Thursday, January 21, 2010

Authority, Accountability, and the Apostolic Movement

For years much of my struggle with the institutional church has centered around leadership. I've always sensed something was wrong, but wasn't able to define or explain it biblically. In recent months, I've met wise Ephesians 4 leaders who understand why they're here...and they walk in their calling as "equippers"... not as "lords" of religious kingdoms. And some of those men have written insightful and encouraging articles and books that provide a true Kingdom perspective on leadership. One of those men is Dr. Steve Crosby.

I met Steve at a conference here in Charlotte back in September. And now I've finally gotten around to reading his excellent book, "Authority, Accountability and the Apostolic Movement". Here's just a sample that I hope will prompt you to order the book and read it promptly. There's also a link at the bottom of this page to Amazon, where you can order your own copy.

The excerpt I'm sharing is from the chapter, "I Have It on Higher Authority?". Crosby tackles biblical illiteracy and the "pastor centered" system that characterizes way too many churches:

Unhealthy dependency on pulpit ministry promotes passivity in the hearer. Our job as leaders is to equip others to handle the Word of God accurately for themselves, not keep them dependent on our exegetical and pulpit abilities. Failure here opens the door to unhealthy co-dependencies and control. Insecure leaders and lazy saints, frankly, are content with the arrangement.

The leader's role is to work him or herself out of a job. We begin by interpreting the Word to new converts until we equip them with the tools to do it themselves. Then we need to get out of the way! So each Sunday morning activity is nothing more than the carnal thrill a pulpit minister gets from having a regularly captive audience in awe of his great revelation and oratorical skills. The spoon-fed congregation comes to be impressed by the latest cutting-edge revelation rather than being practically equipped to handle the Word of God themselves.

The highest function of the prophetic ministry is not to broker divine thought and understanding to others. The highest prophetic function is not telling others what you see. It is the ability to give (impart) to others the faculty of divine sight! Our call as leaders is to put the believer and the Lord into a hand-to-hand and face-to-face relationship, not keep them lapping at the trough of our biblical insights. If we are standing by, trying to arrange the fingers in the divine handshake, we are meddlesome controllers, transgressing the second tier of authority. Our authority as leaders does not extend to the eternal brokering of the Word of God to the believer.

First-generation, resurrection-witnessing, dead-raising, miracle-working apostles taught the Bereans, and they were commended for checking things out! If the first-century saints are thus commended, how much more should we, two thousand years later, do likewise? For some reason, professional ministry attracts insecure people like bees to honey. They mistakenly expect personal validation through the acclaim that can accompany pulpit ministry - the perceived admiration of others. However, their personal insecurity is threatened when instead of doe-eyed awe and admiration they are met with honest inquiry, examination, and questions presented in a right spirit.

When emphasis on honoring leadership (and it frequently is over-emphasized) combines with a celebrity spirit that accompanies any form of success in an American paradigm, leaders begin to believe their own press reports about how wonderful they are. A subtle spirit of "immunity" creeps in. Woe to the leader who dismisses every honest inquiry as either beneath his dignity to address, or who attributes it to disloyal, dishonoring, rebellious, deceived saints who just need to submit. Leaders owe it to God's flock to fully equip them to handle the Word accurately for themselves and to honestly answer any question given in a right spirit. Insecure leaders are intimidated by inquiring minds larger than their own. Inquiry is not subversion.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


I cannnot remember a higher sense of anticipation for reading any newsletter in recent history than the one I'm sharing with you now. This is another great blessing of the Lord through my developing friendship with Don Atkin. Back in the Fall, I got to hear and meet Mark Setch at the Global Communion conference here in Charlotte. The spostolic and prophetic vision he shared during his session further inflamed my desire to see the glory of the risen Lord Jesus Christ reigning supreme in His Church. And I'm confident THE WAR ON FULLNESS will have the same effect on you.

There is a war on the fullness of Christ in the world.
There are forces that oppose the fullness of Jesus and
forces that inhibit the fullness of Jesus. I contend
that the institutional church construct actually inhibits
the capacity of the Church to be the fullness of

Institutional church construct refers to the overarching
mindset and structure that predisposes congregations, denominations,
house churches, ministry networks, and mission
organizations to give priority to building, maintaining and defending
their distinctive expression of “church” over and
against the local, regional, national and global expression of
the Body of Christ.

