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Excerpt from Rivers and Wells (Pastor Benjamin’s book on the anointing)

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This passage is an excerpt from Pastor Benjamin’s book RIvers and Wells.  The book can be purchased here.

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On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given,because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7.37-39, NKJV)

Incidentally, I much prefer the King James rendering of the phrase as “rivers of living waters.” Some modern translations use the phrase “streams of living waters”. I prefer the imagery of rivers of water flowing out of me, rather than streams. It just seems more powerful. The Greek gives the idea of water with a current – water that is flowing to a destination. Incidentally the King James translates a few phrases a bit better than the more modern versions. In Ephesians 6 the King James Version tells us to take up the shield of faith because of the fiery darts of the enemy. The New International Version tells us the enemy has flaming missiles. I do not know about you, but I would rather be facing fiery darts than flaming missiles!

So, by comparing these passages we can see that in John 4 Jesus is talking about the new birth and says that at the new birth a well of gushing water is placed inside you. In John 7, Jesus is not referring to the new birth but rather the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and he says the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not like a well inside you, but like rivers that flow out of you. These rivers flowing out of you are your ministry to others: laying hands on the sick, casting out demons, speaking the Word to people. This ministry is not just for the full-time ministers but should be part and parcel of the life of every Christian. Jesus said that whoever believed in Him would do the works He did (John 14.12). I know a lot of people talk about the end of that verse (“greater works”) and many theological people have argued about what greater works means. I simply do not care what greater works means. I do not. I am staying on the first part of the verse: I will do the works Jesus did. When I am doing them fully, then I will find out what the greater works are.

It makes me laugh when I hear theologians discuss and argue about what the greater works are when they have never even done the works Jesus did in the first place. You, Christian, should be doing the works of Jesus. That is the power of God that has been placed inside you: rivers of living water. Not just one river, but many rivers. So you can flow in the power of God and minister life and healing to those around you. Mark 16 tells us that those who believe will lay hands on the sick and the sick will recover. It does not mention apostles and prophets and pastors! It says those who believe. The highest calling and anointing for any Christian is the anointing and calling to be a believer. There are many people who would call themselves (and it is them calling themselves, because God certainly has not done it) apostles and prophets, and yet they have never even once functioned in the anointing of the believer. They have never laid their hands on the sick and seen them recover! It is time the body of Christ stopped arguing over titles and pre-eminence, got over our jealousy of one another and started doing the works that Jesus did.

Every Christian should be casting out demons, healing the sick, ministering life and love to the world and doing good. This is the most important issue when it comes to the anointing, not the prophetic and apostolic anointings. These are real, and Christians need to know how to relate to these anointings, but there is far too much emphasis on them within the charismatic move today. Let us focus on the main issues: every Christian should be ministering in the power of the Holy Spirit and have rivers of life flowing out of them changing their worlds. The church is so far removed from this. There are so many Christians who do not know that the power of God is inside them, that the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives inside them, that they can do the works of Jesus, that they can place their hands on a sick person and the person will be healed. And yet, the church is arguing about who is a prophet and who is this, and who is that. Who cares?

The fact is most of the world needs a church that is filled with faith and glory. God’s desire is for the whole church to be doing the works of Jesus and extending the kingdom and rescuing people from hell. We have made church a spectator sport, like a theatre show. You pay your money and you put your backside on a chair so the pastor can boast how many backsides are on chairs, but you are not expected to do the works of Jesus.

You know you are destined for more than a bottom on a seat. You were designed by God for dominion, for destiny, to rule and reign over fear and over sickness. To change lives and demonstrate the kingdom of God. You know that rivers of living water will flow out of you.

Say this out loud: No more am I merely a bottom on a seat. I am a child of God. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is in me. The greater One lives in me. I have an anointing from the Holy One. In me is a well of water, out of me flow rivers of living water.

You need to keep saying this out loud until you start getting excited about this. You need to be so confident of this that when you walk out your house and see someone sick you offer to lay your hands on them. You offer to minister life to them. When you see someone sad, you are going to cast the devil out of them. You are going to do the works that Jesus did. You are going to believe the Word of God.

