Author:Ian Peters

Culture versus Kingdom

This is an adaptation of an article by Pastor Joseph Matera

Matthew 6:31-33

Many believers (including preachers) interpret the Bible through the lens of their culture.  This has resulted in many beliefs, doctrines and practices prevalent in the church that are not in accord with the clear teaching of the Kingdom paradigm of Scripture.

The following are some of the contrasts between Western Cultural Christianity and Biblical/Kingdom Christianity:

1.  Western Cultural Christianity focuses on individual destiny. The Kingdom focuses on the reign of Christ over the nations.

2.  Western Cultural Christianity focuses on individual prosperity. The Kingdom focuses on stewardship.

Much of Western preaching today focuses on “our rights in Christ” to be blessed. In Scripture the emphasis has to do with being blessed by God in order to be a blessing by bringing God’s covenant to the Earth.

3.  Western Cultural Christianity appeals to using faith to attain stability and comfort. The Kingdom encourages believers to use faith to step out to spread the Gospel.

4.  The Western Cultural apologetic focuses on human reason. The Kingdom apologetic focuses on the power of God.

We have been taught to defend the faith utilizing scientific, archaeological and linguistic proofs to validate the historic accuracy of the Scriptures. In the Bible we see the prophets, apostles and Jesus based their message on the anointing, authority and reliability of God.

5.  Western Cultural Christianity promotes a culture of entertainment. The Kingdom promotes the pursuit of God.

We are often catering to an obsession with entertainment and visceral experiences, instead of cultural engagement and personal intimacy with God.

6.  Western Cultural Christianity is about efficiency. The Kingdom is about effectiveness.

The whole point of being part of the “Body of Christ” is not to see how much we can pack into the shortest amount of time in a building but about being effectively equipped to take the Gospel to the world!

Seek FIRST the Kingdom of God… because often the culture cannot meet the needs! Learn to be more culturally relevant than culturally driven!

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On earth as it is in Heaven

Isaiah 64:1-4  Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down! That the mountains might shake at Your presence. As fire burns brushwood, as fire causes water to boil—to make Your name known to Your adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Your presence!  When You did awesome things for which we did not look, You came down, the mountains shook at Your presence.  For since the beginning of the world men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen any God besides You, Who acts for the one who waits for Him.

God is releasing the order of heaven on the earth.  This is the foundation of prayer – “…Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.”  This realm between heaven and earth was bridged by Jesus on the cross so we would have access to the Throne of God.  In fact, this bridge was seen by Jacob in his dream and Jesus later affirmed that what Jacob saw was the Messiah. John 1:51

One of the biggest problems in the church is that we are striving more for success or position than His Presence and His will.  This is satan’s original sin – I will exalt my throne above the Throne of God.  In heaven, success is not based on our position – the elders give up their position (thrones).  Success is in being in His Presence.

And that’s why Jesus came and preached the Kingdom of God.  The manifest power of His presence would be brought to bear as we “seek first” His Kingdom.  As Kingdom people, we need to quit asking for what they want and start asking for what His Kingdom requires.  He responds to that kind of prayer by tearing open the heavens to get His Kingdom to come to us.

The problem is that too many are living subject to the order of this earth. We need to get back to the Divine order of His will on earth as it is in Heaven.  When this happens, it is an irresistible manifestation of His presence. It goes beyond what the carnal man could comprehend. Natural resistance is melted away at His awesomeness!  The longing and deepest desires of our heart begins to come to pass as He tears the heavens open and reveals Himself to us.

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The Anointing

Many people think of the anointing as a warm fuzzy feeling that they get inside; or goose bumps on their skin; or chills running up and down their spine.  For some it’s the emotion evoked by a familiar old song they used to sing or any of a whole range of ‘feelings’ based reactions.  As Christians we need to learn to differentiate between the anointing and the feeling of nostalgia; between the anointing and simply the good groove of a song; between the anointing and having our ears tickled by something that the preacher is saying.  We must learn to go beyond the surface feelings and go deeper into what the Lord really wants to do in and through us.

