Saturday, July 30, 2011

Decisions that Define Us

I'm passing on something I received from Don Atkin today. I trust the Lord will use it to speak to you:

I received the following from a friend who has been a denominational leader for many years. He received it from a group of believers in California:

Decisions That Define Us

We've made and listed below some decisions that reflect the state of our hearts and the reality we're establishing in our community. We believe these decisions are prompted by the Holy Spirit, and we are so happy to see them applied in the Kingdom. As you read, we want to make sure you understand the context. These decisions are in no way a criticism of any church or denominational movement - they are an articulation of who we have chosen to be, and the path we've decided to follow.

Here are the Decisions that Define Us:

· We have decided that teaching the Gospel without demonstrating the Gospel is not enough. Good preaching, good doctrine, and being good people is not enough.

· We have decided that having a good church club is not enough, good fellowship is not enough, and just being a member of that club is not enough.

· We have decided that having good Bible studies is good, but not good enough, that just making it to heaven is not our goal, and that knowing about God without truly knowing and experiencing God is meaningless.

· We have decided that having good programs is not enough; that change without transformation is intolerable, and that staying the same is not an option.

· We have decided that gifting without character is futile.

· We have decided that singing songs without worshiping is shallow and having meetings without God showing up is pointless.

· We have decided that having faith without works is not enough and having works without love is not acceptable - that our function comes out of our relationship first with the Father and second with each other.

· We have decided that reading about the book of Acts without living the book of Acts is unthinkable.

· We have decided that confident faith is good and bold faith is better.

· We have decided that hearing about the Holy Spirit without experiencing Him is silly, that believing in

· His presence without seeing It manifested in signs and wonders is hypocrisy, that believing in healing without seeing people healed is absurd, and that believing in deliverance without people being delivered is absolutely ridiculous.

· We have decided to be Holy Spirit filled, Holy Spirit led, and Holy Spirit empowered - anything less doesn't work for us.

· We have decided to be the ones telling the stories of God's power - not the ones hearing about them.

· We have decided that living saved, but not supernatural is living below our privilege and short of what Christ died for.

· We have decided that we are a battle ship not a cruise ship, an army, not an audience; Special forces not spectators, missionaries not club members.

· We have decided to value both pioneers and settlers - pioneers to expand our territory and settlers to build on those territories - but we are not squatters - people who take up space others have fought for without improving it.

· We have decided to be infectious instead of innocuous, contagious instead of quarantined, deadly instead of benign.

· We have decided to be radical lovers and outrageous givers.

· We have decided that we are a mission station and not a museum:
1. We honor the past - we don't live in it.
2. We live in the present with our eyes on the future.
3. We see past events - successes and failures - as stepping-stones not stop signs.
4. We pursue learning in order to be transformed, not learning in order to know.
5. We are people of engagement not observation.
6. We focus on what could be, not on what is or has been.
7. We are not limited to the four walls of this building. Our influence is not restricted by location - Not even the nations are out of bounds.
8. We are more concerned about how many we send out into the world than how many we convince to come into the building. This building is meant to be filled and it will be - but it will not be the measure of who we are or the measure of our effectiveness.
9. We raise up world changers - not tour guides. We train commandos, not committees.
10. We are a people of our destiny, not of our history.

· We have decided that it is better to fail while reaching for the impossible that God has planned for us than succeed settling for less.

· We have decided that nothing short of His Kingdom come, His will be done in our world as it is in Heaven will satisfy.

· We have decided that we will not be satisfied until our world freaks out and cries out "Those who have turned the world upside down have come here too."

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Bubble Will Burst

Early in my journey outside the legacy church system, I met David Newby at the Global Communion Conference here in Charlotte.

This Australian leader took time to befriend me during a time of significant upheaval. I don't remember all the specifics of what he shared in the fall of 2009. I do know Kingdom impartation and encouragement took place. David also gave me a copy of his book, "The Bubble Will Burst". It was probably THE first I read in the context of the new Kingdom understanding the Father began unveiling nearly 2 years ago. David and I have stayed in touch periodically over Skype. In fact, his call this morning reminded me that I have not previously written a blog on his book. So I am setting out to remedy that now.

The idea behind the book is that "bubbles" are "every wrong premise, wrong concept and wrong vision... allowed to develop". David Continues: "The instruction "Don't burst his bubble" generally means to leave someone in their illusions, to not bring them back to reality. A bubble looks good and attracts attention, but it is empty, short lived and has not practical use."