Mark Setch, is a relating apostolic servant leader
based in Australia. He has captured the essence of
one of the greatest single challenges for today’s
church, and has presented it with much love and
grace. This may be the most important message
that you will read this year! —Don Atkin

The War on Fullness

Saturday, January 9, 2010


The final item from Don Atkin's newsletter is from Don. It is brief, but it packs quite a punch!


Perhaps the greater sins are those of “omission.” Malachi’s (4:6) prophetic promise, the restoring of hearts to hearts—fathers to children
and children to fathers—is a fitting and current example. Children are wounded, provoked to wrath, when fathers fail to bring
them up in the training and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 4:6).

Believers are likewise wounded and unable to fulfill their destiny when the fathers of the faith—those who are to shepherd and equip
the saints—fail to bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. Failure to faithfully obey The Great Commission is one of
the church’s great sins of omission. Failure to discern true disciples of Jesus and train them up in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6),
robs them of coming into their true identity and mission as sons of God (Romans 8:14-19).

Perhaps the more relevant question is: “What have we NOT done?”

Thursday, January 7, 2010

"IF ONLY..."

I hope you've enjoyed the articles from Don Atkin's newsletter. One reason: you're about to take in yet another one. This one comes from Steve Crosby.

"IF ONLY..."

Perhaps my inbox is like yours. I get quite a few mailings, blog links, and newsletters deploring the state
of the Church and the myriad deficiencies that supposedly must be addressed before we can expect to
see God’s goodness manifest. Here’s a small sample of the type of commentary that abounds on the

Many Christians are careful to observe certain times, places, and rituals of worship, but when the church service is over,
they’re like those who profess no regard for Christ. In their manner of life, in the way they spend their time and money, in
their cares and worries, fears and pleasures, indulgences and diversions, it is often impossible to distinguish professing
Christians from the rankest unbelievers, until they once again gather to sing of their love and devotion to Jesus. Little wonder
that the skeptic makes such false standard-bearers the object of his scorn and jest, because he sees that their devotion goes
no deeper than the words they use in song and prayer. How can this be called Christianity, when such a manner of life finds
its proper condemnation in every page of the New Testament?

The church is filled with professing Christians whose faith has never gone beyond a conviction that the words of Scripture
are true. They believe in the Christ of the Bible, but do not know Him personally.

Many reformations have taken place throughout church history, but truth forces us to say that they have been in a large part
so many runaway births from the same mother, Babylon. Reformation requires a full departure from the wisdom of this world.

These statements are likely diagnostically true of the current state of affairs. There’s only one problem. William Law wrote them approximately
three hundred years ago.

There are those who are inclined “revivalistically” who would have us believe that if we were just more____________ (fill in the blank
with a virtue of your choice) that we would finally satisfy God somehow and revival would spring forth. If three hundred years of the
prayers of the righteous have been so ineffective as to show no progress, or even regression, why would we think more of the same
kind of effort for the next three hundred years would produce different results? Will people three hundred years from now be bemoaning
their state by reading about us bemoaning ours?

Could it be that we have some faulty, and in no small way, fancifully romantic ideas of what “revival” looks like? There has never been
a perfect day in a perfect church, because human beings are always involved. Since Calvary, every day is a day of divine favor and
opportunity, not prescribed perfections. His mercies are new every morning. Spiritual idealism will kill present joy.

There’s a great tension regarding the Lord’s Church. It’s both a disaster and a wonder at the same time. We all tend to view the
Church and what “needs to happen” through the lens of our gift mix and calling. We all have an “if only” that reflects the particular
prism through which we view what we believe to be lacking, or otherwise “holding back revival” in the Church:

If only we would win more souls, then God would . . .
If only we had more prayer and fasting, then God would . . .
If only we had more commitment to the Word, then God would . . .
If only our families were in order, then God would . . .
If only we had more character integrity, then God would . . .
If only we had more inner healing, then God would . . .
If only we were more repentant, then God would . . .
If only we would cry out in anguish, then God would . . .
If only we had more intimacy in worship, then God would . . .
If only we had citywide unity, then God would . . .
If only we had the demonstration of power and miracles, then God would . . .
If only we would abandon man-made traditions, then God would . . .
If only we would humble ourselves enough, then God would . . .
If only we could reach the next generation, then God would . . .
If only we could throw off the spirit of poverty, then God would . . .
If only we had more love, then God would . . .

