Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Repairing the Refuse Gate: Cleanse Ourselves


  
Over the last two weeks, we've been working on the restoration of the Refuse Gate, as part of our 10-gate restoration project to fortify our hearts and homes. The first part of the Refuse Gate restoration involved working on those acknowledgments, accomplishment and accolades that are revealed to be rubbish in comparison to gaining Christ.

The following week, we began to work on those things that we discover, over time and experience, are actually toxic to our souls.

This week we must deal with the things that we already know are refuse in our lives. We don't need a great revelation or sermon. We already know what needs to be thrown out.

Paul urges us, "Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." (2 Corinthians 7:1)

Following is one of best Bible verses that expresses this aspect of the refuse gate restoration. Check out the various translations and reflect on how to apply it in your life today:

Galatians 5:19-21(NLT)
When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

Galatians 5:19-21 (NLV)
The things your sinful old self wants to do are: sex sins, sinful desires, wild living, worshiping false gods, witchcraft, hating, fighting, being jealous, being angry, arguing, dividing into little groups and thinking the other groups are wrong, false teaching, wanting something someone else has, killing other people, using strong drink, wild parties, and all things like these. I told you before and I am telling you again that those who do these things will have no place in the holy nation of God.

Galatians 5:19-21 (CEV)
People’s desires make them give in to immoral ways, filthy thoughts, and shameful deeds. They worship idols, practice witchcraft, hate others, and are hard to get along with. People become jealous, angry, and selfish. They not only argue and cause trouble, but they are  envious. They get drunk, carry on at wild parties, and do other evil things as well. I told you before, and I am telling you again: No one who does these things will share in the blessings of God’s kingdom.

This is the secret sinful stuff they we know is trash. Most often it’s something we enjoy, so we don’t want to give it up. Sometimes it becomes a habit or an addiction that we really struggle to throw out. Can't you see how this is directly connected to what we talked about last week? YOU CAN BE LED INTO THESE SINS BY THE TOXIC THOUGHTS, TOXIC PEOPLE, TOXIC MUSINGS, TOXIC CONNECTIONS, and TOXIC LIVING (Patterns).

Jesus told us what it would be like to restore and rebuild this gate. He said it may be like cutting off an arm or plucking out an eye. But it is something that has to be done or otherwise it leads to ultimate ruin. If you have never committed your heart and life to Jesus Christ, don’t let some sin or vice cause you to miss out on what God has for you in this life and the eternal life. If you have committed your life to Christ already, don't allow some secret sin to steal your ordained purpose and destiny. 

Matthew 18:8-10 (NKJV) “If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire." 

So let’s get down to business and turn from our wicked ways. Let’s restore the refuse gate and get rid of our trash. We want to clean house so we can see the power and glory of God in our hearts and homes.


---Chris and Carol Green

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Repairing the Refuse Gate: Toss the Toxic


 
This week we will continue working on the Refuse Gate. Last week we discussed the first of three things we must become willing to throw out of our hearts and homes as we restore this necessary gate. We tossed out the things that we think of as being valuable, but they are actually rubbish in comparison to gaining Christ.

This week, let’s deal with the stuff that seems harmless, that we must throw away when we discover that it is refuse. There are some things that are of great value to us, but when we DISCOVER  that they are vile, filthy or harmful to us, we need to throw them away.

Hebrews 12: 1-3 reads:
"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls." 

As you grow in your relationship with God, you are going to discover things and people who are weighing you down or ensnaring you. Our job, as your life coach, is to point out some of those things that you will need to “watch for” along the way. You have already encountered them, so let this list serve as a brief reminder or refresher.

You must be willing to consider and watch for:

Toxic thoughts: Bitterness, worry, fear, anxiety, lust, envy, murder, an unforgiving heart. 
Toxic people: negative, critical, cynical, arrogant, boastful, selfish, narcissistic people.
Toxic musings: entertainment, music, movies, books, etc. that are reinforcing negative, vulgar, lustful, hostile, violent, prideful images, thoughts and behavior.
Toxic connections: mystical or spiritual items, objects and charms;  gifts, pictures, jewelry that binds you to the past or to demonic spiritual influences.  
Toxic living: Bad eating habits, bad sleeping habits, internet/phone addictions, video game addictions, TV addictions, alcohol, drug or pharmaceutical additions, etc. 

