Sunday, April 22, 2012

Thoughts from John Wimber

I have been thinking about John Wimber a good deal in recent weeks.  He was approachable, relate-able and struck me as genuine... a refreshing change from so much hype and self-serving that seems rife in the Body of Christ today.  Why this is so exceptional is a really good question... it probably speaks to our followership as much as it does to the types of leaders who are recognized and garner an audience and ongoing consideration.

Anway, here are some notes I took this morning from a John Wimber message... pretty close to verbatim:

Since you can't know all the answers and have a certain methodology or anything other than dependence on the Spirit.  The Spirit (of God) is serendipitous, spontaneous and creative; He does things different ways all the time.  It leaves you in a state of being vulnerable.  You have to learn to be constantly on the verge of looking foolish.  Constantly.  You live all the time on the edge of risk taking, about to look like a goon at any moment.  And I've formulated this theory along the way: In order for Him to look good I've got to look like I might not be at any moment.


I've got to constantly come and place myself at His use and do those things He gives me impressions to do, if I have understanding of them or not.


Now, that's called risk taking, F-A-I-T-H, risk taking.  Learning to live vulnerably, learning to live as a learner rather than as a teacher.

One thing I admired about JW is that he was open and vulnerable concerning his mistakes.  And that his consistent desire was to see the Body of Christ released into fruitful ministry.  His platform, so to speak, was emphatically to see other empowered and let Jesus have His way in His church.

Monday, March 12, 2012

When winter is over

Last week working with the Richmond crew.  It's been a good stretch and I am grateful for the provision, the friendships and the good work accomplished.

It naturally leads to reflection.  I better understand the contributions I can make, and hopefully have made them as much in spirit as technically.

I am eager to transition forward and am looking forward to continue to leverage the lessons learned through the pleasure and pain of the journey, having observed His leaderships and ways with men.  Its clear to me that the Lord intends to bring us to a place of deep friendships and a context where I can make a contribution to the work at hand.

I welcome the spring.  And I am grateful to God, who "delivers me because He delights in me".  Psalm 18 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Thrive


I aim to start blogging regularly again quite soon... I promise.  Its been a time in recent months where the less said, the better, due to frustrating circumstances.  So as an effort to minimize emotional collateral damage I have chosen to let my words be few.  It definitely leaves room for misunderstanding but I consider that the higher road.

We are now aiming to move to Charlottesville, Virginia.  I start a new job in a couple of weeks and I am very excited about the job and the area.  Its rich with history and really beautiful, up close to the mountains.  The job came about pretty quickly, quite a remarkable thing considering the economy!  We have made some dear friends here we will miss greatly but since the move is less than 150 miles its reasonable to believe we will see each other on occasion.

Onward, to the promises and the place where our family can thrive!




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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Learning to be with Jesus, pt. 2

This morning I will be teaching the second monthly session in this series at the Greenville, NC Boiler Room.  Here are my opening points:

1)  Jesus is fixed upon making us into new people as an expression of His Kingdom, not simply seeing us come to a 'point of decision'.  People whose minds are synced with His, (1 Cor 2:16, having the mind of Christ), complete with a new heart and spirit, (Eze. 11:19).  Deep transformation by learning of Him: hearing His Words, seeing His example, receiving His Spirit.

2)  If our emphasis as Christians is superficial (cf. going to meetings, avoiding socially unacceptable behavior, etc.) then there will be little, if any, real personal transformation into Christlikeness, (Gal. 4:19).

3)  If the intent of the Church of Jesus Christ is to distill the message of His Kingdom into the fewest requirements of what is necessary to receive salvation or 'to get into heaven', we may in fact be inoculating them from the deep call to wholehearted repentance and the right emphases of the ways of God that catalyze spiritual growth and deepening fellowship with Christ.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Adding to my blog roll

If you are new to the blogosphere, you should get familiar with the term blogroll.  What it refers to is a list somewhere on a blog that lists other sources/blogs they want to reference in an ongoing way on the web page... mine is over there, a column to the right of the main post area.

