Wednesday, October 31, 2012


You probably already know that I walked away from pastoral ministry at a traditional church about six years ago to start a church that meets in homes around Orange County, California where 100 percent of the offerings go to support the poor in our community. You probably also know that I’ve written a book called “This Is My Body:Ekklessia as God Intended” a few years ago about how God’s design for His Church has always been about people as living stones where everyone is a priest of God offering themselves as daily, living sacrifices.

So, it might be a shock to you that I would say, “House Church is not the answer”. But, I’m saying it. It’s not the answer.

Jesus is the answer. The Gospel of the Kingdom is the answer. Surrender to Christ alone as a daily follower of Jesus is what counts, not where you meet on Sunday mornnings.

Does it matter how you gather? Yes, I’d say it does matter. Especially if you have any real hope of stepping into the awesome reality of having Christ as your functional leader and head in the Church.

Does it matter if you submit to a pastoral authority? Yes, I’d say that you shouldn’t do that. Especially if you have any real desire to become a member of the priesthood of all believers and fulfill your calling within the Body of Christ.

Does it matter if everyone in the Church has an equal opportunity to speak, and teach, and share, and use the spiritual gifts God has given them? Absolutely! Without this the Church is not a Body at all, according to Paul the Apostle. What makes us a “Body” is when Christ alone is our actual head and when everyone else is working together to share their spiritual gifts for the building up their brothers and sisters in Christ.

But gathering in a home won’t cut it. Meeting in a circle and singing songs won’t accomplish anything. Having a great meeting about Jesus is not the same thing as having an actual meeting with Jesus.

House church is not the answer. Jesus is. And learning to gather beneath the shadow of His wings, and learning to hear His voice together, and actually encountering the Risen One in the fellowship of other submitted and surrendered believers is what every follower of Christ is made for.

Whatever you do, please don’t settle for house church. Gather together with Jesus as your only focus, and accept no substitutes.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012


One thing I’m very sick and tired of is hearing from wacko Christian televangelists that this hurricane or that earthquake is God’s judgment against us for homosexuality, or abortion, or liberal politics.

Not only is this kind of claim not based on any sort of Scripture, the logical conclusions drawn from such statements are preposterous.

For example, does this mean that we can control the weather by being more or less Holy? Could we eventually eliminate hurricanes and earthquakes by our increased righteousness? Is that something that Jesus even hints at?

I also have to wonder, why doesn’t God throw a hurricane around for our sins of apathy towards the poor like He did to Sodom? Why doesn’t God smack Vegas with an earthquake for their sins of greed and prostitution? Why doesn’t God rain down fire from heaven on all of us for drunkenness, idolatry, pride, selfishness, adultery, and lies? Those sins are pretty awful, aren’t they?

Frankly, God seems to be much more bent out of shape about how we treat the poor than He is about anything else we do, or don’t do. [See Ezekiel 16:49-50; Matt. 25:41-46]

Yes, God can send judgment against whomever He wants, in any way that He wants. But, I don’t believe that these televangelists who pretend to speak for God are doing it right. See, the way it usually works is that God will speak to the prophet in advance of the judgment. Then He will proclaim what that judgment will look like, and He will provide a window of opportunity for repentance before sending that judgment against the people.

These American prophets are doing it bass-ackwards. They wait for the news to tell them what’s coming and then they point the blame on the group of sinners that they happen to like the least. That’s not how God works.

So, I don’t think we need to start worrying about how the sins of others might be affecting the weather or the tectonic plates. What we do need to be concerned with, as followers of Christ, is our own attitudes about our own sin. See, God says that the healing of our land is based on the repentant hearts of those “who are called by (His) Name”, not the filthy sinners downtown.
God says that, if the ones who love Him will humble themselves and seek His face, and turn from their own wicked ways, that then, and only then, will He turn and hear their prayers, and forgive their sins (not the sins of the heathen), and heal their land. [see 2 Chronicles 7:14]

The televangelists who love to point the finger and blame these disasters on others need to crack open their Bibles and start doing what it says. Otherwise, they might need to stock up on bottled water and canned food pretty soon.

We might need to do the same.

 And, whatever you, please remember to pray for those dear people caught in the path of Hurricane Sandy this week.
Our opportunity to shine as the Body of Christ with the compassion and love of Jesus is never more evident than in seasons like this.

Monday, October 29, 2012


Someone once told me that their friends were discouraging them from starting a house church in their community. The reason? Because this person didn’t have an Apostle to help them oversee the church.