There is no way we can go into all of the details of this list, so when you are able, please check out our video podcast that covers this list at https://vimeo.com/53303264

You may discover that these toxins are the source of the weariness and discouragement in your soul.

Let's continue restoring the refuse gate and allowing the Holy Spirit to show us the things that have become toxic in our hearts and homes. 

---Chris and Carol Green

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The REFUSE Gate




It's time to resume our quest to restore the gates that surround our hearts and homes. Now we come to the Refuse Gate. This is not a very pleasant gate, but it is a necessary one. It is the gate of elimination; the gate where all the rubbish and corrupt things in the city were brought to the garbage dump in the Hinnom Valley, outside Jerusalem. This gate symbolizes the necessary activity of getting the trash, filth, and waste out of our hearts and homes.

2 Chronicles 7: 14 ….If my people…. Turn from their wicked ways….

Carol and I see three things we must deal with in the rebuilding, restoration and renewing of the refuse gate.

1. We must deal with the confidence we have in our flesh, which God considers to be refuse.
2. We must deal with the things that seem harmless, that we have now discovered to be refuse.
3. We must deal with the thing that we already know is refuse, but we keep holding on to it.

First, let’s deal with our confidence in the flesh, which God considers to be refuse. Let's look at all the things the apostle Paul called rubbish:

Philippians 3: 4-9 reads:
"....though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him...."

From Paul's words we can see several things that must become refuse to us (compared to gaining Christ):
1. Our ethnicity and nationality
2. Our carnal ability to fulfill religious requirements
3. Our zeal and enthusiasm for the earthly causes for which we fight
4. The accolades, awards and acknowledgments that come to us as a result of our accomplishments and achievements through our talents, skills, education and connections.

There are many in the urban world who champion the accomplishments of athletes, entertainers, educators, scholars, politicians, preachers and many, many others. Carol and I were raised in an era when the accomplishments of African Americans were used as the primary motivation for us to strive for success in our personal lives.

However, in later years, we discovered that many of those whom we idolized for reaching those lofty goals, were often horrible husbands, wives, and parents. Many left scores of wounded souls in the wake of their success. The few who managed to keep their families in tact, were often extremely bitter, seriously scarred, or emotionally crippled by all they had dealt with through racism and other issues in their lives.

We do not dismiss, disrespect or minimize the accomplishments of those who have paved the way for us. However, what we offer you today, is what we have learned as one couple, representing one family, from the urban world: We also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord, that we may gain Christ and be found in Him.

Nothing compares to Christ Jesus. He alone is the treasure. All else that we accomplish in this life, is trash by comparison to Him. Therefore, we restore the REFUSE GATE and dispose of the rubbish (all confidence in the flesh), carrying it out of our hearts and home. 

---Chris and Carol Green

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Reaching the Lost in the Urban World





Chris and Carol Green are the founders and leaders of Urban Life Family Center, a faith-based, family-focused life coaching center with an extensive internet outreach.

As urban family advocates, marriage consultants, and family life coaches, they established Urban Life to equip and empower urban people to fulfill their God-given purpose. 

They launched the Family Center, which began as a local church, in September of 2004, and through the years they found themselves coaching women in the aftermath of divorce, navigating families in crisis, and guiding individuals searching for ways to break unhealthy lifestyle cycles and patterns. They have provided personal consultation and online courses for couples preparing for marriage and for couples in the midst of marital conflict.

They bring a unique hope-centered approach, specifically in their guidance, encouragement and coaching of young women and young men who are seeking to build a better future for themselves and their children (trying to break out of the welfare system).

Students, clients, and online seekers meet with Chris and Carol in a multi-media suite or online for practical instruction that teaches them how to invest their time, talents and treasure into the fulfillment of the Great Commandment (Love God, Love yourself, Love others) and the Great Commission (Go and change the world).

The Urban Life strategy is to simply follow the model already established in the Bible, where the goal wasn't to build a religion, but to bring such change in a person's heart, that they develop a desire to help others also discover the right paths in life.

