This is what selfish ambition tells us...
This is what selfish ambition tells us…

About a year ago I was having lunch with one of my mentors.  I asked him what was the biggest mistake that ministers are currently making.  He told me that in his opinion the biggest pitfall pastors are making is doing things out of selfish ambition.  He said that many ministers are implementing ideas that are not coming from the heart of God, but from themselves.  It made me think how many things we are doing in the church world that God doesn’t really care about.

Phil 2:3  “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition”

Obviously God gave us a brain to think and process and make decisisons,  but how often are we implementing a good idea instead of a God idea?  The difference is huge.  If we do things out of our flesh, and our own desires we will get fleshly results.  If we make decisions from the Spirit and God’s wisdom we will get Spirit results.

So how do we know if an idea is from God or not?

A man once asked the great evangelist Reinhard Bonnke how he knows an idea he gets is from God or from himself.  He said,

“I pray until I reach a state of neutrality, and I come to the place where it doesn’t matter to me either way if it happens, and then i make my decision.”

We need to pray until our good ideas just don’t matter to us any more.  We need to pray until all of our selfish ambition is gone and then we can think clearly to make a good decision.  If only the entire church would do this!  We need to lay down our agenda for heavens agenda.  Not all of our ideas are from God.  In our pride we think that our ideas are great, and we can be  spending all of our effort and time on things that God never told us to do.  If an idea is truly from God shouldn’t it bring God sized results?  Shouldn’t good fruit come out of it?  When I look at the New Testament I don’t see any ministry or outreach that was not productive.  The apostles laid down their agenda for heaven’s and the results speak for themselves.  Take a look at Psalm 37:4…

Psalm 37:4

“Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

I have heard many Christians quote the last part of this verse without the first part and it loses it’s meaning.  The desires of our heart are not going to be God’s desires if we are not taking delight in Him.

We need to take delight in God (through prayer and intimacy) until His desires become our desires, and then we know what we should do.                    

When we are intimate with Jesus He shares His heart with us.  God is infinite in wisdom and He is so creative.  He desires to share heavens strategy with us, but it will only come through spending time with Him.

Lord, let us not do ministry and make decisions out of selfish ambition, but let us seek you and lay down our agenda for yours.  Let us take delight in you until we have your heart.  Amen.

PaulLet's lay down our agenda for heaven's

Let’s lay down our agenda for heaven’s



Intimacy vs. Productivity

Is this a picture of the western church?
Is this a picture of the western church?

We have lots of activity in the western church.  We have a plethora of conferences, meetings, and programs.  We feed the poor.  We have outreaches to reach the lost.  We have small group meetings and fellowship.  We plan and strategize how to made things better.  We tweak things so that that they will be better the next time around.  We do a lot for God.  All of these things are necessary… but I wonder if we are trading intimacy with God for activity for God?  Pastors and ministry leaders are so busy doing things for God that they are burning out and quitting ministry at an alarming rate.  Why is that?

We have lots of activity in the western church but the sad truth is that we are not changing the culture around us.  I believe if most ministers were honest they would say that they are not satisfied with the fruit they are seeing in ministry.  If we are so busy doing things for God then why are we not seeing the fruit that Christ died for?  

Would Christ rather have us do more things for him or be with Him?  What does God want more?

Imagine a husband that is always doing things for his wife.  He works hard and puts food on the table.  He buys his wife expensive gifts.  He makes sure that if something breaks in the house it’s fixed in a timely manner.  He sends her on expensive vacations, and so on.  He does all these things for her but there is no real friendship.  He gets SO BUSY and DISTRACTED in doing things for her that he fails to give her what she wants most- a real heart to heart relationship.  In this marriage no true intimacy takes place.

This paints a picture of what it’s like often with the western church and Christ.  We do all these things for Jesus and then we fail to give Him what He wants the most- INTIMACY. 

God wants relationship over productivity.

The church can be like a hamster on a wheel always spinning in circles.  It can be in a place where a lot of activity takes place, but in the end nothing of significance is accomplished- we are just spinning our wheels.

Some criticize those that spend quality time in prayer and say, “there are so many people that are lost in the world, how can you just pray for hours at a time when you could be out reaching the lost?  You need to put feet to your prayers.”  Of course reaching the lost is of utmost important, and we need to do good works (James 2:14), but what does God want more?  The Lord very clearly shows us what He desires in the story of Mary and Martha.