The other day I received a Tweet from someone who said, “You don’t have to be a pastor or an elder to plant a church in your community.”

I’d like to weigh in on these two statements if you’ll indulge me.

When my wife and I stepped down from our on-staff church positions to plant a church in our own home, we heard similar things from well-meaning people who said:

“You don’t have any spiritual covering.”

“You can’t support the Five Fold Ministry”

And my absolute favorite, “You’re not following a Biblical model.”

Here’s the deal. If God is legitimately calling you to plant a church in your community, then you are the apostle He is sending. The word “apostle” means “sent ones”. Therefore, if God has spoken to you about leaving to plant a church, you are a “sent one.” End of story.

 To the person who said that “you don’t have to be a pastor or an elder to plant a church” I’d offer the same response – “If you are the one being sent to plant the church, then you already are the pastor/elder you need to be.”

Now, first of all, the statement makes no real sense because, according to the New Testament, an elder doesn’t plant a church. Nor does a pastor. Elders are the ones who do the work of a pastor (“shepherd”) in the Body of Christ, and by definition an elder/pastor doesn’t plant churches. However, since we have a very Americanized view of Christianity today, we wrongly assume that pastors (and only pastors) start and lead churches.
So, when most people use the term “Pastor” what they really mean is, “Leader” and usually that spills over into the function of an Apostle, an Elder, an Evangelist, and a Prophet, even though that’s not what the Bible teaches us.
So, when I say “you already are the pastor/elder” what I mean is, “You’re the one God is calling so don’t worry about the labels.”

At the end of the day, the only person you need to please, or to answer to, is God. Is He calling you to step out and start a church in your community? Then do it. Don’t listen to what anyone else tells you. Don’t get bogged down in what this author or that blogger tells you to do, or how to do it (even if it’s me), because if God is calling you then He will lead you every step of the way. Whatever you do, don’t settle for what someone else’s vision looks like, only do exactly what God calls you to do and keep your eyes on Him.

He will build His church. Not you. Not me. Jesus will build the Church (people of God) who are submitted to Him and committed to His Kingdom.
As you step out in faith, God will draw into your fellowship the missing people you need, with the necessary gifts, to build up the Body as He wants it to be. It's not your job to make anything happen, only to be obedient and to step out in faith.


Monday, October 15, 2012


I spent last weekend in Oakland with some pretty amazing people during the Momentum Conference. One by one people came forward and shared incredible testimonies of how God radically intervened to change someone’s life, or to share the Gospel like wildfire – from one simple woman in the Bay Area to her entire family in South America where dozens of new churches were planted.

As I listened to these stories I couldn’t help but feel challenged in my faith and, at the same time, embarrassed by my lack of faith.

I couldn’t help but compare these testimonies with my own experiences in our neighborhood, or with similar situations at the motel where we’ve served for over a decade now. I started to wonder why we don’t have the same kind of testimonies that these people had. Little by little I realized that it probably had to do with my own lack of faith.

Not that I don’t believe that God can work miracles. I’ve seen and experienced some pretty incredible things in my life, from answered prayers, to healings, and words of knowledge, and visions, and prophetic dreams, even the gift of tongues. I believe that God can perform miracles today. I guess recently I’ve started to doubt that He might want to, or that He would if I asked him to.

As I reflect back over the last year I realize that there have been situations where I’ve prayed for people in various levels of poverty, bondage, addiction, despair, and hopelessness. Even though I’ve prayed for them and asked God to intervene, there are times – if I’m honest – that I’ve doubted that God would heal them, or change their situation. Not that He could do that, but that He would do it. This is my sin. My sin of unbelief.

One of the people who stood up and gave his testimony at the Momentum Conference was a man who had lost his marriage, his dignity, and fallen into drug addiction. He was far from God. He wanted to die. He overdosed multiple times and each time God saved him. One day a man came to his door and brought him groceries. He began to befriend him. He helped him to stay sober for about 3 months, but then one night the pain and despair overcame him and he overdosed again in an attempt to take his own life. Once again someone found him and called the Ambulance. He survived.
The day after he returned from the hospital this same man asked him why he had gone back to drugs. He said he didn’t want to live anymore. He said he only wanted to live if he could have his life back again. In that moment, I hope I would have said what this brother said to him – “Do you want God to change your life?” He said “yes”. The man asked him, “Are you willing to start right now to trust God and to get your life back?” Again, the man said “yes”. So, they took him to a rehab center that very hour and he got cleaned up, put his life into God’s hands, and experienced a remarkable transformation.

