As a little boy raised in the church, I was often confused by the words of certain songs. For instance, whenever the song “Bringing in the Sheaves” was sung, I thought we were singing about bringing in the “sheeps.” I always wondered where we would get these “sheeps” and why we wanted to bring them in anyway. Spiritual themes, whether spoken or sung, can easily confuse the simple mind of a child; and while I learned quite early that “sheeps” is not even a word, the topic of God’s will continued to be a point of confusion for a long time.
I remember another song we used to sing, usually after a missionary had told depressing stories about the hardships and toils of the mission field: “Jesus, use me / Oh, Lord, don’t refuse me / Surely there’s a work that I must do / And even though it’s humble, help my will to crumble / Though the cost be great, I’ll work for You.”
As wonderful as those words are in and of themselves, there was something about the combination of the lyrics, the music and the context that made me afraid of God’s will for my life. I thought He must have something simply dreadful for me to do. I just knew He was going to send me deep into the jungle where I would live in a mud hut, survive on a diet of grubs and wind up being eaten by cannibals.
If you think the church can’t solve the world’s problems, think again. We were made to bring the good news—and Jesus modeled exactly how we can.
The greatest need in the world today is to release the latent energy bottled up in believers who are doing nothing for the kingdom of God. It’s time for the church to rise up and be the church. The church is the body of Christ, but it seems like our hands and feet have been amputated, and most of the time we’re just a big mouth. It’s time for the church to stop being known for what we’re against and start being known for what we stand for: grace, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, salvation and new life in Jesus Christ.
That’s why we began rethinking our mission strategy at Saddleback. Jesus tells us to “go everywhere in the world, and tell the Good News to everyone” (Mark 16:15, NCV). Go is a key word for believers. You can’t spell gospel without “go.” You can’t spell good news without “go.” You can’t spell God without “go.”
Editor’s Note: Daily during January and February, MinistryTodaymag.com will feature an article from pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren and his staff in conjunction with his new book, What on Earth Am I Here For? Warren is the guest editor for Charisma’s Ministry Today magazine for its January/February issue.
Rick Warren knows it’s not about him.
Because of this, it wasn’t a stretch for the pastor to begin The Purpose Driven Life with the now-famous line: “It’s not about you.” Indeed, as author of the No. 1 best-selling hardback book in American history other than the Bible, he’s reaped enormous rewards. Yet he’s also used that wealth to further God’s kingdom rather than his own.
First, reimbursed his Saddleback Church for his salary since day one; and for years, he has since “reverse tithed,” which means he gives 90 percent and lives on 10 percent. Rather than neglect his church, as many pastors tend to do, he remains very much hands on—and that was obvious the day I visited Saddleback’s main campus in Lake Forest, Calif., a few months ago. That day, Rick preached an inspiring message and then baptized about 50 people after the service.
I have heard about revival all my life. Raised in a Pentecostal church, I remember the older people longing for revivals they’d experienced or heard about—but I didn’t see much actual revival happening. The fires that had taken the message of the Holy Spirit around the world and birthed the Pentecostal movement had essentially diminished into a few glowing embers. Although the charismatic movement and the Jesus movement stoked those revival fires once again, it’s been 50 years since the charismatic renewal began, and many of those early ministries have dissipated or gone away.
The church and the world need revival more than ever. What the Bible teaches about miracles and healing is still true today. Unfortunately, the term revival has become synonymous with an extended meeting where there’s a lot of excitement and maybe TV coverage by GodTV. After all, what’s left of the famous Brownsville Revival of the 1990s? Or what about the Lakeland Revival that lasted only a few months before evangelist Todd Bentley self-destructed amid a wake of controversy? Is there any revival that is new, fresh, legitimate and lasting?
The answer is yes. The Holy Spirit is still at work and moving powerfully today—particularly in the small town of Redding, Calif., where Bethel Church has been experiencing revival for more than 16 years now.
The head of a large missionary organization told me that they are being sued by two of their members. These people had earlier dedicated their lives to missions.
Now they have various ailments. One man has ulcers. A woman, who lived in the tropics, has skin cancer. A "Christian" lawyer, hearing of their problems, advised them to sue the missionary organization. Their afflictions, he says, are "job related."
The mission director shook his head. "They were willing to give their lives—but I guess that didn't include stomach and skin." The missionaries and their lawyer have been infected with what Paul called "the spirit of the world" (1 Cor. 2:12).
Despite the classic Pentecostal definition, worldliness (the Greek word is kosmos) is far more than cosmetics. It is also more than R-rated movies or X-rated prostitutes. Worldliness is focusing on the things of time rather than things eternal.