Newby goes on to identify bubbles: "churches, assemblies and groups built on wrong concepts, tradition or old covenant practices." On the personal level they are "dreams,and visions about serving God, or setting up a ministry or church and these came from our own desires and not the Lord's plan for our lives."

David comes out swinging at the target in this excerpt, identifying the unfinished work the Lord only began in 1517:



Because we have moved from works to faith, but then replaced faith with performance. We feel the need to do things to keep in good with God.

Because we have moved from law to grace, but then replaced grace with expectations. As church members we are told that there are things we must do and standards we must comply with, the implication being that these are necessary if we are to continue enjoying the grace of God. We have developed a notion of the unlimited grace of God towards unbelievers, and the conditional grace of God toward believers.

Because we have only partly moved from ecclesiastical priesthood to the priesthood of every believer, but have not removed the separation of clergy and laity, pastor and people.

Because we have not released servant body ministry, but have adopted church leadership in a secular and old covenant sense.

Because we have encouraged people to receive Holy Spirit empowered gifts, ministries and abilities, but then corked the bottle of "lay ministry" to preserve the positions of power and privilege for the select few.

Because we have been saved fromt the kingdom of darkness, but have not fully appropriated the Kingdom of God, but rather incorporated the savoury parts of His Kingdom into our own.

Because our focus has slipped away from saving the lost to prospering and entertaining the saved.

Perhaps other items could be added to this growing list... and some of these may be taken as generalizations or not even applicable. It would be true that many Christians are free in regard to these errors, but some of these points do apply in many places.

The Holy Spirit will not rest until the Lord Jesus Christ reigns supreme in the Church. His truth is to be the standard, not our personal opinions.

What then is the purpose of God in completing the Reformation?

To establish His new covenant Church.

This is the one, true Church of which Jesus Said "I will build My Church..." (Matthew 16:18 KJV). The key word in this verse being "I".

Monday, July 11, 2011

Citywide Celebration: Overcoming Disillusionment and Discouragement

I am overflowing with thanksgiving today, reflecting on the extraordinary time Saturday night at Charlotte 24/7.

First I'm thankful for the hard work of Lisa Koons and her team, to get the facility ready for our gathering. We actually considered canceling the event out of concern that the prayer room would not be ready. That would have been a big mistake.

We began with a time of spontaneous prayer and praise. The prevailing current was a desperate cry to our Father to reveal His glory.

We also spent time getting acquainted. It was encouraging to hear from people from all over the Charlotte region: Hickory, Valdez, Wingate, Rock Hill, SC. All of them with the same heart: to acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus individually and corporately.

Steve Crosby ended with an incendiary message, "Overcoming Disillusionment". Here are some of the highlights:

Crosby began by explaining the background for the book of Hebrews. The book was written to believers who were disillusioned... people ready to "chuck it". The remedy was a fresh unveiling of Jesus Christ. When the author referred to "looking unto him" the idea is a constant looking, or gaze.

This is where we often offer the wrong solutions. Counseling is ineffective. The issue is not a perfecting of our methods or a better idea.

Crosby continued, even as we look at an emerging citywide expression of the Church in the Charlotte region, the goal is not a better managed "prison camp". Nor is it linking a series of carefully managed prison camps. What we need is vision adjustment.

In Romans 13:11 we are told to awake from sleep. It is a challenge to come out of a hypnotic state. Now Steve began sharing 3 manifestations of a "life" in that state:

1. When we are haunted by echoes of our past. This can also be the pain of our past. Victory is found in living with Jesus in real time. Here Steve presented two interesting formulas:

pain + old creation nature = reaction
pain + new creation = redemption

Walking through pain as a new creation is redemptive. The Lord uses that pain to conform us to the image of Jesus. In fact, the power of our gospel is the fact that Jesus spoke from the cross. Similarly that is where the power of God is revealed in us, when we speak from the cross, not merely about the cross.

Going further, in Romans 10:2, Paul gives props to people trying to kill us. When Christ is in us we will be willing to bless even those who cause us harm. We have the power to release any emotional i.o.u's.

2. Defending our present. Too often we're tempted to defend our views and convictions. They can be idolatrous lords over us.

People who have identities that are not healed have to defend what they are doing to others. My identity is not in the moment. We must not let our methodology become an idol.

Maturity is a mandate to lay down my life for others. Feed my sheep has nothing to do with pulpit ministry. It means I exist for others to feed on. My heart is open. My wallet is open. my home is open. This is the meaning of being a living sacrifice. My life is available for divine disbursement.