Do you know how many people I’ve sat down with who had this same struggle? I can’t count them. But I do remember some of them so clearly in my mind, and I remember doubting that God could turn things around for them. Oh, I prayed with them. I asked God to show His love and mercy to them. I even prayed for God to help them get over their addictions and overcome their poverty and kick their bad habits. But I left doubting that anything might change. I expected to see them next week in the very same place – weak, addicted, and struggling. Most of the time I was right.

Why has doubt crept into my heart? Why do I think that God doesn’t want to heal, or change, or rescue people like this? Maybe because I’ve seen too many prayers unanswered. Maybe because I watched my friend Robert Higgins die from bone cancer without being healed. Maybe because something is broken in my relationship with Jesus and I need to realign myself with his heart for people and his love for them – and for me.

One thing is certain; God still works miracles today. He’s still transforming lives and healing addictions and rescuing the lost and building His Kingdom right now. I’ve heard the testimonies with my own ears. I’ve shaken hands with the ones He’s healed. I’ve seen for myself the joy of new life in the eyes of a former heroin addict who now pours out his life for others so that they can experience this same transformative Jesus for themselves.

 My only comfort today is that Jesus knows all about my doubt. He’s not shocked. In fact, He’s even willing to work around my lack of faith and use whatever meager offering I place at His feet today for His glory.

I’m reminded of the man whose son was plagued by demons in the Gospel of Mark. Jesus’ disciples could not cast the demon out and after Jesus asked the man about the boy and how long he had been like this, the boy’s father said, “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” Jesus response was quick, “’If you can’? Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

That’s me. I do believe, but I pray that Jesus would help me overcome my unbelief. I need to be healed of that so He can heal others through me.

“Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him.
If we disown him, he will also disown us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful,
for he cannot disown himself.”
– (1 Tim.2:11-13)

Thank you, Jesus, for making room for my unbelief and for being faithful, even when I am faithless.

Help my unbelief.



Friday, October 12, 2012



Eventually, the disciples got it. They abandoned their pursuits of hierarchy and they embraced the loving, servant leadership posture that Jesus so beautifully modeled for them.

We see this when Peter appealed to the Church as a fellow laborer in Christ and referred to himself as a "fellow elder" rather than as an Apostle:

“To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.” – 1 Peter 5:1-4

Paul echoed this also, saying:

Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm.” – 2 Cor.1:24

People love leaders. We love leadership. We flock to those with the greatest talent and ability. But this is exactly what Paul warns the Church about when he rebukes them for identifying themselves as followers of Appollos, or Peter, or even of himself. (see 1 Corinthians 1:11-13)

Instead, Paul warns all of them not to become disciples of any other man, or leader, but to fully submit to Christ alone as Lord and Savior and Teacher.

It took me about seven years to fully embrace this. I started out giving myself only two “soapbox moments” where I would basically stand up and preach a mini-sermon. Eventually the Lord broke me of that. Next, I had to learn not to answer every question, and eventually Jesus broke me of that habit, too. After that I had to learn to stop playing “Ping-Pong” where I felt the need to respond immediately to whatever was shared in our group, which essentially made me the center of our conversations. Today I’m learning to just listen to people, and to the Lord, when we come together. As someone once said, “Listening to someone is so much like loving them that most people can’t tell the difference.”

What we’re learning to do now as a church family is to meet with Jesus, not just have a meeting about Jesus.

So, let’s not draw away disciples to ourselves. Let’s do all we can to point people to Jesus; to empower them, not to exploit them. Jesus is the One who is Building His Church, not you and I. But, we do get to facilitate what He’s trying to accomplish in their lives if we stay close to Jesus and listen for His voice.
Here are some questions that we can consider:

*What are your biggest personal challenges when it comes to leading others?
*What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made as a leader?

*When you hear the word “Leader” what mental image comes to mind?
*What does leadership look like to you?

*What sort of leader was Jesus?
*Can you lead others by listening?

*Can you lead others by empowering them?
*Can you lead others by serving them?

*Can you lead others without promoting yourself?
Leadership really is the most important thing in the Church. But only if Jesus is our Leader and the rest of us are brothers and sisters practicing the many “one anothers” found in the New Testament.


