What Does It Look Like?

My primary question to the Lord during this time of prayer and fasting has been “What is your church supposed to look like?”

Well, He is answering and I am processing what I am hearing.    Why would I even ask such a question?     I believe the question was placed in my heart by the Holy Spirit and is one of those things that He will often do when He is wanting us to dig into Him to find truth.   It’s much like when He asked Hagar, “What is the matter with you?” (Gen 21:17), or when He asked Moses “What is that in your hand?” (Exodus 4:2).   He obviously knew the answer, but they needed to look inside of their hearts for the revelation of that truth.  

So what is the church suppose to look like?   First, it is suppose to look like Jesus since it is His Body.    But I don’t really see that being the case.    Instead of one body with many members, I see many “bodies” that have been “dis-membered”.      Instead of unity of purpose and motive, I see little unity and questionable motives.   Instead of Christ being the head, I see Christ is given little if any voice in how the church is run.    And what about the concept of the “priesthood of the believer”?   Is that really the case?  I don’t think so.   This may be taught, but not truly lived out in experience in the church at large.   

To even think that the church, as we know it today, is not the will of God would seem blasphemous to some to even consider.    In Frank Viola’s book “Reimagining Church“, he gives us this quote:   “A truth’s initial commotion is directly proportional to how deeply the lie was believed.  It wasn’t the world being round that agitated people, but that the world wasn’t flat.   When a well packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker a raving lunatic.”   (Dresden James)   

Why would someone care, after all hasn’t it been working so why fix what is not broken?    Has it been working?   Do we look like Christ?  Are we doing the same works that Christ did?  Are we in this world as He is?    Are we making disciples rather than just converts?   Do we see the priesthood of believers as a reality in His church today?    The problem is that the church has spiritual DNA that brings life and we have contained it in a religious system that does not support that life.   I felt the Lord tell me recently that the reason there is so much “transfer growth” in churches is because we have been trying to maintain  life in a dead system.  People go to a church for a while and are excited about the newness of it, only to find it boring in a few short weeks or months.   So they go somewhere else where it will be exciting for a while.   And the pattern repeats.   The church is the body and life of Christ which is a life bearing organism.   Life cannot be sustained in a sterile, religious system.   

We have turned the church into a “spectator sport” rather than a participatory experience where each believer understands he or she can truly be an agent of change in this world.   Where is the church that turned the world upside down?  (Acts 17:6)  I am afraid it was deserted long ago for a “more suitable” model that would further the cause of individuals over the cause of Christ.    Many pastors would have to relinquish control and  lifestyle to step back into the church that emulates the body of Christ as it should be.   

I am still on my journey of discovery and I know that I can never return to the church as it has been.     I see the church as a large ship that has been floating  a few degrees off course for many years, only to find that today, 2000 years later, we are much further from the true pattern than anyone could have imagined.   A large ship must be turned slowly to avoid throwing people off.   I spoke with a former naval person recently and expressed this concept to her.  She said that when ships needed to be turned, it had to be done slowly and if people were not in the right place on the ship, they would be thrown overboard.   It is not the will of God that anyone would perish, so there is a process to get us back on track.

I will continue seeking God and praying.  In recent days, I have thought often of Nehemiah and the path he took in restoring the broken walls of Jerusalem.   I believe there is a clue to be found in the life and leadership style of Nehemiah.     Jeremiah 33:3.

More to come……….

God, What Do You Want?

Today we begin our season of prayer and fasting for the next 40 days.   I am asking the Lord some very personal questions during this time and fully expect to hear.   I also fully expect to hear some things that may be uncomfortable.    I asked the church Wednesday night, “what if God asks you to do something 180 degrees in the opposite direction of what you are doing?”    How often do we do something just because we’ve been taught to do it a certain way i.e., tradition.    What if He shakes us out of our religious tradition and brings us back to His heart in some matters?   What would a church stripped of man’s “unBiblical” tradition look like?  There is nothing wrong with traditions as long as they do not drown out the Word and the Voice of God in our midst.   The problem is that we have been in our traditions for so long that we can no longer separate them from what we think is truly Biblical and we have become pragmatists in believing that the end justifies the means.  So, could it be possible that God is really not in much of what we call “spirtual activity”. 

 Part of my focus during the next 40 days is seeking God for what He wants Impact Church to look like.    Too often we model our churches after the last conference we attended, or the church down the street that seems to be growing or just the way it has always been done.  In many cases, I fear that our markers for church success have been cut from a pattern that is not Biblical.  How much of our tradition is really from God?   How much pleases God?   How much could we remove from our weekly activities and not affect the Kingdom of God or how much could we eliminate and actually benefit the Kingdom of God?  

