Spiritual Fathering

Spiritual Fathering

This is indeed the season of the sons and daughters returning to fathers. If you have been a son or daughter and have a broken relationship with your spiritual father, you need to repent and turn back to the heart of the father. Perhaps in the past, you experienced abuse by one you looked at as a spiritual father. They may have been that in words but not in heart and actions. Let me tell you there are real fathers out there, not a huge number, but ones with huge hears who can heal your brokenness. But fathers can only invest into those whose pride is removed and allow that investment to come to them.

The spiritual fathering relationship is more than getting some counsel from time to time, or being another number in a network, or just another stop in a preaching circuit. That is not fathering. A spiritual father invests into the life and purposes of the sons and daughters. They do this unreservedly and not based on the return from the son or daughter. They see their hidden potential and see it fully healthy and functioning. There are many claiming sons and daughters with no real relationship and the motive is not for the betterment of the person but to add numbers to their own tribe. The motive was wrong so the actions were also. This sickens me as many are getting only a portion of fathering without full investment.

All spiritual fathering relationships are required to have the expectations in them understood by all involved. They have safeguards in place as well to make sure things do not get off base. If Jesus could only father the 12, Paul had less, and Timothy was instructed to look to find them, then fathering is limited in the number you can truly be effective with. In the past few years, spiritual fathering has become another buzz word. I have seen many claiming sons who never spent any time investing in them but “absorbed” them already matured to claim they have sons. Or they absorbed them into their network without really helping to perfect them in the faith. To me, this is having the rewards and affirmation of peers, over the reward of seeing a son or daughter blossom.

Relationships change as seasons of fathering are completed. You can have 50-60-100 sons but you probably are only truly fathering a handful into the very depths of fathering at any one time, because if done right, like natural fathering, there comes a day when they stand on their own and have grown up. You will always be their father but it will change in function. If a spiritual father has many immature sons, then it is a sign that the father is still lacking in how to father properly.

Fathers love it when their kids come to see them and I love it when my spiritual kids come to see me. I’m in a season of life where many of those I have fathered that went out across the world to do ministry are reconnecting with me again realizing the investment I have done in their life has led to the current motion of God in their ministry. Many have come and spent time with me in my home. I also am seeing many, many come back that were prodigal or disconnected in the process. (As I write this another comes home.) This is equally rewarding as though they had never left. I can testify firsthand for the fathers who never disconnected their heart from their sons and daughters, no matter how they treated them in leaving, the hearts of those sons and daughters are being convicted and they are turning back to their fathers. I have some specific ones I am waiting on right now with faith and expectation for their heart to turn. My prayer for them is that it won’t take calamity like one of my sons overseas. He had been successful in ministry and became a “big man” in his nation. His wife died and in his ‘bigness’ he had no one to share his grief. I had heard his wife had died and reached out to him. Three months later, he contacted me in heartfelt repentance confessing he used me to climb up the ladder. The relationship was restored but his shame has kept it from being the same as it once was.

Once the spiritual fathering relationship is started, the father’s heart is always there for the sons and daughters. As I tell my sons and daughters, if I started this relationship, I already have decided the investment needed, the time required and the privileges I will give. I tell all my sons and daughters they have the same privileges as my own natural sons. They can call at any time and they have both privilege and priority. This is the hardest thing most sons and daughters seem to struggle with the most. They don’t want to be a bother or to take my time, yet ministry opportunity tends to come when it is not convenient and will always cost something if it holds any value. This is my first test starting in the relationship, will they even call me? Do they want this so badly that they are willing to take a chance in calling?

For the most part, sons and daughters are coming from an orphaned spirit. Perhaps their relationship with their natural dad is skewed. Perhaps they have been spiritually rejected, deemed of no value or pushed aside. These things are the second things I begin to press into to see them get healed and whole. Without these things complete in them, then all other perspectives and perceptions are really out of focus. These areas are probably the reason for the relationship. Identity is also a large part of this second step. Without a proper identity, you may never function correctly as function comes from identity not identity coming from function. This reversal is a hard one for most sons and daughters as they have always performed to have a place in the ‘pecking order’. For them to see the value of who they are to God takes time. This is the real heart of fathering. Patience. Long suffering. Right perceptions. This step is about helping the person to become whole in the midst of their confusion, perceptions, and self determined value.

The third step is the step of releasing potential. Giving opportunities for that potential to come forth and walking out life together. It is about helping with mistakes together and learning together. This is where ministry truly begins to happen and the person’s ability to rise above their past and into the future becomes present in their life. The core spiritual DNA is now drawn upon to see stimulated growth. This is new territory not fully explored, even if the person is currently doing ministry. This is destiny of the person’s life and how they will leave their mark on the earth.

These steps are paraphrased here to the simplest terms. Some of these steps will be occurring at the same time. Some will need to be done in a set order. Each relationship is different and requires truly knowing the heart of God for the person and having vision for who they are to God.

Spiritual fathering is an art form more than a taught way of ministry. You cannot read about it in a book and do it but it comes from a heart that has been formed over time. That same forming of the heart in the spiritual fathering is forming young hearts after they have been made whole.

How Does Jesus Measure Success?