Thursday, October 11, 2012



In the Church, our only Head and Leader is Jesus. This means we already have a Shepherd. It's not up to the sheep to choose another shepherd from among the flock, or to hire one from the outside to rule over us.
As Paul so eloquently puts it:
"Christ is the head of the body, the church; Christ is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything Christ might be preeminent." (Colossians 1:18)

"And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way." (Ephesians 1:22-23)

But, is Jesus really the Head of His Church? Of Your Church?
In our little house church experience, I've tried very hard over the years to allow Jesus to be our Head and not to take that role upon myself. Here are some suggestions I'd share for those who would like to allow Jesus to actually be the Head over their Church family:

*Don’t orchestrate the meeting - This means you shouldn't decide ahead of time who's going to teach or speak, or which songs you will sing, etc. Just show up and wait on the Lord.
*Learn to Wait -The scriptures are chock-full of blessings for those who wait upon the Lord. I believe that in the church this concept is just as valid. If Jesus is the Head, let's wait for Him to lead us.

*Gather to Pray and Seek Together - Someone once remarked that an open meeting requires more prayer, not less. He was right.

*Practice Corporate Submission - Individually, each of us is expected to follow Jesus daily by submitting ourselves fully to Christ and allowing Him to lead us and have His way. When those same surrendered people come together for fellowship, they should experience a corporate submission where they continue to lay everything before their Lord and ask Him to lead them and have His way.
*Restraint is Key - Leadership is often more fully expressed in the things I do not do when we come together than in what I do.

*Keep Focus on Jesus - People may become tempted to talk about their day at work, their kids, that commercial on TV, the election, those people who aren't as spiritual as we are, etc. Bring them back to Jesus since He is the Head and He is in the room.
*Don’t Allow Anyone To Dominate - This goes for you, too. Make sure that those who tend to talk too much practice listening to those who seldom talk at all. Find an equilibrium where everyone can share but no one shares too much.

*Don’t Answer Every Question - I had to learn the hard way not to be the Bible Answer Man but to transition into the Bible Question Man. It works.
*Don’t Create Dependency on Yourself - Teach people to depend on Jesus, not upon you, for hope and strength, and faith. They say that the way you know you're a leader is to count how many people are following you. That's wrong. In the Church, the way you know you're a leader is to count how many people are following Jesus, not you.
*Love People As They Are and Ask Them To Do The Same - Don't try to make people think and act just like you. It's alright if they don't agree with you on every little doctrine. You just might learn something from people who do not have the same theological assumptions that you do.
*Everyone Is In Process - Many of the convictions I hold today are ones I did not hold 5 years ago. If the Keith of today could go back in time and talk to the Keith of 5 years ago, they wouldn't agree on many things. So, have grace for people who aren't on the same page you are now. You might not be on this page in the next 5 years either.
*Focus On Your Mistakes and Failures - What I mean is, it's easy to start pointing out the faults of other Christians and especially of those Traditional Churches who don't "get it" like we do. So, rather than waste time exploring how wrong they are about evangelism, or what have you, make sure you talk about how your church is doing in that same area.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


What was Jesus’ model of leadership? [PART 2]

So, now that we know what Jesus' model of leadership was not about, let's look at what it was about.
Jesus did not model a CEO-style, top-down version of leadership, and forbade his disciples to do so either. Instead, he humbled himself and took on the role of a servant.
"The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. (John 13:2-5)

The meal they were sharing was the Passover meal. There is a ceremony near the beginning of the Passover where participants engage in a hand-washing ceremony. We believe that this foot-washing took place at this point in the meal.

When Jesus took off his outer garment and wrapped the towel around his waist he was dressed like every other slave dressed, and the disciples would've recognized this fact.

Foot washing was one of the most unpleasant chores you could possibly do in those days. In fact, I once read that if you were a Jew and you owned a Gentile slave and a Jewish slave, you would never ask your Jewish slave to wash feet - unless you really wanted to punish him.

So, when Jesus puts on the clothing of a slave and begins to do the very dirty job of washing feet, it set the disciples back, as you can see if you read the entire passage in John 13.

