It’s always good to know where someone stands. What’s even better is to know how they came to that understanding. I can tell you that recently my life has changed. The last 18 months have been significant. My understanding has grown as has my passion. My thoughts, words, writing and actions are different from what they have ever been before. Here’s why – I’ve met some incredible people and had significant conversations & experiences that have changed the way I think in several key areas:
1. Grace – In 2010, I spoke on the topic of Biblical Economics at a conference. I made a friend who contacted me months later to help her with the formation of her non-profit. As we wrote the strategic plan together, we talked at length about grace, the unconditional love of God and other topics. Her understanding of grace was radically different from mine. As I began to read more and dig into it, my perspective changed.
I began to see grace as the empowering favor of God. This undeserved, unearned gift has nothing to do with our actions. Our only action in grace is to accept it.
The beautiful thing about grace is that we don’t deserve it, it’s our actions that put us where we are, and we are powerless, to dig our own way out. God knows all this and He is more than willing to rescue us and provide for us even when we don’t deserve it and even when it’s our fault. The beauty of this truth was never more evident to me than in the last year. When this really sinks in and sticks, it is so freeing. We are not alone in our struggles. God cares about us and has a plan for our lives: to rescue us and bring us to a place of total fulfillment in Him.
OCCUPY, Grace, p. 19
2. Culture - One of the priorities of my friend’s non-profit, was the creation of the right culture. Through books recommended to me and blogs I read, I began to be more aware of the concepts of culture; what it is, what it takes to create it and how to sustain it. In mid-2011, I traveled to Redding, California and spent a month there living with some students from the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM). I attended the Kingdom Culture Conference and was involved in many meetings, outings, services and one-on-one conversations. The culture that was pervasive there was one of an expectation of the supernatural, the favor of God and His incredible love for us. It wasn’t a temporary thing, a brief outpouring, or an isolated case, it was a sustainable, ingrained culture that has existed for many years.
3. Kingdom – It goes without saying, that it’s pretty hard to attend a “Kingdom Culture Conference” without having a greater awareness of the concept of the kingdom of God. Throughout the last several years, I had an ongoing discussion with my Pastor regarding finances, economics, the early church and other topics. Several months back, I felt pressed to meet with him, though I wasn’t really sure why. As we talked I shared with him some thoughts on what the church today could be if we had better sustainable funding models. I was in the midst of writing a book about this and related topics. During the conversation, he suggested I go back through the New Testament and study the “kingdom”. Though the conversation was only an hour, it sent me in a direction that has influenced my worldview and broadened the understanding of my faith.
4. Transformation - Studying personal finance and economics will give you a real appreciate for true life change. About two years ago, I was asked to teach a course at my church on finances. My partner and I put together a course that we later developed into a workbook and a full 6 hours of training on what we call Financial Transformation. Much research was given to creating lasting change, both from a spiritual perspective as well as a practical one.
Transformation is a buzzword we hear all the time in Christian circles; transforming missions, transforming lives, transforming churches, communities, nations and the world. But where is it truly happening? There are pockets of transformation, pieces here and there. When a location begins to experience “revival” and people are healed, signs and wonders happen, we pack up our RVs and head to Toronto, Brownsville, Lakeland or wherever. But does revival or transformation occur only in specific areas? Transformation is not a place we visit, it is a place we live! To transform means to change, transfigure; to change in form, appearance or structure, to change in condition, nature or character.
OCCUPY, Transformation, p.11
The questions on sustainable transformation really bothered me. Why don’t we see more life-change in our churches today? Where can people go to truly transform? What does it take? How do you sustain it without relapse? It drove me to look into the concepts of revival & sustainable change; what it is and what causes it. What I found is that transformation is not a place we visit, it is a place we live! I saw this in action in several places, though it seems to be pretty rare.
It is from this background of grace, culture and kingdom coupled with the search for real transformation that led me to the topic of revival and thus my last two blogs. As I wrote Should We STOP Praying for REVIVAL, my question arose out of a thirst to understand what it is so many churches are crying out for. With 43 comments on my FaceBook page alone, I realized that I had hit on a question that others had and that a common understanding of what we are asking for was not so common.
As I continued to explore the topic, I studied what Spurgeon, Finney and others had to say about it. I also did word searches throughout the Bible. More questions arose so I wrote them down in REAL VIVAL II. After numerous discussion, and in light of the last 18 months, here is the understanding I have come to.
Revival is simply a returning of life to or a refreshing of the church. I have been in need of revival numerous times in my spiritual walk. I believe revival can be a good thing, but what I believe is much more useful and sustainable in the body of Christ is Kingdom Culture. It’s what Jesus created around Him throughout His ministry as He demonstrated and taught the kingdom. These demonstrations were, in many cases, the catalyst that led to the repentance, faith and obedience of the people around Him. We see in Why Repent this demonstrated in the life of Peter and then reproduced after Jesus through the disciples on the day of Pentecost and throughout the early church.
The good news that Jesus preached was the Gospel of the kingdom. The idea that we have access to the perfection of heaven, to receive supernatural healing, provision, freedom and much more. This good news was great cause for people to change their minds (repent) and have faith in Jesus. Since it’s what Jesus did, and it’s how He taught us to pray in Matthew 6:10, and it’s what He told us to seek first in Matthew 6:33, can we agree it’s what we should be seeking first, even before our own refreshing?
Kingdom culture is transformational, duplicable and reproducing as we see all through Matthew 13. It is was we truly need, what we are told through the life of Jesus to create and what will change the world. It creates an environment where burnout, frustration and spiritual death are extremely unlikely. In its creation, kingdom culture will cause revival and refreshing as well as creating new life in the unsaved and those who have never experienced it before.