The list never ends. Dear friends, these things could be said of any generation. Depending on how you and I are “wired” and called,
we will differ in our opinions of what we think the vital missing ingredient might be to supposedly release the manifestation of His kingdom
in fullness.

How is it that a faith that supposedly starts out with the unmerited favor of God degenerates into our trying to overcome the eternal
dissatisfactions of God with the shortcomings of our behavior?

Skilled pulpiteers can intellectually and emotionally manipulate a crowd into a weep-fest by carping on individual or corporate deficiencies
ad nauseum. The same pulpiteers can simultaneously build quite a following for themselves, as “champions of __________” (fill
in the blank with the cause of your choice.) God is not necessarily involved in any of it. It doesn’t take a genius to see what’s wrong.
It’s another matter to reveal Christ as all sufficient for all perceived lack—individual and corporate—past, present, and future.

The great danger among revivalists and those (including myself) who are passionate for purity, accuracy, and radical reformation is
that if we are not deeply established in the delights of the present reality of the New Covenant and the grace of God, we risk being
perpetually frustrated and dissatisfied. Rather than being messengers of the Good News of Jesus Christ, we can become the spiritual
equivalent of a supermarket tabloid: bad news sells—52 weeks a year.

God is not limited by our “if onlys.” In fact, in Christ, He took the “if onlys” out of the divine equation. The Old Covenant is characterized
by humanity’s ifs and God’s responses: if you . . . then I will. There are no “ifs” in the New Covenant. In the New Covenant, God
has declared His “I wills” (8 uncontingent “I wills” of God in the NC promise of Jer.31/Heb.8) apart from our “if onlys.” God has sworn
an oath with Himself (Hebrews 6:17-20), because He knows He cannot rely on our “if onlys” and promises. The “if onlys” have all
been met by Jesus Christ, crucified, and resurrected. Our job is to appropriate by faith what is done, and live it out, not create a list of
contingencies for God.

New Covenant Christianity is meant to be enjoyed, savored, and experienced as a present reality, in the face of all deficiencies. Even
as different ones of us pursue much needed change and reform, we must never forget the favor and amen of God that rests upon His
Church, even as she experiences the chastising disciplines of a child, and the unnecessary self-inflicted woes of her carnalities.

Steve Crosby

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


I hope you enjoyed Don Atkins' "Apostolic Grace and God's Vehicle for Victory" posted yesterday. I noticed that in the margins was a very insightful quote from my friend Paul Hunter that I failed to include, so here it is:

"The 'gifts' Jesus gave the church are not church builders. Jesus said He would take care of that. The gifts are equippers given to the chruch he is building so that they can do what He needs them to do to manifest The Kingdom of God and put on display the wisdom of God."

With that taken care of, I'm excited to present the second article in Don's newsletter. This one is from Greg Austin.

An Impassioned Plea for Divine Order

Each of us, in spite of our best hopes and most determined attempts to approach every spiritual truth,
every pillar of our faith in an objective and entirely non-biased way must finally recognize that we are
only able to view truth and faith through our individual, particular and personal lenses.

My purpose in writing is to both expose a glaring problem with the entity that is called “church,” to qualify a perceived problem
and finally to hopefully point towards a solution/answer.

It is a well-documented reality, and virtually every denomination and independent church system verifies that their membership,
parish or congregation continues to be reduced by the millions (in America alone) who are forsaking the “church” structure
they have long known and within which they have sought to grow in the grace and nurture of Christ. Many are searching
for something more significant, more relevant to the desires of their souls. Millions today are looking for “the city which has
foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” In reality, most are searching, whether they are aware or not, for the manifestation
of the kingdom of God, but that topic is not the subject of this discourse.

