We’re in for some pain… a lot of pain. It seems like that’s what God is telling us.
Dave Gibbons told Francis Chan: The highest form of love is when you can love someone who you feel betrayed you, left you, or abandoned you. Let these people beat you up and love them still. God is working on you, God is pruning you.
At the end of the day, it’s all about the Holy Spirit and what He’s called you to do. It may look different from this guy or this guy – are you willing to do that? I have to go after whatever God calls us to – even if none go with me.
If you’re not suffering, you shouldn’t be at peace. Some of us need to suffer just to know if we’re for real. Fellowship of His suffering, intimacy – Paul wanted that level of intimacy with Jesus… the fellowship of His suffering.
If it brings you more honor that I die, I die – if it brings you more glory that I live, I live. The Korean missionaries who wer captured by the Taliban desired to be back there because they were so close to Jesus in that moment. The fellowship of His suffering brings an intimacy that cannot be duplicated through any other means.
Why do you need a comforter if you’re comfortable? If we are serious about really wanting Christ, then we can rejoice in sufferings and we can rejoice in being rejected. This is not something edgy, cool, or a new thing. It’s a biblical conviction that’s been killing us. I’d rather be in a pit guarded by Taliban with Jesus than in comfort without Him. It’s the Holy Spirit’s leading. My guess is what He’s calling you to do is different than what He’s calling me to do – but it will be painful for both of us.
12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. (ESV)
10:1 And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. 2 The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
5 These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. 9 Acquire no gold nor silver nor copper for your belts, 10 no bag for your journey, nor two tunics nor sandals nor a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. 11 And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. 12 As you enter the house, greet it. 13 And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.
16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. 19 When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, 22 and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.
26 “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.
34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. 41 The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” (ESV)
34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (ESV)
15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’
26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning. (ESV)
5:1 But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, 2 and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. 6 The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.
7 After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” 9 But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.
12 Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. 13 None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem. 14 And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, 15 so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. 16 The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.
17 But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy 18 they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 20 “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” 21 And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach.
Now when the high priest came, and those who were with him, they called together the council and all the senate of the people of Israel and sent to the prison to have them brought. 22 But when the officers came, they did not find them in the prison, so they returned and reported, 23 “We found the prison securely locked and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened them we found no one inside.” 24 Now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them, wondering what this would come to. 25 And someone came and told them, “Look! The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people.” 26 Then the captain with the officers went and brought them, but not by force, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people.
27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
33 When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. 34 But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. 35 And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. 36 For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37 After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. 38 So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice, 40 and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. (ESV)
8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (ESV)
4:1 This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4 For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.
6 I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. 7 For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?
8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you! 9 For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. 11 To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, 12 and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13 when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.
14 I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. 15 For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 16 I urge you, then, be imitators of me. 17 That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church. 18 Some are arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power. 20 For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. 21 What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness? (ESV)
5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. (ESV)
12 It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. (ESV)
11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (ESV)
29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, (ESV)
24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, (ESV)
4 For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know. (ESV)
5 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— (ESV)
8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, (ESV)
3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. (ESV)
3:1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. 9 But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.
10 You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11 my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. 12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (ESV)
4:1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
9 Do your best to come to me soon. 10 For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry. 12 Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. 13 When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments. 14 Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. 15 Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message. 16 At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! 17 But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
19 Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. 20 Erastus remained at Corinth, and I left Trophimus, who was ill, at Miletus. 21 Do your best to come before winter. Eubulus sends greetings to you, as do Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brothers.
22 The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you. (ESV)
1:1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, 2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began 3 and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior;
4 To Titus, my true child in a common faith:
Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.
5 This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— 6 if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. 7 For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. 9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
10 For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. 11 They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. 12 One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work. (ESV)
13:1 Let brotherly love continue. 2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. 3 Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. 4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. 5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?”
7 Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 9 Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. 10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. 11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. 12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. 13 Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. 14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. 15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
18 Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. 19 I urge you the more earnestly to do this in order that I may be restored to you the sooner.
