Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Hearts and Homes, Strong in the Lord

Excerpt from Pressing Toward the Prize - February 16, 2011
As you transition into this ministry, some of you are seeking freedom from religious bondage or deliverance from the carnal whims of church leaders who are in pursuit of fame and fortune. We want to assure you that we refuse to establish a church where the pastors become celebrities. We refuse to raise a congregation that possesses a mind set of always wondering if they are ‘saved’ or not. We will not create an atmosphere where people can never know if they are pleasing God, and never be sure if whether their mistakes and decisions have cost them their salvation.

For some of you, these are non-issues in your life, but for others, these are major obstacles and walls.  Many of you seem to have been exposed to so much works-based teaching, that what you are hearing now is like fresh air and new life. Perhaps you are transitioning from environments where there was only a focus on the laws of God.

Many pastors turn people away from grace and preach another gospel. Galatians 3:1-3 reads: "You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?"

We refuse to become pastors who use people’s uncertainty about their standing in God to manipulate them into church attendance and giving money; causing them to try to maintain their salvation and righteousness by giving their time, talent and treasure into the church.

We desire to raise a congregation that is made up of hearts and homes that are strong in the Lord.  So, the past few weeks we have been teaching about the commitment the Lord has made to His people. We've been talking about the PACT the Lord has made with us. The reason we have turned the focus away from our human efforts to obtain or maintain righteousness, is because we have come to this reality: As we behold the Lord and receive His love and commitment to us, we are empowered to commit our lives to Him and our families.

So, we might become labeled as one of those ‘love and grace’ churches who are offering excuses for sinful and immature Christian behavior. But that’s not the reason why we minister to you guys the way we do.

The original call on us was to minister to God’s people as spiritual parents. Twenty years ago the prophetic word over us was that we were called to be a father and mother in Zion. Since that day, the Lord has given us oversight over teenagers, young adults, pre-marital couples, small groups, and now, an entire congregation. The calling has remained the same even though the responsibilities have increased.

Ephesians 6:4 (NIV) states: "Fathers do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."

Even as natural parents, we knew that we could not raise healthy sons in an atmosphere of destructive criticism, condemnation, unrealistic expectations, sarcasm, intimidation and fear. That will totally exasperate a child and the same scripture applies when leading a church family.

That’s the reason why one of the requirements for choosing overseers in the church was to observe how that candidate raised their own children. It was because he or she would be that same type of spiritual parent and leader in the church. Harsh parents would most likely become harsh pastors. Judgmental parents would become judgmental pastors. Insensitive parents would become insensitive pastors. Firm and loving parents would most likely be firm and loving pastors.

1 Corinthians 4: 15-16 (NKJV) reads: "For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel."

There is a vast difference between being an instructional pastor and a parental pastor. In order to build a healthy and strong church family, we are convinced that there must be an atmosphere of encouragement, tenderness, patience, listening, affection and love. Even when correction and reproof is necessary, it still comes forth from this foundation of grace.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Why Are We Doing This?

Excerpt from Fruitful Living in Autumn

A couple of years ago, we were driving home after a particularly discouraging Friday night in which no one attended accept our immediate family.  I mean no members, no visitors - nobody.  After we took mom home, one of our sons exploded in frustration asking, “What are we doing this for?”  We chuckled through our painful disappointment and told him that we felt the same way.

Sometimes it feels that way for all of our church family regarding many areas of our lives.  So when it comes time to gather together, the big riddle from the enemy is, “Why are you doing this? It’s not going to make any difference!”

That is why we realize that we would still meet every week to pray, praise, worship, and dig into the Word of God, even if we were not meeting in the hotel.  We’d meet in our home or wherever we had to meet because this is not about a goal and a dream to have a big ministry.  When we look at our sons and all who attend each week, we are encouraged by a prophetic word that we received back in 1999.

The Lord spoke through one of the prophetic women that we were not to be concerned about our children and how to send them forth into their calling even though our funds were meager and provision was scarce. Then she began to sing the word of the Lord which was, “You shall pass on purpose, you shall pass on purpose, you shall pass on purpose - and that shall be enough; that shall be enough.”

We thought, back then, that the prophetic word was only for that season, but we can see that God was speaking 8 years ahead.  He was speaking about the season we are in right now.