The anointing is not star power, available only to a certain few people or celebrity ministers.  It is not a rush of adrenaline or emotions – though our emotions are often affected by the anointing.  Simply stated, the anointing is God’s supernatural empowering and ability to do what He has called us to do.  Simple!  In all the research that I have done, in all the questions that I’ve asked and all the opinions that have been expressed, this is the one thing that seems to keep coming out over and over again. The anointing of the Holy Spirit is not goose bumps or a weird feeling in your belly.  It is the Divine enabling through the Holy Spirit in order to accomplish the will of God for your life.

Every believer has an anointing from God – His presence and ability available in our lives.  Through this anointing, the Holy Spirit will teach us, give us revelation and empower us if we will listen and yield.  John 16:13; 1 John 2:27.

I could play you music and sing you songs that would move you to tears.  That would not necessarily mean the singer or the song is anointed.  It could be that I have combined certain chord patterns and lyrics that will produce the desired emotional reaction.  On the other hand, I could sing you anointed songs that would not necessarily move you to tears or joy.  Remember, the anointing is not adrenaline, nostalgia or emotions.  Our emotions are affected by the anointing yet the bottom line must always be what the Holy Spirit is doing in your heart.

The cry of my heart is that we would experience the reality of the anointing day in and day out; that supernatural ability from God to do the things that He has called and ordained for us to do.

Excerpt from “FRESH OIL” – Living and functioning in the power of God.  Available Oct 2015.  Contact us to order your copy now.

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P A S S I O N  (The heartbeat of our existence)

A supermodel was once quoted as saying; “I don’t even get out of bed for less than $10,000.    What is it that motivates or drives us through our lives?  Statistically, almost 80% of the workforce does their job just for the paycheck – not because they love or have a sense of purpose for what they do.  Some people, however, have broken through this syndrome and are motivated by their passion.

 

If the only thing that gets you out of bed in the morning is the alarm clock, you need passion in your life.  Passion is the heartbeat of our existence.  Just as the heart pumps blood to the body and vital organs – without conscious thought to start or stop – keeping us alive, so our passion is the life source for the purpose of our existence.

 

As a former pastor and now leader of a multinational ministry, I have come to understand the power of passion in my own life.  It has kept me going when others have quit (and encouraged me to quit).  It has literally sustained me over two million miles of travel, different time zones, climatic conditions, foods, threats of diseases, financial pressures and many other contrary circumstances in my life.  It has helped me make choices and protected me from straying from my appointed purpose.

 

Passion feeds our sense of purpose and determination.  It is because of this that people who have altered the course of history have generally been passionate people.  Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Winston Churchill are just a few names that come to mind.  Of course, there have been those who were driven by a negative, or evil, passion.  The point is that even these people stood out because of their passion.  We must endeavor to be a passionate people who will affect the world in a positive manner.

 

I have used the word ‘passion’ as an acronym to help us identify and define the characteristics of a passionate person.

 

Pursuit of excellence.  The desire to excel is common in passionate people.  They set higher standards than those around and do not let circumstances or other people’s opinions compromise these standards.  They are willing to pay the price and are not worried about how it looks because excellence always looks good.

The Bible tells us about a young man named Daniel who distinguished himself against some of the top people in the nation because of his excellence.  Because of this he was promoted to a very high position in the nation and became a trusted advisor to the king.

 

Attitude. Attitude is a choice.  Your passion will determine your attitude or approach to a situation and how you respond.  A good attitude brings a good response.  Too many people react instead of respond.  Jesus Christ responded with forgiveness to those who crucified Him instead of reacting in anger.  This is because He came with a passion for the people of the earth.  It was this passion that fed the attitude of forgiveness and reconciliation to God.

 

Sense of Purpose.  A strong sense of purpose and passion feed each other.  This is why passionate people seldom – if ever – waver from their intended goal.

As a minister, I am often asked what our purpose for being on this earth is.  Everyone was created for a purpose.  The fact of creation clearly demonstrates the reality of a Creator.  When we find and get to know Him, we find our purpose in this life.  This needs to be a priority for us.  People’s lives become misguided – and often shipwrecked – when they are not living out their purpose.

 

SacrificePassionate people understand that achieving their purpose will involve sacrifice.  This may mean putting off immediate, short-term gains for long term success.

