This has been an amazing and timely read, reviving a passion in me for cultural transformation and also giving me some vital tips on strengthening my spiritual life. Thought it’d be a waste if I just finished it and left it as that, without jotting down some key truths that really spoke to me.
1. Friends vs. servants
God called his disciples ‘friends’ in John 15:15. With this change in status, which Bill Johnson calls a ‘promotion’, they were now given access to the secrets of God. While servants are focused on obedience, friends have a higher calling – they are concerned with disappointing God. Other differences:
From ‘commandments’ to ‘presence’
From Assignment to Relationship
From “What I do for Him” to “How do my choices affect Him”
2. God wants to know our dreams
Many of us think of God’s will as being static and us as ‘robots’, trying to find out the instructions for the next move. However, this is what Bill Johnson says:
God actually makes Himself vulnerable to the desires of His people. In fact, it can be said, “If it matters to you, it matters to Him”.”
While much of the church is waiting for the next word from God, He is waiting to hear the dreams of His people. He longs for us to take our role, not because He needs us, but because He loves us.
3. We are to pay attention to our desires while we’re enjoying the presence of God.
This aligns with the point above too, that it’s not just any dream that God wants to partner us in. We partner to God to achieve the dreams He plants in our desires as we spend time with Him, not just as a result of receiving and obeying specific commands from Heaven. As we spend time with Him, our minds also become renewed and become open for him to deposit his dreams.
This brought new understanding to – “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4)
4. The balanced Christian life involves us living out God’s call for us to be creative.
Johnson shares that the realm of creativity has been overtaken by unbelievers and many of us, Christians, feel that it is our duty as Christians to ‘kill’ our own desires, dreams and anything ‘we want’. However, Bill Johnson believes that this is a lie and creativity and wisdom are all part of God’s nature and will for us.
The renewed Christian is supposed to make contributions to society, through the creativity from God:
Artistic design, excellence and inventive work are a few characteristics of wisdom… believers who walk in wisdom, making practical contributions to the need of society, who also confront the impossibilities of life through the provisions of the Cross, bringing solutions through supernatural display of miracles, signs and wonders.
5. Wisdom, in God’s definition, involves integrity, creativity and excellence.
Johnson elaborates on the three qualities of ‘wisdom’ as defined in the Bible, which is anchored firstly in God’s character and nature of holiness (‘integrity’), then also in the ability to transcend traditional ideas to create newness (‘creativity’) and finally, in setting high standards for personal achievement because of who we are in God, and who God is in us (‘excellence’).
6. There is no failure in faith.
When we want to dream for God, we are bound to be faced with discouragement and disappointment, failure is part and parcel too of that journey. Yet, there is a higher reality – when we pursue our dreams and fail to see them fulfilled, we prepare the way for others to get the breakthrough they seek. A tragic loss on earth is seen differently in Heaven.
7. Mystery plays an important role in our Christian walk, in ensuring we walk by faith!
Living with mystery is the privilege of our walk with Christ… If I understand all that is going on in my Christian life, I have an inferior Christian life. The walk of faith is to live according to the revelation we have received, in the midst of the mysteries we can’t explain. That’s why Christianity is called the faith.
Although we can question, we must not hold God hostage to our questions. It is alright not to understand, but we cannot restrict our Christian life only to what we understand. A mature Christian shows heart-felt embrace of what [he] does not understand as an essential expression of faith.
8. Use any barrenness to bring forth desperation.
Using the example of Hannah, Johnson encourages all readers not to be discouraged by barrenness. We must use our barrenness to develop a desperate heart. Barrenness is an invitation to excel, because we become more desperate for God to show up.
9. Hearing from God is not a bonus part of our Christian life; it is essential.
Hearing from God is the essential element of the Christian life, for “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Matt4:4)
10. God often ‘violates’ our limited understandings.
The Scripture is all basis of hearing from God. While God will not violate His word, He often violates our understanding of His word. Remember, God is bigger than His book. The Bible does not contain God; it reveals Him.
11. The Gospel is meant for the marketplace transformation.
The gospel is not just meant for evangelism, it is also meant for us as a tool to ‘disciple the nations’. God has given us authority to move resources of Heaven through creative expression to meet human need. As Christians who are meant to bring God’s power to the marketplace, we must remember this very powerful statement, also illustrated through Jesus:
Royalty is my identity. Servanthood is my assignment. Intimacy with God is my life source. So, before God, I’m an intimate. Before people, I’m a servant. Before the powers of hell, I’m a ruler, with no tolerance for their influence. Wisdom knows which role to fulfill at the proper time.
We should not measure our faithfulness solely by how many souls were saved, though that’s still important. The call of God on our lives is key and valuable – we must be faithful to what God has called us to do. All rewards are given based on our faithfulness to what God has given and called us to be and to do and we must not only honour those in ‘spirtual occupations’.
