ONE LIFE CREATES A CHAIN REACTION: MY STORY FOR HIS GLORY

My daddy moved to heaven in the summer of 2016. He is there because of this verse of scripture:

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31).

When I gave my life to Christ in 1980 I claimed this promise for my parents and younger brother. Within 2-3 years my faith turned to sight as my entire family came to Christ.

I am a product of a faithful witness who lived an exemplary Christian life before me. He was instrumental in not only leading me to the Lord, but getting me baptized in water and in the Holy Ghost. He also personally discipled me in the things of God during my first year as a believer, taking me to church and Bible studies. I owe him a debt for his faithful witness in my life.

THE AROMA OF CHRIST

It all started in college. Rick was the mailroom clerk. There was something different about him. He possessed a joy and a peace that was otherworldly. Love emanated from his being. The Bible calls it the fruit of the Spirit – fruit that is worthy of further inspection. I inspected it and liked what I saw. His fruit created a hunger in me. It was the aroma of Christ.

“And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma” (Eph. 5:2).

Not only did he have fruit, but he glowed with a radiant countenance. One day I walked into his office to get my mail and observed a big open Bible on his desk. I looked at his Bible and then at his shining face. I put two and two together and concluded that an open Bible equals a shiny radiant face.

“They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces were not ashamed” (Ps. 34:5).

It’s interesting that after I came to Christ a college friend of mine witnessed that same radiance in me and told me about it after he had gotten saved. That was encouraging to hear. Have we forgotten that we are living epistles read of all men? 

Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart” (2 Cor. 3:2-3).

The witness of Rick’s life was undeniably clear. Conversations of Jesus were making Him known. Incorruptible seeds were being sown. One Christmas I remember the college  newspaper posted pictures of students and workers asking them what Christmas meant to them. There in the middle of the page was Rick’s big smiling face with one word in capital letters underneath his picture – “JESUS!” My insides rumbled again with more hunger.

I’ve got to find out how to have what he’s got!

Then there was the night I called him at about 1:00 am in a drunken state. Girlfriend problems. He told me that him and his wife would pray once we got off the phone. Such love and care continued to tug on my heart. Jesus was calling. Shortly after graduation from college I made the leap and surrendered my life to Christ.

One other memorable incident I failed to mention that led to my salvation happened in the summer of 1979 during the season of Rick’s witness in my life. Arriving home from a party in a semi-drunk state, I turned on the television and evangelist James Robison was preaching the gospel (yes, he was already preaching that many years ago). Almost immediately I fell under conviction and sobered up. Then I wrote his ministry a letter asking him how to stop sinning and doing the things I was doing. The real gospel always produces those kind of dealings of God in a man. Repentance was working in my heart. I knew Rick had been praying for me and others whom he constantly witnessed to.  What a life and an example he was to me! Sinners remember a life lived well before them.

Since then God has taken this little life and has used it for His glory to not only impact my own family but thousands of others here and around the world. We lived in West Africa as missionaries for many years and witnessed the supernatural impact of so many lives. Last year God opened a door for us to be on Arabic satellite television. Soon we will be picked up by one of the largest satellites in the Middle East that has 4 million viewers per day and the editors are dubbing my voice into Arabic (Reaching the sons of Ismael). Many of my relatives – grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins have all heard the gospel from me and my family. They’ve witnessed us forsaking religion and the traditions of men and our denomination. They’ve witnessed our lives being lived for the Lord. Precious seeds and precious prayers have been sown on their behalf. Some have come to Christ. Others will before they die.

GO FOR THE ONE

Who is in front of you? Who are your neighbors, friends, and co-workers that have not yet come into the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ? Does your life make them hungry? Does your witness inspire them to want what you have? Does your testimony cause their wombs to open and reach for divine purpose in their own lives?

Do not despise the one. Don’t give up on them. Stay in their lives. Rick was in my life during most of my college years, but I did not surrender to the Lord until shortly after graduation.

Be patient and take time with the one, for one life can produce a chain reaction that impacts so many other lives. I read that during a lifetime just one introverted person touches 10,000 other people in some way.

Let’s take advantage of the freedom we have to preach the gospel. Let’s redeem the time. Let’s believe together for the lives of the millions of believers in America and other nations to become faithful laborers and produce a harvest of souls for the glory of God.

Jesus is worthy of the reward of His sacrifice.

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DISTINGUISHING BETWEEN EMOTIONS, TRUTH, AND THE ANOINTING

This is a very enlightening article written by a friend of mine, John Fenn. I hope it blesses you like it blessed me.

Consider how the culture of the world encourages people to live by emotion rather than reasoning: Advertising is designed to get specific emotional responses from us whether it be a cute ad, a funny ad, or a sexy ad, they are all designed to stir emotions more than logic.

