Saturday, October 30, 2010

Creation's Cry: The Heart of Apostolic Passion

Just days before my second Global Communion conference organized by Don Atkin, I'm in the middle of reading Don's very inspiring book "Creation's Cry: The Heart of Apostolic Passion". 

In a day when so many either ignore apostolic ministry, or others pervert its meaning, it is a joy to read and understand the big picture of what the Lord has purposed for His Church.

There's so much rich wisdom Don conveys in "Creation's Cry", it was hard to decide which excerpt to post here.   But I settled on Chapter 11, a subject near and dear to my heart:


While we must have integrity within ourselves, we must also have integrity among ourselves as individual members of the body of Christ who are to walk together. That is, we must allow the Holy Spirit to set us - integrate us - into the body.  We are members of one another. Each of us is gifted for the common good.

Interdependence must replace independence.

(We,) speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things unto him who is the head- Christ - from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind.

It is the futility of our minds that keeps us from rightly interacting with one another according to the Spirit. Personal ambition, personal insecurities, personal need to be in control or be in charge, have stunted the rightful and righteous growth of the body.

Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil. it will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones.

What is true for our natural bodies is also true for the spiritual body of Christ.  "Trust" is a needed virtue for us to be set free from our human limitations. Trusting in the Lord necessarily emcompasses and includes trusting Him in one another.  We can do this by faith.  We have the God-given grace to do this.

It will be the glory of Christ revealed in us that will produce the unity for which Christ prayed. 

"And the glory which you gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as we are one."

The oneness that will convince the world that the Father sent His firstborn Son, and that He loves them as He loves Him, can only be accomplished by our oneness with our God and his Christ. In simplicity, it will be each of us manifestating our sonship by living out the life that He gives us by His Spirit.

You can purchase "Creation's Cry" on Don's website:

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Kingdom Sessions

Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Here in the Charlotte area, the Lord is doing some great things. He led us to transition into a house church late last summer. And in just the past few weeks, He has birthed a second fellowship. A month ago, another couple joined us for a Sunday brunch. This past Sunday, nearly a dozen couples, along with teens and children joined us for worship and fellowship.

Also in recent weeks, the Lord has assembled a team of apostolic and prophetic leaders to engage the work here in the Charlotte region. We've met a couple of times to fellowship and seek the Lord about how to build into the vision of One City, One Church. One outgrowth of that is a new ministry initiative we're calling "Kingdom Sessions". While our weekly house gatherings are geared for body ministry before the Lord and to each other, Kingdom Sessions will address the instructional needs of the Body at large, and serve as another opportunity for the Lord to forge discipleship relationships.

We began last night with a presentation from Steve Crosby. My notes from this are below. Steve ministers prophetically, and last night the Lord used him mightily to help uproot religious strongholds in our lives and stir new passion for the relational life of Christ. If you live in the Charlotte area or plan to visit, you are welcome to join us. You can find out information on the location of these gatherings by sending an email to

Kingdom Sessions
Wednesday October 13, 2010

Steve spoke from a theme of Relationship in contrast to Religion and the endless pursuit of attempting to follow “principles” to draw close to God
God sent us his Son, not an instruction book

God did not give us merely principles, He gave us His son

We can be biblically right but spiritual wrong

Relationship is everything!

Religion is often a means for broken people to hide

Our lives are not about “mastery” of Bible stuff. Broken people use willpower to “do” the Bible and still not touch the heart of God or people

Relationship always trumps principle

We must allow people to make mistakes. “Wisdom” is fine, but we must not preach that to others.

Coerced obedience is not the life of Christ. Christianity is not behavior management.

A fat notebook (of notes from teachings, etc) and a lean heart are a bad combination.

The Good News is that God came to heal our hearts not merely call us to follow principles

We don’t master the scriptures. They should master us

Right relationship produces right living. Right living does not produce right relationship

Our relationship with the Father is a matter of birth. We can’t change that relationship by doing better or more for God

Relationships in the body are about “gift exchange”. If gifts are only operating one way, it is a waste of time

Anything that shifts off a Calvary paradigm becomes a bad thing

Don’t do anything unless Jesus commissions it. We cooperate with God’s configuration

Hebrews 10:2 speaks of our freedom from sin consciousness.
Walking in continual introspection, self awareness to accuse or excuse is a manifestation of the Adamic nature, not the life of Christ. Continual awareness of deficiency and examining myself to discover “how bad I am” isn’t Christianity.

LeadershipLeadership means that the person leading should be the first to die (to self). It is not about “being the boss”. We are lovers and servants.
Headship means if someone has to lose their “rights” it is me.

Submission should not result in the removal of personality

Criminals are punished. Sons are trained and disciplined. God is not into punishing his children

Question for leaders: can you show me how you have laid down your life for your “flock” in the last 6 months? When is the last time you gave someone money from your wallet instead of the “church benevolent fund”? Otherwise you’re just receiving “compensation for services rendered”

Kingdom Finances
Most of our (the Church) money goes to property and salaries
The church CEO (or pastors) should not be the only ones guaranteed a “salary”.

A “father” doesn’t make sons and daughters take care of him. Paul provided for his own needs and those with him.

The responsibility of agape means we give materially to bless those who spiritually bless us. (a form of gift exchange)

Steve ended by referencing this text in the Gospels about Jesus’ post Resurrection appearance:

Luke 24 28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29 but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”

This is what we long for… for the presence of Jesus to burn in us as we commune with Him, in our daily lives, and when we gather as a people.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Are You In The Zoo?

The Lord continues to bring about amazing developments here in the Charlotte area: The Lord is bringing people together with hungry hearts, hungry for the word of God and eager to see His glory revealed in us.

