MEGACHURCH EXPOSED

The explosive three-part docu-series, Hillsong: A Megachurch Exposed, will premiere on Thursday, March 24 on discovery+, the definitive non-fiction, real-life subscription streaming service, with all three episodes available on that date. Featuring interviews with Hillsong insiders, megachurch experts and Ranin Karim, the woman whose five-month affair with celebrity senior pastor Carl Lentz led to his downfall, the series will explore the high-profile, star-studded church’s alleged exploitation, abuse and cover-ups.

Is this church as it is described in the Book of Acts? I am sure it is not, just as the institutional church model is not God’s model for His church.

GOD DOES HEAL PEOPLE MIRACULOUSLY TODAY

God is in the healing business. He provided you with your immune system. It heals your body of disease. However, on occasions, as this atheist cancer doctor discovered God does answer prayer with miraculous healing.

This article published in USA Today: Cancer Doctor Was an Atheist but Now Has ‘Profound Faith’ After Investigating Power of Prayer to Heal.

A longtime cancer doctor believes prayer can be powerful and effective at healing the afflicted, sharing in a recently-published USA Today opinion piece how his investigation into invocations (the act of calling upon God (Holy Spirit) for healing) led him from “being a scientifically based ’empirical’ atheist to someone with a profound faith.”

Dr. Gary Onik said he has “encountered at least one terminal cancer patient who was healed by a worldwide prayer effort on his behalf,” and shared his journey of investigating how prayer can help the afflicted.

It was the aforementioned case that led Onik to think deeper on the matter.

“Rather than dismiss this miracle as inconsistent with my empiric and rationally based training, it made me consider how the new scientific knowledge of quantum physics and human consciousness might support the idea of prayer-facilitated healing,” he wrote.

Onik spent a decade looking at how prayer and science might coalesce, and then found himself facing his own terminal prostate cancer diagnosis. Like many others, he had a choice: to seek prayer — or not.

Based on Onik’s research, he said he “knew that prayer had to be a major component” of his own treatment. He decided to seek prayer, so he posted a video and people from all over the world — and from a diversity of beliefs — reached out to offer invocations.

Onik decided to avoid surgery for his cancer, which had spread to his lymph nodes and bones, and instead relied on prayer and a special immunotherapy regime he created.

“It is now three years since my diagnosis,” he wrote. “Prayer combined with immunotherapy treatment has left me free of metastatic cancer and potentially cured.”

Onik’s not sure he would have been healed without prayer, but there’s one thing he is certain of: prayer is important, especially when it comes to cancer.

As Faithwire previously reported, the benefits of faith continue to be shown in scientific studies. For instance, a new Gallup poll found better mental health trends among Americans who routinely attend worship services.

Christians, though, know the power of prayer, as the Bible repeatedly implores believers to seek the Lord in this way. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV) reads, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

This is what Francis Chan had to say about prayer and miraculous healing on a mission trip to Myanmar. His experiences of the miraculous with his wife and family have changed them. They could never go back to the old life regardless of how comfortable it was.

“There’s no way I can communicate to you how much peace I felt,” Chan stressed. “I am sharing the Good News with a village of people who have never heard of this before. I can’t tell you how right it felt.”

Later in his message, Chan revealed that while in the village he asked God to help him heal those suffering. 

“I’m going, ‘God, please, please hear,’” he recalled. “People started coming forward for healing.” “Every person I touched was healed,” “I have never experienced this in 52 years. I’m talking like a little boy and a little girl who were deaf. We laid hands, she starts crying and smiling. These are not Christians who have even heard about Jesus, and she’s freaking out. We lay hands on her little brother, we lay hands on him, and he starts hearing for the first time.” Chan admitted that the entire process was out of his “comfort zone,” adding, “This is stuff I’d read about, but I’m going, ‘Man, it happened. It happened.’ Stuff left and right.” “I thought I had faith, but my faith was at another level, and I think there are some things that contributed — some of it was just faith in His word, that when Jesus says, ‘I am in you and you are in Me,’ to take that literally,” he declared. 

There is no doubt in my mind that in these “last days” before Jesus returns that if we step out in faith and do what God is calling us to do that we will see God’s miraculous power at work just as Francis Chan did, whether it is healing or any of the other eight gifts of the Spirit.,

Are you a spiritual foodie? Chan challenges.

CHURCHES ARE BEING TRANSFORMED IN THE USA

We are so excited by the amazing fruit being harvested at the Last Reformation Kickstart Weekends that are happening all over the world. They are transforming people’s lives. Even churches are being transformed as you will see in the video below.

