Lindell, Madu Inspire in Influence Opening Session
ORLANDO, Florida – In a powerful and revealing opening general session of the Influence Conference held Wednesday night at the Orange County Convention Center, John Lindell and Robert Madu captivated the attention of the thousands of pastors, missionaries, and their family members with convicting messages that concluded with hundreds flooding the altar.
Lindell, who serves with this wife, Debbie, as lead pastors of James River Church in Ozark, Missouri, cracked open an often underplayed and greatly underestimated topic of God’s grace.
“On your worst, on your dirtiest, and on your best days, He loves you,” Lindell said. “He doesn’t look at you as you look at you or others look at you, He’s committed to your looking like Jesus.”
While examining Romans 1:16,17, Lindell explored the power of the gospel and how it is a gift of righteousness by faith that no one can earn.
As people are justified in God’s eyes the moment they accept Christ as their Lord and Savior, Lindell emphasized how salvation is an act of God. “It is one hundred times more about God and His Word and His love than it is about us,” he stated.
He then developed the components that make up justification: faith, God’s forgiveness, and the assignment of Christ’s righteousness.
Lindell offered Colossians 2:14 to help explain the vastness of God’s grace, when He nailed “all of our” sin to the Cross.
“God forgives all your sin — all your past sin, all your present sin, and He forgives every sin you will commit in advance,” Lindell stated. “Because at the Cross, all of our sin was future at that point . . . God sees every believer as perfect. He always sees us as righteous even in the midst of our sin.”
Lindell explained that God doesn’t look at believers based on their actions, but based on Christ’s actions.
Warning that people who don’t understand the magnitude of the grace and forgiveness of God tend to begin defining righteousness by their own terms in order to have a “right standing with God,” Lindell noted those individuals tend to become judgmental of people — who is good, who is bad — based on their personal definition of righteousness.
“Your standing with God isn’t based on you, you can’t earn it,” Lindell said. “It’s based on faith . . . and on the wild, reckless, untamed love of God.”
He explained that when people sin, oftentimes they feel distanced from God, but that, Lindell said, is your perception. Giving the example of how, as a father, he didn’t turn away from his children when they took a misstep, instead he drew closer, putting other things aside to be present and available. Yet, his love was nothing compared to God’s love.
“When we’re struggling, God is near,” Lindell said. “He loves you, is committed to you, and on your dirtiest day loves you as much as on your best day.”
As he drew his message to a close, Lindell spoke briefly on Romans 8:1 and how, in the light of grace, Christians should never feel condemned. He explained that when Christians do feel that way it may be because they’re more acquainted with their brokenness than God’s graciousness or how “you would feel about you” if you were God.
Earlier Lindell had observed that Paul's words (Romans 6) concerning God's grace does not mean it did not matter how Christians lived. He now asked if God's grace meant we should keep on sinning.
"The short answer — no," he stated. "When a person comes to Christ you died to sin. Sin doesn't have dominion over you . . . grace has dominion . . . God's grace is working in you, sanctifying you, changing you." He also noted that when a person is saved, God gives that person a new heart — a heart that loves Him, desires Him.
“God’s grace is far bigger, far better, far wider than you can imagine,” Lindell said, and urged listeners to remember, “It’s not what you do, it’s what He’s done.”
Madu, who has his own ministry and is a member of the teaching team at Trinity Church in Cedar Hill, Texas, presented an oftentimes humorous, but pointed message he titled “Get Over It.”
“We’re living in the age and era of offense,” he said. “Victimhood has gone viral.”
Giving some seemingly outrageous examples of what people have been offended by, he reminded the audience that what may seem silly to them was very serious to others.
Looking at Matthew 24:10 (NKJV) at how signs of the end of the age aren't limited to wars and rumors of wars, but that many will be offended. He then pointed out that offenses are guaranteed in life, as Luke 17:1 (NKJV) quotes Jesus in saying that it is impossible for no offenses to come.
Then Madu set the record straight: “An offense is an event, but to be offended is a decision . . . it is possible to live our lives unoffended.”
Throughout his message, Madu referenced Matthew 15:21-28, the story of the Caananite woman who was pleading for Jesus to heal her demon-possessed daughter. Madu noted that Jesus placed her miracle on the other side of offenses.
“If Jesus has never offended you, you have no relationship at all,” Madu says, “because Jesus is the truth and the life” and sometimes the truth hurts and offends us.
In the Matthew passage, Jesus seemed to first ignore the woman, then the disciples urged Jesus to send her away, then came insignificance and insult. Yet through it all, the woman persevered. Madu said that after any of these offense, many would have walked away, but not this woman — she kept on pressing in.
Madu spent some time on the disciples' words, explaining how they represented the institution or “believers.” He noted that sometimes the greatest offenses come from people who bear Christ’s name.
“Don’t project the nature of man on the character of God,” Madu urged.
Madu also looked at how many people are offended when no offense was intended. He advised that when an offense comes, don’t post it, instead pray for the Lord to give clarity to see things the right way and for humility.
In addressing insignificance, Madu basically called people out saying that in this narcissistic society, the truth is that at times we don’t deserve to take precedence, but it doesn’t mean we’re insignificant.
In the final offense, Madu discussed the insult of being called a dog. He noted the wording used called her a pet dog (in the Greek), not a wild dog, but a dog nonetheless. Yet still the woman persevered. Madu speculated that she came to understand that as a pet dog, she has a place in the home, still eats what the master eats, and has everything she needs with Jesus as her master.
At every offense, the woman refused to be offended, while her faith in the power of Jesus remained, and in the end her faith was rewarded.
Madu addressed the audience: “Your miracle is on the other side of your offense. God wants to give you the grace to get over it.”
Asking for a show of hands of those who were desiring God’s grace to overcome an offense, he called those individuals to come forward — hundreds flooded the altar ready to receive from God.
The Influence Conference will conclude Thursday following the second General Session featuring guest speakers Jeremy DeWeerdt, Bobby Gruenewald and Al Toledo.
Watch the archive of Influence Conference General Session One on the Assemblies of God USA Facebook page.