By contrast people who love principles more than God we will hurt people. Steve warned that people who preach hard on something have a problem. The strength of sin is the law. Principles do not save. God sent a Son, not a rule book. In the past He spoke through prophets, but now he speaks through His Son.

Jesus died to make us relational with Him and one another, not just to make us "right". All too often living merely by "principle" is a mask for relational dysfunction.

Idealism and perfectionism are formulas for disaster. Maturity is evidenced by our wilingness to pursue the ideal, while accepting reality at the same time. We must also be careful to let people have their own seasons in the Lord. We must not try to make people conform to our "standards" or perceived level of maturity or experience. If we are wise we will manage our expectations of others.

We also have to avoid trying to find deliverance in the wrong places. The answer for everything is not another sermon or counseling.

3. The final stumblingblock is fear of the future.
Steve referenced the obsession among many believers with eschatology and calamity. There are believers hoarding supplies, including guns. He repeated one friend's question to another who is buying into this madness. He appropriately asked, "What are you going to do, shoot someone in the name of Jesus?"

Steve reminded us that our call from the Lord is to prepare to be a means of redemption for lost people, not to withdraw from the world for our own "protection". May the Lord help us walk out this word.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Pastor Has No Clothes!

With a strong sense of anticipation I have waited for the release of this book by Jon Zens. Jon is a man who has been declaring the supremacy of Jesus and Kingdom values regarding the Church and leadership for quite some time. And I'm thankful for the developing friendship with him.

Though I have pre-ordered "The Pastor Has No Clothes", he sent an advance copy to me online last night, and it was very difficult to peel my eyes away from it.

With Jon's blessing I'm sharing an excerpt of this new book, challenging our long-standing and unbiblical practice of building pastor-centered "churches". This section comes from the "Prelude". Jon brilliantly challenges us to change our focus of understanding of God's word, from "me" to "us". We begin by understanding "ekklesia", which means the assembly of believers. We are called to walk together as family, demonstrating at least 58 "one anothers" of the New Testament in genuine relationships 24/7:

The call to be longsuffering and forbearing
with others makes no real sense without day-to-day involvement
that simply does not and cannot take place by seeing people for
a few hours a week at agenda-controlled religious meetings with
stifled communications.

In practice, though, where do we most commonly put the
emphasis on what people call “church”? It pretty much revolves
around “the pastor.” He is the one with the training, the ordination,
the assumed leadership “vision,” and the stock sermon repertoire.

Without a “pastor” people will generally conclude
that you don’t have a church. So, if a “pastor” leaves a church,
then a general crisis ensues because he has to be replaced and

What have we done? We have elevated a mere traditional
concept—that there must be a “pastor” to lead the church—
for which there is not a shred of evidence in the NT. By doing
this, most church structures suppress the life of Jesus coming to
expression through the 58 “one-another(s)”that are clearly in
the NT. Then, since the “one-another” perspectives are pushed
into the background, the “pastor” spends much of his time
helping the flock live the Christian life as individuals.

It is apparent that, in the NT, Christ’s life in each believer
comes to expression as they gather in open meetings and edify
each other (1 Corinthians 14:26). The NT knows nothing of
the “worship services” as practiced now. In early church gatherings
there was no one person, or group, “up-front” leading the
time together. It was a body meeting led by the Holy Spirit as
an expression of Jesus Christ.

What are we doing? We bring individuals together who
haven’t seen each other since last Sunday (maybe) to sing
a few over-used songs, lay some money in a plate, listen to a
practiced pastoral prayer, hear a rehearsed sermon, and then
return to home to isolated meals and mindless television watching.
“Church services” climax with the sermon and perhaps an
altar call, for those of the slightly more evangelical persuasions.
Otherwise, church attendees simply go through whatever is
ordained in the weekly church bulletin without necessarily having
an ounce of loving commitment to anyone.

Individuals and families sit in the pews week after week who are dysfunctioning in stress-filled pressure cookers of bad jobs, financial distress, relationship collapses and generally living lives of lies, despairand self-destruction, yet they routinely fall through the cracks
of the organized, pastor-led church machinery.

Early believers gathered together in a way where all could
be part of an expression of Christ on earth and to their local

For all intents and purposes, we now come to
“church” to see one person religiously function and hear a sermon
often reflecting fallen worldly values and concerns. Do you
see the disconnect? The former is Christ flowing like living water
from His people in a life of interdependence; the latter is institutional
and fosters inappropriate dependence on one part: “the

To order "The Pastor Has No Clothes", you can click the link below: