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PREPARED FOR THE PASTORS AND MEMBERS OF THE FOURSQUARE CHURCH
“Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, therefore I hope in Him! The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.” Lamentations 3:22-25
I open with the words of God’s eternal Word above, but have been moved by the Holy Spirit to relay a prophetic word He gave me, which is rooted in that text:
Children of the Father’s heart, let your soul see and allow your spirit to receive the fullness of His Word. Notice, beloved child, that His mercies are not only “new every morning,” but He has also said they “endure forever!” Together, these words promise you this day will grant fresh mercies, just as a new days’ dew sparkles on the grass. But because the constancy of His “mercies” is that they “endure forever,” be assured of abiding, durable mercies surrounding you—ongoing!
This morning’s ‘new mercies’ will not evaporate. What He is beginning today—in your life, your home, or your ministry is only an entry point. Beyond today he promises a continuance of works He will see through to a completion! So hear your Father saying, “What I am giving today is the placing of a platform upon which I will continue to build and advance—establishing lasting works and durable results.” Receive His word on this day, this “morning” of His “new mercies.”
I hope your heart is shouting an “Amen” just as mine did! That Spirit-prompted insight stirs me deeply as I serve this season of God’s assignment as your president. Opening my letter with thoughts of “new mercies,” is timely, as I see God’s hand among us granting the following “new mercies,” mercies we have reason to believe will become durable and lasting among us!
1. A new level of trust that “we are a team” is experiencing a slow but sure rise. It rises wherever genuine honesty and honor are a “way of life” among leaders.
Several groups of leaders serve our whole Foursquare family. First, besides the strong, informed, and vital role that blesses us as a “fully empowered” board of directors, which functions faithfully and well, we are blessed by a broad team of 450 men and women who serve on the executive council. This group, comprising every district supervisor and divisional superintendent, along with the cabinet, executive officers, and the board, all assembled in Long Beach, Calif., January 21-24–only two months ago.
While this was not a 2007 event, I include it in this 2008 report. What happened these five days demonstrates a new healthy growth among us. The Summit experienced the entrance of a “new spirit” open-faced partnership, paving the way to a movement led forward by thousands of Foursquare leaders with a lifestyle of (a) relational integrity and transparency and (b) a solid spiritual unanimity born of mutual trust. The leaders are also (c) serving with a commitment to advance a denomination-wide culture of honor for each fellow-servant.
We “lived it” there, and you could feel that “new mercy.” (May it “endure forever” among us!) Nothing can release our future more dynamically than this God-intended order; one that transcends human politics, superficiality, and schmooze. So, I thank the 450 who, in January, “lived it out” with me. Let’s embrace faith for this relational order characterizing us–always!
2. A new renewal center has been dedicated to caring for our pastoral leaders and for nurturing their continual spiritual, domestic, and ministerial health and growth.
In April, our new “care center” for Foursquare pastoral leaders was formally opened. The Center for Spiritual Renewal, located at CrossPointe Foursquare Conference Center in Christiansburg., Va., is a beautifully appointed campus facility and provides a restful and beautiful location for serving pastors personally—ready to undergird in crisis, assist during seasons of stress, and provide retreat and reprieve for those seeking rest or brief study leave. Significant investment and wise preparation having been made, I am happy to report two things. (a) There have been multi-dimensioned results—healing rest, spiritual breakthrough, redemption-amid-tragedy, etc.; and, (b) there are plans in motion to add similar Foursquare sites across the U.S. The Center for Spiritual Renewal is a beginning. We’re inviting you to look into it; urging you to be informed of our new level of care for our pastors that are being advanced as a lifestyle.
3. A new openness to God’s Spirit and to His “seasons of refreshing” are in beautiful evidence and are spreading across our U.S. Foursquare landscape.
The Foursquare Church has never been “closed” to the Holy Spirit. It’s the foremost fact that has kept us from the fate of those “once upon a time” revival movements that have lost their vigor. But I want to report that there is a new and deepening passion and grace among us, and I feel tremendous gratitude for this. Some leaders have admitted to a past caution—of yielding to a reserve, that bred a reticence to “open to” or “move into” a realm of wise-but-bold availability to the Holy Spirit’s working—in their private lives, their personal ministries, and their public services.
However, fear is being cast out: people and pastors are refusing to any longer believe that “being- Pentecostal” requires a certain style, mood, or stylistic method. The truth is, Spirit-filled living is a manner and mindset; one that is sane, scriptural, sensitive, and sensible. True Pentecostal, Spirit-filled life is one fully available to God’s visiting presence and works of power, but one that learns and lives in the blended wisdom of a hunger for God and humility before Him. Further, it is sustained by a will to maintain a biblical governance and godly order in all things.
