About Eng Hoe

I'm not much of a blogger really. This is more a collection of some of the things I have written, over the years about the Kingdom. I hope some of the things I write encourage you in some way.

Kingdom 70

This is a continuation from Kingdom 69 about leadership in the Kingdom. There is a well known parable that you might know. It’s the story of a baby eagle that somehow by accident was born among chickens. So this baby eagle grew up among baby chicks and he thought that he is a chicken, until one day he somehow discovered that he is not a chicken but he’s actually an eagle. The story ends with him taking to the skies and soaring to majestic heights, doing what an eagle should do. The purpose of this parable is obvious. Speakers like to use it to tell us who we really are – that we were made to be seated with Christ in the heavenly places. That we are destined to overcome the gravity of the earth so to speak, and soar into the heavenly realms with the Holy Spirit. Not stay on the ground like a chicken pecking in the dirt on the ground.

There is of course a truth in this parable but this metaphor of soaring in the skies like eagles, can at the same time convey wrong ideas of spirituality in the minds of Christians. There are Christians who have ideas of being detached from the hustle and bustle of normal everyday life and leave all the rest of us lesser mortals behind to be somewhere up there in the heavenlies. Then there are those who aspire to pastor mega churches or to head mega ministries and they dream of flying around the world in their own private jets, literally soaring the skies like eagles, as it were, to have meetings with prime ministers and business leaders and those in the top echelons of society. Not clucking around with us chickens on the ground so to speak.

But in Matt.20:25-28 Jesus said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave–just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  In Jn.13:13-17, Jesus said, “You call me `Teacher’ and `Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

Did you know that Jesus washed even the feet of Judas – Judas Iscariot, whom He knew would betray Him immediately after that? Amazing. In Philip.2:3-8, Paul said, Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus : Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness and being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!

When leaders desire to be on top, they model the devil’s style of leadership. Did you know that Lucifer wanted to be seated on a throne at the top of God’s mountain? You can read that in Isa.14:12-15. But Jesus went the opposite direction. He went down. Down to the very bottom.

I don’t know if you have ever heard of Lao Tze, a Chinese sage who lived in the 6th century BC. There are those who believe that in ancient China, there were philosophers and sages who were like Melchizedek in the Old Testament, who were given special insight and wisdom from God. One sage who is well known among the Chinese is Lao Tze. This is what he said in chapter 78 of the Tao Te Ching, which is a collection of his sayings :

Of all things yielding and weak in the world, 

None is more so than water; 

But for attacking what is unyielding and strong, 

Nothing is superior to it; nothing can take its place.

 That the weak overcomes the strong, 

And the yielding overcomes the unyielding, 

Everyone knows this, 

But no one can translate it into action.

 Therefore the sage says : 

“He who takes the dirt of the country, 

is the Lord of the state; 

He who bears the calamities of the country, 

is the king of the world

The weak overcoming the strong – that’s a reflection of how Jesus defeated the devil by His death, which I will talk about in another segment. But for now, what I want to highlight is the last stanza : “He who takes the dirt of the country, is the Lord of the state; He who bears the calamities of the country, is the king of the world.”  Wow .. now who does that describe? Who else could that be but Jesus! He bore the filth, the sins and calamities of the world. That is why in Philip.2:9-11, Paul said,Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  Why was Jesus exalted? Because He lowered Himself to the very lowest. So how are we seated with Christ in the heavenly places? Same way I believe. Not by aspiring to be on top but by going down to the bottom. This always reminds me of Danis whom I told you about in Kingdom 67. Going down to the dirt to serve the very least.

Let’s ask a question : where does God dwell? We would not be wrong if we imagined God dwelling in unapproachable light seated on His throne surrounded in glory by angels who never stop worshipping Him. That is what the apostle John saw when he was taken up to heaven. But there are two verses in Isaiah that give us quite a different picture of where God dwells. Isa.57:15 says : “For this is what the high and lofty One says–he who inhabits eternity, whose name is holy : “I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.”  And then in Isa.66:1-2 : This is what the LORD says : “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me?  Where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the LORD.  “This is the one I esteem : he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.”

In Isa.57 and 66, what we just read, God tells us something amazing. Something really mind blowing actually. God tells us where He chooses to dwell, or with whom He chooses to dwell. Not in some grand palace, but in the heart of someone who is humble and contrite and who trembles at His word. God tells us that’s where He feels most at home. Amazing. Amazing isn’t it? Why does God delight to dwell in the heart of such a person or with someone like that? I believe it’s because the heart of such a person is like the heart of God. I mean imagine you are looking for a place to live and you are looking for a housemate to share the place with you. What kind of place would you feel comfortable? And who would you prefer to live with, or to live with you? If you are a neat and tidy person, you would not want to live with someone who is messy and doesn’t care about cleaning up, right? In other words you would feel most at home with someone who is like you. Someone who appreciates and values what you appreciate and value, right? Someone who perhaps even enjoys the same things you enjoy – same kind of music, same kind of movies, ya?

What kind of person is this who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at His word? That’s the description of a servant, isn’t it? In other words, through these passages of scripture, what God is actually doing is, He is revealing to us that He is actually a servant at heart. Amazing. This is of course very hard for us to grasp. God is a servant? Really? How can that be? But this is what God has revealed to us of who He is. He is not only the Almighty God and Creator of the Universe. He is also a servant at heart. When the Lord opened my eyes to this, I began to see that Jesus did not just become a servant to fulfil the task or the mission of coming to redeem us, to lay down His life for us. He became a servant because He is actually a servant at heart. This is who God is.

This paradoxical nature of God is also revealed in how Jesus is both the Lion as well as the Lamb. And when we read Ezekiel and Revelation, the four faces of the four living creatures around the throne of God also reveal to us the character of God. Not just the face of an eagle, which speaks of His holiness, and the face of a lion, which speaks of His majesty, but also the face of an ox, which speaks of His servant nature, and the face of a man, which speaks of Him as Immanuel. He is not just up seated there on His throne, but He is down here with us. So if Jesus were to be with us today in the flesh, we can be quite sure that He would not be flying around in His own private jet. He would be perhaps cooking for the homeless and sitting on the ground to have lunch with them, ya? So in conclusion, here are two things to note. First, if God is a servant at heart, then what does it mean to grow more and more to be like Him? It is to become more and more a servant. Second, I need to ask myself, and I think I need to keep asking myself, “Is my heart a place where God delights to live in?”

These are transcripts of audio messages so they are better heard than read. If you would like to listen to them, the audio clips can be found here : https://goo.gl/KN4JYL  . It’s a folder on googledrive, so you’ll need to sign in with your google account username and password (or sign up for a google account) to be able to access it

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Kingdom 69

If you’ve been following this series, you would have heard me say a few times that Jesus came to turn everything upside down. That’s because the values of this world are upside down to that of God’s Kingdom. I think next to how God values the poor and the nobodies, perhaps the next most upside down thing in the Kingdom has to do with leadership. In Kingdom 68, I mentioned that I will share with you a diagram that illustrates the servant leadership of the Kingdom. That diagram has been sent out together with this audio clip, but if you are reading this, here is the diagram :          Leadership Paradigms

It’s so long ago I can’t really recall where I got this diagram from, but I think I could have gotten it from Ben Wong in Hong Kong. Here are two triangles. The one on the right is upside down to the one on the left. The triangle on the left represents top down leadership. This is the typical model of leadership in the world with governments, businesses, and corporations. In top down leadership, the leader occupies a position of authority over his people. The people support or serve the leader so that the leader can fulfil his vision and calling. The leader tells the people his vision and recruits them to be part of his vision : He says to them, “Help me succeed and when I am successful, you can share in my success.” That’s how all politicians and businessmen speak, right?

But Jesus introduced another kind of leadership – servant leadership, which of course is upside down to how the world understands leadership. That’s the triangle on the right. In servant leadership, the leader serves the people so that the people can go out and serve others and as they do that, they get to fulfil their calling. Instead of talking about his vision, the leader asks the people : “What is your vision, or what is your dream? How can I serve you so that you can be successful, so that your dream or vision can be fulfilled? Because when you are successful, I have succeeded.” Which type of leadership is being practised in the churches?

There are church leaders that say, “This is the vision God has given me. This is what He has called me to do.” And then they try to recruit you to be part of their vision so that their vision can be fulfilled. Perhaps they might express it another way. They might say, “This is the vision God has given me for the church, but actually it’s the same thing. In top-down leadership, only the leader’s vision is important. Only his ideas are heard. Your opinion doesn’t count at all. Everyone is waiting for one man to make all the decisions. What happens when everyone just waits for one man to make all the decisions? The people become passive. There is no creativity or initiative. They are not being empowered. Instead they are being disempowered and they become redundant.

But in servant leadership, the leader sees his role is to serve. Just to serve. He functions only as a facilitator. His job is to see potential in people and bring out that potential in people. In fact, that is what discipling people means – it is to help them develop to their full potential – to what God designed them to be. In fact a servant leader has no other vision. The people are his vision.

I’m not sure if you’ve heard of Ben Wong. He is well known in the cell church or house church movement. Many years ago I heard Ben Wong say this. He likes to joke and sometimes it’s hard to tell whether he is joking or he is serious, but he has this way of saying things in a very funny way. This is what I heard him say. He said, “I pastor a small church in Hong Kong. This is what I tell my church members, “Our church will never be a big church. It will always be a small church. You know why? Because I have a plan for your lives. For everyone of you. Within three years, I will train all of you to be church planters and then I will kick you out of this church. You will have to leave this church and go and start a church or fellowship somewhere – in a factory, or in a school, or restaurant, or neighbourhood – wherever the Lord may lead you. You have to reproduce because if you are not reproducing, it means you are dead. So don’t think you are going to grow old in this church. Don’t expect me to marry you and bury you. I have to give an account to God for your lives, so I’m going to be tough with you. Every time we meet, it is training time, like in an army. If you don’t like this, it is better you leave right now and go to another church. After three years, I don’t want to see your face here anymore. If I still see you here in the 4th year, it means I have failed. Why three years? Because Jesus did it in three years, so that means it is possible.” That’s what he said.

Some years back, I was invited to spend a few days with a senior pastor of a church, and speak at his church on Sunday. After a few days with him, it was very obvious to me that he is a very capable guy. He can preach, he can teach, he can prophesy, pray for the sick, cast out demons, and he is also very good at planning and organizing. The problem is, he does everything. The second rung of leaders in his church are so far below him that no one will ever be able to fill his shoes. If he dies all of a sudden, the church will collapse. When I was with him, the Lord gave me a word for him. The Lord told me to tell him that it was time for him to leave his church.

When I heard the Lord tell me that, I said “Lord, this is very drastic. Will he accept what I tell him? Will he accept that it is from you? What will happen to the church if he steps down and leaves? How do I tell him?” I heard the Lord say, “I’ll tell you what to say to him.” So I told him, “I have a word from the Lord for you but I will give it to you after I speak on Sunday.” He said, “Good, let’s meet for coffee Sunday afternoon, just you and I.” On Sunday, just as I was waking up in the morning, the Lord spoke to me. He told me exactly what to say. And with that also came a new understanding which I did not have before that. So when we met for coffee, I said, “Pastor, the Lord asked me to ask you a question : Why did Jesus say, “If I do not leave, the Holy Spirit cannot come”?

He thought about it for a while, and then God gave him understanding why Jesus said that. He said, “Hmm .. you know I’ve never thought about that before, but now that I think about it, it’s probably got to do with .. hmm .. something to do with .. if Jesus did not leave, His disciples will never learn to depend on the Holy Spirit. They will always be dependent on Jesus to do everything, right?” I said, “Yes, exactly. If someone is sick or demons need to be cast out, they will call on Jesus to do it. If a storm needs to be stopped, they will call on Jesus to stop the storm. So long as He is around, He will always be their leader. They will never grow up and mature. They will never learn to call on the power of the Holy Spirit. They will never learn to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Because Jesus is there, right? But if Jesus left, He can be multiplied in the disciples through the Holy Spirit.” Then he said, “Yes, yes, that’s it. That’s why Jesus said that. Wow .. thanks brother for giving me that word. But why is the Lord asking me this question? Did He tell you why? I said, “Yes, in fact He did. He told me to tell you it is time for you to leave your church, so that your people can grow up.”

For a moment he was stunned. But he quickly recovered and he said, “Yes, yes, that is the word of the Lord for me. I receive that in Jesus name. I’m going to start the process of leaving immediately and within 2 or 3 months, I will be gone.” I told him, “No please don’t that. Your people need to be trained up. I think that will take at least a year.” I tried to share with him about how the early church functioned and about house churches, although I’m not sure how much of that he received.

Jesus said He came not to be served, but to serve. He served His disciples and when His job was done, He withdrew and left. That’s what it means to be a servant. You develop others and then you are done and you disappear. As someone has put it, you work yourself out of a job, because if you stick around longer than you should, you stifle the growth of others. When we are leading, we need to encourage others to think, to express themselves, to be creative, and to make decisions. And this is especially needed when we serve the poor, because the poor need to be valued so that they can recover who they really are. Not the rejects of society but sons and daughters of the Most High God. I’ll come back to this and I’ll elaborate on this when I talk about serving the poor, and I’ll also share with you a way to facilitate a discussion where you don’t teach but you help people discover truths for themselves.

Leadership is actually just a function, just a function and a role that someone needs to fulfil; not a position or recognition of superiority or seniority. Not an appointment to direct and control others but to enable others to function – to function to their maximum potential. I know in China and India, Indonesia, and Africa, it is very difficult for leaders to accept this. That’s because leaders in Asia and Africa are deeply rooted to Asian and African cultural values.  But of course they have Bible verses to justify their top-down authority and control. I think that’s why Gandhi said, “I like your Christ, but I don’t like you Christians. You are so unlike your Christ.” Jesus said the good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep. In the kingdom of God, leadership is servanthood. That’s what it really means to lead – to follow Jesus. To do what He did. To be like Him. I’ll continue on this in the next segment.

These are transcripts of audio messages so they are better heard than read. If you would like to listen to them, the audio clips can be found here : https://goo.gl/KN4JYL  . It’s a folder on googledrive, so you’ll need to sign in with your google account username and password (or sign up for a google account) to be able to access it

Kingdom 68

Did you like the story of Danis that I shared in Kingdom 67? There was once I shared the story of Danis in a Kingdom workshop that I conducted and then I asked the participants what they got out of the story. One of the participants said, “The poor doesn’t deserve our love.” I was quite taken aback by what he said, so I asked him why he said that. He said, “You mentioned that after all you did for the poor, it seems they never felt your love for them. Many poor people never appreciate what you do for them.” Sometimes, some people, they just don’t get what you are trying to tell them. They miss the point of the whole story and they end up with something else .. not what you intended to get cross, but something else. Like how the disciples missed the point of what Jesus was trying to tell them. In Matt.16, after Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes, He told the disciples to be careful and to be on guard against the yeast of the Pharisees. They discussed it among themselves and they said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.” But Jesus said to them, “O you of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? I’m telling you to be on guard against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

When I mentioned that I asked myself how come I never got the kind of love that Danis got from the poor, that wasn’t the point of the story, ok? I said that as a joke actually, but he didn’t seem to get it that I meant it as a joke. OK I must confess that there is a truth in there. I mean we of course don’t do things for the poor to get their appreciation, but it does get quite disappointing at times when they take advantage of you, and that has happened to me many times. But that’s not the point of the story, ok. I’ll talk about that, I mean I’ll talk about being taken advantage of by the poor, another time, in another segment. But the point of the Danis story is, God calls us, we who are flesh and blood, with a face, and with a voice, and a heart to go and engage with the poor. To go and feel what’s on their hearts, to listen to their struggles, to reach out as one human to another. No one can feel the love of a faceless, heartless organization, or institution, or church. Stories have more impact when the storyteller doesn’t give the conclusion or spell out the moral of the story, but just leaves it with the listeners to ponder over it, and they themselves can get some insights when they think about it. It’s more meaningful that way. But sometimes people just don’t get what you are trying to tell them, and they end up thinking that you are telling them something else that you did not intend to say.

OK, I’m going to tell you another story and this time I’m going to leave it with you to ponder over it. I hope you don’t get the wrong idea why I am telling you this story. Some years ago a youth pastor and his wife attended a training that I conducted in Jakarta. He was the youth pastor of a very wealthy Chinese church. Not the same church as the one that I mentioned in Kingdom 65. This is another church in Jakarta. For several years after they attended the training that I gave, they tried to get their church to engage with the poor, with the slums that were all around their church. But there was no response from the leadership of the church. One day the leadership of the church finally decided to do something about the slums that were around them. They decided to invite me to speak in their Sunday service and then to have a meeting with me to hear me talk about the poor, after we have lunch. So after I spoke in the morning service, and after we had a chance to introduce ourselves over lunch, the leaders of the church said to me, “We have a lot of money. This young man here .. (he gestured towards the youth pastor) .. he has been hassling us for years to reach out to the poor. But we have no experience with the poor, and we don’t know what to do with the poor, or how to do anything for the poor. Please talk to us and tell us what we can do.”

So I started by telling them the story of Danis, and then I talked about the Kingdom of God and about how Jesus went to the poor, and all that. As I was speaking with them, I distinctly heard the Lord say to me, “Ask them what they want to do.” So I asked them, “Before you called this meeting, have you gotten together and discussed among yourselves what you could do, and do you already have something in mind?” They said “Yes, we discussed it and we thought that we might build a school for the slums that are around here, and we want your advice on this, and how can we go about doing that.”

I said, “That’s a great idea but why do you need me to give you any advice for that? I’m sure there are teachers and professionals in your congregation who are well able to handle that.” They said, “Yes, we do, we have all the people, but this is the problem. Our people are all very rich who are mostly businessmen, and they have no idea at all how to relate with the poor. You know, it is not easy to handle the poor. They give you a lot of problems. You know that right? So we are thinking of keeping it as a project that is separate from the church. If we make them a part of the church, they will come and create problems in our church. So can you please recommend to us people that you know who have worked with the poor, and that’s why we are asking you because you have a lot of experience with the poor, and with people who work with the poor, so can you recommend us some people that we can trust and we can employ them to run the school as a program that is separate from the church. Money is no problem.”

When I heard that, my heart just dropped. I said to them, “I’m sorry but let me understand clearly what you are telling me. You want to pay others to do what God is calling you to do – to go and love the poor?” They said, “But none of our people will do it.” So I said, “You do it and your members will follow.” Then they said, “But we are leaders. We are pastors and deacons and board members. How can we go to the poor?” I almost couldn’t believe what I heard them say. So I said to them, “If the King of Kings can come down from His throne and go and live among the poor, who are we that we cannot do it? You say you are leaders, so you lead and your people will follow. Otherwise what does it mean to be a leader? It has to start with you.” I drew them a diagram of two triangles which I’ll share with you in the next segment, to illustrate to them what I meant by servant leadership. Then I said, “I hope you understand what I was trying to tell you through the story of Danis. Not projects, not money, but people.”

Then they said, “But what are we do with all the money we have in the bank? Our people are questioning us what we are doing with all that money.” So I said, “Exactly, what have you been doing with all that money? Why did you collect it in the first place? I mean why didn’t you encourage the people not to give money to the church but to go and engage with the poor themselves? Maybe to help them with micro-credit or something?” I said this is the problem with many churches. This is how they think of church. They tithe and they think they are paying you to run the church. So they sit back and wait for you to do something. That is what the church has become. And now you want to pay someone else to do it. I told them, “You need to lead and show them what it means to go and love the poor. It has to start with you.”

Then I felt the Lord telling me that I did not need to say anything anymore. So I stopped talking and I sat down and I just waited. No one said a word. Just silence. Finally after nearly a minute of total silence, dead silence, the senior pastor said, “Honestly, if I were to go to the poor, what do I do? I have no idea. I don’t know where to start, or how to start. I don’t even know what to say to them.” So I said, “Imagine if you went away for several years to another nation, to Dubai or somewhere to work, and you lost touch with your brother. When you came back to Indonesia, you found your brother and his family living in a slum. Money lenders are after him, his kids are running wild, they are not going school, they are taking drugs, and they are with gangs. The house has no electricity, no water, no toilet. And they are fighting each other all the time. They are sick and their lives are in a mess. What would you do? Would you give your money to World Vision and call them to go and help your brother? That is your own brother. Jesus tells us to go and love the poor like they are our own family, right? So when you go, just imagine it’s your own brother. You’ll know what to do. I don’t need to tell you what to do.”

The senior pastor nodded and then he closed in prayer. And then everyone left in silence except for the youth pastor and his wife. One year later, I happened to bump into the senior pastor. He was very happy to see me. So I asked him, “So what happened after that meeting we had a year ago?” He said, “I am no longer the senior pastor of the church.” I don’t why, he didn’t say why, but he mentioned that anyway. And then he said, “I am glad you came and challenged us. For many nights I could not sleep thinking about what you said.” Then with tears in his eyes he said, “After many sleepless nights, I went to the poor, and just like you said, now I understand God’s love for the poor. Thank you. Thank you for challenging me.” And he was tearing when he said that. Then I asked him, “What about the others?” He said, “I don’t know about the others. All I know is that God spoke to me through you and I went. And it has been one of the best things in my life.”

These are transcripts of audio messages so they are better heard than read. If you would like to listen to them, the audio clips can be found here : https://goo.gl/KN4JYL  . It’s a folder on googledrive, so you’ll need to sign in with your google account username and password (or sign up for a google account) to be able to access it

Kingdom 67

In this segment I want to share with you how God opened my eyes to see that love has to be personal, not institutional. Or as I mentioned at the end of Kingdom 65, no one can feel the love of a church or an organization. People can only feel the love of a person. I want to you share about Danis, someone I came to know in 2005 in Aceh. Danis is originally from Papua, what used to be called Irian Jaya, to the West of Papua New Guinea. When the tsunami hit Aceh in December 2004, Danis and a few Papuans felt the Lord call them to go and help the people in Aceh. They arrived in Aceh in the very first week after the tsunami.  When they arrived they saw thousands and thousands of dead bodies, whole villages totally wiped out, and mountains and mountains of debris all over the place. It was like something you see in a doomsday or end of the world movie.

When Danis and his team looked around at the situation, they wondered what they could do. They saw relief organizations with trucks and trucks of supplies and these relief organizations had their own tents. They rented houses, and wore the t-shirts of their organizations, and they had radio communication sets and all that. One relief organization even had helicopters. But Danis and his team of just 5 guys, they did not have enough money to even sustain themselves for 2 weeks. After praying and asking God what they could do, they looked at themselves and they said to each other, “God has given us hands and feet”. So they decided to go and help bury the dead, and that took about two weeks.

It was terrible. He said in the first week it really stank. But in the second week, as he was carrying dead bodies, heads and legs and hands and arms fell off. He said everyday he had to go and scrub himself and get himself a new set of clothes from the mountain, if you do relief work you know what I mean by the mountain of clothes that people dump there. For food they got into line and queued up with the survivors. At night they slept in the tents with the survivors. Those weren’t really tents actually. Just plastic sheets tied to bamboo poles. When it rained, you could be squatting in 2 inches of water on the ground.

After all the dead were buried, they wondered what they could do next. Again they looked at themselves and they said, “We still have our hands and feet.” So they helped to clean the place up of all the debris. They cleaned out hospitals, public buildings, schools, the local mosque and people’s homes. They worked day and night until every night they were totally exhausted. Each night when they went to bed, Danis said that as soon as they lay down they would knock off into a deep sleep within 2 seconds. Danis and his team became so well known for their outstanding work that the local government in Banda Aceh appointed Danis as the head of the cleaning up operations for the city. But he told me “It was just a title. They never gave us any money”.

When all the debris and rubbish had been cleaned out, and that took nearly a year, they wondered what they could do next. Again they looked at themselves and said, “We still have hands and feet. Let’s do what we can with what God has given us.” So they started giving people massage and laying hands and praying for people. It was amazing, people started getting healed! The news spread and many people came to get massaged and to be prayed for. Danis and his team were loved and so well received by the people, .. “despite the fact that we were black” Danis told me.

One day sadly Danis received news that his wife in Papua had passed away. So he went back to Papua. He was in Papua for about 8 months. Then I heard that Danis wanted to return to Aceh but he could not afford an air ticket. So I arranged for him to get an air ticket and I said to him, “Danis, you remember you told me about those families that were already very “near to the Kingdom of God”? Can you bring me to meet those families? ” He said “Yes of course. I’ll do that.” He was very happy to do that. So when he arrived, I got a van and he took me from house to house.

The first house we came to, he went up to the front door and knocked. I stood behind him. When the door opened, there was this young Acehnese woman standing there. She fully covered with the customary muslim jilbab. When she saw Danis, for a moment she was too shocked to say anything. Then she just burst into tears and she stepped forward and she embraced Danis, and she kept saying, “Danis, Danis, you have come back to us”. And then from behind her, her husband came running and he also said, “Oh Danis, Danis, you have come back to us” and he was in tears and the three of them in embrace. I have done so much, I have done all sorts of things in disaster relief, and I’ve seen all sorts of things, but this was something that was just .. it was the most moving thing I have ever witnessed.  So they called us in and we sat down to some Acehnese coffee and some local biscuits and cakes. I sat away in a corner just watching the love that was going on between them. The love and presence of God was just so powerful I just couldn’t stop tearing. I kept tearing and I kept hearing the Lord say, “This is my Kingdom .. this is my Kingdom.”

And then Danis brought me to another house, and the same thing happened. And the next house, and the next house. Same thing. I went through a paradigm shift. I reflected on what I had been doing for many years in disaster relief. I asked myself, how is it they loved Danis so much, but I never got that kind of love? And I thought about it, how have people been looking at me? Well they probably looked at me like someone who was getting a salary from a big organization or a church, and I was doing it as part of my job, right? .. although that was not the case. I never got any salary from anyone. And how did they look at all the money and all the aid and projects that I brought to them? They probably came from a “big” church or NGO that had sent me, right? How could they feel the love of an NGO, an institution or even a church? By the way for those who might not know, NGO stands for Non-governmental organization. These are like civil society organizations, like Red Cross .. Red Crescent .. they do humanitarian work. I used to lead one of them.

There was a big Christian international NGO, which I shan’t name. They built thousands of houses for the survivors in Aceh that cost millions of US dollars. The religious authorities in Aceh they accused that NGO of converting a young Acehnese girl although it was not the staff of the NGO but it was their friends who befriended her. Despite having done so much for the survivors, no one stood up for them when the local authorities kicked them out of Aceh. But Danis, he had no money. He had nothing to give, so he gave himself. And they loved him. When I was going around with Danis, from the coffee shops people called out, “Hey look, look, it’s Danis!” People came running and children came running and they hugged him. Everywhere we went crowds just gathered everywhere welcoming him back to Aceh. As I was watching all this, I thought to myself, this guy is like Jesus.

After my experience with Danis, I no longer think of raising funds for disaster relief. Now I go around telling the story of Danis and telling people, “Big money causes big problems. No money, no problems.” Well some money is needed, but if you have worked in any kind of organization to help the poor, you’ll know what I mean, when I say big money causes big problems. I have told you that what the poor need is actually not money but people – people who will love them. I will share with you in subsequent clips why I say that. But for now, the thing that I believe the Lord has laid strongly on my heart to share with you is this. God has called us to go and love. He has not called an institution to do that. In fact as I said, no one can feel the love of a church or an institution.

After my experience visiting those families with Danis, what came clearly to me was this – there are 3 paradigms. First, there’s the church paradigm. Then there’s the NGO paradigm. And then there is the Kingdom paradigm. In the church paradigm, the church says, “Give us your money and we will do the work”. What work? The “spiritual” work of course. NGOs are saying the same thing, “Give us your money and we will do the work”. What work? The work that the church is not doing – the social and the humanitarian work. But what I am asking is, “Why give your money to someone else to go and do what God has called you to do? Why don’t you personally go and engage with the poor?” This is what I believe we need to return to – God’s Kingdom paradigm – where love is personal, not through some institution or organization, where we go and become friends with a poor family, or with poor families, and we see how we can help them in some way where they can do something that will generate income so they won’t be perpetually dependent on aid.

There may be some of us who for whatever reason we can’t go and get engaged personally with the poor and you give to an NGO, and that’s fine. That’s great. Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying. I am not in any way negating the wonderful work of NGOs who have been helping many poor communities in significant ways. I used to lead an NGO myself, so I know. But I am merely questioning why we would push it off to others to do what God is calling us to do? You know what I mean? I mean the church is not the building, or the denomination, or the leaders, or the committee. The church is you and I. You and your friends who love the Lord and you want to share His love, right? Jesus left His world to enter into our world to be with us. His name was Immanuel, which means “God with us”. In Jn.20:21, He said, “As the Father has sent Me, I send you.” He sends us to do the same – to leave our world and enter into the world of those who are in need, to become their friends and share our lives with them. So for those who are hoping to get funds from their churches, all that fixed deposits in banks, to help people in need, please think again.

These are transcripts of audio messages so they are better heard than read. If you would like to listen to them, the audio clips can be found here : https://goo.gl/KN4JYL  . It’s a folder on googledrive, so you’ll need to sign in with your google account username and password (or sign up for a google account) to be able to access it

 

Kingdom 66

The central thing in the Kingdom is loving God and being one with Him so that we will be like Him. If we are restored to being one with God, we would feel His heart for people in need. That’s why the final test for who will be counted as part of God’s Kingdom is whether, like Him, they love those in need. Another reason why loving and serving the poor is such a central thing in God’s Kingdom is because it is part of the restoration that Jesus came to bring on earth. All dominion, authority and power will be destroyed and the values of this world turned upside down so that everything will fulfill their created order and purpose under His Lordship. In the Kingdom it is not those who rule over others, but those who serve others, who are the greatest. So those on top need to come down while those at the bottom who have been debased and reduced to be horribly and terribly less than what they were created to be, need to be lifted up. Both the rich and the poor, need to be restored to the image and likeness of God. Then the world will see the love and justice of the Kingdom.

In the previous segment in Kingdom 65, I ended it by saying that I will explain what the poor need is actually not money but people, people who love them, and you can only feel the love of a person, not a church or an organization. But before I do that, before I explain, there is something I need to clarify first. There have been times after a Kingdom workshop, people have come to me and said, “Hey Eng Hoe, I totally get it that we have been neglecting the poor and we need to love the poor more.  But I still don’t get what’s the connection between loving the poor and the Kingdom. You seem to pay a lot of time and attention on the subject of poverty and loving the poor. It is as if you are trying to tell us that loving the poor is the central thing of the Kingdom. Is that true? Why is that?”

Sometimes when there are too many things we are trying to understand and process at the same time, we cannot see how they are connected. So despite 4 days of a Kingdom workshop and despite listening from Kingdom 14 to 43, sometimes people still cannot see the connection between the Kingdom and the poor. There’s a short and long answer to this. The short answer is .. the central thing in the Kingdom is of course to love God and to be one with God. But what’s the 2nd part of the greatest commandment? It is to love our neighbors as ourselves. But it would not be a duty or obligation or burden. In fact, as you know, John said if we love God, meaning if we are one with God, we would feel what’s on His heart. We would feel how He feels for the poor, right? I talked about this in Kingdom 22. If we have love, we will feel what they are going through, and our hearts will go out to them.

Now the long answer. Let me start with this. One of the main reasons why I had misunderstood, and I believe that many Christians still misunderstand the gospel, is because we are locked in to this idea of a “personal salvation”. So we see salvation as a very personal thing that does not involve others. That’s why many can’t see what’s the connection between the Kingdom and loving the poor. But what does it mean to be in God’s Kingdom? The Kingdom is not just God and I, and I and God. It is God and us. In our own kingdom, it is “I”, “Me” and “Myself”. But in God’s Kingdom, it is “we”.

The coming of God’s kingdom is to restore everything back to original design. What is God’s original design for life? We were all created in the image and likeness of God and to have equal worth and value. It is actually from Gen.1:26 that the concept and understanding of human dignity was derived, and from that came the UN charter and declaration for human rights. But sadly in this world, the rich and powerful rule and oppress and subjugate the weak and powerless. In 1994, when I was first exposed to the terrible poverty in Bangladesh, I asked the Lord, “Lord, why are they so poor? And what actually is poverty?” I didn’t understand. The Lord began to speak in my heart and I came to realize that poverty is actually not about the lack of material wealth or the lack of things. Poverty is actually about the debasement and the reduction of a human being made in the image of God to be horribly and terribly less than what he was created to be.

Someone who lives in filth and disease without proper sanitation and he shares whatever crumbs of food he can salvage from a rubbish dump with rats and cockroaches, does not reflect the image and likeness of God. Someone who comes from a poor and dysfunctional family that never gave him a chance at education and all he knows is to beg or steal so that his stomach can get some food, is not living out what he was designed for. Neither a prostitute or a young girl with no education or skills who had no choice but to be sold by her own parents, and trafficked to serve in brothels or as a domestic helper where she is treated like a slave, and all she knows is bitterness and sorrow .. she is also not living out God’s design for life. But you know what, it is not just the poor. The self-centered rich and powerful are also not living out their purpose and design. They are also a horrible and ugly caricature of the image of God. And so are churches that have no heart for the poor and needy.

Paul told us in 1 Cor.15 that Jesus came to destroy all dominion, authority and power to bring everything back under his Lordship, so that everything will be brought back to the order that was meant to be. Everything will be restored to their proper place and fulfil their created purpose. But in order for that to happen, wealth and power and poverty and oppression, will all need to be ironed out. A picture of that, of everything being levelled out for the King to come, is powerfully captured in Lk.3:4-14 :

“A voice of one calling in the desert, `Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all mankind will see God’s salvation.’” Let me repeat those last few words : all mankind will see God’s salvation”. The salvation will be seen. Where? On earth, because it says all mankind will see. So what is this salvation that will be seen? When we read the context from verse 4 to 14 , we will see it is about justice and equality. Not about going to heaven. So here’s the question : Is the world seeing the justice and equality that results from being reconciled to God? Let me continue reading. Verse 7 says “John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, `We have Abraham as our father.’  

If John the Baptist were here today, he would probably say, “Don’t say to yourselves that you have already accepted Jesus as your savior. Where is the fruit, where is the evidence of your repentance?” “For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” What was John telling them? In today’s Christian language he was telling them, “Don’t be so sure you are saved.” Right? “What should we do then?” the crowd asked.” Listen carefully to what John said. John answered, “The man with two coats should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.” Can you see the leveling out in God’s Kingdom? Why should one have more and others have to cope with less?

In 2 Cor.8:13-15, Paul also talks about this leveling out. He said, Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written: “He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.” You see that? If God has given me the ability to do more or earn more, it is so that I can supply those who lack. Let me continue reading Lk.3:12 “Tax collectors also came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?” “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them. Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely–be content with your pay.” What’s that about? John was talking about justice and contentment.

For the Kingdom to come, for that leveling out, what must happen is a dismantling and overturning of the kingdoms of man. Wolfgang Simson has said it so well. He said for God’s Kingdom to come, man’s kingdom must go. That’s the mountains and hills made low. God’s Kingdom can reign only in those who have been brought down from their ivory towers. But the valleys also need to be filled and raised up. What’s that about? That is about lifting up those who are downtrodden, and those who are down there. That’s why Jesus said He was anointed to give good news to the poor, to heal the broken-hearted and set the prisoners free. In the work of the Kingdom there is a tearing down, overthrowing and destroying and there is a building up.

Throughout the Bible we can see that much of what is valued by this world, God considers rubbish and foolishness, while much of what is regarded as rubbish and foolishness by this world, God values. How does the world treat the poor, and how did Jesus treat the poor? When Jesus came, He turned everything upside down. He denounced the rich and powerful but He lifted up the poor, the nobodies, and the rejects of society (Lk.6:24-25). Jesus feels so much for the poor that He said whatever we do for them, we have done it for Him. When Jesus told the poor “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God”, and when He told them, “Blessed are the meek, blessed are those who mourn, and blessed are those who are persecuted ..”, what was He telling them? What He was telling them is, while the rich and powerful who rule this world may have oppressed and rejected you, while the world has pushed you aside and forgotten about you, God is for you. Amen?

One day when Jesus returns, the big shots, the rich, and the powerful will be cast out. The nobodies and rejects of society will rule with Him (Jas.2:5, Lk.1:52, 1 Sam.2:7-8, Lk.16:19-26). So this is what the Kingdom is about. Everything will be turned upside down. You’ve already heard me say why Jesus came to turn everything upside down. In God’s eyes, it is not those who rule over others, but those who serve others, who have the highest and the greatest honor.

Let me end with this. Remember what I shared in Kingdom 29 and 32? Take a step back and look at the big picture. From the very start, God has only one agenda, and that is, to make man in His image and likeness. That is why the sheep and goats parable tells us the final test for who will be accepted as part of His Kingdom, will be whether they will have the nature of Christ. In this life, in this world of selfishness and terrible injustice and inequality and alienation, nothing is closer to being like Christ than to reach out to another fellow human being who is in need. I hope it is clear now why loving and serving the poor is such a central thing in the Kingdom of God.

These are transcripts of audio messages so they are better heard than read. If you would like to listen to them, the audio clips can be found here : https://goo.gl/KN4JYL  . It’s a folder on googledrive, so you’ll need to sign in with your google account username and password (or sign up for a google account) to be able to access it

Kingdom 65

Many people today are making the same mistake the Jews made in the time of Jesus. God was not in the temple or in their meetings in the synagogues. He was out there with the poor and needy and the nobodies and rejects and outcasts of society. Jesus said the Kingdom is for them and good news to them because in the Kingdom they will be loved and they will get justice. But the Kingdom is bad news for those who feel very at home in this world because they have to share their wealth with the poor. They want to go to heaven but don’t want to die. The sheep are like their Shepherd – their hearts go out to people in need. The goats are blind because they are so absorbed in themselves they have no time and no eyes for people in need. They have been blessed with good education and skills but they are too busy building their own kingdoms or someone else’s kingdom. If we want to work with God for His Kingdom to advance, then we need to get on with church as Jesus meant it to be. Don’t wait for your church to change. If they are happy with church as they know it, and they are not disturbed by how the church can carry on the way it is, then they are not listening to God. In that case they will not listen to you.

Perhaps some listeners might still be confused about what I said in Kingdom 64. Basically, God can make use of anyone or anything to accomplish His purposes. Even those who are purporting to do God’s will, but who are actually working for their own agenda. They are doing it to collect megabucks, but if they also invite people to come forward to be healed in the name of Jesus, then God can make use of that. God is of course not with the guy where his intention is to make megabucks out of the rally, but God is there for people who earnestly come to be healed. People who go hoping to be healed, or those who bring them there, they have earnest faith for them to be healed, and the atmosphere and music that is generated in these rallies can be really uplifting and faith building, and so the Holy Spirit is there to meet that faith and expectation. So they get healed. But that does not mean God endorses the prosperity teaching or the fraud of the speaker. God makes use of us even though we are full of faults. All of us who are parents know that, right? In Phil.1:15-18 Paul talked about those who preach the gospel out of selfish ambition or false motives. But Christ is nevertheless preached, he said.

Some friends urged me to speak out strongly against all these shenanigans or abuse that’s going on in the Christian world. I said ok, but actually I did not want to talk about these things. Why? Because it’s very, very, very unlikely that what I say through these audio messages will come to the attention or hearing of these guys. How about to warn others against it? Ha, it’s also very unlikely that people who need to be warned, meaning people who might be swayed by that kind of stuff, would get to hear these audio clips. The only people who listen to these Kingdom messages are those who really want to work with God for His Kingdom to advance, and that’s what and who I want to focus on. Not those who are looking for blessings. They would have given up listening long ago.

I think when I started doing these messages, there might have been about 50 – 70 people who listened for a while, and they probably listened only up to Kingdom 10 or 11. Now, I think there might be 10 – 15 persons who are still following. I have no idea who these messages might be forwarded to, so in Kingdom 30, I asked for feedback and I gave my email address, but no one emailed me. So if you are still listening and following, then its people like you I want to talk to. I’m not going to talk anymore about the fraudsters and what they do, ok?

But what about normal church, or church as we know it? In Kingdom 64 you heard me say we need to abandon what is not church, and get on with what Jesus meant by church. Your church might be giving good teaching, but what are the people doing with all that good teaching? Will your church be willing to be changed from an institution that does meetings in a building, to become communities that go and love people in need around them? As I asked in Kingdom 17, what if your church were to close down, would anyone in the surrounding community miss it? If not, then what has it been existing for? Someone has said that if the Holy Spirit were to depart from this world, most churches around the world probably wouldn’t even know that happened. Church services and programs would carry on as usual.

Many years back, I spoke in a church in Jakarta. I asked if anyone knew how many slums there are around Jakarta and how many of them had no toilets, or piped water, or electricity, or if the children were going to school. No one knew. I told them that if they went to their city council they will find a list of all the slums around Jakarta, with the names of all the headmen of these slums. The local government has names for each slum and they know how many people are in each of them, and they could go and find out if they had toilets, piped water, and electricity and if the children were going to school. I said I’m not sure if you will invite me again to speak in your church but if you do, the next time I come, I will ask you if anyone found out about these slums in your city. Well they invited me back a few months later. So when I spoke at their service, I asked them about the slums. Guess what, no one, not even one person had moved an inch to find out about the poor in their own city. So don’t talk about whether they did anything, if no one even bothered to go and find out. Did they invite me again? Of course not. They didn’t want me ask them the same question the 3rd time, right.

So many people in churches have been blessed with good education, and they have so much experience in all sorts of skills but will they go and help those who are less educated to set up business or run businesses or to go and create employment for the poor? Or at least go find out what’s going on in the lives of the poor and see how they can be a friend to them? No they won’t. They have no time. They are either busy building their own kingdoms or someone else’s kingdom. The Lord spoke to me some time ago that unless He is talking to someone, I am wasting my time talking with him. So if people are happy with church as they know it, and they are not disturbed by how the church can carry on the way it is, what does that mean? That means they are not listening to the Holy Spirit. Because if they were listening to the Holy Spirit, how can they not hear what’s on the heart of God? How can they not be disturbed and restless for what’s beating on the heart of God?

Many people today are making the same mistake the Jews made in the time of Jesus. God was not in the temple or in their meetings in the synagogues. He was out there with the poor. Not among the religious crowd, nor the rich and powerful and those with connections, but among the nobodies especially those who were sick, blind, lame, and oppressed. Among the rejects and outcasts of society. They are the ones who Jesus said the Kingdom is for. Jesus said “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness?” Sometime ago, I heard the Lord ask me, “Do you know who are the people who hunger and thirst for righteousness?” I thought it’s those in the church who fast and pray and they seem to have an aura of holiness about them, but the Lord said to me, “The only ones who hunger and thirst for righteousness are those who are suffering injustice. If you have never suffered injustice, you do not know what it means to hunger and thirst for it.”

Why did Jesus say, “Blessed are the poor for theirs is the Kingdom of God”? Why is the Kingdom for them? The Kingdom is for them because they have been kicked around, mistreated, cheated of proper wages, they are rejected and marginalized and treated with contempt by this world. This world is not a kind place for them. But they will feel right at home in the Kingdom where they are loved and where there is justice and everything is shared. The poor are also looking to be led and taken care of by someone who is powerful. They are always looking for a big man to look after them. But someone who is also kind and comes down to their level, someone who takes the trouble to understand their struggles and feel what’s on their hearts. They don’t know it, but that’s who King Jesus is, Amen? And that’s what the Kingdom is really. That’s why the Kingdom with all its love and justice would be good news for them. It’s the poor who will welcome the Kingdom.

But about those who feel very at home in this world, who have lots of possessions to hold on to, or whose possessions are holding on to them .. those who know how to take care of themselves and advance themselves .. those who want to go to heaven but don’t want to die .. hahaha .. remember what Sheila said to Pastor Larry? .. the Kingdom would not be good news for them. In fact the Kingdom would be bad news for them. Why? Because if they want to be in the Kingdom, Jesus said they have to share their wealth with the poor. Jesus said it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of heaven.

In Matt.25 Jesus talked about the sheep and goats. What is it that distinguishes the sheep from the goats? The sheep are like their Shepherd .. they love. Their hearts go out to people in need. The goats are blind. The goats asked the King, “When did we see ..?” You know why they don’t see? Because they are so absorbed in themselves, in their successes, their money, their cars, their big projects, their multi-million dollar businesses and multi-million dollar ministries, their fancy offices, and their big churches. They are so absorbed in themselves and what great things they are doing for God, they have no time and no eyes for the poor, or for people in need.

Someone said to me, “You know why I am still hoping and praying for my church to change? Because it has so much money. We have millions in fixed deposits. If our church changes, all that money could be used for the poor.” Hahahaha. Listen, if they have never felt the need to share all that money with people in need, and they felt it was safer to let the bank use it to make lots of money for themselves, and give you back just a few percent interest, then they are never going to share that money with the poor. And even if they are willing to, guess what, what the poor need is actually not money. What the poor need are people who love them, who go and be their friends. And no one can feel the love of a church or an organization. People can only feel the love of a person. My time’s up. I’ll explain all this in another segment.

These are transcripts of audio messages so they are better heard than read. If you would like to listen to them, the audio clips can be found here : https://goo.gl/KN4JYL  . It’s a folder on googledrive, so you’ll need to sign in with your google account username and password (or sign up for a google account) to be able to access it

Kingdom 64

God cares for what’s happening on earth and in this world, and He expects us to use our minds and everything else He has given us, to work with Him, so that all life on earth can be restored to what He originally designed and intended it to be. And He is going to call us to account for what He has entrusted to us. In order to work with God for that restoration or for His Kingdom to advance, we need revelation and we need to abandon what is not actually church, and get back to what Jesus meant by church, because that is God’s primary agent to establish His Kingdom on earth. We have to work according to God’s design, not our own design. God can make use of those who are purporting to do God’s will but who are actually working for their own agenda, to accomplish His purposes. But to God they are actually evildoers. The only thing that matters is whether we do the will of God, and God is the final judge of that. Outward appearances are deceptive.

In the previous segment in Kingdom 63, I talked about this false divide between the spiritual and the secular which comes from a wrong understanding that the gospel is salvation to go to heaven. Based on that understanding, only the salvation of souls, and what is related to the salvation of souls, is spiritual. Everything else is not spiritual, and therefore not important. So the church cuts itself off from the world. It sees no role for itself in the world and neither does it care about all the poverty, injustice, corruption and perversion and everything else that is wrong in the world. But that is a fallacy. As you heard me say in Kingdom 5 : Ps.24:1 says that the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it belongs to Him. Nothing in the Bible tells me that God has given up ownership of the earth to the devil.

One other thing I forgot to mention when I did Kingdom 5 is Rev.11:18. It says that God will judge those who destroy the earth. If God doesn’t care anymore about the earth, why would He judge those who destroy the earth? Well since He is going to judge those who destroy the earth, then clearly it means that God cares for the environment, right? And why would He not care for what He created? Of course He does. God cares for what’s happening on earth and in this world, and He expects us to use our minds and everything else He has given us, to work with Him, so that all life on earth can be restored to what He originally designed and intended it to be. And He is going to call us to account for what He has entrusted to us.

So how are we to work with Him on that restoration or for His Kingdom to advance? I have already spoken about the need for revelation and what it takes for us to have revelation from God. I have also spoken about what Jesus meant by church. Not what is understood and practiced as church today, but what Jesus meant by church.  The church, meaning church as Jesus intended it to be, is the primary agent on earth by which God will accomplish His mission of establishing His Kingdom on earth. In that case we have to abandon what is not church, and return to what Jesus meant by church. Otherwise we would not be working with God. We would be doing our own thing.

I think it was Francis Chan who used a simple comparison to show how our idea of church today, and what Jesus meant by church, are so different. He asked some church leaders what it would take to start a new church. Everyone agreed that practically all it takes is 3 things : a good speaker, a good worship leader and his band, and a place. With those 3 things, a church can be started. But imagine if the question was put to Jesus, how would He answer? He would say, “When you love one another as I have loved you, and when you are one, and you continue to do what I did, that would be church.” Right? Can you see the difference? Two very different things altogether.

Imagine if you are an architect and you gave your building plans to an engineer. Instead of following your plans, the engineer and his construction team ignored your plans and they built the building according to their own plans. Then they tell you, “Look at what we built. This is what we think the building should be. We did it our way.” But that’s not what you instructed them to do. What would you do with the building they built? If I were the architect I know what I would do. I would knock the building down and get another engineer and team to build it according to my plans. Right?

In 1 Cor.3, Paul said we have to be careful how we build. He said we cannot build, except on the foundation of Christ. Even if we do build on the foundation of Christ, he said the quality of our work will be tested, so what if we don’t build on the foundation of Christ, but based on our own ideas? If we don’t build according to the pattern that Jesus has set, and we come up with our own pattern, there is no question of quality at all. The whole thing is something else that God did not commission, and God will not recognize it. In Genesis we read that Cain’s offering was not acceptable to God. Although it was not mentioned why, what is clear is this. There is no doubt that God had certain requirements as to what was an offering that was acceptable to Him. It doesn’t matter that Cain might have worked hard for it. If it did not meet God’s requirement, it will be rejected. God has His way and we have to follow His way. We cannot come up with our own way and offer that to God.