This word was specifically about our natural children.  We have nothing to give to them except purpose.  The same applies to all of you as the spiritual sons and daughters of this ministry.  Our funds are meager and our provision is scarce.  All we have to give you is purpose.  But the Word of the Lord is; “that shall be enough.”

I guess that’s why we don’t preach the unbalanced prosperity message.  We cannot stress the point enough that we are not striving for wealth, popularity, or fame.  God is not grooming our church to be famous or popular.  We are being groomed to be faithful and prosperity will come in many forms.

Did you know that money is the lowest level of wealth?  There are many other assets that are higher than money.  The highest level of wealth is human life.  What I just stated is an example of many of the things we must declare and teach that will not be popular, especially in this day and time.  Whatever measure of influence or notoriety that God allows us to experience, we must believe that HE is preparing us for it.

We believe that God keeps sending people to us who have been away from the church for a reason.  Many are looking for a place of acceptance and forgiveness.  They are not looking for religion and rituals.  They have a lot of pain and trauma going on in their own lives when they arrive.  However, all of them may not be ready to deal with their personal life situations.  Many times people just want their pain to stop and they are accustomed to a quick temporary fix to stop the pain. If they come to our church, it may frighten them to find themselves in a place that teaches people to confront the issues in their lives.

Right now God is dealing with the areas in our lives where we just want the pain to stop and we don’t want to deal with what is causing the pain.  As pastors, we do not believe in treating symptoms.  We believe in dealing with the source and cause of the pain.  When pastors take this approach, it’s not always going to be popular.  So God is building a serious layer of toughness in us to withstand the pressure of where we’re going.

The Lord is teaching us how to follow Him and to stop arranging things and people in the way we want things and people to be.  He’s teaching us to stop asking GOD to bless OUR plans and solutions.  That’s really hard when you don’t see how God is going to do it.  It’s even tougher when we really don’t trust God to handle our situations.  This is where we will find the source of our pain.  The pain is the result of an injury or a malfunction within us.  Be encouraged though, because the Spirit of God is present to heal us.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Giving Birth to the Vision

Excerpt from Extreme LIFE Makeover - October 7, 2009

I found myself thinking back on the days when my wife gave birth to our first son. The memories are still strong of the pressure packed minutes of coaching her through the birth.

The Lord reminded me how I had to be stern and gentle at the same time. I still recall the mind altering moment when I realized that I had to do this because her life was on the line. The baby was coming and I had to help her get through this. I could not cuddle her. I could not sugar-coat the moment. I had to help her get through this.

Once labor begins, and the process of child birth has initiated, the only thing that matters is getting that baby born safely, and for the mother to come through it without losing her life as well.

I don’t know how to fully explain it, but that’s what I sense about this season for Urban Life and the Fruitful Life Network.  The labor pains have begun and I can’t focus on our bills, deadlines and problems. Our prophetic promises are being birthed from the Spirit and into the visible realm, and I have to coach us through it.

Someone may ask: If a vision is from God, why is there pain? If it’s from God shouldn't it come without pain?

Our answer is this: Spiritual birth is painful to our flesh. The vision itself is not the pain. The pain comes in the process of our flesh having to give way to the will of God.

Now I see it so clearly, that this is one of the reasons so many visions have been aborted, miscarried or still born. When it’s time for a Body of Believers to give birth, the pastor has to stand up and be stern and forthright, while gentling leading the people in prayer, worship, repentance and preparation.  I have learned that in this community and in cities all over America, that when believers don't understand and discern why leaders do this, they resist it. Some even leave the church.

Have your leaders and pastors been pushing you lately? A pregnant Body of Believers can receive hurt and offense because the leaders seem to be insensitive to what they’re going through. But the reality is that just like when a woman is in child birth, she can’t focus on the problems in her life while she’s trying to give birth. She has to focus on the child that is coming. She can’t focus on her bills, that no good absent boy friend, her selfish siblings, her other children, her interfering mother in law, her nosy co-workers, or her irritating neighbors. All that matter is the birth of this child.

I think I understand why so many prayers, ministries and visions have never come forth. Many believers want to be cuddled through child birth, stroked through child birth, danced through child birth, or emotionally carried through child birth. But every mother can tell you, that there is only one way to get through child birth. There is a life and death determination that she has to make within herself.