Coming out of a leadership meeting recently, I found myself somewhat in a quandary. We had talked about many different changes we could make to help facilitate the ministry. Many were God inspired ideas and many were just plain practical. Like everyone’s meetings, the underlying tone was that each idea would help us to grow numerically as well as spiritually.

Change is always hard and requires lots of effort. As a ministry, we have had some very high moments of both numerical growth and spiritual understanding established. But these did not happen in a moment, it took time. Each person was taken from a starting point and eventually ended in fruitfulness. Each person was hungry for God and that made the transformation easy. What we see as success is the finished product. We don’t see the work as the success even though it is the true success and the finished product is only the by-product of the work or success.

Many can say if you did this or that, I would come, or if the meeting was held at a different time, or you had child care, or you had… we have all heard these excuses before. The thing that makes lasting change is desperation for change and hunger to find answers. When you get desperate enough, you will do anything and pay any price to find change that will last.  The hidden place of the heart is where success is only seen by God. I have always said the number of people who come is only the number of those interested. The hearts that are changed are the numbers who are serious. As leaders, our role is to grow people in Christ, not grow large administrative works. We are trying to get a lot of people interested, so we can grow our works and in the process, we may be losing our success.

It appears that most people don’t want to really do the work of the ministry unless there is a guarantee of a finished product or measured success. I see many pastors desiring change but uncertainty of the outcome stops them from every trying or making an attempt. The emerging generation has this perception as well not knowing what to do, but at least more willing to attempt. Human natures DNA has within it a willingness to do the work, as long as a guarantee of result is given. But many times the results can be lacking, so do we still look at that as success or failure? Thank God Jesus did the work of the Cross and put into place the success of it for us, even though others would deny the cross! In many ways it could be looked upon as a failure, like how the early disciples saw it, it’s all in your perceptions.

We have all kinds of ways today that we measure ourselves to see if we are attaining our goals. Much of this is how we compare ourselves with each other; this is a much skewed way of measuring. It is measuring different gifts, callings, assignments, personalities, strengths, weakness, understandings, revelations, etc. against each other and expecting the same results or outcome. Paul was right when he said in II Corinthians 10:12,13  “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves are not wise. But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you.”     The measure of the rule of Christ is the measurement of His righteousness established in our lives. It is looking at our lives and seeing how we are in measurement of the righteousness of Christ. Where is righteousness lacking? Where is it strong and settled? What is Christ desiring of me in areas? Now that is how we are to be looking: not outward but inward.

I talked to a neighbor just yesterday who has left the organized church about 8 years ago. He is discipling people in his home who have been so burned by religion and are hurting. He said “It does not matter to me if I have 2000, 200, 20, or even 2. If this is what God has given to me in my hand then so be it, then this is what I will pour my heart into!”

My perception had begun to change. I talked with a spiritual son yesterday and he gave me some good perspectives.  As an apostolic work, I have a desire to see the Body grow up but also to see the organized religious structure limiting. As a Kingdom center, we have always tried to maintain a position of neutrality, even holding meetings at different times than the organized church, etc. But after all is said and done, we have not seen those leaders support or help promote what we are doing. We did not want to compete with them, but now I am coming to a point of saying ‘perhaps we should be meeting at the same time and allow people to make a choice where they put their time, commitment, and resources’. Have I compromised for the sake of not being offensive? Could I not be fulfilling the will of God for the sake of helping keep the organized structure thriving by not having a choice or option for those seeking at the typical Sunday morning time? Am I doing and using everything available in my decision making to best put a tool in place that would change hearts?

What I do know is this; I must fulfill the things in my heart. That means even if no one else wants to participate or the number of followers seems low. Just because others deny, does not mean what you are doing is any less or more. It’s like preaching, if you are preaching the Word and you don’t see the results, it does not mean what you preach is wrong, but what people are doing with it is probably lacking.  The bottom line will not be the size of our ministry or the amount of people we produced or succeeded with. Nor is success how busy we are, thinking that equals results. Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen the better thing to simply sit at his feet. When we stand before God, we will be asked something similar to this: “What did you do with my Son and His righteousness in your life as you fulfilled what I asked of you?” The work of success is righteousness and the outcome of righteousness is God’s will fulfilled!

Building Antioch

There are three distinct churches being built. This is also reflective in three distinct types of ministry styles that have been birthed from these influences. Though each has things to offer, only one is truly the more Biblical approach. These three styles are seen in Acts as the Church at Jerusalem, the Church at Ephesus and the Church at Antioch. Let’s make this more real. These three are the people assembled to conduct spiritual government and implement the intentions of God at Jerusalem, Ephesus and Antioch. These are not necessarily structures but are people.

Jerusalem was the place the Church was birthed but it was not until Antioch that they received their identity. As grand as the birthing was, the people were not without problems. They were reluctant to spread the gospel of the Kingdom being more focused on their city than even their region. Yet the command was to be witnesses to Jerusalem, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the world. Jesus had given them their assignment but also was describing the transitions that would be occurring.

The Church in Jerusalem was single culture focused. They went ever deeper in their own culture and never truly reached out in the community. Yes, the outpouring came and yes, many were added, but the Church in the years following never did have another major move of God. You see we become stagnate when we interpret through cultural perception and not through scriptural interpretation. If a ministry is singular in culture or focused on culture itself such as blacks, whites, Hispanics, Asians, etc., they have taken on the Jerusalem model of church.