In Matt.7:21-23, everyone knows this, Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, `I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ .

I have been asked many times, how is it that some church leaders and evangelists can be teaching wrong things yet they are so successful with their mega-churches and mega ministries, and they fly around in their private jets and do meetings with tens of thousands of people and miracles of healing actually happen in those meetings? Someone said to me that I should address this because it is quite confusing.

There is nothing confusing actually. Where God is concerned, “success” is measured not in terms of how the world looks at success but simply if we carried out His will. I talked about this in Kingdom 10. At the end of His life Jesus said He had completed the work that the Father gave Him to do and that He had brought the Father glory, even though He left behind no building, no congregation, no church, no Bible school, no money and almost no disciples. If we had watched Jesus being crucified through the worldview spectacles of the world, through how the world looks at success, we would all think Jesus’ ministry was a failure, right?

But what about the miracles that happens in these rallies? Are they not real? And are they not being done in Jesus’ name? Of course they are real, but so what if people are actually being healed, and so what if they are being done in Jesus’ name? Jesus still called them “evildoers”. Listen, who did the healing? Was it the guy on the stage or was it God? Of course it was God who did the healing, not the guy on the stage, right? Why did God heal? Well, God healed that person because God had compassion on that person. So what’s the problem?

But didn’t God make use of the guy on the stage? Yes He did. So what? God also made use of the Assyrians to punish Israel, and later He punished the Assyrians for what they did to Israel. Throughout history, God does that again and again. God hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that He would do all those signs and wonders, right? And then? And then He judged Pharaoh. He judged Pharaoh for treating the Israelites as slaves and not releasing them when he was commanded to do so. In the Scriptures we can see several cases where God allows and even instigates people to do things that would fall in line with His bigger plans, even though what they did was wicked and evil. If you are interested write to me and I’ll give you a whole list of references for that. But isn’t that confusing? No it is not. Look carefully and you will see that in each case where God did that, those guys already had an evil intent in their hearts, but God made use of that for His larger purposes.

I don’t know about you but when I look back at my younger days, I was zealous and ignorant, and even foolish at times. But God used even some of my foolishness to accomplish some things. I think He used me to provoke some people and through that He might have taught them some things the hard way. Things they could not have learnt from a book. My wife and my children would readily testify to that! Does that excuse me? That does not excuse me of course. God used me, but I can’t claim a medal for some stupid things that I said, can I?

So these guys who are doing these healing rallies, people get healed no doubt, and demons are cast out, but if they are doing these rallies to also teach prosperity and make mega-bucks out of that for themselves, they will be judged. The fact that people are healed and demons are cast out doesn’t excuse them from the wrong teaching or the deception they carried out by twisting scriptures. It doesn’t excuse them from the lust and greed and wickedness in their hearts.

Listen, even if they don’t teach anything wrong, but they are basking in the glory of man, they will be judged. You are listening to what I’m teaching right now, and you might be impressed, but you know what, God is the final judge. God may be using the talents He has given me to accomplish some things, but what did God tell Samuel? Man looks at outward appearances, but God looks at the heart. So please don’t be confused. Bottom line is, are we doing the will of God? And for those who are not doing the will of God, but their own will, but they are purporting to do the will of God, Jesus will call them, “evildoers”. Why? I think it’s simply because there is nothing more deceptive and evil than wolves in sheep’s clothing and making use of the name of Christ for themselves. Think about that.

These are transcripts of audio messages so they are better heard than read. If you would like to listen to them, the audio clips can be found here : https://goo.gl/KN4JYL  . It’s a folder on googledrive, so you’ll need to sign in with your google account username and password (or sign up for a google account) to be able to access it

Kingdom 63

How could pastors and church planters divorce church planting and ministry from life itself? And how could they not see love in terms of helping to prevent a problem but only after the problem has arisen? And how could they not see resources that God had already given them and what to do with them? It is because to them the Gospel is the message of salvation to go to heaven. If the salvation of souls is the only thing that is spiritual, then everything else in this world is not spiritual. It is secular. Or even worldly and therefore has nothing to do with the church. But this is a false divide between the spiritual and the secular. Biology, chemistry and physics is actually studying what God has created and already given to us, and taking of dominion over creation that God commanded us to do. We are to use our minds, which God has given us, to overcome all sorts of limitations that we would be subject to, if not for the discovery and application of the resources and physical laws that God has already put into His creation. And business, accounts, economics and finance, are actually about what we do with what has been entrusted to us.

In this segment I’m going to tell you about this false divide between the spiritual and the secular. Let me start with my experience in Ghana in West Africa. In September 2007 a tropical storm hit the upper east region of Ghana very badly. More than 90,000 people were displaced and nearly 20,000 homes were destroyed. Corn is their staple food, but practically all of their corn fields were totally destroyed. I was with Partners International, a missions agency based in the US, at that time. We had a partner ministry that has a church planting team in the region. The communities in which they had been working were badly affected and thousands of people were out of food. So they asked us for help. Unfortunately, all we could raise was $15,000. Partners International sent me there to give them a seminar on crisis response and help them determine what they could do with the $15,000.

When I got there, I told them all we could raise was $15,000. I asked them what they would do with the money. Their response was to buy food to distribute to the communities they were working in. Then I asked them how long would that last. They said about 2 to 3 weeks. At the very most, if they stretched it and everyone had only one meal a day, it could go up to 2 to 3 months. Then I said, “So what would you do after that?” They said, “Well, we hope Partners International can raise more funds.”  I told them, “Sorry guys, I have been instructed to tell you that’s all we can raise. I’m sorry but please don’t expect any more funds. If you give out bags of rice, the people will take the rice, they will thank you, and you won’t see them again. Is there something you can do with the money to get the people together to work at something that can produce an income for them and for you? Each time they get together to work, they can cook and eat together and you will all have continuous access to build relationships with them … and that would be your church planting, right?”

They were all pastors and church planters. They struggled to accept this idea that getting involved in business is part of their church planting mandate. They said, “We are all Bible school graduates. We know nothing about business. And we were taught in Bible College to never get involved in business or money matters. We were told to engage strictly in church planting and nothing else besides that.” I realized this was yet another group, typical of so many churches and mission groups that I had been encountering all over Asia, where I had been giving training. The church has understood the Gospel only as the Gospel of salvation where the focus is heaven, and not the Gospel of the Kingdom that Jesus preached, where the focus is earth, where God desires for His Kingdom to reign and for abundant life to be restored.

Just as in other places where I had been giving Community Development training, I asked them what they would do if a family in the village had a sick child that was dying, and the family was so poor they couldn’t get the child to hospital. They all said they would take the child to the hospital of course. So I asked them, “Are you sure that is part of church planting?” They said, “Well the Bible tells us to love people.” I said, “That’s great, but why is the child sick in the first place? Why are all these kids falling sick in the villages?” They knew the answer. It was not because of some incurable disease. It was because of malnutrition and poor sanitation. Then I said, “C’mon why not do livelihood projects that will help the parents have income so they can feed their kids and have proper homes and sanitation and then their kids would not fall sick in the first place? Is that not love? Why is “curing” love, but “prevention” not love? They replied, “We have never thought about that!”

While they were still thinking about it, the Lord gave me another idea. So I asked them, “Have you ever visited people in prison?” They said “Yes, we do. We have prison ministry. We have revival services in the prison.” OK then I asked them, “Are you sure that is part of church planting?” They replied, “Yes. Jesus said when he was in prison “you visited me”, so we should do that.” So I asked them, “Why are these people in prison in the first place? Why do they get into gang fights and petty theft? Is it not because the people are not gainfully employed? Would they get into crime if they were living purposeful lives? When I travelled from the airport to the city, and it was about 10 in the morning, and it was a weekday, but I saw thousands of young people hanging around doing nothing. I told them in Malaysia where I come from, at 10 in the morning you would never see young people anywhere in the city. Either they are in college or university or working. What happens if young people have nothing to do? Then they will get into alcohol, drugs, gang fights and crime, right? So how about helping people, especially the young people, with livelihood and income so they would not get into prison in the first place? Is that not love? Why is it you visit people in prison, but not help prevent crime? Why is curing more loving than preventing? They said, “Wow, this is a completely new way of thinking!”

After a lot more teaching on worldview and poverty and the Kingdom of God, they finally agreed that it was necessary to engage in business that would help resolve issues of poverty. But the struggle was to know what to do. What could they do with $15,000 to really help the people? They had no idea. Again they said, “We know nothing about business.” I said, “Well, you know what, I know nothing about your country and what you can do. But surely God knows what you can do with the $15,000. Let’s pray and ask Him. In particular, let’s pray that He gives us eyes to see and ears to hear. And we must decide on something by the end of this week when I leave.” I had been teaching them that one of the things about poverty is that poverty blinds people from seeing what resources they already have from God. Instead, people become dependent on outside resources and they are always looking to the West for help, right?

The next morning when I was in a car with the leader, and we were stuck in a traffic jam on the way to the seminar, in front of us was a truck that was loaded high with sacks of something. I felt a prompting from the Lord and I asked the leader, “What’s in those sacks? He said, “shea nuts.” I asked, “What are shea nuts? I’ve never heard of shea nuts. Are they for eating?” He said, “No, well we can eat it, but it’s for making shea butter. That’s the basic ingredient for making cosmetics.” I was curious and asked, “So the Japanese and the Americans they all come here and buy the shea butter?” He said, “Yes, Japanese, Koreans, Americans, Europeans .. they all come here. Ghana is one of the largest exporters in the world of shea butter.” So I asked, “Now, who owns the plantations that grow these shea nuts?” He said, “No one. They are growing wild all over the northern part of Ghana.” I was shocked. I said, “Listen, this is the answer!” and he replied, “What answer?”

