7 Powerful Traits of The Joshua Generation

By Bishop Joseph Mattera  www.josephmattera.org

During the past several months in prayer, our congregation has been sensing the next few years will be a time for the true church to regain the ground it has lost both in culture and in blessings. Now, more than in the past decade, the Spirit seems to be saying that it is a time of battle, not a defensive but an offensive battle and advance. Now is a time for the presence and goodness of God to be manifest through the church to the world.

In order to walk in these truths, we need to understand the Joshua generation that was able to come into the promised land after circling around the wilderness for one whole generation.

Of course, Joshua was one of only two spies out of twelve (the other was Caleb) who believed God was well able to give the children of Israel the promised land, in spite of the presence of enormous giants who opposed them (Read Numbers chapter 13). Joshua was the successor to Moses who was commissioned by God to take the children into the land of promise (Read Deut.31: 14,23; Joshua 1:1-9).

I write these seven principles because believers now have an incredible opportunity in the Spirit to advance! If we do not understand these principles that made the generation under the leadership of Joshua successful, then we can miss this Kairos moment in human history!

The following are seven traits of the Joshua generation:

1-The Joshua Generation honors the previous generation

In spite of the previous generation wandering in the wilderness for forty years, Joshua still remained as a faithful servant of his leader, Moses (Exodus 33:11). Joshua abided his time and served faithfully until Moses transitioned out, and God commissioned him as the new leader. Young leaders that are impatient and want their mantle prematurely will find out the hard way that their gifts and abilities are not enough to take them into the promised land. Consequently, young leaders who are critical and dishonoring of the previous generation will not be trusted by God to lead the next generation.

2-The Joshua generation is a people of great faith

While the majority of the people questioned the command of God to conquer the land of Canaan, Joshua and Caleb stood out as the only ones who said that God was well able to conquer the giants and give them the land (Numbers 13,14). All believers will be tested regarding their faith in God. God is calling believers in this present time to stop circling the mountain (Deut.1: 6; 2:4) and to begin stepping into the land of their promise. God says that wherever the Joshua generation puts the soles of their feet, He would give it unto them (Joshua 1:3). This means, we need to show up and participate in the life of our community as both citizens of the Kingdom and of Earth. God is calling for His people to arise, shine and let the nations see the glory of the Lord in the midst of gross darkness (Isaiah 60).

3-The Joshua generation has a conquering anointing

Every generation will have its battles. The past thirty to forty years, believers have been engaged in defensive battles. I believe that God is calling the present-day Body of Christ to engage in battles that will recapture everything that was stolen by the enemy, both in the church and in culture.

4-The Joshua generation is a people of the Book

God told Joshua that the key to his success would be that the Book of the Law would not depart from his mouth but that he was to meditate upon it day and night so he would prosper and be successful (Joshua 1:8,9). I believe God is calling for a renewal of the Word of God as the focal point of every believer’s choice of study and meditation. While many, these past few decades, have been feasting on motivational and self-help books, only the bible has the faith filled words necessary to defeat every giant that opposes us.

5-The Joshua generation doesn’t tolerate ungodliness in the camp

When Israel lost a battle, immediately Joshua sought the Lord and found out that a man named Achan brought sin in the camp, which compromised the whole nation (Joshua 7). This present-day Joshua generation will have a renewed call to holiness along with a passion to walk in His presence. This renewed call to seek the Lord will result in more believers repudiating the ethical compromises that have weakened many in the Evangelical church.

6-The Joshua generation is a people of purpose

The Joshua generation will not have the grace to circle around the same mountain day after day and getting nowhere after years of journeying (Deut.2: 4). Today, God is calling for believers to embrace the divine vision of fulfilling the “Cultural Mandates” of Genesis 1:28 and Matthew 28:19. These mandates not only involve church related ministry but equipping believers to serve in every aspect of culture for the renewal of all things. All creation is awaiting the manifestation of the mature sons of God to give direction to the created order (Romans 8:19-23) as the salt and light of the world. Whenever this happens, the whole world is impacted, not just the body of Christ.

7-The Joshua generation is a generation of accomplishment

The present move of God is about action and accomplishment, not mere talk and fantasizing. People are tired of the politicians and leaders who speak forth platitudes and promises they never intend to support. Similar to the Joshua generation that followed the death of Moses, (read the book of Joshua) God is raising up in our midst, those who will be outcome based, results orientated and walk out Kingdom principles on earth as it is in heaven. This present move of God is not satisfied with keeping the presence, power and activities of God within the four walls of a church building for two hours on a Sunday. They will only be satisfied when the transforming glory of God is manifest from Monday to Saturday (as well as Sunday). They will only be satisfied when biblical principles are applied with success in the marketplace. Finally, they will only be satisfied when they see biblical principles ascend again as the cultural ethos of the land in which they live.

Joshua generation – it’s time to arise!

 

7 Reasons We All Need Older Leaders

By Bishop Joseph Mattera  www.josephmattera.org

As I move closer towards my latter years (I was born in 1958), I have often reflected on the implications of the need for older leaders in regards to living out my purpose. Instead of fearing old age, I actually welcome it because of my biblical view. In this day and age, many young people make the huge mistake of thinking they know better than their father’s generation simply because they are more versed in technology and social media.
 

Furthermore, in western culture, unlike most other cultures, we seem to admire youth and strength and have a disdain for older people and push them to the side. This is a disgrace and totally against biblical values! The Bible says that the gray head is a crown of glory! That is because people come into the apex of their life experience, wisdom and insight when they come into their later years. In regards to our purpose in life, we are never called to retire but to re-fire!


The following are seven reasons we need older leaders:

1- We need their wisdom

In 1 Kings 11 Rehoboam the son of Solomon foolishly rejected the council of the older leaders who served with his father when he had a major crisis. Instead he acted on the council of his young friends who were his peers. The result was that he made a foolish decision that resulted in the Jewish kingdom being divided! This important story illustrates the fact that older people have a broader perspective because of their context and we should respect and desire their input, especially before making major decisions.

2- They can still do great exploits

In Scripture, we see how Moses was not called to be the deliverer shepherd of Israel until he was 80, and Caleb at the age of 80 still had full strength and took a mountain from his enemies. In my life, I have been blessed with walking with many male and female leaders who are old in years but full of energy and vitality, still doing great exploits for the Kingdom!

3- They are called to mentor the next generation

Perhaps the greatest privilege of getting older is the opportunity (and biblical obligation) to mentor younger people. In life, we go through various seasons. Between the age of 20-35 we are usually in the process of discovering our purpose. Between 35-65 we are maximizing the fullness of our purpose. Between 65-95 we should be focused the most on helping young leaders maximize their purpose more than blazing new trails. Of course, these are generalizations. Others I know, as well as myself have been mentoring people regarding their purpose since we were in our twenties.

4- They have known and experienced the ways of God through life

There is something about an older person that cannot be replicated by reading books and that is gleaning from their life experience. A person with experience in a thing usually has a more comprehensive perspective than a person with mere head knowledge.

5- They don’t need accolades as much as in their younger years

Generally speaking (there are some exceptions to this) older mature people don’t crave the same accolades. This is because they have already accomplished much in life, have branded their identity and are satisfied in their own skin.This is refreshing since many young people are still trying to find themselves, aren’t as rooted in their identity, and are driven to succeed for recognition and affirmation. This at times breeds insecurity and a spirit of competition with their peers.

6- They have a historical context

It is amazing to me to speak to people who lived through the “Great Depression” (early 20th century) and WW II. They experienced and observed things that cannot be captured merely by reading history books. Consequently, younger people can glean much from them regarding their perspective of the past, present and future.

7- They already have a proven track record

Some, not all older people, are finishing well and have maximized their purpose. Since they have a proven track record, they can speak with authority and wisdom regarding certain subjects. This enables them to greatly impact hearts and mind while instilling courage and wisdom in those that are attempting a similar path.

In conclusion, I want to acknowledge some of my older friends who still traverse the globe with amazing energy, enthusiasm and results. Men like Charles Green, Tommy Reid, Ron Cottle, Emmanuel Cannistracci, and Bill Hammon all exceed eighty years old (Charles Green is 90!).

Other friends still extremely active and impacting our world in their mid to late seventies include John Kelly (my mentor), Charles Simpson, Walt Healy, Roderick Caesar, Marcus Roberts and more. My first pastor who established me in leadership is Ben Crandall who is in his nineties. Last but not least is Mary Sansone, who was born in 1916 and for eight decades has cared for the poor, used political clout to change public policy and has been like a mother to me for almost thirty years!

 

12 Stumbling Blocks to the Gospel for this Generation

By Bishop Joseph Mattera  www.josephmattera.org

I preach in a lot of different places and have been involved in evangelism and overseeing a local church for more than three decades. I have often found that it is not the Gospel that turns people off but the people carrying the Gospel that turns them off! It is my opinion that church leadership remove as many un-necessary stumbling blocks as possible so that as many as possible can be saved.


The following 12 points are based on conversations I have had with millennial leaders as well as the average person on the street:


1- an overemphasis on money
I have been in some services in which the offering took more then thirty minutes, and it was not a special service but the norm! In other services it was common to collect three offerings or more! This gives new people the impression that the church leadership is more concerned with collecting money than in preaching the gospel.  This also leaves the church open to suspicion regarding their motives.  I believe money and stewardship should be taught regularly, and at times fundraising should be a focal point for in church gatherings, but it should never consistently rival the time given to preaching and teaching the word of God.


2-The opulent lifestyle of the leadership
In many cases, the lavish lifestyle of the pastor and top leaders is a huge stumbling block for the gospel. I believe God wants His children blessed, but the pastor and leaders should model a lifestyle of simplicity and not extravagance especially if they lead churches in poor communities. The apostles Peter and Paul both stated that greed should not be a trait of church elders (1 Peter 5:2; 1 Timothy 3:3.)


3-Scandals
In this day and age, any fool can post something scandalous on social media about a church or leader that has no basis in the truth. These are things we cannot always avoid; hence, this is why you should not be quick to believe what people post about others! However, when leaders don’t have proper boundaries in their finances and personal life, they tend to cross the line in both. These are the ones that are ripe for a public scandal. Since the huge televangelist scandals of the 1980’s to the present, scandals give the unbeliever another excuse not to repent and believe the gospel. Every leader should be careful what they text, email, post and say in public and private. They should also have a strong interior life in which they walk in the fear of the Lord which enables all of us to depart from evil (Proverbs 16:6.)


4-Duplicitous behavior
When children of believers and or the unsaved witness ungodly behavior from their co-workers, employees, neighbors and friends who claim to be Christians, it is a huge stumbling block to the gospel.


5-Religious titles
 Many millennials in certain communities are turned off by the excessive use of elaborate religious hierarchical titles. In some religious settings, every body has a title like bishop apostle, Doctor, Reverend, and Archbishop… Young people are especially turned off by the need for this kind of identification for self-validation.


6- Religious language
People in this generation are not as religious as the previous generation and feel disconnected when a believer constantly uses religious language in everyday communication. We have to learn to communicate using the “language of Babylon” if we are going to make strong connections with this generation. We have to teach believers how to “think biblically-but speak secularly” if the gospel is going to make inroads in culture.


7- Religious images of power
Vestiges of authority and power in the church turn off many young people. They more easily relate to down to earth, transparent leadership. When they see thrones on a church stage in which leaders are elevated above the congregation with pastors preaching (down) at the congregation, it gives them the wrong impression of leadership and is a quick turnoff.


8-Religious behavior
Sometimes in church the people have so many protocols, traditions and rituals, it scares new people into thinking they have to become religious robots in order to believe. We need to show the world the difference between being religious (which does not save or sanctify a person) and having a relationship with the Lord Jesus.


9- Territorial emphasis over kingdom focus
Many are turned off to the gospel when they see leadership merely focused on their own agenda and building programs and not for the good of their community.  God called us to serve our communities not just build larger church buildings.


10-Programs over people
Many people are turned off to the gospel when they see the church focus more on events and programs than on relating one on one to people.


11- Triumphalism
Many young people are turned off to triumphalist prayers and pronouncements about taking cities and nations back for God. They feel called to serve their community but not to take it over by force. We in the church have to be careful with the kind of language we use to communicate our vision.


12- No community and authenticity
What people crave for the most is community. Everyone needs to feel loved and to belong to an entity greater than him or herself. Part of the call of the church is to assimilate new believers into the visible Body of Christ through relationships and discipleship. When people come to the church and only experience program based Christianity, they will eventually leave and look for a real community in which to belong.

