IF ALL YOU HAD WAS SCRIPTURE, WHAT WOULD CHURCH LOOK LIKE?

Francis Chan is urging the rising generation to reengage the Scriptures about how church is done, stressing that the U.S. model has gotten many things wrong, even though motivated by good intentions.

“I got tired of hearing my own voice,” Chan said, explaining why he stepped down, something he writes about at considerable length in his latest book, Letters To The Church.

“And I felt like people relied on my voice too much and they weren’t getting in the Word for themselves, that they weren’t seeking God on their own.”

Yet because he did not give all of the reasons for why he left, people started making assumptions. Through several conversations with his elders and his own journey of poring over the Scripture about what the church ought to be, he came to the conclusion that he could no longer abide the status quo.

He tried to make some changes he thought were necessary but was unsuccessful, he explained. Compounding the struggle further was the success of his books Crazy Love and The Forgotten God and the proliferation of opinions on social media about what he should doing and be preaching.

“It was a confusing time. I just really didn’t know what more I could do for the church,” he said. “And as my wife and I prayed. Both of us just really sensed there’s something else.” He thought he would be positioned at this church for his entire life; he always respected other pastors who did so. But he continued to sense that the Lord had something new for him so he figured he had better obey that and move on.

In Letters To the Church, he addresses the credentialed, consumerist, and expensive economic model in which America does church.

“I would be going against Scripture to say that ministers can not be paid by the church,” he told Relevant. But in a lot of countries, that is not the way it is, he pointed out, and you must do what is best for the Gospel not what is best for yourself. Somehow, you have millions and millions of believers in China, and it wasn’t about all these paid clergy [where] that was their business. And even in the inner cities of America where most of those pastors are bi-vocational. In San Francisco, one of the most expensive cities in the United States, none of the pastors in Chan’s network of house churches are paid. They do not have a budget like most churches do; all the money they take in goes to the poor and other mission-related activities.

The American way has blinded Christians from staying focused on the advance of God’s Kingdom, he writes in Letters to the Church. Chan recounts in the book one particular occasion when he was speaking with a pastor from the Philippines who has over 30,000 people in his church. The pastor told him that they used to send missionaries to the United States for Bible training but that he would never make that mistake again. He explained that once these would-be missionaries spent time in the U.S., they never came back! Once they tasted the comforts, they came up with all sorts of reasons they were called to take a nice salary from a church and raise their children in America, Chan writes. Sometimes it takes an outsider to point out glaring issues we have become blind to. This pastor now trains missionaries in the Philippines, in an environment where there’s no temptation to stay. It keeps them on mission. In the wild.”

THE CHURCH IN THE LAST DAYS

This article is taken from the book by John Burton – The Coming Church. It only confirms what I have been saying for a number of years now. The traditional institutional church must change if it is to be used by God in the “last days”.

 The Coming Church, by John Burton

“We need a church on fire today more than ever. The lost are being introduced into lukewarm, natural, Ichabod religion instead of a supernatural shaking that can only come from the Great I Am. They are convinced they are saved as they are assimilated into a community of like minded quasi-spiritual people who would love to see God manifest in their natural realm—yet have no interest in manifesting in the spiritual realm where the Holy Spirit broods.

My challenge to pastors is simple: Risk everything. Allow your church to dwindle, if necessary, to a few remnant people who will live, pray, walk and advance in the Spirit. The world is waiting for them. (Francis Chan is a living example of a pastor who has accepted the challenge.)

We soon won’t be able to define going to church the way we do now. God is coming to reform, to crush structures of old for what is to be introduced very soon. Our call isn’t to stand strong until the shift comes, it’s to prophetically sound the alarm and awaken those at risk! God is coming! The force from Heaven, the celestial asteroid, is going to impact the Church, and most pastors and people will resist with everything that’s within them. Man-made support systems will be removed. People’s financial and relational structures will be threatened by this strange new spiritual invasion. The human wisdom and natural common sense that have been involved in the development of the current church structure will not be usable in the new. Those who walk by sight are in danger.

I’ve met countless pastors and others who say they are focused on revival, but who are misguided on exactly what it is. Their focus is on attracting people to the church, on people getting “saved” and on other church growth strategies.

The problem? The foundational pursuit of revival has nothing to do with church growth or the lost. It has everything to do with the church awakening, contending in intercession and attracting the fire of the Holy Spirit.

The lost didn’t show up in the upper room. Marginal followers of Jesus were repelled by the upper room. Acts 2:1-3

Revival isn’t marked by a full house. Revival starts in a room that reveals the remnant. The revival that erupted in that roomful of remnants resulted in explosive church growth and kingdom advance.

