Motivation: Revolution

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There is a new world waiting for us.

If you are a follower of this ministry then you know that this statement is at the very core of everything that I do. We sit at a crux point in history, the moment when the old is going and the new is coming. And what “the new” looks like is wholly dependent on the choices that we make in this moment.

The word “revolution” has been greatly overused in recent years. And what began as a prophetic trumpet call has become synonymous with youth groups and tragically hip Emergents. And in the end, we have not seen revolution or revival. But what is most needed right now is exactly that; a revolution of shocking size, scope and breadth. We stand in need of a genuine coup d’church, overthrowing an entire system and building a brave new movement in the shell of the old.

As I have been pioneering these last years, I have seen that the issues that you grapple with locally are just a microcosm, a pantomime of issues in the larger context. And in attempting to solve these issues locally, it is my heartfelt belief that we will find generational solutions as well.

In case you haven’t noticed, there is a generational gulf fixed in place that is only getting wider. Not only does my generation have completely different ideals, goals, priorities and passions than the status quo does, but we seem to be nearly incapable of even understanding each other.

The differences between generations may stem from the fact that most Boomers are solid modernists and only some Boomers began to be exposed to post-modernism as late teens and early adults while Gen-X was the first generation to be reared in it from birth. As Gen-X’s worldview was completely incubated in post-modernism, anything outside of that metanarrative is rejected as stuffy, conservative and narrow-minded.

This in turn has led to an almost complete rejection of everything Boomer and a feeling that all that they do is somehow, impure. There is a near consensus (right or wrong) among our generation that the Boomers somehow sold-out, compromised and became even worse than those that they rebelled against as they created a society that was more and more plastic and mass-produced.

In the same way, the Boomers have entrenched mindsets when it comes to Gen-X. And unfortunately, them being in the driver’s seat means that these mindsets are oftentimes communicated as being “the right way” to do things. And for many in my generation, this causes us to chafe even more under Boomer leadership ideas.

These generational paradigms can be most clearly seen in the Petri dish of the American church system. For the last say, 30 years or so, it has been Boomer sentiments and outlooks that have driven the church. And in many ways, it has completely taken over. It is so far reaching that you would be hard-pressed to find a single area; church growth, church success, organization, preaching and worship styles, children’s ministry, even evangelism- that has not been completely colored with the Boomer’s brush.

The contrasting stances of the Boomers and Gen-X are both fundamental and mutually exclusive. Sadly, there does not even seem to be a clear way to compromise for unity’s sake. You are forced to choose sides in this as worldviews are simply not that easy to shake off and adjust. When we step back and look at just a few surface areas, this becomes crystal clear:

In the church, Boomers tend to be highly organized and structured where Gen-X tends to be communal. To Gen-X, the business of the church is the business of the whole church and being together is of the utmost importance. Community is more important than systems and it is everyone’s business to pitch in and do what needs to be done. The phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child” fits exactly here but as, “It takes a village to be a church.”

Boomers tend to focus on programs while Gen-X relies on relationships. To the Boomers, a program is most often the solution. They truly feel that they can find a solution in a program that can then be mass produced, packaged and distributed en masse. Gen-X on the other hand feels that solutions are found in relationships with one another. This difference can be most clearly seen in the area of evangelism. Gen-X has, up to this point, rejected almost every area of programmed evangelism that was in wide use previously. A definite evangelistic solution for today has yet to be rediscovered and implemented.

Boomers like mechanical excellence and Gen-X demands realness instead. In fact, the spit-and-polish approach to worship, preaching, etc is almost contemptible to Gen-X. We would take flawed music that was genuine and imperfect preachers over the dog and pony show, used car salesman approach of some Boomers any day.

Boomers love being contemporary while Gen-X tends to embrace future-primitivism. We dig technology but also history, i.e.; Augustine on I-Pads trumps the mega-Church. We have some kind of internal alarm that goes off when a thing does not pre-date Boomer culture. And so, in many Gen-X churches you will find Reformed Doctrine, Monasticism, Ancient symbols of faith, etc. What you won’t find is much of the “innovations” of the last 50 years.

Boomers are rationalist while Gen-X is holistic. Pragmatism is the rule of life for Boomers, and the most important question that they ask before embarking on a project is, “Does it work?” Their churches are built as businesses with bottom lines and a “whatever works, use” mentality. Gen-X tends to focus on the whole man, intellect, reason, emotions, doctrine and even personal opinion. And while temporal things are important to Gen-X churches, eternal things possess much more significance in their decision making process. When faced with this mindset, Boomers often say that Gen-X cannot be a genuine success, and to these protests Gen-X simply replies, “Define success”.

Finally, Boomers tend to be competitive and Gen-X is highly cooperative. Gen-X will not be content with simply drawing people from less successful churches in their region; they desire unity and cooperation between all of the local churches. To many Boomers, feeding the poor or fighting an injustice can be nice things to do, if they have a profitable conclusion. To Gen-X, those things are the heart and soul of who we are and why we do any of this.

