Dear One…the Lord bless you!
As we approach the end of the year, I’m writing to you to invite and encourage you to sow an extra special financial gift into Lightbearers this holiday season. As you know, everything we do with Lightbearers is done for free all over the world, so that all our work is funded by partners like yourself. Thus, you share fully in allowing us to be sent and to send others to advance His kingdom!
As you see with our flag theme, our focus in 2023 is to bring our country back to the living God!
Our work with house churches here in the USA began in 2015 and continues as we enter its third phase in January 2023. From 2015 through the summer of 2019 Carl and I visited over fifty cities from Miami to Anchorage, and Boston to Honolulu seeking the man of peace through whom we could plant house churches locally. This led to many great encounters with doors opening all over the country. Then starting in summer 2019, we started doing ‘house church roundtables’ which opened more doors. Finally we have been invited to take over a house church ministry, with close to one hundred house churches already starting January 1st which will employ two full time house church planters and a staff of young volunteers…your gifts are making this possible!
In the summer of 2020, the Lord told me to take our schools of ministry into every nation on earth. Across Africa even through covid hundreds of schools have taken root and are bearing fruit. In their annual graduation in Lusaka last week, our schools in Zambia graduated 195 new students, filled with the power of God. Lives changed; countries being impacted through your gifts!
After five experimental trainings, our Holy Spirit Encounter will be ready to be released across the world this next spring, in 2023. These one week ‘Encounters’ are like nothing you have experienced – you encounter God and He trains you in all the gifts of the Spirit. Finally our online gifts of the Spirit training which has produced over six hundred teachers will be rereleased in January on two tracks – one a discipleship program and the other focused on developing teachers of the gifts. All done for free through your gifts!
I don’t have to tell you of the fruit that tithing and sacrificial offerings brings…you are a believer in the living God! I can tell you that Rosemarie and I are making a special sacrificial offering beyond our tithe this year just like we are asking of you, because we want our lives to be extra blessed with the joy of sowing into so many others!
God bless the USA, and all the nations of the world…love you!
THE ART OF GENEROSITY
Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Matt 7:12 NKJV
Children are naturally generous. Its our default setting – to share, to give, to include others because when we share our toys we have more fun! You sit and watch believer’s children and they won’t have a spoiled bone in their bodies because their parents have modeled generosity, love and care for others since they were born, and children are little mirrors of their parents. Generosity has no worry, no fear. Let me show you something I wrote years ago about the art of generosity…
You knew it had to be wrong. The ‘prophesy over your checkbook, God wants you wealthy!’ prosperity message of the western Church just didn’t fit with the overall picture set forth in Scripture of the normal Christian lifestyle. But I had bought into the idea because I could see the Armani suits and the corporate jets of the big ‘prosperity teaching’ ministers. I thought I had the answer that would help so many in Africa. So, there I was, preaching a weeklong series of meetings during the ‘blessed hour’ in Kakamega Kenya …
Now the ‘blessed hour’ is lunchtime in Kenya. It is the custom of many churches across Kenya to hold lunchtime meetings during the week for the working brethren. And people come by the thousands to these meetings, which often extend longer than an hour, for praise, worship and encouragement from the Word. Preachers are expected to be full of Holy Ghost fire and enthusiasm.
It was Friday, and we had been having fun all week with deliverance, redemption, salvation, and the gifts of the Spirit. So I was going to close the week with a rip-roaring prosperity message. The praise band was finishing up their last number when the Holy Spirit sovereignly spoke to me…
“Why doesn’t the prosperity message work in Africa?” Huh! What? I was stunned. “Uh, you know, Lord!” was all I could answer. I learned a long time ago that God doesn’t ask questions because He doesn’t know something. He asks questions to show us that WE don’t know something. He said…
“The prosperity message doesn’t work in Africa because African culture is centered around the community, not the individual. By the way, so is biblical culture…” Ohhh…
Then I was introduced!