First of all, allow me to suggest that for those who have departed the current church structure, a wholesale return to the local
church, to the systems through which people were injured is not the answer to the flood of people leaving the established
church. Rather, the very system itself, the prevailing “religious” system, the institution that has called itself “the church” is the
core issue and dilemma.

Many have spoken of the “pastor-king” or papal structure of most local churches. This understanding of “church” is problematic
for obvious reasons. Chief among them, such structure is not biblical. Another point in passing concerns those who “lord
it over” the people, those who perceive themselves as some “special” agents of God’s grace and mercy. These so-called
leaders are in desperate need of God’s grace to see, to recognize, to understand where they have erred in the discharge of
their ministry efforts. These men and women need much prayer, they need humble hearts which are open to correction and
healing. Most often, it is the out-of-order “pastor” who is responsible for the lion’s share of injuries sustained by the sheep of
“his” flock. More troubling is that the abusing pastor is often oblivious to his own error and wags his finger at the pastor down
the street, complaining that it’s that guy who is abusing the sheep, but not, heaven forbid, himself. I’ve always smiled at the
scarcity of the biblical use of “pastor” as opposed to other ministry gifts described in scripture. The New Testament contains
two Greek words, ðïéìÞí (poimçn), a noun and ðïéìáéíù (poimaino), a verb. These are typically translated as either
“shepherd” or “to shepherd.” Combined, these two words appear a total of 29 times in the New Testament, most frequently
referring to Jesus. Yet “pastor” has come to mean in many cases “The” true and authentic minister of the gospel. The truth is
that the solo (or even combined with a “pastoral” staff) image of pastor is simply and pointedly not supported by scripture.
The new tendency or fad in order to deal with this is to utilize the title “lead” minister or “minister-in-charge.” Neither usage
deals with the root, and only puts a different color of paint on the same rotted and collapsing barn.

The prophet said, “the new wine is found in the cluster” (Isaiah 65:8). God’s Word advocates for and undergirds corporate
and not solo ministry. Paul, whose journey with Jesus began alone, separated from all others in the desert, was brought out
after three years’ time to join with the greater company of the apostles. Even though initial friction developed between Paul
and Peter, the two did not divorce themselves from each other, but maintained the bond of brotherhood and mutual cooperation.

There are many today who have been wounded, injured by their own self-centered and immature actions and fleshlymindedness.
Spiritual immaturity is rampant within and without the institution called “church.” Many of these flee any accountability,
have a spirit of independence (read, rebellion) and refuse to submit to any whiff of perceived “control” or authority
(which translates in reality to a rejection of God’s authority).

These people are in grave and perhaps eternal error. Spending any time in God’s Word will uncover the root of all of our
problems – it’s not Satan, but it’s the satanic trait of rebellion that destroys the soul and condemns it to unfruitfulness in this
life and eternal separation from God in the world to come.

These are the folks who eventually disappear from our fellowship and “plant” new “God-led works” where they may be the top dog
and sole proprietor of the graces of God, preaching to a choir of like-injured and the festering infection of insurrection while transmitting
their disease of rebellion to yet others with their own demonically infused “I will” (see Isaiah 14). Jude uses strong words concerning
such, informing us: They have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the
gainsaying of Core. These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds [they
are] without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; Raging waves
of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever (Jude 11-13).

Advocating for the Innocent

But there is a second category of wounded believers. These are those innocent, God-loving, gentle-spirited believers who are inevitably
injured by the system of “church” and not because they have rebelled against or rejected God’s established authority in their lives.
It is for these that I advocate herein.

The society which has called itself “church” is in so many cases the wounding mechanism itself. Some would encourage the “out of
church” believer to return to his former assembly, repent of his straying and conform again to the “order of the house,” when frankly
the house itself is out of order. There must be another option because, if an out-of-order structure creates the wound, how can that
same out-of-order structure promote or provide healing?

To be forthright, a malfunctioning system is aggressively creating injury to innocent believers and rebels alike. We must pray for those
who have rebellious hearts and leave their future with God. But we must reach out to the harmless, we must develop relationship with
them, and encourage them to return not to the same old broken system, but to join with us in a quest for a church which accommodates
the will and the purpose of God, a church which encourages corporate participation in ministry (the recognition of the gifts and
the callings of God – something that mature, apostolic and prophetic folks must do), and the release of men and women into these
gifts and callings – the requirement of corporate ministry – the ministry of discipleship – the essential walk of relationship – the discipline
of mutual accountability.