This means it is personality centered and relies on the person who has the greatest charisma or ability to hold the church or ministry in place. The people are followers with very little activity and influence affecting the future destiny of the Church. Most of these models are pastoral driven under a central form of government. Board meetings and meetings in general are the norm. Conformity and not creativity is a major pressure point. Unity as a goal, programs to engage and relationship that are more obligation than genuine. Most in this model are looking at temporal solutions and not permanent ones.

The Jerusalem church was very weak in developing leadership and leadership teams. We see this in Acts 5 of not being able to meet the needs and having to resolve it by putting into place leadership that they had not raised up but God has raised up. Mostly the focus is not on raising people beyond thier problems through a death process, but more so trying to restore them out of an unrepentant heart. Over time, they lost the Kingdom lifestyle and even more so, world missions outlook. This is why there was a scattering from Jerusalem instead of a sending. God waited long enough and stepped in.

Perhaps one the biggest things I see overall today is our constant desire and longing for another outpouring like we see in Acts 2. I believe this is due to us not reaching towards maturity and longing for another experience to solidify our faith. For the most part, denominations fall into the Jerusalem model. But so do many charismatic, Full Gospel, and Pentecostal churches. I see most of the ministries to homeless, jail ministry, and especially pastor group meetings falling into this model. It is easy to see the lack of response when a God- inspired moment comes and even less response when something is required of the people.

Building around its own activities, dates and programs, the Jerusalem church spent all its resources and manpower to maintain the existing church as a caretaker. Today’s pastoral driven churches either fall under the Jerusalem or Ephesus model, both are churches we should not be modeling to build after.

The Ephesus church was a church in proper focus but not properly aligned with apostles and prophets. There may or may not be a willingness to align and relate. We see the Ephesus Church doing much warfare and had much demonic activity allowed in its sphere of influence in the region. The Temple to Diana was set in strongly along with other occultism. Perhaps the meaning of Diana could best describe the Ephesus church. It means ‘fully enlightened but flow restrained’.

We see this in the Epistle to the Ephesians that Paul wrote where he addressed their spiritual enlightenment, their activation, demonic battles, Kingdom government, stewardship of grace, the power of God for transformation, and a host of other things that were lacking. These were things not so much in place but lacking! The Ephesus church is a church who will hear the heart and direction of apostles and prophets and be slow to implement it or possibly not at all. The apostolic thrust of Paul was available to shift the culture and impact society, but it hinged on them becoming active in the instruction given to them.

The Ephesus church is rebuked in Revelation 2. They are hardworking and many times have made it on their own merits. They have preserved and even tested the apostles and prophets and when they found a false one, they rejected not just that one but all of them from that point forward. But they have lost their first love. The excitement of God is hard to find and the zeal has been replaced with programs. The Spirit is no longer leading but is found along the way. The passion has been lost. The apostolic has come to bring renewed passion if accepted.

Many times the Ephesus type church will hold to a past move of God or a past truth that was brought forth to be dominant for a season. They are reluctant to embrace new revelation and will pick and choose what to embrace and what prophetic words to engage with. They focus more on the dominant gift and gifting that is present and dismiss any others. Under the Ephesus structure, an apostle will not be effective in bringing these churches together for instruction to establish them in greater faith and truth. The apostles’ hands are basically tied and the gifting is dismissed. The prophetic gifting will be embraced as long as it affirms the vision already in motion.

The Ephesus church today is the Spirit filled churches not connected or aligned with apostolic and prophetic voices. This again is the House of Prayer movement, many missions’ organizations and especially Spirit filled churches under pastoral leadership. Many times these types of churches have experienced great growth and success and believe they do not need any governmental guidance from apostle and prophets. Yet these foundational gifts have been given to expand and advance the works already in place. The Ephesus church again is not the model by which we should be building.

This leads us to the Antioch model. Antioch is where the Church or ecclesia received their identity and were called Christians or Christ like or little Christ. To have this name, they were required to be flowing in revelation, performing healings and miracles, casting out demons and to be connected in Holy Community with a culture of love and honor. If a person slipped from one of these things, then he was no longer looked at as being a Christian but being a disciple again.

Antioch had a defined ordered structure and a way of advancement that all could participate in. Plurality of leadership and a defined mandate were present. World mission and Kingdom advance require everyone to work together for the common cause of Christ. When it was time to send out people, they did not send who they could get by without having around but they sent the best they had to offer. This was reflected in the lifestyle lived and the functional expression of it.

They were a group that prayed, fasting and ministering to the Lord. They worked as a team that heard the Holy Spirit and then acted on it. The structure allowed for team expression, growth and development. There was no fear of others, no restrictions or limitations placed upon people. This enabled each ministry gift to develop more fully and move in their calling at a greater capacity than any other model of Christianity.

They had not only a culture of honor for each other, but also respect and honor for leadership and their authority. They were break through believers who broke free of cultural restraint and fear of men. The believers became the force to implement the vision and assignments laid out by the apostolic leadership. They had a “let’s make this happen” attitude.