I'm adding a new blog to my blogroll: Frank Viola.  I've not met him personally but I deeply appreciate his perspective and emphasis.  He is seeking to be theologically/biblically sound as a writer but gushes/waxes eloquently in a consistent demand for Jesus to be acknowledged as Lord.  That resonates with me so as to give him multiple/virtual high fives when I read his writings.  Having a degree in Biblical Studies myself while also experiencing the gifting of the Holy Spirit in several ways, I have found it rather exceptional to connect with someone who is teaching and speaking with a depth as it concerns both biblical literacy and a lack of apology as they effusively worship Jesus in doing so.

Jesus is more than our doctrine (which is important, to be sure, just so some can't be so quick to put me on the fringe of orthodoxy, or worse) and the things we tend to cling to for dignity and respectability within the Christian community/Body at large.  He is unshakeable and unmovable beyond any rock we have seen or can imagine.  He is brighter than all the suns combined should they all burst their complete expression of light in one instant together.  Jesus, the Son of His Father's love (Col. 1:13) looms above time and space and eternity itself.  Out of perfect wisdom and unburnished love, everything is put under His feet to the glory of God the Father.

So I commend Frank's blog, give it a read and find additional food for thought that will likely build you up in faith and hope and love.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Benedict's rule (ca. 535-540)

Benedict of Nursia (ca. 480-547) played a key role in the foundation of Christian monasteries throughout Europe.  While in Rome for his education, he was shocked by the immorality and corruption he witnessed as the culture was in rapid decline.  He retreated to a cave where he lived for 3 years, until he was persuaded to take charge of a monastery.  His attempts to reform it were not received and he narrowly escaped being poisoned there.  He moved forward to found a new work at Monte Cassino, where he established an order with the following guide to community life.

These are the instruments of good works:

1.  To love the Lord God with all one's heart, all one's soul, and all one's strength.
2.  To love one's neighbor as oneself.
3.  Not to kill.
4.  Not to commit adultery.
5.  Not to steal.
6.  Not to covet.
7.  Not to bear false witness.
8.  To honor all men.
9.  Not to do to another what one would not do to oneself.
10. To deny onself in order to follow Christ.
11. To chastise the body.
12. Not to seek after delicate living.
13. To love fasting.
14. To relieve the poor.
15. To clothe the naked.
16. To visit the sick.
17. To bury the dead.
18. To help in affliction.
19. To console the sorrowing.
20. To keep aloof from worldly actions.
21. To prefer nothing to the love of Christ.
22. Not to gratify anger.
23. Not to harbour a desire for revenge.
24. Not to foster guile in one's heart.
25. Not to make a feigned peace.
26. Not to forsake charity.
27. Not to swear, lest perchance, one forswear oneself.
28. To utter truth from heart and mouth.
29. Not to render evil for evil.
30. To do no wrong to anyone, yea, to bear patiently wrong done to oneself.
31. To love one's enemies.
32. Not to render cursing for cursing, but rather blessing.
33. To bear persecution for justice's sake.
34. Not to be proud.
35. Not given to wine.
36. Not a glutton.
37. Not drowsy.
38. Not slothful.
39. Not a murmurer.
40. Not a detractor.
41. To put one's hope in God.
42. To attribute any good that one sees in oneself to God and not to oneself.
43. To recognize and always impute to oneself the evil that one does.
44. To fear the Day of Judgement.
45. To be in dread of hell.
46. To desire with all spiritual longing everlasting life.
47. To keep death daily before one's eyes.
48. To keep guard at all times over the actions of one's life.
49. To know for certain that God sees one everywhere.
50. To dash down at the feet of Christ one's evil thoughts, the instant they come into the heart.
51. To lay them open to one's spiritual father.
52. To keep one's mouth from evil and wicked words.
53. Not to love much speaking.
54. Not to speak vain words or such as move to laughter.
55. Not to love much/excessive laughter.
56. To listen willingly to holy reading.
57. To apply oneself frequently to prayer.
58. Daily confess in prayer one's past sins with tears and sighs to God, and to amend them for the time to come.
59. Not to fulfill the desires of the flesh: to hate one's own will.
60. To obey in all things the commands of the Abbot, even though he himself (God forbid) should act otherwise.
61. Not to wish to be called holy before one is so; but first to be holy, that one may be truly so called.
62. Daily to fulfill by one's deeds the commandments of God.
63. To love chastity.
64. To hate no man.
65. Not to be jealous, nor to give way to envy.
66. Not to love strife.
67. To fly from vainglory.
68. To reverence seniors.
69. To love juniors.
70. To prayer for one's enemies in the love of Christ.
71. To make peace with an adversary before the setting of the sun.
72. And never to despair of God's mercy.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Voice of the Martyrs prayer update

