Selasa, 31 Maret 2009
FORTY TRENDS TOWARD TRANSFORMING THE CHURCH
Rethinking the Nature and Function of Ekklesia
1. From meeting centered life to Jesus centered life. (Jesus' example was to minister in spontaneous, daily, unplanned situations everywhere, all the time.)
2. From Christianity to Christ. (Not a philosophy, a system, a movement, or a religion, but a person . . . CHRIST IN YOU!)
3. From church houses to house churches. (Simplify to multiply)
4. From upward growth to upward and outward growth. (Both addition and multiplication)
5. From pastor only to five-fold ministries (We need all five of the ministry gifts.)
6. From special priesthood to priesthood of all believers (Bringing God to the people through
your witness and bringing the people to God through your intercession)
7. From organization to organism (Beware! The opposite of hierarchy is anarchy)
8. From weekly worship to constant worship. (Worship is more than singing)
9. From bringing people to church to bringing church to people. (The prayer that ignites. "Father, cause my path to cross the path today of someone who is hungry for you or in need . . . ")
10. From symbolism to substance in the Lord's Supper (Take it often.)
11. From denominations to Spirit-led networks (Identify with the citywide church)
12. From social respectability to SALT & LIGHT (Turn the world upside down)
13. From performance by professionals to I Cor. 14:26. ("Everyone of you has a teaching. . .")
14. From program based to home based church (Liturgical, Evangelical, Informal)
15. From the seminary system to the apprentice system (Simple Bible college)
16. From tenth to total in New Testament giving (generosity with a promise of reward.)
17. From selective submission to total submission (submit to all God-ordained authority)
18. From titles to function ("Call no man teacher, father, rabbi, etc. . . . ")
19. From independence to inter-dependence (connect with the city-wide church for help, strength and wisdom)
20. From paper membership to Body membership (we are members one of another)
21. From the wheel to the vine (releasing teams to plant simple churches in homes)
22. From organizational unity to spiritual unity (there is only one step to unity. . . RECEIVE)
23. From Safeway or Circle K to Safeway and Circle K (embrace all that God embraces)
24. From "Us and them" to "Us" (Refuse to allow a divisive spirit in your fellowship)
25. From planned church only to spontaneous church also. (recognize ekklesia everywhere)
26. From bondage to freedom for women (Acts 2:17-18 , Gal. 3:26-28)
27. From presbytery without the people to presbytery with the people (Acts 15:22)
28. From arbitrary to biblical guidelines for appointing elders (I Tim. 3, Titus 1)
29. From "my pastor" to "my pastors." (teachers, evangelists, apostles, prophets)
30. From raising up leaders to appointing servants. (The ground is flat in the kingdom of God)
31. From local vision to world vision (the three pronged thrust of the church)
32. From building my kingdom to building THE kingdom (Let us help you fulfill your vision.)
33. From wall-wide church to city-wide church. (They filled Jerusalem with their teachings)
34. From fear of stealing sheep to fear of possessing sheep (Acts 20:28-31)
35. From building-centered pastors to people-centered pastors. (Acts 20:28-31)
36. From using the word "church" to using the phrase "the Body of Christ." (Acts 19:32-41)
37. From restricted to unhindered fellowship. ( I am a member of every church in town.)
38. From overwhelming oversight to restful oversight. (tomato plant, fire, starter motor)
39. From lecture type to interactive type Bible study. (The Body ministering to itself in love.)
40. From pyramid to pancake in our understanding of submission to authority. (I am submitted to the King of the Kingdom and to every spiritual authority God sends into my life.)
Senin, 16 Maret 2009
One Thing Is Needed
by Chip Brogden
"And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:41,42).
We often sacrifice God's one thing in favor of many things. There is something more significant to be seen in Mary who sits at the feet of Jesus versus Martha who is "much serving". Jesus is not contrasting service and worship and saying that worship is better. No, Jesus is contrasting "many things" with "one thing". We are consumed, absorbed, worried and vexed with many things - serving, witnessing, preaching, giving, writing, singing, attending meetings, reading, studying, building churches, fellowshipping - when Jesus says only one thing is needed, and Mary has discovered it, and it will not be denied her. What is the one thing?
In order to grasp God's purpose for all things let us look at several Scriptures.
"Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will" (Ephesians 1:9-11).
