Archive for June, 2012

True Riches

Ugandan Children

Children of Uganda

“Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the Living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” (1 Tim. 6:17-19)

Trust in God!

We are warned that we cannot serve two masters… money or Christ, one of these will win our affections (Mt. 6:24). We must not allow our affections to be lured into captivity. When we invest ourselves in true riches; like the goodness of an upright heart or the power of an enduring testimony, then our wealth carries eternal significance. I often remind folks that we must take ownership of our heart in order to put our trust in God… it will not just happen naturally.   

This World’s Wealth:

The world will try to tell you that riches and wealth are defined by how much money you have in your pocket or how much stuff you can pack into your barns. The issue is not the amount, it is the allure. Recently, we have seen how money can be lost overnight. Businesses close their doors, homes enter foreclosure and real people find themselves hurting, because they trusted in an unstable economic system. Anyone who listens to the reports on Wall Street can see that the environment is changing every minute… and not for the better. 

Reliable Foundation:

The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy warning him to not trust in this World’s wealth. He told those who were wealthy not to be proud and arrogant nor to put their trust in their riches, because they cannot be relied upon. Instead he encouraged them to put their trust in God who provides all that we need (Phil 4:19). The goal is a reliable foundation!

Understanding Blessing:

Notice the issue is not the money as much as the trust. Trust is easily given when we understand our blessing in Christ. When anyone accepts Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior they are enriched with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Eph. 1:3). They are declared complete in Christ (Col. 2:10) which means they are capable of manifesting His character and power. In fact, the Apostle Paul refers to these spiritual blessings as “the unfathomable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8). Unfathomable means they are past finding out, unsearchable and beyond tracking down. The idea is that the believer’s blessings in Christ are too deep to measure and too great to be exhausted. But they are recognizable when invested in others. They are recognized as a good foundation for the time to come, when folks will need something of eternal value. What we must come to understand is that Christians are blessed… to be a blessing through the true riches of Christ!

New Church Plant

God is moving in Uganda, Africa!

Our Apostolic Training Center; just Northwest of Lake Victoria, has become an amazing story of God’s power and favor in the region. The priority of Jesus to “disciple the nations” is gaining momentum as a wonderful team of leaders are giving all they have to the cause. Under the direction of my dear friend Pastor Francis Wanyama, RevivalHut Ministry is seeing over 100 student leaders trained and encouraged to follow their God given dreams. Many are becoming more and more aware that God has an interest in their lives.

God’s provision is reaching far beyond even the local village, offering hope and vision for a brighter future for their families, communities and churches. It all means Kingdom influence is growing and God is establishing His heart among a people. I feel an incredible sense of joy even as I share this, because never in my wildest dreams did I even contemplate being part of something this important two years ago. Yet, just today I received an email from Pastor Francis with a request for the opening of a brand new church in the region. Be praying for the new pastor and his family. Pastor Godfrey Taabu is a student at our training center and has much to learn, but God is equipping him with the tools he needs. I am confident he will be encouraged by the other leaders and he already has a wonderful group of people to help. 

Written to Pastor Francis

Written to Pastor Francis

The 5-fold Minister

“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ.” (Eph. 4:11-12)

The Apostle Paul believed in the government of the Kingdom of God as it rested upon the shoulders of Jesus (Isa. 9:6-7). His teaching promoted Jesus alone, as the Head of the Church and “under-shepherds” as gifted leaders, anointed to equip believers in each city or region. So if you were a Christian in a certain city or region in the Apostle Paul’s day, you would be expected to fellowship and become equipped by the 5-fold ministers around you. All the 5-fold ministers were to model a unity of Spirit even as they traveling across regions of the country and the believers were to embrace their gifts according to the measure of Christ’s anointing upon them. 

The Challenge of Kingdom Ministry:

I believe every disciple and every local body of believers need access to the 5-fold ministry in order to mature as spiritually healthy and effective Christians. Today our challenge is training that advances the Kingdom of God. Instead of receiving from all five ministries, we generally find only the leadership of one or two gifts carrying influence in the local body… for instance; the pastor led church, the teaching church or the evangelistic church. These groups might emphasize a balanced message, but they find themselves limited in their ability to release breakthroughs over their city or region. This is because Jesus has given “grace keys” to each of the 5-fold ministers individually and they are designed to equip and release authority in the spiritual realm (Mt. 16:19). Its the “Christ Anointing” that opens doors, breaks yokes and brings down spiritual strongholds over a vicinity. The corporate anointing that advances Kingdom authority has five keys or mantles… apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Any model of Church leadership will suffer when one gift is emphasized over all others.

The Apostle:

An apostle is one chosen and sent with a special commission. The 12 apostles chosen by Jesus were witnesses of the resurrection (Acts 1:15; 4:33), but there were many other true apostles (Acts 14:3-4; Rom. 16:7; 1 Cor. 15:5-7; Gal. 1:1 & 19). The ministry of an apostle includes planting new churches (1 Cor. 9:2; 1 Cor. 3:6), grounding the Church in truth (Col. 1:25), preserving unity in the Body (1 Cor. 3:3-5), laying foundations in the Church (1 Cor 3:10) and setting things in order (Titus 1:5). They are involved in opening spiritual doors and fostering a vision beyond the local congregation (2 Cor. 8), fathering new ministries (2 Tim. 1:6) and releasing unusual demonstrations of breakthrough such as miracles and signs and wonders (2 Cor. 12:12).

