Tag Archives: American Church

-It is Time to Leave Nazareth

He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.  He was amazed at their lack of faith. –Mark 6: 5-6

I am really tired of living in Nazareth where only a few folks are healed, as wonderful as that is.

I have friends who have gone on mission trips to India, Africa, and South America, and have come back with incredible testimonies of how God healed everyone they prayed for. Opening blind eyes, healing the deaf, and seeing all kinds of miracles including folks who could not even stand on their own two feet running laps. Some have even seen the dead raised. Then when they come back home to America it is just like it was before- they see a few folks healed once in a while and are glad for it.

At the beginning of the year it was impressed upon me that faith and belief were  THE issues that the American and Western church needed to deal with this year. First of all the scripture that came to me on New Years Eve was Mark 9:24-

I believe; help my unbelief.

I have been praying that one everyday since.

Then reading on in Mark, I came across the passage in 11:22-24 where Jesus talks about having a strong enough faith and belief to move a mountain. I never really considered literally or physically moving mountains as something I might want to do. Maybe figuratively.

However, once when I was on a long hike with my family years ago and realized when we got to the top of one mountain peak that the lake we were going to was on the other side of another mountain. I would have like to have moved a mountain if I could. Then on another vacation I went fishing with a friend on the east side of the Sierra Mountains near Yosemite. We hiked down a mountain side to a pristine lake and had a wonderful day catching fish. Then we literally thought we were going to die going back up that mountain with 10 big fish and all of our equipment including an ice chest and chairs. Moving a mountain would have come in handy that day. However, it never occurred to me to pray it away and I still do not believe that it would have been justified under those circumstances. When would one actually need to move a mountain into the sea? Something I  have always wondered. I guess when God tells you to.

Nevertheless, while reading this passage in Mark, I received a strong word to read it in the Greek. I was in my comfy chair but the Lord knows me well and it came in a way that I could not ignore. It was the first three words of Jesus that changed it all and gave me a different perspective. Maybe I  have heard someone preach on verse 22 in the past but it was rhema for me that day and ever since:

Ekete pistin Theou  (a transliteration-my site will not print out the actual Greek) 

All of the English translations (12) that I have in my library have it as- “Have faith in God.” So that is obviously the best translation.  But there is a couple of things in the Greek which give it a fuller meaning. First of all, ‘ekete’ calls for continuing action- not just ‘have’ but continue to have. ‘Faith’ (pistin) is the subject but God (Theou) is not only the object of it but is the possessor (genitive or possessive in the Greek). It is God’s faith.

So how do you get the kind of faith that can move mountains? My conclusion is that we can only get it from God- we have to ask him for it and we have to completely believe that God’s wants us to do it in the first place and has given us the power to  accomplish the task.

We have faith but Holy Spirit help our faith.

If we want to leave behind the environment of Nazareth where we only see a few wonderful healings then we need to see an exponential increase in our faith and belief. We have to seek it and ask for it.

It is time for the American and Western church to live in a Kingdom environment where signs and wonders, and the miracles and healings of Jesus are demonstrated in our midst. They need to be commonplace and not just fortuitous exceptions but a part of the norm. Then church will become relevant once more and offer a viable and attractive alternative world view in the midst of an unbelieving secular culture.               *Top

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-Bonnke: “American Shall Be Saved”

USA Flag Map

         (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Richard Bonnke has been known best for his major evangelistic campaigns in Africa for the last 30 years or so. Now he is turning his efforts toward the USA with a new campaign called “American Shall be Saved” beginning in July:

Bonnke’s next stop is Miami, where he will preach to a crowd at the American Airlines arena on July 18-19. Over 200 churches across racial, denominational, cultural and even linguistic barriers have joined forces to help Bonnke witness Jesus to South Florida.

Here’s what He has to say about the new effort:

"I am scanning the skies for men and women who pray and weep for the salvation of America. As Bill Bright used to say, ‘Let’s leave our logos and egos.’ Let’s rally at the foot of the cross of Calvary and preach the Gospel of salvation to the nation," Bonnke says. "The Holy Spirit will cooperate. God is pouring out His Spirit with glorious indifference to our differences! He said, ‘I will pour out of my Spirit on all flesh.’ And it seems to me He pours Himself into the mold of any vessel."

Response: A few years ago many of us were expecting revival and a new awakening to break out across all of North America. Instead we ended up with the big push for gay and LGBT rights including same-sex marriage which is beginning to trump religious liberty in the courts and culture all across America. Increasingly we are being told that religious freedom is now only Constitutionally assured within the four walls of an official place of worship.