He is also assembling an apostolic and prophetic team with a citywide and regional vision. If you are familiar with this blog, by now you’ve read articles that stir your heart to see a manifestation of “The Second Incarnation”, the reality of Jesus living in His people. Leading the charge in those articles is Don Atkin. Working closely with him is Steve Crosby. (Greg Austin has also made significant contributions from out West)

I have had the privilege of fellowshipping with Steve a couple of times in the past week. He is a man who brings a sharp prophetic perspective and it is shared in a way that reflects our Father’s heart.. After my first visit, he passed along a copy of a book he released several years ago.
Since reading this portion of Steve’s book “Silent Killers of Faith”, I sensed a strong conviction about posting a significant portion of the first chapter.

The title of this section is “Are You in the Zoo?” As one who has marinated in an atmosphere with a strong emphasis on “accountability for many years”, I can tell you the words you are about to read are disturbing but also liberating. We continue to encounter many people who are walking in a type of “deadness”, the product of this deadly leaven of legalism that flourishes in some Christian circles. Very often they are immobilized, seemingly unable to engage the Lord and others in true loving fellowship, and yet they also can’t seem to escape from the “cage” that helped to produce their zombie-like state.

By God’s grace we are walking less in an awareness of people” policing us” and a greater awareness of God’s empowering presence to transform and guide us. If you discover that you’re “in the cage”, I pray that you will discover the same joyous liberation, the freedom Jesus bought for us on the cross.

Galatians 5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Are You In The Zoo?
Once a dominant ethos is established in a church culture, it is often cultivated, consciously or not, by behavioral rules, expectations, and accountability programs. Rather than being considered legalism, the accountability ethos of the group is viewed as those reasonable behavioral expectations that maintain core values and identify individuals as member of the group. We don’t _______ or we do ________ because…. (You can fill in the blanks!) For instance, a group whose emphasis is Christian maturity or integrity can succumb to behavior codes and accountability believed necessary to maintain corporate and individual integrity. Likewise, a group whose emphasis is compassion will develop a church culture that rewards behaviors consistent with the core value and discourage those that seem opposed to it.

External accountability is like driving with the sheriff in the backseat of your car. As long as the sheriff is there, no one is going to speed! Remove the external presence of authority and a speeder is reborn! It is a mistake to think that persisting in accountability long enough will produce a change of nature. Rather, a change of nature will produce accountability.

Accountability only enables performance-based religion. It is the self-aware, self-monitoring Adamic counterfeit of biblical discipleship. It is like a zookeeper who expects the cage to change a tiger into a pussycat. The bars only restrain the tiger. Take away the bars and what do you have? Tiger, and lots of it! However, if the tiger’s nature was somehow changed, the bars would no longer be necessary. This is exactly what should experientially happen for believers: Rebels are supposed to have been made into obedient children. A new nature is supposed to have been imparted at salvation.

Sometimes our conversion and sanctification experiences have all the spiritual vitality of a freeze-dried TV dinner. Because we are weak, the Church often embraces accountability as a means of keeping the unregenerate Adamic nature in check! We try to sanctify people who have not experienced a genuine change of nature, or who are experientially out of touch with their new nature. This is particularly true for second and third generation children who have grown up in the church. Sure, our children may have said the sinner’s prayer when they were six years old, but somewhere along the way, the experiential reality of regeneration is lost. Rather, they have figured out, embraced, and conformed to the church culture and its expectations.

Our churches are full of frustrated tigers and exhausted zookeepers who resort to the whip of legalism and accountability (most of the time unconsciously) as the only they know to keep the tiger in check! Eventually the cage and whip will destroy the animal’s essential nature. It will just lay in the back of the cage in a lethargic stupor. Its outward presence says animal, but its inward essence has been destroyed. Often the zookeeper no longer uses the whip to restrain wild behavior; now he has to use it to get any response from the animal.

Spiritual sons and daughters who become exhausted from fighting against the external restraints of legal accountability eventually just give up. Their essential nature is so crushed that they simply collapse into the church culture and its accountability system. “Fine, whatever it is that you want, I will give it to you. Just lay off the whip, will you?” Passivity and withdrawal set in.

In a spiritual climate where passivity has taken root, it is futile to try to get production from lethargic believers. You can bark motivational slogans like a Marine drill sergeant all day long with little result. The unenlightened drill sergeants will not understand why their accountability partners or protégés lay motionless in the back of their spiritual cages, or merely yawn at the proposition of actually moving forward. They do not realize that the essential nature has been destroyed! The whip of accountability and the mantras of the high calling cannot awaken an exhausted son or daughter – only a healed identity can.

All restraints, codes, and principles of accountability are impotent to change the nature of the one in the cage. In fact, the tiger will resent the cage because it conflicts with his essentially wild nature. He may obediently pace the perimeter of the cage, staying within its boundaries, but he is really checking for weakness because the artificial environment does not suit his wild and free nature. Likewise, the bars of accountability on a Spirit-son of the New Covenant will ultimately lead either to resentment toward the bars and the one who put them there, or to disengaged passivity. Obedience gained on the altar of conformity to church culture is legal abomination.

Now, of course, a caged tiger is better than a loose one prowling in the neighborhood! Likewise, accountability is better than unbridled sin, but the manifestation of the life of the Son is much better than policed accountability. Being accountable does indeed restrain the carnal nature, but it takes constant diligence and effort to see that the cage is properly maintained. Any detected weakness must immediately be reinforced by more bars, more rules. A patrolling zookeeper is required to inspect the condition of the cage and the behavior of the animal.
To some people, the “zookeeper and tiger-in-the-cage scenario” is biblical accountability, but I call it bondage. I am through with the zoo. I returned my zookeeper’s union card.