BACKYARD AFRICA

Missionary or Imposter? C.H. Spurgeon

author/pastor Dan Kimball passed this quote on today, high challenge to live on mission from C.H. Spurgeon

“If Jesus is precious to you, you will not be able to keep your good news to yourself. You will be whispering it into your child’s ear. You will be telling it to your husband. You will be earnestly imparting it to your friend. Without the charms of eloquence you will be more than eloquent: your heart will speak, and your eyes will flash as you talk of His sweet love.

Every Christian here is either a missionary or an impostor. Recollect that. You either try to spread abroad the kingdom of Christ, or else you do not love Him at all. It cannot be that there is a high appreciation of Jesus and a totally silent tongue about Him. Of course I do not mean by that, that those who use the pen are silent: they are not. And those who help others to use the tongue, or spread that which others have written, are doing their part well: but that man who says, ‘I believe in Jesus,’ but does not think enough of Jesus ever to tell another about Him, by mouth, or pen, or tract, is an impostor.

You are either doing good, or you are not good yourself. If thou knowest Christ, thou art as one that has found honey. Thou wilt call others to taste of it. Thou art like the lepers who found the food which the Syrians had cast away: thou wilt go to Samaria and tell the hungry crowd that thou hast found Jesus, and art anxious that they should find Him too. Be wise in your generation, and speak of Him in fitting ways and at fitting times, and so in every place proclaim the fact that Jesus is most precious to your soul.”

THE EASY BIBLE?

http://theeasybible.com/?page_id=373&ap_id=disciple

If I’m being honest, I’d normally skip over something called “THE EASY BIBLE”.  Seriously? When I first heard of it, I was thinking….What?  Another variation on the Bible?  We’ve got buku study Bibles etc..

However, it came highly recommended from a friend that I trust and so I looked in and purchased a copy….and I was hooked!

3 Reasons why and then I think you should go buy one yourself to check it out:

#1: IT’S AS DIRECTIVE OF AN ON-RAMP FOR PEOPLE NEW TO THE BIBLE THAT I’VE SEEN.

If you’re looking to introduce people to the Bible, this is an excellent, day by day clear road map to the A, B, C’s of making your way around the Bible.  For the broad sweep of the content of the Bible, I’d recommend Covenant and Kingdom by Mike Breen available at www.weare3dm.com.

#2: IT’S BACKED BY SOME SERIOUS SCHOLARLY MO-JO

Really appreciate the depth of reflection that Dwight Clough put into this. 

#3: IT’S DESIGNED TO LEAD TOWARD MULTIPLICATION.

I love things that are simple and reproduce-able and this is one of them.

I’m in the process of developing a new discipleship pathway for the community that I lead and this is going to be a part.  Highly recommend checking it out here: http://theeasybible.com/?page_id=373&ap_id=disciple

We showed this clip from ER yesterday at our gathering to provoke boldness and make us more aware of the weights and questions those outside the life of Jesus carry.  The doctor is ridden with guilt as a result of the reality that he administered the death penalty to a victim who was later shown to be framed for the crime.  I think this clips raises some important questions (ironically) for followers of Jesus:

1) Do I provide more questions than answers?

2) Do I actively listen?

3) Am I tender toward the voice of God’s Spirit for what needs to be said in any given moment?

4) Am I bold?

5) Do I have convictions?  There are three kinds of hills: Hills to die on, hills to bleed on and hills not worth climbing.  What are my deeply held “hills to die on” core beliefs that I will not waver on and will not be unashamed of (Romans 1:16).  Are they the right hills? 

6) Am I afraid to say something objective and true around those I know disagree? (Read Galatians 1 for a fresh vision of living in light of God’s approval) 

Little Big Town: Missional Communities in Small Towns?

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”  Micah 5:2

About 8 years ago, God began stirring my heart for church planting.  Previously, I had zero desire to be a senior pastor or to plant a church for that matter.  I was content to find my niche in a role that allowed me to activate the church toward local and global missional engagement.

As usual, God had other plans and through a series of events, our family moved to Somerset, WI to launch a Jesus-centered, Bible teaching missional church.  

The population sign for the village of Somerset reads something like 1,542.  It’s quite a bit more than that now (somewhere around 6,000 for the village and the town), but being a spread out rural community struggling to find it’s identity, we experience small town dynamics.

I’ve been swimming in the discipling and missional community stream for a few years now, heavily involved in the global movement of 3D Ministries (www.weare3dm.com).  One of the questions we are asked periodically is about the effectiveness of missional communities in smaller towns.

Remember in school growing up you did those diorama’s?  In many ways I feel like that’s what The Bridge Bible Church is becoming for people wondering about MC’s in smaller communities.  While there are unique challenges, we are seeing God do some really neat things through our network of eight MC’s (and I believe two more are in the chute).