Now Christians who believe in the authority of the Bible are increasingly being cast and misrepresented as ‘bigots,’ ‘haters’, and irrelevant folks who are on the ‘wrong side of history.’ At least that is what is happening in the dominant American culture on the West Coast where I live and in New England and within the main stream American media.

This turnaround has happened in a very short time. In 2009 at the inauguration of President Barack Obama evangelical pastors participated in giving the prayers but by 2013 we saw a pastor who had been invited to give a prayer hounded until he resigned over preaching a Biblical lesson which included homosexuality 18 years ago. Now conservative Christian business owners who do not want to participate in same-sex ceremonies are being sued and forced to either provide their services or be fined. Times are changing in America so much so that if the trend continues Bible believing will soon be considered ‘immoral’ by folks in the dominant American culture.

Point is, it really is time for Revival and for Bible believing Christian to stand up for their faith and refuse to go quietly into the night. One way is to join in campaigns like what Bonnke is initiating and particularly join him in prayer to change America for the better before it is too late.

We are in the middle of a battle and most American Christians don’t even realize it and yet the Gospel is going forth among the nations at an unprecedented pace and millions are coming to Christ every year. Also millions of Christians are being persecuted and killed for their faith and we are actually in the midst of a new age of martyrs though it is being ignored by most American Christians.

I do not believe that God is through with America but it is rapidly becoming a mission field which may see African pastors and Asian evangelists from China and Korea soon helping in a new push to save Americans. I believe that Bonnk’e effort is just the beginning.  May God really bless America once more.          *Top

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-Leaving Nazareth

And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them.  -Mark 6:5  ESV

Several weeks ago following the Jewish (Biblical) New Year we began to see some changes at VCC Church in Laguna Niguel, California. Almost immediately healings began to increase exponentially with 32 coming during our services the first weekend following the new year. The words that clearly came to me when I tried to discern what this might mean for the future were these:

Paradigm shift and Time to leave Nazareth.

What I believe that it means is that it is now a new ball game for our church and I believe it could also be for every church in America that the Lord has been preparing for revival.

The enemy intends to marginalize the American church, and contain it within four walls while bringing actual cultural condemnation upon it but God means for us to become the light shining in the darkness with a contrast that can no longer be ignored or denied.

The American church has lingered in Nazareth far too long and we have become satisfied with decreasing expectations and have even marveled at a few healings in our midst. We have become comfortable with the picture of Jesus reading and teaching the scriptures in the Synagogue and have accepted that as a major vision for the ministry of the church. Even the few wonderful healings we have had are considered exceptions and we call them ‘supernatural’ when they are supposed to be a natural part of our DNA. But Jesus did so much more on the road and in the marketplaces on the way to Jerusalem- major healings, miracles, and the raising of the dead- all life changing events for those involved and demonstrations of the reality of the Kingdom.

Meanwhile there is an unprecedented world-wide harvest going on all around the 3rd world with millions coming to Christ with miracles and signs following. Tragically most American Christians are not even aware of the major breakthrough of the kingdom in far away places while America and the West are increasingly becoming secular in the dominant culture and world view and rejecting the very Biblical foundations on which this nation and civilization were built.

It is time to leave Nazareth and head toward our destiny in the New Jerusalem with the Kingdom breaking out in our midst all along the way. What this means is that the old preconceptions about the church and what is possible are about to change. It can no longer be contained within the four walls of the church but the Lord is calling on us to take it to the streets, neighborhoods and marketplaces.

It isn’t going to be about  few gifted leaders that people come from afar to see but like Jesus sending out the 70 (or 72):

"The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3 Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. -Luke 10:2-3  ESV

It will not be about professional ministers except God has raised up pastors all around America with a vision for preparing his people- regular Christians to be involved in the coming revival and as they participate their testimonies will be just like those 70 (or 72) that Jesus sent out:

The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!"  -Luke 10:17  ESV

Put it to the test and see if it is not a brand new ball game where you are. Just start praying for the sick around you and see what happens. Pray for the guy that doesn’t have a job and see if he doesn’t finally get the position of his dreams. It is a new day on the road to New Jerusalem. Not everyone will come but those who do will be blessed and they will receive a new vision for the American church and Kingdom ministry.            *Top

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-Moves of God in America?

Mercy_Warehouse_1

(VCC Mercy Warehouse-Kelly Lynn Photography)

God is moving and bringing major revivals all around the world and nearly on every continent except in the Western countries of North America and Europe. Even in Europe there is revival among the Roma (Gypsies) people.

But in the USA some are asking if the glory has departed. Others are boldly proclaiming God’s judgment every time a natural disaster happens or there’s a mass murder event. Still others including myself are observing that America could use a new awakening in order to bring us back from the brink.