10 Hazards of the Prayer-less Church

By Bishop Joseph Mattera  www.josephmattera.org

I have been a pastor almost thirty-four years and have been involved in initiating or participated in many local, citywide and national prayer gatherings. God has made it very clear that our first priority as leaders is to spend time with Him before we are sent out to minister (Mark 3:14). The apostle Paul also implores all believers to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). In spite of all this, there are many denominational and non-denominational churches that do not have a regular prayer meeting. Consequently, in spite of the many good programs they may have, there is a huge gap in the church.

The following are ten huge problems prayer-less churches have

1- A Prayer-less church demonstrates that the leaders are prayer-less

Churches reflect the priorities and lifestyle of the founder/visionary and it’s support leadership.  If seeking God’s face is the top priority of the lead pastor, then corporate and private congregational prayer will be the top priority in the church.  When you have a prayer-less lead pastor (I consider praying a few minutes a day prayer-less), then the church will be structured to operate with strategies that lack the aid and unction of the Holy Spirit.  When faced with a choice between having a personal focus on meeting human needs or prayer, the Apostle Peter chose prayer (Acts 6:4-6). Like Moses, he knew that his first call was “upward” and not horizontal (Exodus 18:19, 33:13,18). Essentially, the question is, how can we be His witnesses (Acts 1:8) and make Him known if we don’t have a deep personal knowledge of Him?

2- They don’t hear what the spirit is saying

When a church is prayer-less, they miss the day of their visitation regarding kairos moments as Jesus said in Luke 19:44.

Churches and leaders that do not regularly wait upon the Lord miss what God has to say to them? If it wasn’t for a corporate prayer meeting involving the leaders of the church of Antioch- they would have never heard the Spirit of God commission Paul and Barnabus to their apostolic mission  (Acts 13:1,2).

3-There is a lack of true oneness

The power of the early church was the fact that they experienced oneness among their core disciples (Acts 2:44; 4:32,33).  How did this oneness occur? Acts 1 shows how the one hundred twenty disciples prayed and waited on God together for ten days in the Upper Room. Consequently, the power of Pentecost could not take place without this protracted period of prayer that resulted in oneness (Luke 24:49).  Jesus stated emphatically that the world would not believe He was sent without the church walking in oneness (John 17:20-23).

4- There is a lack of divine intervention from intersession

The word of God is replete with stories of God’s intervention as a result of intercession. The prophet Ezekiel said that God had to destroy the land because there was no one standing in the gap (Ezekiel 22:30,31).  Aaron stood between the living and the dead with incense (a symbol and or type of prayer, Psalm 141:2) and the plague destroying the Jews was stopped.  (There are many other instances of divine intervention in the Old Testament too numerous to mention here). In the book of Acts, we read many instances of divine intervention in response to prayer; Acts 4:31 the assembly was filled with boldness to preach; God sent the gospel to the Italian centurion (10:4, 5), Peter was released from prison (12:5-12), God sent Paul and Barnabus out as apostles (13:1, 2) to name several instances.  Consequently, a church without fervent prayer will be a church that is lacking God’s intervention in their affairs.

5-There is a lack of the presence and power of God that sustains ministry

The word of God teaches us to be strong in the Lord and in His might (Ephesians 6:10-13). Isaiah 40:31 says that they that wait upon the lord will renew their strength. Without fervent private and corporate prayer, members of the congregation will burn out quickly and not be able to sustain the work of the Kingdom.

6- The knowledge of God is superficial

Hosea teaches us to press on to know the Lord (Hosea 6:3) and that His people are destroyed because of a lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6). Without regularly meditating upon the scriptures and communing with God, knowledge of His ways will be superficial and will result in many unnecessary problems in the church. Moses knew God’s ways but the backsliding children of Israel only knew His acts (Psalm 103:7).

7- The members are not made into disciples

I have never seen a person capable of sustaining true spiritual zeal for the Lord without a robust prayer life. Consequently, it is impossible to produce real disciples in the church without effective, consistent corporate prayer.  Also, I have never seen a person fall away from the Lord while maintaining a life devoted to prayer. When new believers come into the church, they cannot learn how to prayer merely with bible studies on prayer, they have to participate in prayer gatherings since “the spirit of prayer is caught rather then taught.”

8—They don’t uncover the enemy’s schemes

Jesus said, “to watch and pray lest you fall into temptation because the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” (Mt.26: 41). Unfortunately, Peter was sleeping while Jesus was praying in the garden, which left him unprepared for the temptation regarding his denial of Christ.  I have found that many times while in corporate prayer, God gives us a burden of what to pray against regarding the schemes of the devil and we have stopped many an attack. A prayer-less church is a sitting duck for satanic deception and temptation.

9- The leaders are building in vain

Jesus said that He would build His church (Matthew 16). When a church is prayer-less, they do not give Jesus the opportunity to lead them which leaves them depending upon their own ingenuity to build the church. However, unless the Lord builds the house we labor in vain (Psalm 127).

10- there is a huge gap in the armor of God

Finally, Paul the apostle said that a key component of the armor of God is that the saints continually persevere in prayer for one another (Ephesians 6:18). A prayer-less church has a huge gap in their armor- making them unprotected during seasons of attack.

How to Use the Ten Commandments as a Guide to Vote this November

By Bishop Joseph Mattera  www.josephmattera.org

Many are calling the upcoming U.S. presidential election the most important since World War II! That may be true because, in addition to deciding the future of major economic and social policy initiatives like immigration reform, social security, debt reduction, same-sex marriage, and healthcare, the next president will most likely have the ability to nominate two Supreme Court justices, who have unfortunately become the bottom line for confirming or eradicating major policy initiatives. (Thus unelected justices with their own ideology, political bent and ambition have legislated immorality such as Roe v. Wade in 1973 and other vital issues that affect our culture.)

As a non-partisan Christian, I have been encouraging Christians to vote their values instead of voting based on groupthink and party affiliation. In order to do this, we have to go to the source of our ethics and values: the Bible.

God could not have made His standard for societal law any clearer than when He wrote His law in the Ten Commandments and gave it to Moses on Mount Sinai as noted in Exodus 20. He laid them out in the order of importance as His top-ten list. These moral laws, which in context were given as a corporate blueprint to build policy upon for Israel and all nations so they may experience longevity and national blessings, are also the standard in both the New and Old Testaments for personal holiness and ethics, and are repeated numerous times in the New Testament almost verbatim (e.g. Ephesians 6:1-3). Although we are not saved by obeying the works of the law (Ephesians 2:8-9), they serve as the ethical behavior the Holy Spirit empowers us to walk in (Romans 8:4) when we yield to His grace (Titus 2:11-12). Although the ceremonial aspect of the law has been done away in Christ (John 1:29; Hebrews 9:1-10:14) the moral law is still the good, holy and righteous standard for us to live by (Romans 3:31; 7:12, 14, 25).

As we look at the Ten Commandments we find there are two primary components related to our obligation to obey the law: the first four commandments relate to our vertical obligation to God and the last six commandments relate to our horizontal obligations toward our neighbors.

To save space I am not going to quote all the commandments, but will focus on several that have relevance to the upcoming election.

The first commandment is to have no other gods before Him (Exodus 20:3).

This is the most important of all the commandments because, if we follow it, all the other commandments will naturally fall into place. Hence, I will only use this verse as related to the four stated commandments we have towards God.

Having no other gods before Him means that God has to be first and foremost in our lives, even as Matthew 6:33 instructs us to put first His kingdom and His righteousness. In Matthew 22:37-38, we are called to love the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.

Regarding the upcoming election: This means we are to put God’s standards and word above our ethnicity (e.g. it shouldn’t matter whether a candidate is black, white, yellow or brown), and we should put biblical values above our party affiliation.

As Dr. Martin Luther King said in his “I Have a Dream” speech, we should judge candidates based on the content of their character rather than the color of their skin.

The last six commandments are about how we are to live in relation to fellow human beings. This was summarized in Matthew 22:39-40 when Jesus instructed us to love our neighbors even as we love ourselves. Thus the first four commandments connect to Matthew 22:37-38, and the last six commandments connect to Matthew 22:39-40.

In reference to the last six commandments, we need to see how they directly relate to the public policy positions of each of the political parties as well as each individual candidate.

“Honor your father and mother” (Exodus20: 12) is the most important commandment regarding human relations because it connects to the nature of marriage and procreation. Marriage (Genesis 2:23-25) is the basic human building block of society and existed before human government (which started with God delegating capital punishment to humans in Genesis 9:5-6), before Israel, the Law of Moses, and the church.

It is also important to note this commandment mentions both “father” and “mother” not “mother and mother” or “father and father.” Thus, according to God’s top-ten list, biblical marriage is the most important human institution we need to protect and honor, and is even mentioned before murder, adultery and economics!

Thus, political candidates who support same-sex marriage are in gross violation of the fifth commandment (which is also the first commandment related to human relations!)

The sixth commandment is “You shalt not murder” (Exodus 20:13).

God so hates the shedding of innocent blood (Proverbs 6:16-17) that murder is number two on His list of the remaining six moral commandments related to human obligations.

Of course, if the platform of a political party or a candidate is pro-choice then they are in favor of a woman’s right to terminate the life of an unborn child within her womb. What’s even more troubling is that African-Americans and people of color have been targeted the most by the abortion industry as noted by planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, who believed people of color were from an inferior race, and, because they were poor, she planned to use “colored” ministers to convince them from a religious perspective that the right thing to do was to terminate their pregnancies if they were too poor to afford them!

"Birth control must lead ultimately to a cleaner race."
(Margaret Sanger. Woman, Morality, and Birth Control. New York: New York Publishing Company, 1922. Page 12.)

"We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don't want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population. And the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members."
(Margaret Sanger's December 19, 1939 letter to Dr. Clarence Gamble, 255 Adams Street, Milton, Massachusetts. Original source: Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, North Hampton, and Massachusetts. Also described in Linda Gordon's Woman's Body, Woman's right: A Social History of Birth Control in America. New York: Grossman Publishers, 1976.)

"Eugenic sterilization is an urgent need ... We must prevent multiplication of this bad stock."
(Margaret Sanger, April 1933 Birth Control Review.)

Unfortunately, Sanger and Planned Parenthood have been largely successful in achieving their goals, since data shows us that for every 1,000 African-Americans born in the USA, 1,600 are aborted!

We are now witnessing something many believe is worse than slavery! We are witnessing legal genocide! Thus, when people of color vote for a pro-choice candidate or platform they are (unconsciously) voting for their own systemic extermination!

Regarding “after birth” issues like racism: Many point to the fact that Mormons forbade people of color from their priesthood until the early 1970’s and hold it against any candidate connected to the Mormon Church. However, there has to be evidence that a candidate is personally a racist and proof they were part of the leadership in the Mormon Church when racism was systemic in their doctrine. If we are going to hold it against a candidate for being part of a religion that 40 years ago was racist then we have to be fair and cite the terrible racist history of the Democratic Party that was part of Jim Crow, the KKK, slavery, and was far behind the Republican Party (the party of Lincoln and Dr. Martin Luther King) regarding civil rights until the past three decades.

(See the following link by African-American Frantz Kebreau regarding the civil rights history of both major political parties: http://www.stolenhistory.org/revealing-the-truth-about-the-democratic-party/)

The seventh commandment, “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14) basically teaches that all sexual acts outside of the marriage of one man and one woman are considered adultery. The marriage bed, as defined by God’s word, is undefiled (Hebrews 13:4). Leviticus 18 gets into more detail regarding how the seventh commandment is unpacked and illustrates how heterosexual sex with someone that is not one’s spouse, with another person’s spouse, with in-laws, same-sex relations, as well as sex with animals, are forbidden by God. Paul the Apostle restates some of these sexual acts as sin in Romans 1:26-27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.

Hence, same-sex marriage clearly violates two of the first three commandments related to human relations!

The eighth commandment, “You shall not steal” (Exodus 20:15) is related to economics.

This is where it gets sticky. Liberals claim that one of the major political parties favors the rich because, they say, they pay less of a percentage of taxes than the middle class. (The income tax percentage for the rich is higher than the middle class, but most rich people earn much of their income through capital gains, which are taxed at a much lower rate than salary income. However, all people have a right to buy and sell property and trade on the stock market. Thus, it is not a right reserved only for the rich. However, most poor people are not financially knowledgeable enough or have enough money to make a living through capital gains categories like real estate and trading stocks.)

