The Invasion of Ukraine

This morning Russia invaded Ukraine. It’s a statement reminiscent of when Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia. It seems like a strange thing to say in 2022. It seems like a strange thought to have. Hundreds of Ukrainian lives have already sadly been lost. I do not see this as starting a third world war, but if Putin does not stop, and keeps marching across Europe, where will this end? It is impossible to tell.

What should be our response? It should not be to pontificate or focus on this, it should not be to bring out the end-time charts and squeeze this somehow into Daniel or Revelation. Our response should certainly not be to be afraid and let fear enter our hearts. We are in Christ, and we are secure, and this world is not our home. Our hearts should be full of joy in His love and our redemption, no matter what is going on around us. Jesus Himself was so clear – wars and rumours of wars are not the end-times. In fact, Jesus said:

And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come. (Matthew 24.14 NLT)

If you really want to see the end to come and move into the new age, the millenium, stop looking at wars and panicking, and start getting the good news about the kingdom preached throughout the entire world! Preach the good news to your colleagues, family and neighbours. Give to those who are preaching good news across the world. Fund crusades, preach, share, be in church, be discipled, forgive others, love the church, pray in faith. Pray for the churches, pastors, missionaries in the Ukraine – one of the most Christian nations in that area.

Others may start a sermon series on wars, on end-times, others may panic, others may tell you that Christ is behind this rather than anti-Christ, others may turn their whole focus on this and be consumed with fear.

As for me and my househould, we will serve the Lord. We will continue to do everything we can to preach the good news about the kingdom throughout the whole world. Selah.

Principles for Local Church 02 – Be A Follower

The creep factor: Who's following you around the Internet?

Hebrews 6.12 encourages every Christian to be a follower.

That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

The truth is the whole New Testament is filled with instructions to follow other people, but most people are not good at following others. They are too crazy and spooky and unreliable.

Paul told the Corinthian church “FOLLOW ME, as I FOLLOW CHRIST” (1 Cor. 11.1). If you want to get the best out of church, you need to follow your pastor.

Now firstly find a pastor that follows God – don’t follow a pastor that is following politicians, millionaires, bizarre doctrine, following money, following a reputation, following a career. Find a pastor who follows Christ, who reads the Bible more than they read biographies of billionaires and businessmen.

When you find a pastor who actually wants to follow Christ, follow them!

Principles for Local Church 01 – Mind Your Manners!

I Will Build My Church" - Matthew 16:13-19

When you join a Facebook group, there are rules to that group, within nearly every group I am in, whether it is religious, for weight lifting or diet, or for science fiction, or whatever else, one of the very first rules is something about no promotion of your products.

It is considered both unethical and impolite to join a group that is established and slowly built and nurtured around something other than you, and then use that group as a platform to promote your own business, your talents, your name, your book, your course, your whatever.

Yet, people regularly turn up at churches – people who are supposed to be disciples of Jesus – and the very first week, start handing out pamphlets, manuscripts, inviting people to their church, their Bible College, selling their fibre, shampoo, their MLM insurance schemes! It’s just as unethical and just as impolite. It is a failure to respect why the people have come to church.

No-one came to church last weekend hoping to get a free copy of your book, an invite to your course or Bible College, a new insurance policy or a free sample of your amazing herbal shake.

They came to worship the Lord, fellowship with the saints, listen to the preacher (the one they came to hear, not your secret message in the car park) and have a nice cup of tea and coffee, and a biscuit. To interrupt that is to fail to understand that Jesus only has one mission on earth – to build His church, and it is a definite case of you thinking far, far, far, far, far more highly of yourself than you ought.

If you are somewhere as a guest, act like a guest. Selah.

Long Term Sickness

I woke up this morning with some rather unusual verses on my heart. Deut. 28.58 and 59.

58 “If you are not careful to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, to fear and honor with reverence this glorious and awesome name, the Lord your God, 59 then the Lord will bring extraordinary plagues on you and your descendants, even severe and lasting plagues, and miserable and chronic sicknesses

Now the context of Deuteronomy 28.15 to 68 is a very comprehensive list of the effects of the curse of the law. We know in the New Covenant, because of the work of Jesus, that we are redeemed from tbe curse of the law. He became cursed for us so we could be rescued from all tbe elements of the curse of the law.