Here a whole church got transformed, the Pastor got baptized, and they are now changing the way they are doing church and will go and start small groups. This is transformational!

If you live in the USA and have the opportunity to go and join a Kickstart near you, Torben and his team would love to see you. Keep your eyes on TLRMap.com, where there are often new Kickstarts. For example, in California, a new Kickstart will happen at the beginning of the year in the southern part.

However, you don’t need to wait for a Kickstart Weekend. You can host your Kickstart by using the Kickstart Package. The Kickstart Package comprises seven videos where you get all the teaching for a Kickstart Weekend. The Package comes with a leaders book along with a workbook. Of course, it is not the personal contact you get in a Kickstart Weekend. However, it allows you to host it where you are, such as in your living room. You can invite people over to your home, and you can be the host. Use this tool to reach out to others around you just like other people have done.

Below is a testimony from Jeff and Diana in Pennsylvania.

Testimony from Pennsylvania

Jeff and Diana Ellis hosted a Kickstart in a conference center in downtown Butler, PA. This was the first time they used the Kickstart Package in a seminar-type event vs. a home setting. They utilized the Kickstart Package videos, engaging the workbooks. There were about 25 people in attendance, two of the attendees got baptized, and several received prayer and personal ministry.  Jeff stated, “we learned that anyone could do a Kickstart using this package. However, if you have more than four attendees, it is good to have other disciples present to minister alongside you. Overall, for our very first Kickstart, I believe this was a successful event!”

Jeff and Diana plan to follow up with several people for Bible Discovery Groups and do more Kickstarts.

ARE YOU SURE YOU ARE REALLY HAVING CHURCH?

This post is taken from a great article by Shane Idleman: The great shrinking church in America.

It’s clear that many churches have closed or have considerably shrunk in size since COVID-19. Reasons range from “church-goers are still scared to return,” to “they prefer watching live feeds.” But why have bold churches experienced tremendous growth? This issue is much deeper — it’s crystal clear that people are hungry for the truth. 

As a church in California located in Los Angeles County, I understand the enormous challenges of pastoring in these dire times. But, if the truth is told, the COVID crisis simply revealed the foundation of many churches, as well as the heart of many pastors. But thank God, there is hope! 

Pastors, I’m writing this to you to encourage you to be bold as you lead your congregation through these difficult and challenging times. But this boldness won’t come naturally, it will come supernaturally. It will have a cost:

“Life-giving preaching costs the preacher much — death to self, crucifixion to the world, and the travail of his own soul. Crucified preaching only can give life. Crucified preaching can come only from a crucified man” (E.M. Bounds).

The fire of the Spirit is contagious 

On October 25, 2021, we began having church every night at 6 pm for two straight weeks. At times, the atmosphere was overwhelming — a full altar, dozens of baptisms, the demonic realm being crushed and countless lives changed, both in person and through Livestream. As the old-timers used to say, “God heard our cries and showed up!” The key verse for us was Isaiah 64:1, “Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down! That the mountains might shake at Your presence.” (You can view the services here.)

Speaking boldly is no longer optional, it’s essential. That’s the missing ingredient today. God is no respecter of persons, status, or achievement, but He is a respecter of principles (Acts 10:34). If you seek Him with all your heart you will find Him. Then you will be better equipped to lead your congregation to the Fountain of Living Water once you yourself have drunk deeply. The fire of the Spirit is contagious.

This doesn’t mean that your church will grow; it could shrink, but it does mean that you’ll now have the power of the Spirit resting upon your life. Churches filled with the Spirit do the works of the Spirit. Jesus said that “whoever believes in Me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12 NIV).

If your church doesn’t look like the New Testament church, are you sure that you’re truly “having church”?

Dead is for a graveyard, not a church

The Christian life is to be living and vibrant, not dry and dead. It begs the question: “Where are the rivers of living water that Jesus spoke about in John 7:38?” When it comes to experiencing a spiritual awakening (revival), it can’t be worked up, it must be brought down from heaven. 

In Lev. 9:23-24, the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people and the fire came down and consumed the burnt offering. God brought down the fire, but the responsibility fell on the leaders to keep the fire burning. They were to remove the waste but not the fuel. The same holds true for you and me. We must remove the waste of pride and add the fuel of humility.

Ignite your church with prayer meetings and worship nights. Humble yourself and lead the way and find comfort on the altar as you cry out to God for boldness. The two-week event described above was over a decade in the making as we persisted in seeking the heart of God. He truly is a “rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). When God chooses to give us a measure of revival in our bondage, worship, humility, and obedience, He will keep the flame going. 