After Jesus washed their feet - even the feet of Judas - he puts back on his outer robe and says:
“Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater [more important than] than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (John 13: 12-17)
Washing his disciples feet wasn't just an object lesson in humility, it was meant to teach them something about being true leadership in the Church. It was meant to illustrate in the most indelible way possible that demonstrating actual love to one another was of utmost importance. In fact, it was more important than being important.
So, if everyone is commanded to love and serve everyone else, and if Jesus said that the greatest leaders were the servants of all, then every Christian is a leader.
Let me explain:
First of all, every follower of Jesus is commanded to love:  “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34)

Secondly, loving one another means serving one another: “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free, (therefore)…serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:13-14)

Third, those who are leaders in the Church must be servants: “The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:11-12)

Therefore, if every Christian is called to be a servant, and if loving one another means serving one another, and if those who serve others are leaders in the Body of Christ, then every Christian is a leader.

That means Christianity is for leaders only.

So, the more we serve others in the Body of Christ, the greater we become. The greater we become the more authority we are given to serve others. The more we exercise our authority to serve by serving more people, the greater servants we become, and the greater we become in the Kingdom. It’s really very simple.

Those of us who are leaders in the church (and that’s all of us) are called to be just like Jesus, and even Jesus “did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life” for others. Paul the Apostle follows up these thoughts by pointing out that everyone in the Body of Christ is called to love – and to serve – everyone else. In short, everyone who calls themselves a Christian is, in fact, a servant, and therefore, a leader. This means that Christianity is for leaders only.
Is Leadership bad? Not at all. In fact, Paul lists “Leadership” as one of the spiritual gifts given to the Body of Christ. [see Romans 12:8]

But, what does true Kingdom/Church Leadership look like? It's not a guy in a power tie who is “in charge”; Leadership looks like a guy on his knees washing feet.
REMEMBER: Great Christian leaders don't constantly talk about being a leader. They concentrate on following Jesus.

"In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!" (Philippians 2:5-8)


Tuesday, October 09, 2012


NOTE: For those of you who weren’t able to join us at the Bay Area Momentum on Oct. 6/7, here’s a look at my presentation notes on the topic of “Leadership”.

MOMENTUM: Leadership – The Most Important Thing? [PART 1]
I want to thank all the other presenters for allowing me to speak on the most important topic of all – Leadership.

Really, is anything more important than leadership? Obviously, nothing is more important than leadership in the Church. We know this first of all because everywhere we look we see the evidence. We have Leadership conferences, Leadership study bibles, Leadership sections of our book stores, we have Leadership guru’s everywhere.

Another way we know that Leadership is the most important thing in the Church is because the Twelve Disciples were very interested in this topic. In fact, no one in the New Testament is more interested in Leadership and Hierarchy than the disciples of Jesus.
"An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest." (Luke 9:46)

Even at the Lord's Supper, when Jesus announced that one of them would betray him, and that he would suffer in order to establish a new covenant between God and man, the disciples took a break from discussing which of them might betray Jesus in this way in order to discuss the very important topic of leadership:
"A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest." (Luke 22:24)

Earlier on in Jesus' ministry the mother of James and John came to him to engage in a dialog about leadership, saying:
Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom." (Matthew 20:21)

Of course, James and John themselves were also quite eager to move up in the hierarchy of the Kingdom and so they also came to Jesus to talk about leadership issues when they said:
"Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory." (Mark 10:37)

Even when they traveled from town to town, the disciples loved to pass the time by talking about which of them was the greatest of all.
They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, [Jesus] asked them, 'What were you arguing about on the road?' But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest." (Mark 9:33-34)

Now, I believe that every person has a God-given desire to be great. The problem comes when we confuse “Greatness” with “Being Important.”
Jesus said that the greatest would be the servant of all, not the most important, or intelligent, in the room.
Yes, the disciples were extremely fixated on the topic of leadership and hierarchy. But Jesus wasn't. In fact, in every single one of these cases, Jesus took the time to stress to His disciples that, in the Kingdom of God, leadership didn't have anything to do with being top dog. In fact, if they wanted to be great in the Kingdom of God, they would have to get used to washing feet, being everyone's servant and acting like simple, humble children.

Let’s look at how Jesus responds to the disciples obsession with leadership and hierarchy:
Jesus points to both a secular and a religious hierarchy and says, “Not So With You!”

SECULAR HIERARCHY: "Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45)
He sternly warned his disciples not to “lord it over” one another as the Gentile rulers did.

RELIGIOUS HIERARCHY: But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant.  For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. (Matt 23:8-12).

He also commanded them not to follow the example of the Jewish leaders who loved the praise of men and built their own kingdoms to glorify themselves.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Are You Dead Yet?

When Jesus wanted to defeat the Enemy and rescue the planet from the power of death, how did He accomplish this? He died.

