Thursday, June 28, 2012



In most every profession of life, even in most interactions between people, there is usually a hook or an agenda. An agenda is usually when you want something from another. Most everyone has an agenda of some kind. If you are up front about it, then there are no surprises or disappointments. There are two basic problems with agendas. First-Many times agendas are hidden and then have a "gotcha" effect on your audience. Hidden agendas are fundamentally out of bounds, if you are striving to be ethical in your dealings. Second-Many times agendas are assumed or presumed. This keeps the conversation or interaction on more of a surface level. These are agendas that have been proven to be true so many times that you just can't imagine them not being present. It just comes with the territory.
Presumed agendas occur in the religious arena frequently and therefore eat away at the heart of authenticity. For instance, if a person identifies himself as a Christian, this tends to put others on the defensive, believing they are now a target for a series of conversion tactics. Or, when you attend a religious gathering, there is a real presumption that they have as their agenda to either extract some money out of your pocket or convert you into their flavor of faith.

We face the agenda problem in our work nearly every day. You see, because people underwrite our work financially through a non-profit from month to month, we are free to be available to help anyone, any time, without ever having to deal with the financial issues at all. It is the most amazing privilege we've ever known.

We are free to live out the question: "What can we do to help?" and mean it! We approach our work with people in a five step progression: 1. We have no agenda. (We don't want anything from you.) 2. We have no answers. (We don't know anything. By the way, before following Jesus, I thought I knew everything.) 3. Jesus is the only answer we know. (Jesus knows!) 4. Jesus is the only agenda that works. (Jesus works with anyone!) 5. Jesus is the best Good News for any bad news that presents itself!

Now, this brings us to SECRET #72: The follower of Jesus seeks to live with one agenda-Jesus.

Every day you have the option of living according to the man-made principles of the world, limited by the best man can do-your own agenda. Or, you can choose to live by the principles of the Kingdom of heaven, limited by the best God can do-the Jesus agenda. When you choose the Jesus agenda, you will find yourself wanting to walk, talk, think and love as Jesus would do. Living with the Jesus agenda also creates a new heart in you to share the peace, love and joy of Jesus with those who need it. You have an increased awareness factor about your life-to make a difference.

Jesus taught that in order to live on the Jesus agenda, it's important to see things differently. He talks about you being able to actually see the Kingdom of heaven-to be aware of living on a different plane than the rest of the world. He taught this to one of the most religious men of His day and He shared with him what was required to be able to see the Jesus agenda clearly.

Let's listen in on it: Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him." Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born, can he?" Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'" (John 3)

Now, don't be alarmed with the "born again" term. Jesus wasn't using "born again" as it is so frequently used today to denote whether you are in or out. What Jesus meant by this is that this religious man needed to become like a little child again-to unlearn the religious teachings that kept him from seeing and hearing and to learn all over again as a little child-to be born again spiritually. Then Nicodemus could be able to see the Kingdom-the Jesus agenda. SECRET #72: The follower of Jesus seeks to live with one agenda-Jesus.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012



The name of Jesus is easily lost, ignored or maybe just forgotten. When it comes to the holiday season of Christmas, to remember that Jesus is the reason for the season requires a constant reminder. I've noticed Jesus frequently comes up missing in messages, newsletters, church bulletins and religious conversation. It's amazing how easy it is to talk about God, Christ, the Lord or the man upstairs and leave the name of Jesus out. This brings us to SECRET #71: The follower of Jesus lifts up the name of Jesus above all names.
There is a great worship song that goes, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, there's just something about that name." What is there about that name that is so important? In order to get this in perspective we must go way back to nearly 3500 years ago when Moses was being sent by God to face the people of Israel. Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?" God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you." (Exodus 3:13-14)

From the beginning God's name is very important. His name is I AM WHO I AM. This means that God exists and always has existed. It is spelled in the Hebrew language by four letters without any vowels. It is YHWH. Some ancient rabbis have described the name of God as like taking a breath. It is Yah-weh. And every breath you take is like saying His name. His name is revered so highly by the Jewish people that they wouldn't even pronounce it. Instead they would use the word for "lord" in its place. Even today, most Jews will not spell out the word, God. They usually write it with a hyphen, G-d.

When we come to the time of Jesus, there is a lot of emphasis placed upon the name of Jesus. In the first few verses of John it says, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all people. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only.

Later in John Jesus says, "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." What is it about this Jesus that is so attractive? Well, in Acts 4:12 it says, Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name given under heaven by which we must be saved. There is something about that name.

Remember when the Lord spoke to Ananias about what he was to tell Paul, who had just been apprehended by Jesus on the road to Damascus. He said, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel."

When Jesus prayed to the Father in John 17, He makes an interesting reference about the name of God, "Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me."

So what is the name of God that was given to Jesus? It is the name of Jesus or "Yeshua" in the Hebrew. NOTE what this means. It is a combination of YE, short for Yahweh, and SHUA which means saves. So, the name is YAHWEH SAVES-Yeshua. It's a combination of the name of God given to Moses and the Messianic name given to God in the flesh-Jesus-God saves!

Even more specific is that Jesus makes several claims to being the I AM. When Jesus announced to His disciples He would be leaving, Thomas said, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

There is something about that name. The name of Jesus sets Him apart from all others, everywhere. As a Buddhist friend of mine said, "Jesus trumps everything and everyone else!"

This is why Peter and John were able to give the healing touch to the lame man in Jerusalem. It was all in the name of Jesus. This is why when two or three are gathered together in the name of Jesus, He shows up in supernatural ways. This is why we are to pray in the name of Jesus and He responds to our heart's cries.
SECRET #71: The follower of Jesus lifts up the name of Jesus above all names. In the name of Jesus. There is something special about that name. JESUS.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012



There are three revolutionary habits we've taught over the past several years. They are simple and highly effective at the same time. The first is the habit of walking with Jesus-simply following Jesus the best you can. The second is the habit of walking with others who are walking with Jesus-doing life together with a few. The third revolutionary habit is waiting on Jesus to lead out with orders and opportunities. This is SECRET #70: The follower of Jesus waits on the Master for His orders and opportunities. Waiting on Jesus is not inactivity. In fact, waiting may be the toughest thing you'll ever learn to do. Waiting on 

Jesus is being active and attentive in the following ways:
FIRST-As you wait there is the action of readying yourself. Your responsibility is not to be in charge, but to be ready for the Master's orders.

SECOND-As you wait there is the action of relating to Jesus and to others-practicing the first two habits. Your responsibility is to continue these relationships within your support team-the "one another's" in your life. It's the doing of life together, not just sitting around and talking about it.

THIRD-As you wait there is the action of resting. Your responsibility is to be anxious for nothing, but to rest in your relationship with Jesus and with others. Now, keep in mind that Jesus may not have direct orders for you today. Don't be in a hurry to the point of being stressed. Following Jesus is all about rest. Jesus calls His disciples into His rest-confident, peaceful, everything-is-going-to-be-OK rest.

