Our Vision

People sometimes ask why we have such a passion to see the body of Christ come together and become one in the Spirit of God. Years ago, this burden was placed on a mentor of mine, a humble pastor whom I loved—Leonard Evans.

The Lord visited him and told him the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit in the last century was for the purpose of realizing the prayer of Christ, “Father, may they be one, that the world may believe.” Everywhere he went he preached the love message of John 13: 34, 35, “Love one another as I have loved you that the world may recognize you are my disciples.”  His people got sick of his message. “Can’t you preach something else,” they complained.  But he could not.

My good friend, Leonard, died young, I believe of a broken heart. Not only was his message rejected by everyone, the church became more fragmented than ever.

Now I’m not a visual person. I rarely see anything when I close my eyes. Yet, over 25 years ago, while in prayer I saw something that changed my life. It was vivid and in living color.

The Vision: I saw a lovely young woman, dressed in white, like a bride, wandering alone and lost in a barren wilderness. Her beautiful gown was ripped, soiled and tattered. She was thirsty and frightened. Tears stained her face. Each step she took left a bloody footprint in the sand.

“Lord,” I asked. Who is this woman?”

“My bride,” He answered, my American bride.” I wept for her! I could not stop weeping but I felt the comfort of the Bridegroom weeping by my side as well.

Excited, I began preaching and sharing this message, but like my mentor, there was little receptivity to my message. I was puzzled, Why was this vision given to me?  Finally, after so much rejection, I got discouraged and put this call aside, thinking it was too impossible.

When I retired and was ready to take it easy, I met a woman with whom I shared this vision. Immediately she accepted it as from God and later she became my wife.

“You mustn’t give up. God wants you to continue on the path he put you on.” It was like a prophecy.

I cried out to God. “What can I do?”

“Intercede,” he said, “and prophesy! Call my lost bride back home that she may be restored to her former glory.  Weep with me. Woo her and win her back to her Bridegroom. There are many others that I’m calling as well. This is the hour of her restoration.”

We are committed to this holy vision, in part through prayer and in part through this blog The Horizontal Church.

Lord of Mercy and Grace, forgive us our divisions. Heal and restore us, we pray and bring us back into the unity of former days. Restore your church to her former glory and power. 

Profile of a Supernatural Church

While studying Acts in the Koine, I stumbled onto a significant pattern featuring a very special word found only in the book of Acts. [See Greek below]. The apostles used similar Greek words having the same sense.

ὁμοθυμαδόν  {homo–thoo-mad-on’}
1) with one mind 2) with one accord, 3) with one passion

Whenever Luke used this word, without fail, supernatural things happened. This is significant since it’s exactly what Jesus promised would happen if his disciples obeyed his command to love one another, i.e. the world would believe their testimony (John 13: 34, 35). Moreover, in his high priestly prayer, our Lord indicated the same outcome if they fulfilled his prayer to be one as he and the Father were one. (John 17: 21, 23). We find a third connection when homothumadon  is translated “in agreement.” This echoes Jesus’ promise of his special presence  in Matthew 18 when his church prays “in agreement” [Greek: symphonos  i.e. in harmony].

Scriptures: (KJV)

  1. Acts 1:14: They continued with one accord [ὁμοθυμαδόν homothumadon] in prayer and supplication,
  2. Acts 2: 1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord [ὁμοθυμαδόν]
  3. Acts 2: 46 And they, continuing daily with one accord [ὁμοθυμαδόν] in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
  4. Acts 4: 24: When they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, [ὁμοθυμαδόν] ,
  5. Acts 5: 12 And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord [ὁμοθυμαδόν] in Solomon’s porch.
  6. Acts 8:6; And the people with one accord [ὁμοθυμαδόν] gave heed unto those things which Philip spoke, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.
  7. Acts 15:25 It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord [ὁμοθυμαδόν], to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,

Outcomes:

Acts 1: 14 The 120 received the baptism in the Holy Spirit

Acts 2:41  Apostles gave powerful testimony, church grew from 120 to 3120;

Acts 2: 46 Church earned the respect of unbelievers and God added greatly to their number.

Acts 4: 24 The whole place was shaken Holy Spirit gave them boldness to give testimonies;

Acts 5:12 Many signs and wonders, unsaved heard and received their testimony; church growth;

Acts 8:6 Samaritans witnessed miracles and gave heed to Philip’s testimony;

Acts 15: 25 Outpouring of financial blessing to needy Jerusalem church by church in Antioch.