The pure Christian message of surrender, repentance, holiness, intercession and rescuing souls from hell has been replaced by a self-centred gospel that boldly affirms a focus on benefits without cost, on personal gain without sacrifice, on freedom without consecration. The Church has been unapologetically and boldly focused on how to have faith to receive while forsaking the call to have faith to give. The spirit of the age infiltrated churches long ago—and now, all too often, that demonic spirit is the primary counsellor.”

DISCOVER THE GIDEON’S IN OUR DAY

I was reminded by this verse in Judges 6:1,  “And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord: and the Lord delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years, just how often Israel was delivered by God into the hands of some foreign nation for judgement.
What about the church in our day? Is God delivering an apostate church into the hands of the enemy for judgement? God’s word reveals that there will be apostasy in the “last days” church  and that certainly is the case with many of the denominational churches compromising with the world’s values.
However, just as in the days Israel was delivered into the “hand of Midian”, God had his redemptive plan prepared and He chose Gideon a most unlikely candidate to achieve His purposes.
Who are the Gideon’s, God has chosen in our day?
When Gideon was called into action, Israel was in dire straits. Gideon had to winnow grain in secret just so the Midianites would not steal every little bit of food and sustenance from them. “Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites. Judges 6:11(b)
Image result for picture of Gideon defeating the Midianites
Just as Gideon winnowed the wheat from the chaff, God winnowed Gideon’s army. God winnowed down a fighting force from 32,000 to three hundred. Those who were “afraid and trembling” were asked to leave first.  Cowards go first in Revelation also.  22,000 departed leaving Gideon with just 10,000 now to fight 120,000…outnumbered 12 to 1. God still said, The people are still too many; bring them down to the water and I will test them for you there.” Judges 7:4. God then rejected another 9,700 men with only THREE HUNDRED remaining. What a crazy story but we are meant to learn from it.

God winnowed for two main reasons:

1. So we know, we can’t save ourselves. And the Lord said to Gideon, ‘The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ Judges 7:2

2. God wants us to develop our faith and trust in Him as did Gideon.  David is another great example. Listen to David, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him.” Proverbs 28:7  When your heart trusts in the Lord, you can expect help. God only needs 1 person to make 1,000 flee and 2 people to make 10,000 flee. It’s never been about “numbers” with God.

Who are the leaders in the church today who are bold and courageous, who understand that the battle is the Lords and numbers aren’t a problem? They are those who believe God’s inerrant Word,  know we are in the “end times”, know God’s call on their lives and get on with the job, trusting God for the outcome. We need to work with these anointed leaders, confident in our own role in God’s “end times” plan.
Let me name a few humble leaders that I have identified as Kingdom warriors who understand the times: Francis Chan, http://www.wearechurch.com; Torben Sondergaad, http://www.thelastreformation.com; Nelson Walters, http://www.gospelintheendtimes.com; Don Batten, http://www.creation.com; Joel Richardson, http://www.joelstrumpet.com; Alan Kurschner, http://www.alankurschner.com, Jeffrey Daly, http://www.dayofrepentance1.org

LOVE 2 LIVE 2 LOVE: REFLECTION ON CHURCH BY MAN OF GOD

In an interview with The Christian Post, the longtime pastor of the multi-campus Harvest Bible Chapel in Illinois, Pastor James MacDonald, candidly shared what he’s learned and continues to learn about the heart of Jesus, and where he sees the Body of Christ going amid profound cultural changes.

With three decades now behind him, MacDonald is already vision casting and planning for the next 30 years, alongside his three children who are also active in ministry. MacDonald founded Harvest Bible Chapel in 1988 with 18 people and today hosts 13,000 at their seven Chicago-area campuses every week.

MacDonald shared that only more substance (Biblical) makes better disciples. And it’s really hard work. Jesus was more gifted than any person on Earth and He spent three-and-a-half full years on 12 people and didn’t get all of them to the finish line. So, it’s really a time consuming, exhausting thing making disciples, and I think I’ve seen the church swing back toward a focus on quality. We’ve said for years in our church “not a quantity of disciples, but quality of discipleship.” And more and more, I hear pastors leaning in that direction.