FOURTH-As you wait there is the action of resisting. Your responsibility is to resist all distractions, temptations, and detours that you have stirred up for yourself or that come at you. This resisting is a vital discipline for the disciple of Jesus and the Kingdom. It's resisting those things that have the potential of keeping you from following Jesus.

However, we ARE waiting for Jesus to show up in our lives. We ARE waiting for Jesus to give us answers to our heart's cry-an impression, a peace, a desire or a thought. We ARE to wait to bring restoration to those God brings to us. We ARE to wait for God to bring people into our lives for us to walk with in fellowship and support. WAITING ON JESUS TO LEAD OUT is demonstrating a ruthless trust in Him to come through on our behalf with opportunities and orders for us to follow.

An ancient Jewish prophet, Isaiah, comes to mind. He wrote some inspiring words about waiting. Isaiah says: He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. (Isaiah 40:29-31)

Then I am drawn to what happened just before Jesus left the disciples. In the first chapter of Acts Jesus gave orders to wait in Jerusalem for next steps! Jesus spent 40 days with the disciples, just hanging out with them and He spent that time teaching them about the Kingdom. "He said to them, 'It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.'" In essence, the disciples were still hung up on the physical, political motif of the Kingdom and Jesus is expanding on His former words to them that He has already brought the Kingdom. Now, they must wait for the permanent, abiding presence of God through His Spirit to empower their Kingdom living. The same is true for us today. We are to pray for Jesus to lead out and we are to follow Him. So we are praying and waiting for Jesus to lead the way.

Think of it this way: #1-Jesus is calling you today. All He requires of you is to be interested, believe in Him and follow in His steps. #2-Jesus believes those He calls are good enough. In other words, He believes you can do it. #3-Jesus believes you can be like Him-to perpetuate His lifestyle in you. #4-Jesus empowers you by His presence as 2-3 of us gather together in His name.
It's all about the simplicity and purity of devotion to Jesus and following Him.
Three habits. Walking with Jesus. Walking with others. Waiting on Jesus to lead out with orders and opportunities. SECRET #70 is: The follower of Jesus waits on the Master for His orders and opportunities.

Monday, June 25, 2012



If you are serious about following Jesus, it's important to understand as clearly as possible what Jesus did. Years ago a good friend convinced me that "What Did Jesus Do?" (WDJD?) was more important to know and study than "What Would Jesus Do?" (WWJD?)
At the heart of what Jesus did do is the primary reason Jesus came to earth. It's what Jesus' ultimate mission was. Jesus speaks to this mission in a prayer recorded in the Gospel of John. There Jesus says that He finished the work the Father sent Him to do. Even though Jesus said, "It is finished" while on the cross, the finished work of Jesus was not dying for the sins of the world according to what Jesus said. It was something that is easily overlooked in the life of Jesus and yet must be understood in order to follow Jesus more closely. This is SECRET #69: The follower of Jesus continues to do the finished work of the Master in order to transform the world one person at a time.

A few days before Jesus died on the cross, He revealed what His finished work actually was-the bottom line reason why He was sent to earth. So, what did Jesus say was the work he came to complete? When Jesus prayed to the Father, He prayed for Himself, for His disciples and for us today. This is really the Lord's Prayer. The "Our Father Who art in heaven" prayer is better viewed as the disciples' prayer, when He was teaching the disciples how to pray.

So, what was it that Jesus came to do? What is the work He came to complete? The finished work of Jesus is more than what we normally think. It's within these words of Jesus' prayer that we can find the true revolutionary nature of what Jesus came to do and what He expects from us as followers. Jesus said that He finished the work the Father sent Him to do. He said, "I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do." Notice what Jesus says is the finished work He came to do. "I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You; for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me. But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. I have given them Your word."

Jesus came into this world to invest His life in a few men and now He sends us out to do the same. "As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them."

Jesus invested in a few-all those God brought to Him. I believe this is the finished work of Jesus. He invested in the 12 and lost one of these, so He gave Himself to eleven men. Jesus saw clearly that in order to touch the entire world, He must invest Himself completely in a few so that they really "get it". Now if this strategy was good enough for Jesus, then don't you think it's the best strategy for you and me as well?

Practically speaking, most likely God has already given you a few people in whom to invest yourself. Start with your family first. It's your family members who are given to you and primarily to you. These family members can be either your greatest accomplishments or your greatest failures. In other words, your impact upon your family members is undeniable. After family members, you know those friendships, colleagues and acquaintances who have been obviously brought into your life for your personal investment. It's SECRET #69: The follower of Jesus continues to do the finished work of the Master in order to transform the world one person at a time.

I spent most of my life preparing and training to invest my life to move the masses toward Jesus. Now I know this was the wrong strategy. Just as Jesus met and gave healing to one person at a time, so we are to do the same. Let me ask you something. What are you doing with the people God has brought to you? Are you investing your life and teachings in these few? Jesus saw this work as the most important work ever. Don't you think we can take a clue from Jesus and do the same?

Sunday, June 24, 2012



About 6 or 7 years ago Jesus apprehended my heart and mind in a fresh way. Jesus became my whole focus. I saw Him differently-in a fresh and real way. I'd always taught about Jesus, but this time I had this passion to actually get to know Him. It was clear to me that the biggest obstacle for me to get to know Jesus was me, primarily my theologically educated mind. I have frequently said that I have been educated beyond my intelligence. With this handicap I knew that in order to get to really know Jesus I had to unlearn so much-so much that had become like blinders that kept me from seeing Jesus clearly and layer upon layer of add-ons that kept me from hearing Jesus distinctly.
This new adventure of following Jesus is quite a revolutionary trip. Everything is constantly changing. My learning curve is not a curve at all; it's a perpendicular line. The unlearning and relearning process never ends and just gets better every day. The experience, strength and hope in getting to know Jesus is intense and very real. My personal story is actually becoming Jesus' story in me. This brings us to SECRET #68: The follower of Jesus shares the message of the Master by sharing his personal story.

As a professional speaker over the years I am always asked for a bio to promote who I am and what I've done for whatever the event happens to be. The changes in my bio-my personal story-are dramatic. The primary change is the insertion of Jesus into my story.

Here's how it began experientially. I enjoyed a luncheon with a few friends in the DC area. We discussed what I should say that I do, now that I am a stubborn follower of Jesus. These men shared several ideas to use as vocational handles. One was that I work with the problem of alienation in this country and around the world. I really liked that handle the best.

Right after lunch the hotel set up a town car to take me about an hour north where I was going to spend the night in the Leesburg area of Virginia with some friends. The town car driver was a delightful man by the name of Joseph. He said, "You can call me 'big Joe'." Joseph was from Cameroon, Africa, and we have since developed a family-like friendship.

That car ride changed my life by changing how I share my personal story. Joseph asked, "What do you do?" So, here we go. It's time to practice what I'd just learned at lunch. "I work with a few friends on the problem of alienation", I said. I couldn't believe how big and complicated that word "alienation" sounded as I said it. There's no way Joseph will understand.

Joseph said, "Alienation. You mean, like when people don't get along-families, communities and nations?" Much to my surprise and relief Joseph understood! I said, "Yes, that's right!"