Let’s Put Harmony into God’s House How is your church doing? Are we experiencing the supernatural? If not, it may be because we don’t take Jesus’ command “to love one another” to heart. Or maybe we are in disagreement and disunity, rather than agreement. When we put harmony into God’s house, the Holy Spirit smiles and blesses. When we don’t he grieves.

Please comment below. It encourages us in this mission to promote Christ’s command and see his prayer “May they be One” answered. Thanks.

It Takes A Team

“People can accomplish anything when they realize they are a part of something bigger. A team of people who share that conviction can change the world.”  Nick Fury, Marvel Comics.

I learned a lot from comic books. The artwork was fantastic, but comics were also a plus in my education.  If I wanted to know what Batman was saying in that funny cloud over his head, I had to read, Comics put me on the fast track to become literate.

My favorite superhero was Captain Marvel. In real life he was a mild-mannered newsboy. When a hero was needed, he could say “SHAZAM” and be transformed into a super hero in red and yellow tights. Sure he was a rip-off of Superman, but I didn’t mind. After all Clark Kent was an adult, his only disguise, being a pair of glasses. Come on! And Billy was a just a kid, like me.

The magic of teams. When superheroes followed Nick Fury’s advice, and formed teams, they took on an exciting new look. D.C. Comics came up with Super Friends. Marvel got in line with S.H.I.E.L.D. and X Men. I related to one comic book team who didn’t have super powers.  Blackhawk was a group of fighter pilots, each with different abilities, joining forces to wage war on many evils including Nazism.

Who dreamed up teams?  Give credit to the Apostle Paul who taught Christians functioning alone, accomplish little, but achieve great things when they unite and work together God’s team is called the church—not a building or an organization, but the living body of Christ, made up of many different members, each contributing their own unique talents and gifts to the whole. “… together you are the body of Christ and individually members of him and one another. (1 Cor. 12: 28).

The team that changed the world. Paul got the idea from Jesus. Now, even though he was God’s son and a true super hero, he was still just a single person. So, to launch his mission to change the world, he had to recruit committed men and women through whom he could work. Using an on-the-job training program, he prepared them, filled them with the power of his Spirit and molded them into a team. His strategy was to for them to multiply and fill the earth, reproducing like any healthy organism.

Jesus maximized his effectiveness through them. They were faced with a world much more difficult than ours. It was a world where many worshiped pagan gods, enslaved their fellows, entertained themselves with deadly games and public orgies.  In a few centuries the church had grown so strong, even emperors turned away from paganism, slavery was abolished and so were bloody games of violence and public displays of immorality.

Even Jesus didn’t fly solo and he doesn’t want us to either.  Do we really think we can bring in God’s kingdom by going off on our lonesome, shining our little lights in a very dark world? The challenge for us is to find ways to join our lone lights with others and shine with greater brightness and effectiveness. It takes teams of believers to be this world’s light to begin to extinguish the evils around us.

Why are Folks Turned Off to Christ and the Church?

Many blame our culture, but Christians have thrived in societies much more adverse than ours. After Exxon and BP’s oil spills their PR image plummeted. They spent millions trying to win back public respect. The church may have a more difficult task of gaining its reputation in the minds of the public. Of course, the message of Christ’s eternal kingdom and its high standards have always been a bit much for folks to swallow. Yet modern U.S. Christianity has been alienating others in many other ways:  Continue reading

Solving the Mystery of God

God is actually unknowable—unless, of course, He chooses to reveal himself.  This is true of every human being by the way. If I don’t open up to you and share myself, you will never know me, not really.

What’s Behind the Curtain? Poor Dorothy, She truly believed the man behind the curtain was a Wizard.  But when the curtain opened, he was just a carnival huckster. Imagine a curtain, behind which lies the ultimate truth of God and the universe. Many, like Dorothy, believe they know what’s behind it, but are they right?   Continue reading

Is God a Republican or a Democrat?

Why Most God Fearing Americans are Republicans  Back in the 70’s when “born again” came into prominence,  sociologists studied Americans who claimed to be born again Christians. The one common trait they found was 90 per cent were Republicans.  Today, we read how 1000 Evangelical leaders met with Trump but we read nothing of a meeting with Hilary, so it’s probably still true. Why?

Evangelicals Focus on Only One Commandment. The Ten Commandments lists six things God hates, yet we tell the world we are concerned only with sexual sins. The sexual revolution has clearly corrupted our nation. Yet God has given us six commandments expressing his hatred for sin, not just the seventh.