10 Scriptures that Can be used in nearly every mess

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We often learn lists of healing Scriptures, finance Scriptures, family Scriptures, etc. so that in specific crises we know what the Word says.  But if you are a new Christian or if you don’t know the Word as well as you should, or if you are facing multiple battles at once it is great to know that there are some Scriptures that will apply to EVERY situation.  These Scriptures should be learned, considered, meditated and declared in every mess you find yourself in.

10.  Greater is He that is in you, than He that is in the world. (1 John 4.4)

9.  My God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in glory (Php. 4.19)

8. If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8.31)

7. He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8.32)

6. We are more than conquerors through him who loved us (Romans 8.37)

5. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. (Gal. 3.9)

4.  Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: (Gal. 3.13)

3. Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. (1 John 3.1)

2. Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  (Romans 5.1-2)

1. Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. (2 Cor. 2.14)

10 Things You Have to Know About Growing Churches

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10.  Growth is like human growth – in spurts.  You can account for it, plan for it, prepare for it, but you can’t ever quite predict it.  You know a healthy human child will grow, but you don’t know EXACTLY when.

9.  Growth means change.  You don’t like change – no one does.  We like our security and safety.  BUt things must change – things you can do in a church with 15 people (interrupt the sermon, share a Scripture, celebrate your birthday, stop the service and pray for you, be informal about management of money or children, as examples) simply cannot be done with a church of 200.  

8.  Remember the change isn’t for you!  You might like your church and not want to share it with 200 other people but God wants to share the life in the church with as many people as possible.

7.  One of the hardest barriers for a church to cross is around 140-160 people.  It’s when you simply cannot know everyone in the church just by going on a Sunday.  On a subconscious level people find that difficult to deal with.  The best thing to do is to join a smaller group – a Living Church, the choir, the working party, the set up team, whatever.  By being in a smaller group within the group, you still get the benefits of being in a group where you know everyone and you also get the benefits of being in a larger group.  If you are a pastor to break this barrier you simply must provide the smaller groups for people – if you don’t they’ll form themselves and become cliques.

6. Growing churches will always become more formal.  It used to be that you knew the people looking after the children, you knew everyone so processes were informal.  That cannot stay the case if the church grows.  Sometimes we mistake formalization for depersonalization.  No – it’s just ensuring the processes are robust enough to see more people come.  Formalization is the only way to ensure the church becomes more personal and more welcoming.  By taking the pressure of structure off the people and onto the structures and processes, the people are now free to relate to one another and enjoy church.

5. In growing churches, paid staff often do what volunteers used to do.  Volunteers have to get used to having a line manager who is not the senior pastor and main preacher.  Volunteers have to get used to having certain responsibilities taken off them and let it happen graciously.  

4. In a small church the drawing factor is community.  People are part of the small community and that’s why they keep coming back again and again.  The problem is that this community is exactly what is unwelcoming to newcomers.  Every slot is filled – you can only have so many friends.  Occasionally someone leaves the church and someone joins and fits in their place, but it will not grow.  In a growing church the drawing factor is life impact.  It is how someone’s life is being changed.  Therefore the service has to not pander to the community but embrace everyone and provide powerful ways to improve life impact.

3. In a small church certain things are tolerated because of good relationships.  Someone can ramble on in a sermon for an hour and everyone knows “That’s just Bill…”, the worship leader can sing out of key and out of rhythm and everyone giggles because it’s how Jimmy plays.  The low quality is almost an in-joke that sustains the community.  As soon as a church breaks 100 this cannot happen anymore because there will be people who are not in on the joke and have a higher expectation.   Everything must be done professionally, from the first opening song through to the notices, the offering and so on.

2. A growing church needs multiplicity and redundancy of communication.  I knew this intellectually but didn’t really believe it until recently when Tree of Life Dagenham started hitting 110-120 per Sunday.  People would call me and say “why didn’t you tell me about THIS EVENT?”, “why didn’t you let me know THIS SPEAKER was coming?”, “how come I didn’t know about the BAPTISMS?” when these things were clearly in the church newsletter and announced from the front for several weeks.  Because the church is no longer one community – things need repeated.  We now try and say a notice in six different ways: we email everyone personally, we text everyone, we put it on Facebook, we put it on the church website, we put it on Google calendar and we put it in the church newsletter.  No one listens to the notice, so we stopped doing them on a Sunday.   If you are reading this and thinking I am into overkill, you are where I was this time last year.  Let me know what happens when your church reaches 120+.