Then Joseph asked the million dollar question, "What is it that you do to counter the problem of alienation?" Well, there it was. The question of the day-the question of my life-presented right there in my lap: "What is it that you really do, Tim?" I couldn't believe it.

So I answered carefully and painfully, "Well, we don't use politics, education, or religion. Those just don't work. What we have found to be the only real answer to alienation is" (I could hardly get it out of my mouth. I'd never said the name of Jesus in such a personal and authentic way.) and then I said it, "JESUS!" I don't know what I expected, but I was pleasantly surprised to hear Joseph's response. He said, "Oh, Jesus. You know in my country we are either Catholic or Muslim, but it really doesn't matter since we worship our ancestors. But I've always loved Jesus. He's so different from all the rest." That day I learned what it means to know Jesus personally and make Him known-really and authentically.

I used to be known as a speaker and people were attracted to me because of that. Now, I am building lots of relationships and most of these new people have never heard me speak. They are attracted to my personal story of following Jesus. You see, my story is actually Jesus' story in me. And that's the most attractive story of all! SECRET #68: The follower of Jesus shares the message of the Master by sharing his personal story.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012



Living in Newport Beach, California, a place I have dubbed the "holy coast" area of the United States, it's easy to forget how needy some people really are. We live in such gorgeous surroundings, one of the most beautiful parts of the world. From the very first day we moved here it was clear that we had to make it our goal to expose our children to other parts of the world-to give them a wider perspective on the rest of the world. In other words, it was important to communicate to them that this is not how it is all over the world. So, we did our best to expose our kids to as many other cultures as possible as they grew up in paradise. This not only taught them that there are lots of needy people around the world, but it also gave them a sense of gratefulness that they possess today.
Over the years the many travels to see how the rest of the world lives have also taught us to look around, even in paradise, for the needy right here at home. Although the needs around the world are much more intense than they are here, there are so many real needs here in Orange County and growing by the day in this economic scene. Locally we do all we can do to support the Orange County Food Bank, one of the finest charities ever!

Every month we also feed the homeless who gather at a local church facility. It's a different kind of serving. There are no food lines. The people gather, are seated and then they are served a wonderful meal. We sing together, celebrate any birthdays and I share something about Jesus and His teachings with them. The rewards of serving the homeless in this way are enormous. This brings me to SECRET #67: The follower of Jesus shares the message of the Master by meeting the needs of the needy.

You see, when you do your best to meet the needs of the needy, you are doing something that is at the heart and core of Jesus and His message to the world. This act of service will have a most definite impact on the world; it will demonstrate Jesus to the world. Jesus taught this when He said: "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'" (Matthew 25)

Here the sacrificial love message of Jesus is spread by being aware of Jesus' heart and that Jesus can be found in those in need in our world-the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the stranger, the sick, and those in prison. Jesus also spoke directly to those who didn't notice Jesus in the midst of the needy. "He will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'" When we are aware of the poor and needy around us, we are demonstrating the heart of Jesus in our world. Jesus always sought them out and so should we. And when we do, the attractiveness of the sacrificial love of Jesus shines through.

NOTE two things here: FIRST-Those in need are at the heart of God-hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked, sick and imprisoned. Human nature is to take care of those who can do something for us. Therefore, we look to treat those who are important from an earthly perspective-the athlete, the musician, the highly positioned person in society. BUT Jesus points us in another direction entirely!

SECOND-Ministering to the needy is in fact ministering to Jesus, Himself. So, if you want to find and interact with Jesus, He is right there in the midst of those in need.

Do you want to see Jesus? Serve those in need in your world. And, when you serve the needy, the love message of Jesus will shine through. This is SECRET #67: The follower of Jesus shares the message of the Master by meeting the needs of the needy.



Jesus says, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you. By this all men will know that you are My disciples." (John 13:34-35) There is something so attractive about a group of people-a family, a fellowship-where they love one another that stands out. It's a badge of distinction that Jesus says will get the world's attention. You will not be known by peculiar rites or habits; not by a peculiar form of dress or manner of speech; not by peculiar do's and don'ts, like the Pharisees or the scribes, but by deep, genuine, and tender affection for one another. This is SECRET #66: The follower of Jesus shares the message of the Master by loving one another.
Each of the disciples had signed on to loving Jesus, but not loving one another. I mean, a few fishermen loving their nemesis, the tax gatherer or the political radical, the zealot, or the disciple who had a question mark for a brain-always doubting and questioning? Jesus wasn't suggesting it, but commanding that they, in the midst of their great diversity, must learn to love one another. Now, how can you love one another without spending more quality time together than sitting beside one another in a spectator-driven religious service or by greeting one another after the announcements for 15 seconds? It takes time to learn to love one another, so take the time!

The Kingdom principles are practiced anywhere and everywhere, because it's a movement. BUT how is the Kingdom practiced? The Kingdom is practiced by participation in a community of followers of Jesus. We are to live our lives in relationship with Jesus and in fellowship with one another.

Practicing the presence of the Kingdom requires fellowship. The term fellowship is widely known, but even more widely misunderstood. It's more than a pot-luck dinner. It's not a room called the "fellowship" hall. It's more than a group of friends watching football or hunting together. The fellowship may be the most important concept you will ever learn. However, this concept is not just to be learned; it must be lived! I call this kind of fellowship a verb. This kind of healthy fellowship is held together by the proactive expression of love for one another.

Jesus' strategic approach to spreading His Good News message throughout the world never involved "putting up another church", but practicing their relationship with Jesus and with one another in the Kingdom. This is what the fellowship is all about!

The fellowship operates on the principle of attraction, not promotion. This goes against the grain of most every religious program in our world. The fellowship is not an organization, an institution or a denomination. Fellowship is a verb that, when properly activated, has the power to change the world-one person at a time! In order to use the fellowship as a verb you must learn the fellowship principle of loving one another.

The primary term for fellowship in the New Testament is koinonia. The word has the idea of communion or sharing in common with another. It's the perfect word to describe the relationship we are to have with God and with one another-a partnership. This partnership is to be entered into-to join one's self to a friend or friends in order to become a sharer. The designated partners within the fellowship include Jesus, Jesus' followers and you. The fellowship is with God Himself and with His people.

Jesus introduced an entirely new dynamic into the teaching process. Let's call it "table fellowship". Instead of one person teaching a class, Jesus spent lots of significant time around the table with food. The gospel of Luke records ten meals with Jesus. Eight of them are eaten in the flow of Jesus' ministry activity and two are eaten with the disciples after the resurrection. In other words, Jesus uses fellowship around the table to bring everyone together and to demonstrate Kingdom living at its simple, tangible best-all wrapped around learning to love one another.

As these many meals with Jesus are examined closely, it's helpful to pay special attention to the settings. The settings vary from the homes of the highly religious to special friends and even in two tax-collector homes. Most of the time Jesus is invited and in the case of Zacheus Jesus invited Himself to lunch at Zach's place. The guest list is always fascinating-priests, sinners, prostitutes and a variety of broken people and those who are looking for that special touch from Jesus.