However, what I am really expecting right now are diverse moves of God in individual churches and communities all across America and Canada. Most of these moves will probably never reach a level where they will ever be acknowledged by the main stream media but thousands of people and maybe even millions could ultimately be touched by some move or another –a few hundred at a time.

Here’s an example of what I am looking for- a move of God in a regular church that started with intercession and healing: “God’s Big Move in a Small Town

Another example in the making: Here at VCC Laguna Niguel (CA) there are some remarkable things happening. We have a 20,000 sf warehouse where we provide food and clothing for over a 1000 poor and jobless in South OC. In the last 3 months or so over 150 people have been saved along with hundreds of healings happening right in the middle of the warehouse. In fact it is the healings and the miracles that are leading to the conversions.

Now it is spilling over into our regular worship services and at least someone is healed at nearly every service. I would not call it revival but it sure is great and our expectations have been escalating.

Also I attend a marketplace prayer group once a week at VCC where we pray for each others jobs, businesses, and pray for those who need jobs and greater opportunities. We are now seeing answers to prayer and miraculous testimonies every week while the business climate of our county has been poor and in the midst of recession. Personally I have had several nearly impossible answers to prayer when it comes to my job and business. Believe me when I say that my expectations and those of all who attend these meetings have certainly escalated since I started attending the prayer services 3 years ago.

Point is, looking back I can see that God is moving in our midst and has been for some time but there is nothing happening at VCC that couldn’t and shouldn’t be happening everywhere else in America. However we still have a long ways to go.

When we send mission teams to India, Cambodia, Asia, Africa or elsewhere they experience a different level of the miraculous and nearly everyone they pray for are healed. We are not there yet back at home in South OC but it is sure better than it use to be.

Still it is a lot like Nazareth- only a few healings at a time. But I can see the faith rising and with it the expectations of our people. It is time for the faith and expectations of Christians in America, who seem to be on the defensive right now (Chick-fil-A et al), to rise above our surrounding dominant secular culture and allow God to move among us in a fresh way. Let’s move out of Nazareth and head back towards Azusa St. and Wales.            *Top

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-5 Trends Facing the American Church?

Church Bells

              (Image by shioshvili via Flickr)

Are the bells tolling for the American church?

From LifeWay Research comes the following trends which may soon affect American Churches:

1. Our nation will see the emergence of the largest generational mission field in more than a century. According to our current research, the Millennial generation, those born between 1980 and 2000, will have a very low Christian representation. Our estimates now are that only 15 percent are Christian. With a huge population of nearly 80 million, that means that nearly 70 million young people are not Christians.

2. The dominant attitude of this huge generation toward Christianity will be largely indifferent. Only 13 percent of the Millennials rank any type of spiritual matter as important to their lives. They are not angry at churches and Christians. They simply ignore us because they do not deem us as meaningful or relevant.

3. Senior adult ministries in churches will experience steep declines. As the large Baby Boomer generation moves into their older years, they will resist any suggestion that they are senior adults, no matter how senior they may be. Unfortunately, many churches are slow to adapt to new realities. If they do senior adult ministry the way they’ve always done it, it will be headed for failure.

4. The large Boomer generation will become more receptive to the gospel. Our data is anecdotal for now, but we are seeing indications that the Boomers may actually become more interested in spiritual matters in general and Christianity specifically. If so, this trend will be counter to other trends where adults tend to become less receptive to the gospel as they age. The Baby Boomers have tried it all and found no joy. They may likely turn to the hope of the gospel.

5. Family will be a key value for both of the large generations. For the Millennials, family is their most important value. Nearly eight out of ten of the Millennials ranked family as the important issue in their lives. They told us that they had healthy relationships with their parents who, for the most part, are Baby Boomers. Some churches say they are family friendly, but few actually demonstrate that value. Churches that reach both of these generations will make significant changes to become the type of churches that foster healthy family relationships.

Read the whole thing: Five major trends for churches in America

Response: Many secular folks are anticipating a huge decline in membership for Christian Churches in America. As the Boomer generation gets older and begins to depart from this earth, many expect that the Christian influence in America will finally decline and go the same way as Europe.

The key to that expectation lies with the small number of Millennials that are actually Christians and involved in churches in America. The writer of the Lifeway article views this as a wide open domestic mission field opportunity.

In the next generation, will churches be closed up and shuttered all across America like Europe or will a new move of God bring an entire generation to Christ? The demographics are definitely against the church. I suggest that we pray for the later and participate in a new move instead. We obviously need a new awakening In America.             *Top

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