1. A Growing Church is the most exciting place on earth.  In the age where church attendance is seen as an optional extra for supersaints (or worse – and even more absurdly, institutional legalism for people who don’t get the grace message), being in a healthy, growing church is so much fun.  Marriages are getting restored, Muslims are becoming Christians, children are getting saved, people are getting healed, people are learning how to dream, how to walk in their dreams,community is being built.  Lives are being changed.  I wouldn’t change what I do for the world.  It’s not always easy, but it is always an adventure.

Imagination

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Pastor Benjamin Conway, lead pastor of Tree of Life Church and founder of the Tree of Life Network, shows here how to use your imagination to enter fully into God’s dream and your dream for your life. This message is inspiring and challenging and will let you be all you can be!

Faith Works By Love

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  • For years the faith movement has been telling people that “faith works by love”. It’s true, that’s how faith works, but they misunderstood “by love”, telling us that faith only works when we love.

    If we don’t love people, forgive people, help people, serve people, show compassion on people, help people, live for people then our faith won’t work, we will stay sick, stay poor, stay in defeat and that’s that.

    So we responded. We made our love confessions, we strained to feel good feelings for people who annoyed us, we made ourselves human doormats, we became our pastor’s armour bearers serving them to the detriment of our own families. In the name of love, we strained to the point we became unbearable to live with. Then we stayed poor, stayed sick, stayed in defeat and rather than receiving God’s grace and healing and prosperity and victory we wailed our lack of love, we condemned our unforgiveness, we beat ourselves up for not loving enough, not feeling enough love and not doing enough – no matter how much we did do and how much we sacrificed.

    The truth (which will set you free as you read this): the love that empowers our faith is not our feeble, human, limited, pathetic, self-obsessed, impure, roller coaster feeling of love; not that which we squeeze out of our hearts and then kick the dog the next moment because our heart now hurts so bad. It’s not even our love at all: it’s HIS LOVE.

    Faith doesn’t work because you have earned enough brownie points loving people. It works when you realize that no matter what you have done, no matter what you have felt, no matter what you have felt, no matter how half-hearted you have been, no matter how much you hurt inside: GOD STILL LOVES YOU.

    His love is unending, unconditional, undeserved. It is not a still, logical, passive love: GOD IS LOVE. He is alive with love for you, He is buzzing, sparking, zapping with love for you. He made you because He needed a vessel to love with all the love inside Him. He redeemed you through Christ and His death and resurrection just so He could pour that love inside you and love you from the inside out.

    God is eternal, and every moment of that eternity is crammed with His love for you. God is infinite – and every iota of that space is exploding with the heat of a million suns with love for you. It’s not love based on your goodness, your strength, your joy, your ability to do. It’s love that comes straight from His nature, His heart, His being. The core of God is love for you.

    God is all-powerful and every ounce of His infinite strength is for you not against you. God can think a million thoughts at once, and all of them are thoughts on how to prosper you, how to get you through, how to make your life heaven on earth. His whole nature is love.

    When you realize the depths of His love for you, and when you grasp that He will never let you go, never let you down, never do or think anything that is not for your highest. When you realize that Christianity is not your utmost for His highest, but His utmost for your Highest; when you find out that you are not a sinner in the hand of an angry God, but a child of a loving Father. When you find out that the faith-life isn’t about your love for Him, but His love for you: then FAITH WORKS.

    Why wouldn’t He heal me when He adores me? Why wouldn’t I get the promotion at work? HE ADORES ME. HE LOVES ME. He wants me to have good things to enjoy. He wants to supply my needs according to His riches in glory. He is awesome to me. He can’t stop thinking about me.

    Of course I am going to walk in victory because He loves me. Passionately. Always. Not based on what I do, but based on what He has done.

    That’s why faith works by love: it’s easy to believe good things are going to happen to me the more I realize and grasp and meditate on His love for me.

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