The Prophet:

The ministry of the prophet involves being “moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21) in prophetic utterance, which can be:

  1. Predictive (Acts 21:10-11; 11:27-28)
  2. Directive (Acts 13:1-3)
  3. Corrective (Acts 15:22-23 & 27-32)

There is such a thing, however, as a false prophet (1 Jn. 4:1), and so God sets clear guidelines: Prophecies should be time-tested (Acts 11:28) and their words judged by church leadership (1 Cor.14:29). Any prophecy should be confirmed independently (2 Cor. 13:1) and should line up with Scripture, “the sure word of prophecy” (2 Pet. 1:19-21).

The prophet operates best in teamwork with the apostle, like we see in Paul and Silas. A prophet is not just someone with a prophetic anointing, but a recognized ministry to the Body at large. Scripture speaks of three levels of prophecy: the word of prophecy – limited to “strengthening, encouraging and comfort” (1 Cor. 14:3 & 31); the spirit of prophecy on a group (1 Sam. 10:10) and the ministry of the prophet (1 Cor. 12:28-29). All believers are encouraged to move in words of prophecy, but only a prophet should exercise the authority of predictive, directive and corrective prophecy and even then, only within clear protective guidelines.

The Evangelist:

The evangelist sees the harvest. They are ”soul-winners”, who preach good news and extend the influence of God’s Kingdom. This is primarily a stirring and awakening gift, but their unique anointing is in persuading the lost that they need a Savior. The ministry of Philip is a powerful example (Acts 8:5-40). They are co-workers with pastors and extensions of apostolic ministry as ground breakers (2 Tim. 4:5; 1 Thess. 3:2). Although they carry great influence in the harvest fields; because of how they see, they also are helpful in imparting evangelistic training to the Body of Christ over all. The ministry of an evangelist is often very effective in regional impact, deliverance and signs and wonders.

The Pastor:

The pastor is the carrier of cool water, that soothes the soul. Our Greek word for pastor, poimen means “one called to tend sheep or care for flocks” (1 Pet. 5:1-4; Jn. 21:15-17). Its interesting to note that, this word is used only in Ephesians 4:11. Elsewhere in the New Testament, other words are used: “shepherd”, “elder” and “overseer”. A pastor is not simply a leader over a local church, but has a Body-wide expression of ministry. As one of the five-fold ministry, a pastor is more accurately a “pastor of pastors” or a “pastor among elders” beyond the local body. A pastor’s emphasis in ministry is in relational networking. They are nurturing leaders, who offer healing, encouragement and comfort. Following the example of the Chief Shepherd (Jn. 10:1-16), a shepherd’s ministry is to feed (vs 9); protect (vs 12), guide (vs 3-4) and love (vs 15) the sheep.

Just to clarify, an elder is not simply someone older in the faith. The title ”elder” seems to focus on the 5-fold giftings with an emphasis on their functioning role of “shepherds” or ”fathers” to the Body (2 Jn 1; 3 Jn 1). “To the elders among you…Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers…” (1 Pet 5:1-2). 

The Teacher:

A teacher is not just someone who teaches; we are all encouraged to teach (Col. 3:16), but they are the ones who bring a standard of instruction to the Body at large. One such example is the Apostle Paul’s description of Apollos as a ”watering” ministry, for the purpose of stimulating growth (Acts 18:24-28; 1 Cor. 3:2-10). Teachers hold a high value on the accurate and practical ministry of rightly dividing the Word of God. They are establishers and strengtheners and carry a specific anointing for helping people become rooted and grounded in the Truth.

The Pattern Within the Early Church:

“So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed and fasted, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.” (Acts 14:23)

We see that the pattern for Church government was to establish 5-fold ministry elders in every community of believers. We never see the language of one elder or the appointment of one superintendent over a people. There was accountability and strength as Christ governed His Church by the power of the Holy Spirit. Notice, the freshly appointed elders were prayed and fasted over and then commended to the Lord in whom they had believed. Christ Jesus carries the authority of His Church and it is our responsibility to listen and trust His governing headship.

Ministry of Grace

The Ministry of Christ is a ministry of grace! His message was the Good News of a Kingdom of grace flowing from Heaven into Earth. It would bring forgiveness, peace and freedom from sin. Yet the deliverance and freedom experienced in the life of a disciple can only be attained and measured by the tranformed mind. Real Kingdom mysteries require us to change the way we think about everything pertaining to God, Church and life on this planet (Mt. 4:17). Jesus has stepped into our natural reality and He brought His world with Him!

