WHAT ARE WE MISSING? We had better hang together, or we will surely hang separately.”

For years, Christians have been searching for the success formula that made the first church so extraordinary—how they turned their world upside down for Christ! What did they have that we don’t?  In the 60 and 70’s, the Charismatic Renewal made a spiritual impact on our nation. Along with the ministries of Billy Graham, Oral Roberts and Kathryn Kuhlman, many were reached for Christ. The Pentecostals, also stressing the power of the Spirit, advanced the Kingdom as well. But how have we done lately? Haven’t we lost generations: X, Y and losing the Millennials? There are bright spots, but Jesus said his church would knock down the gates of hell, not the other way round. What are we missing?

You Shall “Be” My Witnesses Pastor Ryan hit the nail on the head last Sunday—it isn’t what I do with the power of the Spirit; it’s who I become. But far more important to Jesus than the change he makes in you and me—wait  for it–wait for it—far more important to Him is who WE become as a body of believers, united in love. I’ll repeat it. IT’S FAR MORE IMPORTANT TO HIM WHO WE ARE AND WHO WE BECOME AS A BODY OF BELIEVERS, UNITED IN LOVE.

Pastor Ryan scored  again, focusing on the one verse in Acts that reveals what we are missing–more than Acts 1:8 or  2: 39, when 3000 came into the church. Act 2: 47 is key because it reveals  who is the evangelist who  won so many to Jesus and so quickly.  “God added to the church daily, those who were being saved.”  It also  reveals with a single Greek word, how this church met the conditions that caused God to act: homothumadon, often mistranslated “together.” The best lexicons tell us it means “of one mind and heart.” The greatest miracle of Pentecost wasn’t tongues or healings, it was the miracle of God’s Spirit filling these Jews, so often divided, with the power of Christ’s love to be “in one accord.”

And this is what God is waiting for from us—for the church of His Son, His body, to at least make a start towards falling in line with his Son’s command, repeated five times. Count them.in John 13: 34, 35; 15: 12,19: Love one another as I have loved you that the world may know and recognize who you ARE—my disciples. It’s a new command, not a rehash of the old one to love our neighbor, given thru Moses. He isn’t saying to just go out and love everyone, but specifically to love our brothers and sisters. His goal is to please His Father and to win the world. He commands us to give the Father what every good father wants from his kids—that they love one another. We are those kids, if we love His son.

In the same vein, God is waiting for us, the church of His Son, to fulfill Christ’s passionate request, also repeated an astounding five times, made at the climax of his high priestly prayer in John 17:21-23. My prayer for them is they may be of one heart and mind,  as you and I are, Father— as you are in me and I in you, so they will be one in us, that the world will believe you sent me.22 “—the glorious unity of being one, as we are— 23 I in them and you in me, all being perfected into one—so  the world will know you sent me”.

 Notice the bold outcome that links Jesus’ command and prayer? A lost world waits to know who we are. God waits for Christians, not just pastors, but for pastors to lead their flocks to cooperate, not compete, with other churches. He waits for leaders to leave doctrinal disputes, traditional divisions and just plain indifferent separation, on the altar of Christ’s love and unity. A lost generation waits. Paul writes,  “The whole creation groans in anticipation to see God’s children come into their own.” Rom 8:22.  Satan’s PLAN is DIVIDE AND CONQUER. Will we find some UNITY IN CHRIST TO CONQUER HIM?


Please make comments, they encourage us to continue with this vital message.

Is America a Christian Nation?

There are many terrific things we can say about America. We we were the first to create a government ruled by law rather than evil whims of kings. We the people were the first given the right to choose our leaders. Moreover, we are perhaps the most generous people in all history. But does this qualify us as a Christian nation?

Those who argue pro and con on this question cite the values and spiritual pedigree of the founding fathers. No question that our constitution is founded on Christian values of freedom and equality. But to find a genuine litmus test to identify how to spot what is and isn’t true Christianity, we must turn to Jesus who said, “By their fruits you shall know them.” [Matthew 7: 16, 20]. He explains what “fruits” are in verse 21: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” In other words, fruits are not what we say, or what’s written in our documents, but what we do.

