This Can Keep You Out Of The Promised Land

It’s pretty easy to let Moses off the hook for what happened. It had been a long and trying forty years in the wilderness, leading an ungrateful, stubborn, faithless horde of complainers. They accused. They demanded. They rebelled. (Can you say “Korah?”) And now, just when they were finally preparing to enter the Promised Land, a whole new generation of Israelites were acting out the same way their fathers did.

In a situation very similar to one that happened nearly forty years earlier, the whole camp ran out of water. And following the example left by the previous generation, they stormed up to Moses and Aaron, accusing them of not taking good care of them – of leading them out of Egypt to endure horrible suffering and death in the wilderness. (That’s right. Same old yada, yada, yada.) Truth is, the people were really complaining and rebelling against God, so Moses got more than a bit piffed with them.

In a scene straight from their first days in the wilderness, God instructed Moses to take his rod, assemble all the people at a rock outside the camp, speak to said rock, and bring forth enough water for everyone and their livestock. So Moses obeyed. Kinda.

Six Keys To Making (Great) Big Decisions

“Who should I marry?” “What major should I choose in college?” “Should I even go to college?” “Which job should I take?” “Should I buy that house?” “Or that car?” “Or that piece of land?” “What’s the best way to invest my money?” “Should my children go to public school?” “Which church should I attend?” “When should I retire?”

These are some of life’s biggest decisions, aren’t they? I’m convinced that one of the most important courses that we revivalists should take (in God’s School of Obedience) is “Big Decision-Making 101.”

You probably don’t need to hold a prayer meeting in aisle #9 of your local supermarket to figure out which breakfast cereal to buy. Other choices in life, however, are a bit more significant – choices that can have a huge impact on you and your loved ones. It would be wise to have a plan-of-action in place for how to make these weightier kinds of decisions.

With that in mind, here are the six keys I lean on when facing big decisions in my own life:

The Best Bible Study Software Ever

I mean it. I’ve been using this software (e-Sword) for many years now, and can’t imagine trying to do in-depth Bible study without it. It offers a one-page layout, a huge number of free Bibles, commentaries, dictionaries, reference books, and devotionals, and the basic software itself is absolutely free. (Thanks to the generosity and vision of its developer, Rick Meyers.)

If you’re interested in getting hold of a complete-package, off-line, user-friendly tool for studying the Bible, I encourage you to go check out www.e-sword.net and start downloading. You won’t be disappointed. (And no, I’m not getting paid a cent for this endorsement.)

One of the challenges you might face after actually downloading the basic e-Sword software is figuring out which add-ons to add on. There are so many Bible translations, commentaries, dictionaries, lexicons, and reference books to choose from that it can be overwhelming. So to try and help out a bit, here are a few suggestions … and two of my must-have add-ons.

7 Powerful Leadership Isms

This past week, Steve and Wendy Backlund, from Bethel Church in Redding, came and ministered to 45 leaders from our church. What a fantastic time we had together, full of joy, hope, vision, truth, worship, great food, fun, fellowship, and the awesome presence of God. Truly amazing stuff.

One of the most valuable things that Steve and Wendy did during this time was to help change the way we think about leadership … which, of course, helps change the way we do leadership. Since so many of you who read this blog are leaders (in your home, job, or church) I thought I’d share a few of these powerful kingdom values that are rattling around in our brains right now. Hope they can be a blessing to you, as well!

The Plumbing Disaster Of 2007

Eight years ago, I underwent a biopsy procedure (think “glorified nail gun”) for prostate cancer. The following day, I went straight from the hospital to a weekend “Encounter Retreat” that our church was putting on. Maybe not the smartest thing in the world to do.

About 5:00 the next morning, I woke up and headed to the bathroom where I discovered a slight plumbing problem in my 50-year old pipes. Totally clogged up. I mean, not a drop. With no success on the horizon, and Lake Michigan building up in my bladder, Eva rushed me off to the emergency room for some much-needed relief.

How To Grow A Healthy Church (2)

In last week’s blog, we looked at five important principles that can help us grow a healthy, thriving church. Well, here’s the second installment, and five more keys to help us raise up the kind of church that God dreams about. Hope they can be an encouragement to you!

6. Embrace the idea of small.

I know, I know. Last week’s post started out with the principle, “Embrace the idea of big.” Well, here’s the deal: A healthy church is a growing church, and a growing church gets bigger and bigger. So yes, please embrace the idea of big. But also know that healthy growth primarily takes place in an environment that fosters the building of good relationships. And that means going small.

How To Grow A Healthy Church

When I came to Taiwan 27 years ago, one of my main goals was to help plant a church among the unreached Hakka Chinese. Eva and I (and a fantastic missionary team) began at ground zero in a town that was only .2% Christian. As you can imagine, we learned a whole lot about church through all these years. How to start it, how to raise it, how to lead it, and how to grow it.

Here are some of the most valuable principles we’ve discovered about how to grow a healthy, thriving church. Hope they can be an encouragement to you.

Opening The Floodgates

Six years ago, I discovered the biggest hindrance to revival breakthrough in my life. Eva and I were attending a two-week training course in Singapore called the “School of Supernatural Ministry.” Sometime during the second week, a speaker shared that one of the keys to releasing more of the flow of the Spirit in our lives was to make sure we honored all the saints who’d gone before us, those who’d paved the way for our breakthroughs.

To help us do this, he introduced a poster he’d designed called “A Lineage of the Modern Day Healing Movement” – a chart that traced the history of the main figures of the Pentecostal movement over the past 160 years. He then challenged us to go get a copy and walk through it thoughtfully (person by person, pastor by pastor, minister by minister) making sure our hearts were full of honor and free from criticism for each of these pioneers. Lovely thought. And really, how tough could it be?

When Will These Things Happen? (Part Two)

In my last blog, we started looking at one of the main Bible passages that many well-meaning Christians use to construct their end times theology … the Olivet Discourse. As you may remember, I crawl out on the limb of believing that every part of this teaching points to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. instead of Jesus’ still-in-the-future Second Coming.

This take is not easy for some to swallow. I get that. Took me a long struggling while, as well. But it’s fairly important, because many of the present day end times positions lead to fear, despair, wrong-headed thinking about God’s goodness and authority, and a bailing out of His revival plans for every nation, tribe, and tongue on the face of the earth.

I’ve already covered two important principles that can help us better understand the hard-to-grasp ideas, images, culture, and language of the Olivet Discourse. As promised, here are the rest. Hope they are a blessing to you in your continued search for truth.

When Will These Things Happen? (Part One)

Here’s my premillennial dispensationalist (topped off with a scoop of pre-trib rapture) Second Coming of Christ  confession: I grew up in the age of Hal Lindsey’s “The Late Great Planet Earth” … and that terrifying-to-teens-everywhere movie “A Thief In The Night” … and its equally spooky theme song, “I Wish We’d All Been Ready” … and Edgar Whisenant’s “88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988” … and (when that one didn’t pan out) another Whisenant booklet on why it would certainly happen in 1989 … and (oops) another one in 1993 … and (double-oops) another one in 1994. My confession is that I bought into this way of thinking a whole lot easier than I’m now comfortable admitting. Good thing I finally took a closer look at what the Bible actually says.

A great deal of the foundation for this “Jesus is coming back in our generation” theology comes from a wrong understanding of the ideas, images, culture, and language of the Olivet Discourse.