The primary type of evangelism that we see in the Scriptures is one-on-one. Jesus with Nicodemus, Jesus with the woman at the well, Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. And that does not in any way negate mass evangelism. In Acts Chapter 2 we see a mass evangelism situation with the coming of the Holy Spirit. But was that normative or an exception? I think typically we see one-on-one evangelism and to subjugate the Sunday morning, which is so needed for infusion of spiritual strength through proclamation [of the Word], through worship, through fellowship, from giving and serving is, I think, increasingly seen as  inadequate to sustain in a strong, growing church. All of those things stoke the fire of a Christ follower’s vertical relationship [with God].  That’s the reason why in 2012, I wrote the book Vertical Church. We have to come back to that as our primary focus.

James MacDonald’s response to this question is enlightening. “What do you make of the credible allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse within influential churches and Christian ministries over the past two to three years?”

Scripture says “He who sins in the presence of all, rebuke in the presence of all that others may fear.” And you look in the book of Acts when they lied about their tithe, Ananias and Sapphira were taken, “and great fear came upon the Church.” Also, the only response to public exposure of private failure should be to look in the mirror, even when disaster strikes. In every instance when calamity strikes, when personal failure is exposed, we should be looking in the mirror. We should be saying: “There but for the grace of God go I.” We should be deepening our own reflection and repentance. And most of all, we should not be piling on and shaming others but we should be responding with grace and with genuine reflection upon the needs of our own heart. Because none of us are all that we have articulated to be important. And I’m not saying leaders shouldn’t be an example. Of course, leaders need to be an example, and if they are not an example of the believer, then they should step down.

We’re talking a lot in our church right now about what we call “love 2 live 2 love.” You’re not living until you’re loving God. That’s the first great commandment, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” And then “live 2 love.” You’re not really loving God unless you’re loving others. And Jesus said the second is like the first. And not like it because they are both great, and not like it because they are both about love. But like it because he was only asked for one and he gave two because they are inseparable.

CHURCH AS GOD INTENDED

Watch this 15 minute presentation by Peter Sutton on church. What can happen when pastors realise that they are just part of God’s church and the denominational barriers come down.

People don’t go to church, they are God’s church, wherever He has placed them in the marketplace. Only then, does the church start to impact communities and cities.

YOU DON’T GO TO CHURCH, IT IS YOUR IDENTITY

Love this presentation by Francis Chan on the church. You will need an hour but you can hear it in 15 minute segments and not lose the message.

“We need to be the generation that kills the consumerism in the church.” says Francis Chan. I’ll say amen to that.

“Joy that is inexpressible.” “Peace that passes all comprehension.” “Power that incomprehensible.” Is that the church we see. It is the church that Jesus describes.

Lord, please enlighten the eyes of our hearts so that we see the truth of Your Word.

Listen to Francis Chan read Scripture (Revelation 4 & 5) and realise we are reading God’s Word which beats any presentation that comes from the mind of men.

 

CHURCH – PREPARE FOR ECONOMIC CRASH

Further to my previous post which looked at who owns global assets, this post looks at the appetite for investment and the fact it is heading into panic territory.

The Global Risk Appetite Index compares the performance of 64 global assets to judge how willing or unwilling investors are to take additional risk. The index last entered panic territory in October of 2015, when global recession seemed a threat as China’s capital markets threatened to meltdown.

This time around, the issues are manifold: trade disputes, the Italian budget, Fed tightening and emerging market turbulence all “contend to be the main driver of this risk appetite slump”, the Credit Suisse analysts write.

Some big investors are taking action. Check out this chart:

It shows that some very big guns are starting to cut exposure to stocks.

According to the AFR this week, the behemoth that is Australian Super just cut back on local and international equities. Could this be the start of the giant, global ‘risk-off/sell off

Church are you preparing for what’s coming? It will be church as described in the Book of Acts that will be a blessing.

“Now when the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul, neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And grace was upon them all. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands, of houses sold them and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.” Acts 4: 32-34

CHURCH – PREPARE FOR GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRASH

Signs are brewing that asset markets are finally reaching a tipping point. we’re heading for a similar bubble burst to 1987, 2000, 2008 or even 1929, only this one will be bigger. Who has the most to lose? Whilst these are US statistics they don’t differ much in the western world. The rest of the world’s economists, having observed America’s apparent financial success, copied its Keynesian methodology developed in the 1930s. Thus, virtually the whole world is now marching in lockstep like lemmings towards the edge of a cliff.

OWNERSHIP OF FINANCIAL ASSETS

Since 1983, the top 1% has climbed from 34% of financial asset ownership to 40% (and I’ve seen some studies say that it’s closer to 50%). The bottom 90% have fallen from 32% financial asset ownership to 21%. How much can the latter lose when they don’t have many financial assets to begin with?

For a broader view, look at this chart, which shows the top 10% versus the top 20%.