The final results of all of this is that never before, except perhaps during the Reformation, have two generations been more diametrically opposed than the Boomers and Gen-X. And the bi-product of this polarization is that an entire generation remains lost, looking for answers everywhere except the church, due to a inherent repulsion to the dominant mindset of that group.

Those who look to minister in a Gen-X fashion today face a very steep climb. When you no longer poach sheep from churches across town, you must find a way to evangelize in the midst of a culture that is post-Christian at best. When money and numbers are not your focus, you must get creative and cooperative communally in order to reach a lost people group.

And in this idea of voluntary redistribution and communality, we have what may be the only solution that will actually work for getting the work done in Gen X and Y.

Make no mistake about it; my generation is as foreign to the church as a savage tribe would be that is living in the midst of the jungle. And if we do not begin to find some genuine answers, I fear that we will simply become as religious as Europe within 20 years. Exactly 2-4% church attendance is how religious they are, if you were wondering. And that could be our future here as well, unless we do something to turn the tide and speak Jesus in the vernacular of this generation.

The evangelization and reintroduction of Gen-X and Y to church is the single greatest challenge of our day in the church. And the issue is not just a Gen-X problem, it is a whole-church problem, both Boomers and Gen-X together.

What we cannot afford is to continue the way that we have been. Boomers must accept that Gen-X will absolutely change your changes. The torch will not be carried on by the next generation and the Boomers must face up to that. At the same time, Gen-X must understand that the Boomers did what they needed to do in order to reach their generation. And wisdom is justified by her children, for the Boomers and in the future for us as well.

Gen-X is faced with an open mission field, 96% of which do not attend church. And we have had to attempt to reach them, up to this point, without any resources whatsoever. And our failure is your future. Please hear me on this; OUR FAILURE TO REACH THIS GENERATION IS YOUR FUTURE AS A CHURCH.

Within 20 years, many experts predict that many of the mainline denominations will close down due to a lack of attendance. And this generation is the attendance that can keep that future from happening. But we need the support, financially and spiritually, to do that. The methods that worked for the Boomers simply will not work today.

We must now focus on orthodox doctrine, intercession and a fire for God, coupled with social justice and servant evangelism. We must stress biblical masculinity in the home and at church, service to the church and to the greater community and love for the outcast.

What may need to be done, no, what I believe must be done now is a complete reboot. To attempt even one more service where we attempt to tweak Saul’s methods may have terrible implications.

We must all step back, dismantle the entire system and do what is in our heart to do. This is how God will visit a generation with revival – when we stop coloring the pre-drawn Boomer coloring book with Gen-X colors and instead, create our own book.

 

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It’s not my will to be this way…

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I have fallen down. I am arising once again. This seems like a simple summary for the most painful and damaging portions of a life but sometimes the simplest things are the most helpful. Sometimes it is the simplicity of the summary that allows us to make use of the facts and to lay them out and look at both the causes and effects.

I don’t know about you but it seems to me that things don’t usually work out the way that you’ve always thought that they would or hoped that they would. Life just seems to be way too twisty and convoluted for that particular brand of simplicity. I had always foreseen my life heading in a certain direction. Ministry, family, church plants, etc. I badly wanted to write about doctrine and the church and even the odd novel.

What I received on the path to that future is where the shock came along.

I guess I tried to blow everything off that occurred along the way. Traumas that either I had experienced or that I saw others experience were stuffed away and not mentioned and certainly never felt. Feelings of any kind were frowned upon and any admitting to hurt or damage was paramount to wearing a skirt. So things were stuffed and not touched emotionally, for years and years.

Finally, events came along that triggered emotions that I could not brush aside and I had no coping mechanism. I did not realize that I had CPTSD and that it had severely limited my ability to rationalize emotional pain or distress.

Not only that, once it was triggered, I could not effectively deal with life. I had no confidence in myself any longer, I had no overarching plans or desires. I hid inside my head and drank to make the emotional overload and panic attacks subside. It isn’t a pleasant existence to put it mildly. You get stuck and you fight or flee – wash, rinse, repeat. Along the way you lash out to protect yourself from any further hurt. It is ugly, it is scary and it is a reality that many of us have struggled with.

The surprise was that I did not think that any of the events had actually affected me. I really believed in my own toughness, soldiering on despite the cost and the wounds. What I did not and could not perceive was that my mind was defending itself from my life, quite outside of my control.

Now I am looking to put the pieces back together, pieces that seem for all the world like they can’t be mended. Some part of me seems gone now, like I am trapped in this shell and stuck without hope. I know that cannot be true, God’s gifts and callings are without repentance and He said that He would never leave us or forsake us.

Sometimes it feels for all the world like He does though.

Perhaps it’s that lost confidence that I am missing, perhaps that confidence carried me and I mistakenly believed it to be faith. I certainly relied on it, I relied on intellect as well. I may be able to argue that it’s faith itself that has dissipated, that seems likely knowing the level of flesh I’ve been involved in.

Or perhaps outside of the Gift of Faith, faith just takes a good while to build back up again, I’m not sure. All that I know is that I feel adrift and unsure of my steps many times. I don’t care much for this feeling either.