The beauty of brokenness 

The beauty of brokenness is that humility crushes pride and ushers in the presence of God. Moses spent years on the backside of the desert as God broke and prepared him. Joshua’s humility no doubt came from lingering in the presence of the Lord. Isaiah was completely broken when he cried, “Woe to me! … I am ruined! …. My eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty” (Isaiah 6:5). Jeremiah collapsed and cried out for humility in the people, “My soul will weep in secret for your pride” (Jeremiah 13:17).

The Psalms are saturated with the brokenness of David, and Jesus’ disciples had to be crushed like olives so the anointing oil could flow. Paul had to be knocked to the ground and his eyes blinded by the glory of God before true humility became a mark of his ministry.  

Do you sound like a voice “crying in the wilderness” because you’ve been touched by God, or a voice whining in the wilderness because you’re dying spiritually? You can change that today. 

We provide the sacrifice, He provides the fire

When you lose intimacy with God, you lose boldness and the Spirit’s fire. Return to Him, and He will return to you (Zechariah 1:3). The strength of your church is in its purity and spiritual power, not in its numbers. God doesn’t need a majority — He is the Majority. We are not CEOs running a business, we are watchmen warning a nation. Prayer can no longer be a footnote at the end of a sermon; instead, prayer and worship must guide the church in these critical times.

How can you receive a measure of revival in these dire times if there is no desperation? God can’t pour into your heart if it’s already full of self: Self-willed. Self-sufficient. Self-made. Self must die in you before God can really live within you. 

The greatest hindrance to revival is within your own heart. It’s time to break up your fallow ground and seek the Lord while He still may be found (cf. Hosea 10:12). Again, although we can’t work revival up, God can bring it down from heaven if we prepare the soil of our hearts. We provide the sacrifice — He provides the fire.

Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Lancaster, California, just North of Los Angeles. Shane’s sermons, articles, books, and radio program can all be found at shaneidleman.com or wcfav.org

My followers know that I believe the church in the end times will be the church as described in the Book of Acts. I promote the church model as modeled by Francis Chan which is House Churches, no paid pastors, and no buildings. Nevertheless, I thought the truths expressed by Pastor Shane Idelman are worth a post.

CHURCH IN THE END TIMES PRIOR TO JESUS RETURN

More than half of preachers in mainline Protestant churches are now “seriously considering” leaving full-time ministry a new study from Barna Group shows

.Joe Jensen, Barna’s vice president of church engagement, told The Christian Post that the growing number of pastors now looking to leave their full-time positions is cause for alarm. “This particular stat, this is the highest we’ve ever seen it,” Jensen said, pointing to the burnout he believes many pastors are experiencing in the wake of the pandemic. 

“We’re concerned with how this is impacting the overall health of the Church. I really believe that at the heart of every healthy church is a healthy pastor. So this is definitely, almost four out of 10 pastors in America seriously considering quitting full-time ministry in the last year, a cause for concern.” Jensen said he believes the pandemic has “had a significant impact” on the well-being of pastors based on data they have gathered amid the pandemic.

Jensen said in 2020 when the pandemic shuttered many churches, many pastors “were just in survival mode, trying to figure out how to get online when they weren’t, and how to connect with their people even when they weren’t there to connect with them.” In 2021, as people began to emerge from lockdowns and churches have begun to open up, pastors are now struggling with the slow return of many of their congregants. “As we went to 2021, especially as churches started to come back in person, we were starting to pay attention to, how did it impact their overall well-being when their people weren’t coming back? Like, they probably were expecting them to. And so 2021 has definitely had all these set of challenges for pastors,” Jensen said.

Jesus is refining His church, the institutional model of paid pastors and religious tradition is failing. The early home church model as described in the Book of Acts was able to survive persecution just as the underground church did in China and Muslim countries today. This will be the model for the end times church as Christian persecution escalates as prophesied. The author of Crazy Love, Francis Chan who walked away from a church of 5000 describes his new church model.

Francis Chan
Francis addressing employees at Facebook

Chan shared his reasoning during a talk at Facebook’s headquarters as far back as June 22. 2017.

“Everyone’s in these homes so that it cost nothing,” Chan described. “We have 30 pastors now that all do it for free. We send them out in twos. So we have 14/15 house churches. And we just plan on multiplying, doubling every year. In ten years we could have 1.2 million people. And free.”

According to the “We Are Church” website, Chan’s new church model is structured as follows:

1.) Each church meets in a home.

2.) Each church has two pastors, both of whom aren’t paid.

3.) Tithes and offerings are collected, but all are set aside to be used for missions locally and abroad.