This means true faith and true Christianity is not judged by religious declarations, creeds and doctrines, but by right and just behavior. Even words of worship, “Lord, Lord,” don’t cut it. In the secular realm, Congress passed laws in the 50’s, inserting “under God” in our pledge to the flag and mandated “In God we trust” be stamped on our coins. Yet a few decades later, our Supreme Court reversed these declarations by ruling  God’s name will no longer be called upon in our public schools. [Engel v.s Vitale).  Today the name of God is not allowed to be said in any group that receives public funds.  Neither can there be any objection to homosexual marriage or behaviors. Clearly, words alone are not the evidence of  what is  Christian. What then does authenticate true belief?

To spot true faith, Jesus says look for actions that fulfill God’s will. But what exactly is His will? Consider the great commandment, to love God and others. The Apostle John declared we cannot say we love God without loving actions toward others. He’s wants fruit, products of faith—loving acts of justice, mercy and reconciliation.

We Americans can be proud of our record for aiding people abroad who have been devastated by wars and disasters . But consider how we have treated many  within our borders? Here are just a few examples.

  1. Except for the pilgrims, our white ancestors’ treatment of the native populations was brutal. One example, among hundreds, is found in a  a prominent colonist letter to the governor at Fort Pitt.  “… [Let’s] try to inoculate the Indians [with smallpox] with infected blankets and any other means to extirpate this execrable race.” Settlers thought this a good idea and distributed blankets to them from contagious patients.
  2. Later, federal troops drove nearly 100,000 Cherokee people off their lands and forced them to march 1000 miles to Oklahoma. causing 4,000 deaths. When gold was discovered in the  Dakotas, our government waged a ruthless war against the Sioux, forcing them off their land.  And let’s not forget sad incidents like Wounded Knee or all the many treaties we made with Native Americans and then broke.
  3. A multitude of Africans were kidnapped, shipped here in chains, sold to white settlers and forced to work under brutal conditions with no pay. If they didn’t submit, they were beaten or worse. Families were torn apart. Many African Americans have European DNA, often because  white masters used female slaves to satisfy their lusts.
  4. The primary motive for this injustice wasn’t meanness or lust. It was greed. The use of slaves brought great wealth to America. In 1850 the U.S.’s largest capital investment was its 3.2 million slaves. But just as John Brown predicted, America paid for these sins in blood. More than 800,000 of our young men spilled their blood in a vicious civil war. It emancipated black Americans, but have they recovered from centuries of slavery? Today many still populate our inner-cities in ghetto-like poverty, dependent on public aid as saves depended on white masters.
  5. In 1973 a Supreme Court ruling [Roe v Wade] made it legal to kill unborn babies. Here is yet another example of how we have mistreated millions  within our land. Can we innocently point our finger at the government and say “they did it?” We cannot for as Lincoln pointed out, our government is “of the people for the people and by the people.”

These and many other things in our history disqualify America to be labeled Christian. We render to America what Jesus said we should to Caesar, the state. But God’s nation is not America nor is it any  political entity. How then is God present in the world today? Where do we find a witness to his loving acts of mercy and forgiveness? St. Paul writes of a different kind of “land”, a “new Israel.” Peter describes a “holy nation.”  Our next post identifies God’s new Israel and holy nation.

O Lord, ewe intercede for our great land. Bless us with good leadership in the days ahead. Put us back on a just course and bring right living and right relationships to your people.

Please join the conversation. Your comments encourage us in this ministry.


What Draws Men to Christ?

Jesus said, “If I be lifted up from the earth,[on the cross] I will draw all people to me.”

How Do We Lift Jesus Up so Others Will be Drawn to Him? That is the huge question facing the church. Back in the day, we sang, “Lift Jesus higher; lift him up for the world to see.” In our naiveté, we believed our spirit-filled praise would draw people to him. But we were wrong. God gladly receives our worship but this does not draw men to us or to Christ.

The Church is Divided on how to do it. Some use creative programs, clever signs or feed and house the poor and homeless. Others just preach the gospel. Some feel it’s both social action and evangelism. Are they drawing people to Christ? Church researchers say most are not.

The Church’s Greatest Success in drawing people to Christ was demonstrated by that band of believers Luke describes in Acts. Thousands came. They didn’t come for programs, to be fed or for preaching. Most were pilgrims from many lands in Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost.  When unlearned Galileans miraculously spoke their own languages they came in droves. In a few weeks others came to see a man born lame, walking around praising God by the power of Jesus’ name. Both were supernatural events. Both drew crowds who were amazed at God’s mighty acts, demonstrated by His people. They remained and heard the gospel preached. Many believed and were baptized. In just a few weeks God added thousands to their number.