As Antioch grew, it birthed other apostolic expressions. Each was autonomous and was allowed to have an individual expression but all related to Paul as an apostolic father they were in covenant relationship with. Paul helped bring a holistic spiritual perspective and brought in the ministry gifts based on need. The relationships were not in name only but functional and accountable. Antioch churches became regional bases of resources and have a region and even a state focus, not protecting its local expression but reaching out to others to bring the Kingdom. Antioch churches carry the burden for an entire region and will release people to impact where they are planted.

The commitment level is deeper than an Ephesus or Jerusalem model and since it is apostolic driven, the Antioch model requires a response to the truth spoken, the assignment given and the vision presented. Antioch churches know the destiny of each other is interconnected and will only be released through a corporate means.

Antioch churches are functionally connected and aligned with prophetic and apostolic oversight. They are regionally focused and many times much of the real work is not done within the walls of the local gathering but outwardly. They will travel anywhere there is a desire for the Kingdom. This final model is the pattern we are to build with to advance the Kingdom. Though small in number now, perhaps this teaching will enable us to drop the Jerusalem and Ephesus patterns and portions we have allowed to attach to us and fully come into the Kingdom expression we know is deep in our hearts!

Building the Throne of God…. Part 4

Now with the foundation laid, I will begin to unfold the revelation of building the throne of God in Iowa. I will give a rather lengthy portion to unfold the revelation in one writing. Please read Rev. 4 and 5.
Revelation 4:1–3 (KJV 1900) — 1 After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. 2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. 3 And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.
The trumpet is sounding in this hour. The word ‘trumpet’ is connected to a beckoning by reverberation. There is a coming together by the frequencies of heaven moving in our midst. This reverberation is the spiritual reflections of the throne itself. It is the graces flowing outward beckoning us inward. There is the need of things we have not seen yet but God is now showing these things to us.
Revelation 4:5 (KJV 1900) — 5 And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
The Lord had given me a word about a year ago concerning the lightning and thunder. He said “the thundering is my prophets as they speak with My rumblings in the distance to hear. They always signal the storm of My presence before it appears. The Apostles are My lightening. They signal the storm is upon you. They strike fast and illuminate. They pierce darkness and bring heavens frequency to earth.”
The voices are the remnant ones who are speaking Kingdom language. They too, are needed in this hour. The seven lamps burning are the seven graces of God. The seven spirits are the seven natures of God. Notice the apostles, prophets and voices are coming out of the throne. The graces and natures are before the throne. God will rise up a new generation of apostles and prophets from where His throne is established. These voices will go through the graces (lamps) and natures (spirits of God). They will be ones to carry these to the earth. Iowa, get ready for a new breed of apostles, prophets and voices to emerge carrying a heavy weight of presence and graces to influence.
So what we are building is the elements around the throne. We have tried to copy earthly patterns of David’s tabernacle while yet the pattern is in heaven, the book of Hebrews explains. The elements seen there are the elements needed here. After all, we want God to descend and dwell, so this must have some similarity to the throne there. I’m not stating we set up an actual throne like Dowie did in Zion, Ill. But I am saying we need the elements.

Revelation 4:6 (KJV 1900) — 6 And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.
The throne is radiating glory — glory across our state — a frequency that comes from heavenly sounds being captured and reflected just like this sea that is like crystal. Iowa- we are to reflect these sounds. The sea of glass, the meeting place of heaven, captures all the sounds, colors and reflections. It is a place of motion and the only way we can truly reflect it is if we are in motion. We must build a sea of glass in our meetings. We must build meeting places before the throne across our state. We must build a place that the elders on this sea before the throne can begin to rule. Once we build this reflection, it will enable to move all of heaven into the earth.
These elders are both kings and priests. They are of the Melchisedec priesthood, able to minister to the Lord, cast their crowns, yet are on thrones like kings ruling. We are looking for elders of cities, ones who will protect the holiness of God and His righteousness. They will protect the redeemed from the accuser of the brethren as well. They will not be every pastor and possibly only be a few. But this apostolic covering will become the covering for the state. God is weaving a remnant as a single covering in Iowa, whose garment is carrying the priestly sight and sounds.

Rev. 5:8 The elders have harps, golden vials and odors of the prayers of the saints. This decribes their function as elders, Melchisedec priests and kings.
Harps — the stewarding of the sounds of heaven- “Spirit of worship”
Golden Vials – the stewarding of what will be poured out -“Spirit of Faith”
Odors – Stewarding of the requests or prayers of the saints -“Spirit of Prayer”
Elders are carrying the very song of God in their heart. They are great men and women of faith who have not been moved by opposition or lack of forward advancement because they are carrying the very prayers of the saints in their hearts, waiting for fire to come.
Revelation 8:1–5 (KJV 1900) — 1 And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. 2 And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. 3 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand. 5 And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.
There are the three again: Voices are the remnant, thundering is the prophets and lightening is the apostles. These will be moved by the fire mingled with what they have carried in their hearts, the prayers of the saints. We all are waiting for the fire to come but who has carried the prayers of the saints in their hearts with faith and the song of the Lord?