The simple program of Jesus for changing the whole world is to make each person He touches magnetic enough with love to draw others to love God and to love one another. This transformation happens within the relational community of a few. Are you in that kind of relationship? SECRET #66: The follower of Jesus shares the message of the Master by loving one another.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012



Jesus gives a revolutionary plan for killing off all of your enemies by loving them. Let's check it out: "But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back." (Luke 6) This is SECRET #65: The follower of Jesus shares the message of the Master by giving a blessing when insulted.
The revolutionary principle is found in: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." It's the golden rule, quoted by nearly all religions and recognized as the most fundamental way of living ever. This is at the foundation of what Jesus is saying when He says to love your enemies. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

The key to loving your enemies can only be found in the dynamic of forgiveness. Jesus says, "For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions." (Matthew 6:14-15)
I don't think there is a more penetrating statement in all of scripture! If you don't forgive others, God will not forgive you! Your relationship with God is integrally part of your relationship with others and vice versa.

We are all desperate for it, but we are also confused with what true forgiveness really is. First, it's important to understand what forgiving is not: Forgiving doesn't mean you must go back or reunite. Forgiving doesn't mean we tolerate the wrong he did. Forgiving doesn't mean we want to forget what happened. Forgiving doesn't mean we excuse the person who did it. Forgiving doesn't mean we take the edge off the evil done. Forgiving doesn't mean we surrender our right to justice. Forgiving doesn't mean to invite someone to hurt us again.

This brings us to what forgiveness actually is. It's the ultimate form of love. It's being willing to pay for the offense yourself and not get even with the one who hurt you. When you forgive, you take the pain yourself! There are five steps in forgiving another person: 1. Remind yourself that this person is only human! 2. Relinquish your right to get even! The truth of the matter is that it is impossible to get (exactly) even. You will either not get back at them enough or you will overdo it. There is just no way to get even! 3. Be ready to hurt in order to heal!
You must take the pain all by yourself! This is the real secret to the dynamic of forgiving someone. You must pay for and not demand that they do! 4. Wish them well! This could be the best real evidence that forgiveness has taken place. Try praying for them-for their success! 5. You may have to repeat the process! Jesus was asked how many times a person ought to forgive another. His answer was 70 X 7 or 490! By the way, this doesn't mean that at 491, you can go get even with them!

This is all well and good, but what is the primary motivation to forgive anyone-especially your enemy? The answer is FREEDOM! As long as you refuse to forgive, you are in bondage to this person who hurt you! In bondage! You are his/her slave for as long as you don't forgive!

Years after her concentration camp experiences in Nazi Germany, Corrie ten Boom met face to face one of the most cruel and heartless German guards that she had ever contacted. He had humiliated and degraded her and her sister. He had jeered and visually raped them as they stood in the delousing shower. Now he stood before her with his hand outstretched and said, "Will you forgive me?"

She writes: "I stood there with coldness clutching at my heart, but I know that the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. I prayed, Jesus, help me! Woodenly, mechanically I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me and I experienced an incredible thing. The current started in my shoulder, raced down into my arms and sprang into our clutched hands. Then this warm reconciliation seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes. 'I forgive you, brother,' I cried with my whole heart. For a long moment we grasped each other's hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I have never known the love of God so intensely as I did in that moment!" To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you! This is SECRET #65: The follower of Jesus shares the message of the Master by giving a blessing when insulted.

Monday, June 18, 2012



When you are a follower of Jesus, so much of what you do is a matter of the heart. In other words, you want to spend lots of energy and focus on the invisible matters of the heart. Although these invisible matters of the heart are not overtly seen, they still shine through in such a way so as to communicate a most meaningful quality of life and the distinctive characteristic of wholeness. This is SECRET #64: The follower of Jesus shares the message of the Master by embracing His lifestyle.
This comes from the words of Jesus in the well-known "sermon on the mount": "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 5:13-16)

When you are a follower of Jesus, you are continually faced with a value system-a set of principles that demonstrate Jesus and His Kingdom. These are His teachings. I like to think of these principles and teachings as what the Kingdom of God is all about. Practicing the principles and teachings of Jesus is practicing the Kingdom of God in your life.

The Kingdom of God is primarily invisible, like the wind, but with some visible results. The Kingdom principles will move you to emphasize the internals over the externals. You will practice such invisible things as forgiving that person who has really hurt you. You will learn to practice such invisible Kingdom principles as dying in order to live, as losing yourself to really find yourself, as celebrating the act of mourning over that which keeps you from God, and as finding pure satisfaction from hungering and thirsting after the right things in Jesus.

The visible dimension of the Kingdom must be seen. Because of the invisible flow of the Kingdom principles, you will learn to practice some visible dimensions of the Kingdom-the dimension of light. Jesus said to His disciples: "You are the light of the world."

So, the Kingdom is demonstrated through your lifestyle-inside out. It's learning to embrace the preeminence of Jesus and the presence of His Kingdom as a lifestyle. You can live the Kingdom, revolutionary lifestyle right now and it will go against the grain of what the herd is doing and where the herd is going. The Kingdom doesn't need to be proved; it needs to be practiced!

If you are a follower of Jesus, you are a citizen of the Kingdom of God. Whatever you do for a living, you are being paid to do a certain work. However, you have a much greater calling to pattern yourself after Jesus and practice the Kingdom of God every day, all while you are being paid.

So, what does the Kingdom look like and what does the message sound like? It looks and sounds like Jesus embraced by His followers. SECRET #64 is: The follower of Jesus shares the message of the Master by embracing His lifestyle. You live your life before a watching world. For some, your life is the only picture they will ever see of Jesus. So, let your light shine through.

Sunday, June 17, 2012



Secret #63 can best be summed up with the words of Jesus: "For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon!' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!'" (Matthew 11:18-19) This was his reputation. He was known as a friend to the disenfranchised. And those who became followers of Jesus were to be just like their Master. SECRET #63: The follower of Jesus stands with the broken, abused, addicted and the poor, imitating the Master.
Immediately after Jesus called Matthew, the tax collector, to follow Him, Matthew threw a party. Naturally, Matthew invited His family and friends to this party and this was quite a gathering of other tax collectors and sinners or the non-religious. Matthew records it in this way: When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, "Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?" But when Jesus heard this, He said, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (Matthew 9:11-13)

In the synagogue, even today, there is a weekly reading of the Scriptures. When Jesus showed up at the synagogue in His home town of Nazareth, He read the weekly reading that was really about Him from the prophet Isaiah: And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district. And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all. And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written, "THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED, TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD." (Luke 4:14-19)

When John's disciples were sent to question Jesus about His credentials, Jesus articulated the same Messianic theme: At that very time He cured many people of diseases and afflictions and evil spirits; and He gave sight to many who were blind. And He answered and said to them, "Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM. Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me." (Luke 7:21-23)

Later, Jesus said to a person who had invited Him to dinner, "When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." (Luke 14:12-14) Jesus was all about working with and hanging out with the broken, abused, addicted and poor-the disenfranchised of society-and wants His followers to do the same.

