Today is a new day and a new time. This is “change”. I have been trying to get Christians to embrace the message of change for long time, especially leadership. Even though not one of the leaders I have taught over the years has ever said that what I was teaching about leadership was not scriptural, most have said that they would continue in the traditions of the church and men. Compromise with the world system and ways are comfortable. The traditions of men seem to have more of a hold on the church than scripture.
Repentance has come to mean, “I will pray and ask God to forgive me for any sin I might have, but then I will continue to walk in the same direction with no behavioral change”. God has said, “Enough, That is not repentance”! John 15:8 says that Father is glorified when we bear much fruit. (A good word study is to look up “bear fruit” in the gospels). We cannot bear fruit without true repentance and obedience born out of a restored intimacy with Father through Jesus.
For 30 years I have struggled in western traditional church with the concept of “the responsibility of grace and works of faith”. Most believe that if we “say” I love Jesus and accept Him as Lord that is enough. They ignore the part about believing with the heart that comes before confession with the mouth. Believing in the heart causes action in one’s life. It produces change! Then confession has meaning and weight, because change is seen!
Most congregations say that the Word of God, (the Bible) is the final authority and needs to be obeyed, yet from leaders down we ignore the commands and commissions of God found in the Gospel. Leaders will preach for us to go make disciples and tell us that we should obey the commands but they themselves for the most part are not. I don’t think that they know how anymore than we do. I think that what they have been taught keeps them in a place of compromise with the Word as it does us. We all need a check-up from the neck up as we have stinkin’ thinkin’!
I just got back from a missions trip to two countries where I spoke mostly with leaders or theological students. It is amazing to listen to their questions and desires. Most of those I spoke to were hungry beyond what is safe – hungry beyond what is reasonable! They don’t want to conform to traditions but to God and His Word. They are willing to pay the price of their lives to reach the unreached and to present God’s naturally supernatural presence. They did not want to know how to fit into “church” but instead wanted to know how to bring Jesus to those they are sent to. They want to reform the Church so they can see the book of Acts continue. They want truth, relevance, and reality! They want to “know” God and they know the intimacy they have is not enough. They recognize that intimacy (a close, personal, dynamic relationship) is not practiced only in meetings a few hours a day! They want to know how to work and live intimacy with God everywhere! They are unreasonable in their quest for the presence of a God that will give them more than hope! They are not interested in games, compromise or conforming to past religious norms nor the past generations of powerless Christianity. They will not sit down or surrender to “the norm” ! They question everything with a fervent hunger that is not willing to settle for anything less than “all God has”. They are not dedicated to a system that doesn’t work. They want life. They are committed dedicated and surrendered to God alone!
My wife Dana has an analogy of dedication that has the wrong focus and it’s outcome. “If dedication and hard work is enough why are there so many dead flies on the windowsill? These flies look out the window and see freedom and a big world and even though there is a door that is open nearby they continue to beat their heads against an invisible barrier, doing the same thing repeatedly until they die. They refuse to do anything differently or deviate from the direction they are set on going in – they are dedicated and myopic.”
Asking forgiveness of God for our sins without finding the door of repentance and a changed direction and focus ends up in the same place as the dead flies! Dead. Though we see what the Kingdom looks like we will not find its reality without a change in direction. We must look away from all the kingdom is and find the Door (Jesus) and enter through the obedience of looking to Him. Our focus must be Him alone! We need to live for the audience of ONE.
God is speaking to me today about finding some workers who are interested in leading a new generation (this generation is not about age, it is about hunger and a willingness to change and follow truth), into the Promised Land – God’s kingdom. This is not a kingdom now theology, but is about bringing God’s presence, power and love into everyday living. It is about submitting to a king without excuses or compromise. It is about obedience to Him regardless of the cost. We must focus on HIM, not it! Kingdom promises are based on Kingdom obedience. We have a King, and He is the King of Kings! We must bow, in silence and listen till He speaks then obey, not just acknowledge His voice – every day.
It seems like God is saying that He has spent 40 years trying to get people to change and it has not worked so He is moving on, leading with new leaders who are willing to trust and obey to a new place, a new relationship without excuse. Without the obedience to “Go take the Land, face the giants and destroy their strongholds” you cannot enter into the Promised Land – your inheritance. These new leaders are those willing to stand up and admit wrong then go forward or are those who will not bow to tradition no matter the cost and are now standing up saying to God, “lead us on, use us!”
I do not know how God is going to bring this change. I know He is looking for those who will follow Him, His Word and direction. He is looking for those who say, “Come Thy Kingdom, Be Done Thy Will! We abandon ourselves to Your future, no matter the cost!
We are in a place like during the time of Jonah, where the world is experiencing a storm. The storm is not the result of their sin but ours. Jonah, the man of God’s sin was responsible for the storm that was destroying the ship the worldly men were sailing. He had refused to take God’s word to Nineveh because he was sure God would show mercy on them and he did not think they deserved it. Jonah decided to choose his own destination – a nicer place? Reality was that he wanted to get away from the responsibility of God’s presence and voice. (Tarshish = region of the stone or the reverse).
The storm that had come upon the world was because of his sin. To quiet this storm Jonah has to admit to the world that he is the problem because he serves the God of Israel, the God of all gods. It is interesting that he must not just be willing to die for them but must show he is. Once he admits he is the problem (that his sin is causing the storm) and it is not about them, the men of the world actually try to save him by rowing harder, but the storm just gets worse. They have to throw him overboard to die, and then God stops the storm that has taken all of their goods and left them with nothing. The solution to their plight was to throw Jonah overboard into the sea, to put Him to death so they might find the true God and salvation. Also God was using them to bring this man of God face to face with his own choices, sin and then his redemption.
In the sea Jonah does not know he is to be saved. He watches the ship leave him and then is swallowed by a big fish. It is only after 3 days in the belly of the fish that he finally repents. (read the book of Jonah). As he is dying he repents. Only then does God cause the fish to dump him on dry ground and give him another chance to obey.
This scenario might be where we are. Maybe at this time God is willing to do the same with us. Maybe we are responsible for the storms that are affecting the world around us? Maybe we are the ones who will have to “change” and not blame the world for all the evil that is going on. It is possible that God has told us the direction to go in but we are refusing to go because we do not like the people or situation Father wants to send us into. – To see God move we will have to repent then we will have to put our hand to do what God has asked us to. We will have to take up the responsibility of hearing, repent for our disobedience and then GO.
A lot of people think that I am angry at the church, but actually I am angry at our refusal to trust and obey, because we know what the Word says, but refuse to change and obey it. I am angry at the reality of the enemy’s apparent power to persuade us to disobey God and elevate the traditions of men to a higher place than the truth given in God’s Word.
So, what will it take to see change? That is a real question with me. I pray and cry for Father to show us how to implement His will afresh. I question all I am doing and thinking against what the Word says, constantly testing what I am hearing. I encounter others and we sit and discuss the Word and what they feel about the times. I work with many different denominations, organizations and networks. I am always asking those I train, “What does scripture say?”
So, are we Christ followers? Are we filled with a hunger for the lost and the desire to destroy the works of the enemy? What will it take to see Jesus move with His naturally-supernatural love today? Where are the miracles the world needs today?
Father is waiting for us, He needs us, He has entrusted His desires to us!