There are open doors, I see them at the end of my vision. It’s the surety of the steps needed to get there that I miss. I miss people not knowing that I’ve had issues though I’ve fought to be transparent. People aren’t as nice as you’d think. No matter how you try to look at someone that seeming weakness just naturally takes them down a few inches in your sight.

I have value and worth and I am flawed and human, as much as I’ve tried not to be. The only perfect one is Jesus and I’m certainly not Him. I am trying to get back up and be of use to the Kingdom once again. It’s not as easy as it sounds, sometimes it’s downright difficult finding the fight in you again.

That fight, that drive, that push, that resolve. That’s what I’m desperate to find again.

One thing that I have clearly seen during my fall and rise is the Church’s utter inability to deal with these types of things effectively at all. When you sense the danger coming and cry out for help you mostly find lip service. It’s the “Sure, we will pray for you (but really mean think about you for a moment)” type thing. I had two suicide attempts in the last 9 months and for a majority of that time I was completely lost in a spiral of destructive behavior. I literally could not pull myself out of it, no matter my resolve. Sadly, when I did reach out to people and church leaders I received awkwardness, rejection, judgment and hostility.

We have to change this culture immediately. We simply must begin to focus not on the WHAT but rather the WHY. This is the only way that grace can begin to work; for every one of our mistakes, failures and flaws there is a story. This isn’t an excuse to cover up sin, it’s simply the only path that can carry us to healing. To sit back and whitewash things with a grace brush does nothing- real grace looks for a WHY and then from that point starts to heal the cause and it’s subsequent fallout.

I’ve made many genuine mistakes since my CPTSD was triggered, believe me. Yet for years, no one bothered to ask WHY, I honestly didn’t know to ask that question myself. Instead, they (and I) chalked it up to character flaws and walked away.

I am so thankful that God doesn’t treat us that way. He never gives up and says He can’t take any more of you and your issues aren’t His problem, that it’s okay that He needs to watch out for Himself and focus on Him for awhile.

I was caught up in a tornado of trauma stretching back across my entire life; all of the buried emotional responses completely overwhelming me and causing me to hide and medicate.

Yet it was not my will to be that way.

Let me say that again for you – it was NOT my will to be that way.

One thought, one memory causes an instant panic attack. As soon as that starts to not hurt, another emotional pinball gets dropped and then another and another and another until you shut down.

Perhaps if we began to seriously pray for our fallen or potentially falling brothers and sisters, perhaps if we began to ask God to reveal the WHY – perhaps He would and much damage could be avoided.

Perhaps if we began to consider mental illness as real and not just see a devil under every bed, perhaps the real tool of the enemy would be uncovered.

Perhaps if we quit walking away and decided with resolve to stick with people like glue until victory was won; perhaps then we would stop burying our wounded.

The Visible Church is many times simply an elitist social club filled with the most moral members of a Satanic world system. I found no help there- I found further alienation and a deeper anger. Some “pastors” said and did things with me that I am still attempting to forgive by faith and I will continue to do so until it manifests.

Friends, this simply cannot be said of us any longer, we cannot be seen as a culture of hypocritical and unhelpful judgments towards those that need us the most.

Yet during this time I also found a deeper compassion and love for the outcast misfit that has fallen down and can’t right themselves. The lonely lurkers that know what they have done wrong and wear the badges of shame internally. Many people suffer the sin of being not-normal and having not-normal reactions and these people are just as deserving of grace and love and truth as the seemingly moral normal folks that have little baggage.

My point is this; love everyone fanatically, pray for the WHY instead of judging by the WHAT and use that as the springboard that may allow God to use you to heal and not hurt. Because I guarantee you that most of those people that you judge feel the weight of their failings and it is not their will to be that way, friend.

Call for help: Slavic Village

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As all of you know, I have been preparing to begin planting Eden Centers in Spain, Slavic Village and Kenya. Yesterday the way was made quickly for me to begin this ministry project in Slavic Village.
After praying about it, I felt sure that he was referring to get to Slavic Village in Cleveland and begin the work immediately.

I first went to Cleveland in the fall of 2014 for two weeks. I stayed with a friend and helped him through a hard time in his life. I also did some teaching while I was there to small groups. Towards the end of my trip, I was in prayer during the day and I saw in my spirit some young men beckoning to me from across the street. A sign on the building behind them read “Slavic Village”.

So I went to my friend and asked if he had ever heard of a Slavic Village. He replied that he thought it was in Cleveland. We drove over that afternoon and I witnessed the devastation for the first time. I felt that God wanted me to start a church there and my friend was to look for a building that we could start in.

Six months later, due to circumstances, no progress had been made. I contacted my friend and attempted to make plans to go back to carry out what God had told me to do. I felt I was to go but my friend had too much going on to do any ministry with me.

I can remember sitting in the woods after my friend said it wasn’t a good time to come and really struggling with God. I felt that he had told me to go and yet nothing was working. I had bought a ticket that was sitting in my pocket but I had nowhere to go once I got there. Suddenly, I heard God as clearly as I ever have say to me ” Am I not God in Cleveland? ”

So I headed out not knowing anyone or where I would go. On the way, my friend found me a place to stay in Slavic Village with some Christians.