20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
22 I appeal to you, brothers, bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly. 23 You should know that our brother Timothy has been released, with whom I shall see you if he comes soon. 24 Greet all your leaders and all the saints. Those who come from Italy send you greetings. 25 Grace be with all of you. (ESV)
Hugh Halter – The Power of Our Posture
The attitude of our body, the inflection of your voice – our non-verbals. Non-verbals are the most important part of our communication. Missional is the sending impulse. Incarnational is the posture and is more important. Missional without incarnational is ineffective. Our posture is disorienting for the unbeliever – our rhetoric does not meet their reality.
Woman caught in adultery – incarnational story. Incarnation is to be an advocate for lost people – to consider them disoriented. Being their advocate can win their heart. We should not be concerned about condoning behavior but winning the heart of the world. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. He was our advocate.
John Burke – Gateway Community Church
If your unchurched friends are not finding faith and becoming the church, you are not missional. The Pharisees were doctrinally pure and moral and missional – but their hearts had no love and no patience.
Am I serving the spiritual and physical needs of my neighbors? Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve. If we call ourselves missional leaders and do not fill the spiritual and physical needs of our neighbors then we are not being missional like Jesus was. Do we really believe God can change people? If people know you are for them and not against them, they’ll start to believe your God is for them and not against them.
Do you see and point out God’s work in them? Do we simply listen and point out where God is already at work? If you ask them what they’re longing for and listen, you’ll see the God put that desire in there.
Are my unchurched neighbors now leading in the church? If not, your church is dying. Are we preparing to enfold people who come to faith to train them to lead others? If you are on mission with Him, eventually your friends will find faith and in a short amount of time they will start leading others to find faith as well.
Worship leading is to do anything in any way that leads to Jesus being worshiped and praised. Train your people to know their biblical story and redemptive plan of God. Train them to know the stories of the people they’re sent into. In order to do that well, you have to be people who listen well. We are not very good at listening to God nor are we good at listening to people. We are called to engage in the celebrations of the people and we bring the better wine. We ought to party like crazy – be known for partying as we have the greatest thing to celebrate.
When you eat, it reminds you that you need something outside of you to fill a deep need within you that can’t be filled within you. Open your table – open your table. Our common union with unbelievers is that we’re all hungry and our hunger is fulfilled in Christ. Christian artists should be the most creative people on the planet because they don’t have to create art for approval, because they’re already accepted in Christ – they’re free to create. We should be the most creative and most refreshed people in the city. In our job, our work is worship to God because we’re already approved by Christ. We’re asking people to live normal life with Gospel intentionality.
Story-Formed – LISTEN – Celebrations – Bless – EAT – RECREATE
Equip your people in the everyday – not the spectacular.
What are the most important characteristics of a leader. We use nomenclature that kinda fascinated people. If we really break it down, the mission is very clear. Love God and love your neighbor. How? Love. Who? Your neighbor. The problem is how we define our neighbor. It’s someone you would hate – someone unforgivable to you. How do we go about that love?
Embracing the theology of flow and blessing. Your called to be like Jesus. He only did what He saw His Father doing. It’s not your job to initiate and make it happen, you listen and look to see what God is doing. When you’re walking through a large crowd, make sure you walk slowly and see the anointing of God, the blessing on them.
What’s in your hand? God’s given you something. He’s given you a story. He’s given you some unique things. How much do you leverage the power of the Holy Spirit? If prayer isn’t a central part of your life, your not dependent on the Holy Spirit – your dependent upon your own power.
What is your pain?
Can anything good come from Nazareth? Who are the fringe – the fringe are the ones who lead movements.
There should be no foster children in any city in America. Eastern societies look at how we treat our elderly and consider us barbaric. It’s not easy, but the road called us to is to love. It’s not about our passion, it’s about our obedience.
Unedited notes from an AMAZING evening session – good stuff in here
Disciple making is in every movement. We’re being discipled every day through media. The task of advertising is to create desire. Consumerism is being defined by what we consume. Consumerism is the alternative religion of our day. Without doubt it is the secular religion of our day. Jesus advice can be taken quite literally… DIE.