Consider auditorium church culture. The beautiful building, the raucous start to most worship services with songs designed to get a person up and moving around, pleas for money or to volunteer in a program, or a soul-stirring message designed to motivate the congregation –  much of auditorium church culture has substituted emotion for the anointing (the manifest presence of God).

The world tries to train people to live by emotion. (And many ‘Christian’ web sites link in with a spirit of fear to cause believers to keep turning to their site out of fear, under the guise of ‘I just want to see what is happening in the alternative media’, but it is really masking the spirit of fear). And much of the Church seems to move right along the same line.

God created us to live in balance with our reasoning and logic working together to walk with Him through life.

Recent studies show the average attention span of people (Millennial age group) have dropped from 12 seconds at the turn of the century to just 8 seconds today. That’s right, you have 8 seconds to capture that person watching your TV commercial, or reading your print ad or article – that departure from logic explains so much, doesn’t it? It explains why politics has become so nasty, in the US at least. My generation was trained to attack ideas, not the person. Today it is the opposite.

(Here is a link of just one such report if interested: Declining Attention Spans

In church culture I’ve noticed emotions taking over and ruling rather than the study of God’s Word and God’s ways. It started back in the 1980’s, and it became more pronounced in the 1990’s, to the point that in the late 1990’s many people equated emotion with the Holy Spirit. To stir the emotions was equivalent to feeling the Holy Spirit for many churches. That’s the wrong spirit.

I saw Word of faith teachers taking verses (especially about money) so far out of context and building doctrine I thought no one in their right mind would believe – yet millions did. When I went to work with another ministry that associated itself and promoted ministers who built intercessory prayer and personal prophecy up to an unhealthy level, and saw many lives ruined by ‘personal prophecy’ without any reasoning or common sense applied, I thought surely we are close to the end of days.

And now with the Internet connecting people who have given themselves over to everything from a commonly held spirit of fear to every stray and weird belief out there, all in the name of God, I wonder where did the ability to reason go? When did we get to the place we sacrificed the brains God gave us in favor of emotion-based beliefs wrapped in spirituality that causes people to completely abandon all logic and common sense? Common sense isn’t too common any more. Don’t confuse me with facts, my mind is already made up. People want to be right more than they want the truth.

“And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. So the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it'”  (Gen. 4:3-7).

The Lord asked Cain  three questions and received no answer: “Why are you angry?” “Why has your face fallen?” “If you do right, won’t it be accepted?” Within these questions the Lord lays out His plan. His method of dealing with emotions, which in this case, as is so often with us, if not dealt with properly, can lead to sin and error in decisions: “If you don’t do what is right, sin is crouching at your door and it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7)

We’ve lost that backbone today – the concept of ruling over the sin desire. We want counseling, we want an instant deliverance, we want someone to make it all go away, and remove that temptation from us once and for all! No, no, no!  We are on the earth, the devil is loose, your body wants to sin, and you must use discipline (that’s almost a curse word for some people I think). “Sin lies at your door and wants to have you. You must rule over it!”

EMOTION IS THE DOOR FOR BLESSING OR CURSE

Notice the connection with emotion as the doorway by which Cain would either keep the devil on the outside of his life, or let him in. God said to him, “If you don’t do right, sin is at your door. Grab hold of your hurt Cain. Grab hold of your disappointment and anger Cain. Pull in the emotion and think. Reason it out, and do what is right!”

Right there – right at that moment, the decision to do right or do wrong, is the first defense – logic. Reasoning. But it is the combination of turning away from the truth and the giving of himself to wrong emotions that opened the door for murder. James would later write in 3:14 in his passage about being intellectually honest with our own heart, “don’t lie against the truth” (when you see something in your heart that isn’t right, instead of hiding it, admit it to God and deal with it). Don’t lie against the truth.

That is what Cain was doing – lying against the truth. He knew his heart, he knew what was right to do, but he didn’t want to. It is wrong thoughts that opens the door to wrong emotions that leads to sin. Cain set his will and insisted on doing the things the way he wanted.

We aren’t taught that emotions can change direction like a flag on a flag pole blowing with the changing wind, but that is the truth. If you focus on what you don’t like about your spouse, or about your life, then those wrong thoughts will lead to emotions turning away from them and give rise to wrong thoughts (lies) such as how much better off you’d be on your own, or how so and so would make a better spouse. That’s how the death spiral begins; death to relationships, death to what you have that is good and right.

If a person arrests their emotions by stepping back intellectually to look at the larger picture, let us say that spouse in this situation, and intellectually search for why they first fell in love, want what is right about their life and marriage, then the emotions will start to swing towards the favorable. The instruction of Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31 that we call ‘The Golden Rule’ is actually a road map of healthy thought followed by healthy emotion:

“Do to others what you want them to do to you.” Think that through. That is a command to take the initiative, to be on the offensive to actively do as a lifestyle to others what you would want them to do back to you. You don’t wait for them to come around to see things your way – you do to them what you would have them do to you.