So, I’m happy to report this manner and mindset as “alive and well” in The Foursquare Church, and a new freshness is manifesting the presence of God’s Spirit in special ways. New resourcing of pastors seems to be contributing to this. Foursquare Media’s publication of Ted Robert’s book, Going Deeper, has stimulated insight and passion for practical, Spirit-filled living. Discipling classes that use John and Sonja Decker’s books (Foursquare Media also) are adding to this. Sound-minded pastors, such as Randy Remington and Steve Schell, are creatively arranging occasions where solid teaching and sensitively led ministry bring people to Jesus for their baptism in the Holy Spirit. [And incidentally, if you haven’t received the gift copy of my small book, Spirit Filled (Foursquare Media), please call me. Many say it’s helped, too.]
4. A new sense of Foursquare identity as a God-anointed movement is emerging, summoning us to embrace our individual hope and collective destiny.
Something happened in Israel last summer! Beyond the thrill of visiting “His Land,” beyond meeting friends at convention, beyond the rich worship we knew, beyond the insights we gained from speakers ministering there—we saw something amazing happen.
We made history in Israel! Both the Israeli press and the government noted the uniqueness of thousands coming there for their denomination’s conference. They had never had that kind of an event with that kind of response from an individual church fellowship. God not only distinguished us as a movement in the eyes of His ancient people in Israel, but also pointed to His purpose among us as a people.
God’s Spirit certainly wasn’t promoting a vanity about ourselves, but He was urging us to welcome a new collective sense of destiny. Just as surely as each of us receive His distinct purposes for us personally, as well as in our local churches, He has “called us out” as a people. An example was set before us as the Holy Spirit spoke there, saying: “I am moving before you to ‘topple towers’—to overthrow spiritual strongholds that have stood as obstacles to you or your congregation’s progress, so rise! Cast down every ‘high thing’ (satanic argument) that stands against the Father’s purpose for you” (2 Cor. 10:5).
Please note this: the Lord also made it a “collective” promise, affirming it for all in our movement—even those not present! The “word” encouraged every one of us, so, even if you haven’t seen a tower of adversarial resistance fall yet, believe! The promise is yours, too. God is speaking to us as a family. God has a design and a destiny for our whole movement—and it is coming into existence through His dynamic working among us.
5. A new “caring” for our youth is evident, as we partner to motivate and shape a new generation to impact their world.
This 2008 report includes a history-shaping landmark. The December 29-31 Foursquare NextGen Summit ’07 in Anaheim, Calif., broke through a 13-year drought of Foursquare “Youth Summits.” These strategic events have always been more than mere “fun.” They have resulted in our Foursquare young people sensing the “care” of their church family for them, with hundreds making life decisions and focusing their life direction. These events have always seen many youth respond to God’s call to lifetime ministry in our movement. Anaheim’s statistics show this is happening again in a marvelous way: 400+ decisions for Christ; 500+ baptized in the Holy Spirit; and 740+ saying: “I’m called by Jesus to ‘the ministry.’ ” Congratulations to National NextGen Director James Craft and the team who led the way!
A study is already being made regarding the various ways to pursue NextGen Summit in 2010. We need to begin now to reintegrate this value into our movement’s lifestyle. Praise God with me for a good restart! God is “turning the hearts of the fathers to the children.” Let’s never forget: we are a movement born under the leadership of a 30-something woman evangelist, then advanced by a host of 25-40-ish year old Bible college grads. Today, we are poised to accept renewal of our call to motivate, shape, and disciple a new generation. Our leader ranks are in danger of “graying,” but we still have time. Let’s rejoice as well as be renewed in a new focus on our youth—on their future and ours!
6. A new readiness to answer our call to “serve and salt” the larger Body of Christ, blessing other fellow servants in the Kingdom.
From our beginnings, The Foursquare Church, a spirit of interdenominational service has characterized us. We care about the whole Church, the entire Body of Christ! Strengthening our answer to such service is the 2007 launch of the Foursquare Association.
Within Jesus’ worldwide family today, many pastors are looking for a vibrant fellowship of churches they can call “home.” With them, many others seek for a band of brothers and sisters they can simply call friends or “partners.” Now, with 2007, we have put the first phase in place, preparing a “doorway of ministry to the Body.” The door is now opened. Already, hundreds have indicated serious interest in linking in fellowship, and I want to acknowledge Glenn Burris and the NCO team who helped us prep and process the evolving of the Foursquare Association.
I am personally moved because, since the day three years ago when I first proposed that this “doorway” be opened, the efforts of the central office executive team, the board, our legal department, the cabinet, and finally our convention body, have brought this “ministry to ministers” into being. The final touch was in 2007, with a nearly unanimous (98+ percent) “yes” vote by our convention body. As we progress in this service to Christ’s shepherds, we aren’t seeking to proselytize, but to fraternize. Let’s all help let this ministry become known. Our website provides information on the vision, values, and purpose of the Association, and how the Foursquare Association invites a leader to decide his or her degree of involvement with our Foursquare family.
