Tree of Life Blog

Engaging Culture with the wisdom and power of Christ!

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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Broken Focus

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I once heard a preacher say the only reason men fail is due to broken focus. Me being me tried to prove him wrong, instead I opened up the door to seeing a powerful and Biblical truth.

Here are ten people from the Bible whose focus caused them to fail, if you recognize yourself in any of these, return your focus to what it should be on.

10. Eve sinned because she focused on the virtue of the fruit, not the virtue of the one who commanded her not to eat.

9. Samson died because he focused on the beauty of Delilah rather than the beauty of the presence of the Lord

8. Joseph’s brothers failed because they focused on the glory of another man’s coat and calling rather than the glory of their own coats and calling.

7. Lot’s wife died because she focused on the greatness of what she was giving up rather than the greatness of the One she was giving it up for.

6. The spies failed because they focused on the size of their enemy rather than the size of their God.

5. Aaron and Miriam failed because they focused on the ignobility of not being called to be in first place, rather than the nobility and honour of being called to second position.

4. Judas failed because he focused on what he expected Christ to do for him, rather than the wonderful things He did do for him.

3. Demas failed because he focused on the superficial cheerleading of the world rather than the unique and blessed opportunity to have someone has remarkable as Paul as his coach.

2. Martha failed because she focused on her sister’s choice of position rather than her own.

1. The rich young ruler failed because he focused on the security of his riches rather than the security of the love of the Father.

Finally, Jesus succeeded because he did not focus on the shame of the cross but on the glory of His future.

Some Thoughts on Righteousness (part 1 – Introduction)

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Image result for righteousnessWhen I teach a truth to people, I like to have a core Scripture – a truth that is obvious from the Word of God that cannot be argued with that creates a plumb-line for that message.  When I teach on righteousness, 95% of the time, I start with the following Scripture:

21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Cor. 5.21, KJV)

The preceding verses (2 Cor. 5.17) tell us that if we are in Christ, we are a new creation, a new creature.  Hagin helps us by telling us this means a new species of being that has never existed before.  That’s what a Christian is – totally re-created.  A totally new being.  Old things have passed away, all things are made new, and all things are of God.

You are not part God and part satan.  You are of God.  You are not carrying the satan nature and the God nature, you are of God!  Your human spirit, the moment you are born again, is completely reborn. It is totally holy, totally of God, totally new.

The problem is that although your spirit is totally changed, your mind does not realize it yet.  Our responsibility as Christians is to be transformed in every area of our life through changing the way we think (Romans 12.2).

And one of the key areas we must change how we think is how we think of ourselves and how we think of righteousness.  The Scripture quoted above is simple: you are righteous.  You are the righteousness of God Himself.  You are as righteous of God.  Not because of your behaviour, but because Jesus took your sin.

What does that mean?  It doesn’t mean how you act – righteousness is not about behaviour, it is a gift.  A totally free gift. A gift you could never ever earn.  Jesus provided it through His own death and resurrection! You have now been given the righteousness of God by Jesus Christ!

Righteousness is not the way you act, it is a gift.  You are righteous.  Your nature is righteous.  You can understand this better by realizing righteousness means “right-standing”.  You have right-standing with God.  You are God’s own child, and you are righteous meaning you can enter His presence without fear, without shame, without a  sense of inferiority.

You have a bunch of rights and a bunch of benefits because you are righteous.  I will explain them in the next few posts, but today, why not just spend a minute or two thanking God you are righteous before Him!

Angry Young Men

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In the 1950s in the United Kingdom, there was a group of authors, playwrights, and poets who were loosely described as “angry young men”. Their anger and youthful passion was obvious in their writings and their themes for their writings.

Their anger was mainly aimed at the establishment – they felt let down by the state and were angry at the powers that be for being less than perfect, and for failing to help those who they felt truly needed the state to help.

The “young” was not just a commentary on the age of these writers but also a reflection on the immaturity of their arguments, which were seen as abrasive, almost incoherent and inconsistent. They reminded many of a young child simply yelling “it’s not fair”, while adding nothing to the conversation other than their tantrum at the establishment.

Many of the authors described as the angry, young men ended up angry with each other, refusing to appear in publications with some of the others due to what appeared to be minor disagreements. Some of them were happier being on the outside and attacking the mainstream, even when the mainstream wanted to listen to their views and even learn from them.

Why am I discussing this on a blog for people who want to live the grace life as disciples of Jesus?

Because very sadly, I can see the grace movement is raising a generation of angry, young men. The way they talk to each other is marked by their anger at the establishment, which for them is the denominational church. They hate the denominational churches, they hate religion and they hate legalism.

The angry young men in the fifties hated the state because they felt the state didn’t provide enough for its people, to quote one of them “the wrong people are going hungry”. They hated the state, but a more mature approach would realize what was to truly be hated was hunger.

The angry young men of the grace movement would grow up and impact the world if they were half as angry at sin, selfishness, anger, rage as they are at the establishment. But, sadly they are often as angry at each other, dividing into smaller and smaller factions, until some seem to be factions of one, disagreeing with everyone but themselves, often ripping the Bible to pieces to defend their rage at the institutional church!

Try to suggest these people calm down, speak with a sweetness in their voice and immediately you are now vilified as part of the institute. Their anger quickly will turn personal.

And that is where you can see a deep immaturity. Listen, I’m not against saying things strongly. Listen to me preach, I will tell it like it is. So will Andrew Wommack, Duane Sheriff, Greg Mohr or any Grace preacher worth their salt. But some of the “grace” people blogging today need to start growing up. Just shouting into the wind “it’s not fair”, “correcting people is not grace”, “i hate the god of Andrew Wommack”, “everyone who disagrees with me is a Pharisee and a slave to the institute” helps no one. You sound like that little child stomping his feet and shouting it’s not fair.

The angry young men in the fifties had a mediocum of success because it’s easier to listen to a rant and get angry than seriously think about how to solve the issue facing a post-war Britain.

The angry young men in the grace move have a mediocum of success because it’s easier to listen to a rant and get angry at the institute, the other, something external, than actually be a disciple of Jesus, to renew your mind, to dream big, forgive, to minister out of the Spirit and flow in the gifts.

It’s easier to join in a Facebook discussion about how rubbish and tragic the church is than lie down on your face and say “Lord, help me have wisdom to change my life and see who I am, and live from my spirit”

Andrew Wommack isn’t getting any younger. The new generation of grace preachers must mature, must become less reactionary, and must become the kind, mature men thay can shepherd, teach, equip and train. Any donkey can knock down a barn.

The church deserves better. Be better.

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