The best kept secret among evangelicals – far easier to win people to Christ, plant churches, multiply cell groups – do evangelism and make disciples like the apostles did. Stop describing Jesus through facts – they need to experience the living risen Jesus. The main point, the punch line is his resurrection. They must experience the risen Christ.
They mobilized everyone to witness. Ordinary Christians doing 95% of the evangelism while being mentored by the gifted evangelists. Who did they go to? Stop trying to shove the camel through the eye of the needle. Average American church spends almost all of its time on camels. Almost all Americans are camels (the rich people) in comparison to the world. Jesus came to preach the Gospel to the poor. He didn’t start His public ministry among the rich and the powerful. He started with fisherman, people with callouses on their hands, or people who were despised like tax collectors.
They used every method. Don’t get hung up on method. Use a method that works. Only one approach that’s been consistent – do it the way the apostles did. It doesn’t need a lot of money. It doesn’t require a Phd.
American Evangelism tends to see people as isolated individuals, how does God see him? Part of a community.
Bring the seekers into a group of their own peers and work in the circle – don’t pull them out of the circle.
The busier you get, the less compassionate you become. Compassion from the bowels – deep compassion. We don’t see the lost the way Jesus did. We need to see them through the eyes of Jesus. It will change the way we behave. Jesus created sheep to be cared for by a shepherd. Don’t even call it multiplying until you get to the fourth generation. You can’t save someone who doesn’t want to be saved. Look for the drowning victim.
God is doing something among the nations… meaning ethnic groups. Church planting movements.
Communists – God loves to show what He can do. Cuba. He brought the Gospel up within Cuba. “We went to seminary on our knees in prison. When we left, we were no longer afraid.” They’re on track by the year 2010 to see 100,000 churches in Cuba and over 1,000,000 baptized believers.
Muslims. We went to Libya. I’ve learned more ways not to win a Muslim. In 2002, we moved to Bangalore, India. They can cut my body into 1,000 pieces and every piece will cry out, “Jesus is Lord.”
Pray for the people of Iran – the Christians will be the fodder for any attack. We believe 25,000 are being baptized every day. Chinese official says – that’s a lie – we’ve been monitoring you – it’s been 30,000 every day.
We want to see a disciple making movement that changes everything. We might have to change the way we do mission so that we can empower people to use their gifts. Disciples don’t just know – they do. That people might live how Jesus really intended us to live – it should be the norm, not the surprise.
Obedience based discipleship will lead to mission shaped disciples.
All have gifts. We tend to teach people to be passive spectators. If we disciple through knowledge and not action, we’ve trained people to be puffed up gnostics – people believing they have special knowledge but no power of transformation. Knowledgeable people who don’t live on mission and criticize those who are. They need to get off their blessed assurance and do something to server Jesus. God has placed people in your church and gifted them to produce something for the common good. Anything that disempowers and demotivates the people of God is unhelpful and perhaps sinful. Why? It destroys the common good. Scarcity brings clarity. When we do for people what God has called them to do, everybody gets hurt and the mission of God gets hindered.
God intends all to use. We’ve made it acceptable to sit Sunday after Sunday in church and do nothing and still call ourselves a follower of Jesus.
All people are called and empowered by the Holy Spirit. We have to stop letting God’s people off the hook. We have to trust the Holy Spirit within them. We have to stop enabling. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things for God should be normal in the Kingdom.
To Bring God Glory. I don’t care about the label – I care about the lifestyle.
Disciples see what Jesus is doing and they join Him in it. Is your church doing this? What am I going to make different about my message so they’ll join Jesus on His mission?
39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. (ESV)
5 “Look among the nations, and see;
wonder and be astounded.
For I am doing a work in your days
that you would not believe if told. (ESV)
8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (ESV)
Unedited notes from the afternoon session.
(I missed a chunk of this session)
A big part of this is establishing apostolic culture.