  • “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His Kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” (Isa. 9:6-7)

Ministry on Christ’s Shoulder:

The five-fold ministry gifts are examples of how “grace has been given” as Christ distributes (Eph. 4:7). All ministry is simply the manifestation of Christ expressed through the believer by the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Jesus, as the “Christ” is our Apostle (Heb. 3:1), Prophet (Lk. 24:19), Evangelist (Mt. 9:35), Pastor (1 Pet. 5:2-4) and Teacher (Jn. 3:2). He immulated these offices and distributes the mantles for individuals to function in them, so that the Church carries His anointing for ministry (Jn. 14:12). 

“…the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ So…they placed their hands on them and sent them off.” (Acts 13:2-3)

Selected and Sent:

The five-fold leaders are not self-appointed, nor are they simply pastors of a local church. They are clearly defined ministries that have an impact on the Church as a whole and its witness in the world. By nature, their scope of ministry is wider than the local church. They are grace ministries of Christ to the Church at large. Whether its from inner city pulpits or in the bush lands of Africa, the heartbeat of 5-fold ministry is the discipling of the nations… its our Great Commission! (Mt. 28:18-20).

Two things are required for a five-fold ministry gift to come into its own: 1) Recognition by the wider Body of Christ and 2) Functional Ministry to the wider Body of Christ. Jesus said that the fruit of a person’s life is the best way to recognize their identity, character and anointing. Prior to these two conditions being met, someone may potentially have a five-fold ministry gift, but will not yet be moving in the scope and authority of that gift. Jesus gives the grace for each gift to be released into the Church.

“…God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the Chief Cornerstone” (Eph. 2:19-20).

Foundations:

The foundation of the Church is the apostle and the prophet team (Eph. 3:4-5). I believe, these two ministries still continue in that foundational role (Eph. 4:12-13), so it is vital for us to understand how this works in leading the Body of Christ. We must remember that proper buildings are held up by proper foundations. I would propose; that when grace flows into ministry and functions properly, under the headship of Christ and the leadership of the Holy Spirit, it will result in the growth and supernatural health of the Church worldwide. It is the will of God to set this in order and accomplish it through His apostle and prophet teams (Isa. 9:7)… by grace.

The Key of Humility:

The Apostle James and the Apostle Peter wrote specifically about how to receive grace (Jms. 4:6 & 1 Pet. 5:5-6). The humble person receives grace and more grace even as they maintain their humility in the midst of difficult circumstances. Jesus said “Blessed is the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt. 5:3). The humble person; who lives selflessly in ministry, will receive a flow of resource from heaven according to the gift Christ has given them. Their anointing will be in proportion to their faith, assignment and their need.

The Apostle Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strenthens me” (Phil 4:13). The ministry teams made up of Apostle and Prophets like Paul, Barnabas, Silas and Timothy served to accomplish great things in advancing the Kingdom of God. They were set apart by the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:2), helped in the midnight hour (Acts 16:25-26) and anointed to do incredible miraculous signs that accompanied the preaching of the Word of God (Acts 19:11-12).

Restoration is needed: In order for the Church to see what God is after today, our impact must set the captives free! We must rely upon the flow of ministry grace… like the dry ground soaks up the rain.    

5-Fold Ministry

“But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers” (Eph. 4:7 & 11).

Christ has distributed ministry gifts, which enable the Church to function as His Body, in vision, anointing and effectiveness. These five gifts as we will see, have a special purpose:

  • the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry
  • the edifying of the body of Christ
  • the unifying, growing and measuring of our sonship 

Spiritual Fathering:

The 5-fold ministry gifts are not titles, but anointed mantles that function to empower  “fathering”  in the Church family. There is nothing “elevated” about them (1 Cor. 4:9-13) and we should not assume that they were only given to men. The emphasis must be placed on the special purpose of preparing God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up and function with the same anointing Jesus carried while He was on the earth. Jesus said, “I only do what I see My Father doing” (Jn. 5:19). This value of “sonship”, stands as our model for how the Church gets its authority and power to advance the Kingdom of God in the world. The 5-fold ministry is designed to position fathering leaders in the family of God, so that there is a natural multiplication of spiritual sons and daughters who are doing what Jesus did (Jn. 14:12).

People Doing What Jesus Did:

These five leadership gifts were not simply given to do the work of the ministry, but to train, nurture and enable God’s people to do the work of the ministry. They offer the framework for God’s people to grow in their own callings and gifting under the governing leadership of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:19-22).  

The Time-Frame: “…until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

The five-fold ministry did not pass away at the end of the first century, but was given until the maturing of the Body in unity, knowledge and expression of Christ’s fullness.

It was Jesus’ contention that the very gates of hell would not prevail against the Church. Yet we see the frailty by which the Body of Christ moves and wonder how this could ever be acheived. I have come to believe that most of the problems in the Church today can be attributed to man’s desire to do what they want. To experience the fullness of God, means we must be organized and led in the way that God intends. We have either left or lost our way and need to return to being the Church, rather than doing church. That goes beyond how we worship and what we believe, to the very anointing we expect to see emerge in our lives. Our experience has a direct connection to how we are governed and led.

If we are to be prepared for the return of our Kingly Bridegroom, we must discover the priorities that will bring beauty and maturity to the Bride He longs to embrace. 

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