On the other hand, I have heard some conservative people of color say that the Democrats are still attempting to keep their people on the plantation through entitlements and welfare programs that merely help in the short term but don’t do enough to break the generational cycles of poverty. Other black leaders have noted how people of color have more poverty today as related to marriage, intact families, and finances than before the Great Society programs of Lyndon Johnson started in the mid 1960’s. This proves handouts and welfare have hurt more than helped people of color!

Personally, I believe a halfway approach is best: that government economic aid to the poor should continue but that it should be redefined and restructured so there are far less blind handouts. I believe monies should be funneled through partnerships with churches, non-profits and charities that have boots on the ground and know how to do micro-financing, job training, entrepreneurial endeavors, educate at-risk children, and would more likely do a better job than government bureaucrats! With the current level of family fragmentation, non-profits and church-based programs need to step up to the plate now more than ever because big government entitlement programs with no practical accountability have proven they cannot “parachute in” and rescue our communities! For books on this subject read Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help (And How to Reverse It) by Robert Lupton, and When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor…and Yourself by Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett.

Furthermore, by forbidding stealing in the eighth commandment God is espousing the right of individuals to own private property. Thus, this commandment is against any ideology (whether liberation theology or communism) that espouses egalitarianism, which is when an overreaching central government tries to force equality and the redistribution of wealth by progressive tax structures or, in communism, by the abolition of private property altogether!

On the other hand, conservatives in this nation are against redistribution and believe in empowering individual rights and the free market. In my opinion, this is more in line with scripture than those espousing communism and egalitarianism.

(I espouse a kingdom economic approach that not only includes a free market view of capitalism but which obligates Christian business owners to disciple, finance and reproduce other business owners from among their employees. This would do more than merely create jobs in poor urban areas; it would create entrepreneurs who can break their generational cycles of poverty!)

Furthermore, the tenth commandment, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods” (Exodus 20:17) seems to also advance the theory of private property and is against the motive of egalitarianism, which many believe is driven by the politics of class warfare and envy.

A debate about economic theory and what really works would take another position paper. However, even if (hypothetically) liberals are correct in their position, the commandment dealing with economics is number eight on God’s top-ten list, thus not as important as commandments 1-7. Furthermore, God tells believers that if they put first His kingdom and His righteousness, He will provide all things we need anyway (Matthew 6:33)!

This November’s election is a test for all believers: Are we going to vote our biblical values as stated in God’s top-ten list or are we going to vote our race, ethnicity and party affiliation? I hope and pray that all believers will vote for the candidate that most closely reflects the ethics and values God gave in the form of His Ten Commandments!

 

7 Principles Jesus Walked in to fulfill His Purpose

By Bishop Joseph Mattera  www.josephmattera.org

The Lord Jesus Christ was the greatest motivator and example of living a purposeful life that the world has ever seen! He lived by the scriptures since He is the living Word of God (John 1:1), this is why all the greatest books on leadership and management operate with latent biblical principles whether intentional or not.      The following seven principles are primary ways Jesus empowered and released purpose

1- He asked questions

Instead of just giving the answers to life’s questions, Jesus demonstrated that the best way to teach people was to ask them questions. As a matter of fact, He asked over three hundred questions and only gave answers to three of them. When we allow people to answer questions, it reveals how much they really know, what’s really in their heart and involves them in the process of discovery that enables them to remember and learn better.

2 - He had goals and objectives

If a person has no specific goals or outcomes, they will never know if they have succeeded or not.  If a person has no vision or mission, they are clueless and have no idea what their final destination will be! In contrast, when Jesus began His ministry in Nazareth the first thing He did was announce His vision statement which was found in the words of the prophet Isaiah (Read Luke 4:18 and Isaiah 61:1,2). Furthermore, Jesus operated with objectives and goals which enabled Him to fulfill His mission and vision with a daily understanding of what, when and how to function (read Luke 13:32).

3- He invested his time with those who bore fruit

The pereto principle teaches us that eighty percent of the work done is accomplished by only twenty percent of the people in any given church or organization; That being said, Jesus was wise and only invested most of His time with disciples who bore much fruit instead of with the crowds. (John 15:1-7 shows that He expected His followers to bear much fruit if they abided in Him) Even though the pereto theory was not yet written, Jesus knew that He would get the most results from pouring into a few rather than focusing on the many.  Although He ministered to the crowds, the gospels clearly show that He invested most of His time with His twelve apostles and then the seventy disciples (Luke 9:1,10:1).

4-He confronted superficial religion

Jesus did not like superficial religion and attacked religious leaders who mis-represented the heart of His Father! (Read Matthew 23) He insisted that religious leaders allow God to first cleanse the inner man before focusing on outward rituals and religion (Matthew 23:26; Mark 7:15) Jesus also taught that religious tradition often nullifies the word of God (Mark 7:13). Since He confronted superficial religion instead of placating it, He was able to rise up powerful men of God who demonstrated the truth with signs and wonders (Read Acts 3:6,7).

5-He confronted political power

When Jesus was with Pilate He confessed that the primary purpose He had was to be recognized as the King. (John 18:37) He was not afraid of offending those loyal to Cesar (which is the main reason why He was crucified).  He understood that the things that ruled external culture had to be shifted to another king and different gatekeepers if true systemic change was going to take place. Furthermore, He told Pilate that the power of His Kingdom did not emanate from Rome but from His father (John 18:36). He did not say that His kingdom is not in this world but that it was not of this world!

6-He was motivated by compassion

Jesus did not heal merely to demonstrate His lordship but because He was moved by compassion (Mark 1:41). He was great because He had empathy and connected to the pain of those around Him (Hebrews 4: 15). Any leader without strong feelings of love for his people will not be motivated to serve and release them to greatness.

7-He was willing to die for His purpose

Life is not worth living if there is no transcendent purpose worth dying for! Jesus not only believed in His mission but also was willing to die (on the cross) in order to fulfill it (Hebrews 12:2).  Consequently, He was able to instill and inspire such passion in His followers that most of the original twelve apostles died a martyr’s death while preaching the gospel. Truly, the seed of the early church was the blood of the first and second century church.  Even today, two thousand years later, thousands of Christ followers continue to die for the cause of Christ, which is the main reason why Christianity became the largest and most formidable movement in the history of the world!

 

Why The Power Of God Must Be Displayed For Effective Evangelism

By Bishop Joseph Mattera  www.josephmattera.org

There is a huge emphasis nowadays in the Evangelical church related to evangelism, church planting and the like.  This is a good since the church should never be separated from its mission of proclaiming Jesus to this lost world. In light of this, I believe the church will fall far short of our goals unless we incorporate the power of signs, wonders and miracles into our methodological norm for evangelism. The scriptures are replete with passages equating the knowledge of God with His display of the supernatural. Whether it be Abraham and Sarah having a child past the normal biological age, Moses doing signs and wonders in Egypt so that His power may be demonstrated to the world (Romans 9:17), or Elijah calling down fire from heaven to demonstrate that the Lord is the true God (1 Kings 18). These and many more scriptures in the First Testament are replete with examples like these.

What about the New Testament? First of all, Jesus told His disciples that they would receive power to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8); this power was primarily centered on the ability to be a witness of the resurrection of Christ. The biblical narratives after Acts 1:8 show that the primary reason for this power was so the apostles would demonstrate the Word by healing the sick and performing miracles.  Acts 5:12-16 connected extraordinary signs and wonders with God adding multitudes of believers to the Lord. In Acts chapter 8, we see how Philip was able to turn the whole city of Samaria to the Lord by moving in the power of signs, wonders and miracles. Paul the apostle also utilized this method of evangelism. Acts 14:3 says that the Lord bore witness to the word of His grace by granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands (Paul and Barnabus) and in Acts 19:11,12 it says that God did extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul while he was ministering in the city of Ephesus. Later on, as recorded in Acts 28:1-10 Paul was able to bring the gospel to the whole island of Malta after he healed the chief man of the island whose name was Publius. This happened after God supernaturally spared his life after a poisonous snake, which was supposed to kill him, bit him! In 1 Corinthians 2:1-4, Paul said that when he preached the word there was always a demonstration of the Holy Spirit and power so that their faith would not rest on the wisdom (or rhetoric) of men but on the power of God. The supernatural move of the Holy Spirit likely was a normal occurrence in the life of all the early churches as we read in Paul’s letter to the Galatians (in chapter 3:5) when Paul said that God supplied their church with the Spirit and miracles through the hearing of faith.

Furthermore, in Hebrews chapter 6:5 it says that believers during those days experienced the powers of the age to come. If we take the context of this book and the whole New Testament, this passage seems to be referring to the power of the invisible, supernatural God, intervening in the lives of men through miraculous healings, supernatural signs and wonders.

 Hebrews 2:4 also said that the Lord bore witness to the word from the Lord Jesus and His apostles by granting them signs, wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit. If the apostles of the first century church needed to depend upon the power of signs and wonders to preach the word of God, how much more should we depend upon this to convince this present generation of the reality of Jesus.

Furthermore, all through the four gospels we see how Jesus moved in the word of knowledge, word of wisdom, the gifts of healing and the working of miracles to demonstrate that the Father sent Him into the world (Read John 5:36,37) In John 9:1-4, Jesus even said that a man was born blind just so that He can demonstrate the works of God through his healing. In John 11:42 we also read that Jesus prayed and thanked the Father in public, for what He was about to do when He raised Lazarus from the dead to demonstrate that the Father sent Him. In John 4, we also read how Jesus operated in the prophetic gifts of the word of knowledge to convince the woman at the well that He was indeed the messiah. If Jesus, the perfect God/Man, needed the miraculous (even though He was the greatest preacher the world ever heard) how much more does the present day church need to depend upon the power of God to spread the Gospel of Christ.

In summary, scripture overwhelmingly illustrates that one of the primary vehicles to demonstrate the resurrection of Christ from the dead is to allow God to use His church as His witnesses through the use of signs, wonders and healings.

For those who teach that this was only for the first century church I ask them, don’t you think that now more then ever before we need to move in the power of God to demonstrate His reality?  Aside from the fact that church history is replete with stories of believers continuing to operate in signs, wonders and healings to demonstrate the truth of the gospel. This present secular humanistic society we live in will not be convinced merely by good rhetoric and visceral worship experiences during a Sunday morning service; they need to experience the glory, presence and power of God almighty!

One reason I write this article is because I am concerned that even amongst so called Pentecostal and Charismatic churches, there seems to be a dearth in the land regarding the power gifts. When Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:4-8 that God gave manifestations of the Spirit to the church as He wills-who are we to say that only good sermons, strategic planning and the use of props is enough to transform the world! God knows best and God loves to show off His stuff in front of the world.

I believe God is going to visit the earth again –even North America- with a demonstration of His glory. Through the years our local church (Resurrection church of NY) has seen amazing miracles and thousands of lives transformed by the power of the gospel. I am trusting that, the best is yet to come for the body of Christ!

In closing, my prayer is especially that young leaders would taste the power and presence of God and that they would employ this as their primary means of reaching the world; after all, if it was good enough for Jesus and His apostles, it should be good enough for us! 

 

11 Effective Principles for Making Disciples

By Bishop Joseph Mattera  www.josephmattera.org

In the New Testament, the word " disciple" was used to describe Christ’s followers much more than the word "Christian.” Jesus commanded the church to make disciples, not just evangelize the lost (Matthew 28:19).
In spite of this lopsided focus, discipleship is not always the norm in the contemporary church. The following eleven indispensable principles are things I have learned as a disciple maker for almost four decades.

1- Disciple making is re-parenting
In this day and age of broken families, many new believers have no reference for submitting to authority, understanding a Father's love, covenant keeping and having a godly household.  Since the church is a family of families and functions as the household of God, a primary function of a church in certain contexts should be to "re-parent” new believers, which is usually a very long process. Consequently, in order to make disciples, a pastor has to sometimes function as a spiritual parent as well as a preacher.

2- Don't focus on crowds, marketing and budgets
Many contemporary churches primarily focus on gathering crowds through marketing and providing a great Sunday experience. However, in order to make disciples, church's need to prioritize pouring into serious believers that are committed to the cause of Christ. The church will advance the Kingdom through a holy minority, not through a compromised majority!

