ever had on the shores of our island. Now is the time to start talking about this coming revival.

I have kept quiet because I did not want to be misunderstood and because so many Christians do not understand the word revival – they think it means the church locked away in a room crying and yelling for God to send us something we already have. No – it is the church awakening to what is already inside them, and starting to hear the drumbeat of the marching of the army of heaven and the small, still voice of our Commander Jesus saying go into all the world and make disciples.

Hebrews 12 tells us that all Christians are being watched from heaven by a great cloud of witnesses. These witnesses want us to stand up and be counted, to slay the Goliaths of our generation, to walk in faith and love and change nations. To change our nation. Like the tens of thousands of people in a football stadium, chanting and yelling for their team to win the game – there are countless multitudes of saints on their feet right now, chanting your name, cheering you on to walk in the fulness of everything God has for you. This is your time, this is your place. Get ready for the greatest revival this island has ever seen.

Christianity is a great relay race and the baton is in our hand, and it is our turn to run, to run like the wind and bring life and peace wherever we go. And the saints of old are shouting in your ear right now “Go for it, you have got this, run!”

Right now at this very second Jesus is praying for you! He is interceding for you to see the truth of how loved you are by God, how much treasure is inside you and how great your destiny is. Jesus, and the whole crowd, are very interested in the goal set before you and me – to change the United Kingdom forever.

After 2600 years in the wilderness, Israel became a nation again in 1948, as prophetically foretold by Ezekiel and others. If God can do that for Israel, He can do something for our nation today, and in our generation.

What could possibly be in between you and what God has called you to do? What can stop you from reaching the people God has ordained and commanded you to reach? Right now, today is the day to lay aside every weight, get free from every sin, stop the excuses, stop the procrastination and do what God has spoken to you to do. Run with the dream in your heart!

We can no longer camp in the wilderness, we must go into the promised land, we must advance and we must change this nation. Today!

God has given you the time, ability, the finances, the wisdom to change this world and make a massive difference. That is the truth whether you feel it, see it or believe it – that is the truth. Take your eyes of materialism, take your eyes off yourself and your feeling of inadequacy and place your eyes firmly on Jesus. Don’t run the rat race for things, run the Jesus race to change this nation! Never forget the real reason you are on this planet!

Keep your eyes on Jesus, let Him be your focus day and night. If people let us down, let’s just keep running for Jesus. I’m not checking out of Jesus, checking out of church, or checking out of the kingdom because a leader makes a mistake or two.

There are over 65 million people in the United Kingdom who need the gospel. They need to know about Christ and His death and resurrection. With millions of lives on the line we cannot afford to be complacent, we cannot afford to mess about – find your assignment and do it. It might not be preaching to thousands, it might be helping with the children’s ministry in your local church, it might be working with some teenagers, or some old people from the home, it might be anything – but find out what it is and do it.

Don’t get sidetracked, don’t find fault from people, don’t excuse yourself from destiny. Find your call and do it. The clock is ticking and the countdown to the end of time has begun.

For the next few weeks I am going to hit this hard and share with you (in a way that encourages) about what is going to happen in this nation and what we can do to prepare. We are going to see heaven manifest on earth, and it will be our generation to change!

Next week – find out if we love what God loves.

 

 

Lies That Destroy Lives 04: That We Are Not Fruit Inspectors

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One of the cliches that I hear a lot in Christian circles is that we are not fruit inspectors. It means that it is not our place to judge another person’s life and results. Now, I get where they are coming from – a lot of Christians seem incapable of minding their own business and not poking their noses in where it doesn’t belong. Those people are trying to inspect everyone’s fruit, and generally cause mayhem.

But that’s not because we are not called to know people by their fruit! It’s because those people don’t understand one of the single most important concepts in the New Testament, which is jurisdiction. That fancy word basically means that you are only in charge of some things, other things are none of your business.

So for example, I regularly get emails asking me my opinion of certain ministers and ministries. My response is normally “I am not their judge, I mind my own business and do what called me to do”. And that is appropriate. But however, if someone is ministering at Tree of Life Church, that is my jurisdiction and I will do some fruit inspecting. If someone is speaking to me, I will do some fruit inspecting.

Here are some crazy situations that I know about because no-one bothered to do some fruit checking when they were supposed to:

  • A church has a speaker in their church, and the speaker teaches a whole session on universalism and teaches that everyone is born born again (yes, I typed it right, did you read it right?) and no one is going to hell. That is ridiculous, heretical and a whole host of other things, not to mention destructive to building a healthy church. But this speaker has written a number of books on the subject and his views are public domain.  Pastors – if you ever invite a guest speaker, be a fruit inspector – speak to other pastors who know the ministry, read their books, watch their videos – and if their fruit ain’t up to much, don’t invite them!  It’s that simple! These are your sheep the Lord is trusting to you as the shepherd, protect them!  Cleaning up that kind of mess is not easy, believe me, you need to make sure it doesn’t happen first.  How?  Fruit inspection!
  • A Bible College has a person come and lecture on church growth who has pastored two churches and both shrunk to the point they had to close down. Now he might be a nice guy, he might be your mate, but he does not have the necessary fruitfulness to give those lectures. Your students need wisdom of people who have “done that and been there” to be able to go and plant growing healthy churches when they graduate. Again – be a fruit inspector. These are your students, care about them enough to be a fruit inspector.
  • A conference I went to has a pastor’s meeting and a lecture on integrity in the ministry. The speaker has only been out of jail for a few months, and was in jail because he would take young boys on ministry trips with him and molest them. Now they want us to listen to him talk on pastoral integrity? I walked out the room and didn’t come back, I’m absolutely not interested in wasting my time. My ears, my eyes and my heart are too precious. It’s your mind, care about it enough to be a fruit inspector!

I have failed as a fruit inspector a couple of times, and that has never worked out well for me. I once had a preterist preaching his nonsense in our pulpit, and he was planning on divorcing his wife the whole time he was with us! Some people have left our church and still partner with this guy because I failed to be a diligent fruit checker! He doesn’t even believe the Bible is inspired anymore!

But now I am very big on the fruit of a ministry – I watch carefully. By fruit I mean how are they impacting people and their lives, I mean how are they reproducing – a church should give birth to churches – all the churches in Acts gave birth to other churches – when I see a pastor who has pastored decades and there are no ministries raised up in the church and no other churches, I see no fruit. There might be a great teaching gift, but it is not by gifts we know people, it is fruit. When I see a Christian who is travelling from church to church because he has a couple of mates who are pastors, but he doesn’t even go to church when he is not the main speaker, I see no fruit. When I see pastors who don’t even live on the same continent as their wives, I see no fruit. When I see people with gifting without character, I see no fruit.

Healings are gifts not fruit. Fruit is a reproduction of the life that is in you. When I want to know if a pastor is fruitful I ask: who preaches like him? Who loves in the church like him? Who prays like him? Where are the pastors he has raised up? Where are the sons in the house? When I invite travelling ministers, I listen to people who have had their lives transformed, people who have worked with them, pastors who have had their churches taken forward – I look for fruit.  And if I don’t find it, I throw the ministry back in the pond and start fishing for another (that’s why we get the best guest speakers in the world!)

So this post is for everyone today, I did think about putting it on the leadership blog because it is most pertinent for the pastors and leaders and heads of ministries, and anyone planning a conference or Bible School.  However, all of us must guard our hearts and minds, and one of the way of doing that is to follow the instructions of our Lord and Master:

Beware of false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?

(Jesus, Matthew 7.15-16)

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