We only have 24 hours in a day, so why not be about our Father’s business rather than our own.   Jesus said in John 5:19,30   “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise…30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.”

Jesus made the religious very nervous because He did not acknowledge the traditions of man over the truth of His Father.   There’s a part of me that just does not like status quo religion and it’s time to arise and ask ourselves “what does God want at this time in my life?”    What is Impact supposed to look like?   What is my life supposed to look like?   How much of what I do is my idea, plan or strategy and not God’s?  

So off we go on our 40 days of seeking God for His heart concerning our nation, our church and our personal lives.

Are you ready?

 
 

 

Prayer and Fasting

Prayer and Fasting

On September 24th we are joining other ministries across our nation for a season of fasting and prayer.   This fast will last for 40 days ending on November 2nd.   We are living in a time like no other in my lifetime.  We are living in a time where much is at stake and we as believers must rise up and call our nation back into relationship with God.   The church of Jesus Christ must fulfill 2 Chronicles 7:14 by humbling ourselves, praying, seeking God’s face and turning from our sins.  Then we will see the manifestation of the promise of our land being healed by God.    

I ministered today on Prayer and Fasting and could not help but chuckle when I got into my car heading to church and my battery was dead.  Since my battery was too young to be dead, my first thought was how the enemy does not want us to fast and pray and wanted the message hindered.   Then I got to church and several were out sick, and again I thought of how the enemy does not want us to fast and pray.   The devil knows that when the church comes together and prays, things will happen.  

We must remember to fast in a way that pleases God.  Isaiah 58 gives us the model for fasting.   Our hearts must be clear toward each other, we must let go of the petty differences, offenses and criticisms of others and love our brothers and sisters enough to assist them in their times of need.

In the gospels, Jesus was asked by His disciples why they could not cast out a demon from a young boy.  In Matthew 17:14-21, Jesus said it was because of their unbelief and that “this kind” does not come out except by prayer and fasting.    What is the “this kind” in your life?   I believe there are spirits that attempt to keep pre-believers and even some of God’s people in bondage and are preventing them from receiving the fullness of His covenant promise.  Many times this simply comes from blinding their minds to the truth of what Jesus has done for us.  Remember that Jesus’ work on the cross has given us authority over the enemy and we must learn to walk in that authority.

If you will join us, begin today to prepare yourself for the upcoming fast.  Here are a few ideas on having a successful fast:

  • Ask the Lord how He would like you to fast.  There are partial fasts, full fasts and special item fasts.   I am asking that we fast food and not an activity.  The activity may be helpful to fast during this time as well.   You may want to eliminate TV or computer time and dedicate that time to the Lord.  
  • If this is your first time fasting, be realistic in your approach.  Don’t jump into a full fast as your first experience.  A good first type of fast is a Daniel fast and you can find information and a suggested food list for this type of fast at http://danielfast.wordpress.com/daniel-fast-food-list/.
  • Based on your choice, begin to prepare your body for the fast now.    Do not wait until it is time to begin.  When we make sudden changes in our diet, we often suffer physically for a day or so.  Begin to wean yourself away from some of the more addicting foods such as sweets and caffeine, so you will be ready on the day the fast begins.    
  • Carve out extra special time for the Lord solely devoted to Him.  This is a time to spend in worship, prayer and the study of His Word.  You may want to supplement your reading with a special devotional by your favorite author or minister, in addition to God’s Word. 
  • Make sure you do not just fast and then neglect or forget to pray.  This practice may be good in controlling the flesh, but it must be coupled with prayer in order to receive the spiritual power you are seeking.   There is a level of faith that can only come as a result of prayer and fasting and is needful for the “this kinds” in our life.  Identify your “this kind” and determine to be free from it during this fast. 
  • Journal your fasting experience.   Journal the daily experiences you will have during the 40 days of seeking God.   After all, a fast is simply a longing for more of God.  

I would love to have your comments, so I am posting a new page on this blog just for Prayer and Fasting.   Add your comments for all to see. 

I am expecting great breakthroughs in the life of our nation, our church and individuals over the upcoming prayer and fasting season.   Pray for all of those who participate to stand strong during the fast.   There are some who will be fasting for the first time and others who are fasting for major breakthroughs in their lives. 

We will kick off our 40 days with a ‘Face to Face’ worship and prayer experience on Friday, September 24th at 7:00 PM.  Come and join us!

Blessings to you,

Pastor Donna

A Call to Prayer and Fasting

Calling All Saints to Prayer and Fasting!