Accepting an Undeniable Truth

Whether we desire to admit it or not, the face of “church” is changing before our eyes. Some of these changes are engendered by our
God. Some are the effect of rebellious flesh. We must know the difference, but we also must be willing to change with God, to embrace
what He is doing, even though it may be unfamiliar, uncomfortable; even though we may find ourselves diminishing in importance
and in primacy. And if we find ourselves decreasing “that He might increase” in our lives and in our midst, we may become the
very agents through which the Father brings healing to a host of wounded and broken warriors, and the people to whom He entrusts
the rising form and vehicle of His grace, the church Jesus promised He would build.

Much is written today about “fathers and sons.” The Father closes the Old Covenant teaching with an admonishment. “And He shall
turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a
curse” (Mal. 4:6). He prefaces this with the promise, “I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day
of the LORD” (4:5).

Are you the “prophet” for this hour that will “turn the heart of the fathers to the children?” Only as the “church” becomes the living family
of God will we have hope of convincing an untoward generation of the veracity of the claims of Jesus.

I urge each of us to consider the “house” or “church” – whether it’s a home church, local church, un-church, emerging church, or any
other conceivable expression of “church” we relate with and ask ourselves if we are merely carrying a tradition that has long since either
served its purpose or has strayed from the original template and purpose of the church. If the answer is even a slight “yes,” we
must ask God to reveal to us what His church ought to look like, how it should function, and what our place should be within it.

Several years ago, I was a guest in Clive Price’s home in the South of England. We spent a day on the beaches where the Allies once
practiced assaults in preparation for the D-Day invasion of Europe during World War II.

As I stood with Clive looking out over the sands where British, Canadian, American, and elements of free French, Poland, Belgium,
Czechoslovakia, Greece, and the Netherlands massed in preparation for assaulting France’s beaches, I thought about the men who
won the victory that gave the Allies a foothold from which to finally defeat Nazi Germany. I don’t know a singular man or even a single
unit that was responsible for victory that day: It was the collective “them” who won the day on June 6, 1944. So must it be with God’s
church in these closing days of time on earth.

Greg Austin

Monday, January 4, 2010


It is a great honor for me to share with you a series of postings this week from Don Atkin's Global Communion E-Letter. Don is a man who exemplifies servant leadership in every way... truly a trustworthy "father" in the faith. Today we'll begin with Don's opening article, Apostolic Grace and God's Vehicle for Victory:

“Equippers are those who come from beneath as servants to increase the
capacity of the believers to bring glory to God wherever they are so that the
Body of Christ can manifest the Head in the world. They care more about those
they are equipping and how they are manifesting their God-given destiny than
they do about their personal public ministry.”—Paul Hunter

It is naïve to believe—even hope—that an individual believer, or even a group of believers can storm
the gates of hell and achieve victory. No amount of personal or individual “revival” will usher in the kingdom
on a global scale that God intends. We can learn from the word picture that Ezekiel prophetically
provides for us:

God grabbed me. God’s Spirit took me up and set me down in the middle of an open plain strewn with
bones! There were bones all over the plain—dry bones, bleached by the sun.

He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

I said, “Master God, only you know that.”

He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones: ‘Dry bones, listen to the Message of God!’”

God, the Master, told the dry bones, “Watch this: I’m bringing the breath of life to you and you’ll come
to life. I’ll attach sinews to you, put meat on your bones, cover you with skin, and breathe life into you.
You’ll come alive and you’ll realize that I am God!”

I prophesied just as I’d been commanded. As I prophesied, there was a sound, and, oh, rustling! The
bones moved and came together, bone to bone. I kept watching. Sinews formed, then muscles on
the bones, then skin stretched over them. But, they had no breath in them.

He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath. Prophesy, son of man. Tell the breath, ‘God, the Master, says,
Come from the four winds. Come, breath. Breathe on these slain bodies. Breathe life!’’” So I prophesied,
just as he commanded me. The breath entered them and they came alive! They stood up on
their feet, a huge army.