They were very gracious and put me up for over 50 days. For over 50 days I taught every single night. For 50 days, I did Street ministry, fought social justice battles and prayed.

The way was never made for a final move. We had offers for buildings, vehicles that could be purchased and genuine plans that could be implemented immediately. But we could find no one to help. Promises were made that were not followed up on. The people there just did not seem to care about their own city enough to give towards a ministry there.

After a few months back home, I gave up on Slavic Village. The harvest was there but the church was completely ineffective. If you are going to minister an effective Gospel in an area that has more foreclosures and abandoned homes than anywhere else in the country, you need help. If you hope to introduce the Kingdom of God to the main drug trafficking area in Ohio, you need help. And I could find no one that cared for much besides their own concerns.

After the Lord spoke to me about Slavic Village again yesterday, I began looking to head that direction. I contacted church Pastors that I knew and people that had attended my meetings. The biggest need was securing a home there, fixing that home and then using it as a ministry base to shift a region.

Well, I am excited to announce that a four bedroom home has been totally donated for this ministry. It has been stripped and needs new pipes and wires, the inside needs refinished and it needs appliances, a heater and AC. What else it needs, we don’t know.

We want to retrofit it green, using sustainable materials and technology. We believe that a revolution can occur among the poor if we show them how to get independent of the world system and plugged into God’s abundance. We want to use solar, a water catchment system, heat sinks and plant a complete permaculture garden.

We also want to use it as a ministry center, holding nightly revival meetings, offering discipleship and community building as well.

We believe there is hope, even in this hopeless place. We believe that we can start a movement where the church gains control of properties and changes the spiritual climate of the region.

I am pasting an old article here from CNNMoney that talks about the issues facing Slavic Village. If after reading it, you can see the importance of getting a Kingdom based Gospel preached there, please give generously towards this project via our GIVE tab.

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CLEVELAND (CNNMoney.com) — When homeowners moved away after a wave of foreclosures in Cleveland’s working-class neighborhood of Slavic Village, crime took off.
Slavic Village is known as the worst neighborhood in the nation for foreclosures. In a study for CNNMoney, RealtyTrac calculated that properties in its ZIP code recorded more foreclosure filings in three months than anywhere else in the United States.
According to Jim Rokakis, Cuyahoga County Treasurer, more than 800 houses now sit vacant and moldering in the area, which was founded in the 1840s by Polish and Bohemian immigrants who worked in area steel mills and factories.
The first thing that happened after owners moved out of foreclosed homes in Slavic Village was that squatters and looters moved in, according to Mark Wiseman, director of the Cuyahoga County Foreclosure Prevention Program. “In the inner city, it takes about 72 hours for a house to be looted after it is vacant,” he said.
Walking around the neighborhood, Mark Seifert, director of the East Side Organizing Project pointed out a home he said was still occupied less than two weeks before. The gutters and downspouts were already gone, and trash covered the yard.

Long-time Slavic Village resident Joe Krasucki had celebrated his 78th birthday last spring, when, late in the evening, he heard some noise and went out for a look. Reports said he’d had run-ins with local gangs before. A neighbor’s abandoned house had already been stripped of its aluminum siding and, according to Rokakis, Krasucki thought the looters were back, working on his home. Outside, he was attacked and badly beaten. He died some days later.
After stripping the siding, looters don’t take long to make a vacant property nearly worthless.
“If someone takes the doors, moldings, appliances, it’s bad enough,” said Wiseman. “But once they pull the piping out, it’s all over; they do it with a sledge hammer.”
Putting a house back together takes money, more money than the restored home could bring on the market. And stopgap programs, such as razing derelict houses, aren’t feasible – Cuyahoga County only has a few million dollars available for demolition work, and Wiseman estimates at least $100 million is needed.
Many houses in Slavic Village have had their siding stripped up to the roof lines. A few criminal masterminds even stripped vinyl siding, apparently unaware of the difference in wholesale scrap prices between plastic and metal.
When a house is derelict, people will dump garbage in the yard, rather than pay for haulage. Windows are broken, and doors are stolen, opening up the interior to the elements. In Cleveland’s cold and damp climate, the houses deteriorate quickly. But some not badly enough to keep drug dealers out.
Asteve’e “Cookie” Thomas was just 12 years old this past summer when she was gunned down coming out of a Slavic Village candy store, caught in a crossfire from suspected dealers engaged in a drug war. Seifert said one of the alleged shooters was using an abandoned house in the neighborhood as a base.
According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, five people, including Thomas and Krasucki, have been killed in Slavic Village in the past two years: In July, Grady Smith, 27, was shot outside his home while working on his car. In Nov. 2006, Roman Grasela, 71, died of blows to his head after his house was broken into. And in October 2005, Therese Szelugowski, 76, died weeks after falling and hitting her head after she was mugged.