In Rev. 5:9 a new song is song, a song of the Lamb, a song of redemption begins to be sung by the elders, then the voice, and the four beasts. It is a song that both connects humanity to heaven and reveals heaven through humanity. The four beasts will release the four breaths found in Ezekiel and begin to move the seven glories into motion. This divine activity of heaven upon earth is done first through the elders and voices. It sets the entire heavenly host into motion.
So this is the beginning of my understanding of building a throne for God in our state. We must find the true elders over cities and regions and let them be released as they are carrying the prayers of the saints in their hearts. We must form gathering places like the Sea of Glass before the throne. We must allow the thunder and lightning to fully have a place as the prophets and apostles will come forth. We must establish a holy community flowing as one with a singular focus on HIM. There will be more to come in the days ahead as the revelation unfolds.

Investing the Revelation Again

Tonight I got into a conversation with my wife about all the people we have invested into over the years. As I began to reflect on the investment I have made, not just in conferences and speaking to people along the journey of life, I also started to once again remember the past investment of all the sons and daughters we invested into as well. Perhaps I should explain that so you fully grasp what I mean.

We started and ran a school of ministry for over 12 years. We had a high attendance of 45 students teaching 450 hours in a first year and 70 additional hours in a second year. This along with 2 services a week and hours weekly in mentoring and spiritual father the students. Because we housed students and our offices were right there, and with our open door policy we spend a lot of time investing. It would be equal to almost 10 years of teaching in a weekly church service done in one year. In other words a lot of investing and more than most leaders could ever imagine. These students for the most part became my sons and daughters.

Over time some students left and moved on with life. Some to go out and only be involved in life. Still others to do ministry and have impact around the world. A few went backward to old mindsets. Over the years I have been asked a single question repeatedly. How do you keep investing when so many seem to later deny the investment in their lives and dishonor you in their decisions? I hear this about every 3-4 months minimum. Well first they dishonor Gods investment in their lives and second the next person coming along deserves the same chance of investment as the previous ones. You see it’s not me to decide what to do with the investment, it is up to the individual. They will one day have to give an account for was given to them.

Recently we had a prophetic word “do it all over again”. My first thought was “really God are you serious.” You see before we started over 50 schools internationally. We did 3-4 major conferences a year drawing a couple hundred people. We ran a daily school, traveled overseas at least 2-3 times a year with teams and traveled speaking in conferences. All in all raising a family, birthing ministries and coming along side leaders all at the same time was quite the task. I have started down the journey again and even though most think things are moving I feel we are just getting started and are at the beginning stages.

Today the investment continues but this time it is different. This time God has brought me not a bunch of young adults but more mature and seasoned. He has brought me leaders from across the nation who are serious about investment and who immediately put it into practice. God is bringing the prequalified. In all honesty I feel honored by those I’m currently investing into, following my post, listening to my message, and reading my books. It is very different this time in many ways. The influence of Gods working grace in my life makes me feel humbled and very much serious about the next steps to take as we will “do it all over again”.

But what I am investing now is greater wisdom and revelation than any time in the past. Within the last 2 years I feel what I am releasing now does not compare to what was invested in times past. It seems like all of the past was training in “how” and now is the release of “what”. Now what I am believing for is the “who”.

The prophetic word said “Young people would come from all over the nation and live here at the BASE to be spiritually fathered”. I’m believing for another group of young adults, another group of radical warriors, a group that has been presorted instead of post sorted. I believe for those God would relocate here to be a part of things not just for a season, but possible long term in building a Midwest center, a major ministry in Iowa. God has put in my heart to build his throne here in Iowa in the heart of the nation, the first place his throne is really built is the heart. To build a dwelling, to build a spiritual community, to build a people into true sons and daughters who are active not just in faith but in impact.

Elders of the City #2

I am continuing with the topic of elders of the city. Many have responded to me about how the first article has helped place key people who do not have an official ministry yet carry great influence in cities. For a long time, we have not been able to place people into a structure who seem to have strong influences. They just don’t fit in the Eph 4 grace gifts, nor do they seem to have a voice in a local assembly. This understanding has helped many as they have contacted me personally and said they now see where they fit. As I met with one man locally, he asked me what the key is, as I see it, to connect our state. I told him to find the elders of the cities and the fathers of the state.

 

Titus 1:5 (KJV 1900) — 5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:

Notice again, they ordained elders in every city, not in every gathering of believers and certainly not in every church as the Church was seen as one. Paul, in the following verses gives a list of qualifiers for eldership. We take this list and look at it through a church model. We need to look at it through a Kingdom model and see the influence of culture that it carries.

Titus 1:6–9 (KJV 1900) — 6 If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; 8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; 9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

 

As we look for Biblical pattern, this mindset paradigm shift of eldership really comes alive once we begin to unfold it. For years I have heard of people trying to put a tag on key influential people in the book of Acts. I have heard Priscilla and Aquila placed as apostolic leaders and Ananias as a prophet. It seems we feel they must be in a ministry gift/grace to function and have impact. This is far from the truth. Many have been called apostles or prophets trying to fit our current understanding. Now I clearly see they are really elders of cities functioning as such.

Ananias was an elder of the city and recognized by many. When he went to Paul and welcomed him, he was welcoming him into the family of God but also into the brethren of the city. When Aquila and Priscilla ministered to Paul (Acts 18) they did it from the position of eldership. Thus Paul had an open door to minster in that city because of their positioning. Further reading shows Tabitha who appears to carry eldership qualities, was raised from the dead in Acts 9. It appears she was “A Certain Disciple”. Perhaps this focus may point to eldership in the book of Acts.