7. A new look at a near-new structure is being taken, both to help open our eyes to a God-given resource and to refine our vision on how it may be maximized.
In 2007 every Foursquare church received a “taste” of the Foursquare Foundation’s desire to make funds available for global evangelism and discipleship. Again, let’s thank our Foursquare Foundation board for its choice to make a gift that enabled presenting a $1,000 contribution to every Foursquare church in the U.S.! For that, high praise to God is worthy, and gratitude is due the Foundation’s board and staff. They are a dedicated team of laborers who serve their tasks with diligence. Millions have come to Christ through efforts facilitated with grants that have been distributed.
At the same time, however, few are unaware that in some places a peculiar disaffection for or confusion about our Foundation has occurred. That is not an accusation; it is simply a fact, and it would be less than honest to pretend otherwise. Just as I believe it is right to acknowledge the sincerity with which the Foundation has experienced wonderful beginnings, it’s right to acknowledge the challenges we have, and overcome them together. I want to report that in 2007 significant steps have been taken. I am also grateful to report that 2008 has already witnessed new approaches that will broaden its service to our churches. While no foundation can ever please every applicant, I am sure there’s strong reason for us all to step together into a new period of discovering our Foundation’s increased effectiveness and broadened favorable reception. Praise God for the Foursquare Foundation’s dynamic ministry, and its new steps forward, broadening its impact.
A concluding personal report and pastoral exhortation:
In closing this report, let me refer again to the experience at Long Beach, where it seemed for a precious four days that a breakthrough was taking place. Communication and interaction began advancing the belief that “we can live this way”—a way of relational integrity and transparency, spiritual unanimity born of mutual trust, and commitment to advance a denomination-wide culture of honor for every minister.
It’s a “way” founded on relational basics in His Word:
- I John 1:7 calls this way “walking in the light.” It’s more than a pathway; it contains a promise. That text reveals that “walking in the light” will not only bring a purifying power when you and I walk transparently (“in the light”); but an ongoing cleansing of each of us will also occur: “the Blood of Christ keeps on cleansing us”!
- I Corinthians 13’s definition of love notes a cluster of behaviors that leaders, as well as believers, must receive and apply in relationships. Each of us can only fulfill our side of our mutual accountability to live as genuine fellow servants when those practices are integrated into each of our values and relationships.
- Hebrews 12:12 includes a directive to lift up the “feeble arms” and strengthen the “weak knees,” which is an assigned mission given to every fellowship of leaders. There are always ones among us who have suffered trial, inadvertent neglect, or outright insensitivity among us. Further, sometimes we discover we ourselves are guilty of failing a brother or sister accidentally, in no way realizing it.
Thus, we each need these “calls” to full transparency, costly love, and mutual care.” They are within the reach of a fellowship of leaders like us. That’s why, in Long Beach, as we came to the Lord’s Table the last day it was a joy to detect a new way of openness in interaction. I mention that because I want to declare my conviction that there is a “rising” of the imminent possibility of a movement-wide commitment as a family of leaders who truly are a “team”—who truly value, trust, and openly commit to one another!
There is a “new spirit of team, partnership, and honor” available to us; a goal to pursue and a gift we are being given. While we certainly are not a movement that is dominated by insensitivity toward one another, neither do we have a history of transparency—of “in the light” fellowship–as a constant among ourselves as a band of pastor-leaders. Our humanity as brothers and sisters in Christ’s call summons us all to say, “Let’s grow in that.” And we must, because, even though we are a team of shepherds, we are all still sheep. And even though we aren’t a band of wimps, neither are we impervious to pain. So, we need to cultivate Philippians 2 habits—not seeking our own interests but the interests of others—engaging with each other in “honoring” ways that cultivate trust, and “forthright” ways that open the door to health.
So join me in prayer that Jesus may help us to relate to one another as being both shepherds and sheep. And if it seems I can be helpful or a better servant in these regards, please let me know. We need each other—which means that I need you. And further, if I can assist toward the healing of a “torn” situation of which you are aware, let me know. Let’s move together in this faith and as a “team.” Let’s believe that these new mercies will endure forever; “mutual honor, forthright honesty, truth spoken in love, with trust growing as a result” can and will be prioritized and pursued unto becoming a realized lifestyle between us as Foursquare leaders.
That faith calls us beyond our successful relationships. It calls us to pay attention to and care for all our family; calls us unto truly reaching to ones we would never have dreamed we would enjoy knowing, and unto truly enjoying the fellowship of ones we would never come to know.