October 19, 2004
Releasing Kings for Ministry in the Marketplace
What’s God Saying to Kings
Jesus in a business suit. The King of Kings is going to show himself in the marketplace with amazing breakthroughs. Esther’s are being positioned in the kingdom to receive unprecedented favor for just such a time as this. They will find great grace in seasons of great tumult. Kings will get a taste of victory in seizing their land and their boldness will multiply. They will become like David’s mighty men… renowned for doing exploits that plunder the enemy and cause a great shout in the camp. The coming new year will bring amazing financial breakthroughs for many in the first month. This is a season to prophecy to the dry bones of your heart’s desire and command life to come into hope that has been deferred.
The church growth movement helped us pastors understand the church was supposed to be making disciples, not just converts. I always envisioned troubled people in bondage to their habitual sins that needed a 12 step program and my church to make it. My concept of leadership training included a large dose of accountability to help young ministries learn to be “faithful in that which is another man’s” by learning to serve the leadership, laying down your own life, taking up the cross, die to self, etc.
In fact, my whole concept of what to do with the congregation was to equip them for the work of the ministry. My concept of the “work” was building our particular church so we could reach more people and make more disciples. It seemed noble and scriptural and we had great worship, great services, and wonderful guest speakers, but it didn’t produce or reproduce life. In fact it got a little stagnant and its earmark was more turnovers and transfers than transformations.
“I’ve changed.” A fundamental tenant in my definition of discipleship is very different. (I still believe in 12 step programs and leadership training by the way – please hear this in context). The old concept never graduated anyone in this sense; those that were successful just became extensions of my ministry in growing the church. I didn’t have a theology that supported a vision beyond my own – to build the church. I didn’t have a place for marketplace ministry outside the church. If people didn’t relate to my pastoral goal of building the church and equipping the saints, they didn’t “stick.”
Here’s my “post Releasing Kings” concept of discipleship. When the disciple is mature, he is touching his own dream and taking his own land. Here’s the new discovery; most people that just go to church have eternal life, but they don’t necessarily have “life and life more abundantly.” The joy that comes with abundant life doesn’t start until your personal dream does. The challenge of real discipleship is “finding life” when the reality of our experience is “few there be that find it.” Do you want to know where “life” starts? You have to start “asking” for the desire of your heart – just like a little child.
7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matt 7:7-14
What does your spirit hear when you read this verse?
And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, 30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life Mk 10:29-30
We “hear” the part about the self-sacrifice (leaving things we love), but we don’t get the perspective; God’s blessing (material and spiritual) is a hundred times greater… not counting heaven. We think of discipleship as a life of sacrifice. We’re actually proud that we have no ambition – that’s not the message of the gospel. Discipleship is a life time filled with abundant life. 100 parts abundance to 1 part sacrifice. “Living” Christians are seeing their heart’s desires come to fruition!
Now, if others are to see “life” in me or if I’m able to impart abundant life in those that I disciple, what does it look like? Here are a few hints.
1. Answers to “my” prayer – Disciples with “life” don’t trust their adherence to discipline to produce life. They are certainly not “undisciplined,” but their emphasis is not on their own human effort, it’s on the part God brings to the table… The first trademark of a disciple with life is answered personal prayer. These disciples have learned how to “ask and receive.” The impact of answered prayer naturally instills “life” (enthusiasm, excitement). The narrow way and straight gate is knowing the generosity of God and the vitality that comes from flowing with Him. Guess what? “Answered prayer leads to more prayer with very little discipline required.”
Real Christian maturity is as practical as praying for financial needs and getting answers… sometimes the answer is a j-o-b, sometimes it’s an investment or a business. For Kings, the answer is normally not waiting for someone else to write you a check. “You” have the power to get wealth and take new land… so get going.
2. Fullness of Joy – Until now you haven’t expected God to answer your prayer. Go ahead and ask and you’ll receive so that your joy may be full (John 16:24). This was Jesus’ own recommendation to his disciples on how to receive joy. Give it a try. When God answers prayer I get really excited. It proves he heard me, cares about me, and those answers confirm I’m on the same page with Him. I love that feeling.
3. Renewed Youth – People that have the maturity to ask for their heart’s desire and get results just get so blessed that their hope and vision and youth are renewed like the eagles (Ps 103:5). When our faith takes on the simplicity of a child (asking and receiving) we become more childlike. We get excited about life. We’re thrilled with the important role we have in the kingdom.
I really struggled with how much of my disciplined, principled past to dispose of when I adopted “life”. Here’s the middle ground I came to – for now… you’re invited to comment.
Younger or immature believers can’t always distinguish between their heart’s desire (put there by God) and their carnal appetites (complements of the “old man”). The more we mature in Christ the easier the distinction. There’s no substitute for investing a lot of yourself watching your own precious dead works come to nothing. We soon figure out that God’s way is best – Some call this stage brokenness.
I’ve come to believe that healthy, new believers long for spiritual fathers to give them structure, guidance, principles… things that are sort of the traditional definition of discipleship. So… I’ve decided we still need our traditional view of discipleship. But, we also need a graduate discipleship program that teaches resurrection life instead of just death and burial. Being disciplined enough to avoid your carnal appetites is hardly the same as abundant life. In fact, if you live there, it’s a miserable existence that causes many to leave their emotions, leave the church, and leave their faith because it’s no fun and there’s no fruit.
If you haven’t read “Releasing Kings” get it, read it, and make it happen in your life. If you have read it…
John Eldredge wrote a book for men called “Wild at Heart” that is very popular. His latest book is “Waking the Dead”. We recommend it because it has the same theological underpinnings for releasing your heart. He’s coming from a counseling perspective rather than marketplace ministry. Worth reading!
We’re in the process of putting together a study guide that will include some testimonies of kings. Their successes, failures, vision, etc. If you have a story that would bless others, let us know. We’ve got several done and several more planned. We’d love to interview and write up your story as well. The goal is dozens.
John & Harold
PS: don’t forget to look at the free reports – Especially the one on your heart’s desire.