Some Slavic Village home owners, still hoping to salvage something out of houses they have vacated, have installed stout doors on entryways with thick locks. They board up windows with three-quarter-inch, exterior-grade plywood.
Others attempt to thwart looters by advertising the lack of anything of value inside. They paint signs saying: “No copper, No wiring, PVC.”
Residents have tried to fight back, organizing neighborhood watch groups and lobbying the police, who, many feel, are too often missing in action.
Seifert pointed out an open, empty lot on one block that had been used by car thieves for months and months to store and strip parts from stolen cars. It took a concerted effort by a local group called “Bring Back the 70’s” (which refers to the street numbers in the neighborhood) to get the police to clear the lot of the thieves.
But as the number of empty lots and abandoned houses grows where houses and residents were once packed in a tight community, there are fewer and fewer neighbors to fight the battle.

Fakes, frauds, the broken and the deceived.

IMG_0182It’s amazing to me. As a preacher, the first rule to ongoing support and personal survival is to never, ever allow the people to see the sausage being made. You post a nice picture of you and your wife on the site, everyone smiles, there are no issues in your lives (see? We are a shiny, happy family) because God forbid you have issues, you would be disqualified from ministering.
So from the jump you’re a fake. Your career becomes about growth, numbers growth. You wear jeans and a hip button down shirt with the sleeves slightly rolled up. You make up for your lack of content in your sermon with multimedia and lights. You make sure that the praise team sings the newest contemporary songs so everyone knows how edgy you are. Your wife plays her role, no holes can be seen in her game. Your kids are not immune either, they must be paragons of the young, leaders among their class.

The reality at home may be far, far different. Because of the discrepancy between the performance that you and your family are forced to put on and the realities that you face, your kids may grow up hating church because they’ve seen Mom and Dad fight like cats and dogs. They’ve heard Dad’s comments about the church people he was just hugging on. They have watched Mom cry from frustration and loneliness. They grow up and avoid church altogether.

After 26 years of ministry, almost 19 with my wife as my best friend and partner, she has filed for divorce. This after leaving me around 8 months ago and taking the kids. During that time I was diagnosed with CPTSD from multiple traumas that I have experienced since age 10. Now I’m not talking about garden variety PTSD, bad memories because someone yelled at you or you lost some stuff. This is complete shut down PTSD, the worst my doc has ever seen. It seems that when my wife left, it triggered hell in me.

I drank a lot. I did not really pray. I fought physically as much as I could. Why? Because of the torture I was enduring inside. The doc explained that we have an emotional side and a rational side to our brain. Between the two sides, normal folks have bridges. These bridges allow memories and experiences to pass from emotion to rationality.

With PTSD, that bridge may be burned, you can no longer take an emotion that has trauma attached and move it from emotion to the rational side. With CPTSD, it is multiple traumas over a broad spectrum with all bridges burned. Welcome to hell, cowboy.

Example from a normal mind: this guy is staring at me, maybe he knows me or maybe he has had too much to drink. Just ignore him and enjoy yourself.

Example from PTSD: this guy is staring at me, he must be plotting on me, if I don’t move first, I could be hurt. /punches guy in the face and continues beating him.

No, it makes no sense to you. It makes no sense why a single memory can cause you to go into a trance and get stuck. Why someone would have to rock and make noises to keep thoughts at bay.

How this could happen to a believer.

I could expose my wife, what she’s done. I never will because I have made mistakes that I wouldn’t want broadcasted. I could go into details regarding the traumas that I have endured, not stories but realities. I could explain it to you as I’ve explained to close friends these last months and watched tears roll down their face about my memories.

It would all be for naught. That’s not the kind of preacher you want. You want the plastic hype filled primadonna that grew up in church, went to youth group, got his own church and is now tragically hip and completely unable to give you anything other than pat churchian answers to your issues.

I am not him. I am no one’s hero. I am damaged, limping, hurt and wounded. I wake every day with nightmares whose terror is quickly replaced by loss, mourning, fear and betrayal. They drop like pinballs in my mind, bouncing around and keeping me from focusing- all I can do is re-live or feel. Soon more balls drop, banging around inside until I literally shut down.

Why don’t you just pray or worship or read your Word you ask? Do you not understand that mental illness is real? That mine was caused by things done to me, things I’ve done and seen? It was caused by being completely shut down until I was 26 years old? Then when I did trust and give my heart, to have that betrayed and destroyed? How do you pray then if not about that?

I am not normal, never will be. But my pain and my hurt gives me the unique ability to love people that the church despises. They know they are safe with me, that I love them and actually care. I am broken as a man but whole as a heart given for the least of these.

My support has dried up. I forgot the cute couple’s pic on the blog apparently. I can’t post a family picture because my kids are withheld from me. I don’t have a family now, just a hole where those that I trusted and loved the most used to be.

I am trying to get better, allow God to move again. I have had issues doing it alone. I have to pay thousands literally by tomorrow and I have no support. I am working a secular job and doing my therapy. I have ministry opportunities that God and I seem to care about.

I have nothing left to qualify me to you. You know me, you’ve been in my services, you’ve seen the miracles or watched as God showed up. You’ve listened to my teachings and read my articles. What you didn’t see was the price that was paid and that continues to be paid.