One more observation here is Jesus chose as His key followers a group of men from the non-religious world. He chose men who were just ordinary and uneducated men, teenagers, in fact, to lead the most revolutionary movement ever. As the most popular spiritual leader during that time, Jesus didn't stand with other spiritual or religious leaders in the community. In fact, He put them down and embarrassed them time and time again. He seemed to be bent on humbling them, because they loved being in such exalted positions. Believe me, they didn't have much to do with the non-religious. They stood far away from them. On the other hand, Jesus not only stood with them and hung out with them; He also touched them. And when Jesus touched someone, they were encouraged, healed, and empowered! SECRET #63: The follower of Jesus stands with the broken, abused, addicted and the poor, imitating the Master.

Thursday, June 14, 2012



"Make disciples of all nations" is the command we just discussed that Jesus gave to His disciples. It's important, however, to examine just what is the making of a disciple. You see, there is no way you or I or anyone has the capability to make a disciple. Remember, I said disciple making is caught and not taught. There is something more to it than that. This brings us to SECRET #62: The follower of Jesus knows disciples aren't made, but summoned.
The only way a person becomes a disciple is to be summoned. You see, a disciple is literally a follower, therefore a follower must be called into action to start following. The one who calls you to follow is the teacher-the leader-the Master. What I'm learning is that the only one I've ever encountered who is worthy of being a Master, my Master, is Jesus.

When you examine Jesus, you will frequently hear the two most revolutionary words ever spoken-two words that have actually turned the world upside down. These two words are "FOLLOW ME!"

One of the earliest times Jesus delivered this challenge was with a group of fishermen-Peter, Andrew, James and John. Take a look into this scene: Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him. (Matthew 4:18-22)

Then there was the special encounter Jesus had with a tax collector by the name of Matthew. As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man called Matthew, sitting in the tax collector's booth; and He said to him, "Follow Me!" And he got up and followed Him. (Matthew 9:9)

A disciple or follower must be summoned or invited to follow. Once invited, you start following as soon as possible. Why? It's because this invitation is from the Master, Himself.

Jesus gives us some insight into how this summoning process occurs in the 6th chapter of John's Gospel. He says, "For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father." (John 6:65) So, it's God, the Father, who is behind it all. Earlier in this same scene Jesus says, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him."

So, here's how it seems to work. Jesus does what His Father moves Him to do and say. And, in the case of inviting people to follow Him, the Father is the one doing the drawing in of the potential followers. A full-court press is needed to make disciples of all nations. There are three players in the making of disciples. FIRST-The Father through the Spirit is drawing all people to Jesus.

SECOND-Jesus is the irresistible one people are drawn to. THIRD-Those who are already followers of Jesus are diligently introducing people to Jesus-advancing the conversation of Jesus whenever possible.

As you can see Jesus is central to the entire process. The Father draws people to Jesus and His followers get to know Him personally and make Him known in every way possible. Jesus is the Master worthy of an answer to His call to follow.

Jesus reveals this before and after His command to "make disciples of all nations" when He said, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20) SECRET #62 is: The follower of Jesus knows disciples aren't made, but summoned. Have you felt the drawing of the Father or the calling of Jesus to follow? Then, do whatever you have to do to follow Him as closely as you can.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012



In the 3 ½ years of Jesus' teaching of His disciples there's no doubt about several recurring themes throughout. One of the most dynamic, recurring themes is Jesus' answer to the question, "What is the greatest of the commandments?" His answer was "You must love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself."
Another very familiar theme of Jesus' teachings is found in some of His final words to His disciples. It was one of Jesus' final commands. He commanded: "Make disciples of all nations (cultures)!" This is where I get SECRET #61: The follower of Jesus is diligent to make disciples of the Master wherever he goes.

Matthew recorded Jesus' words in this way: "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20)

There is only one command in these verses and it's not "Go!" The only command is "Make disciple of all nations!" Then, there are three participles that offer how to do this-by going, by baptizing and by teaching. I don't want to get bogged down with the participles other than to give my quick opinion on them. "Going" has to do with taking the initiative in "making disciples".

"Baptizing" may not have anything to do with water. Remember John's words: "I baptize with water, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I and will baptize you with the Spirit." "Teaching" doesn't have to do with imparting more doctrines, but it is teaching in such a way that people will embrace these things Jesus taught by embracing them as a lifestyle-by being like Jesus. We can discuss these matters on a later podcast.

Historically, we have spent so much time cussing and discussing what Jesus meant by going, baptizing and teaching that we miss the primary command to make disciples. This is because it's much easier to go on a mission trip, sprinkle or dunk others in water, and teach, teach and teach more and more of our particular belief systems to our followers.

Making disciples is more difficult. There are two basic difficulties. FIRST-the command is to make disciples of Jesus, not make disciples of our particular spiritual flavor or bent. Now if you are going to commit yourself to make disciples of Jesus, you must be a disciple or follower of Jesus yourself. I've often said that following Jesus is the toughest thing I've ever tried to do. Before I became a stubborn follower of Jesus, I practiced "making disciples" by assembling people into a classroom. I thought it was all about teaching them to become a disciple of Jesus. Now, I get it. "Making disciples" cannot happen in a classroom. "Making disciples" must be caught and not taught! It's something that must be caught from you as a genuine follower of Jesus!

SECOND-Jesus said, "Make disciples of all nations!" This is the second difficulty in making disciples. We are to make disciples of all nations. Nations is actually the word that means cultures. Jesus commands His followers to make disciples of all cultures. The real difficulty here is the natural tendency is to change other cultures to be like our culture. Instead of making disciples of Jesus of all nations, where every culture freely responds to the good news of Jesus in their own way, we tend to make cultural disciples of all nations-to make them look and sound like us. So, other cultures are taught to sing our songs, speak our lingo and practice our culture as their own. This isn't making disciples of all cultures.

"Making disciples" of Jesus in every culture of the world is the mission of those who follow Jesus. Most of my life I only made disciples by accident. Since I have become passionate about being a follower of Jesus, I now see every person I meet as a potential follower of Jesus. You see, when you own it, you can't help but spill all over those you touch.

There are three steps I want to suggest: FIRST-Be a serious disciple or follower of Jesus yourself. SECOND-Make it your habit to insert Jesus into the conversation whenever you can. THIRD-When you see another person acting, talking, thinking or loving like Jesus, point this out to them and affirm them for it. SECRET #61: The follower of Jesus is diligent to make disciples of the Master wherever he goes. Remember, discipleship can't be taught-only caught!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012



We've been discussing how the intent of Jesus was to launch a movement around Him and His teachings. What's interesting about the Jesus movement is that it is really the presence of the King and His Kingdom. This is why it's so viral, irresistible and irreversible. It can't be stopped and Jesus, the King, is at work all over the world.
A sad rumor that permeates so many faith groups is that Jesus has limited Himself to a given group of believers to do all the work of reaching out to the entire world only through their efforts. This is not only sad, but laughable. There is no way God is waiting on Christians or your sub-brand of Christianity to reach the entire world for Him. King Jesus and His Kingdom are at work in every culture of the world.