3- Be people based more than program based
Disciple making cannot be done merely with an institutional program, it cannot take place only from the pulpit or with a weekly event. Paul the apostle not only preached the gospel but also poured his life into the disciples. (1 Thess. 2:7) Disciples do life together, not just meetings and bible studies together.

4- Have a relational more than an institutional paradigm
Along with the previous point, serious disciple makers have a very informal approach with those they are mentoring and do not merely rely upon formal church structures. Many pastors attempt to make disciples merely by sending potential leaders away to bible school or by creating a bible institute within their church. These methods may be good for giving people head knowledge but will not produce mature spiritual sons and daughters. Giving head knowledge without a personal connection affirms a worldly construct that can result in creating gifted leaders without godly character. Many of these models produce church splits because unproven leaders are installed who have no integrity.

5- Adopt the New Testament pattern for church life
The New Testament pattern for church involves a lead pastor who is committed to one region until enough leaders are raised up to maintain the congregation. The assignment of the lead pastor is based upon the leading of the Lord and not politics and bureaucracy.  The New Testament model for church also makes room for elders and deacons to be developed in addition to the lead pastor; hence, the lead pastor doesn't have to do all the work of the ministry. Furthermore, the New Testament also teaches that the body of Christ should be built up in love by which every member supplies (Ephesians 4:15,16) so that ministry is not relegated merely to professional clergy. All this makes room for disciple making as it leaves the door wide open for people to mature in Christ through serving God's household and beyond.

6- Espouse church life rather than a religious church culture
Many church contexts are so religious that it doesn't engender genuine relationships necessary for disciple making. Religious cultures in congregations produce superficial relationships, church politics and hypocrisy in the followers rather than true disciples. Since we cannot disconnect the relational dynamic from disciple making, a religious spirit is one sure fire way to hinder a disciple making culture in a congregation.

7-Focus on developing godly character more than promoting talented individuals
Many churches are tempted to elevate carnal singers, musicians and gifted preachers to fill a need in their congregation; however, in order to nurture mature disciples, the church needs to focus on developing Christ-like character before a person is allowed to minister in public. When we allow spiritual banes to function in a leadership position they are tempted to be lifted up with pride and fall into a satanic snare. ( 1 Tim 3:5)

8-Develop leadership teams to anchor the lead pastor
Many lead pastors focus on putting out fires, visiting the sick, counseling the wounded as well as handling much of the management of the congregation. In addition to all this, they are also expected to preach once or twice per week.
This leaves the pastor with no energy to pour into potential leaders and stymies the disciple-making process. Consequently, the only way a church can regularly produce disciples is by the lead pastor focusing on building leadership teams who will bear the burden of the ministry with him so that they can focus on the ministry of the Word, disciple making and prayer (Acts 6:2-4).  Apart from having strong leadership teams around lead pastors, disciple making is almost impossible!

9- Adopt the father/son wineskin to counter the orphan spirit in the churches
The Trinitarian model of Father, Son and Spirit is the biblical model for oneness, unity and households. In light of this, both the first and second Testaments are models of households of households under the leadership of the elders (or fathers). Hebrews 1:1 teaches that the prophets spoke in time past to the fathers, not the kings or priests, because the fathers had ultimate earthly authority (read also 1 Kings 11). In the New Testament, the qualification for elders (or spiritual leaders) was to be able manage their own households well (1 Tim3:5) not that they needed to be great preachers, why? Because the church is organically a household of households or a family of families, just like the nation of Israel was in the first testament; hence, the church needs to adopt this Father/Son wineskin (The Holy Spirit seems to function maternally as the comforter of the church). This is the only model the church can function in that has the power to break the orphan spirit over potential disciples who cannot function optimally until their generational curses of fatherlessness is broken (Malachi 4:6).

10-Practice consistent corporate prayer for spiritual vibrancy in the church
Over the years I have observed that the most significant disciples I have developed had an intense hunger to seek God, not just say their prayers. Spirit led prayer opens the individual up to the Spirit of God who deposits into them divine passion, power and guidance. Since Jesus only ministered through the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:1,2) then true disciples are those trained and endowed by the Spirit to minister. The best way to learn how to pray is to participate in powerful prayer meetings. Prayer is caught rather than taught.  Acts 1 illustrates how the early church was birthed and empowered by an elongated time of seeking and waiting upon God. If the early church lived and breathed prayer to release Kingdom purpose, how can today's church ever expect to produce culture-shifting disciples apart from fervent prayer! (Read James 5: 16-18)

11 -Build upon the local church paradigm rather than the para-church paradigm for disciple making
Finally, there are many well meaning para-church ministries who attempt to make disciples apart from the participation of the local Church (they are strong regarding mission, but weak regarding ecclesiology). They probably subconsciously reason, "Jesus made twelve disciples before there was a church, so we can do the same." However, even a cursory reading of the gospels (John 14-17 as an example) shows that the church was always the objective of Jesus's disciple making plans. As one who lived within the Trinitarian Father / Son wineskin, Jesus knew the only way to advance His Kingdom was to produce a family of families that would eventuate in fulfilling the promise the Father made to Abraham (that in him all the families of the earth would be blessed: Genesis 12:1-3). Hence, empowering spiritual and biological families would be how the original cultural mandate(Genesis 1:27,28) would be fulfilled. Of course, this involves a lot more than just getting men together for a weekly bible study. I have learned that, unless a person’s family is connected to a spiritual family of families, their capacity to release God's purpose will be greatly limited!

 

Domesticating Lions: The Tragic Elimination of the Apostolic from the Church

By Bishop Joseph Mattera  www.josephmattera.org

It is tragic when the vast potential of an individual or entity is limited or eliminated because there is no room for their gifts. In the case of a lion, when captured and encaged it loses its aggressive roar because it is forced to be localized into the confines of a cage. It may be a lion but it is no different from a house cat because, like a house cat, it no longer has to claim its territory and hunt to satisfy its hunger, and is content to stay confined within a building!

To me, all of this is related to the condition of the local church after it ceases to recognize the ministry and function of apostles. This results in cutting off the pioneering spirit and apostolic call to conquer and expand kingdom influence.

(I don’t necessarily think people have to use the title of apostle; the function is what is most important.)

In the case of church history, centuries ago we replaced the title (and consequently the function) of apostle and replaced it with the office of bishop. This vastly changed the nature and mission of the local and universal church. Apostles in the New Testament were the “sent ones” who, as military generals, were called to lead the church in mission as they were sent out to conquer new territories by planting churches and kingdom influence in key cities of the old Greco-Roman world. (For example, Paul the Apostle started churches in over 30 key cities before the commencement of the first century!) The office of bishop was primarily meant to oversee and administrate local churches: first starting in a local church (1 Timothy 3) which then evolved into overseeing a parish, then a diocese and then a region that included other bishops (hence they became archbishops or metropolitan bishops). However, as bishops became the apostolic successors it connoted a change from adventure, pioneering and conquering new territories (e.g. Paul, who prioritized going where Christ was not named as we read in 2 Corinthians 10:10-14) to one of settling and maintaining the church and focusing primarily on church life, polity and politics.

Not only that, but after the Protestant Reformation many (in response to the abuse of the bishops and popes) even eradicated the office of bishop and opted instead for a Presbyterian form of government (whether for good or bad) which only recognizes pastors, elder and teachers in the church. The eradication of the bishopric further isolated and fragmented the emerging evangelical church and resulted in numerous denominations and independent local churches. (For example, when the Eastern Church split from Roman Catholicism in the 11th century it remained virtually unified and intact because they kept the bishopric and/or the episcopate.)

Getting back to apostolic ministry, it is essential that we recapture the function (if not the title) of apostolic ministry once again so the lions of the church are released from their cages to go out and hunt (metaphorically speaking) and expand kingdom influence! The early church never saw their congregations as separate from the apostolic ministry and function of their recognized apostles. As a matter of fact, for them local church and mission were inextricably connected to the apostolic, not only in word but in finances! Read 2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9, as well as Philippians 4 to see how local churches founded by Paul the Apostle supported his apostolic calling and ministry (and not just their local congregations) and even sent people from their congregations to accompany him on his trips (e.g. Epaphroditus in Philippians 2, Barnabas in Acts 13, Silas in Acts 15). Furthermore, Paul would install (pastoral) elders to care for the local congregations (Titus 1) and those who developed in the apostolic would travel with Paul to win new territory and/or establish the churches that were already founded. (For example, the epistles and the book of Acts highlight Timothy and Titus as well as some others who functioned apostolically with Paul to oversee churches and perform apostolic mission.)

Consequently, with the eradication of the apostolic from the local church, pastors have become the leaders of congregations. This has resulted in the body of Christ being led by caregivers instead of by strategic (military) generals sent out to conquer and establish new territory for the kingdom! The result has been disastrous as churches have now become self-focused and inbred instead of kingdom-focused and mission centered!

The first church was born on Pentecost Sunday with an apostolic/prophetic message by the Apostle Peter. As we read the book of Acts, as long as the church was led by apostles it was constantly expanding and turning culture and cities upside down (Acts 17:6)! The church was born in apostolic mission and it was meant to continue to be connected to its original mission of preaching the gospel to all creation and discipling nations (Mark 16:15-18 and Matthew 28:19)! As we have seen in the last fifty years in evangelicalism the focus has now become “church growth” and the apostolic message of the New Testament has now become watered down to accommodate culture instead of transforming it—of encouraging Christians merely to witness instead of winning others, with the result that we have “mere” Christians who come to be entertained by professional worship teams instead of disciples who bring Christ in their marketplace mission from Monday to Saturday and don’t depend on inviting their friends to Sunday services to hear their pastor (a professional cleric) preach a salvation message in order for their unsaved friends to get saved!

Contrary to this, in the book of Acts and the gospels the majority of all ministry, including salvations and healings, took place outside the temple and synagogue. They even had extravagant moves of the Holy Spirit in the streets without the hype and correct atmosphere we typically need to see God do a miracle during a Sunday service! (Acts 5 shows that even the shadow of the Apostle Peter healed the sick in the streets and Acts 9 shows how Philip turned a whole city upside-down with miracles in the street!)

As the church becomes more and more inbred and self-focused (because the apostolic has been rejected) many Sunday messages have to do with “self-actualization” and “self-empowerment” or motivational messages that build crowds who couldn’t give a hoot about the deteriorating political, social, economic and moral landscape of their communities. As we are lifting up our hands and praising God on Sundays 3,000 babies are being aborted per day and issues of poverty, injustice and alternate forms of family are being propagated by secular humanists who have captivated the minds of the millennials, while the emergent church is trying to captivate their emotions!

Furthermore, when apostles lead local churches an apostolic spirit of wisdom, revelation and courage comes upon entire congregations and releases all the saints to the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:12) to fill up all things in creation (Ephesians 4:10) which produces (marketplace) apostles and prophets of government, economics, education, science, media and creative innovators that are at the (prophetic) tip of the spear by applying the biblical worldview (apostolic writings) to their spheres of influence. Hence, when a local church and/or movement of churches is not apostolically led and prophetically influenced they lose influence in their communities and culture because the apostolic mission of the church has been stripped away. Then, they become settlers who shy away from exercising bold faith and taking risks, and are more concerned about maintaining what they have.

While I am not against feeding the flock on Sunday and having great pastors who establish churches with great programs for their congregations, I am very concerned that we have a great lack of balance because of a lack of apostolic input. Furthermore, things have become twisted because of the American consumerist “I, me, my” culture; even some bona fide apostles who lead influential local congregations have become more concerned with building their own empires than for the things of the kingdom.

In conclusion I believe the following:

-Local churches need to embrace and celebrate the ministry and function of apostolic leaders so their congregations can be connected to an ever expanding horizon of ministry that is called to influence every realm of life and plant centers of influence in every major city of the world (a la Paul the Apostle)!

-We need to embody the apostolic spirit in our local churches so that all the members called to the secular arena will carry with them apostolic revelation and courage so they are not merely witnessing but transforming their workplaces and culture.

-Local church pastors need the input and inspiration of apostolic leaders to be balanced in regards to their church mission and vision.

-Local churches and movements need to nurture apostolic leaders and financially support them so each local church is connected to apostolic vision and mission that is beyond their community and religious subculture. Thus they will continue to be pioneers instead of settlers who are continually in maintenance mode.

Finally, unless the body of Christ once again celebrates the ministry function of apostle, some of the greatest leaders in our generation will never emerge (or will be repelled) because “like begets like.”

This article is from a chapter in the book, An Anthology of Essays on Apostolic Leadership.  Click here to purchase a copy.

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The Blessings of Walking in Honor in your Life

By Bishop Joseph Mattera  www.josephmattera.org

As I was fasting and praying while doing a conference in Argentina, the Lord began to drop this teaching in my spirit on honor. Several years ago, I was in a conference and I heard a pastor say that understanding this concept revolutionized his life and ministry. Immediately, I knew I was supposed to delve into this as well. As of the writing of this article, I have not yet read or listened to any teachings on this subject; thus, any overlap with other teachings is due to having the same Holy Spirit teaching us.

WHAT IS HONOR?

Honor in this context has to do with recognizing what a person is worth, celebrating who they are and what they have accomplished, and making room for them according to the God given honor they deserve. Honor is an offshoot of worship. The greatest example of worship is when a person and creature worships God as their creator both in song, words, actions and in having no other god before the one and true God. Biblical examples for this are found in the book of Revelation when the elders and living creatures come before the throne of God and worship the Lamb of God (Rev. 4:6-11 the inhabitants of heaven worship God by giving Him glory and honor and praise.) Since humans are created and not the creator they should never be worshipped, but since they are made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:28) they should be honored as God’s image bearer and the crown of His creation (Psalm 8:3-4.) Furthermore, honor is not exactly the same as worship but a symptom of worship in the same way heat is not the sun but an offshoot of the sun, it is not a violation of the first of the 10 commandments in Exodus 20:3 to honor a human being. Worship is the highest and most powerful expression of honor, but honoring worthy humans for certain characteristics is absolutely vital to release Kingdom harmony, synergy and power in the earth. As a matter of fact, God even bestows His Glory upon those who follow Him faithfully (Read Isaiah 60:2) and Jesus told us in His Kingdom prayer that He gives the church the glory that the Father bestowed upon Him (John 17:22- read also Ephesians 3:21.)

Many pastors and leaders are frustrated because they don’t sense the power and presence of God in their churches and many people are frustrated in the church because they do not feel appreciated and released into their kingdom destiny. We think this will come automatically with prayer, fasting, healings and great preaching. However, if pastors would help create a culture of honor in their church and if members would learn how to respect and honor spiritual authority, there would be an incredible release of the glory of God in our midst!

Honoring God properly

We honor God first and foremost by ascribing to the Lord the glory due his name by having no other gods before Him. That is to say, in our life, affections, goals and purpose, we should fully surrender to His will for our life and His Kingdom. Paul described living like this as his “one thing” that he lives for, to know Christ and be conformed to His resurrection and His death. (Philippians 3:7-10)

Furthermore, since honor is based on worth and worth determines how much we financially give to someone or something, one of the primary ways God is honored in our life is by how much we sacrifice to give financially to His Kingdom. Proverbs 3:9 connects financial giving with honoring the Lord and in another place in the Pentateuch it teaches us not to appear before the Lord empty handed (meaning, every time you assemble with God’s people to worship the Lord you should bring an offering or a gift.) In the strictest meaning of finances and honor, it means that we don’t only give to a person because they are in financial need; we give to a person because it is a way we honor them for who they are and what they have done (1 Kings 10 teaches us that the Kings and Queens of the earth that came to hear the wisdom of Solomon honored him (for his wisdom) by lavishing him with gifts even though he was already the richest person on the face of the earth!)

PRINCIPLES OF HONORING PEOPLE

I-HONORING PARENTS /THE 5TH COMMANDMENT

Exodus 20:12 teach us to honor our father and mother so that it will go well with us in the land the Lord has given us. Because the honor of parents is the only one of the 10 commandments that commands honor, we know that the bedrock of honoring fellow human beings starts first and foremost with honoring both physical and spiritual parents. If we cannot honor our parents we will not be able to honor anybody body else adequately because parents are the bedrock of our childhood emotions and spiritual parents the foundation of our spiritual growth.  Honoring parents also has to do with spiritual fathers and mothers in the Hebrew culture. The nineteen sixties released upon the earth through England and the United States a spirit of rebellion (the worst since the French Revolution!) that attempted to overthrow all religion and belief in God. Western culture went from honoring old people for their wisdom and life experience to hating everybody over 30 years old and creating a so called “generation gap” in which parents were taught to expect their teenager to mess up and grow emotionally apart from them. Culture has never recovered from this spirit of rebellion and now all over the world the media and advertisers glorify youth, strength, beauty and sexual ability as the highest ideals while old people are looked at as a nuisance and people to be discarded by their children and put in “old age homes.” Even though the bible says that having grey hair is a crown of wisdom, now, even older people are getting face lifts, shooting themselves with Botox, dying their hair, injecting their bodies with HGH, all in an attempt to look young to keep up with what’s acceptable in culture.  

 

 Thus, as we interpret this, we understand in principle the following things:

·Honoring your parents have to do with respecting their wisdom, experience and accomplishments by learning from the mistakes and successes of their life and building upon that to go to a higher level in life. Those who just have un-forgiveness towards their parents because of their failures do not honor their parents and, consequently, will not go to another level because they aren’t freed up in their emotions from the sin of un-forgiveness.

·Honoring our father and mother protects us from rebellion to authority, which is like the sin of witchcraft (1 Samuel 15:23.) While honoring doesn’t always mean to “obey”, it has to due with having a spirit of submission, in which we weigh carefully what our biological parents say and respond to them with the utmost respect and humility.

·Honoring authority means to pray for them and believe for their latter years to be spent in peace watching their children grow to become greater then they are.

·Support them financially when they retire

·Care for them when they are sick

II-SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY (I Thess. 5:12,13; Hebrews 13:7,13)

·Honoring spiritual authority has to do with allowing them to speak into our life and give us counsel.

·Honoring spiritual authority has to do with allowing them to speak prophetically over your life.

·Honoring spiritual authority has to do with allowing them to hold you personally accountable when you make mistakes.

·Honoring spiritual authority has to do with allowing them to place you properly in the Kingdom of God and the church. Don’t presumptuously attempt to place yourself and ordain yourself in the Kingdom or church.

·Honoring spiritual authority has to do with respecting the decisions they make in the church.

·Honoring spiritual authority has to do with receiving and walking in love with the other spiritual children of your spiritual parents.

·Honoring our spiritual and biological parents has to do with not uncovering them to others when we discover sin in their life (Read Genesis 9:20-28.)

·Honoring spiritual authority has to do with celebrating their godly legacy and build our life upon it while at the same time retaining our own call and identity as children in life.

·Supporting the corporate vision of the local church and or ministry founded by spiritual fathers and mothers.

III-HONORING ONE ANOTHER

We desperately need to create a culture of honor in our churches and organizations. As we learn to practice honor with those around us, we will truly release the glory of God in our churches and organizations. The following are general principles in honoring one another

We honor one another when we:

·Respect every human being as an image bearer of God (I love addressing a homeless person as “sir” when I stop my car and ask him for directions. I enjoy seeing a well dressed man like myself address him with dignity and then seeing his eyes light up and wanting to do anything he can to help me have the proper instructions.)

·Put other people before ourselves according to the attitude of Christ shown in Philippians 2:3-12

·Recognize and celebrate one another’s unique gifts, personality and calling

·Highly regard one another with our words when we are not with them personally

·Understand the challenges of others and how the Lord is processing them to maturity towards their unique calling (knowing a person’s context helps us honor them properly)

·Defer to one another and make room for one another’s gifts (jealousy is the opposite spirit of honor because it breeds insecurity and limits your ability to accept a person’s calling, ability and place in the Kingdom)

·Recognize the true value of each person’s contributions and speak it to them and to others

·Give a person monetary gifts or public praise and recognition equal to the quality, sacrifice and kind of work they have accomplished

·Do all we can do through our prayers, acts of kindness and teamwork to aid those around us to accomplish their calling in the Kingdom

·Use our gifts to serve, and protect other people

·See husbands love their wife and overlook their weaknesses and commit themselves to their spouse’s success

·See wives respect their husband in spite of their shortcomings, they release them to love and protect and provide for them and their family

·Trust a person’s word we give them honor and respect

·Keep our word to a person we honor them and show them respect

IV-THE BLESSINGS OF HONORING OTHER PEOPLE

·When you honor someone you release them to trust you

·When you honor someone you release them to bless you

·When you honor someone you release them to serve you

·When you honor someone you release them to honor and celebrate you back

·When you honor a person you encourage them to remain true to their calling to serve God and become the best they can be

V-CHARACTERISTICS OF AN HONORABLE PERSON

·First and foremost, they honor God with the highest glory

·They are principled centered people who act based on their responsibility not based on how they feel

·They are a person of humility who recognizes the value and worth of others beside themselves

·They are people who display excellence in their life

·They don’t take their life or gifts of God for granted but are always grateful for what they have been blessed with

·They don’t flatter others for advantage

·They are unimpressed with fleeting treasures, pleasures and power

VI-BIBLICAL EXAMPLES OF HONORABLE PEOPLE

·Joseph when he didn’t divorce Mary when she was pregnant with Jesus (Matthew 1:19,20)

·David when he spared King Saul’s life (1 Samuel 24)

·Joseph when he refused to lie with Potiphar’s wife ((Genesis 39:7-10)

·Job when he refused to curse God and die (Job 2/; 9,10)

·The life of the excellent woman in Proverbs 31

·Jesus, who died on the cross for the Joy that was set before Him of obeying His Father’s will (Hebrews 12:1-3)

VII-BIBLICAL EXAMPLES OF DISHONORABLE MEN

·Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus with a kiss

·Demas who forsook Paul when he was in his darkest hour (2 Timothy 4: 9)

·Onan who refused to raise up seed for his brother (Genesis 38:8-10)

·King Ahab who allowed his wife Jezebel to kill Naboath for his vineyard (1 Kings 21)

·Jacob’s sons who left Joseph their brother to die because of Jealousy (Genesis 37)

·Cain who murdered his brother Abel because of jealousy (Genesis 4)

·King Saul who attempted to kill David because of Jealousy (1 Samuel 18-30)

·Peter who denied three times that he knew Jesus (Matthew 26:69-75)

·Peter when he denied he knew Gentile believers for fear of the Jewish believers (Galatians 2:11)

The question arises: how do we treat those who act dishonorably in the midst of us? Of course, this teaching doesn’t do away with the need to correct others, discipline the saints or even terminate a person’s employment or dis-fellowshipping a person from a church because of inappropriate and behavior damaging to a church, family or organization. Matthew 18:15-17 gives us guidelines on what to do in these instances. When we don’t correct dis-honorable behavior we actually lower the standards of honor for everybody else and hurt our organization. But, even in these instances we need to make sure we don’t go too far in uncovering people, that we attempt to restore them in a spirit of meekness (Galatians 6:1-4) and that we do not allow ourselves to harbor bitterness or un-forgiveness towards them. Whenever I am greatly challenged by a person acting dishonorably towards me and they are not willing to repent, I need to go into the biblical default position in which I honor the work of the Blood of Christ and forgive others just as God in Christ forgave me (read Ephesians 4:32-5:1.)

Finally, if we want the glory of God to be displayed, we have to incorporate a lifestyle of honor in every aspect of our life and calling.

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Contrasts Between the Apostolic Church and The Contemporary Church

By Bishop Joseph Mattera  www.josephmattera.org

There has been a movement the past four decades amongst various segments of the body of Christ towards embracing the way of Jesus and the apostles as found in the first century church. Extensive writing has been done in this regard by Jeff Reed, the founder of BILD International (www.bild.org) who has given his life over to writing about the Pauline model of church multiplication and leadership development. Most recently, Dr. C. Peter Wagner has started a network of leaders who have been launching a movement of apostolic centers in the United States and beyond! (Peter has a knack for sensing what is practically needed and then galvanizing a movement around it.)

This movement is very necessary since the contemporary and traditional church of the past centuries (perhaps since the 2nd and 3rd centuries) has in some ways lost its sense of being apostolic! Regarding the contemporary church, essentially the focus of the congregation and pastor is only to build up their local congregation and serve their community. If they have a vision for missions they generally will support “full-time missionaries” that may or may not have had their genesis in their congregation. Furthermore, if a local congregation has a vision to serve beyond their traditional local church functions, they will likely partner with a para-church organization that specializes in marketplace ministry, soul winning, or community transformation (often disconnecting extra-local ministry from the discipleship process and life of their congregation).

Generally speaking, the typical contemporary local congregation has no vision beyond the care and concern for their own flock and adding to their membership. Even if a church has an apostolic vision to release five-fold ministers (Ephesians 4:11) to serve the greater body of Christ, most of these churches have basically sent out their Set One (senior pastor or bishop) as an apostolic leader. However, the local church often has very little connection with the Set One who was sent out and (consequently) the local church becomes autonomous from outside interference and/or apostolic governance.

The New Testament Model for Apostolic Churches/Centers

As we read the New Testament, we see that every city had one church (that met in many locations in house church congregations) that was led by an apostle who founded this city church. The apostle would nurture and raise up elders and shepherds who would care for the flock (Acts 14:22-23; 15:36; 20:28) and then leave and start other churches and periodically return to make sure they remained true to the faith. Paul the Apostle was sent out of the church of Antioch (Acts 13:1-2) and started other churches that he continued to oversee as the founding apostle, even though he was not present.

Thus, the modus operandi of the first century church was as follows: an apostle would found a congregation, stay long enough to nurture elders, and then the apostle would leave that city to found another citywide movement of congregations but continue to revisit each of these churches and give them guidance and oversee them, but of course from a macro level.

In summary, though Paul’s ministry didn’t remain in the cities of Ephesus, Colossae, Philippi, Thessalonica and Crete, his governance as the founding apostle continued on through the elders and leaders he set in each church. This clearly demonstrates that in apostolic churches (or centers), ministry location and focus is not necessary for (apostolic) governance.

Paul left the elders to deal with the various issues related to the congregation but when it came to the doctrine, teaching and standards of the congregations he had the final say.  In Corinth, he even threatened the leaders and congregation and said to them “what do you prefer, shall I come to you with a rod of discipline or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit?” (1 Corinthians 5:23) He goes on to give orders to put a sexually immoral person out of the church (1 Corinthians 5:12) as well as guidelines on who they were able to associate with (1 Corinthians 5).

Furthermore, the whole epistle to the Galatians is a doctrinal defense of his apostleship to that city church as well as setting them straight regarding the gospel they were preaching; the epistle to the Ephesians contains commandments on how the church family was expected to function (chapters 4-6); in the epistle to the Philippians, Paul urges the leaders to work together in unity (4:2-3); in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, Paul gives instructions regarding the criteria for elders and deacons.  In some instances, Paul would plead with the leaders to do things correctly and in other instances he just gave out apostolic orders and/or commands that were not up for negotiation. Hence, apostolic leadership generally tries to empower the local eldership to lead the church and only gets involved in matters regarding breaches of doctrine, ethics, and protocol.

Not only this, but every one of the churches Paul started had a commitment to continue their partnership with Paul as the founder by financially supporting his apostolic ministry (read Philippians 1:5, 18-19; 2 Corinthians 8-9).

Many of these congregations also supplied people who would serve alongside Paul on his apostolic team (Philippians 1:25-30; 2 Corinthians 8:16-24; Romans 16:1-2).

In summary, the first century apostolic church had the following as a general template:

-A leader was sent out of the city church as an apostle

-The apostle would plant other churches in other cities

-In each church the apostle would leave and plant another church after a strong eldership team was raised up to care for the flock

-These churches had a global apostolic vision by continuing to stay connected to their apostle with financial support, praying regularly for him, supplying co-workers for the apostolic team, and by staying accountable and keeping regular communication with him

-The apostle continued to have governmental rule without ministerial proximity and hands-on leadership.

Apostolic Centers

The present movement of apostolic centers has continued to build upon this first century model as stated above and is attempting to create (long needed) change in the way we in the United States typically do church. Some in the movement don’t like to use the word “elders” because they say this word is not mentioned in the New Testament while the founding apostle is present. I think this point is moot since Peter calls himself an elder (1 Peter 5:1). Hence, even when the founding apostolic team is present in a local church they are all essentially biblical elders. They use the term “centers” rather than churches perhaps to disassociate themselves from the baggage of the present day church. Also, with the restoration of the teaching of the Kingdom of God in the present day apostolic reformation, many (apostolic leaders) in this movement have conceptually gone from overseeing an inbred congregation that exists merely to care for itself to having a center replete with kingdom activity that encourages and equips their members and leaders to reach every cultural mountain of society. (I personally continue to use the words “elders” and “churches” because those are the words used by the New Testament writers but calling an influential congregation a “center” may be a wise move in various contexts.)

Furthermore, I am excited about this new development since our local church (Resurrection Church of New York) has always called itself an apostolic church. Our church has had major influence in our Sunset Park community in Brooklyn (of about 180,000) and has modeled the apostolic church of the New Testament since we founded it in 1984. For the past two decades, we have had all five of the ministry gifts functioning among our leadership, and we have been an equipping center that has sent out numerous church leaders and nurtured influential marketplace leaders that have served our region and beyond! Also, as part of the apostolic cycle mentioned above, I have launched out apostolically to the nations while still remaining as the apostolic overseer. Since 1990, I have been able to function apostolically to our city and now to numerous cities because we have had a strong leadership team in place that cared for our congregation without losing our kingdom focus!

Finally, the Reformation that started in 1517 with Martin Luther continues on as the reformed church continues to reform itself!

 

Should Gays receive the Death Penalty?

By Bishop Joseph Mattera  www.josephmattera.org

The other day it was reported that a pastor who introduced Ted Cruz at a rally quoted parts of Romans Ch 1 regarding homosexuality and said that the bible says they are worthy of death. Then he went on to say he was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. 

To quote his words, "yes, Leviticus 20:13 calls for the death penalty for homosexuals,” Swanson said.

“Yes, Romans chapter one verse 32, the Apostle Paul does say that homosexuals are worthy of death. His words not mine. And I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And I am not ashamed of the word of God. And I am willing to go to jail for standing on the truth of the word of god.”

Click here to listen.

This blew me away for several reasons.

One had to do with the lack of wisdom of doing this before introducing a man he wants to be president in a day and age replete with social media, as well as this man’s he lack of theological understanding. 

If I were Ted Cruz, I would immediately distance myself from this man's comments as well as give an explanation as to why he did not disavow these comments when he came to the stage (Perhaps he wasn't paying attention and did not hear everything?) 

Theologically, I have given my life the last thirty eight years to studying the Scriptures, and I have written books (Kingdom Awakening and Kingdom Revolution) dealing with the application of biblical law to culture. 

It amazes me that this pastor singles out homosexuals as being worthy of death in Romans (1: 32) when the context of this chapter also says that idolaters, the boastful, gossipers, the envious, the faithless, those disobedient to parents are also on the list that deserve death, hence most people in the world deserve to die! 

Then he equates this with the gospel when in essence the whole book of Romans, in context, states the opposite. Paul says later on in Romans 3:23 that all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God; then in 6:23 he says, that the penalty of sin is death. Thus, the point of this book is that the gospel of Christ saves all sinners by faith. It is not about instituting a civil death penalty. Furthermore, this passage actually shows the opposite of what he claims. He said they are worthy of death (like all of us sinners), but he never calls on the Roman government or the church to execute anyone. 

In another passage when dealing with homosexuality, 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11, Paul also lists idolaters, adulterers, the greedy, drunkards and revilers; hence, he did not view that sin as greater than the sins most people in the world practice (including many in the church!) 

What was Paul's point in this passage? It was that everyone in the church once lived in some of these sins listed; however, he never called for the death penalty because in the New Covenant there is hope that we can be saved, sanctified and cleansed by the blood of Jesus. This is the gospel Paul preached, not calling for the death penalty.  Furthermore in chapter five, Paul never called for the execution of a man who had sex with his father's wife (in violation of Leviticus 18) but that he is to temporarily dis-fellowship. Also, Paul puts this grievous form of sexual activity (possibly incest) in the same category as greed, idolatry, being a drunkard, and swindling (1 Cor 5:12). In the next chapter when calling for a Christian Adjudication process, Paul had a perfect opportunity to call for the execution of the immoral person mentioned, but he did not even mention his case; instead, he called for an end to lawsuits between believers. 

Quoting Leviticus to call for the execution of gays seems to be convenient for this pastor (who is probably living in a homogeneous cultural bubble). However, the Old Testament also called for the death penalty for adulterers, rebellious children, idolaters, those practicing witchcraft, those worshipping other gods and those who blaspheme and take the name of the Lord in vain - quite a list!  According to this list, hardly anyone living in today's world would be left to be saved by Christ if they were given capital punishment! 

What this pastor doesn't understand is that the New Testament clearly modified the application of the moral and civil law regarding sanctions and punishments. Jesus made this clear when He did not call for the woman caught in adultery to be stoned to death (John 8:1-8) 

Although Jesus did not change the ethical standards of the Mosaic Law, He did not apply the punishment for adultery even though He was without sin and could have cast the first stone! By this one action, He clearly revised the application of the law for punishment when He inaugurated the new epoch of the gospel. 

The New Testament modified the penalty but not the ethical standards for sexual sins, idolatry, rebellion, and other sins that previously, in theocratic Israel, would have resulted in the death penalty. The reasons for this are numerous; however, one clear reason is because the post resurrection world can now have regenerated humans who are transformed from within while the pre Jesus world God had to strictly protect and insulate the Jewish people so they can be preserved as the nation/progenitor who would give birth (through Mary) to the promised Messiah.  Fortunately, since the advent of the Holy Spirit, there is now hope for all of us, irrespective of our past, to be saved and sanctified. 

On the other hand, one can possibly make a case for capital punishment regarding murder since Genesis 9:5,6 (which first instituted civil government during the post flood Noahic age) was pre Moses and pre law and seemed to be the most fundamental and embryonic expression of human government rooted in natural law. However, the New Testament also put murder under the rubric of hating a brother in your heart (Matt5:22, 1 John 3:15) which should extend our definition of murder, albeit Genesis 9:5,6 deals with the  civil application of a serious crime and Jesus and John the Apostle were most likely referring to a sin of the heart that only God can bring to light on the Day of Judgment (2 Cor .5:10)

So in conclusion, it takes great skill and study to rightly divide the Word. Thus scripture cannot be merely interpreted by perfunctory reading and proof texting. It is my prayer that the reader of this article will not be quick to come to conclusions by isolating passages and taking them out of context. My prayer is that we will uncover the whole council of God and reflect His heart to this world. 

 

Understanding the Differences between Protégés, Partners and Parasites

By Bishop Joseph Mattera  www.josephmattera.org

Being involved with pastoral and apostolic-type ministry for more than three decades, I have attempted to prioritize building relationally through covenant, and mentoring. This experience has shown me that in order to be successful I must discern between three types of people: protégés, partners, and parasites.

The following are my observations regarding these three kinds of people:

Protégés

By protégé I mean a person who I am mentoring, who is open to grow with a heart to serve together with me for the Kingdom. Usually it is a younger emerging leader who I see leadership potential in, which motivates me to invest my time into him or her.

The greatest call upon my life is to mentor and nurture the next generation of leaders so that God’s Kingdom influence can penetrate every facet of society! In order for me to accomplish this, there has to be a generational impact in which the next generation of leaders is equipped to stand upon the shoulders of those leaders who preceded them.

A protégé would develop a deep relationship of trust with me, have access to me, and allow me to speak into their life. In many cases, we have to choose our successors in every aspect of our life’s work; our successors will most likely arise out of the pool of protégés we are mentoring. That being said, I am constantly looking for potential protégés to pour into, some will be short term, for a season, and some will have a lifetime relationship with me.  Discovering a divine connection with a new protégé is one of the great joys of my life!

Partners

In order to establish kingdom influence in a community, city or nation, we have to establish many partnerships. No leader, organization or church will be able to bring societal transformation by themselves!

Another great joy in my life is when God connects me to have peer relationships with other like-minded leaders who have high levels of influence in their particular spheres.

For example, in the word of God we find that in order to rebuild Jerusalem during the post-exilic era God partnered together Nehemiah, who was a politician (who received a government grant and safe passage from the Persian king for his assignment to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem) and Ezra, a religious leader who taught the word of God to those repatriating back into Jerusalem from exile. In my more than three decades of ministry, I would not have been able to accomplish much in the way of church and marketplace ministry if I did not collaborate with key leaders in both spheres.