A pastor friend of mine noted two enemies of sacrifice in a message:

(1) Convenience (contentment) we only sacrifice to the level of our convenience – many are willing to count the cost but not many pay the price.

(2) Duty we only do what is our duty and nothing more

 

Integrity – in every area of our lives.  Integrity is the difference between reputation (what others think of you) and character (who you really are).  It is doing the right thing even when there is no chance you will be found out doing the wrong thing.  It is more that just good ethics – it is placing the highest value on righteous morals and making that choice no matter what the cost.

 

Originality.  It has been said that most people are born originals but die copies!   Passionate people find and stay with the original purpose they were born for.  Their passion steers them away from becoming one of the crowd.  They are willing to go against the flow when necessary so they can be a voice, not an echo. 

 

Network of relationships that benefit ALL – not just a few.  Some people confuse the concepts of purpose and selfish ambition.  Their concept of networking is to only seek out relationships that benefit them.  We all need relationships on a variety of levels.  There is a need for relationships with mentors, peers and those who we can mentor.  Passionate people realize this and understand that this is one of the ways that their passion can be fed by and passed on to others.

 

Passion is the starting blocks of success.  In a world full of averages, it is the quality that sets a person above the status quo.  I encourage you to find what the passion of your life is and pursue that with all you have.

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59 Things Not to Say to a Preacher

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Devoted to Prayer

Colossians 4:2 – 4 Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.

What does it mean to devote oneself to prayer? What would you say you are devoted to? Paul encouraged the Colossians to make that kind of life commitment.  Prayer is not a duty.  For the devoted believer in Jesus, it is a privilege to come before Him, listen to him and pray according to His will.  But this is not just about getting through our requests. Vigilant prayer is as much about thanksgiving – gratitude for His goodness and reminding ourselves of what He has done.

In that devotion to prayer, Paul asks that his team be remembered. He asks for prayers for a door to open for the message they were proclaiming. This is an essential prayer for all those who preach. Unless God opens the doors of hearts to hear, our labor will produce few results.

He also asks for prayers that he might proclaim it clearly. Spiritual truths must be expressed in words. The preacher’s ministry is to find the right words so that the message will be clear and understood.

Paul asked the Colossians to be wise in the way they acted toward those outside the family of faith. What a need we have for this today! We must act in wisdom, realizing that God may give us an opportunity to speak the truth to them. Every person we meet we must consider a potential child of God seeking the truth. Our actions and speech should always represent Christ.

Pointers for Prayer

  1. Pray that we have a door opened to share the message and for the ability to express it clearly.
  2. Endurance to continue in prayer and not give up.
  3. Thank God for all He has done for you and shown you of Himself
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A Spirit Set Free

A Spirit Set Free Matthew 11:28-30

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with me and work with me–watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.   Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”   (Message Bible)

There is a difference between a “free spirit” and a spirit that has been set free. One wants to do whatever they want without consequence.  The other understands that while we may make certain choices, there will be negative consequences for the wrong choice.

Jesus ministry was all about living free. He used the picture of oxen yoked together to do their work.  They could not go in any direction they wanted.  They were forced to walk in step with each other at the command of the one driving the cart or plow!  If one ox was larger than the other or had a different gait, the rhythm was forced and considerably more work!  This was meant to illustrate the pharisaical bondage to the letter of the law.

“The unforced rhythm of grace” is the perfect phrase to show what it is like to walk with Jesus.  Instead of a heavy yoke bringing bondage, He puts his gentle arms around us and teaches us to walk with Him. He won’t take us faster than we can handle nor will He try to make us do something that is “ill-fitting”.

The Apostle Paul takes up this thought in Galatians 5:1.  The reason Christ set us free is SO WE CAN BE FREE!  So don’t do things that are going to place you back in that heavy yoke.  True freedom starts with the miracle of a transformed heart. A heart that is made pure through the blood of Jesus Christ cannot be bound because the things that condemn it to bondage have been washed away!

You have the choice to live enslaved to religion or free in Christ. The Pharisees kept people entangled by a set of laws – all but 10 of them were man made! Christ came to reverse that.  The ability to live free in Him and for His purposes is not a difficult place to find and in which to live.

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