Republicans Support Our Favorite Issues which all relate to sexual sins. Democrats oppose Evangelicals regarding these issues: They are:

  1. Abortion: While abortion primarily is concerned with the murder of the unborn, it also relates to sexual promiscuity, since most abortions are performed on single females. It is the Democrats who pushed through laws legalizing abortion in the U.S.  Efforts by Republicans to fight this law are consistently opposed by Democrats.
  2. Homosexuality. Democrats fight to make gays as normal as non-gays, culminating in laws giving gays equal rights to the benefit of marriage. They also pushed for the ban against “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Republicans tend to oppose these.
  3. Explicit Sex in Media: While James Dobson, Phyllis Schafly, and Jerry Falwell fought for decency in media, Democrats saw little problem with declining sexual mores. Republicans do see it and thank God they do.
  4. Ditto Pornography:

But God Also Hates Greed:  The apostles taught that lust of the flesh is for both unlawful sex and the lust for material gain, i.e. greed.  St. Paul equates them”  ”Lust for sexual pleasure… and lust for material gain must not even be named among you. (Ephesians 5:3). Jesus taught more about the evils of greed than any other moral issue, including sexual sins.  The two great evils in the book of Revelation are the Beast, symbolizing the worship of the state and Babylon, symbolizing the worship of luxuries and material things

Greed is Idolatry. Everyone greedy for money is guilty of idolatry and has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” (Ephesians 5:5). And…”Don’t be greedy. It’s the same as worshiping idols”. (Col 3:5)

What About the Democrats?  They are just as out of balance as the Republicans. Fifteen of the 25 issues in their political platform deal  with  economic injustice. Their only plank on sexual mores defends abortion and the civil rights of LGBT ‘s.

Is Either Party Correct to be Moral Specialists? To fight against lust for sex and ignore lust for material gain is just as wrong as opposing lust for things and ignoring lust for sexual pleasure.

Jesus called us to be “the light of the world” and “the salt of the earth.” Did He ever mean for us to do shine for Him and preserve moral values through the state?  Have we even been successful trying to change public morality through the political process?  Is this really what Jesus meant when he said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s. “ (Matthew 22:21

 What do you believe?  Please tell us. We want to know.

 

 

 

How to Attract People to your Church.

”May they be one” My wife and I came to Florida with a dream and a mission—some say an impossible one. But it’s not ours at all. It’s the one Jesus stressed in his high priestly prayer for his church, then and now. When he repeated something once, we know how important it was. This request he repeats six (6) times. Count ‘em:  21 that they all may be one; as you and I are one, that they also may be one in us that the world may believe 22 …that they may be one, even as we are one: 23 may they be made perfect in oneness that the world may know you sent me. (John 17:21-23)

 What Legitimizes Our Witness? Jesus never taught his believers to attract unbelievers to church by clever promotions and signs, sound doctrines, great preaching and music in worship or outreach programs. It isn’t even the love we show unbelieving neighbors. It’s the unity and love we demonstrate to the world among ourselves. How are you doing with that?

The Church’s PR Problem We began our mission by asking unbelievers how they viewed the church? It’s very clear that folks out there have a declining interest in what the church down the street is doing or saying. They tend to either ignore us or ridicule us. Experts tell us the church has a huge PR problem.

 Our Shameful Divisions. A major cause is our disregard for Jesus plea to the Father for his people to be strive for unity. Upon witnessing a doctrinal debate between two Christians, an unbeliever interrupted by asking, “Tell me, why is it you church folks have so much trouble getting along?” How can we sing “we are one in the Spirit” anymore with a straight face? Consider these realities:

  • Neighboring churches pretty much ignore each other
  • We are at ease arguing doctrine with each other but struggle to witness to the lost.
  • We have embarrassing “denominationalism” on one hand
  • And churches that brag, “we are independent,” on the other.
  • Congregations in trouble are unwilling to pool resources with other churches.

Crisis of Leadership? When things aren’t going well in government, politicians may not take responsibility themselves, but they never blame the electorate. Yet when we talked with church leaders, the few who admitted Christianity in the U.S. is in trouble, tended to blame the sheep. One pastor confided that “today it’s all about the Christian and little about the Christ.” Another was frustrated his flock didn’t invite folks to church. One said, “my people are happy in their comfort zone.” Some saw the lack of unity in the body of Christ as a problem, but only a few were doing anything about it.

“Every congregation for itself?” We’ve seen evidence that committed Christians in the pews are ready for change. They are willing to put aside the quarrels that divide us, competition for members and lack of cooperation with other churches. Pastors, on the other hand, are caught in the struggle to keep their church afloat, retaining the members they have and gaining new ones. They tend to resist change and rarely reach out to other congregations facing similar problems. It comes down to “every congregation for itself.”

What about in your congregation?  Are you all doing anything to see Christ’s prayer answered?