You Are Not Smarter Than Jesus 03: Stop Swimming in the Shallow End

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Jesus got into the boat belonging to Simon and asked him to put out a little from shore. And sitting down, He taught the people from the boat. When Jesus had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and let down your nets for a catch. “Master,” Simon replied, “we have worked through the night without catching anything. But because You say so, I will let down the nets. – Luke 5.3-5

Recently someone posted a great post on my Facebook timeline, it was from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean, and had a whole bunch of people chasing Johnny Depp, and the caption was “This is what it feels like when you post something controversial on Facebook”.  And that’s true, if what you say goes against the grain and culture of the crowd, the crowd will rush you if you say it, whether that is the culture of a Facebook audience, a church, a nation, a city, a community.

The conversation with a couple of people then on and offline developed about how I have a reputation for saying the truth no matter what, and that I genuinely don’t care about what people think. It’s not strictly true, no one likes being rejected, no one enjoys being on the outside looking in, but I do believe that the truth must be said, and it must be said in love. The greatest influence in my life was a man called Dave Duell who was an apostle and an evangelist, and I had the privilege and joy of spending time with him and learning from him, and he used to say – and live – “Don’t give a rip about the opinions of others”.  In one conversation, I jokingly said I only hold back when it comes to parenting, politics and discipleship. But after that, during my prayer time, I felt my own words resound inside my head, and I felt that the Lord was telling me that I was holding back certain truths because I am too concerned about popularity. I’ve changed a lot in the last five months, and become a lot more bold concerning finances – which has led to some people leaving the church, even some leaders – but it has at the exact same time led to some of the most powerful testimonies of people finding jobs and getting supernatural promotions and financial deliverance I have ever heard in my life, and they are happening right here in Tree of Life.

So, I will not hold back on parenting, politics and discipleship. I intend to write a book on parenting in about 10-15 years when all my children are adults. I want there to be a little bit more meat on the bones in terms of proof that I – and my amazing wife, Amanda – are parenting well.

I will not hold back on politics either, but politics is not the real game changer that discipleship is, so I want to immediately discuss discipleship. Jesus was explicit – launch out into the deep. And what I see across this nation is most Christians, and sadly most leaders are still in the shallow end when it comes to discipleship and actually living a life like Jesus:

  • I went to preach in a church and they held an offering for me, and it was larger than what they expected (about double). They had to decide what to do with the money, even though it was explicitly raised for me. I have also a couple of years ago been in a service where they raised money for a minister friend of mine. I put a sum of money in the offering, and weeks later found out the minister did not even get what I gave! Even though it was explicit the offering was for him!
    • We are swimming in the shallow end when we cannot act with integrity with finances, cannot trust God for our financial future, cannot raise money with integrity. When a church has three offerings on a Sunday morning every week, for the church, for papa, for mama, when people are shamed for not giving to the pastors’ birthday offering, when the doors are locked until the offering reaches six figures (all things I know has happened) we have a church that is in the shallow end, if it is even in the ocean at all.
    • When Christians are preaching against tithing and giving, and say that giving is legalism, you know they are in the shallow end.  When people tell people not to give to local churches, then they are very much in the shallow end.  Jesus wants us to launch out into the deep, and go deep with our giving and our faith in that giving.
    • This shallow end when it comes to finances has to change, it absolutely has to change, and urgently. The nation of the UK has a problem with generosity when it comes to local church, and the ministers either settle for poverty and trying as hard as possible with no resources, or they are using fear and guilt to rip the money out of the pockets of the people without changing their hearts and teaching them how to walk, live and give by faith and honour!
    • I believe in prosperity, and I live a prosperous life – but I assure you there is a world of difference between raising money to minister and ministering to raise money and I see far too much of the latter. I believe that a lot of money raised in many charismatic churches is filthy lucre raised through manipulation and intimidation.  We teach people to give because that benefits the ministry and church, but we fail to teach people how to receive – it’s short-term, callous, selfish thinking and it is shallow.
    • I believe many Christians are relying on one offering to change their lives without building a wise and diligent attitude to earning, saving and giving on a consistent regular basis. They will give to big conferences at the tears of a preacher, but do not tithe to their local church, do not save and do not work hard at their career and at developing multiple streams of income. I do not believe we can win the world without this changing and I mean radical changing at the root.

Next Tuesday, I will continue this discussion regarding fruit.  It’s all part of the same syndrome, people are not spending the time, energy and effort to launch out into the deep. People are not letting the Word influence how they act, are not acting like there is a God who keeps promises, not acting like there is a spirit realm, not acting like Jesus – because their discipleship is lacking.  This must change, and we have to be the ones to change it. No one can do it for you, but if we all do it we can heal this nation, and heal the nations.

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You Are Not Smarter than Jesus 02: Shake the Dust off Your Feet

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If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message, shake its dust from your feet as you leave. (Matthew 10.14, NLT)

Listen carefully – some people just don’t care for you or your message. It’s time to get over your own ego and realize that. Not everyone cares about your great revelations, not everyone cares about your amazing teaching gift, not everyone cares about your wisdom and your insights.

One trait I see in many pastors that is costing them valuable time, rest and ministry opportunities is an inability to let things or people go.

Jesus on the other hand told his apostles, his sent-ones, that if people didn’t listen, shake the dust off your feet and move on to someone who will. Stop fishing in tiny ponds and move on. I know pastors who are in bits because a certain church or certain Bible College won’t let them preach – you know what, I never care about things like that, I just keep on doing what God called me to, and I have more than enough places to preach I can tell you.

It also happens with people in our church. It’s never nice when someone leaves, especially as most Christians do not have a clue how to leave a church well and with integrity. You want to go and get them back, and you know I have no problems with people doing that – I have done that. But there comes a point where it is obvious people just don’t care. So shake the dust off your feet and celebrate the people who do care.

I’ve seen pastors get up and angrily preach to the people that are not there on a Sunday! No, shake the dust off your feet and preach love and grace and the Word to the people who did come. And the people who are there need to be discipled!

Learn to shake the dust off your feet – learn to let people go. Not everyone can be your best friend, not everyone will benefit from your church and your ministry. Just get over yourself, and work in the sphere God has given you!

Remember if a sheep is lost, and sheep get lost because they are distracted, go and find that sheep and bring him home. Be the good shepherd.

If a coin is lost, and coins get lost because people lose them and other people’s actions cause them to be lost, go and turn the house upside down and bring that coin back into the collection.  Be the good housewife.

But if a son is lost, and sons get lost because they feel that you are holding them back from their inheritance and they would be better off without you and better off if you were dead, and why don’t I get the pulpit now and why don’t I get chances now, and why are you so horrible – then leave him be. Until they come to their senses and come home, you will only make things worse. So shake the dust off your feet, feed the calf, and run your house with the servants and sons that are still at home.