Pakistan—Evicted Couple Stands Strong
Source: VOM Contacts

Micah 5:2
“ But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth are from of old,
From everlasting.”


A Pakistani couple who have endured several years of persecution from villagers and local authorities remain strong in faith even after losing their home and possessions. Arif, 35, used to spend evenings in his small village visiting friends and neighbors, sharing the gospel and praying. But in 2009, several men began to harass Arif, trying to compel him to deny Christ. He was beaten seven times, and police continued the beatings for 13 days after arresting him on Sept. 27, 2009. When Arif refused to return to Islam, he was imprisoned on false robbery charges. Arif was released four months later when his wife paid his bail. But that same evening, the village leader confiscated their livestock and home and told them to leave. They left with $2 in their pockets. Last month, a VOM staff member met with the couple for several days to pray through the events with them. Arif prayed, “O God, we thank you because you have not left us. … But [now] we have seen and experienced that you never leave us. … Lord, we are ready to obey you.” Praise God for the testimony of Arif and his wife.

Israel—University Forbids Contact with Messianic Jews
Sources: VOM Contacts, Ariel University of Samaria, IsraelNationalNews.com

John 15:13
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.

One of the largest universities in Israel has made it clear that Christian students will have their visas revoked if they work with or fellowship with Messianic Jews, according to VOM contacts. Many Christian students have submitted to Ariel University’s stipulations. “Believers allow their God-given freedom of choice and worship to be taken away in order to spare themselves,” wrote a VOM contact. Ariel University of Samaria, which serves more than 11,000 students, is located in the West Bank city of Ariel. Every student at the university is required to take classes in Judaism, Jewish heritage or Land of Israel studies. The VOM contact continued, “May God give us the strength when the time comes to cling to the words of Yeshua, ‘Greater love has no man, than to lay down his life [or his self-interest or his ministry] for his brother.’” Pray for the body of Christ in Israel.

Comoros—Believer Imprisoned for Faith
Source: Compass Direct News

2 Corinthians 5:20
Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.

The simple act of reporting a burglary cost a Comoros man his family and eight months in jail. After Musta Kim reported a burglary at his home, police officers investigating the burglary discovered a Bible and a copy of the “JESUS” film at his home. Police then arrested Musta for practicing a forbidden religion and locked him in jail. After being held eight months without a trial, Musta appealed for his freedom. He was finally granted his freedom, but his family rejected him and he could not return to his home. Musta now suffers from a skin disease that he contracted in prison. Pray for Musta and other Christians in Comoros who suffer for practicing a “forbidden” religion. May they be ambassadors for Christ in these tiny islands.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Voice of the martyrs prayer update