I said, “C’mon why not take the $15,000 and hire trucks and get the people from the communities to go and pick the shea nuts, and buy a mill, or rent a mill or whatever, and grind them into shea butter .. and ..?” He was excited. He said “Hallelujah, God has answered our prayer!” We got to the seminar, he announced to all the participants that God had answered their prayer. After I left Ghana, they started doing just that. Many groups have been formed in different communities to produce shea butter. Later they even started a bakery among the women in the community, and I am told it is going well.

The point of the story is this. How could pastors and church planters divorce church planting and ministry from life itself? And how could they not see love in terms of helping to prevent a problem but only after the problem has arisen? Why is preventing not love? Only curing is love. And how could they not see resources that God had already given them and what to do with them? No eyes to see. Why? Because to them the Gospel is the message of salvation to go to heaven. In that case the salvation of souls is the only thing that is spiritual. Everything else in this world is not spiritual. It is secular. Or even worldly. They have nothing to do with the church.

Some years back .. let me tell you another story. Some years back, I was teaching a group of pastors in the Philippines. I asked them what’s biology : spiritual or secular? They all answered “secular of course”. Then I said but the whole study of biology is the study of zoology and botany. It’s a study of God’s creation. There is nothing else we study in biology apart from God’s creation. I mean man didn’t create it. The devil didn’t create it. It is God who created all plant and animal life, right? So if we are studying God’s creation, why do you call it secular? Then they replied, “Err .. maybe it can be spiritual ..”

Then I asked, “What about chemistry? Spiritual or secular?” This time they were not so quick to answer. Then I said it’s the same as when we are talking about biology. All the elements of the earth were created by God and he put it there for man to discover and use. Pr.25:2 tells us that It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.” Man did not invent the periodic table. Man discovered it. The periodic table was already there before man was created, right? So the whole of the study of chemistry is a study of God’s creation – the properties of each element and how they react to one another. The plastic and metal in the chairs you are sitting on all came to be made through the study of chemistry. All the cars we drive and the petrol in the cars that get us around, all the cooking gas we use, all the medicines and advanced medical knowledge we have, they all came about through the study of chemistry. All manufacturing, all industry is possible only through the application of chemistry.

Now what about physics? Again it’s a study of God’s creation. Issac Newton didn’t invent the laws of motion. He discovered it. Same with Einstein and others who made discoveries. If we did not study physics we would not be able to have electricity at the flick of a switch. We would not be able to have piped water into our homes. We would not have the convenience of modern sanitation. We would not have lamps, phones, computers and all sorts of electrical equipment. We would not have bridges and buildings, and we would not have cars and aeroplanes.

Whether biology, chemistry or physics, it is studying what God has created and already given to us. It is actually the taking of dominion over creation that God commanded us to do, and it is using our minds, which God has given us, to overcome all sorts of limitations that we would be subject to, if not for the discovery and application of the resources and physical laws that God has already put into His creation.

Then I asked, what about business, accounts, economics and finance? They all said, “Ah, all that is definitely secular!” So I said, “Why do you call it secular?” They said it’s because it is all about money.” So I said, “So if it’s about money, then it’s secular? They said YES. All of them were pastors, so I asked them, “Tell me, if money is secular, why is it all pastors in the world love to have a lot of businessmen in their church?” They all laughed. I said “Hey if money is secular, not spiritual, and some would even say it is worldly, we shouldn’t touch it at all, right?” And don’t you guys have to do accounts in church? By the way, God is not only a fisherman, a farmer and a shepherd, God is an accountant. One day everyone of us will have to give an account to God for what we have done with what He has entrusted to us, right? So business, accounts, economics and finance, what are they about? They are actually about what you do with what has been entrusted to you. Listen, sin is not in the money. Sin is in the hearts and minds of people! Right? Think about that.

These are transcripts of audio messages so they are better heard than read. If you would like to listen to them, the audio clips can be found here : https://goo.gl/KN4JYL  . It’s a folder on googledrive, so you’ll need to sign in with your google account username and password (or sign up for a google account) to be able to access it

 

Kingdom 62

Everyone is following the same ideas of church planting and church growth from the West and they want to have mega churches just like in America but no one seems to be concerned whether the love of the Father is in them, or if they are making any impact on society. The concept of church planting is well accepted among Churches all over the world and assumed to be Biblical and as the mission that Jesus sent us to accomplish. However, there is actually no biblical basis for it. When Paul said, “I planted but Apollos watered”, Paul was not talking about planting churches. He was talking about each one in the church having different functions and no one should think he was more important than another. Our mission is to work with God for His Kingdom to reign over communities and nations. All that is broken as a result of sin – not just relationships between people, but housing, water, sanitation, education, work, industry, government, everything in the community that is broken would have to be healed.  The devil steals, kills and destroys life – life as God designed it to be. But Jesus came to restore it to people. Not just for us to do meetings in buildings.

In the previous segment in Kingdom 61, I said we can’t plant people. We can only love people. Neither can we plant a community. We can only be in community with others. Before I elaborate on what I mean by that, in this segment, I am going to address this thing called “church planting”.

Where did people get that idea from? When I first came to know the Lord in 1974, there was no such thing as church planting. The term did not exist. In those days people talked about evangelism and how to share the gospel and how to bring people to Jesus. But a few years later, sometime in the late 1970s, someone said “Evangelism” is not enough, there must be “Follow up”. So teaching was developed on how to do “Follow-up”. A few years later in the early 1980s, someone said, “Follow up” is not enough. We must disciple. So manuals and books were written and seminars were conducted on how to disciple people. But then sometime in the mid 1980s, in America, Ralph Winter said, it is not enough to disciple. We must plant churches. And Peter Wagner added on the term “Church Growth” and then we saw the rise of mega-churches. So more books and seminars appeared on Church Planting and Church Growth.

The idea of planting churches did not come to Asia until sometime in the early 1990s I think. But by mid-2000 the terms “Church Planting” and “Church Growth” had became the normal vocabulary of churches around the whole world. Later the Southern Baptists took it even further. They said “Church Planting” was not enough. They introduced the concept of “Church Planting Movements”.  Others started a parallel stream of “Church Multiplication”.

But you know what, I have to ask this question. Where in the Bible did Jesus or Paul talk about church planting, or church growth or church multiplication? No, it’s not in the Bible. When missionaries talk about planting a church, basically what they mean is to start a gathering of believers in a place that meet regularly to worship and pray and fellowship and learn the Word of God, and hopefully it will grow and multiply. That’s not a bad thing of course. That’s a good thing. But if we think that that’s the end goal of missions, that that is all that Jesus commanded us to do, then I believe we have misunderstood what Jesus said. Jesus told the Jews that the kingdom was taken away from them and given to others who would produce its fruit. Matt.21:43. So what was that which was expected of Israel, which they failed to produce, which is now expected of us?

I’ll return to this point later about what was expected of Israel, which is now expected of us. But first, let’s be very clear that Jesus never talked about church planting, and neither did Paul. Whenever I ask church leaders and missionaries where did Paul talk about church planting, they will always say, “Paul said he planted and Apollos watered.” But hang on, when Paul said, “I planted but Apollos watered”, did you know that Paul was not talking about planting churches? He was talking about each one in the church having different functions. We have to understand what Paul was talking about from its context. What was happening in the church in Corinth? They were having quarrels and divisions. Some said they followed Paul. Others said they followed Apollos. Still others, they said they followed Peter, and of course there were those who said they followed Christ. That’s in 1 Cor.1:12.

So what did Paul say in response to this childishness? In 1 Cor.3:1-9, Paul said this : Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly–mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men? What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe–as the Lord has assigned to each his task. (Did you see that? It is about different functions) I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.”

Can you see? Paul was not talking about church planting. He was telling them everyone has different functions. When he said “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow” in verse 6, what is that seed? What was he talking about? He was not talking about starting a small group of people that meet regularly in a place. He was talking about the word of God that was planted in the hearts of the believers. Just as Jesus has told us in Lk.8:11, the seed is the Word of God that is sown on different types of ground. Notice Paul said “you are God’s field”. He did not say you are the seed. He said you are the field. The field is where the seed is planted, right? That corresponds with what Jesus said. We are not the seed. The word of God is the seed that is planted or sown in us. So let’s be very clear that when Paul was speaking about planting the seed, like Jesus, he was talking about planting the Word of God in people. Not planting churches.

As I mentioned earlier, the idea of Church planting as in having a group of people meet regularly in a place to pray and worship and learn the word of God, is not a bad thing. Some would say, “Something is better than nothing”, right? That’s true, but that’s where church planters have stopped. When they have won some people to Christ and they are meeting regularly to worship and pray and learn the word of God, they think they have already successfully planted a church.  But what about housing, water, sanitation, electricity, jobs, families, education, the health of the people, and the relationships between people in the community? What would it mean for God’s Kingdom to come and rule over a community? If everything  is to be brought back under God’s rule, then everything in the life of the community would have to change – not just which God they believe in, but all that is broken as a result of sin – not just relationships between people that are broken, but housing, water, sanitation, education, work, industry, government, everything in the community that is broken would have to be healed.

In Jn.10:10 Jesus said the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come that they may have life and have it to the full. Everywhere I teach whenever I ask Christians what has the devil been stealing, killing and destroying, they will always reply, “our peace and our joy”. Is that all? Listen carefully  to what Jesus said – the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come that they may have life. So what does the devil steal, kill and destroy? He steals, kills and destroys life – life as God designed it to be. As God meant it to be. Our mandate is to bring God’s Kingdom transformation to communities and nations. Not just do meetings in buildings.

What happens if we just do meetings in buildings? A British journalist wanted to find out what impact churches had on the society and culture of an American city. He did a study on Dallas, Texas, which had the largest percentage of believers attending church services regularly among all the cities in America. His study covered things like health care, infant mortality rate, education, safety in schools, exam results, graduation statistics, jobs and employment, housing, racial and economic discrepancies and inequalities, and social services and the social system and crime rates. What he found was devastating. No sane person would want to raise up a family there unless you were super rich and you stayed in a wealthy neighbourhood with tight security far away from the rest of the brokenness in the city. Then the journalist decided to select some of the most well known pastors and Christian leaders of the city and he presented his findings to them, and he asked each of them what their response was to the condition of their city. You know what each of them said? Each one said basically the same thing, “This is not my concern. I’m a spiritual leader”. Imagine that. By the way, I got this from Landa Cope’s book  ‘An Introduction to the Old Testament Template’.

That’s in North America. What about in Africa and Asia? There are so many nations in Africa, that have anything between 50 – 90% of the population regularly attending church services every Sunday, yet these same nations are some of the least developed nations in the world that are rife with poverty and corruption and crime. Are the churches in Africa making any impact on their society and culture around them? I’ve been there. Church planters there told me the same thing. They didn’t think anything else apart from the salvation of the soul is spiritual. In another segment I’ll tell you about my experience with church planters in Ghana. What about churches in Asia? Same thing. Why? Because everyone is following the same ideas of church planting and church growth from the West. So they want to have mega churches just like in America.

So more and more churches can be planted, and they can even grow to be mega churches, but is the love of the Father in them? And are they making any impact on society? How can that happen if church leaders don’t think that anything outside of the 4 walls of their church building is spiritual, or that it should concern the church?

These are transcripts of audio messages so they are better heard than read. If you would like to listen to them, the audio clips can be found here : https://goo.gl/KN4JYL  . It’s a folder on googledrive, so you’ll need to sign in with your google account username and password (or sign up for a google account) to be able to access it

Kingdom 61

The church today has become the way it is despite the fact that there is no Biblical precedent for almost everything that is accepted as church, whereas what Jesus meant the church to be, is there in the Bible, yet people can’t seem to see it. The church is not completely blind to all truth, but blind to the Kingdom, and blind to what Jesus meant the church to be. Blind to the needs of the poor and blind to what the church has become. Like the frog that slowly accommodates itself to the change of temperature in the water, the church has been lulled into a deep sleep. Unfortunately what the church is today came to us from history. In reaction to the Roman Catholic church, churches focused on being correct. Loving one another and loving people around us was rejected as being associated with the liberal theology of the Roman Catholic church. But lately there are signs that God is waking people up. If you have woken up to the Kingdom, don’t try to change the church. An institution cannot be changed to become a community. We should instead do what Jesus did. He did not try to change the religious system of the temple, but He worked outside of it.

In the previous segment in Kingdom 60, I ended it by mentioning how leaders can embezzle money and go to jail for that, and yet their followers can think they are suffering for Jesus. I mentioned that as an instance of how blind and deceived people can get. But you know what, it doesn’t have to go that far. Just following the way of the world and loving what the world loves is already a sure sign that churches have gone off track. When we love what the world loves, then the love of the Father is not in us. By the way that’s 1 Jn.2:15-16.

In Kingdom 17, I mentioned that worldwide 96% of all money collected in church, remains in the church. What does that tell us about the church? Is the love of the Father in the church? And worldwide 99% of the income of Christians, are spent on themselves. Is the love of the Father in us? And does that disturb us? Do churches see what’s wrong with that? In Kingdom 55, I asked the question, how is it that church today has become the way it is despite the fact that there is no Biblical precedent for almost everything that is accepted as church, whereas what Jesus meant the church to be, is there in the Bible, yet people can’t seem to see it. And as I’ve asked before also, how is it we know Jesus called the gospel, the gospel of the Kingdom, and yet we didn’t realize it is about the kingdom? What is that? Isn’t that a blindness also? The church is not completely blind of course, but partially blind. Not blind to all truth, but blind to the Kingdom, and blind to what Jesus meant the church to be. Blind to the needs of the poor and blind to what the church has become. And I was part of it. Part of this thing called church.

When it dawned on me that what happened in Aceh was a picture that God was showing me of the spiritual state of things in the whole world including the church, I asked the Lord, how did we become so blind, and so deaf, and so hardened in our hearts. I shared with you the monkey experiment in Kingdom 55 of what  happens when people just go along with what has always been and no one stops to question why things are the way they are. But there is another experiment that can also explain how things have deteriorated to what it is. Have you heard of the frog in boiling water experiment? If you put a frog in a pot of boiling water, the frog will jump out immediately. But if you put the frog in a pot of cold water and you slowly heat up the water, the frog will be lulled into a sleep and before it realizes what is happening it would be cooked.

Like the frog that slowly accommodated itself to the change of temperature in the water, the church has been lulled into a deep sleep. I think this started with the time when Constantine changed what Jesus meant by church, to become institutions that hold “spiritual” meetings in buildings. When Martin Luther woke up, I think the church was partially awakened. But only partially. Martin Luther I think made the mistake of bringing change only to the substance, not the form. He didn’t seem to realize the form was also important. The wrong form can suffocate and kill the substance. He continued with church services and all the rest of what had been accepted as church except without a pope that dictated the church.

The Protestant movement also led to a reaction against the Roman Catholic church that threw out the baby with the bath water so to speak. The cry of the Protestants was Sola Scriptura, Sola Gratia and Sola Fide, which means only the scriptures, only by grace and only through faith. But what about love and action? In their zeal to get back to scripture, grace, and faith, the church became unhealthily obsessed with being correct in their interpretation of scripture. And grace and faith was elevated to such a height that anything to do with works and action was viewed suspiciously as if you are trying to earn your way into heaven, or that it was associated with the liberal theology of the Roman Catholic Church in some way. Martin Luther in fact went so far to the right, that he had grave doubts whether the book of James that says faith without action is dead, should be part of the Bible. So instead of focusing on loving one another and loving people around us, churches focused on being correct.

But what happens if all that churches focus on is on being correct? When the world looks at the church, does it see love? No it doesn’t. Ask any person on the street what’s “church” or what’s a Christian. Will they tell you, “Oh Christians are those people who love others” or “Christians are people who bring positive change to society” No they won’t. Instead they will probably say, “Christians are people who believe in the Christian religion and they meet every Sunday in that building over there. And that’s what a church is.” Right? Why don’t they see love or the church being an agent of change in society? It’s because to churches and Christians themselves, action is not important. Being correct is more important. Being correct is everything. This obsession with being more correct than others is evident in how churches keep splitting up over disagreements in doctrine, and from the time of Martin Luther we now have more than 44,000 denominations of church in the world.

In the same way that children reap what has been sown by parents, what the church is today, what church means to Christians, is a legacy left to us from our forefathers. As I said in Kingdom 3, when we first heard the gospel it was about salvation to go to heaven, right? We were never told about the kingdom. And when we joined a church, the church also never told us about the Kingdom. The church told us about church. And that’s church according to how the church understands church to be. So naturally we just accepted that as normal, despite the fact that it is actually something else in the Bible. But no one questions it. It’s like everyone is in a deep sleep. As I’ve mentioned in Kingdom 6, in the parable of the 10 virgins, Jesus said all 10 virgins, including the 5 wise virgins fell asleep.

But the good news I think is this. In the parable of the 10 virgins, Jesus said at midnight a cry rang out, “The Bridegroom is coming.” And all the 10 virgins woke up. I could be wrong, but I believe we are at that time now. In 1994, when God first woke me up to the Kingdom, and what it means, I was wondering if I was the only one in the whole world who had woken up to it, because no one else seemed to realize that the good news is the Kingdom. Everyone else understood the good news as the good news of salvation. Not salvation from Satan’s Kingdom to God’s Kingdom, but salvation to go to heaven. Every time I asked people, “Hey did you know that the good news is the Kingdom, not salvation to go to heaven?” people would give me the look like “What on earth are you talking about?” Almost everyone gave me the same response. They said, “Of course the good news is the Kingdom. If we are saved, when we die, we will enter heaven, and that’s entering into God’s kingdom, right? So?”

In 1998 I heard Darrow Miller teaching and he talked about what “Let Your Kingdom come” means. He said God wants His Kingdom on earth now, not just when Jesus returns. I was thrilled. It was exactly what God had showed me back in 1994. Later I found there were others like Landa Cope, Wolfgang Simson, and Vishal Mangalwadi who had been teaching on the Kingdom as well. From 1999 God opened doors for me to travel and teach in many nations. Everywhere I went I talked about the Kingdom and about God’s love for the poor, not just about unreached people groups, but you know what, people found it very difficult to grasp what I was talking about. Leaders were so focused on church planting and church growth, they had no ears to hear about the Kingdom. It was very hard going. Like trying to wake people up from a deep, deep sleep. No matter how much you try to shake them awake, they refuse to wake up. But I think in the last 5 years, whenever I speak on the Kingdom, it is like the Holy Spirit is finally waking people up. Of course there are still people who are in such a deep, deep sleep, they still can’t seem to get it. And they get upset if someone is disturbing their sleep.

If we have woken up to the Kingdom, what should we do? One of the first things that many would want to do is they want to change their church, right? From church as we know it, to church as Jesus meant it to be. But you know what, please don’t try to do that. You can’t change an institution to become a community. Think about that. After many years of banging my head against a wall, one day the Lord said to me, “Why don’t you do what I did?” I thought about what Jesus did, and then I realized when Jesus came, there was a religious structure or a religious system, it was not called a church, it was called a temple .. but you know what .. He did not try to change the religious system of the temple, but He worked outside of it. He prayed and His Father showed Him who to focus on. Not the indifferent and antagonistic, but the believers and seekers. So we should do the same. And don’t try to plant a new church either. If we understand what church is, as in what Jesus meant church to be, then the term “church planting” does not make sense. I mean if church are people, how do you plant people? People can’t be planted. People are to be loved. Not planted. I’ll continue in the next segment.

These are transcripts of audio messages so they are better heard than read. If you would like to listen to them, the audio clips can be found here : https://goo.gl/KN4JYL  . It’s a folder on googledrive, so you’ll need to sign in with your google account username and password (or sign up for a google account) to be able to access it