Why are people struggling? – There is an amazing phenomenon in the Kingdom called “seasons.” When God is doing something, we all can feel it and taste it and usually experience it. I’ve experienced loss, and when I look around I see some of my friends are experiencing the same thing – loss, setback, stagnation, being stuck. It just makes us all ask the Lord, “What’s going on?”
See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.” Isa 42:9 NIV
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. Isa 43:18-19 NIV
All of my personal life tragedies have been followed by resurrections that exceeded my expectations. So, I’m shopping for the silver lining in all this. Here’s what the Lord shared with me – you can try it and see if it resonates.
Taking away the “old” – When I think of everything bad that happens to us, sometimes it’s self-inflicted wounds, sometimes it’s just the Lord taking us to greater glory, and sometimes it’s both. Here are a few examples of things that weigh on us: financial poverty, failures, career or ministry stagnation, oppression at work or in organizations or governments from overly authoritarian leaders. God is Releasing Kings who follow their hearts. Servants are very prone to follow on the coat tails of another person or tradition or program instead of being courageous enough to follow the leading that God placed in their own heart. Servants, seeking safety and security, inadvertently position themselves under deception, abuse and oppression. I want to suggest tenderly that our “following nature” as servants is a version of idolatry, which God is seeking to remove from our hearts. God is tearing down the idols – the person we’re following, the organization were in, or the program we’re working. Whether it’s a sudden crash or an agonizing stagnation, our nests are being thorned so that the eagles learn to fly. The whole process feels like betrayal and failure, and can imprison us with a hopeless sense of immobilizing fear. It’s really just God eliminating the status quo – a servant’s favorite home.
So what is the “new” – God is weaning us from the old so that we can inherit something new. I believe there are Kingdom strategies being released in this hour that will amaze us all, in terms of financial increase and ministry to people in the marketplace and those seven mountains of our cultures. Those Kingdom strategies have at least these five distinctions that are being embraced in this new season.
1. Alignment – God is inviting Kings to connect with their hearts, and do what they are designed to do. Your dream begins when you give yourself permission to dream. I have to embrace the theological position that God has written His will into the desires of my heart. Not there? Many believe our hearts are evil, and they get trapped in religion: “I’m obeying the will of God for my life and I’m living above my carnal desires.” That attitude is good for new believers, but over a lifetime, it will eventually shipwreck – I’ve tried it, and so have you. Religion is fulfilling the expectations of others; Christianity is operating out of your own heart’s desires. One is death, the other is life. We are finding that space where our heart’s desires and God’s heart’s desires overlap, and then giving ourselves permission to make that dream come true.
2. Creating Value – In the Kingdom, we produce ideas, products and services that minister to people in exchange for money. I do believe in giving, which also has value, but the ratio is about 10% giving to those in need who cannot buy the ministry, and 90% “selling” to those who can afford the ministry. Our tradition, “all ministry is free,” is just the same dualism that brought us the clergy / laity gap. “Freely you have received, freely give,” has been our favorite verse for anything that we label as ministry. For example, if someone writes a great song or movie, I will pay money to see it and it will minister to my heart. 10% of the time I may enjoy something free that is supported by the gifts and offerings of others, including myself. My point is that marketplace ministry has value and fruit, and is the primary means that God uses to establish His Kingdom. The Kingdom engine for global change (making disciples of all nations) is commerce, not philanthropy. It’s profit, not tithing. The entrepreneurial spirit is the foundation for generosity. First we create the wealth, then our cup can overflow.
3. Creating Wealth – Once I understand the connection between value and ministry, I am not only comfortable creating wealth, but I see wealth as the tool that funds ministry in two ways: 1) I can give something out of the overflow, and 2) I can create a self-sustaining ministry front by establishing a financially self-sustaining (profitable) endeavor. If my ministry model is giving-based, it just means I’ll either go broke or spend my energies raising offerings from other people’s money. Ministry in the Kingdom is based on a for-profit model, or it cannot be self-sustaining. Now when I think of ministry fruit, I always ask, “Does the fruit remain?” Does this tree, or person, or business or program continue to produce fruit because it’s self-sustaining financially and spiritually? Is it profitable? We can embrace entrepreneurial capitalism as a spiritual and God-ordained means of ministry that transforms cultures for good, or we can remain in poverty and warfare as have-nots fight for their share from those who do create wealth, until everyone is equally poor and miserable (that’s communism and socialism). There aren’t any more choices.
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit — fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other. John 15:16-17 NIV
Sowing and giving are not the same thing. Sowing seed (like investing) produces a harvest of abundance (wealth) from which giving can occur. Giving away your seed does produce a specific fruit with certainty – poverty. The goal is to increase your store of seed (wealth) so that you can give from a cup that overflows. Significant generosity flows from wealth; it’s not just a pious attitude.
Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. 2 Cor 9:10-11 NIV
4. Transformation – Our culture is about to be greatly influenced because God is moving us into a marketplace ministry model. Funding and doing all ministry through the church just means we’ve embraced a tradition that eliminates 90% of the people and 90% of the wealth needed to fund it. Imagine disciples in every mountain who know how to create value and wealth and leverage their dreams for the ministry that God put in their own heart. It’s a tipping point that is just beginning!
5. Love each other – The last earmark of God’s strategy is that Kings are networking in relationship to reach out and help one another in terms of encouragement, and real opportunities for financial increase and ministry involvement. Ministry in the Kingdom is having fun, making money and loving people. You’re being invited.
Get it? – Now do you understand why your life hasn’t been comfortable? We’re on the eve of something much better, with much more value, creativity, wealth and ministry fruit. The eagles are being invited to fly… well, more than invited, compelled. Thank you Lord! Ouch!
Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. 10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Ps 51:8-10 NIV
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isa 40:28-31 NIV