“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death - even death on a cross!” (Phil. 2:8)

How are we able to follow Jesus? We die.

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)

How did Paul minister? He died.

I die every day—I mean that, brothers—just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (1 Cor. 15:31)

How did Paul receive the power of Christ? He embraced his own weakness.

“Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 12:9-10)

What does all this mean? Let me ask you something – Can you defeat an opponent who gains power when they die?

The genius of God’s way of fighting and winning (duh) is to lay down and die so that the love and power of Christ might be revealed through our weakness.

The lower we get, the greater Jesus becomes.

The more we die, the more Christ lives in us.

The more we get out of His way, the more God can accomplish through our submission.

Jackie Pullinger once said “The Gospel is always life for the one who receives it, but death for the one who brings it.” If we are not in the act of dying daily, then Christ is not alive in us.

What’s your mission? To be like Christ. What did He do? He died. The Apostles died. You and I are also called to die so that Christ may live through us.

“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:24-25)

Conversatio Morem! Death to my status quo.

As John the Baptist declared, “He must increase. I must decrease.” (John 3:30)


Thursday, October 04, 2012

Pulpit Freedom Sunday?

You may have already seen the ads and heard the discussions concerning Pulpit Freedom Sunday. If not, this is basically an initiative to challenge pastors to preach “bold, Biblical truth about candidates and elections from their pulpits on October 7th, 2012.”

Several people I know have Tweeted this out and urged Christians to show it to their pastors and have them accept this challenge. I discovered it when someone sent me the link and asked me what I thought. Here’s what I think:

The major issue at stake here is the tension between Church and State, enabled primarily by the tenuous stability of the 501(c)3 status granted to the Church by the State. If you go to the website for Pulpit Freedom Sunday you’ll get that idea right away.

See, pastors of corporate, tax-exempt Churches in America are fearful of speaking about political issues from the pulpit because, theoretically, it could jeopardize their tax exempt status with the Government. So, the best they can do now is to drop very large hints about which candidate God wants you to vote for, and hope you get the drift.

But, now, thanks to the bold people behind Pulpit Freedom Sunday, you can sign your name to a pledge and go ahead and flat out tell people who to vote for without fear (theoretically) of losing your tax-exemption status.

As an outsider to this tax-exempt reality, I have a different perspective.

See, our house church is not tax exempt. We don’t have a bank account. We don’t issue giving statements. No one receives a salary. We have no 501(c)3 status, and we don’t ever want one.

Not because it gives us the freedom to talk about politics, far from it. In fact, the irony is that our church family has nothing to fear from the occasional hour-long Sunday morning conversation about politics and the election. But we choose not to waste our time on things like this.

Instead, we’ve made a conscious decision to focus all our time, energy and passion on Jesus. When we get together on Sunday morning, or on Thursday evening, we could easily and freely converse about the candidates, argue over the issues, expound on the merits (or lack thereof) of political parties or campaigns, but why would we do that when Jesus is sitting right in our midst?

We want to hear Jesus speak to us, and surprisingly He seems more concerned about our lack of love for one another, or our need to forgive, or the importance of spending time with Him in prayer, or the hardness of our hearts towards the poor.

So, this Sunday, while hundreds (maybe thousands) of Christian churches around the nation will be hearing sermons about why they should vote for the Republican candidate, or why God wants them to re-elect the incumbent Democrat, we’ll be doing our best to hold hands, knit our hearts together in love, and submit ourselves as fully to Christ as possible so that we can hear His voice and be changed into the people He wants to make us into.

We’re fairly confident that God is in control of the electoral process and that He will establish the Government of our nation – and every nation – just as He promises to do in Romans 13. Where we need to focus our attention is on the Governing authority of our own hearts and lives. We need to surrender the territory of our hearts to a King who is able to rule in love and with unlimited power.
We must not become distracted by who is governing mere nations “out there” for the next four years, but become fully obsessed with the King who lives forever and who will rule our hearts forever.

People, I believe, are fully capable of deciding for themselves who to vote for, or not to vote for, or if they should participate in the process at all. Telling them what to do is not my job. It's not your job. But, as a Body, our mission is to surrender everything to Jesus and allow Him to have His way in our lives.

The best thing we can do for this nation, as followers of Jesus, is to humble ourselves and pray and repent of our own sins, and to seek His face. The fate of this nation is not in our hands, it's in God's hands.

I am Keith Giles and I approve this message.