Category Archives: Christian leadership

What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 5) — We Are a House of Prayer and Worship

church worshipMy pastor often said God’s desire for the local church is that we be a house of prayer, which thereby becomes a house of His presence, which results in us becoming a house of power.

Isaiah 56:7, 8 is often used to describe the house of prayer function of the local church: “Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: … for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all people. The Lord GOD Who gathers the outcasts of Israel says, ‘Yet will I gather others to Him [the Messiah, Jesus] besides those who are gathered to Him.'”

In context, these verses are about the temple in Jerusalem during the time of Jesus’ millennial reign upon the earth. They speak of God joining Jew and Gentile together in united adoration of Jesus.

Communion with God through prayer and worship, both individually and corporately, is one of the central themes throughout both the Old and New Testaments. The apostle Paul said we are to rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing, [and] in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

The early church took corporate prayer quite seriously. One hundred twenty disciples gathered together in the upper room, waiting according to Jesus’ instructions for the coming of the Holy Spirit. What did they do while they waited? “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication” (Acts 1:14).

In Acts 4:24-31, with the threat of persecution hanging over them, together they cried out for the Lord to give them boldness to preach the Gospel with healing, signs, and wonders following. Their prayer was answered. The Lord responded by physically shaking the place where they were gathered, filling them all afresh with the Holy Spirit, and giving them the boldness they had desired of Him.

When Peter was in prison awaiting execution, his situation looked hopeless, “but prayer was made without ceasing by the church to God for him” (Acts 12:5). In response to their prayers, Peter was supernaturally released from prison by an angel. We know that this was not only individual prayer going on, because Peter then went to one of the homes “where many were gathered together praying” (Acts 12:12).

Jesus gave us an encouraging glimpse into what can be accomplished through group prayer in Matthew 18:19, 20: “…If two of you shall agree on earth touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father Who is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

Worship is a vital function of any house of prayer. In John 4:23, 24, Jesus said, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeks such to worship Him. God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”

True worship is not an activity we engage in just because it is part of the “order of service.” It is not a preliminary to get through so we can move on to the sermon. It is not a set of songs calculated to stir our souls because of the catchy beat or the excellent abilities of the worship team. Many churches engage in praise at that soul level, never getting to true worship, which brings heart intimacy with the Lord. But if we do focus on the Lord, worshiping Him from the heart, it draws Him to manifest His presence among us in ways wherein we know we have touched God. Indeed, those of us who have tasted of His presence find it hard to be content with anything less thereafter.

While prayer and heartfelt worship are not the only things which the Church is meant to do, if we are to be the people God intended, we must shift worship away from being an entertainment activity back to that true worship of the heart in our gatherings. And, we must turn prayer from a lukewarm, obligatory part of our services to something we look forward to with expectancy, having faith that God will answer us. I am so encouraged that this change is already beginning to take place in many church gatherings around the world. I believe the momentum will continue to build, and as a result, God will release powerful miracles through His people. House of prayer > house of presence > house of power.

Keep in mind that prayer and worship don’t have to happen only in a Sunday morning service, either. They can be accomplished by meeting at other times during the week, even in homes. A prayer movement is arising throughout the world. Some of these gatherings are connected with particular local churches, but many are not. They don’t have to be. The Church is not confined to official buildings. It is present in power wherever God’s people gather, formally or informally. Perhaps God is even calling you to lead a home prayer group. If so, my book, House of Prayer ~ House of Power, can help you get started.

Next time, we’ll talk about the local church as a healing center.

What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 1)
Part 2 — We Are Family
Part 3 — We Are One Body
Part 4 — We Are an Army
Next: Part 6 — We Are a Healing Center

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start a prayer group

 

 

House of Prayer ~ House of Power,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 4) — We Are an Army

In Christian circles, we often refer to the Church as an army. We sing Onward Christian Soldiers, God’s Got an Army, and the children’s song, I’m in the Lord’s Army! Unquestionably, warfare is a major theme throughout the Bible. The physical warfare so prevalent in the Old Testament becomes the spiritual warfare of the New.

Surprisingly though, while the Old Testament frequently refers to the armies of Israel, the New Testament only uses the word “army” or “armies” for the Church once, in Revelation 19:14: “And the armies which were in heaven followed Him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.” The context is Jesus’ return to earth to rule and reign. He is accompanied by the already raptured and glorified Church. We know this is the Church because of the emphasis upon their apparel, which is “white and clean.”