In Acts 10, we see Cornelius is a devout man who feared God and was a man of prayer. He also was a centurion. A centurion was an officer in the Roman army. So he is a man of responsibility. This sounds like qualities of an elder. He has a vision and has authority to send for Peter to receive Peter’s input. Because of his concern for the Church, the Gospel is eventually opened to the Gentiles.

In Acts 17:34, Paul had an encounter with “certain” men again. One of them is Dionysius, a name we really know nothing about. This man was converted in this encounter and stayed steadfast in the Lord. Historical records show this man later became the first bishop of Athens and carried tremendous influence over the city.

We also see that every time a major transition occurred in Acts, three groups met to discuss: the apostles, the elders and the Ecclesia. The apostles would bring up the subject and input was received from the eldership. The Ecclesia remained silent. When it was finally decided, the Ecclesia affirmed the decision and it was in motion. Imagine today if we gathered these three groups to make transitions and establish correct doctrine in this pattern. Doctrine and strategy that did not affect a single church but the entire Body of Christ in a city or region! We have limited the scope of eldership to a small group when in Kingdom dynamics, it was to help govern and oversee entire cities and regions.  We need to find the elders of cities and the fathers in states to establish the future.

 

 

Elders of the City

This blog has come to fruition after a phone conversation I had recently where we talked about Kingdom age eldership and I explained who the real elders are. I believe this will help many see their place and help align us into some Kingdom perspectives. We need to shift a lot of things with right leadership and some old mindsets will have to be replaced.

As Apostle Paul traveled, he went into cities and appointed elders. He found certain qualified people and then gave them the title of elder. We must look at things contextually and see that he was not appointing elders over churches but over The Church (Ecclesia) and was not even appointing elders over a group of believers even though that is part of their focus since they belong to a city. The Ecclesia was Kingdom minded and governmental. To maintain that culture, elders were appointed. Eldership of the church was eldership of the ruling reigning ones and not the full congregation as we now know it.  Since there was no division and also not many believers, his task of locating them was more simplified than we would do today.

But what Paul was actually doing was appointing elders over a city and not over a congregation. This is more in alignment with Kingdom and the large viewpoint needed. These were watchmen who were watching over the souls of men and what was coming into their culture and region. They helped maintain a Kingdom culture and not a denominational belief system. These elders are seldom mentioned in the Bible, but since Paul appointed them “in every city” the emphasis being “city”, there was a structure he was putting into place within a city. Paul was looking for a larger oversight of a city. He knew that as the Church grew, he could not keep in contact with hundreds of elders in hundreds of congregations. These city elders worked closely with the apostles in making decisions and also in implementing those decisions.  Acts 15:22-23, Acts 16:4 That is why Paul told Timothy to “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine”  1 Tim 5:17.

Today there are elders of the city. They are men and women who have a great desire to see God within their city and are in tune to what God is doing. They may or may not be leading a congregation. Some pastors are more elders of a city than a pastor of a congregation. Some may be businessmen. Some may be in the political arena.  I know several who have no real ‘ministry’ but have the pulse of a city. They are not apostles or prophets or pastors but move and function as elders. They meet the qualifiers Paul talked of and see things in the larger picture. They have vision for a city, hear God speak about their city and may have prophetic warnings as well.

Those people that we call elders in a local church are really deacons in function and qualification. The need of local eldership in a congregation seemed to be the natural flow as the Church grew. But the reality is apostolic teams and companies have been replaced by elders. Most elders in a local congregation are stagnated in function and their only real role is to decide the best for that congregation. We need elders of cities who help decide the needs of the city and what is needed to see the Kingdom come. This is the difference between church age eldership and Kingdom age eldership. Our paradigm shift needs to occur in this area so we can further empower those true elders of the city. I imagine many of you reading this can easily identify the elders of your city.

Apostolic Teams and Companies

Since I have been teaching on this subject over the last few weeks in our School of Ministry and web stream, I decide to write a condensed version as a blog so more people can have these insights.

We see in the Bible, that there were apostolic teams sent into regions to bring impact and that Paul traveled with a company of people as well.  Let me first say that all apostolic teams/companies always travel with an apostolic leader. Apostles lead these teams with strategy and vision and a deep knowing of the overall destiny and assignment of the group. Apostolic teams focus on pioneering movements. They cultivate a set of core values that empower such a movement. Apostles gather other fivefold ministries to come alongside and travel into a region with the intention of aligning that region with Kingdom dynamics and to leave a deposit behind that would have an ongoing effect. That team is decided based on what grace gift is needed to create the impact.

At times, along with these teams, there might be an apostolic company. The company is made up of those of same passions and understanding to help model the overall value being imparted. They are already moving in the overall movement and come to demonstrate that for others to see. They speak the same things and articulate the core values. Apostolic teams and companies are not easily formed or brought into existence. They require great investment and long term investment to be able to carry the same vision, heart and voice. The greater the time of developing, the greater the effectiveness that will be seen.

Sometimes both an apostolic team and company are needed to bring the shift that is required. The team is made up of those carrying the message by the breath of God and the company is there to reinforce that message. Generally the team has seasoned fivefold people that are also seasoned in the message. The company will be those who have been impacted by the message and are possibly future leaders. All apostolic teams are part of the company but not all the company is part of an apostolic team due to overall calling and grace function.