What does this passage tell us? First, that there is a Will, and it has been revealed to us. Second, that God's Will is "all things in Christ". Third, that everything is working according to this purpose. Let us look at these three points more particularly.
THE REVEALED WILL OF GOD
There is a Will, a purpose, a reason, a goal towards which God is moving. Something is intended. A result is sought after. God is not floating us along aimlessly towards everything in general and nothing in particular, but He is moving us towards something. Since He exists outside of time, the End is already accomplished from God's perspective. To us, who are still bound by time, things do move forward. We have a past, a present, and future, while God is all of these at once. Knowing that there is a Will and that the Lord is bringing us towards something is clearly for our benefit. God wants us to know His Will that we may enter into it and work in harmony with Him, cooperating together. Why does He not just do what He wants? Why bother to reveal it to us at all? Because we are part of the Will.
Most of the world's philosophy is based on man's attempt to answer these questions: who am I, where did I come from, why am I here, and where am I going? These questions can only be answered when we consider them in the light of God's ultimate Will. There is a purpose, a reason for being, a reason for creating, a reason for living, a purpose which is larger than us, but includes us.
I ate breakfast in a diner once that had a sign on the wall that read, "If there is a will, I want to be in it." I'm not sure what the intended message was, but it immediately resonated with me. I want to be in the Will of God! And I believe every Christian wants the same thing.
ALL THINGS IN CHRIST
What is the Will of God? "That... He might gather together in one all things in Christ." God only has one need, one desire, one thing He wants to accomplish, and once we see this we will find everything else is peripheral to this one thing. What does God wish to accomplish? God's ultimate will and desire is to sum up everything into Christ, so that Christ is All in All.
>From henceforth when I talk about God's Will I am speaking of His eternal purpose and plan of summing up everything into Christ and putting everything under His feet. I am not talking about God's will for you personally, or God's will for your ministry or business. These may be terribly important to you, but what we are considering now is something which transcends these matters and touches upon the ultimate Will of God for all generations, all people, all nations, the whole of creation - the one thing He is after.
Now we understand why Mary is said to have discovered that one thing that God wants, that one thing that He is after, and why she has forevermore taken her place at the feet of Jesus. Food, fun, fellowship, friendship, all is forgotten. She exists to wash His feet with tears, anoint His feet, and hear Him there at His feet. "Kiss the Son," Psalms 2 says. In this matter it is not a kiss of greeting on the cheek, or even the kisses of His mouth which speak of the love between the Bride and the Bridegroom (Song of Solomon). It is kissing the feet in subjection to the One Whom God has appointed as the Heir of All Things. The kissing of the feet of the Son and the sitting at His feet is the acknowledgment of all that the Father has vested into the Son and the recognition that everything has been placed below His feet, beginning with US.
EVERYTHING RELATES TO THIS WILL
Thus far we have seen that there is a Will, and that God's Will is for Christ to fill all things. There is a third thing to be seen: "[God]... worketh all things after the counsel of His own will." Everything which is spoken, revealed, or done by the Lord is connected in some way to the one thing. We might call it the Cosmic Will, or the Universal Will, or the Mind of the Spirit, or the Prime Directive, or simply the One Thing. However we choose to describe it, that is what God is after. It is His Will, His Desire, His Purpose, His Need, His Heart.
If we read and apply ourselves to the Scriptures - the books of Moses, the Law, the Prophets, the Gospels, the Acts, the Epistles, and the Revelation - we will eventually see one thing taking shape and coming into being. It is this one, continuous, unbroken thread of His Will which weaves its way throughout all of God's dealings with man for the past six thousand years, having its beginning in eternity past and reaching its conclusion in eternity future towards one thing.
But more importantly, we see that everything is moving in relationship towards God's End. It is the why which explains God's reason for creating the world, heaven, hell, the devil, and man himself. It is the motive for sending the Word to be flesh and live as a Man, to die on a cross, to be raised to life, and to be exalted to God's right hand. It is the impetus which caused God to pour out His Spirit on all flesh and establish the Church. It is His purpose in judging the world and creating a new heavens and earth.
In his letter to the Romans, Paul describes it as the Mind of the Spirit:
"And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren" (Romans 8:27-29).