After our children were born, I reached a whole new level of respect for my wife. Did I mention that she gave birth to the twins with no anesthesia at all? By the time we got to the hospital, she was fully dilated and it was time to push. She didn’t have time to get ready for it. There was no time for me to prepare her for this like I did with our first child. There was no pep talk, and no gentle hugs and kisses to assure her that everything is going to be okay. Suddenly, we were in the delivery room and she had to find it within herself to just do it. She had to deliver, not once, but twice. Imagine having to give birth to one baby, and instead of being able to finely relax and take a pain killer, you have to do it all over again.

That’s why she’s such a warrior to this day. That's why Carol doesn’t have much tolerance for us feeling sorry for ourselves or being sad and down about what we have to go through. I didn’t say she has no understanding or compassion. She just doesn’t let us settle there. She doesn’t let ME settle there. She will push you and push you, until you believe what God says about you.

So we have discovered that we are assigned to be, sort of like, birthing coaches in your life. We have to do this!  Your life is on the line! The answer to your prayer is on the line! We have to help our own sons, our church, our staff, our web viewers, and our facebook friends to deal with this aspect of the way God does things.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Teach us to number our days



Greetings Urban Life family and friends,

Now that we have moved into 2015, we can sense that there has been another major shift in our lives and ministry. Every year, as we reconcile the ministry records and balance the bank accounts, we are able to look back through the previous years and see how God has been ordering our steps.

As we wrapped up 2014’s documentations, we realized that over the course of 10 years, we have written 12 books. We have released well over 900 videos and countless audio recordings. Many people have been touched through the internet outreaches by way of blogs and social media. It is truly astounding to look back at what God has done through our tiny ministry, but all of that has just been the set up for something greater.

We launched this ministry in September of 2004. That was ten years ago. We officially went public in March of 2005. In two months, we will be crossing the 10-year mark of that milestone.

Here is the significance of writing and releasing 12 books within 10 years: In the Bible, the number 10 is used 242 times. Ten is viewed as a complete and perfect number, as is 3, 7 and 12. It is made up of 4, the number of the physical creation, and 6, the number of man. As such, it signifies testimony, law, responsibility and the completeness of order.

Twelve can be found in 187 places in God's word. Revelation alone has 22 occurrences of the number. The meaning of 12, which is considered a perfect number, is that it symbolizes God's power and authority, as well as serving as a perfect governmental foundation. It can also symbolize completeness.

Psalm 90:12 reads - So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

Therefore, as we number Urban Life's days, we sense that a page has turned and another chapter is complete. A new phase has already begun for this ministry. God has brought us to a place of completeness in two ways and He was doing it simultaneously.

First, He brought us to a place of testimony, law, responsibility and the completeness of order. He did that by taking us through a ten-year process to establish each one of these elements in all of our hearts and homes.

Secondly, through the weekly teachings, emails and the books on wisdom and marriage, God established His power, authority, and His perfect governmental (Kingdom of Heaven) foundation in our hearts and homes as well.

What are we saying?

We believe that as a corporate Body of Believers, we have entered the moment of destiny for our assignment in this community.

We have done all that God released us to do. The stage is set. Everything is in place. It’s God’s move now.

It’s sort of like the time the prophet of God challenged the prophets of the false god, Baal. The man of God set up the stones of the altar, poured gallons of water over it, prayed, and then waited for God to respond with fire from heaven.

That’s where we stand today.

This email will be one of just a few this year. We’ve reached a place where our church family no longer needs a weekly email. We trust that we can move forward with simple timely words of instruction and reminders. We’re mature enough, now, to go to the next level. More importantly, it’s time for us to stand still and see the move of God in our lives, our homes and in this ministry.

Throughout this year, we will send you excerpts from the 12 books. We will send reminders of the many prophetic promises that have been given over the last 10 years. Pastor Carol will be leading us in prayer circles to surround these reminders and promises in the Spirit.

We really don’t have a NEW word to give you. We will be posting the same words, but with a FRESH anointing because we now have a new perspective on the many things that God has been speaking to us  through those special 12 books and through the people he sent to minister to us over the last 10 years.
We've come to a place of completion. Now we're standing in the Jordan river and waiting for God to move, so that we can cross over into our Promised Land.

It’s all for the harvest,

Chris and Carol Green