I’d like to share a few things we’re learning and are experiencing over the next couple of posts. (Plenty of challenges to be clear).

Two things for now. 

One about me, one about you, both with a challenge attached ; )

1) ABOUT ME:   While working on my master’s degree, I served part time at a small country church in New Ellenton, South Carolina.  My pastor and dear friend Gary Fleetwood was a bi-vocational pastor who worked full time at the Savannah River Site and part time at this lil’ country church.  When they asked Gary to come and consider taking on this, in their words “Small dying church”, Gary came anyway. But he told them “You are not a dying church, you are a dead church.”  Gary has faithfully and fruitfully pastored this church with a steady stream of people coming to know Jesus through the years.    I gladly served along his side and many Sunday’s the presence of God was overwhelming as we worshipped and served together.  This experience of seeing God show up in a small country church opened me to even consider moving to Somerset, WI because: GOD MAKES A BIG DEAL OUT OF LITTLE TOWNS!  C’mon now, Bethlehem (which in Hebrew means “house of Bread”) became host to the Bread of Life!  So here we go, you ready?  STOP THINKING SMALL IN A SMALL TOWN AND DREAM BIG!  God’s not limited by your population size or lack of influence as a town.  As Neil Cole likes to say, “The problem is not the giants in the land, but the grasshoppers in our mind.”  God wants to make a big deal out of your little town.

2) ABOUT YOU: ONLY YOU KNOW YOUR CONTEXT Be confident as a missional leader in a small town.  You will likely be making decisions that wouldn’t make sense in an urban context, but don’t feel bad about that.  You own it, God put you there. Listen to Him, partner with Him and He’ll do His deal.  For example, we meet weekly for our Sunday gathering.  I would be confident going on record saying that in our smaller town, mid-west context, I believe we’d be missionally sinning if we didn’t do this.  Now, I am passionate about the fruit of our discipling huddles and missional communities.  My eggs are in that basket for the fruit of discipleship and missional living.  But, I have friends who lead churches that meet monthly for gathering and weekly in missional communities.  If that works in your context, great!  But don’t be a hater about what others are doing as if they are watering down the pure vision of discipleship and mission.

More to come, but as a next step, to broaden your vision for what God can do in small communities, read the outstanding:

Big Dreams in Small Places by Tom Nebel

http://www.amazon.com/Big-dreams-small-places-communities/dp/1889638285/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1316022513&sr=8-1

TRUE GENIUS: BLAISE PASCAL

Blaise Pascal: You know him as mathematical genius, inventor.

Meet him as one who was saved by Jesus.

His conversion was so radical a moment for him that he wrote down the experience and had it sown into his jacket for the rest of his life.  May his story echo in your soul as you long to see your people of peace embrace the Savior.

 

Memorial

Blaise Pascal

In the year of Grace, 1654….

On Monday, 23rd of November

From about half past ten in the evening until about half past twelve
FIRE

God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob,

not of the philosophers and scholars.

Certitude. Certitude. Feeling. Joy. Peace.

God of Jesus Christ.

“Thy God shall be my God.”

Forgetfulness of the world and of everything, except God.

He is to be found only by the ways taught in the Gospel…

Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy….

“This is eternal life, that they might know Thee, the only true God, 

and the One whom Thou has sent, Jesus Christ.”

Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ.

I have separated myself from Him: I have fled from Him, denied Him,

crucified Him.

Let me never be separated from Him.

We keep hold of Him only by the ways taught in the Gospel.

Renunication, total and sweet.

Total submission to Jesus Christ and to my director.

Eternally in joy for a day’s exercise on earth….”

 

Chris Wright is a stud!  I love his humble heart and deep insight.  Thanks Doug Day for the recommend.

Part Two: Flipside To the Person of Peace

If you’re new to the “POP” principle, the p.erson o.f p.eace is someone who is willing to receive what God gives you to say or do in that moment.  They receive your word or deed with a measure of either gratitude, curiosity, or openness.

They welcome you and even serve you. (See Luke 9 & 10 for a copy of Jesus’ mission manual for His disciples that includes these principles)

Positive receptivity is an indication that God’s fingerprints are at work in a person.  You should take that as the anvil on the head or the big E on the eye chart that it is.  Invest there, spend time there, live there for a while.

In my last post I asked if there was a flipside to the person of peace practice.  I mean c’mon, isn’t this a bit selective? Perhaps even harsh (all you tender hearted shepherds are thinking, who am I to choose favorites?

My answer to the question is No.  There is not a flipside. However, let me give you three principles that I believe will help guide your heart as you practice the POP strategy.

#1: When someone is not a person of peace, don’t change your heart toward them, rather pray that God changes their heart toward you.  Just because someone isn’t open yet doesn’t mean you go off and get all jaded and bash them.  Maybe they are not a POP for you.  Maybe they will become a POP tomorrow. Love them in prayer until they become pliable and receptive.  I am finally, after 5.5 years of prayer engaging in conversation with someone who seems to be-coming a person of peace.  I’ve loved him as much the day I met him as I do now, but he has not been receptive until now. 