Einstein wanted to know the Mind of God. Here, we have it. If we change the order of the first verse it may help us to see it more clearly without changing the meaning. "He makes intercession for the saints according to the Will of God BECAUSE He knows the Mind of the Spirit." We know from the Book of Hebrews that "He that searcheth the hearts" is Christ, and "He that maketh intercession for the saints" is Christ (Hebrews 4:12; 7:25).
Because Christ knows the Mind of the Spirit and He is making intercession for us according to the Will of God, "we know that all things are working together... according to His purpose." And to leave no doubt as to the purpose, we are told that the purpose is "to be conformed to the image of His Son." Christ as All in All.
We frequently quote these verses and interpret them to mean that no matter what happens, good or bad, God is going to make it all work out for our good, and it will all turn out right in the end. That is not what Paul is saying at all. What he is telling us is that all things are moving in relation to God's purpose of summing up everything into Christ. God's End is Christ as All in All. Everything in heaven and on earth is moving in relation to this.
So in Romans we are told that God is "working all things together... according to His Purpose" and in Ephesians we are told that God is "working all things after the counsel of His own will." The key phrase here is "all things". How do we judge if a thing is of God or not? We need only determine its relationship to the one thing. Either it is in harmony with the one thing or it is one of the "many things" which may be good, spiritual, or moral, but does nothing to move us towards God's eternal purpose.
GOD'S GOAL: THE PREEMINENCE OF CHRIST
Of course, there are other Scriptures which refer to God's Will in Christ:
"And [Christ] is the head of the body, the church: Who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence" (Colossians 1:18).
Does Christ have the preeminence in this world? In the Church? In our family? In our heart of hearts? No, and no, and no, and no. Sinners rule the world, "saints" rule the church, we rule our own families (which accounts for our failed marriages and broken homes), and we govern our own hearts, doing as we see fit. Yet the Will of God is clear: that Christ would have the preeminence in all things. Obviously we are not there yet:
"For now we see not yet all things put under Him, but we see Jesus... for Whom are all things and by Whom are all things" (Hebrews 2:8).
Do we see it yet? Not in its fulness, no. We have a little here, and a little there. Where this has already happened, where we actually see and experience Christ having the preeminence, it is called the Kingdom of God. It is not a visible thing, but an invisible thing, for Jesus said the Kingdom is not seen, but is within you. Eventually the Kingdom of God will swallow up the entire Creation and Christ will have the preeminence in all things. Why? Because all things are for Him, and all things were by Him. That is what this verse is saying.
For now, when we abide in Him we are full of His Life individually, and this is a beginning, but it is largely invisible. He fills us and to some extent He is seen in us once we are conformed to His Image. But filling the Church is not the end, but the beginning. The end must include "all things", not just the Church:
"Wherefore God also hath highly exalted [Christ], and given Him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:9).
The key words in the verses we have discussed thus far are "every" and "all". In these Scriptures our eyes are opened and our vision is enlarged to understand that God's ultimate purpose is that Christ would have the preeminence in ALL things, that He would fill ALL in ALL, and that ALL creation would reflect His glory.
May the Lord continually open our eyes to give Him the One Thing He desires. Amen.
Jumat, 06 Maret 2009
I AM NOT AN EYE
by Robert Fitts
In I Corinthians 12, Paul compares the Body of Christ to the human body as he explained spiritual gifts. “The body is not one member, but many. If the foot should say, ‘I am not a hand, so I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, ‘I am not an eye, so I am not of the body.’ Is it therefore not of the body?”
It is a red letter day in my life when I can say with freedom and release that I am not an eye, for in admitting to what I am not I will begin to discover what I really am in the body of Christ!
For so many years of my walk with God, in my zeal I wanted to go everywhere and do everything. A missionary would come to our church and immediately I felt the call to go to the heathen tribes in the regions beyond. A chalk-talk artist would come and minister and in my excitement I would exclaim, "I can do that!" I would witness the dynamic ministry of an evangelist and long to be out on the road for God setting up a tent on a vacant lot to proclaim the Good News to the lost. Then there was the radio pastor, the pilot, the author, the teacher.
I have to admit that not only did I long to try my wings at all of the above, I drew a deep breath and took the leap into everything listed and more. Needless to say, I've suffered a lot of frustration and confusion over the years. But in spite of my "zeal without knowledge" all was not a total waste. But who knows how much more could have been accomplished if I had not gone off in so many directions at once?