Can This Happen Again? A minority of churches in the U.S. believe Christians can and must validate its message to the world by exhibiting God’s supernatural power. We’re blessed to fellowship in such a church.

Pentecost’s Greatest Miracles however, were neither tongues nor healings.  a] Firstly, it was the love and unity these Jews had with  Jesus Christ and with one another. Jews were divided into many sects, as Christians are today. They were Pharisees, Sadducees, Zealots, Essenes, Scribes and just plain folk. I’ve heard them say, “Get four of us Jews together and you will get five opinions.” Yet when the day of Pentecost came, these Jewish Christians “were of one mind and heart, obeying Jesus’ command, “love one another as I have loved you.” b] The second great miracle was that thousands of souls believed and were brought into union with Jesus Christ and with the body of Christ in Jerusalem.

The mutual love and harmony of these believers was key in the redemption of many and the rapid growth of the church. Outsiders saw and were impressed at how they cared for one another in practical ways. They were drawn to them by the miracles, but stayed because of the love. Luke reports, Everyone around was in awe at the signs and wonders… And all the believers lived in wonderful harmony… so that each person’s need was met… enjoying the goodwill of all the people.and their numbers grew daily. (Acts 2: 43, 44, 47).  

We All Believe John 3: 16. God’s love gave Christ to us. His love took him to the cross for us. When we begin to demonstrate that same miracle agape love among ourselves, breaking down walls that divide us, we will have our miracles again. Many will commit to Jesus. I’ve seen it three times in my life and pray to see it again. Miracles draw them; God’s love among His people keeps them. Jesus said, our love and unity authenticates our witness to the world.

O Lord, we join with you praying for your church. May we move toward each other in fellowship, that the world might believe. Help us to break down walls and bring your divided body into more unity—the same harmony you have as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. AMEN  

Please join the conversation. We need your input to keep us going. Thanks.


The Immense Power of Unity

When I was nine I had my own personal bully: Willy Parsells.  When he saw me on his turf, Willy would hit me, knock me down and make life miserable. When I came home crying one day with new pants ripped, my dad, who was pretty smart, called my brother Bill over. “Son, would you walk to school with your brother every day, and if this kid tries anything, will you help Wade teach him a lesson? My brother agreed and we shook hands on it.

Another smart guy, Solomon, wrote, By yourself you’re vulnerable, but with a friend you can face the worst. If you can round up a third, even better, A three-stranded cord is not easily broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:12).

One day, on my way home from school, my bully came at me with violence in his eyes, but  I wasn’t afraid. I had my brother at my side. In no time we had him on the ground crying. What’s crazy about this story is, a few months later, Willy tried it again. Our pal Jimmy happened to be with us and the three of us taught him crime doesn’t pay. I seem to remember a bloody nose. We never heard of Billy bullying anyone after that.

They Weren’t Sent Out One by One:  God did a smart thing giving Eve to Adam as a helpmate. Jesus, like his father, did the wise thing sending his disciples out in pairs.  Old Noah led the animals into the ark by two-sies; Joshua had Caleb; John partnered with Peter and how about Paul? He always traveled with a team. He was with Silas when beaten and thrown in jail. What if he had been alone? Would things have had such a great outcome if they hadn’t been in unity, praying and encouraging one another?

The power of two or more is nowhere more effective than in prayer. You go into your prayer closet alone and God will surely be there with you. But Jesus promised his special presence and power…if two of you are in harmony (Gr: symphanos) on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you; for where two or three gather in my name, I am present among them.” (Matthew 18:19, 20). When we unite with others, his presence and our prayers are even stronger.

I’ve have had the privilege of planting two churches. The first was with a Taiwanese pastor.  Together we prayed for God to do something for months. Finally, in a single evening, God used us to form a congregation of brand new believers in Taipei. A dozen years later a Gypsy convert asked me to help him reach his people with the gospel. We were in unity and  prayed for months. Within a year we baptized hundreds of Gypsies and there are now Gypsy congregations in most major U.S. cities from that church.

So, if you want to do great things for God, put aside your rugged individualism. Find at least   one other person of like mind. And if you can find more to agree with you, even better. Remember what Jesus said.  To do even greater things, how about 120 or so gathered together, praying in unity?  On the day of Pentecost, a little church of 120 became a mega church of 3, 120.

Please join the conversation. We depend on your comments to keep us going.


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,


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.