When Paul spoke in the marketplace in Athens, he expressed some revolutionary ideas about what God is up to in the many cultures of the world: So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, "Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, 'TO AN UNKNOWN GOD ' Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we also are His children.' Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man." (Acts 17:22-29)

God is at work in every nation or culture, making Himself available so that all men might seek Him and find Him. Note this work of God is not dependent upon any specific religious group or mission. God is at work in these cultures. He cares more about these cultures than any other person or religious organization on the earth. God did set "eternity in the hearts" of men and women everywhere.

Our responsibility is to be aware of what God is up to around us and get there as soon as possible. This is just the opposite of what we usually are thinking. We usually go places to stir things up, start new ministries or promote new projects and then ask God to come along and join us. This is bass-ackwards, in my opinion. Instead of advising God where He should direct His attention toward our initiatives, we must seek what God is doing and where it is He is doing it. This is essential to what we are to be all about. Following Jesus is learning to follow His lead. This is SECRET #60: The follower of Jesus sees where his Master is at work and goes there immediately.

Jesus is at work on things that are on His heart. Jesus loves to see His followers live out a genuine Kingdom lifestyle. Jesus loves to see followers love their enemies. He loves to see followers love one another. Jesus loves to see His followers be diligent to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, shelter the homeless and clothe the naked.

Also, Jesus is at work among non-believers and non-religious people everywhere as well as among non-Christian, religious people everywhere. This is why Jesus is so attractive within the Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish and even agnostic cultures. This summer a friend of mine told me he had met two Buddhist monks who had studied the scriptures of all of the major religions and came to the conclusion that Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of every one of these religious systems. Just yesterday I received word that there are more and more Buddhist monks genuinely following Jesus.

Why is this happening? It's because God is already at work in the hearts of men and women of the cultures of the world. You want to learn some of the most fresh and dynamic perspectives you'll ever hear about Jesus? Learn about Jesus from your non-Christian friends. You will see Jesus in a whole new way. Practice SECRET #60: The follower of Jesus sees where his Master is at work and goes there immediately.

Sunday, June 10, 2012



One of the most misunderstood terms in the spiritual arena is "holy". Unfortunately, "holy" has become so intimidating and unreachable. It has a super-spiritual connotation to it. But Jesus doesn't want you to be a super-saint or a super-spiritual person.
There are three problems with this misunderstanding. FIRST-To be "holy", sets up a level of spirituality that is unattainable and intimidating. So, "holy" is not something we seek, unless you are an "out-there" sort of spiritual person.
SECOND-To be "holy" sets up a 1st class Christianity or spirituality versus those who are 2nd class or coach. Talk about shutting the door of the Kingdom on people!

THIRD-To be "holy" is to operate under a gross misunderstanding of what "holy" really means. It's usually half-understood. Literally, "holy" means to be separated unto God for His mission. However, where I grew up to be "holy" was shortened to mean " to be separated". The way it was applied to me was that we are to be separated-different from the rest of the world. It was definitely a "We-four-and-no-more kind of lifestyle!" We were an established holy huddle in our community. We were different because we didn't do certain things-attend movies, drink any alcohol, dance or even skate to secular music. We were different all right and successfully turned people away from the attractive, irresistible Jesus. I'm turned off with this kind of spirituality today!

To be "holy" is just the opposite of what Jesus intended. He mostly used the term "holy" to describe the Holy Spirit, holy angels, and the Holy Place-the Temple. As I said earlier the term "holy" means to be separated or set apart unto God for His mission. The Spirit is holy. The angels are holy. Even the Temple was holy-separated unto God for His mission.

Jesus was most upset and angry with those who continually acted holy and missed out on true holiness. He rebuked those super-spiritual, nit-picker, hair-splitting, feather-plucking, hyper-critical leaders who set themselves up as the religious examples of righteousness. They majored in the minors and minored in the majors. They professed righteousness without possessing it and they did it by carefully following their traditions, man-made commandments and religious causes. This kept them set apart and separated from the rest of the world. As they worked hard to keep the 613 laws-248 commandments and 365 prohibitions-they just kept drawing the condemnation of men on the righteous acts before God.

The Scriptures taught holiness, but the meaning of it was not to just be set apart and be different, gathering yourselves into a holy huddle. In the Hebrew Scriptures it is clear that God wants those who claim to be related to Him to be holy. This sets us up for SECRET #59: The follower of Jesus is separated unto God for His mission.

In Leviticus 11:44-45 it says: I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. I am the LORD who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy. Later in Leviticus 20:26 it says: You are to be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own. Paul and Peter in the New Testament speak of being "called to be holy" and "make every effort to live in peace with all men and be holy". Peter says in his first letter: But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.

Even though Jesus doesn't command His followers to be holy, in the spirit of what is understood by the references in Leviticus and by the few references to be holy by a few of Jesus' disciples, Jesus does actually teach holiness-to be set apart unto God for His mission. I think Jesus is all about teaching those who want to be His disciples how to be holy. He does this by His two most revolutionary words: FOLLOW ME! In contrast to the super-spiritual community of the Pharisees and the Sadducees, Jesus invited the people who were interested in following Him to: "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

Do you see it? To be holy is to be set apart for God's use and purposes. Jesus invites us to follow Him-to be aligned with Him in such a way that we are on the mission He has planned for us-to walk, talk, think and love like Jesus. Jesus doesn't want us to be holy in the super-spiritual sense of the word, but holy-set apart to follow Him. SECRET #59: The follower of Jesus is separated unto God for His mission.

Thursday, June 07, 2012



Today we are returning to the 75 secrets with SECRET #58: The follower of Jesus is the church, when he walks with other followers of Jesus.
We discussed earlier that Jesus never intended for His followers to be 'going to church", because Jesus was not launching a ministry of buildings called churches that a person could go to. The term "church" is not a special, holy word. I was taught in my first Greek class that it was created as a highly charged, powerful term, meaning "called-out ones". It was presented to us as a spiritual term-a Christian term, but in actuality it wasn't. There was no special religious significance whatsoever. It was used for any common gathering-a city council or gathering for any specific purpose. The term means assembly or a group of people congregating-a congregation. A church is a community of people. It's interesting to note that Jesus, Himself, only uses the term "church" on two occasions.

In a snapshot of the earliest of gatherings that might be called a church or assembly in the 2nd chapter of the book of Acts there is a description of what was going on: They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

It's interesting to note there are two locations mentioned-at the temple and from house to house. This goes along with our idea previously mentioned about orbiting around the temple or big C Church. The location isn't the emphasis here nor is there a certain belief system mentioned other than the teachings of Jesus. The most important things seem to be what they did when they came together. They interacted around the teachings of the apostles (Jesus' teachings), they enjoyed fellowship, ate and prayed together. This kind of gathering can happen most anywhere! The power and unifying factor was in gathering together in the name, spirit and teachings of Jesus. Although there is mention of how the early gathering of Jesus' followers seems to multiply, the emphasis is all about people and their coming together.