#2: Make sure you aren’t avoiding difficult conversations with wounded people who may be people of peace but for lack of engagement you’ll never know.  Sometimes people who have been receptive drop off the map and often times your perception is that they are no longer people of peace.  Maybe, maybe not.  Maybe your perception is wrong.  Perhaps they await a conversation to work through wounds that have been suffered in the midst of battle.  Is there someone who you need to follow up with in light of Ezekiel 34?  Are you failing to come alongside someone who may be hurting for fear of being hurt yourself?  Lay that aside and go for the sake of peace, for the sake of the Gospel.

#3 Your time is too precious to try to do something God hasn’t called you to do: butt your head up against a wall and fit a square peg in a round hole.

When Jesus had the opportunity to teach us how to live on mission, He gave us the POP strategy.  It’s His idea, His vision.  If we want effective missional results (people saying yes to Jesus fully submitting to Him as King) we should use Jesus’ effective missional strategy.  God hasn’t called you to try to win over un-receptive people.  Psychologist Dr. Henry Cloud tells us that there are three kinds of people in the world:

Wise People

Foolish People

Evil People

Are you losing traction, getting drained or are flat out burnt out because you’ve been trying to make foolish people do something they won’t do (LISTEN) or make evil people love something they won’t love (LIGHT)?  Invest in those in whom you detect the fingerprints of God, the evidences of His activity, the people of peace.

May you find the freedom, joy and life in knowing that God has many people in your city (Acts 18:10) and that if you start to see the people of peace, you will see them saved!

God, You Did it Again

A few layers above my core identity as a follower of Jesus, I am proud to be the pastor of a local church. 

One of the formative stories in my journey as a leader takes place during a time in my life when I was gearing up for para-church ministry.  That’s where I perceived all the action to be taking place, all of the missional “OUT” there kind of things happening and that’s where I was being drawn.

I was serving on staff at a small, back of the woods church in South Carolina, sitting in on one of the three gauges of holiness in the South, the Sunday night service.  (Sorry, Southern culture: The idea that someone is a faithful Christan if they show up on Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night is not the holiness code of the new testament.  You’re measuring the wrong thing, I digress for now.)

Anyway, one night as my pastor was preaching through the book of Ephesians, God arrested my heart with the words “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25)

I was hosed, I was done from there on out.  I committed to dying serving the church, whatever that meant.  To give myself up for those whom Jesus gave Himself up for-the precious church of Jesus.

Part of my role as a local church pastor is week in and week out communicating a message from the Bible.  I love that.  It’s an honor and a joy.

And it is a labor:

Paul describes those who labor in preaching  and teaching in 1 Timothy 5:!7.

As I land my week this week, I am fully aware once again though that I am not alone.  That I labor with God’s energy that works within me (Colossians 1:28, 29) as I make disciples and warn/teach/instruct/admonish God’s people each week.

To drill down even deeper, I am fully aware that God could remove His blessing on this work.  That I could be in a sense “left to my own devices” about the content of teaching. 

Over the past months, week in and week out, as I finalize my teaching notes, I have been intuitively saying “God, you did it again.”  You gave a compelling word from your compelling book and I have great expectancy about how You will use it.

So, with all the jaded-ness about preaching and the ineffectiveness of Sunday, one thing we might want to remember is that God is all over the preparation of your pastor.  It seems He is very interested in His Word being publicly preached—-loud and clear and in a compelling way.  It is an honor to be a communicator of God’s truth, and I believe it honors God and it is a means of grace and power that need not be de-valued our under emphasized.  Jesus came preaching and teaching.  May God continue to anoint the bold proclamation of His Word, the Word, Jesus!

Is there a Flipside to the Person of Peace Practice?

Neil Cole in his fantastic book Organic Church comments as follows on the parable of the sower:

“If ten people accept the Gospel and only two bear fruit, I no longer babysit the unfruitful eight.  Instead I invest my life in the two.  These two will bear much fruit.  I am convinced that we have made a serious mistake by accommodating bad soil in our churches.  When we see people come to Christ and then slip away, we assume a responsibility that is not ours.  We would not take it on if we truly listened to this parable”.

I’d love to see some of your thoughts on whether or not there is a flipside to the last two sentences in this quote. 

Nutshell: Is the person of peace principle “HARSH” in any way?  Do we neglect God’s wounded sheep?  Who am I to choose to overlook some?

What about Ezekiel 34?  Does that have relevance to the principle?  Here’s a snippet from that text:

 1 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? 3 You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. 4 You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. Ezekiel 34:1-4

Is there a tension here or are we talking about two different things?

My thoughts in the next post, what do you think?