As you can imagine, I walked slowly up to the lectern, with just my Bible, having left my teaching notes in the seat I was in. I was in Holy Ghost land. As I recall, I said, “I must apologize to you (there were about three hundred present), because the Holy Spirit has showed me that the ‘spiritual food’ I was about to give you is really spiritual poison.”
I explained to them that the prosperity message of the western Church was centered on the unholy trinity of ‘me, myself and I’, and that it would tear apart the good aspects of African culture and the African Church. It was a subtle spiritual poison ready to wound and decimate a growing, flourishing Church…
Then I was led to take them to Acts chapter four where the Word details how the early Church operated.
“And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and soul: and not one of them said that aught of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.” Acts 4:32
The Word here is not teaching some sort of Christian brand of socialism. The Bible teaches ‘private ownership’ (and personal responsibility) from Genesis to Revelation. But when the private owner learns that he himself is owned by the Lord Jesus Christ, his heart and perspective changes. The things he guarded so jealously start to lose their glisten and shine. He starts to see himself as part of a Body where the needs of the whole must be addressed as well as the individual parts. The unholy trinity (me, myself and I) becomes unseated by the Lordship of Jesus, the lordship of love.
“And with great power gave the apostles their witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.”
For neither was there among them any that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands and houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
And laid them at the apostles feet, and distribution was made unto each, according as anyone had need.” Acts 4:33-35
They never sold what they needed. Notice the plural in ‘lands and houses’. People don’t need more than one house, generally speaking. They got rid of the excess in their lives and used it to further the Gospel. I call this plurality giving and Body (or corporate) prosperity. They kept what they needed and blessed the Body with the rest. The only people who don’t like this message are the ones with ‘lands and houses’, and don’t want to give them up.
Then I took them to Philippians chapter two.
“If there is therefore any exhortation in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any tender mercies and compassions,
Make full my joy, that ye be of the same mind, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind,
Doing nothing through faction or through vainglory, but in lowliness of mind each counting other better than himself;
Not looking each of you to his own things, but each of you also to the things of others.
Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…” Philippians 2:1-5
Do you see the tender concern we are to walk in, one towards another?
Now the Word of God teaches a strong work ethic, and that those who won’t work shouldn’t eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Many times when a man says he needs money, what he really needs is some good ‘lessons in living.’ I withhold my money and try to give him the counsel and help that will have lasting effect (and if I buy him lunch while doing it, all the better!).
Many Christians are storing up material blessings, claiming all the while that God has blessed them with those things. And they are right, but it is only half the truth. Material blessings come from God, but they are to be used the way God intends them to be used. God blesses us abundantly so that we can have our needs met, and then distribute abundantly as the Spirit directs. Some have said that we make Jesus Lord of the 10% (the tithe), when He wants to be Lord of the 100% (everything you have).
The contrast between a river and a lake offers an appropriate analogy. The beautiful North Santiam River borders the property where we live in northwest Oregon. The river is perhaps two hundred feet wide, stretching for many miles, and handles a huge volume of water. Now a river supplies groundwater and water for vegetation and animals on its banks. But beyond that which it needs to do its job, what flows into it, flows out of it. But a lake stores up what comes into it, getting bigger and bigger until it finally has to release a little bit because it just can’t handle any more.
Think of the human body. All the organs in the body are fed by the bloodstream. Does one organ store up all the blessings of the blood at the expense of the other organs? No, because they intuitively know that if one member suffers, all the organs suffer. Do you see why the materialistic philosophy of the prosperity message is poison in the bloodstream of the Body of Christ?
Christians should live frugally well (abundant shoreline vegetation), have savings accounts and retirement plans (groundwater), and use the rest to support and promote Christ’s Kingdom.
I encourage you to believe God for fabulous abundance to come into your life, to meet your needs and to further the cause of Christ worldwide. Live simply, get rid of the excess, use it for the Kingdom. Be a river, not a lake…
Remember, dear ones, we must be about our Father’s business…