The top 20% control 90% of the financial assets while the top 10% controls 79%. That means the bottom 80% control only 10%!

The whole wealth curve is exponentially skewed, much more than income…

So, there are no two ways about it: When this bubble finally bursts for good, and wealth is destroyed for a long time, it will be the richest that lose the most! Whilst they lose the most, it will be the 90% that will suffer the most as they will not have money or jobs to put food on the table.

Church are you preparing for what’s coming? It will be church as described in the Book of Acts that will be a blessing.

“Now when the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul, neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And grace was upon them all. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands, of houses sold them and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.” Acts 4: 32-34

 

MAJOR GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS IMMINENT

Ten indicators that the next major global economic crisis is imminent. The mainstream media in the United States almost entirely ignores Europe, but what is going on over there is key right now.

  1. The 9th largest economy in the world, Italy, is in the midst of yet another financial meltdown. Italian banking stocks crashed really hard this week. Italian two year bond yields are the highest that they have been since the crisis of 2014. In fact, there are fears that it could spread to other areas of the euro zone. Europe could barely handle what happened in Greece, and the Italian economy is many times its size.Deutsche Bank share price graphic
  2. German banking giant Deutsche Bank just announced that it will be cutting another 7,000 jobs as it “seeks to turn the page on years of losses”.  Many are amazed that it has survived for this long.  If Deutsche Bank fails in 2018, it will essentially be a “Lehman Brothers moment for the entire planet.
  3. In the US, the “smart money” is getting out of stocks at a rate that we haven’t seen since just before the financial crisis of 2008.
  4. Moody’s is warning that a “particularly large wave” of junk bond defaults is coming.  Junk bond defaults are often an early warning indicator for a major financial crisis.
  5. According to the FDIC, a closely watched category known as “assets of problem banks” more than tripled during the first quarter of 2018.  What that means is that some really big banks are now officially in “problem” territory.
  6. U.S. Treasury bonds are having the worst start to a year since the Great Depression.
  7. Mortgage interest rates in the US just hit a 7 year high, and they have been rising at the fastest pace in nearly 50 years.  This is going to be absolutely crippling for the real estate and housing industries.
  8. US retail industry debt defaults have hit a record high in 2018.
  9. The US is on pace for the worst year for retail store closings ever.
  10. The two largest economies on the entire globe are on the verge of starting an international trade war.

Once things start unravelling in Europe, the US will be deeply affected as well.  The global financial system is more interconnected than ever before, and at this point the US is even more vulnerable than it was just prior to the crisis of 2008.

When this thing breaks loose, it won’t matter who is in the White House, who is in Congress or who is running the Federal Reserve, there is nothing that anyone will be able to do to stop it.

Global central banks have been able to buy a few extra years of time by engaging in unprecedented levels of intervention, but now they are almost out of ammunition and events are beginning to escalate at a very frightening pace.

Church will need to be like in the Book of Acts where believers shared their resources with those in need. Be prepared, get out of debt, and make sure you have readily available reserves.

 

JESUS SAID: “I DID NOT COME TO BRING PEACE BUT A SWORD”

The Bible tells us the battle is intense in the “last days”. There will be a great falling away in the church.

The world has rejected God’s values, particularly having approved same sex marriage and transgender. Sadly, we are seeing many church denominations compromise with the world and become apostate, as prophesied. It is important to remember, Jesus said of himself that He would bring division:

  • Not peace but a sword (put on the full armour of the Lord, take up the sword of faith)
  • Son against father, daughters against mothers, in-laws against in-laws, family member against family member
  • Enemies will be in the same household
  • Division
  • Rejection
  • With me or against me
  • Heavenly kingdom not of this world

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I  did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.” Matthew 10:34-37

“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 10:38-39

“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” Matthew 11:12

“I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to be baptised with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished! Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” Luke 12:49-53

“Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” John 18:36

WHY IS THIS DISRUPTION AND FORCE NECESSARY?

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12

Victory in this battle is never found at a negotiation table filled with compromise and conditions.

It is past time for marketplace believers to step into our co-destiny with Jesus – to take back lost territory. The battle will be fierce, but Jesus said, “when these things begin to happen look up, lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” Luke 21:28 His return is not too far off.

Hence, it is time to:

  • Refuse to bow to ungodly secular pressures that push non-Kingdom agendas; 
  • Resist society’s expectations within entertainment, art or education that subvert a Godly standard of living;
  • Come out of apostate churches and ensure we raise God fearing children.
  • Resist political, governmental or special interest group pressure to lower our standards or behaviour.

We must hold to God’s inerrant Word.