Over the years, after a lot of unnecessary knocks and bruises, God has worked in me a measure of grace and revelation so that now I'm comfortable to say, "I'm not an eye," or "I'm not a hand, or foot." But this release has brought to me the same boldness to say "I am an eye or a hand or a foot." For the same understanding that shows me what I am not, also frees me to say what I am in the Body of Christ. And whatever I am will surely come to light, not only to me but also to those with whom I am closely related in God's Kingdom.
Have you found your identity within the Body of Christ? Have those who walk with you and labor with you in the Lord given clear confirmation to this? Are you trying to function as an eye when God has not called you or gifted you to be an eye? It is an absurdity to think of an ear trying to do the work of an eye, or a hand trying to do the work of a foot. Lest we become such an absurdity to ourselves and to those around us, here are some matters to consider in seeking to discover our gifts and callings in God:
Seek not a place of prominence or influence. If it comes, do not run from it. Take your place as an eye if God has indeed made you an eye.
Seek not a ministry; seek to minister. The world is full of needy, hurting people who need help and encouragement. The spirit of a true servant does not clamor for recognition. A servant does not need a stage or a spotlight to do his work. He only needs to love God and his fellow man, and be willing to spend and be spent serving others.
Always remember that within the body of Christ there are no unimportant members. There are greater and lesser gifts but there is nothing to indicate that there are greater and lessermembers. Your place and function in the body is as important and necessary as the eye. There is no real need to strive to be an eye when you could just relax and be what God has already made you to be, no matter what that is.
Do not be content to remain in the dark as to what you are. You need to know this and you have a right and responsibility to know this. Pray that God will make this clear to you and to others. A tremendous release and freedom will be yours when you find your identity and placement in the Body of Christ.
Normally God will work with us along the lines of our desires and inclinations. What do you want to be? What do you like to do? Where have you been most successful? What is it you do with ease that others struggle to master? Remember the words of Jesus when there was an uproar about when the woman pouring the expensive ointment on the feet of Jesus. Some said, “This could have been sold and given to the poor! Why this waste?" Jesus’ answer to them was, “Leave her alone. She has done what she could.” That is the key to getting started. Just do what you can do and leave the results in the hands of the Lord.
The apostle Paul said, "It is God at work in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." To the fully yielded and trusting child of God, there is that special promise. It is God who is working inside of you to make you want to do what He wants you to do. At the same time God is giving the power to accomplish what He has motivated you to do. Such a release!! As we fully lean on Him, He begins to move supernaturally within us, stirring up desires "to will and to do of His good pleasure."
The very first step in discovering our place and function within the Body of Christ is to renounce all self will and self determination and trust God to produce in us a divine motivation to function according to His will. He always gives the very best to those who leave the choice with Him.
I may have little to offer, but I can do what I can do. God has gifted us all with something to lay at the feet of Jesus. There is something for me to do which God will enable me to do. And just as it stood for a memorial to the woman who poured out her love for Jesus in the best way she could, so will what you and I do, stand as a memorial to the grace of God in the ages to come. And remember, your function within the Body of Christ does not require a college degree! But don’t worry . . . Jesus didn’t have one either!
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Where It All Begins
Out of the womb of prayer, praise and worship all things in the kingdom of God are conceived, nurtured, and brought to birth for the glory of God and the good of mankind.
A Declaration of Unity
I belong to everything that belongs to Jesus and everything that belongs to Jesus belongs to me! It's not us and them. It's just us! There's only one Body of Christ, and the problems of the church, the whole church, are our problems, for we are the church and we can do more united than we can do divided! So let's unify, simplify, and multiply!
Divine Appointment Prayer
Father, give me a divine appointment today with someone who is hungry for God, or sick, or in need, and give me grace to minister the love of Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Winning the War on Terror by Prayer
Father, give every terrorist in the world an encounter with Jesus such as Paul had on the road to Damascus.
Living to Give
Father, make me a generous giver today! Show me where to give and what to give, and let all my giving bring glory to the name of Jesus.
Say "Yes" to Grace and "No" to Law
Law demands, demands, demands, But gives me neither feet nor hands. Grace and Truth are better things, They bid me fly and give me wings!