So when God laid those verses on my heart as I was praying this morning I got excited. This was a reminder from Heaven that:

* Severe and lasting plagues are part of the curse of the law

* Chronic sicknesses are part of the curse of the law

* Jesus has redeemed us from the curse of the law

I know that the will of God right now is to start seeing people across the Tree of Life Family healed from chronic long term sicknesses. Things that have been wrong in your body for years, even decades, it’s time for you to boldly claim your healing.

Those three sentences above, start declaring them over and over. Start speaking them out again and again until faith rises and start acting healed. It’s time for long term problems to disappear, to evaporate in the revelation of His love and His redemptive work.

Selah.

Thoughts About Fasting 05 Fast When Blind

When Paul encountered the Lord on the road to Damascus he was blinded. He could not see. And immediately and without instruction he fasted.

7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything. (Acts 9.7-9)

There are times in our lives when we are blind. We cannot see the right thing to do, we cannot see a way out of our sin, we cannot see a way to make a relationship work, we cannot see a way into business, into ministry, into victory. We cannot see the way ahead.

A great response to that sense of not being able to see, not being able to know the way forward, not being able to know what to do – is to fast. Fasting can help us when we don’t know what to do.

Now when Paul fasted, on the third day, God sent a certain disciple to him to get him baptized in the Holy Spirit and immediately Paul saw the way forward. No wonder when Paul was ministering in Antioch and wanted to know the next move in his ministry, he fasted again.

One of the reason so many Christians are blind and cannot see what God wants them to do, cannot see simple things, is a lack of fasting. Selah.

Thoughts About Fasting 04 Some Stay, Some Go

When the prophets and teachers in Acts 13.1 to 3 started worshipping and praying there were five of them. They all were on staff at what was probably the greatest and most dynamic church in the world.

The Holy Spirit spoke clearly, out of the team, 2 of them need to go and plant a new church. 3 of them need to stay and edify the existing church.

Both are essential. When you are part of a church planting movement, like Tree of Life Church, it can be difficult to make a choice. Both are exciting.

* Going on an adventure, giving up your job, selling your home, moving to a new town and being part of a new church is exciting.

* Staying at home, staying faithful to your job, loving your current town and being part of a growing church is exciting.

But which one is for you? You cannot decide on feelings, on what you desire, on what seems good. You have to hear the Holy Spirit tell you to go or stay. You need to know the will and purpose of God. God knows what gift mix, character mix, personality mix and culture mix are needed in the existing church and the new church or churches. God knows and we must listen to Him!

During this season of worship and fasting, consider asking God a question penned by the Clash, should you stay or should you go now? Only the Lord has the answers.

Selah.

Thoughts About Fasting 03: Be in the Temple

She had lived as a widow since then for eighty-four years. She never left the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day (Luke 2.37 NET)

One of the most successful fasters in the Bible was Anna the prophetess. She recognized Jesus when there was no reason to recognize Him! The Pharisees couldn’t recognize Him as a grown man casting out demons and raising the dead, but Anna recognized Him as a tiny baby, looking exactly the same as every other 8-day old baby brought to the temple to be circumcised!

She worshipped and fasted, but she had a third element that brought her a level of spiritual sensitivity – “she never left the temple”. The King James said “departed not”, the Greek word is aphistemi, it means to hold back, to desert, to give up on, to fall away from, to cool towards. For 84 years after the death of her husband, this woman kept going to the temple. She never held back on the temple, she gave, she invested, she ministered, she loved, she gave, she invested in the temple. She gave her heart and life to the community.

Today, we have to realize we cannot ever worship, fast and pray effectively on our own. No Christian can be the Lone Ranger. We need to make sure that as we seek the Lord, as we worship and fast, we need to focus on the community of the Lord, the body of Christ, the church itself.

We must not back off from church. We must not hold back on church. Go this weekend, be there and be on time, be in Living Church, be on a rota serving. If it’s good enough for a prophetess, it’s good enough for you! Let it be said of us in 84 years time we never left the temple. We never forsook the gathering and assembling of the church, we never gave up on, never held back from the church. I bet we would recognize Jesus a lot more – I reckon we would see His face more, realize His love more, hear His voice more.

During this fast, repent of holding back from church and get involved like never before. And watch how more sensitive to Jesus you become as you start to honour His body.

Thoughts About Fasting 02 Fasting and Elders

Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust. (Acts 14.23)

Paul saw appointing elders into a local church as so important that he would not do it until he had fasted. It is that important. A church will rise or fall on tbe quality of the eldersm

Now I’m sure you are aware elders don’t just have a title and vote on the colour of carpets. They make disciples, they help people. They open their homes and teach the Word. They are supposed to be of the highest character.

Notice as well, the elders didn’t choose the pastor. The pastor chose the elders. A lot of churches have this backward and it destroys them.

One of the things I believe will happen during this fast is that we will see all our elders reach new depths of their walk with God which will take all our Living Churches to a new level. I am expecting to be appointing new elders soon as well as we grow.

What decisions are so important that we shouldn’t make them until we fast? That’s a great question. All of us should spend some time thinking about that today.

Thoughts on Fasting 01: Worshipping and Fasting

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (Acts 13.2)

This is a remarkable verse. It is the verse that changed the centre of the world from Jerusalem to Antioch. This is the verse that released the greatest ministry the world has ever known, Paul’s apostolic ministry. Before this, Paul was in his local church (of course! You will never ever be apostolic without being in local church) serving, teaching and ministering. He was one of a team of teachers, maybe teaching classes and preaching occasionally. That’s where he learned his craft.

Then in this verse, everything changes, five of the leaders of the church get together to do two things: worship and fast. They did two things: worship and fast. The Holy Spirit did two things: instruct and call. I believe with all my heart if we worship and fast, the Holy Spirit will instruct and call. We will get specific instructions from the Holy Spirit. Not every pastor had to leave the church at Antioch, but Paul and Barnabas did. They had to start a travelling ministry immediately. I believe a lot of ministries are not released because we do not worship and fast. We are so tied to the natural realm, to food, to our impulses, it’s not that the Holy Spirit does speak until we go hungry, it’s that we don’t listen.

Some people are going to be lifted up this year, some people are going to be released into ministry, into marriage, into business because we are taking time to worship and fast! It’s so important we do this, we need to tune in. We need to worship the Lord. And we need to do it with others. Paul was not in his prayer closet on his own, he was with others. Fasting together.

Watch and see this weekend, our services will be one step closer to heaven because of prayer, worship and fasting.

Grace and peace!

Be Better At Work 03 Organize Things Better

The Home Edit is here to organize your workspace - Ideas

A lot of people do not realize the importance of order in a workplace. You need things in the right order. You need to have things in the right order and do things in the right order. You were designed for order – chaos is not fruitful or productive.

We all know it is far more wonderful to walk into a room that is in order than a room that is in chaos. Nowhere is this more important than where you are working. If all your to-do items are on twenty different scraps of paper, you will lose one of them. If they are all inside the same book, you will be fine. Clutter needs to be decluttered, disorder needs to be made orderly!

If you need a filing cabinet get one, if you need in-trays get them, if you need places for things, get places for them.

Every thing you do will create more order or less order. Everything you do will create a life that is easier to move forward with or harder, a workplace that is easier to work with or harder.

Now in the office or school, everyone is not all helping you create a life of order and fruitfulness, so you need to learn how to organize things. You need to know:

  • How to separate things that are important and valuable
  • How to not let creativity cause a chaos that breaks the creative flow
  • How to not let busy-ness stop you keeping order

Now I am not going to tell you how to create order that is relevant for you, I don’t know, but if you need to get help, get help. Donald Trump had a person who worked for him who just organized things for him. That’s important! God loves you and will bring someone wonderful into your life to help you when you ask Him!

Don’t get upset about yesterday, and don’t try and change everything in a day, but every day organize things a bit better. I bet 30 minute of organizing your office tomorrow would change your life. I bet it would – have a go.