Luke 10:38-42

Mary and Martha

38 “As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Martha was busy DOING THINGS for Jesus.  She was so distracted by all the preparations that she failed to see what Jesus wanted the most at that moment.  He wanted fellowship.  He wanted intimacy.  Jesus wanted to share His heart and all Martha was thinking about was work.  There is a time and a place for everything and at that moment Jesus wanted fellowship.  In verse 41 Jesus tells Martha that only one thing was needed- spending time with Him.  Many in the western church are guilty of saying to the prayer movement- “What are you are doing!  You are wasting your life.  Stop praying and start doing!   Go out and reach the lost!  Put some feet to your prayers.”

Productivity will come as a natural result of intimacy with Christ.

When you are connected to the heart of God through intimacy you can’t help but do things for Him.   You will bear much fruit because you have God’s heart and you have heaven’s strategy.  Now you are not doing ministry out of your own effort or strength- you are doing it with God’s help and strength.  If we want to produce lasting fruit we must stay connected to the vine through intimacy.

Intimacy must always come before productivity if we are to make a lasting impact for the Kingdom

John 15:5

“I am the vine; you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”  -Jesus

Lets stay connected to the vine through prayer and intimacy, then and only then will we see lasting fruit in our personal lives and ministries.




Intimacy vs. Productivity

Insight from an atheist…

atheism_00295570A few days ago I had a divine appointment with a  guy in my apartment complex.  He was about 40 years old.  He was an American citizen but was currently living in Denmark, and he was in the states for a vacation.  He told me that he owns a bar in Denmark and he discussed with me the culture and way of life there.  He pulled out his iphone to show me a few pictures of his life in Denmark.  He showed me pictures of his wife, his dogs, and also his crop of 10 marijuana plants that are growing in his back yard.  He was very proud of his crops and you tell very quickly that he was passionate about marijuana- So much so that he attends a festival in Amsterdam every year called the “Cannabis Cup.”  He told me at this festival they feature all the best marijuana in the world and you can try it out for yourself.

It didn’t take me long to realize how much this man desperately needed Jesus.  After listening to his story for about an hour I asked him one simple question, “What is your purpose in life?”  He told me that he didn’t know.  I shared my story of being raised in church, and how I  attended every Sunday and Wednesday and yet God felt a million miles away.  I knew all ABOUT Him, but I didn’t KNOW Him.  It was in my head, but not in my heart.  I shared my conversion experience when I was 16 years old when Jesus became real to me.  He was an atheist and had no belief in a deity, but he listened intently, and asked a lot of great questions.  He asked things like- “If God is a loving God when why is there suffering in the world?”  “How do you know the Bible is truly God’s Word?”  “What about evolution?” I could tell he was a skeptic and liked to question things.  Fortunately I had some decent answers that seemed to satisfy him.  I had to change his perspective on what it meant to truly follow Jesus Christ.

The only recent exposure he had to “Christianity” was a guy that would open air preach in front of his bar in Denmark, and he would tell everyone to turn or burn.  My new friend was all about free speech, but he thought the man did this without any love or tact whatsoever.  He told me that everyone thought it was super annoying and no one paid attention to the guy because of his approach.  This was his view of Christianity-  fundamentalists preaching a turn or burn message.  He had major issues with Christianity because he didn’t see the love in it.  He brought up how “Christians” killed Muslims during the crusades.  I knew I had to reshape his thinking on what it meant to follow Christ.  I shared with him who Jesus was, and who He claimed to be.  I shared my testimony of God taking me from being religious to a real relationship and how Christ changed my heart.  He took my filthy heart and changed me from the insight out.  He changed my motives, and my desires.  The more time I spent with Him the more I began to look like Him.  God started to place his heart within mine.  I told him that if someone truly follows Christ you would see good fruit in their life- love, joy, peace etc.  They will follow the teachings of Jesus.  They will love people.  I told him the problem with many “Christians” in the west is that many are Christian in name only, and there is no evidence of a true walk with God.  True repentance involves a change in thinking which results in a changed life.  He listened intently and then made a profound statement that I will never forget.

He said, “Everyone in Europe thinks you Christians are judgmental and crazy.  Do you know what you guys need?  You need a revolution in what it means to be a Christian because the world needs what you are telling me.  You need to separate the true Christians from the ones that are faking it because they are giving you all a bad name.” 

His insight was profound to me!  Here is a pot smoking atheist that realized that what Jesus taught is what the world needs he just had issues with those that were faking it.  I agree with him.  We need a Jesus revolution.   We need to preach a true gospel that results in changed lives.  We need to call the church back to it’s first love.  After our conversation my new friend thanked me for talking to him and walked back to his condo.  A few days later I saw him again at my apartment complex.  He told me what I shared with him was messing with his beliefs and it was changing the way he saw things.  We need a Jesus revolution…