Then God said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel.” - Ezekiel 37:1-11a TM

New Covenant “eyes” help to clarify this picture for us.

Get the order: (1) prophesy, (2) bone to bone, (3) sinews, (4) muscles, (5) skin, (6) breath of
God, and (7) great army. Entire (holy) nation included. A great model for every locality!

Writing to the (one) church in Ephesus, Paul reminded them that 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 heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12). To the
(one) church in Corinth he wrote: Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the
flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down
strongholds (II Corinthians 10:3-4).

The gates of hell are stronger than individuals, denominated groups and “non-denominated”
sects. Demonic forces are organized by principalities, geo-political spheres. Daniel wrote:
The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days . . . The prince of Greece
will come (Daniel 10:13, 20).

A divided, humanly-structured church cannot overcome a united and structured enemy. It will
be the united church in each locality that will successfully storm the gates, bringing victory to
the church and liberty to the captive people and lands.

Apostolic grace will equip and release God’s vehicle for victory,
the united and glorious church in each geo-political sphere.

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory
which shall be revealed in us. The earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the
revealing of the sons of God. - Romans 8:18-19

Christ in (all of) you (together), (is) the hope of glory. - Colossians 1:27

Jesus prayed, “The glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as
We are one . . . That the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as
You have loved Me.” - John 17:22-23

Knowing, then, the will of God for His church, and understanding that—just as the enemies of
God are structured by localities (principalities)—our hope of victory rests within the body of
Christ where we live, let us consider in more detail this prophecy of Ezekiel:

Scattered, bleached and dry, the body of Christ is presently a dismembered man
strewn across the face of the earth. To acknowledge that this is true is the first step
toward dominion. Not only is the heart of our Father broken, His purpose (to fill the
earth with His government and glory) is frustrated and stalled. None of us fully knows
what it will be like to be fitly joined and included in spiritually-inspired and mutually
edifying relationships. We have hardly tasted of the age which is to come.

The word of God is alive and powerful. The initial “breath” of God TO US brings us to a
living awareness of our need for Him and for one another. Fractured factions severely
hinder the coming forth of victorious kingdom reality that is to be experienced in and among
all followers of Jesus. Our message is the good news of the kingdom of God—here and
now—for those who yield to the absolute lordship of Jesus Christ, to the unity of the Spirit in
the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3).

Drawn together by our response to the living prophetic Word, we acknowledge that there is one body and one Spirit, just as you
were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all,
and in you all (Ephesians 4:4-6). God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. - I Corinthians 12:18

Speaking the truth in love, (we) may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body is joined
and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causing
growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. - Ephesians 4:15-16

Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage. They go from strength to strength. - Psalm 84:5, 7 He
said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in
my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. - II Corinthians 12:9

We are so eager to initiate our ideas about paradigms, venues. We want to invent contemporary “wineskins” that are competitive in
the marketplace of consumer Christianity. Even as Jesus’ earthly body was His “skin” (His Spirit is the “wine.”), His body on
the earth is His “skin—wineskin” today. All else is a distraction that subverts His order and delays the fullness of His kingdom.

He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath. Prophesy, son of man. Tell the breath, ‘God, the Master, says, Come from the four winds.
Come, breath. Breathe on these slain bodies. Breathe life!’’” So I prophesied, just as He commanded me. The breath entered
(INTO) them and they came alive! They stood up on their feet, a huge army. Then God said to me, “Son of man, these bones
are the whole house of Israel.” - Ezekiel 37:9-11a TM

The global church is one body, and is to be manifested in each locality (geo-political sphere; city/region) in unity. This huge global
army—the whole house of Israel—is to bring God’s government to bear and to fill the earth with His glory.

God is creating something totally new (a new creation), a free life! All who walk by this standard are the true Israel of God—His chosen
people. - Galatians 6:16 TM God’s kingdom will be . . . handed over to a people who will live out a kingdom life. - Matthew 21:43 TM

God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what He is building. - Ephesians 2:19 TM

Paul exemplifies apostolic grace that is meant to bring the body of Christ together. God’s vehicle for victory, the united and
glorious church in your region, will be manifested as a result of such equipping grace. The demons tremble in fear of that day.