Partners must have a certain amount of influence depending upon the task at hand; they must have a willing heart to serve, be trustworthy, have no hidden agendas, and be willing to do what it takes to get the job done. If they are all talk and no action, I cannot count upon them to be a partner.

Parasites

Last, but not least, there will always be parasites who want to use your name, influence, authority and gifting to benefit themselves while not having a mutual motivation to benefit you. The scientific definition of parasite can come in handy in this article: a parasite is “an organism that grows, feeds, and is sheltered on or in a different organism while contributing nothing to the survival of its host.” Thus, in this context, a parasite is someone who feeds off of other people to sustain themselves, while not reciprocating a mutual benefit.

Of course, some are not in a position to have a mutually beneficial relationship with anyone, such as young natural children and newly born spiritual children, as well as some people in trauma. But, in the context of this article, with parasite I am referring to a person who should be in a position to have mutually beneficial relationships but because they are self-focused they only relate to those they can take advantage of since their only agenda is self-preservation and/or self-aggrandizement! They have no motivation to give blessings back even though they may talk a good talk!

These are the people who drop names to get ahead, who use your influence to get what they want, and who will feign friendship with you as long as you are doing something for them!

Consequently, if at all possible, avoid these kinds of people and do not waste your time investing into them (except to win them to Christ) because, unless they change, they will go from one relationship to another and never bear long-lasting fruit for the Kingdom! Their very nature, motivation and behavior totally repels the attitude of the Lord Jesus who came not to be served but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28)!

In closing, not every person in the Body of Christ has the same motivations, maturity levels, goals and emotional health levels. This is why we need to properly discern between the above three kinds of people. If we do not, we will try to make a parasite a protégé and/or make a protégé a partner prematurely, and we will experience much failure and frustration in our lives!

 

20 Amazing Implications of the Dominion Covenant

By Bishop Joseph Mattera  www.josephmattera.org

In Genesis 1:26-28, we read the original covenant of creation God gave Adam. This is the most important covenant in the bible to understand our purpose in the earth because it shows the original intent in which we were created. Essentially, man, made in the image of God, was called to have children; he was called to multiply them, fill the earth, which would lead to subduing it and having dominion. Thus, the original covenant God gave humankind was to influence all of culture or the created order. This is why many scholars call this passage “The Cultural Mandate”.  However, others refer to this passage as the “Dominion Mandate” because of the end result of following the steps laid out. (Having children, multiplying them.) I usually shy away from using the term “dominion” because in it’s vernacular usage today it connotes images of top down autocratic rule whereas Jesus taught us to lead through humble service (John 13). Hence, dominion in the context of the Genesis passage primarily refers to influence. Consequently, God was telling Adam and his progeny to influence and manage the planet.

I believe that the Dominion Covenant is the pre-suppositional starting point to understand all subsequent covenants. Also, Genesis 9:1-2 illustrates this covenant was still in effect even after Adam fell into sin since Noah received virtually the same instructions found in the original covenant

For the sake of the points I set forth in this article, I am going to refer to this covenant as the Dominion Covenant.

The following are 20 implications of the Dominion Covenant

1-God made human kind in His Image which shows the sanctity of life

All humans, irrespective of their lifestyle, religion and economic status have inherent dignity because they are image bearers of God. This is also the strongest theological case to stand against abortion, racism, bullying and slavery.

2-God made human kind in His Image which shows creative potential and power

Since God is the creator of the universe, those made in His Image are also co-creators within the framework of His cosmos (Universe and or the created order). The more we humans unpack this, the more astounded we will be as we discover our abilities and vast potential. The breakthroughs we have seen in technology are just a small taste of our incredible creative abilities. Psalm 8:4 say that humans were made a little lower than God, and Jesus quoted the psalms(John 10:34-36) and said ye were gods! This meant that the Most High God sent vice regent humans to govern the world for Him.

3-God made human kind in His Image which means we should have children and multiply after our own kind

God gave us a co-creator role in which we are called to work with Him and create other image bearers of God. Multiplication does not start until you hit four children and anything less is addition, not multiplication! Hence, biblically, we should not separate our call to have children (both biological and spiritual) from our destiny. Not every one can have biological children, but every person is called to have spiritual children. 

4-God called us to multiply which means we should plan for more than one generation

God told Adam and Eve to multiply before they had even one child, which implies that God has called us to think generationally.

5-God called us to replenish the earth, which implies equipping our children to lead all areas of culture

The word replenish in this context not only refers to having a lot of physical babies but also training them to be leaders who will fill every realm of life in the created order. (Our children are not just called to be pastors and preachers but architects, lawyers, doctors, judges, politicians, economists, scientists, artists, composers….)

6-God called us to subdue the earth which means we should plan to win the ideological battles

The word subdue implies taking the weapons of warfare away from our enemies. This not only means winning physical victories but primarily ideological victories. Jesus said that only the truth could set a person free (John 8:32-36). Paul said that our battle is not against flesh and blood (Read Ephesians 6:10-13), and 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 teaches us that believers are called to cast down and subdue all systems of thought with the knowledge of God.

7-God called us to have dominion, which means we have leadership capacity

Dominion means influence; hence, how can we have influence without leading others? Believers should become the greatest servant leaders in the world today!

8-Dominion implies we have management capacity

Our call to have dominion over the earth also implies organizational ability and management capacity. There are some believers that should be the world’s greatest organizational developers and coalition builders.

9-Dominion implies the truth should influence all aspects of culture

How can we have dominion on the earth if the gospel of the Kingdom of God stays out of the public square? The gospel of Christ is meant to connect all ethnic cultures back to the original intent of their Creator.

10-Dominion implies a victorious Gospel not a defeatist gospel

The original covenant of creation implies that the gospel will eventually influence many nations of the world. Consequently, there will be a compelling kingdom witness in the earth before Jesus physically returns to earth.

11-Dominion implies a practical faith not a mystical religion

Dominion means that believers should become the greatest problem solvers the world has every seen. Every believer should be the best worker and or owner of businesses and utilize their gifts to cause cities and nations to flourish. Believers that are so spiritual that they are not any earthly good is not a biblical concept but mystical.

12-Dominion implies God ordained fame

Dominion implies that many in the Body of Christ will be household names and that it will be normal for believers to be the most well known people in their fields of expertize (Athletics, science, technology, film, law, politics, business).

13-Dominion implies the church should establish the cultural norms not visa versa

Once the body of Christ puts the dominion covenant into practice, we will proactively be the ones to set cultural norms in ethics, design, fashion, music, science, media, and philosophy.

14-Dominion implies believers should be the leading innovators of the world

The next Steve Jobs and Bill Gates should come out of the Body of Christ.

15-Dominion implies believers should be the leading scientists of the world

The church should disciple the person that will find a cure for cancer, and become the leaders in nutrition, fitness, health, as well as all technological breakthroughs.

16-Dominion implies political and economic systems based upon biblical foundations

As the founding fathers of the USA wrote the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution with a biblical worldview, so all-economic and political systems should be based on biblical principles if they are to succeed.

17-Dominion implies the local church should serve as apostolic equipping centers

Once the church understands the dominion covenant, we will cease being merely focused on Sunday ministry and drawing crowds into buildings. We will focus on equipping and sending the saints out to serve their communities instead of focusing on getting the community to attend a church service. 

18-Generational Dominion implies that our children should be the next presidents, Governors, and CEO’s of multi-national corporations

Deuteronomy 28:10-13 says that we are the head not the tail. Once Christian parents understand this, they will train their kids not only how to fish but to own the pond!

19-Dominion implies the focus of believers should be on the kingdom and not religion

The dominion covenant is a call to culture, not merely to be religious on a Sunday morning. Jesus told us to pray for His Kingdom to come not for His church to come. The church is not the kingdom but the main agent of the Kingdom to establish God’s government upon the earth.

20-Dominion implies that every culture should reflect the values of the Kingdom

Finally, the word culture comes from a Latin word “cultus” which means religion or cult; hence, the very word culture connotes religion. All culture should reflect the values of the throne of God. The theme of the New Testament is not the church but the Kingdom. Since every kingdom has politics, economics, education, law, art and music and systems that support their citizens, the church should be focusing on training their members with a biblical worldview so that they can once again become the greatest cultural leaders the world has ever seen! This is our destiny and this is the point of the Dominion Covenant. 

 

14 Next Generation Challenges To The Apostolic Movement

By Bishop Joseph Mattera  www.josephmattera.org

The so called “millennium generation “ has seemed to develop certain presuppositions that are presently a huge challenge that can hinder the continuation of the present apostolic reformation in North America and beyond.

The new apostolic reformation was a phrase coined by Dr. Peter Wagner, in the early 2000’s, to describe the new wave of visionary leaders in the global church with apostolic gifts, who lead (non denominational) networks of churches.

As a part of this movement in the USA since the late 1980’s, I have founded an apostolic church (Resurrection church of NY in Sunset Park Brooklyn), a regional apostolic network of apostolic leaders in the church and marketplace (Christ Covenant Coalition), and am presently the national convener of the United States Coalition of Apostolic Leaders. Related to all of this, I have worked with many apostolic leaders globally.  

That being said, I have also observed some of the ways many apostolic leaders function that are a challenge to the present mindset of millennial leaders in the Body of Christ. Whether one agrees with these young people or not, it is a challenge apostolic leaders must overcome if they are going to successfully perpetuate apostolic vision into the next generation –especially in developed nations and among the educated in developing nations. (Irrespective of what nation a young person lives in, the more educated, the more they tend to think the way I have illustrated it in this missive.) To help overcome this challenge, we have formed “The Futures Alliance” to connect and converge with the top leaders in our nation under forty.  They continually give myself and others input so we can understand how they think and ways we could work together for the kingdom.

My statements in this article are meant to be very general; hence, there are exceptions to every one of my points as I have also met many young people who do not espouse every one of the views I am setting forth.

The following are some of the challenges next generation leaders have with the apostolic reformation:

1-Next Generation leaders do not like vestiges of authority and power

Several very smart young people I have spoken to (including my two biological sons) tell me how they are turned off by symbols of authority in the church services. Things such as elders sitting on a platform, pastors preaching from a platform, the minister wearing clergy attire, and the like are often complete turnoffs. (The use of clergy attire is more in use amongst apostolic leaders in the more episcopal traditions, e.g. those who use the term bishop instead of pastor.)

2-Next generation leaders are casual in their appearance

While many apostolic leaders dress formally, young people (especially among Caucasian young people) are extremely casual and may be turned off by pastors and attendees in church services dressing formally. (Of course, my first point related to clergy attire can also fit here, but I used it in the previous point because it comports with vestiges of ecclesial authority, not merely formality in dress.)

3-Next generation leaders are not religious

Many apostolic leaders continue to use the same expressions they used in church 20-30 years ago.  Young people are turned off by excessive religious language in church services like the continual use of the words “amen”, “hallelujah,” “praise the Lord.” Also, the intense shaking, shouting, and physical gyrations are viewed as unnatural and weird. (I am speaking more about religious behavior and tradition than a spontaneous response to the undeniable presence and move of God in a church service.)

4-Next generation leaders are looking for authentic relationships more than ministry

Apostolic leaders and visionaries are often focused more on accomplishing the mission than building relationally with the people. Young people long for a church culture where relationships are deepened in addition to having a strong sense of purpose and mission.

5-Next generation leaders work from the bottom up-not the top down

Often, especially in developing nations and among certain contexts in North America, apostolic leaders function autocratically and lead from the top down. Young people are egalitarian and want to be respected and treated more like peers, not like some mindless followers. I have also found that, the more educated and empowered a congregation is (irrespective of age) the more they have learned critical thinking skills and shy away from leadership styles that are demanding, dogmatic and dictatorial.

6-Next generation leaders shy away from the culture wars

While many apostolic leaders have been front and center in the culture wars, young people are weary of the right versus left culture war tussle. Unfortunately, many young leaders have gone too far and moved away from taking a position in their churches when it comes to serious moral issues such as abortion, marriage and sexual ethics. While I agree with their concern about the Christian right and left going too far interweaving the gospel with politics, I also believe the gospel is irrevocably connected to morality and societal ethics, which should result in maintaining certain standards. Those who refuse to take a stand will eventually find their churches overrun with confusion related to sexual identity, immorality and a progressive humanism that runs counter to the authority of Scripture.

