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.


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.