Apostolic teams are focused. Apostolic teams are not apostolic because the team members are prophets or apostles but because they are apostolically led. We easily see this pattern in the scriptures and we don’t see teams or companies being sent without apostolic oversight. Apostolic teams must understand God’s strategy for the present moment of time. That strategy is then released into the company formed under them. The team is built to establish the Kingdom and the company is supporting their endeavors.

If an apostolic team is sent into a region by God that means God is endeavoring to release new Kingdom dynamics into that region. He brings a group of men and women either by team or company to show the depth of how important the message is that they are carrying. If God has sent such a group, then He must have a tremendous desire for that region to embrace that message. He has prepared hearts in advance of the team or company coming to embrace that message. The apostolic team knows the right timing and season that is occurring so they know when to go with the right message.

What makes the team and company dynamic effective is how they move in faith when they go into a new region. This faith walk they have has already been cultivated and has been challenged by the apostolic leader. The apostle may not fully know the way the vision will occur but does see the vision in fullness. The apostle is going by faith and expects the company/team to do so as well. This allows the Holy Spirit to be depended on and for faith to be activated. The team/company trusts the apostolic leader even though they may not fully see or understand. This empowers the apostle to move to greater dynamics of faith thus releasing the team to move deeper as well. This is the empowering to shift a region or city by released authority and faith creating Kingdom in places not seen before.

These apostolic teams and companies can only truly function in fullness in areas they have been invited or sent by God directly to break something open. Generally the apostle has a deep knowing in their spirit of the intentions of God. They mobilize those under them to fulfill this intention. The apostle trains them knowing what is required to do the assignment. This training is by instruction, activating, and by having vision for the individual knowing how they fit the overall plan of God locally. The local training is the proving point for being part of a team or company to be sent out later.

Some of the main things an apostolic company will do are confront principalities over regions. They discern the things opposing the move of God and confront with intercession in advance, and public decrees while in the region. These teams empower upcoming gifts in the region they go to. They confirm callings and empower leaders into greater authority. They come to support what is occurring but also to challenge into greater positioning.

Apostolic teams also carry one thing that really sets them apart and that is revelation. The team and company are both a living example of the revelation they are carrying. The team can release current revelation directly from God and also knows how to flow in the Spirit to make a harmonious meeting without breeches. They sense the Spirit’s desire for meetings and know how to steward those moments. The apostolic company traveling with them also has revelation but may not be able to fully present it. They may not know how to fully steward a meeting, so they once again rely on the team and the apostle they are under as the final authority.

Apostolic teams and companies show the functioning single corporate man. They show how to function together as the Spirit leads. They also show how unity multiples grace and authority, and causes impact. Conferences today are taking the place of apostolic teams but are not truly apostolic teams by Biblical pattern. The group called to speak at a conference has not been connected before the conference and have not necessarily been sent as a team or are under apostolic authority. They may act more as individuals trying to work together than a group appearing as a single flowing Body.  Apostolic teams and companies need to be released and embraced again so regions and cities can be impacted.

The Restoration of the Lord

I recently am seeing many different process of how God is restoring people. But for most we are not realizing how this process works and at times it can even be confusing. Some things seem demonic and other things seem all God. How can both exist in the same process?

God is in the restoration process and for the most part everyone is in one from of restoration. Some are seasonal, some are completed and others might be ongoing. Some of the restoration process we really enjoy, and others times it is gut wrenching and soul searching, yet it is still restoration. Here is three of the most restoration processes we will experience. I only choose these three as it is the progression from being a believer, to being a disciple, to being a Christian.

The easy way of restoration is when we are born again or rededicate our lives to the Lord again. It is a time where everything is new and fresh. It seems everything falls into place and its like a honeymoon with God. The word is fresh. Life is exciting and expectation is high. It does appear all things are new. Sin is being conquered and the world in us  is disappearing. This is restoration of relationship with God.

Another time or season is when other people and especially family are brought back into our lives to make things right with. A realigning of broken relationships or hurt from past are healed. It can be again the breaking off of relationships that are detrimental and adding new friends who will help bring us into our future. An evaluation occurs and values are set. Vision for purpose and destiny in life also comes into existence where it was not before. We see our life has a reason for existence and we begin the search for it. A shift in placement of affections and time begins to occur. We drop things off and begin new habits. We see a larger picture and have decided to place ourselves in the picture. We find the promises of God for our life.   This is restoration of inheritance and heritage.

Sometimes we seem to be stripped of everything in life. From past experience this is the most severe and confusing of all restoration process. The striping away of things seems like God at the same type has demonic activity it appears. A lot of questions are formed in this process and most are spelled with only 3 letters…why. Two things are going on simultaneously. God is working a deep work of character and faith in the person. The tool he is using is demonic activity as it appears to be working effortlessly around us and affecting our lives. Some of the things we hold onto so tight are not to be taken into the next season and may have been a distraction. God is restoring and that means not only adding to but taking away out of our lives. It also means closing past season to open new ones. It is a restoration process for service for God.