We will be entering a time of Prayer and Fasting on September 24th to join with Generals International (Cindy Jacobs: http://vimeo.com/13657454) who is calling a nation wide 40 day prayer and fasting season.    It’s time now to get yourself ready for this important time.    I am asking that we all get involved in this time of prayer because we need to see God’s intervention in the life of our nation, our church and our own personal lives.  

Here are a few important things to remember during this call to corporate prayer and fasting:

  1. Be Intentional:  As we look at Scripture and examples of prayer and fasting, we see when corporate fasts were called, they were called around specific goals.      Write down in your journal what you want to see happen during this consecrated time together.  Come into agreement with the corporate church for corporate matters.   Find someone to agree with you on personal matters and be realistic in your goals.       Also, decide the type of fast you want to do.  There are examples in Scripture of full, partial and special item fasts.   Decide which one you want to follow before you begin.
  2. Stay Focused:   Be persistent in your prayer targets.    One person said to me recently they have had the “shotgun” effect in past times of prayer and fasting and became frustrated and did not see results.   Keep your heart focused on your target or purpose for fasting. 
  3. Pray:   Many forget to replace the time spent eating with prayer.    In the Scripture, fasting is always assumed to include prayer.    A fast without prayer is no more than a diet.  Also, join with us in corporate prayer as we come together in unity and pray for what God has placed in our hearts.   It is important during this time to hear the voice of the Lord and to pray His will.   Watchman Nee said in The Prayer Ministry of the Church, “What is the prayer ministry of the church?   It is God telling the church what He wishes to do, so that the church on earth will pray out its accomplishments….many matters are piled up in heaven, many transactions remain undone, simply because God is unable to find an outlet for His will on earth.”
  4. Journal:  Journaling your prayer and fasting experience builds faith in years to come.   George Mueller recorded over 50,000 answered prayers in his prayer journals.   But, he had to start with the very first one…then the 10th one…then the 1000th one…..  What faith and encouragement he must have experienced as he recounted through his journals those times that God answered his prayer.  
  5. Prepare:  Begin to prepare ahead of time.   Your body will not like your denying its favorites, such as sweets, caffein, frequent snacks, etc.   Don’t wait until the day of the fast to start depriving your body.  Begin to cut back well in advance so you will not spend the first two days in bed with a sick headache or an upset stomach.   Start to slowly eliminate those “addictive” items such as caffein and sugar from your diet.   Instead of 3 glasses of tea, back down to 2 then 1 then none.   Start eliminating a meal a day rather than waiting until the time of the fast and eliminating all three.  Water is important during this time as it flushes the body of toxins as we prepare for a time of fasting.

Fasting is Biblical and found throughout the Old and New Testaments.  Great things happened when God’s people fasted.    Let’s expect great results  as we cry out to God for this nation, our church and our personal lives! 

Pastor Donna

The Power of Prayer

Just want to remind everyone we will begin a new Training Track Series “Turn It Around: Changing Life’s Circumstances with Prayer and Fasting“.

As I was reading this morning in Mark 9 of how the man brought his son first to the disciples and then to Jesus for deliverance, I saw how this chapter is so full of the power of God for our lives today, IF we will believe and IF we do it His way.

When the man asked Jesus to “…have compassion on us and help us” the response of our Lord was so powerful to the man  and for us today…”All things are possible for one who believes” (ESV).    “One who believes” spoke to me strongly.  When we are in trouble or when we are going through difficult times, we do need the prayer, love and encouragement of others.  But, it really boils down to “one who believes” and it is is really between that “one” (ourselves) and God.   I remember one Sunday a Word came to me that the Lord wanted to heal someone and it was a matter between Himself and that person.   That person was in the congregation and she had just heard the Lord say those very words to her a short time before.  She claimed that Word for herself and He touched her in that meeting and she was healed.   All things are possible to the one who believes!

Later, when the disciples asked Jesus why they could not cast out the demon, He responded “this kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer” (ESV).    How important prayer is to us.  We see our Lord’s example as He would pull Himself away for long periods of time and pray.    I have read statistics that report, on the average, Christians pray less than 4 minutes/day, including pastors.   What a sad testimony.  Could this be the reason we see so little power in the churches today?  We tweak out a miracle every once in a while and make excuses for the rest of the times when we do not see God move as we desire.  We cry out for souls and the devil continues to keep many blinded to the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Join us September 1st as we begin our series on Prayer and Fasting.   Begin preparing yourselves for the 40 day fast beginning September 24th that will take us up to November 2nd.   We must fast and pray if we want to see changes in our nation.   I believe the changes we desire can only come about by prayer.  

We are still the greatest nation on the earth, and IF we will continue to follow the principles of God’s Word and the God that made us great, we can remain that same great nation and greater.

May God’s blessings richly overflow into your lives this day!