Jesus practiced this principle of churching, assembling or gathering with even just a few. It's very clear that Jesus spent most of His time with only three men-Peter, James and John. This is the essence of the Jesus fellowship movement. Jesus also was careful to send out His disciples in small teams, usually two by two.

Even the first twelve disciples Jesus chose to be with Him are listed in pairs: Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him. These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them. (Matthew 10)

SECRET #58: The follower of Jesus is the church, when he walks with other followers of Jesus. When you wrap your brain and heart around this principle, you will find a new awareness of the presence of Jesus in your midst. Small groups take on a greater purpose. Coffee shop meetings become Jesus gatherings-practicing the church of Jesus wherever you have come together. It's one thing to follow Jesus; it's revolutionary to do life with others who are following Jesus. Following Jesus will change your life; following Jesus with others who are following Jesus can change the world.



"Going to church" was never the intent of the Jesus movement. All my life I have heard quoted a passage that has been used to keep people going to church. It is in the book of Hebrews in chapter 10: and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. This has become the Christian mantra for making sure everyone goes to Church whenever the doors are open.
Going to church. The idea of going to church limits God and His presence to a location. The idea of going to church misses the concept and practice of the presence of the Kingdom. The idea of going to church leads to building monuments rather than joining a movement.

The whole idea of "going to church" distracts you away from the most miraculous thing that has ever happened to mankind-GOD DWELLS IN YOU. So, your walk with Jesus and with others is not that you are to "go to church", but to be the church of Jesus. The Kingdom-the presence of the King-is already among you all, therefore practice it-live it out in your life-live out the King's presence in your life together. You are the church of Jesus as you gather together anywhere in His name.

Going to church as a location rather than a movement takes away the active, revolutionary nature of what Jesus intended for those who gather in His name. In Matthew 16 Jesus makes an incredible declaration. He says, "I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it or prevail against it." This sounds like the gates of Hades will not be able to bring it down. Now, if Jesus is talking about a church location or local organization, then He was mistaken. You see, many churches are brought down, defeated and closed down every week in the USA. The Message by Eugene Peterson nails the meaning of this passage and captures the essence of the original word "overcome" when it says, "This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hades will be able to keep it out."

Do the see the difference? It is not that the gates of Hades will be powerful enough to overcome the church, but that the gates of Hades will not be able to withstand or keep it out or stop the powerful thrust and energy of the Jesus movement-the always moveable gathering of Jesus. The powerful thrust of the church of Jesus gathering together as a movement is due to spiritual transformation through the power of Jesus in each follower's life.

So if we who are followers of Jesus are the church of Jesus-the gathering of Jesus, and it isn't about "going to church" but "being the church", what does Jesus want us to do with the organized Church today? Reading through the 5 gospels (Matthew-Mark-Luke-John-Acts) it is clear what Jesus and the disciples did with the "organized Church". Let's view the synagogue as the organized Church today. There are three observations that seem most relevant to us: 1. You don't find Jesus or the disciples bashing the Synagogue (Church). 2. You don't find Jesus or the disciples starting new Synagogues (Churches), because of inadequate teaching or worship. 3. You find Jesus and the disciples using the Synagogues (Churches) to worship together, to enjoy the reading of the word and then orbiting around them. This is what I see as SECRET #57: The follower of Jesus practices the Kingdom lifestyle and orbits around religious institutions.

This is exactly what the early fellowships of Jesus did. They participated in the Synagogue, yet they were in orbit around their Synagogue, their communities and around the marketplace. They went to Synagogue (Church) every Sabbath, yet they were there for a higher purpose-a Kingdom purpose. They were there to introduce more and more people to the preeminence of Jesus. When interest was expressed, they invited them to eat together and practice the presence of the Kingdom.

Here's the bottom-line. Don't spend your time, treasure and energies building the church; that's Jesus job. He said He will build His church. Don't build the church or go to church, revolving your life around a monument. That monument may someday be empty as the cathedrals of Europe. BE THE CHURCH OF JESUS! Now that's a powerful movement that cannot be stopped and will always be filled with the love and power of Jesus and His Kingdom.

There are two clear action steps here: FIRST-participate in the revolutionary fellowship movement of Jesus inside or outside the big C Church. SECOND-orbit around the big C Church, looking for those who are interested in Jesus and His movement. Once someone leans in with interest, invite him into the revolutionary fellowship of Jesus with you. SECRET #57: The follower of Jesus practices the Kingdom lifestyle and orbits around religious institutions.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012



This particular secret today is so pervasive and powerful-relevant to all of us. SECRET #56 is: The follower of Jesus doesn't believe political action, education, religion or corporate power can genuinely transform anyone.
So much money is expended in four most strategic arenas-political action, education, religion and the corporate world. There is this underlying belief that one or a combination of these four can make a major difference in the world. Politicians believe their ideology can transform society. Educators and clerics have the same belief in their perspectives on life. The corporate executives believe they have the power to make most anything work the way they want.
The truth is that none of these or any combination thereof can transform a person. You might experience reformation, but not transformation. Reformation is basically an external change that may never reach the heart. Transformation is internal-an inside-out experience.

We have found that there is only one consistent transformational experience, no matter the cultural background. It's not a technique, a class or program, not a system of beliefs and isn't found in climbing the corporate ladder. It's an encounter with a person-a relationship with Jesus. Whenever a person encounters Jesus, the power of personal transformation is present.

So, here's what I've come to believe. If you are a politician, an educator, a religious minister of some kind or a corporate executive, there is a higher calling on your life. I call this the tent-making principle. In the book of the Acts of Jesus, what I normally designate as the 5th Gospel, because it is a continuation of Luke, Paul, a tent-maker connects with a couple in Corinth who were also tent-makers-Aquila and Priscilla. Paul made a point that he used this trade of tent-making to make enough money so that he would not be a financial burden to those he ministered to. Tent-making was how he made a living in order to practice his higher calling of introducing Jesus to anyone who was leaning in.

Today, the way I see the principle of tent-making is that everything we do for a living is our tent-making. This includes politicians, educators, religious ministers and corporate executives. Each of these fine vocations plus all others are good in and of themselves. However, if you are looking to make a difference in the world, you must see your vocation as simply tent-making in order to do something greater with your life.

Your vocation pays the bills so that you can be a part of really making a difference in your world. I have a new friend who is running for a statewide office here in California. He is very clear that the ultimate difference he is going to make has to do with him being a genuine demonstration of Jesus, wherever he goes, whatever he says and does. The political position is tent-making for him. He is really working for the King of kings and has a much higher calling in life than politics. As Jesus is demonstrated through his life, all kinds of people will experience a life-changing encounter with Jesus.

I have several friends in the corporate world who work very hard at their jobs. However, they know they are at their positions to make a significant difference in the lives of those around them-to be Jesus in their positions. Lives will be transformed as they are drawn to Jesus.

I am meeting with several members of the clergy. It's been a little more difficult for them, but they are coming to the understanding that even their ministry positions are jobs-tent-making jobs that give them the opportunity to demonstrate Jesus and His Kingdom to those in their various congregations. Again, when Jesus is encountered through these good and well-intentioned ministers, He is the one who has the power to transform a life-not the clergyman or membership in a religious organization.