Our work in the marketplace is what Johnson calls “covert ministry” which is more subtle in nature. This is not direct evangelism and conversion, but it is how we work with the systems of the world to bring about change by “re-establishing the proper norms of thought, beliefs, discipline and relational boundaries”. We work to change the culture and transform society.
He then goes on to share how the gospel can invade the various seven mountains of society, which I’ll not dwell into here, but definitely worth a read.
12. Passion for God gives birth to passion for other things.
It is not wrong to love ‘other things’ in this world as loving God creates a passion and desire for more practical things, which are pursued ‘as unto the Lord’. As we live with true passion for God it creates a passion for other things, yet “While it is possible to value other things above God, it is not possible to value God without valuing other things”. Passion for God cannot just be limited to overtly spiritual activities or ‘Christian disciplines’.
13. Live with a consciousness of Heaven and eternity, that will give you impact on society!
Such consciousness comes through the spirit of revelation. We can only change this world through access to His! Wisdom and revelation need to be passionately pursued, relentlessly.
Revelation helps us to ensure that we go about God’s work with a sense of His purpose. For this, we need to rely on the Holy Spirit, who will “take us into the truths that the Father wants emphasised in a particular season” (or what Peter describes in 2 Peter 1:12 as present truth – truth that is at the forefront of God’s thinking).
“It is a wise man who learns to recognize where the winds of Heaven are blowing. Life and ministry are so much easier when we involve ourselves in what God is already blessing.”
14. Work in God’s “green light” zone.
Using the example of Apostle Paul, what Johnson emphasises is that we should not keep seeking signs from Heaven to convince us to obey the gospel and the Word. However, we need the Holy Spirit to show us what is at God’s mind. The analogy is that it’s easier to steer the car when it’s moving than when it’s standing still. We must not keep ‘waiting’ and holding back, waiting for God to speak; rather we need to adopt a lifestyle of going, so that we can hear the specific directions God has for us. The ‘green light’ zone is the ‘zone’ of his Word and what it calls us to do – as we move within that zone, the Holy Spirit will then speak to us and guide us.
15. Revelation is not for knowledge; it’s for transformation!
This is one of my favourite facts. We always think of revelation as making us more intelligent and smarter. However, that’s not the case in God’s kingdom – God’s revelation is for our personal transformation, that will forever change us!
Revelation comes to enlarge the playing field of our faith. Insight without faith released to have the truth realised through experience keeps truth unproven – only theory… Revelation gives us access to the realm of greater anointing available to us to make that truth a personal experience and lifestyle.
Johnson then shares some important practical suggestions to grow in revelation. The key one that spoke to me was ‘Obey what you know’ – sometimes we like to keep growing in knowledge, but to God, what’s important is our obedience. The willingness to obey actually attracts revelation, because God knows He can trust us with more revelation!
16. The Christian life requires us to take risks!
Many of us like to keep to Christian rules of tradition, and end up taking a very analytical approach to Christian life which is stable in doctrine and disciplines, but is ‘without personal experience, denies the opportunity for risk and resists emotional expression and passion. Christianity was never known by its disciplines. It’s to be known by its passion; and those without passion are in far more danger than they know.’
17. What is in our heart determines what we see in God’s word.
When we come to God’s word, we will reproduce what we see. We must approach God’s word with the right heart – we must be humble, honest and hungry before the Lord. Our desperation for truth will show us things in the Word that others will miss. Those with evil in their hearts will find confirmation of it in the Bible.
As we read the Word, we must carry our concerns that come from our place of influence and authority on this earth. God will give us specific insight, because His word is ‘living, immediately applicable and unlimited in its scope and power’. It comes to life!
18. Steward your hearts well.
Using the example of Israel, Johnson shows that they were actually wandering in their heart before they started wandering outside. This is the same for us – our internal reality becomes our external reality. Successfully stewarding our heart guaratees us success in other areas of our life.
It is also important to ensure that we do not have the pressure to produce on the outside what doesn’t exist on the inside, resulting in a works-oriented Gospel that obtains favour through labour.
We cannot have worry, jealous, resentment or negativity in our heart – this will cloud us and cause us to be incapable of creativity. Our full potential is only found by carrying what God gave us to carry – my burden is light (Matt 11:30).
19. The Church is not meant to be rescued; it is meant to advance and rescue.
Many have a wrong conception that Jesus is coming to rescue His church from the difficulties of the end times. However, this causes the church to be in a defensive position, instead of positioning ourselves for increase. yet, we must advance and increase, because this is an absolute Kingdom principle!
20. The Church must pull the ‘future’ to the ‘today’.
This chapter title sounded so abstract to me, but what it merely means is that we must be hungry enough for what He has shown us in the Scriptures that we pull into ‘our day something that is reserved for another’, to bring God’s promise to today!
The church must increase and acceleration. We must be hungry and bring about changes in the pace of development. We must strike in the ‘quest for the authentic Gospel that has no walls, no impossibilities, with an absolute surrender to the King and His kingdom’!