7-Next generation leaders advocate for social justice

While many apostolic leaders have been very vocal regarding socially moral issues, young people have been invigorated to fight against the sex slave industry, racism, economic injustice and the like. They are sick and tired of focusing on what the church is “against” and want to focus on what the church “is for”! Any church that has a vision to love and empower humanity irrespective of race, gender and economic status will have an easier time garnering the attention of young people. While I realize that the term “social justice” is an old mantra for socialism, it’s meaning has also been expanded to include things that can coincide with the gospel.

 

8-Next generation leaders focus on serving the community

Whereas, many in the apostolic movement want to transform nations politically, many young people are not as interested in “reforming society.” However, they feel more compelled to meet the practical needs of their community. Reaching others through art, music, mentoring, and befriending the lost and lonely are things for which they have passion. Hence, many apostolic leaders have been “macro” and young people “micro” in their approach to seeing the renewal of all things on earth.

9-Next generation leaders primarily focus on their parish not their region

Many apostolic leaders and centers have a vision for reaching their region and beyond, while many young people focus more on reaching their immediate community. The difference in methodology is the apostolic regional church versus the parish church model. Young leaders tend to focus more on developing church campuses with each campus adopting a parish model in regards to concentrating on their own local community.

10-Next generation leaders connect together using social media

Older, apostolic leaders are utilizing social media and texting more and more, but young people have been born into this technological age and are as accustomed to connecting through social media as a fish is used to living underwater. Apostolic leaders need to continue to grow in their use of social media if they are going to connect with millenials, and millennials have to develop their interpersonal skills if they want to be more balanced.

11-Next generation leaders are mobile

While most apostolic leaders have been located in the same region for decades, many young people who are constantly in geographic transition create a culture depending on where they have the best opportunity. (Even young pastors have a tendency to move geographically more frequently than the past generation who often made a commitment to one community for decades.)

12-Next generation leaders are not hierarchical but relational

While many apostolic leaders use ecclesiastical titles like “apostle” and “Bishop”, young people are uncomfortable with titles and anything hierarchical. They would much rather relate to other people on a first name basis.

13-Next generation leaders are uncomfortable with the prosperity gospel

While many apostolic leaders are visionaries with amazing fund raising skills, many young people connote a strong appeal for finances with the so-called prosperity gospel. Many even shy away from utilizing the scriptures that speak about God rewarding faithful tithers and instead focus on giving to God purely out of love and generosity. Of course, the legitimate apostolic leaders I partner with are also uncomfortable with the notion of turning the church into a fund raising machine and or the use of God for personal gain and prosperity. The truth is, God does reward financial faithfulness and generously gives back more than we can ever sow into His Kingdom, but our motives have to be pure before God as we are called to seek first His Kingdom.

14-Next generation leaders are entrepreneurial

One primary thing both apostolic leaders and millennial leaders have in common is, by nature they both tend to be entrepreneurial. Apostolic leaders who understand this should focus on empowering the creativity in young people. They need to realize that this is a generation with more knowledge, technology and opportunity to be self-employed than any recent generation. Apostolic leaders who treat millenials like stationary employees (like the factory workers and unionized workers of their own era), will miss a great opportunity to connect the next generation with the present apostolic reformation.

 

Seven Common Ways Leaders Fail to Expand God’s Kingdom

By Bishop Joseph Mattera  www.josephmattera.org

As someone who has been involved in teaching and implementing principles of the Kingdom of God since the mid-1990’s I have observed many ways Christian leaders do not expand the kingdom! The following are some of the most common ways we work without kingdom effectiveness.

1. Mere Political Victories

The Christian Right made the mistake of just focusing on politics. Many in this camp were ecstatic when George W. Bush was elected as president of the USA in 2000. Consequently, several of Bush’s policies (cutting taxes without cutting spending; the Iraqi War) set Christianity and conservative politics back many years!

Elections come and go. Thus, when the church only focuses on politics it is a huge mistake! We have learned that it is very possible to win elections and continue to lose the culture since politics is only one of several major cultural spheres. We need to reach all the spheres if we are truly going to see a biblical reformation that reflects kingdom values.

2. Transfer Growth between Churches

Many churches market themselves and their ministries via Christian media. Thus their target audience is primarily other Christians!

Some new church plants have their services when most other churches don’t meet so they can attract other church members with their special events. The result is that several churches have grown in an astonishing rate. But when you examine their demographic you find that the majority of their people come from other churches! This does not expand the kingdom of God; it merely expands the rolls of that particular church!

3. Megachurch Crowds

Some pastors are glorified event planners who know how to draw and keep a crowd! The test of the effectiveness of a church is not how many attend on a Sunday but how many are committed Christ followers!

All churches should have a strong assimilation process for visitors in which a new person is given the opportunity to become a disciple of Christ with accountable relationships. A gifted program-based church which offers attendees a good experience (great worship, media and oratory) but falls far short of the biblical command to make disciples does not expand the Kingdom of God (Matthew 28:19; 2 Timothy 2:2).

4. Preaching an Individualistic Gospel

Since the late 1800’s the American church separated the gospel from the kingdom (unlike Jesus who preached the Gospel of the Kingdom; read Mark 1:14-15). The results have been disastrous. Attaching the kingdom to the gospel obligates the corporate body of Christ to steward the earth, while an individual gospel merely offers a way for individual people to escape the earth and go to heaven. Consequently, the majority of sermons today in the global church are self-focused and don’t touch systemic sin. This individual focus does not expand the kingdom since it doesn’t deal with the restoration of communities and cities (unlike the true gospel as shown in Isaiah 61:1-4).

5. Humanistic Outreaches

Some Christian organizations just focus on bringing quality of life change to a community or village in poverty-stricken areas. There is one famous relief organization that advertises community transformation but when you examine the villages they aid the people are still worshipping idols or false gods. This is not an expansion of the kingdom because they brought systemic change without bringing salvation to their inhabitants.

6. The Kingdom Becomes a Social Movement without Individual Spirituality

Some church leaders in the 19th century preached the Kingdom of God but it amounted only to a progressive socialistic political agenda. This is the opposite problem of most of today’s preaching. Today we preach an individualistic gospel without a corporate and systemic component. In past kingdom teachings many preached a social gospel of liberation that neglected individual transformation and salvation! This is more akin to Marxism than to true biblical Christianity in which true transformation always starts from within the hearts of repentant human beings (John 3:1-8). The “social gospel” kingdom message taught that true change comes from changing political and economic systems (like Marxism’s dialectical materialism) but history has shown the failure of Marxist utopian goals! True societal change must first start from within the hearts of individual believers. (The Kingdom of God is within us; read Luke 17:21.)

7. Leaders Have Kingdom Language without Kingdom Implementation

Finally, many today teach the kingdom but have no track record of ever bringing systemic change to a community! Often Christian leaders are satisfied merely preaching good messages and writing good books on the kingdom without testing their theology in the laboratory of life! In the kingdom the word must become flesh (John 1:14), which means true kingdom teaching must have an incarnation of ideas that results in social systemic change.

While I never underestimate the importance of great anointed preaching, I know I have the most authority when I teach principles based on real-life models of social change I have witnessed in my own community and city! I am weary of merely going from one conference to another to hear likeminded leaders teach on the kingdom. We need to focus on equipping capable leaders who will implement biblical principles in communities. If we don’t, we are just preaching to the choir while staying in a safe zone utilizing language that is acceptable to “do-nothing” saints who merely want a new teaching to stimulate them! Truly faith without works is dead!

Finally, there are many other things that could be added to this list; I am sure there are others who can do a great job of expanding further upon this topic. Nobody I know (including yours truly!) has experienced or seen a biblical model of transformation that perfectly matches the Scriptural teaching of the Kingdom of God. We are all grappling with this subject and attempting to continue to grow both in teaching and in practice. I pray this brief article aids many who desire to implement principles of the Kingdom of God in their communities, cities and nations!

If You Faint In The Day Of Adversity

By Walt Healy

Your Strength Is Small Proverbs 24:10

Adversity comes as hostile or unfavorable conditions. When circumstances loom as mountains or when threat opposes our interest or desires, it feels as if the rug is pulled from under us. It seems like the tide has turned against us and we see the enemy coming in like a flood. At these times, we can’t escape emotional agitation and must see beyond the foreboding and distressing picture of the future, looking to God for strength.  

It helps to know there are four reasons for adversity. Job 5:7 tells us, “man is born to trouble”. This is general adversity and is inescapable as with: war in the land; cold and heat; recession; etc.  These events are neither caused by one’s personal wickedness nor stopped by one’s righteousness. Our fallen world is full of uncertainty and provokes all without respect to age, gender, status, etc.  

Secondly, there is adversity God employs for His disobedient children (Hebrews 12:5–8). This is divine training. If we ignore the leading of the Spirit or the more direct word of Scripture, God immediately sends a correcting word (Isaiah 30:21). The wise correct their ways and it is finished.  The unwise do not and we then find that “God troubled them with every adversity” (2 Chronicles 15:6). Jonah, and Abram when he went to Egypt, are examples. God always acts for our good and wants us headed in the right direction: “when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world” (1 Corinthians 11:32).  

Thirdly, there is adversity for the obedient children of God: “tribulation or persecution arises because of the word” (Matthew 13:21). Satan plots to cut off your fruit.  He wants you offended, resentful, angry at God or church, or worn out. Galatians 6:9 reminds us, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (KJV says, “if we faint not”.)

Lastly, there is adversity for fruitful, faithful servants of God. “A thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me” (Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:7). Extra-ordinary pressure can follow extraordinary fruitfulness.  Paul was constantly attacked, John the Baptist and James were beheaded, Peter was imprisoned, and John was exiled.  The satanic purpose is to compromise you or cause you to quit. To these threats, our response should be as in Nehemiah 6:9 “For they all were trying to make us afraid, saying, ‘Their hands will be weakened in the work, and it will not be done.’ Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.” Peter tells us to resist the devil, “steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (1 Peter 5:9).

It is imperative that we discern the actual source of adversity. If God is correcting us and we are rebuking Satan, we prolong and compound the difficulty. If Satan is buffeting us and we blame God, or if we repent for “nothing”, we will draw back. If we mistake a “thorn” for divine disapproval we won’t fully engage the devil in war. Failing to discern the actual reason for the adversity, we can easily get discouraged, back off, and stop running the race. We faint in the day of adversity.

Habakkuk was about to do that (Chapter 1) when God corrected him (Chapter 2). Then the prophet got it and said, “Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls— Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills” (Habakkuk 3:17-19).

There is a future and a hope if we know God is pleased with our intent and actions. We can see beyond circumstances of adversity knowing, as Peter tells us that these trials are quite normal. No single battle is the war. Unfortunately, we don’t win every battle but we can win the war even before the next battle comes. This is what Jesus was doing in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46) as He fought His war alone and found His victory within.

We all face struggles; fear and trepidation come to each one, albeit differently: divorce; medical test; financial ruin; or aggression from the ungodly. These things produce uncertainty and discomfort and, like Jesus, we want the disciples around us to be alert and responsive to our deep sorrow and distress.  We can feel “exceedingly sorrowful even to death” but reaching out to the disciples doesn’t always help. In this case, Jesus had to fight alone. In your spiritual battle before the temporal battle you can almost bank on this; Peter will not draw his sword until after the mob forms.  

Jesus won alone; He found God in His decision to obey.  We know God will not forsake us and will be there when the bombs begin to fall – but do we remember that in the battle before the battle? Gethsemane was the real war of the inner man, far more important to success with God than Jesus’ war of the outer man at the cross.

You can find God in the decision to obey and walk confidently and courageously into every battle, knowing He will be with you: Psalms 23:4Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Even as death looms up and blocks the light, know “You are with me.” 

Win the war first and then face evil with the sure knowledge that God will never leave you or forsake you. Finding God before the battle rages is the key. Find Him in the prelude and win before you start.  Meet with and agree with Him; then say in faith, “Thanks be to God who always causes us to triumph in Christ Jesus.” 

Don’t withdraw from the war! In Gethsemane it took three times before Jesus’ obedience was complete (Heb.5:8-9).  Don’t be paralyzed into inactivity to witness, minister, or face the next battle. Don’t wait for the doctor’s report, the court summons, the bank notice, or the surprises of the ungodly. Don’t be paralyzed with fear, sorrow or distress.  Win now! Fear not, “I Am” is with you on the way to do battle. Make a decision: “I’m going to win now over (name your fear and trepidation, sorrow and distress, or other issue) so that when the temporal battle comes I will already be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. I will do right and trust God with the results.