Here is my point, please put down your copy of Max Lucado and listen; quit forcing each other and particularly your leaders to be fakes, frauds and phonies. In the end, you won’t be helped and they will be destroyed. Have the courage to show your issues and warts. Let God shine through your ugly. God moves around me because I don’t have guile, I know what I am and I will let you know as well. He’s the only good thing about me. Man, give others the grace to say that. Support them as they do, be honest, be raw, be real. Quit acting like you’ve got an answer, if you do, you’ve not come to the real question yet.

As for me, I need your prayers and your support financially, I do, sue me. I need you to pray for my wife and kids, that they will end up okay. I need you to pray for doors of utterance to open for me. It won’t be in a stadium with big names, I tried that and me and them don’t play so well together. It will be doors to the jungle, to Slavic Village, to Spain among the lost that think they have answers, to Kenya and babies with AIDS.

Real ministry to the broken by the broken for the one that was broken for us.

Shalom to you with all my heart.

JC

http://www.americanpentecost.wordpress.com/give

Illegitimi Non Carborundum.

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Does anybody here remember Vera Lynn?
Remember how she said that
We would meet again
Some sunny day?
Vera, Vera?
What has become of you?
Does anybody else in here
Feel the way I do?

Vera, Pink Floyd

The church gets uncomfortable with real. So let me be as real as I can for you.

You know, I wish I could convey how devastated I am at what the enemy was able to do through my wife. How shocked I was at the events. I wish I could communicate the misery that consumes me because I’ve not spent time with my kids since April 29th. I wish I could let you feel what I feel when she explains I won’t be seeing them and knowing I will have to fight it legally when I don’t want to.
I wish you could plug into my heart so that you could look back over the years and feel that all of it counted for nothing. That my life benefited some with our prayers and teaching but as a minister, you are easily forgotten. I wish you could feel a vision die that you have given everything to or watch people that you love fade into the distance as they seek better things for themselves. You stand holding an empty bag of promises and hope and try to imagine how you can ever hope again.
I wish you knew the gnawing fear in the back of your mind when no one gives and no one prays. The awful realization that despite all of the encouraging one liners, all that you loved is gone and you are embarking on a new journey, sight unseen.

I wish you could feel betrayal by the church. Those that counsel a spouse deeper into sin based on humanism and modernism but never by the Word of God.
I wish many times I would never have been called by God. I wish I would never have met my wife or had those children. Not because they did not give me joy in the past and not because I don’t love them but because the loss of them has hurt me beyond human endurance, I love them too much.

What hurts even more is the seeming silence of God. I saw a missionary online today asking for funds so that he could eat. Not to buy a jet, not to add a new wing onto the church- just eat. But the conservative corporate business model Spirit has so infiltrated the church that we freely equate prosperity and success with the blessing of God. And to those that have, we send more because God is with them. To those that don’t, we ignore because there is obviously something wrong. By those standards, you would have rejected every prophet and preacher in the Bible including Christ himself. I’ve gotten messages telling me to quit begging and go get a job. These people whose only sacrifice for Christ has been to get dressed and go to church once a week sitting back in judgment of someone that has given their life. That’s just par for the course, forgive them Lord.

Funny how it happens after the worst attack in my life as I sit back in awe at the damage, unable to even address the situation and having to move forward into a future when I am honestly worried whether I can trust God or not. There are good days and bad days. There are days that I hurt so bad, I can’t hardly function. There are days when I am locked in place by anxiety because no one wants to give and I am past the point of need. There are days when there is hope and when I can see the good things that are still in my life.

The problem is, I am still limping. I’m better by far but like the old wound that knows rain is coming, I still feel the effects of the worst betrayal and trauma I’ve ever experienced in my life. And I have needed help as I battled illness, I have needed help as I came to terms with PTSD. My life has always been about helping others and I needed some of that.

I still do.

Some of you have communicated that if my needs or goals for the immediate future in ministry are God’s will, he will provide. Then you feel safe in not giving and not praying. Friend, God could plant a perfect field of corn if he desired but he chooses to use farmers. And all the enemy needs to do to shut down a man or woman of God is to convince the church to do nothing.

I have been through a living hell this last year and a half. For a few years before that, I had a breakdown and fell off the map and no one bothered to check on me. I was alone, flustered by the seeming abandonment of God and wrestling with a mental condition that I knew nothing about- ptsd. And no one cared. Those that I did reach out to grew uncomfortable and broke off communication. I needed help, real help, due to the excessive traumas that I have experienced in my life. None came, God was silent, life fell apart, I died.

Yet here I am. Not for your benefit or amusement but because I have nowhere to go but to him. I have lost all in my pursuit of the answers to the salvation of Gen-X. I have made many mistakes along the path as well, believe me. I believe that the need for the answer must be greater than the price paid to attain it.

So here I go into the breach in the enemy’s wall once again. I go to start something that will speak as the oracles of God to a generation with a 3% occasional church attendance rate.  And once again I look for you to hear from God and be his hands of support.