For the last 10 years, Chris and Carol haved worked full-time jobs and volunteered all of their services to help people on weekends. They received no salary and no special compensation. During those years of small beginnings, they gave away the recordings of their sessions via DVD's and CD's, as well as ALL of their books and printed materials to those who attended the sessions.

While equipping attendees weekly from their media suite, this couple constructed a solid, new-generation internet outreach that connects with and brings healing to families through an online video channel for couples, an online channel for men, an online channel for women, free daily-inspirational book downloads, on-demand podcasts, and various social media initiatives (i.e. weekly e-Newsletters, Google+, Twitter, Facebook and Skype); all designed to equip people of the 21st century urban community with hope-centered teaching and training that will build their faith and families.

Their only call today is: Who will unite with us to reach the lost in the urban world?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A New Wine Skin



Today, we are in our home city, St. Louis, Missouri, taking part in a week-long anniversary celebration and conference in our home church. This is the place from which we were trained and groomed for 17 years in urban world ministry. Last night, we spoke to the elders, deacons and various ministry leaders. Tonight, we are speaking to the church congregation.

It is extremely humbling and an incredible honor to be asked to share from our lives and journey in ministry. On a personal level, this summer marks 40 years of ministry for Chris. The toughest part about tonight is going be the effort to try to communicate 40 years of experience and lessons in about 40 minutes. But we know that God will give us what to say to our dear church family.

For the past 11 years, we have been working and serving in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and we have entered a new season. A few weeks ago, we communicated with our Urban Life family that major changes were coming and those changes are now upon us.

Last Sunday was our final gathering in our old model, method and wine skin. Jesus said that a new wine skin must be used in order to contain the new wine. Two of the practices to try to squeeze more life out of an old wine skin were to soak it in water or massage it with oil. For a while, God will do that with us and His Church, but eventually the day comes when we are forced to completely discard the old wine skin and get a brand new one.

Urban Life has embraced the new wine skin!

When we return to Harrisburg next week, our gatherings will be focused totally on training and preparing people of faith to take their gifts and skills into the world outside of the church building.

We have a few months remaining on our lease and for the time we have left, we are going to put all of our effort into the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. The command is to love God and to love one another in the same way Christ loves us. The commission is to go and make disciples of all nations.

For the first time in 11 years, we have an open door that gets us in direct contact with lost young people in this city. We've been praying for this for so long, that we cannot possibly waste a single moment. We are going into enemy territory like undercover secret agents. We have a navy seal, special force unit type of assignment. Therefore, from now on, Urban Life's Sunday gatherings are all about training and preparation, to learn how to connect with people who are truly lost. 

In fact, we have already advised everyone that we are changing the public persona of the ministry from a local church to a non-profit, faith-based community organization. We're going to be using terms like: life coaches and personal instructors, instead of pastors and ministers. We're totally focusing on the winning and the discipleship of this lost generation, so we're going to get our ministry ready for true 21st century outreach. 

Yes, we will still have prayer and worship, but that will be open and available for those who want to come EARLY to seek God, BEFORE our training sessions begin at 11:00AM, every Sunday morning. Eventually these training sessions will be scheduled throughout the week during business hours.

Lately, we've had people coming to us who just wanted to prophesy or preach to us and our group, in order to display their gifts. However, we're looking for those who are willing to humble themselves, submit their gifts, and be trained for a very different type of assignment in the urban world.

At the same time, God is opening more opportunities for us to take our teachings about marriage and family to the world. Therefore, you will see us releasing more alternative websites and social media efforts that will appear to be less sacred in its language, but Biblically based in its content. All of that is just part of the strategy to fulfill the Great Commission in places where the light of God is seen dimly, right now.

We apologize that we cannot give you more details, but to do so would disclose too much and give the enemy opportunities to sabotage what is happening. Just know that we have had a tremendous breakthrough and we can finally start doing what we were sent out from St. Louis to do 11 years ago. We don't think it is a coincidence that this week, we are in St. Louis just before we launch into this new era.

So we ask you for your prayers as we minister tonight in St. Louis, as we return to Pennsylvania to launch a major undercover offensive to reach the lost in Harrisburg, and as we respond to the Macedonian calls that are coming our way from across the country and around the world.

We are overcomers, under orders,

-Chris and Carol Green