We need to put aside the structure of our church and connect to the structures we live in. Some populations will require us to not be at the church on Sunday mornings. Our strategy has to be defined by the structures we’re trying to reach. Could you take a job in a sweat shop to work with sweat shop workers in order to reach them? They cannot be reached through the standard means. Somebody had to give up a good paying job and take a bad paying job in order to reach that group.
Do you know the structures in your community? Do you have any concept of what it will take to penetrate that structure? We have to be able to talk to people in those structures and find out what their needs are so that we can become friends with the right to share the Gospel rather than interlopers who interject the Gospel?
Unedited notes from the morning session.
Has to do with the organizational structure of movements. A starfish has a structure where any segment has the possibility to reproduce the entire structure. There’s a movement in every one of us. Begin with the end in mind – plant a movement, don’t just plant a church.
Three parables about the Kingdom that are organic in nature.
Sower sows seeds that lands in four different kinds of soil. The Gospel is not just a “Get out of Hell free card.” The Gospel is “The King has come.” The message of the Kingdom is Jesus. I’ve stopped telling people to plant churches. I tell them to plant Jesus. He’s the core of everything else. You can plant a church and not make disciples. We need to learn to trust in the seed. Church is the fruit, the outgrowth of the message of the Kingdom. The way to do this is to plant Jesus first. The world is more interested in Jesus than they are the church.
The man doesn’t know how the seed grows, but he knows it does and knows to harvest when it’s ready. This is the spontaneous growth of the kingdom – the seed sprouts and grows all by itself. When is this man busy? Sowing and Reaping, he’s not busy during the time of growth. When are we most busy… during growth – look at any Christian bookstore. We commit so much time, energy, and resource trying to make things grow that we don’t plant the seed. We need to see the church more like a farmer and not a CEO. We need to realize that we need to plant the seed. Curriculum is not the solution to changing lives. Books don’t change lives. The Bible does. We can’t just read the bible asking “What do the people need to hear.” We need to read it to hear God speak directly to us through His word. We make disciples by planting the seed, not a seed substitute. You can’t make something grow any more than tugging on a plant will make it grow. The growth comes from within. We need to trust that Jesus will bring the growth. Let’s bring the message of Jesus right into the darkness of our lives… take the Gospel to your drug dealer. If we trust in our methods and message more than the Seed itself, we fail.
Have you ever caused someone to die?
I will not do this until You show me from Your Word how to start churches. After six months, the how started to emerge. Let people discover God on their own from His word. Show them the scriptures, ask them what it says to them, ask them what they’re going to do about it?
I still cause people to die, but instead of dying for a system of religion, they’re dying for a savior. The power of forgiveness has been given to us. In order to withhold forgiveness, we must simply do nothing. By doing nothing, we’re saying, “You’re not forgiven.” This isn’t easy because this isn’t about religion.
What are the paradoxical differences? You have to go slow in order to go fast. You have to start with the right people… sometimes the right one person. Each effort has 2-4 years of mentoring leadership. Focus on the one in order to win the many. Jesus told His disciples to find the one person and stay there.
Jeff Vanderstelt – Soma Communities
There is no other Senior Pastor except Jesus Christ. Jesus building a church in and through us. Most people think of the church as a building people go to. People give money to fund the activities. These serve almost like containers to hold people in. It’s almost like we’re extracting people from the world…
You are not going out to be Jesus to people, you’re going out with Jesus for Him to fill people with Himself. We’ve been saved by grace and saved for God’s work. The five-fold ministries are to equip and train the people to minister. Every member of the church is a full-time paid minister for Jesus Christ. The saints need to be doing the ministry and the pastors should not be doing the ministering for the church. “The mercenary mentality of the church.” We have to call the church to be the church.
It’s not the pastor’s job to feed the saints. It’s the job of the saints to feed others. If volunteering at the service is your highest view… it’s event volunteering.