MAKING DISCIPLES IS THE MANDATE – CHURCH PLANTING IS THE OUTCOME

Where in the Bible are we commanded to plant churches? The simple and obvious response is, “it is not commanded.” Planting churches flows naturally out of making disciples. The heart of the church’s mission is to make disciples who make disciples.

In the New Testament, a disciple is more than someone who grows in their theological knowledge of God. A disciple fellowships with other believers, worships in a community, and prays like those assembled in a house in Acts 4.

And now, Lord, look upon their (the Worlds) threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.Acts 4:29-31

Empowered by the Holy Spirit, a disciple then boldly declares the word of God such that more and more people become followers of Jesus.

Missionaries have historically been the most vital source of a nation’s social development. These findings yield two important conclusions about the work of Protestant missionaries. Their message was good for the world and their focus was making disciples.

This understanding of a disciple is highlighted throughout the New Testament. Through a study of the early movement in Ephesus, we see at least thirteen characteristics common to them all.

  • Disciples are respectful of people and culture when they engage in God’s mission (Acts 19:7, 37).
  • Disciples surrender to God’s will and maintain the work of their first love in a theocentrically focused missiological theology (Eph 1; Eph 5:18-19; Rev 2:4).
  • Disciples declare the mystery of Christ to the nations (Eph 3:4-10, 1 Tim 2:1-4).
  • Disciples are equipped by movement leaders for ministry (Eph 4:12; 1 Timothy).
  • Disciples exhibit the fruit of the Spirit (Eph 4-5).
  • Disciples are empowered by the Holy Spirit to be witnesses (Eph 5:18-19, 2 Tim 1:7).
  • Disciples are godly fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, employees and employers (Eph 5:22-6:9).
  • Disciples pray for opportunities to share the gospel because they know God is most glorified when more people are worshipping him (Eph 6:18-20, 1 Tim 2:1-4).
  • Disciples stand up for the marginalized (1 Tim 2:8-15, 5:3-16; Rev 2:6).
  • Disciples learn sound doctrine from movement leaders who can teach (1 Tim 4:7).
  • Disciples are willing to suffer for the sake of the gospel (2 Tim 1:8).
  • Disciples are committed to multiplying more disciples (2 Tim 2:2).
  • Disciples defend the faith against false teaching (Rev 2:2).

Extracts from an article “Is Church Planting a Biblical Mandate?” October 28, 2020, by Jackson Wu

WHAT’S WRONG WITH CHURCH

A major issue afflicting the Church is the “clergy-laity mentality.” It is a pervasive mindset where the paid clergy leads the church and they are called “pastors.” They do most of the ministry work and laypeople serve the ministry of that pastor.

The Apostle Paul writes that the Church, the household of God, is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone.” Ephesians 2:20

Paul continues that the Lord gave fivefold offices for the edification of the Church, specifically

apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:11-12

All five of these gifts are needed and on a broad-based level, you need the apostles and prophets working together, hearing from God together. To use military terminology: apostles [are] the generals. The prophets being the seers, they’re the ones getting the intel [from God],

For a local church, there needs to be impartation from all those gifts, equipping from all those offices to equip people to minister to those who are not part of the Church, not just to minister to each other. The apostles are the builders, the church-planters, those who are trainers and equippers. And the prophetic is to come alongside them to help guide and speak to that — what is the Lord saying right now in the present. All five offices are needed to work together so that the Church can hear the full counsel of God.

 

Episcopal church ordains lesbian Bishop

Unfortunately, the institutional church came up with the model of training one man, then one man or woman and now transgender as well to be the pastor/leader of the church. This model is not Biblical and is in fact the apostate church Jesus (Matthew 24:12) and Paul (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 ) spoke of as one of the “end times” signs. It has no understanding of the fivefold gifts working together to see each and every believer functioning and bringing the Kingdom into their workplace, in the marketplace, into their school, then a greater expression of Jesus is manifested in society. What is needed is small-a apostles?

Larry Kreider of DOVE International — an interdenominational global family of churches and ministries on six continents believes that an apostolically inclined small-a apostle is motivated by and is thinking on a macro, big-picture level, and wants to see the Kingdom of God extend across their city, state, region, nation and world. As with any other spiritual gift and vocations, this gifting is to be called out and affirmed by others in the Body of Christ. To function in these gifts, one needs to see the gifting’s in others, It’s not just someone who prophesies or carries a prophetic gift, but someone who trains up and pours into others so they can mature spiritually. 