The price has been too dear. The change too complete. The wounds too deep to ignore. I don’t feel ready but I do feel compelled.

Pray about your involvement this time.

JC.

When the rooster crows

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‘Every man for himself’ is at the heart of American Christian ministry. Now that is a dirty little secret that not many would admit to but I can say with all confidence that it is exactly the truth. When it is all said and done, most of us are nothing but religious corporations who depend more on fickle public approval trends than real politicians do.

I heard a preacher say recently that all of what we perceive of as “ministry success” boils down to the fact that people love a winner and despise a loser. When crowds are coming and smiles abound, everyone wants to be near you. But when that tide appears to change, people jump off board so fast it will make your head spin.

Like many of our American politicians who are really nothing but poll whores and puppets, changing their stances depending on which way they feel best preserves them, so both ministers and members alike throw their approval behind whatever will enhance and not harm them.

Look back at the last 30 years of ministry here in the US and let me throw out some names to you; Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, Larry Lea, Mike Warnke. All of those men were “top” names at one time in the church. And every one of them had the tide of public opinion turn on them. When it did, we turned on them as well. We got rid of their books and records, threw out their teachings and denied that we ever knew them at all.

I can not really imagine what that felt like for these men. One minute, they were surrounded by people who supported them and loved the ministry that God had them doing. The next moment, they looked around and found no one there anymore. They had gone from being celebrated by the church to virtual religious pariahs, social outcasts, in the blink of an eye. And man, did we ever take notice of their fate as ministers of the Gospel. In the span of a few short years of public witch trials, the most terrifying thing that we could think of was no longer standing before the judgment seat of Christ; it was sharing the fate of those that had stood before the judgment seat of Primetime Live or professional heresy hunters and been declared guilty.

So to prevent sharing their fate, we as ministers began to court the public and keep our nose as clean as possible. We stopped rocking the boat and just said what people wanted to hear. We became slaves to what people thought about us and by playing the game properly, we began to see mega-churches spring up all over. The recipe you are to use is fairly simple: Just repeat the following over and over until you are as big as you want to be- God has a plan for just you, God wants you to prosper financially, positive self-image is God’s ideal for you, you can have all that you want and God will help you, once you are saved you are always saved. Avoid the negative, focus on the positive and people will come to hear you. And if people are coming, it must be God.

There is just one problem with that- it isn’t true.

The bible says that “They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.”1 John 4:5. Of course people are coming to hear them; they are speaking the language of the world. They are motivational speakers that give the added benefit of promising eternal life and divine favor in exchange for your approval. I can’t imagine people not wanting to come and hear that sort of thing to be honest. If I offered a thousand dollars to whoever answered an altar call, would I be shocked to see the altar full? What if I charged a thousand for the honor of answering the call, what would happen then?

And so we live in an age of preachers for hire, Balaams’ crisscrossing the globe teaching whatever the people want them to teach. And in exchange, we remain on the safe side of the bema of public opinion and can continue to make our living doing what we love. We placate ourselves by thinking that at least they are getting some truth when they come to hear us; at least they are getting some Jesus. But a little religion won’t save you and there is no resurrection for you at all without going through the death of the cross.

This mercenary thinking has trickled down to every area of the Christian life. As an Evangelist, when things are going well, people want nothing more than to have their name attached to yours. Once that pendulum swings, they want nothing more than to not have their name attached to yours. When there is a buzz about you, they all want to cozy up and bask in it with you. But when hard times come, they all deny they ever knew you at all.

I have sat astonished myself as I watched this little dance unfold time and time again in my own life. When I get discovered (which happens all of the time) then I am celebrated and the ministry applauded as being cutting edge and the “next big thing”. But when I struggle and the enemy comes in to attack, I look around and discover I am more like Uriah the Hittite than David. Because when I stepped up to fight and the battle was joined- I looked around and everyone else had stepped back until they saw for sure which way the outcome was going to go.

If I win and gain the victory they will all clap and pretend that they were there all along as they sing songs of my bravery in the face of the enemy. If it goes badly, they never knew me at all. If it goes really badly and they could be hurt by their association with me, then it was God who judged me.

I am sure that some of you thought exactly that when you read the names of those ministers earlier. Jim Bakker was a crook and God exposed him, Jimmy Swaggart was a judgmental pervert and God exposed him, Larry Lea was a greedy liar and God exposed him, Mike Warnke lied about his testimony and God exposed him.

So what are you guilty of that God needs to expose? A recent study found that upwards of 70% of Pastors view online pornography at least once a week. Is that you, speaking to the sheep on Sunday morning and masturbating to online porn on Saturday night? Or are you simply a liar, a glutton or a self righteous religious bigot? Or maybe you haven’t prayed in a month or cracked your bible in 2 months and yet you get up there and like a Pharisee you show your white washed exterior while inside you are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.

The real issue is not that those men fell; it is what we did as it happened. I believe that we really lost something important with Larry Lea, he got hit in a massive smear campaign and we gave him no chance to explain, we just wrote him off. Mike Warnke was honestly repentant but in the church the restoration is never as public as the fall. We have set a pattern into motion here in America that we should be horribly ashamed of. We are Peter, denying the Lord when it looked like he could be harmed by Jesus’ “fall”. We don’t know them, we were never with them, don’t judge us by them. So those who need support never get it because we are constantly prepared to ignore that they exist or stick a knife in them if we have to.