We do have a number of verses which speak of Christians as soldiers engaged in combat:

Ephesians 6:11-18 — the familiar passage about putting on the whole armor of God

Romans 13:12… Let us put on the armor of light.”

2 Timothy 2:3, 4 “Therefore, endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man going to war entangles himself with the affairs of this life, so that he may please him who has chosen him to be a soldier.”

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 — “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh: (for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds), casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

We also have several verses on overcoming and triumphing in the context of spiritual warfare.

One of the clearest implications of the Church being an army is given by Jesus, in Matthew 16:18. Peter has just professed His belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (v. 16). Jesus then comments, “Upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” That sounds like the Church will be engaging together in warfare — assaulting the gates of the enemy and winning the battle.

So, that’s what we’ve got in the Bible — Israel fighting together as an army for the sake of their family inheritance, several references to the Church engaging in spiritual warfare individually and together as a group, and finally, the Church appearing as the armies in heaven who follow Jesus back to earth. Yet, in some Christian circles, the Church is referred to as an army incessantly, while Church as family is rarely spoken of. That’s where we run into problems, with the extreme emphasis of the one over the other.

We hear much talk among Charismatics in particular about leaders being “generals,” and various levels of leaders having “rank” above others in the Body of Christ. I think we should be very careful to avoid that language and the attitude behind it. While God has put in place an orderly hierarchy for church leadership, using terms such as bishops and elders, He calls them shepherds of the flock, not military officers. Indeed, Jesus warned his disciples against lording it over others:

But Jesus called them to him, and said to them, “You know that those who are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever wants to be great among you shall be your servant, and whoever of you desires to be chief, shall be servant of all.”Mark 10:42-44

In Matthew 23:10, 11, He also said, “Neither be called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.”

Peter encouraged church leaders to be shepherds: “The elders which are among you I exhort, who also am an elder, … feed the flock of God which is among you … not as lords over God’s heritage, but as examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, you will receive a crown of glory that does not fade away” (1 Peter 5:1-4).

The functions of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher were not ever meant by the Lord to be positions used to levy power over others. They are gifts to the Church to help train us for ministry and to build up the Body of Christ. Ephesians 4:8-13 explains this, with verse 8 saying Jesus ascended and gave gifts to men,” and verse 11 saying “He gave some to be apostles and some to be prophets….”

When church leaders view themselves as army officers instead of fellow brothers and sisters in God’s family, they can easily become heavy-handed. Abuse takes place, and people get hurt. When kingdom purposes become more important than valuing the people who make up the kingdom, we’ve lost the vision God intended. God does not see the individuals in His army as expendable cannon fodder, and we shouldn’t see anyone that way either.

How can we change these attitudes, when they are so prevalent? Being aware of the truth is a big step, so that we no longer buy into man-made misconceptions. And, if we have the opportunity to lead others in any way, we don’t have to make the same mistakes which have been made before. We can bring change through how we treat others. It all comes back to the core description we started with: The Church is the expression of Jesus Christ upon the earth.

I know some of you have been deeply hurt by leaders who were not gentle, who used, rather than cherished, the church flock. I do not write this to stir up bitterness, but in hopes of bringing some truth to bear so that adjustments can be made, even if it is only in the thinking of a few. May God give those of you who have been hurt grace to forgive, to receive healing, and to be instruments of change for the better in the Lord’s hands.

Ultimately, when we think of the Church as an army, if we keep it in the perspective of the Church being first and foremost God’s family, we’ll be all right. We will carry out our warrior calling in the way God intended, without harming our fellow soldiers in the process.

What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 1)
Part 2 — We Are Family
Part 3 — We Are One Body
Next: Part 5 — We Are a House of Prayer and Worship

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prophetic teaching

 

Growing in the Prophetic,
Audio teaching by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

 

nature of God, Christian discipleship

 

 

Before Whom We Stand, by Lee Ann Rubsam

A Dream About Worship in the Church

I love how God speaks in dreams — especially symbolic dreams. They are parables which would not be understandable without the illumination of the Holy Spirit. The following is a very encouraging dream about how the Lord wants to restore worship in the church back to what it is meant to be:

The Dream:

I saw a man, about forty years old, who was the owner of a music store. There were guitars positioned here and there throughout his shop. The front side of the building had no wall, so that it was completely open to the sidewalk.

Behind the store, on the other side of the back wall, was the municipal waterworks building. I saw open water there, like a river, contained in a canal-like structure.

