PREPPING FOR WHAT IS COMING
Most true disciples of Jesus would agree that the Church is in desperate need of revival and radical change in this hour. Change is most difficult when its attached to money and personal security - for these traits of comfort and convenience are not usually marks of real disciples. A disciple forsakes all to follow Jesus. That's the glorious change God is looking for in His people.
MY PERSONAL TESTIMONY
After getting my business degree in a four-year university, I got saved (in fact, almost exactly 42 years ago). Shortly thereafter, I boarded a bus in Providence, Rhode Island with all my belongings and traveled halfway across the country to attend a Bible Training Center.
I did basically the same when I was sent out as a missionary to West Africa. We lived in three different nations overseas. Actually four, if you count our four-month missions training in Guatemala. Over and over again I kept moving in obedience to how I believe the Lord was leading me. Obedience is all He requires. Works were established in those different nations and turned over to national leadership. Our apostolic team never claimed ownership of anything, but worked from relationship. Believe it or not, those kind of indigenous works are rare today. Men like to keep their lordship on it instead of entrusting those we've trained into the care of the Holy Spirit (Acts 14:23; 20:28, 32).
CHANGE CAN BE PAINFUL
Change is painful when a new paradigm shift may be required because most religionists are notorious for believing the "old is better". The same was true in Jesus' day. It's always been that way. Human tradition makes the word of God void. I've announced in my recent books that change is coming. We are in a major transition in the body of Christ that we have no grid for except the ministry of Jesus and the apostles in the book of Acts. You should at all costs get those books. (CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW)
They are God-breathed. They will prepare you for what's coming, with some balance. Prepare yourself! The message of the kingdom will offend many just like it did in Jesus' day.
Here is an example of offense: When are we going to stop this drunken addiction to church buildings and meetings? If you are not easily offended by that blunt question, you just might be a true disciple of the kingdom, especially if you are a pastor and local elder.
PARADIGM SHIFT AGAINST A TIME YET TO COME
I've ministered nearly half of my ministry years on the mission field; the other half in America. Much of the time in both. Vastly different experiences. I gleaned much from the two paradigms. For example, when we arrived on the mission field the Lord told our apostolic leader we'd never need to build any buildings - that all the buildings were already there. This was contrary to what our missions organization did and exemplified. We used public school buildings, which were closed on Saturdays, to accommodate our students on that day. We paid nothing. I preached on the streets almost daily with my students. Only one day a week did we have them in Bible school. We had virtually no overhead or what I call "baggage expenses". It was such a brilliant plan that only heaven could give.
Of course we are not opposed to buildings. That's nonsense. We need them to facilitate assembling together, and to conduct kingdom business. As missionaries we had a ministry office in the city. What we are opposed to is limitations and confinement. After all, Jesus had no buildings He built. No edifice he constructed. He was a carpenter and probably could've built a structure. But the Father had a bigger plan. Jesus was to remain mobile, not stationary. Hear my heart. I am not against buildings. Jesus taught in the temple. I went to Bible school and churches in buildings all of my life. That's not the point.
HERE'S THE POINT
The point is what a building can do to most people's psyche. The nature of a building is four walls and a ceiling. It speaks to us of confinement. It reeks of limitation. It trains us for security and comfort. It minimizes kingdom thinking and kingdom lifestyle and true kingdom enlargement. It opposes the thought of living unsettled. It is subtly uncondusive to the releasing of laborers into the harvest fields of humanity and various spheres of their lives and influence. Personally, when I've witnessed churches engaged in big building projects I always cringe, because most of the time, it results in a spiritual decline. That's been my experience. Leaders and people congratulate themselves for the completion of these beautiful edifices, but I often weep inside and pray that they would not lose focus of the great commssion to make disciples. Remember, the disciples admired the temple but Jesus warned them that it would be toppled. Jesus introduced new wine that old wineskins could not hold. Why do you think para-church groups and ministries often produce more lasting fruit than some traditional churches?
LISTEN TO THIS PASTOR'S TESTIMONY:
"When we pastored we would preach daily on the streets and pray for hours before going out. But once we became a full-fledged church we got immersed with demands from church members and leadership meetings, events, programs, and such. Gradually we lost our fire. We had to repent and get back on the streets to rekindle it." This pastor went away from the simplicity of the ministry of Jesus. Remember, Jesus was the good Shepherd. But He was also an apostle, a prophet, an evangelist and a Master teacher. The total sum of His ministry equipped His disciples. This is is what the Church needs to return to. Initially Jesus fulfilled the entire Ephesians 4:11 ministry by Himself before He gave these gifts unto men. Without a building. Without a budget. Without a salary. Without a top-heavy authority structure. Without a 501-C3 tax-exempt organization. Ha! How did He do that? By the Spirit He was anointed with (Luke 3). Through his fellowship with the Father (John 5:19). Through the love and compassion He moved in. Jesus demonstrated over and over again what a seed can do and He likened it to the kingdom of God.
What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden; and it grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches. (Luke 13:18-19) We look for numbers. God looks for seeds. Do not despise the day of small beginnings. God often does significant things in small places, so man won't glory in his fleshly wisdom.
LISTEN TO THESE POWERFUL WORDS FROM A CHINESE MINISTER:
“Before I first traveled to the West in 1997, I had absolutely no idea that so many churches were spiritually asleep. I presumed the Western church was strong and vibrant because it had brought the gospel to my country with such incredible faith and tenacity. Many missionaries were a powerful example to us by laying down their lives for the sake of Jesus.
"On occasions I've struggled while speaking in Western churches. There seems to be something missing that leaves me feeling terrible inside. Some meetings are cold and lack the fire and presence of God that we have in China.
"In the West many Christians have an abundance of material possessions, yet they live in a backslidden state. They have silver and gold, but they don't rise up and walk in Jesus' name. In China we have few possessions to hold us down, so there's nothing preventing us from serving the Lord. The Chinese church is like Peter at the Beautiful Gate. When he saw the crippled beggar, he said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (Acts 3: 6).
"In a similar way, I pray God might use the Chinese church to help the Western church rise up and walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. It's almost impossible for the Christians in China to go to sleep in the country's present environment. There's always something to keep us on the run, and it's very difficult to sleep while you're running. If persecution stops, I fear we will become complacent and fall asleep.”
— Living Water: Powerful Teachings from the International Bestselling Author of The Heavenly Man by Brother Yun
To be continued...
Please like, love, and share if you dare.