Tree of Life Blog

Engaging Culture with the wisdom and power of Christ!

About treeoflifelondon

Tree of Life Church is a dynamic new church recently planted in London. We have branches in Dagenham, Guildford and Watford. Pastor Ben is a Christian who preaches the Word with integrity and anointing. He loves seeing Christians released into ministering into signs and wonders, perfect peace and being able to walk in their destiny.

Church Life 01: Why Bang on About It

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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

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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!

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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!

Hosanna to the Son of David

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Today is Palm Sunday, the day we celebrate the day that Jesus Christ, King of the Jews, Saviour of Humanity, Lord of all Lords and King of all Kings, made His triumphant entry to Jerusalem and was received as king. The people laid down palm leaves to make a carpet for him, similar to the modern red carpet used in Hollywood and for royalty. And they cried Hosanna, which is translated as “He saves”.

This day always reminds me of three truths:

1. Jesus is the King. Dave Duell used to say that the donkey would be really stupid if he thought the shouts and praises and palm leaves and the whole Royal reception was for him rather than for the man he was carrying. As donkeys who carry Jesus, that’s a great lesson for all of us!

2. People are fickle. The timing of this day in the church calender is not accidental. This celebration of Jesus as royalty, bringing salvation to the city, and welcomed with songs of praise is literally days before Good Friday. In just days the people’s chant changed from “Hosanna” to “Crucify” because Jesus did not want to do things according to their politics and their way of thinking. I have seen that too many times to count. They turned on Jesus, and they may easily turn on you. Love them anyway. Do what God has called you to anyway.

3. The important of gathering. Jesus wept on Palm Sunday because He wanted to gather the people, but they refused to gather. There can be great praise, great honour of Jesus, there can be the presence of Jesus – but still no gathering. The gathering of Christians in church is essential to victory. Going to a meeting is not gathering, gathering is being part of a community, a family, a church. And Jesus’ heart and love is still the same, He loves and cares for you so much He knows the best for you is to be gathered in a local church, with a pastor.

Selah.

Whatever the World Says Think the Opposite 01: Count Those Chickens

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One of the things we must realize as Christians is that the wisdom of the world is normally the polar opposite of the truth of God’s kingdom. So many Christians still think in ways that are so far removed from God’s kingdom and His way of doing things. In the next few blog posts, I want to examine some of the worldly wisdom and show you that whatever the world says, think the opposite.

Let’s start with a phrase you have probably heard since you were a child: don’t count your chickens before they are hatched. The Cambridge dictionary of phrases defines the phrase like this:

you should not make plans that depend on something good happening before you know that it has actually happened

It’s typical of worldly wisdom to say things like this. The world thinks it is kind to say things like “don’t get your hopes up”, “don’t dream too big”, “don’t fly too close to the sun”, “don’t get ideas above your station”. According to Romans 12.2, Paul says that the key to life transformation is renewing your mind – changing how you think and play in and dream. Changing your perspective changes your life! However, Paul is equally insistent that before the process of mind transformation can take place, you have to not be conformed to the world.

The context of that verse is your mind, so the implication is this: do not be conformed to thinking like the world thinks, imagining like the world, dreaming like the world. The world wants everyone to think the same, and their standard is pretty small. They don’t dream big, they don’t take risks, and they don’t count their chickens before they are hatched. No – they wait until they see something before they call it. It’s the level that Thomas was at when he insisted that he see the resurrected Christ before he believed he was alive. Thomas was too nervous to count his chickens before they hatched, and Jesus told him that he

On the other hand, Abraham counted his children before they were born. He went out in the middle of the night and spent years counting his chickens long before they hatched. And now he is the father of many nations, the father of the faith, and the father, through several generations, of Jesus Christ Himself. That is the power of counting your chickens before they hatch.

Some of you reading this have big dreams. Stop being conformed to the world, stop being pushed into small dreams, stop being squeezed into the world’s mould. Start counting your chickens before they are hatched, count millions of chickens, meditate on your dreams, see your future. Lift your eyes and your thinking to a higher level.

If you want help on how to do this, we have an entire online conference on dreaming big and counting stars. The link is here: https://tree.church/gatesofthecity. Enjoy!

Coaches or Cheerleaders?

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It’s great to have cheerleaders, but they are very easily replaceable. It’s not hard to cheer someone no matter what, it doesn’t take much wisdom or skill to say well done no matter what job is done.

It’s a good coach that makes teams win. It’s someone who can look you in the eye and say “that play won’t get you through”, “you need to change that”, “this must be different for you to hit the target”, that is the person who will lead you to victory.

The tragedy is we live in a world where everyone wants constant affirmation, and wants every thing said about them to be positive.

Some people have even recast Jesus as a cheerleader – now He is encouraging, He is positive, He is inspiring, and a good coach is all those things. But read Revelation 2 and 3, Jesus is not afraid to talk straight to New Covenant believers when they are getting it wrong. You can’t rebuke Jesus, or call Him a legalist when He says “remember how far you have fallen”, “you hold the wrong doctrine”, “you need to repent and quickly or your church will be closed”, “your works are not perfect”, “you are lukewarm”. No, that is just great coaching, strong, clear advice to help you win the game. To help you improve!

If you cannot receive correction, it doesn’t matter how many cheerleaders you have, you will fail. Selah.

Equality and Quality

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The origin of the word “equality” is the opposite of the word “quality”. Quality means something remarkable, something that stands out because it is excellent, special – it is something worth talking about.

Equality means everyone is even, everyone is the same, no one stands out. It means there is no quality that stands out, no quality that is different from the average. In maths, equality means that everything matches.

We should strive for an equality – that people are treated fairly, evenly, that people make decisions without prejudice, without bias and without tribalism.

But in that quest, make sure you never, ever sacrifice quality for equality. You need to stand out, you need to be special, you need to find out what you are excellent at and work on that, and if other people are upset that you are doing what you do well, then let them get upset. You are designed to stand out, you are designed to step up, you are designed to be excellent and special.

We are all equal before God in the dimension of grace, we all need the grace of God, we all are equal in value, equal in access to the Father, equal in access to His throne, to His goodness, equal in worth.

But that does not mean that we are not God’s masterpiece, God’s poem, God’s workmanship, that there are things we can do that no one else can do – if we only focus on our qualties, and develop to become people of quality. To be people who are remarkable, to be worth talking about. To be truly special!

Work on what makes you you, develop a spirit of excellence, do what you do. It is your destiny.

 

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