These are just a few of the ways of God in restoring. It does not mean everything stripped away is not bad, but it may be excessive things to carry along and distract from restoration or slow its process way down.   

Knowing Those Who Labor Amongst Us

It has been a while since I have blogged.  As I expected a recent Face Book post really hit home with about 50 people responding and many more liking the post. I decided to write something about it as the Lord started speaking to me on this subject today. Perhaps this will help with the reasoning behind my post. It is the area of relationships, truly knowing a person and being able to pray and decree over their life effectively. Paul said I know no man after the flesh. (after what I observe or perceive, or have heard, or even see)

It seems there is an epidemic of real relationships in the Body concerning truly knowing people, yet almost all the postings on my status came from people outside my region who do really know me in ways those geographically close do not. I find this interesting that my deepest relationships are really with those a long distance from me and those leaders I know also have said the same thing to me. Polling says over 80% of all pastors have no close friend to share their struggles with and 85% say the ministry has been detrimental to their families.

I believe this is because we don’t really have apostolic Kingdom-based relationships with those who can truly help us and with those whom God has placed close to us. There are several factors at work here and I will try and expose a few of them. We really need to ask God “Who is this person to you?” This has been my practice for years when meeting people or seeing how they do certain things. It is looking past all the quirkiness. It is the only way you can develop people, it is by having God’s vision for them. It also is the only way to really know them spiritually.

First of all, long distance deep relationships are not threatening. Both have nothing to really gain but the relationship itself. Mutual commitment is required and the value system is different. Biblically, trans-local relationships held the greatest value and honor and appreciation was often seen. Familiarity breeds a lack of real respect. I find it amazing how easily I can minister when traveling and things are received, while the same things may not be received or embraced regionally.

Long distance relationships seem to have more of an alliance and covenant feeling than local relationships. Tolerance on a local level for the sake of unity versus celebration for the sake of Kingdom advance seems to be the parallel. As Barbara Wentroble once said, “you need to go where your gift is celebrated not tolerated”. The only way we can celebrate someone is to truly know their life. We do not know people by a monthly meeting, planning activities, or coming together with an event. The Biblical way of knowing someone is by doing ministry together. This is why the translocal seems to work at deepening relationships because they generally are called in to co-labor. Locally, we do not do ministry together but do events together with a little ministry attached to it.

Jesus could pray effectively for His disciples because He knew them. He knew how they moved in ministering and how they responded to the struggles in life.  Later we see Paul also praying “for what was lacking to perfect their faith” and to “establish their hearts in love”. You don’t know what to pray for unless you really know the person. Recently in an open Q & A that my wife and I did with our ministry, my spiritual daughter asked the question, “How can we pray for you?” It was so refreshing and actually caught my wife and me off guard. When was the last time someone locally asked you that question? I tell you over the years so many have made assumptions on what to pray over me and told me later how they were praying and some of it was pretty screwed up.  

From my recent Face Book post, I received several calls and responses. Some called out of concern and others called to encourage. Some called just to talk about other things, but it prompted them that they had relationship with me and needed to touch base again, not wanting to lose what had been formed. What seemed interesting is about 80% of those who did respond to the post are leaders experiencing the same things who are on the front lines of ministry to bring awakening and transformation.

You see, it seems we need each other more than we realize. All relationships are ordained by God, either for a season, a moment or for life. But all relationships are to be maintained by men. Some relationships shift as assignments and maturity continues. New ones come. Some need to be let loose of. Those that are formed deep in the heart are not lost but continue to grow. We need to move from relationships that are soulish based on what we experience in meetings and events, to what we experience in the spiritual realm as we minister together. On local levels, the deep relationships will probably not occur unless we start working together DOING MINISTRY.

1 Thessalonians 5:12–13 (KJV 1900) — 12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.

 The Bible says we are to know those who labor among us. The word ‘know’ means ‘to perceive with all the senses’. It means ‘to be apprehended’ and ‘to recognize’. In theological context, the word is not talking about knowing Christ or His workings upon the earth, but knowing Him from an eternal perception! It is not abstract knowledge but a real knowing of mission and purposes. It means to experience the same state or condition. It continues to deepen that the understanding is not natural as the Bible says to ‘know no man after the flesh’. It continues in meaning to know the force and the meaning of the force and what it will do and the defined purpose it will accomplish!

From this, we see why trans-local relationships seem to work. We understand the force that a person brings. We understand the purpose of that life. We see what they carry is eternal. But is the real intention of God that only trans-local is seen this way? Looking at the above verse, it says “among you”. The word ‘among’ is a Greek word to put emphasis on certain things. It is the word EN, or what we say as “in”. It means ‘fixed position in time and place.’  It means ‘to be instrumental in implementation and construction.

If we take the context of this verse and look at the original meaning, it actually is saying that God has placed people “in” our lives (fixed in position in time and place) on a local level who are instrumental in the construction of the Kingdom. They are fixed in position and have a certain force that is to be released to help build us. They are on a mission that is eternal. If we would embrace them to not hold them back but embrace them to truly release them, the effect would be upon all of our lives and felt by all.     The early church embraced the apostles and the outcome was felt. The 12 embraced Jesus and the outcome was felt. We need to stop the foolishness of some of our actions that we think are building relationships until we really know each other in the Spirit and then see what God would do!