Here is a prophetic panorama for your encouragement:

War broke out in heaven. Michael and his Angels fought the Dragon. The Dragon and his Angels fought back, but were no match for
Michael. They were cleared out of Heaven, not a sign of them left. The great Dragon—ancient Serpent, the one called Devil and Satan,
the one who led the whole earth astray—thrown out, and all his Angels thrown out with him, thrown down to earth. Then I heard
a strong voice out of Heaven saying,

“Salvation and power are established! Kingdom of God, authority of His Messiah! The Accuser of our brothers and sisters thrown
out, who accused them day and night before God. They defeated him through the blood of the Lamb and the bold word of their witness.
They weren’t in love with themselves; they were willing to die for Christ. So rejoice, O Heavens, and all who live there,
but doom to earth and sea, for the Devil’s come down on you with both feet; he’s had a great fall; he’s wild and raging with anger; he
hasn’t much time and he knows it.” - Revelation 12: 7-12 TM

Can you see what Ezekiel saw?

Will you pray for the dry bones to come together, to be positioned for the breath of God?

Will you join your heart with other believers and be a part of God’s great army, living out a kingdom life—together?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Thankfulness for ’09, Eager Anticipation for ‘10

I’m setting out on a feeble attempt to give God glory for what he’s done in our little corner of the world in 2009, and taking the risky step of anticipating what’s ahead for 2010.

Summing it up, I believe it was a year the Lord truly brought us “out of Egypt” and began nourishing us in “greener pastures”. I learned that the answer was not a new church or a church ministry… but the Father Himself! Once we grasp who we are in Him and allow Him to bring us together relationally, it’s a whole new ball game. I may elaborate further on this as time permits… beyond what is already on this blog. We are no longer pursuing life within the “institutional church”, but finding it naturally… organically. We relate to others through Jesus rather than through an organization or brand. We can testify this is true freedom the Savior purchased for us.

Closely associated with this, we’re gathering as “OneBody”. That’s the name of our new home church family. We are growing as worshippers, brothers/sisters and servants, and hopefully losing more of our religious consumerism. As we’ve stepped out in faith, the Lord seems to be exponentially connecting us with others in this city and region who want Jesus and Him alone.

We ended the year with a joyous wedding celebration (along with several hundred guests) … the first for our home church family.

The Lord did not miss a beat in connecting me with seasoned “fathers” in the faith to help establish us in this season. Topping this list is Don Atkin.

Don and Barbara have adopted us as their own in the faith and our lives are incredibly richer for it. A month after we left the institutional setting, there was a conference where we connected with others of this stature: Greg Austin, David Newby, Frank Viola. We’re thankful for them all.

By God’s grace we will grow in maturity and become more effective, equipped saints ready to minister to the communities we live in. We believe the Lord will multiply gatherings of the saints throughout the city and region, and through saturation, people will be more able to live out the “one anothers” of scripture. These home churches, or “rings” as some people call them, will sprout up everywhere, becoming more the norm for Kingdom focused believers. The stigma of “non-involvement” in the institutional church will fade yet further as more people find life in the Savior through relating with Him and one another instead of attempting to do so through lifeless systems. More lifestyle evangelism will surface as we spend less time serving a system and more time letting Jesus live in us. Genuine Christians who haven’t “gone to” a church in years will find their “home”… in a home.

More believers will take part in large gatherings around Jesus, as we shed loyalties and devotion to brands and leaders rather than to the Lord. Body ministry will come alive as never before in these gatherings because they will flourish in the homes where believers will be “released” as the priests God created them to be. (An announcement on a regional Celebration here in Charlotte is just days away)

New organic churches will develop in other cities across the nation and walk in the “one man” vision of the New Testament (Ephesians 2:11-22). A new generation of true Kingdom leaders will continue to emerge who are dedicated to equipping the saints for powerful ministry in the Lord rather than amassing power for themselves. And because the glory of the Father will be the pre-eminent concern, God will release more of His power in signs and wonders so He can get the glory.
Fasten your seat belts saints. Great days are ahead!