This is truly the church as described in the Book of Acts and will be the church that overcomes during the tribulation in the last days before Jesus returns “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. “Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. The victor will never be harmed by the second death.Revelation 2:10-11

REPENTANCE THAT LEADS TO SALVATION

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you …” 2 Corinthians 7:10-11

To get into Christ’s Kingdom, you have to truly repent, truly dying to self so that you cannot go back to your old life. Paul talks about godly grief, being convicted by the Holy Spirit about your sin. Knowing how abhorrent sin is to God you will have “godly grief that leads to repentance“. You will also realise how good, how gracious and merciful God was to send His Son, Jesus, to pay the price for your sin of rebellion against Him and His values.

Once we have truly repented and accepted Jesus as our Saviour and Lord, God the Father sends the Holy Spirit to indwell our spirit. God’s Word tells us that our spirit is the lamp of the Lord and a lamp requires oil (Holy Spirit) to function as God intended. When Adam and Eve sinned the Holy Spirit departed their spirit, so they died spiritually immediately and their bodies died some 900 years later.

The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all his innermost parts.” Proverbs 20:27

Without the Holy Spirit we cannot live the Christian life. He is the one that brings about the sanctification process, making you Christ like. He is the one that produces the fruit of the Spirit in your life; love, joy, peace patience, faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, kindness and self control. He is also one that provides the gifts of the Spirit for ministry; words of knowledge, words of wisdom, prophecy, faith, healings, miracles, discerning of spirits, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues. You are not saved unless the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit are evident in your life.

Sadly, there are many people sitting in the pews of churches that have not experienced “godly grief that produces a repentance that leads to salvation“. The “end times” parable of the Ten Virgins tells us that half of them that are waiting for the bridegroom (Jesus) to return do not have oil for their lamps and Jesus tells them to depart from me I do not know you. This parable reveals that half the people in the “end times” church that think they are Christians and are waiting for Him to return are not saved and will be on earth when the wrath of God is poured out with the Trumpet and Bowl judgements.

For Christians this should be a wake up call, we have a mission field in our churches people who need to experience “godly grief that produces a repentance that leads to salvation.”

JIREH/HOW HE LOVES

Love this song from Justin Bieber and Chandler Moore posted by Churchome. They are a community built on the life and teachings of Jesus.

Extract from their website:

“The name, “Churchome,” reflects our belief that we are going to be a church that functions like a home, that looks like a home, and that loves like a home. And ultimately, what we experience on earth will look a lot like heaven.

Luke 15 has become a hallmark passage for our community. The idea and concept of home is centric in scripture. It is the idea that every human is a sojourner and he/she is returning home. Home is not so much brick and mortar, an actual space or room. Home is a place and a posture our soul discovers in Jesus—where the created returns to a loving relationship with the Creator. Bringing people home is what God does. Whether prodigals or prodigies, artists or intellectuals, rebels or rejects, God’s arms are open to all.”

INSTITUTIONAL CHURCHES COMPROMISE WITH THE WORLD

Over the last few decades in the West, and particularly in America, we have seen the destruction of the institution of marriage, the removal of God’s Word in most areas of public life, particularly schools, and the embracing of Critical Race Theory. Moreover, most pulpits are silent about governmental abuse, the LGBTQ agenda, and the blatant murdering of millions of babies. This is an indictment against the nations and the church – our silence speaks volumes. Are God’s people watchmen or cowards?

The pulpit regulates the spiritual condition of God’s people which affects the nation. A lukewarm, sex-saturated culture (and church) simply reflects the lack of conviction in the pulpit as well as the pew.

Sadly, many pastors under the direction of their institutions are exchanging truth for passivity, boldness for cowardliness, and conviction for comfort…they are not aflame with righteousness. They are motivational speakers rather than preachers of righteousness and females taking male roles of leadership in the church.

Arlington Street Anglican Church
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Westboro Baptist Church

Pastors (Christian leaders) must take responsibility for the spiritual health of today’s church, and the nation. We don’t need more marketing plans, demographic studies, or giving campaigns; we need churches as outlined in the Book of Acts filled with the Spirit of God. Disciples making more disciples of Christ.

The Institutional churches and the prosperity gospel have emasculated the church. It will be the church of Laodicea:

“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.Revelation 3:15-18

This is the church that is “Left Behind” to experience the wrath of God with the Trumpet and Bowl judgements. As I have explained previously, each of the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3 represent the church in each of the seven years prior to Jesus return (70th week of the 70 Weeks Prophecy given to Daniel by Gabriel – Daniel 9:24-27). The church of Laodicea is the last church that will live through the seventh year when the wrath of God is poured out on an unrepentant world. The previous church, the church of Philadelphia is the church that is raptured.

“‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my nameBecause you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.Revelation 3:10-11

Which church will you belong to the church of Philadelphia or the church of Laodicea?