There was a small opening in the wall between the music store and the waterworks, at floor level. It was about 6 inches wide and 4 inches high. The owner of the shop temporarily removed a metal device from the hole, which in some way opened and closed access between the two buildings. He set it aside in a box.

The scene shifted, to where a pleasant-looking woman, about the same age as the man, was in the music store. She was the manager of the waterworks. Even though their workplaces were right next door, it seemed that they did not normally have contact with one another. The man conversed with her about how they had been sweethearts in their youth. He had fond memories of that time.

He asked her, hesitantly, if she had been in any relationships since they had parted company years before. She did not have time to answer him before he continued talking, but I got the impression that there had been no one else in her life. He longingly asked, “Will you marry me?” It was obvious that they both still cared very much for each other.

The scene abruptly shifted to what was happening back at the waterworks. There had been a sudden surge of flooding. The employees did not seem to know what had caused it; they just knew that it had happened. I saw a car nearly submerged in the water there. And I knew that the man in the music shop, being preoccupied with his renewed love relationship, would have forgotten to put the metal device in the hole between his shop and the waterworks, so that his shop might get flooded as a result.

In the dream, I had the feeling that what I was watching was somewhat like a soap opera, in the sense that the story was unfolding gradually, over time. Even the last scene of the flooding in the waterworks department did not have an ending — as though I would need to tune in for the next episode to find out what happened.

Interpretation:

The man in the music shop represents worship leaders, and possibly pastors, to the extent that their preferences rule how worship goes in the local church.

The front of the music shop was completely open, indicating that this is talking about public worship, not personal, private worship.

The woman who was the head of the waterworks department represents the Holy Spirit. Water represents the activity of the Spirit. (See John 7:37-39, where Jesus talks about “rivers of living water” supplied by the Holy Spirit.) Normally, the Holy Spirit would not be portrayed as a woman, but it is important to the rest of the parable, because it is a love story.

The dream is about God’s desire for our worship leaders to reunite with the Holy Spirit in their leading of worship. The man had once had a love relationship with the woman. They had enjoyed one another and done things together. But separation had taken place and had continued for a long time (as revealed by the age of the two lovers). That is what has happened over time for many worship leaders (and for the congregations they serve, as a result). What was once a free-flowing, joyous, give-and-take dance between the Lord and His people has declined, in many churches, into routine man-orchestrated events, which follow a set pattern allowing for little deviation. There is no room for the Holy Spirit to move, because there is no longer the intimate relationship with Him which was once enjoyed. And this has gone on for a long time.

The woman having had no other relationship in all those years indicates to me that the Holy Spirit has been waiting in the wings, longing for this one marriage which was always meant to be — true communion between God and His people, carried out in part through the expression of worship.

It is noteworthy that before any of the other scenes happened, the music shop owner had removed the device in the wall which governed access between his store and the waterworks. Only after that did the relationship come back together and the surging of the waters take place. It is up to worship leaders (and their pastors) to be willing to allow access to the waters of the Spirit in their worship services. They have to take this step before the rest can happen.

Even the 6″ X 4″ dimensions of the hole have significance: six is the number of man, and four represents rule. (Genesis 1:14-18 tells us that the sun and moon were created on the fourth day to rule the day and night.) So, it was the man’s responsibility to make access to his shop available.

The dream is open-ended. We don’t know whether water will seep into the music shop from the waterworks, or whether flooding might even happen there — but there is a good chance it will, because the man is preoccupied with his restored love, and has forgotten in that moment to put the device which could shut off access back in the hole. (Let’s hope he keeps forgetting, and leaves it open. What if the whole wall between the waterworks of the Spirit and the shop came down entirely?)

Summary application:

God would like to bring in the flood of Holy Spirit’s Presence upon His Church once again. This is wonderful! The Spirit’s activity and worship really belong together. There is a true love relationship between them, but they have been separated in the Church for a long time. They need to come back together. But whether they will or not is conditional on willingness.

If you are a worship leader or pastor, will you give access to the Holy Spirit in your church once again? Will you allow Him the space and time to do what He desires to do? Will you yield yourself and your congregation to experience the love relationship with the Holy Spirit which was always meant to be? You can determine how the story will end.

Christian dream interpretation workshop

 

Hearing God Through Your Dreams (CD set or mp3). by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

Yes, You CAN Be an Intercessor! (CD Set or mp3),
by Lee Ann Rubsam

Misplaced Adoration

There’s a common trap which we can easily fall into — giving the adoration which should belong solely to the Lord to a Christian leader. It is an idolatry which has repeatedly afflicted God’s people.

Paul warned the Corinthian believers about it:

… One says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos” …. Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom you believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered — but God gave the increase. So then, neither is he who plants anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. … For we are laborers together with God. You are God’s field; you are God’s building — 1 Corinthians 3:4-7, 9.

People who carry a weighty anointing quite naturally attract us. We sense the presence of the Lord upon them, and it makes us want to be near them, to receive from them, to bask in what they have, to be in their inner circle. But no matter how bright their light, we dare not let ourselves forget that it is only a secondary, reflected light, while Jesus is the Source. Go directly for the Source.

We’ve all heard the excessive attraction of one person to another likened to a moth’s attraction to a flame. It’s a good comparison. Fluttering too close to the flame of a fellow, flawed human being will scorch you. It will eventually bring you pain, disillusionment, disappointment. By contrast, flying close to the Lord’s flame will destroy your soulish attitudes and desires, but you will be strengthened, healed, and made clean by His fire. He consumes the impurities, while in exchange giving greater life. No man or woman can do that for you. The best of them will fail you.

So, learn what you can from men and women of God. Let them impart what they are able to give  to you. But don’t slip into worshiping them. “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2) is a wise word to live by. If you have already fallen into the trap, ask the Lord to forgive you, and then guard yourself in the future. Refocus your attention on Jesus. Ask for the Holy Spirit’s aid in reordering your affections and thoughts. He will help you.

Leaders, if you don’t mind me saying it, often the problem of misplaced adoration rests at your doorstep. Don’t allow yourself to indulge in the heady flattery of being the center of someone’s world. It’s a snare to you and them. Refuse to be worshiped. Be like John the Baptist, who remained ever conscious that “he was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light” (John 1:8). He pointed his young disciples to Jesus: “Behold the Lamb of God!” (John 1:29, 30, 35).

Currently, there is a God-breathed emphasis on older saints becoming “fathers and mothers” to spiritual sons and daughters, with the purpose of raising up a triumphant Church army which moves in the miraculous, just as Jesus said we should do — the “greater works” of John 14:12. In the process, be watchful that they do not misplace on you the awe which rightfully belongs to the Lord. When the sons and daughters come to you with stars in their eyes, point them upward to Jesus, the bright and morning star (Revelation 22:16).

Not one of us is awesome. Only Jesus is awesome. He alone deserves worship.

Learning to Wear Your Mantle

Business Suit“God told me I am a prophet.”

OK, you’ve got the call. You have experienced some kind of an unmistakable word or experience from the Lord, where He let you in on a major purpose He has in mind for your life. Now what?

There is a process of getting from the point where God first speaks to you of your calling, to where it is a manifested reality. For some, this process starts with a succinct word, such as, “I call you to be a prophet” (or teacher, pastor, evangelist, etc.). For others, purpose unfolds gradually — a word here, a dream there, counsel or insight from another person which fits with what God already is showing you, until you are receiving understanding of your purpose along a consistent theme.

If God’s plan for you is big — and it is, no matter what He is calling you to — it will take time to forge. Very few things of value are made instantaneously, and what God is making of you is no exception.

When we hear a word from the Lord such as, “I call you to be a prophet,” it may feel like a very “now” word. And if we don’t understand that He generally works out people’s destinies as a process, we can make the mistake of telling the world who we are, and then expecting everyone else to be as impressed as we are with our new-found role. With a prophet calling, we might think everyone else has to hang on our every word and act accordingly — or else. A teaching function, in its immature stage, can lead us into annoying our associates by spewing our opinions right and left and sounding like a know-it-all.

But God makes very few of us (if any) overnight wonders. Overnight wonders are usually over … overnight. If it is going to last, a training process must be gone through, and the biggest part of that process is the refining of our character. The Lord will take us from the place where we view our purpose as being for our advantage and exaltation to where we are entirely focused on serving, loving, and encouraging others, all the while glorifying the Lord in our function.

So, how do you get to the fulfilling of the calling which the Lord has spoken over you? You start by wearing your mantle on the inside. God has spoken, you believe what He said, and you meditate on it inwardly. You spend quite a bit of time praying about it, asking the Lord questions about it, praying for its fulfillment, treasuring in your heart whatever He has said to you.

You get used to the idea, beginning to see yourself in your role, so that you think of yourself quite naturally as being whatever God has said you are to be. You spend time “being” in the spiritual realm before you ever begin to “be” in the natural realm. Figuratively speaking, you get comfortable wearing your ministry “suit” privately before you get decked out in it publicly.

At this point, your mantle is pretty much a secret between you and God. You may tell close family members what God has spoken over you. You may even talk to your pastor about it and receive his input. If you are part of a church which understands such things, your pastor should be willing to help you come into God’s plan for you. He may put you in places of service and training which will help you grow up into your God-given role.

Whether you have a pastor who can help you or not, there are multitudes of people who can, via books, conferences, and the Internet. Are you called to bring supernatural healing? You need to prepare by learning from those who have gone before you — Smith Wigglesworth, John G. Lake, Kathryn Kuhlman, and Charles and Frances Hunter, to name just a few. You will also want to hang with people who are involved in healing ministry right in your area — perhaps becoming a member of a healing rooms team. It is the same with whatever ministry you are supposed to fulfill — learn through teaching and active participation as much as possible.

As you continue to consciously wear your mantle inwardly and do what you can to mature and prepare, you will see your ministry function begin to take form outwardly. It may not happen quickly. It could take years. But God will get you there, as you believe and are obedient to Him. Eventually your calling will become a solid fact in the natural realm. You will move in it on a regular basis, people will recognize what you have been given to do in the Kingdom, and they will be blessed as you walk it out.

Patience, a humble servant’s heart, and a teachable spirit are the keys to coming into God’s role for you. If you will submit to His refining process, the day will come when you will fully function in the ministry which He has designed for you to carry out.

The Spirit-Filled Guide to Personal Prophecy

 

The Spirit-Filled Guide to Personal Prophecy,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

prophetic teaching

 

Growing in the Prophetic,
audio teaching by Lee Ann Rubsam

Are Character Building Studies Necessary?

Nearly twenty years ago, I published my first book, Character Building for Families, Volume 1. I had originally written the materials for our family, simply because, at the time, no one else was writing such things, and we had a need that was not being met. By the time we made my book available for the world, two other homeschool families had also come up with similar ideas. We were pioneers, I guess. Now, there are hundreds of character education books to choose from — for both children and adults, from both secular and Christian viewpoints.

Let’s take a look at some of the questions people voice about  character education:

Why is  teaching character  with a book important? Won’t it just sink in naturally? You know, we teach by example more than by our words, don’t we? Well yes, and no. Being a great example is important. Speaking the right words, while not following through by living the way we speak, is not generally very productive.

But teaching by example alone can be rather hit-or-miss. We’re not going to have opportunity to thoroughly model everything our kids (or adult  believers we are discipling) need to know about integrity, based on isolated incidents that arise naturally.

Personally, I think it is important not only to show people how, but also to give them a “why” which is founded in the Word of God. Seeing a concept clearly laid out in the Bible, and taking the time to study that concept together, anchors its truth in our hearts. And, if we build a foundation one block at a time, “line upon line, precept upon precept,” the results are going to be more solid.

Isn’t character education just bringing about behavior modification? I’ve heard this criticism a few times, and my answer is, “Not if it is done right.” The goal should always be heart-change. Our aim should be for our children (or adult Christians we serve) to desire good character because they want to be like Jesus, not just so that they can avoid unpleasant consequences, impress other people, or be successful. Outward change without inward transformation is hypocritical, and it can rarely be upheld for any length of time. Somewhere along the way, the real person will leak out!

That is why, in our own character education materials, we focus on applying the presented concepts to the heart. We tell people using our Character Building for Families manuals that the parents are going to have their character built right along with their children — and we’ve had quite a few parents write to us, testifying to the truth of that statement!

River Life Adult and Teen Character Study

Tragically, the Church has often fallen into the mistake of telling our young people that if they will just “be good,” God will love them and take them to heaven.  That is behavior modification and a false gospel message.  True character education brings to the student an understanding of Who God is and how we should become like Him, coupled with the knowledge that we can only accomplish this through asking God to do it in us by the power of the Holy Spirit. Our goal should be to raise up disciples who have a passion for the Lord Jesus, not to merely make them valuable community citizens. The  outward good behavior will naturally come, as we address and repair the issues of the heart.

Will character training solve our home problems (or our church’s problems)? I’m sorry I can’t promise you that. It would be nice if it did, wouldn’t it? My children did not become perfect by repeatedly studying  our character materials. Neither did I. But we made some progress together. The Character Building for Families lady still messes up sometimes.

Every one of us is in a lifelong process of growing into the image of Christ. We learn to be kind, and somewhere down the road, God will take us into deeper levels of learning to be kind. Step #1 is to equip ourselves with the recognition of where the old, selfish nature is still at work in us and the knowledge of how to overcome it, but the walking-out process is challenging and ongoing. Character studies are a tool, but we must wield the tool we’ve been given.