Have we structured things so that everyone is a declarer of the Gospel and that they see all of life as the ministry they’re called to? The best place for equipping is in life. MC is a family of believers living life together – all of it. It’s the whole deal. How do you know someone is faithful to what you taught them? By seeing them live it out. The only way to disciple is life on life in the midst of everyday life. Let’s not put on programs that extract people from life but we equip them for life.
We have to help people know what their mission is. Who are they called to? Can you imagine if you were sent to another part of the world – what would you do? We ask them to realign their whole life to make disciples of a specific people group. Let’s launch and commission people. You don’t plant a church – a church emerges. Our elder track is not sitting in a classroom, but we train our elders by having be the elder of small group of people. You’d be surprised what the church can do if you believe Jesus is in them.
Jesus sneezed. Viral movements. Viruses can teach us many things. Pretty resistant, marvelous creatures. Really good ideas always spread like viruses. The more complex you make it, the harder it is to pass it along. Simple is reproducible.
Pay it forward. If we simply stayed with that methodology, in 11 iterations of pay it forward, we would reach every American. I’m going to disciple three people into the kingdom. Discipling them all the way through. In 11 iterations with all the people in this room, we’d reach the entirety of America. Expand this to a church – each church plants three churches. We’d saturate America with churches.
Two elements to an exponential movements. Apostolic Mission – traditional – won’t be enough. Mission of the People of God – every person and every domain has their role to play. It takes both to create an exponential movement. [over-k-dover]
Whatever you do has to have the capacity to reproduce itself. If it can’t be – you have to call that into question. If your idea of church is so complex – that is not easy to reproduce. Paul planted a church in 9 days. Your baptism is your commission – it shouldn’t take 7 years to train someone to be a leader. It’s a people movement.
4:1 Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. 2 And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: 3 “Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. 6 And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. 8 And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” 9 And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
10 And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11 And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, 12 so that
“they may indeed see but not perceive,
and may indeed hear but not understand,
lest they should turn and be forgiven.”
13 And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. 16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. 17 And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. 18 And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 20 But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”
21 And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? 22 For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” 24 And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. 25 For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”
26 And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. 27 He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. 28 The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”
30 And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? 31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”
33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. 34 He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.
35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (ESV)
1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (ESV)
Unedited Notes from the morning breakout.
What does it take to really build a multiplicative infrastructure that moves throughout the world? The secret is “you.” It’s within you – within every follower of Christ. They key is the presence of Christ in us. We all have the secret, but we just cover it up with all sorts of other stuff.
Pay it Forward trailer.
We want multiplication, but we usually perform addition, but we’re really good at subtraction and division.
What would you do if 100 people came to Christ in a day? What about 1,000 in a week? About 10,000 in a month? What about 1,000,000 in a year? No longer can you do church the way you’re used to. You’d be left thinking that church as we know it must change. Additive growth grows to a ceiling. Multiplicative growth has no ceiling. If our vision isn’t to see 100,000,000 come to Christ – we are stuck in an additive process.
What church multiplication is not.
Church planting without multigenerational reproduction is not multiplication. Church has daughter church, granddaughter church, great-granddaughter church, and great-great-granddaughter church. Fourth generation multiplication. A good leader can easily create three generations – great leader attracts other leaders who has followers. To get to the fourth generation requires you to give it away. Multiplication takes time – we want to take our finger off the X and put it on the + because that moves more quickly and it’s easier.
Gathering and assimilating other Christians from other churches to form new ones. This is NOT multiplication, it’s actually subtraction. Megachurches are expanding, the church itself is actually shrinking in America.
A centralized leadership development institution that sends out man church planters. Not multiplication – it can never be. If you require an institution to produce your leaders it means the churches aren’t doing it.
What it is…
The church must be self-perpetuating: she is healthy, enduring and will continue to live without needing any outside props of infusion of resources.
The church must be self-propagating: she reproduces and will naturally start other churches.
Formation of Networks: A Chain vs. A Hub
Advantages of decentralization (organic church is not a model – not saying house church – living connected growth – can be done in any model) – rapid reproduction, global impact much faster, less cost of maintenance, God is more obviously the author, more resistant to persecution, and resistant to heresy. The solution to heresy is not better trained pulpits, but better trained pews.