Pakistan—Bibi Urges Christians, Use Your Voices
Source: Jihad Watch
Matthew 6:14
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
An American journalist, recently given the opportunity to talk to Asia Bibi about her arrest and current living conditions, reported that Bibi has forgiven those who put her and her family in their current situation. In prison, Bibi frequently prays and fasts for her family and other persecuted Christians. Although she misses her daughters, she sees her family one hour each week. She lives in a confined cell, permitted to go outside for 30 minutes each day. Bibi told the reporter she completely trusts God and accepts His will. She requested Christians around the world to continue fighting for persecuted Christians and acting as the voice for the voiceless.
Iran—Christians Request Prayers
Source: Middle East Concern, FCNN, Mohabat News
Ecclesiastes 3:1
To everything there is a season,
   A time for every purpose under heaven:
Iranian Christians asked for prayer after an officially recognized church was raided during a service on Friday, Dec. 23, 2011. All those present were detained, including children. Mobile phones, the church’s audio-visual equipment and Christian literature were confiscated. Although most of those detained were released after a few hours, the church’s pastor, his wife and two other church members are still being held. Their whereabouts are unknown; please pray they will remain strong in the Lord. Iranian Christians feared that pressure and Christian persecution would increase during the Christmas season, specifically against Christians from a Muslim background. Pray for the officials involved, that they will love mercy, act justly and recognize their need for Christ.
Nigeria—Extremists Bomb Church
Source: The Washington Examiner
Joshua 1:9
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
Boko Haram, an extremist Muslim sect, bombed St. Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, Nigeria during a Christmas service, killing 35 people and wounding 52. Many Christians were left in pools of blood and dust while local authorities struggled to get emergency medical personnel to the scene. The coordinator of Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency could only send a text asking for more ambulances. Because of limited resources, the wounded Christians were taken from the church steps and placed on the cement floor of a nearby government hospital. Boko Haram often targets Christians in their attacks.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Unrequited love

Put this post up a couple of days ago, then thought I best remove it because of its potential to be misconstrued.  But upon further reflection I'm re-posting it now as I think its an important word, both for others and regarding a degree of helpful self-disclosure:

Through the prophet Jeremiah (chapter 3) God told Israel:

Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;
      Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.


This is such a potent statement, of the only God of the universe describing his love as "everlasting".  The implications are catalytic to the human experience in the deepest ways possible.  We all want to be loved; indeed, we were fashioned in such as way that to receive love is basic to our composition.  It can be argued persuasively that most of the dilemma within the bosom and theatre of fallen man is our desire to be desired.  It causes wars and rumors of wars of every scale.  To be sure, money and power are quests for broken man as well to establish himself as immortal and/or worthwhile.  But the broader base and deepest well we have, both to fill and from which to give others' drink, is love.

Moving further, the overarching goal of Christlikeness to a lover of God (Gal. 4:19) means there are occasions when He draws us to a dynamic to feel deeply what He feels.  This is inevitable, like prayer, to be posed in such a way as to come to a deeper knowledge of Christ.  And knowing Him is the literal definition of eternal life, (John 17:3).  Its in the place of being with Him and experiencing, for the purpose of this message particularly, unrequited love that brings you to a fellowship with Him and adoration of Him and amazement at Him much more transforming than the casual or pleasant exchange with Christ.

I'm writing this to offer assurance for those servants of God who will inevitably be taken in some measure through such a route to the depths of Christ so that you might respond with faith and hope and love.  The affections of God Himself for you will lead you through (which includes to) adversity.  But the gospel that should be preached is not man-centered... at its very center it is for God's glory, that you would see and marvel at the love within God Himself, (John 17:24) which also abounds towards you.  If you but identify with Him in His suffering, you will find Him as one closer than a brother, (Prov. 18:24), and you will find Him carrying you to the other side... though the darkness may endure for a night.  And your fellowship with Him shall be sweet if you but lean your head upon Him - and not upon your own understanding.

As we turn the page of the Gregorian calendar year, I pray for everyone reading this: may you live and move and have your being with Jesus in every high and every low.  In prosperity and famine.  In joy and in sorrow.  And if we build our lives upon Him and His word we will not be shaken, (Matt. 7:24ff).