You want your husband to take you to a romantic restaurant – you take the initiative to take him out. You want him to stop treating you with disrespect when in public, then you find ways to treat him with honor and respect in your statements to your friends about him. Men – you want her to be more loving at home, then you start treating her with love, finding special ways to do good to her that you would love for her to do to you.

Emotions follow the thought processes and actions. Don’t make your thoughts follow your emotions; that is what Cain did. Your emotions are to follow your healthy thought processes and healthy actions. Build a bridge, or build a wall. Sometimes you have to build that bridge several ways and times before a wall comes down and the other person starts building a bridge from their side of things.

The progression of Cain’s downfall and how God tried to reach him lays out for us a roadmap of the ways of the Lord. He is tender and merciful, and approaches us with questions designed to point out erroneous thoughts and feelings, and laying out for us the right way – and urging us to take that right way.

AN END TIME PLAN TO UNIFY THE BODY OF CHRIST

Have you ever asked yourself why there are so many different churches and denominations in Christianity today? Why is there so much division and disunity? Why does it seem so difficult to labor together in a spirit of love?

What I’m about to share with you will give you great wisdom for change. It is an end time plan. It is a plan we saw work overseas very effectively, but I had always thought it could never work here in America or in other developed countries because of the pride of learning and education, self-reliance, and self-sufficiency. It will take great humility to receive this plan.

Let me warn you, though and preface some remarks before releasing this plan. None of this will work unless you are a kingdom minded person. My first book, Soulish Leadership: Whose Kingdom Are You Building?, has shaken up many a leader along these lines. (Scroll down our book page and watch the 1.34 minute book promo).

A RIGHT HEART

Here are some heart searching questions a friend of mine asked: What would happen in your community if it didn’t matter who controlled, who led, or who got the credit for extending the kingdom of heaven on this earth? What if kingdom growth meant the end of everything you are involved in? Could you let go of what is dear to you so that another might succeed? Would you be willing to be nothing for the greater good? To give away your time, talents, and money for no other reason than the good it causes others? These questions reveal the golden key to a greater unity in the body of Christ. It’s all in the heart. What is required is not growth of any particular group but rather, Christ’s kingdom, free of emotional, spiritual, and financial ownership issues.

This is the Christ-like way: Humble yourself as the meek and lowly One did, and serve others as if they are more important than you. This releases everyone into their greatest potential and restores and builds up the body.

Nothing I’m about to share will work without that qualifier.

KEY QUALIFYING PRINCIPLES

Secondly, there are key principles that must be operative in our belief system that will cause this end time plan to work.

These foundational principles will unify the body of Christ and create a  dynamic vehicle by which we can cooperate with God in bringing forth great change and revival. No matter the form or method of organization of any Christian church or faith-based group, it must not violate these divine principles. These principles must always supersede any human arrangement that might compromise these principles. In other words, any ecclesiastical laws that violate these divine principles must be rendered unconstitutional.

Here then are the qualifying principles:

1.  The Church must acknowledge the supreme Headship of Christ, not in word but in deed. There is no place here for a control freak – no vicar, no pope, no authoritarian head who must have the rule and preeminence.

2. Every overseer of every church, work, and organization must acknowledge the fellowship of the whole body of Christ. This means that no group may restrict fellowship along denominational lines or its own organization. That would constitute division in the body of Christ.

3. The Church must acknowledge all ministries which God has set it the Church (1 Cor. 12:28-31). It should not deny initiative to those whom God has called to special ministries (Eph. 4:11) (Rom. 12:3-6). Paul said there were diversities of operations. We can then conclude that every man’s ministry will differ in some degree from another’s.

4. It should stand for the principles of the doctrine of Christ (Heb. 6:1-2).

5.  It should be flexible and responsive to revival when and where God should send it. Historically, revivals have come through individuals. Churches may greatly benefit from such visitations if they are sensitive to the Spirit of God.

THE END TIME PLAN

An interdenominational ministry training school or center that will bring churches together in each city and region is the plan. The objectives would be three-fold.

1. To bring about doc­trinal order and unity in the Body of Christ.

2. To meet the spiritual need in a region through evangelism, discipleship, and the equipping of ministry gifts.

3. To accel­er­ate divine ac­tivity, train­ing, and the move of God in a region.

Can you imagine if every denomination and faith based church or group who professes Christ would engage in this type of training? It would revolutionize the landscape of Christianity in America and the nations, and put fear into the devil and his demons. It will take a miracle of great proportions to break down denominational barriers and church walls, but I believe in miracles. And I believe the prayer of Jesus for the unity of His people will be fully answered before He returns (Jn. 17).

This is just something to think about that has been on my heart. Perhaps there are strong leaders who have a gift, a calling, and a platform to catalyze such an aforementioned plan in the body of Christ in these end of days. It would take a great humility in leaders to bring this plan to pass.

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me (Jn. 17:20-23).

May His glory make us one.