Are you still interested in stepping into the journey? Please visit us at our Character Building for Families website. In addition to our books, we’ve got many free Christian and homeschooling helps there to serve you.

Deep, Low, and Simplified

Today, I’d like to share with you what I think the Lord is saying about His Church in America. God wants His people to go deep and to go low. 

Gong deep:
By deep, I mean being rooted, anchored, fastened on Jesus. That only comes through investing time in fellowship with Him through prayer and reading His Word. Trees with shallow roots don’t survive adverse weather. Wind storms uproot them. During times of drought, if their roots don’t grow downward deeply enough to reach lower ground water levels, they dry up. But the Lord’s promise is, “If you will put your roots down deep in Me, I will water you.” If God’s people are to live a faithful testimony for Him in the days ahead, we are going to have to go deep in Him.

Going low:
Going low is about humility. We don’t hear much from most of our pulpits or TV evangelists these days about emptying self and laying down our lives for others and for the Gospel. The incessant din in our ears is about being successful (usually meaning financially), about becoming influential, about me … me … me. 

God does want us to be successful, but success in God’s eyes is not measured with the same yardstick our society uses. To hear our sermons, it would seem we’ve forgotten that. God’s measure of success is whether we are walking out our lives in obedience to Him, staying in the flow of constant communion with Him. He does promise to provide for us financially, and there is nothing wrong with having wealth, but some of the most successful and influential people in God’s eyes are Christians living in countries hostile to the Gospel, who have lost every material good for His Name’s sake. Some of them do their influencing in prisons, just as the Apostle Paul did. We must never forget that — or them.

Simplifying:
Going low will involve some changes in the corporate Church. The Lord is going to simplify His Church down to the things that really matter. This will include getting back to core doctrine. Currently, we’ve got a mess on our hands, with twisted teaching abounding and even becoming mainstream. We are preaching on tangents, many of them questionable, instead of on God’s all-absorbing focus — Jesus. As in New Testament times, there are many who are “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Ephesians 4:14). 

Deception will continue and worsen, because we are always moving further into the last days before Jesus’ return, but at the same time, the Spirit of Truth will strip away wrong teaching from those who are Jesus’ true followers. The Apostle John gives us a simple directive: “Let that therefore abide in you, which you have heard from the beginning. If what you have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, you also shall continue in the Son and in the Father” (1 John 2:24). “What you have heard from the beginning” refers to core doctrine — the tenets of the Faith which were laid out by Jesus and the original apostles. My frequent prayer is that the Lord will raise up many teachers of truth in our day, who will patiently re-instruct the Church in the simplicity of the Gospel.

As part of “going low,” I’ve been hearing that “trappings” in the Church will be stripped away. Our perceptions of how church must be done, how God can and cannot move, and what revival/awakening must look like are part of that.

We  have grown used to superstar preachers, especially in Charismatic / Pentecostal circles, and we act like we think God can’t do without them. He can, and will. It is time for the hype and shenanigans to end. God is looking for people who don’t need the celebrity status, the title, or the recognition of men. He is looking for those who would rather die than usurp His glory unto themselves. Years ago, Dr. Michael Brown referred to these humble, God-focused people as “somebodies who become nobodies for the glory of God.” It was a nice thought on Dr. Brown’s part back then, but it is also the reality of what must come.

Does this mean that current ways of carrying out church life will completely disappear? Probably not. God often seems to let the old go on as it always has, while He brings forth something new quite apart from the old, right in the midst of it. The picture that comes to my mind is of land covered with old vegetation that is dying, but with new, green shoots relentlessly pushing their way to the surface through the old. 

Yet, not all of the old is bad.  Timeless traditions founded on the Word of God will never become passé. We’ve heard some rather loudly proclaim their disdain for all that is old, scorning anything that has stood the test of time as “dead religion.” That position is not in line with the wisdom of God. Patterns which are from the Lord will endure or, if already lost, will be restored. 

Ultimately, the changes that need to take place can only be accomplished by the Holy Spirit. He is the One Who adjusts hearts, promotes and demotes, and drives the circumstances which bring the Father’s purposes into being. 

Our part is to cooperate with the Lord by interceding for His desires for His Church to be fulfilled, and by committing to personally going deep and low. God works out His purposes for His Church as a whole through the individuals within that Body who will offer yielded hearts to Him.