Oh God have mercy on all when we finally hear the rooster crow and see ourselves for what we really are- mercenaries without honor, in it only for ourselves, in Jesus’ name.

Personally I think the whole affair stinks to high heaven. I get very weary of the game, to be quite honest. I have to watch my back more around Christians than I ever did in the world. In the world, I had friends and I had enemies. My friends loved me for my good points and overlooked my faults. Just because I was shown to have issues did not disqualify me from being their friend. But in the church it does. I can’t think of anything more hypocritical than people judging others for this fault or that fault while harboring a thousand faults that just haven’t been exposed yet. It is truly pathetic in every sense of the word.

Because we are not here to be politicians, we are here to be an army. But if any army in the world acted like we do they would be overrun by the enemy. The very fact that we are not overrun tells me that not only are we not any threat at all, we are more than likely the Keystone Cops of the Spirit world, more entertaining in our folly than actually a serious force to be reckoned with.

So how do we deal with this pattern that we have all set in motion? Is there any way out of this cycle that we are all caught in?

We must begin right where we live with one word: love. We must love one another enough to help when help is needed. We must honor what others are doing for the Lord and throw in our lot with them to help see it come about and forget about what the court of public opinion will say if they fail. We must honor our relationships with one another no matter what happens and make the decision to never leave a man behind. Above all, we must start to place ourselves in other’s people place and ask ourselves what we would need if it were us in their place.

And don’t even utter the word revival until you are prepared to do all of those things. Because when that word is spoken and steps are taken in that direction- the enemy will take notice and the fight will start. If we are the type to play Peter and deny others when they get into trouble, the enemy will pick us apart one by one until none are left standing any longer. I have seen it played out a hundred times, the mercenary spirit that comes into the church when the real attacks start and scatters everyone involved to the four winds because we are simply too weak, too selfish and too petty to just hold the line as the enemy charges.

When the enemy comes in, we get most concerned about ourselves. And it is with the banner “MY FUTURE” flying proudly above our heads that we break ranks and leave our fellow soldiers to hold the line alone. And what kind of army is that?

Before we utter revival maybe we should take a moment and listen for the rooster’s crow before we say we are ready for a move of God.

Provision and Protection

IMG_0128When you watch 4-5 year old kids funnel into an alley all day in Chicago to pay $1 to dip a rag in Talley thinner, credit scores don’t matter as much.

When a little girl that snuck into the kitchen every day for a special snack from you is abducted and sold as a sex slave, a house in the suburbs doesn’t really matter.

When mothers walk for hours or days in Africa so you can pray for their baby racked with Malaria or the only offering that you can get in the bush consists of flip flops, a new car and it’s payment doesn’t count for anything.

When you have held the hands of AIDS patients as they died, your best life now and it’s prosperity is a joke.

When you see the system and it’s shallowness for what it is; the daily grind that ends in front of a tv, the mundane conversation about nothing that matters. The lack of actual meaning besides your new car or comfy house that defines you. When you live for your own comfort, justifying it by humanistic arguments and forgetting the things that are right outside your door, you deserve exactly what you get.

You have forgotten your first love and the God that you swore you would live and die for as you lusted after the normal things of the world and its system.

Perhaps your materialism, desire for provision and protection from the big bad world out there isn’t a virtue, perhaps the American Dream is really the American Coma and you have fallen asleep when you should have known you came into the Kingdom for a time such as this. You were born for this moment and you ran when the going got tough and when a cost was required to keep going.

Perhaps your safety and security that you mortgaged everything for is really just a cheap and flimsy cover-up for the fact that you don’t love God at all. Jesus said that if you love him, you’d do as he said, right?

Riddle me this; So do you love Him as you cast aside everything in the name of your own comfort and convenience? Sticking your fingers in your ears to block out the voice of God as you act against your own conscience and destroy everything you once held as given to you by God.

Both you and I will someday stand before the Judgment Seat. It doesn’t matter whether you opt in or not. What excuse will you make on that day, in that moment for the things you’ve done? You wanted more money, more security? You didn’t have the house or car or clothes that you wanted? There is a generation out there waiting for a new demonstration of Christianity. We will give an account for all of them. We will give an account for what we did for the least of these, not what we gained for ourselves.

Remember 1 John 2:15-17

15 Do not love the world [of sin that opposes God and His precepts], nor the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust and sensual craving of the flesh and the lust and longing of the eyes and the boastful pride of life [pretentious confidence in one’s resources or in the stability of earthly things]—these do not come from the Father, but are from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and with it its lusts [the shameful pursuits and ungodly longings]; but the one who does the will of God and carries out His purposes lives forever.

How can we take it easy with a thousand tribes to tell?
How can we take it easy in a world that’s bound for hell?
How can we take it easy with the church asleep in its ease?
How can we take it easy? Would someone tell me, please?