Only the genuine demonstration of Jesus has the power to transform anyone. Jesus is demonstrated through His followers, simply and powerfully. This is SECRET #56: The follower of Jesus doesn't believe political action, education, religion or corporate power can genuinely transform anyone. The ultimate human change-agent is Jesus. Simply Jesus.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012



Jesus warns His disciples that they will be hated by the world. He says in John 15: "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master ' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me."
It's clear the world will hate Jesus' disciples. If you believe that the world hates you, two consequences will emerge. FIRST-There is a tendency to feel like a helpless minority, living in a world that rejects you. If this is true for you, then you will either avoid or withdraw from the people of the world or you might overcompensate and try to control the people of this world and put them into your religious box. So the result is either a holy huddle (we four and no more) or a Christian power block to force people to obey your rules and standards.

SECOND-There is a tendency to "take a stand" for righteousness and to establish sacred noble causes that are all opposed to the world. Several years ago, Bob Briner in his book, Roaring Lambs, used to have as a subtitle: "7 Noble Causes That Keep Christians from Changing the World". He listed the following: 1. Squabbling over prayer in public schools! 2. Making Jesus a right-winger! 3. Thwarting the homosexual agenda! 4. Fighting other Christians over doctrinal purity! 5. Shutting down the abortion clinics! 6. Cleaning up television! 7. Fighting for family values!

This is still happening today-even this past week. A group of "influential" and "intelligent" Christians "taking a stand" against three noble causes, none of which compares to the pre-eminence or transforming power of Jesus. These may be noble causes, but when they become the focus and the "stand" you must take against the world, they push the world away from Jesus. It's a refusal to make the main thing the main thing. The main thing is Jesus, not these or any other issues no matter how important you believe them to be.

"Taking a stand" becomes so ugly. It's no wonder Christians are known for their condemning and judgmental spirit and not for the love of Jesus. For example, it's impossible to say to a homosexual, "I love you." Then, to tell him he is going to hell for being a homosexual. You just can't it both ways.

Now, it's been my experience that when you are troubled by something in the scriptures, keep reading. In John 16, Jesus clarifies who this world is: "All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the hour is coming when those who kill you will think they are offering a service to God." And then Luke records some interesting words along this same line that gives us even more clarification on the kind of hate Jesus is talking about. In the 6th chapter of Luke Jesus says: "Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of Me."

Who is the world? Who are these people? They will put you out of their synagogues-their religious establishments-and will think that they are doing a righteous act-the right thing-as they come against you. They will think they are offering a service to God by their actions. Who are these people? They are the religious ones who are at the helm of their man-made systems and simply Jesus-Jesus plus nothing-interrupts what they already have going for them. The world is not the secular world system, but the religious. This brings us to SECRET #55: The follower of Jesus knows he will be hated by the religious world.

We have more in common with the fellow travelers of the world than with the religious. It's the religious who believe they have it altogether and don't have need for Jesus that Jesus criticized and attacked. He called them vipers and painted tombstones. He really wasn't nice to them, because they are the greatest threat to the Jesus movement today. The non-religious are much more attracted to Jesus and to you as you practice the principles and teachings of Jesus and lovingly touch them.

Note Jesus' disciples are hated by the religious world primarily because of the name of Jesus: "But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me." This is what's missing in the Christian world today-the matchless name of Jesus! Instead of taking a stand against sin and sinners or for the traditional Christian faith and tenets; take a stand with Jesus-simply Jesus.

Monday, June 04, 2012



SECRET #54 is: The follower of Jesus knows the power of the few. The primary example of the "power of the few" is found in Jesus' method of operation. Instead of using "Madison Avenue" marketing methods, Jesus launched His movement with a few-just three to be exact-Peter, James and John. He then selected nine more, then He sent out 72 in a 2 by 2 formation. Although Jesus spoke to large groups from time to time, He mostly hung out with a few at a time. Jesus obviously believed the "few" were more powerful than the masses. Why is this? 

A long-time friend and mentor, Dr. Ed Neteland, used to say that he envisioned the concept like a rocket ship. In order to achieve blast off the power must all be put in a very small space. Jesus not only practiced this principle faithfully, but He instructed His disciples to do the same. He sent them out in small groupings. And, even after the resurrection, we see the disciples of Jesus practicing this same principle.

The classic example is the threesome that walked into Thessalonica for about 3 and a half weeks. Their relationship was a powerful little fellowship of followers of Jesus, so powerful that the impact spread throughout Asia Minor. We miss the fact that all three men wrote the letters to the Thessalonians. We always think Paul did the writing, because most translations put that ascription at the beginning of the books. And, those notes and headings throughout the many translations are not Scripture, but man's interpretations and many times miss the real point of the passage.

Not only did Jesus use the power of the few most effectively and His disciples followed His example, but today it is so important that we catch on to this dynamic. This essential can be most helpful in getting our minds off of the massive shows and demonstrations of Christianity and focus on the life transforming dynamic of hanging out with a few in the name of Jesus. Jesus promised that He would show up whenever two or three gather together in His name.

Now that I am into the power of the few, I am discovering that the few really, genuinely get it and embrace it for themselves. You see, when someone really gets what it means to walk with Jesus in His Kingdom presence, the message becomes contagious. To me, the power of the few is very effective in de-Christianizing Jesus and is a must for all who are serious about following Jesus.

The power of the few is what we have always sought within the organized church when we promote "small groups" of any kind. But even a small group may not get the results that we're talking about in the "power of the few". The real dynamic of the "power of the few" is genuine fellowship-participation in one another's lives in such a way so as to develop a personal support system. This support system becomes so strengthening that it serves as your inner security system. I am stronger as I live my life in relationship with other brothers and sisters.

We all need the powerful, interactive, relational support of other followers of Jesus in our lives. THE POWER OF THE FEW. The power of the few is the dwelling place of the presence of Jesus, Himself.

We live in an age of mega-sizing! Bigger is better! Whatever is mega ought to be better than what is small-especially is this true with respect to ministries. The killer question that is always asked of a church or a ministry is: "How many?" The living myth is that Jesus is most pleased with these numbers and the masses.

We are seeing this play out in our ministry. We are focusing on the few and as those few really get it, the message of Jesus spreads like a wildfire. You see, within the context of the few, you are able to really get to know one another and put the principles and teachings into practice. This kind of experience is the taste of reality everyone is longing for. This is the Jesus movement at its best!

Jesus taught: "Where two or three are gathered together in His name, He will show up." This is what we want. This is what we desperately need. We need Jesus to show up among us and lead out with His orders and opportunities. You see, Jesus won't be found within the mega-church or mega-ministry as easily as within the context of the few. There's nothing wrong with the mega-church or mega-ministry, but there is something far better that Jesus had in mind.

Jesus prefers showing up when a few are gathered together in His name. If you knew Jesus was going to show up some place this week, wouldn't you want to be there, too? SECRET #54 is: The follower of Jesus knows the power of the few.