Advantages of centralization – better communication, faster regional impact, pooled resources, more visible presence, greater longevity of the church
The Kingdom of God begins like a mustard seed. It always begins at the smallest level – at the micro and not the macro.
Disciples, Leaders, Churches, Movements. We need to grow disciples to grow leaders who grow churches that grow movements. Your church is only as good as your disciples. God is the Bible Answer Man – not you. Trust the Holy Spirit to teach.
We usually see leadership like the Addidas “Impossible is Nothing” commercial. Chain reaction movement – impetus carried by each member. If one of use steps out of the way, the momentum stops.
The gravity of social groupings. Church is not a one-size-fits-all mentality.
2-3: Most essential size for life change
12-15: Best size for a spiritual family – not a good leadership group size
25-75: Best size for training
120-150: “Dunbar number” – 151 people stops connections. Ideal for feeling a part of a larger entity… an extended family.
300-500: Good number for casting vision and communicating an idea.
Unlimited multitudes beyond that.
How did we implement these sizes?
2-3: LTG – closest friends (Life Transformation Groups)
12-15: Simple Church family
25-75 = Regional leadership equipping
120-160 – Simple church network
300-500 – SPecial gathering conference
Infinity and Beyond
What size should leadership be? It’s outside this growth pattern and feeds all parts. It should be 5-7. Jesus didn’t violate these numbers.
23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. (ESV)
Verge was inspired by Alan Hirsch’s Book – The Forgotten Ways.
In the opening video, Alan Hirsch talks about the central theme: Jesus is Lord – he calls it a worldview in three words – it’s the centerpiece and all other aspects of a missional movement revolve around this. Tonight there were two speakers discussing the topic: Jesus is Lord. What follows is a lightly edited version of my raw notes (I basically fill in gaps as I recall them – otherwise they’re as I typed them during the message… so, the grammar will likely be off).
Matt Carter – Austin Stone
Missional community has incredible potential to be what this generation of believers is remembered for – it could define this generation historically. (He knows this is debatable.) It’s possible when they’re writing about us as believers, they will speak of Missional Community.
Matt believes Missional Community is the long-awaited structure that the American Church has desperately needed to unleash everyday believers on mission in everyday life. To most churches the story has been “Come to us” rather than “Go” – Come to us and we will make you comfortable and help you serve the body of Christ. Too often, that is where it ends.
“When does the Holy Spirit of God get to manifest through me?” Many people are now asking this. Missional Community is the long awaited structure needed to awaken the sleeping giant of the American Church. It’s long past time for the American Church to wake up from its materialistic and narcissistic slumber and get into the fight. Unleashed into the neighborhoods and the classrooms of this country with the life-altering message of Jesus Christ.
He is also concerned that Missional Community is all we’re remembered for – nothing more. We can love our mission more than we love our Savior. If this is true, your Savior will have no part of your mission.
Nicolatians had bent so far to the culture that they were no longer salt and light to the culture. Ephesus was doing well, but they had left their first love.
Jesus says, “If I’m not the single most important person in your church, I’m coming to you and I’m no longer going to walk in your midst any longer.” He will remove His manifest presence and blessing if you love your mission more than you love Your Savior.
Jesus must be central – we need to stop and say, “Jesus, we place you first.”
Here’s how you know if Jesus is on the front of your heart and if you love Your Savior more than your mission. If Jesus took everything away from you and all you were left with was Jesus… would that be enough?
Francis Chan was next, but his excellent message was so all over the map, I’m going to need to work on editing those notes a little more so they’re coherent. I’ll post them once I get them edited.
2:1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.
2 “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. 3 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. 6 Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’ (ESV)
If He’s not in this thing – I don’t wanna be a part of it. Verge – on the outer edge… just about to cross. We’re on the verge of seeing something happen – what God is already doing. Timing – everything these guys are talking about is what God has already been putting on my heart.
I liked American Church – I like hiding in the back. To his wife “of all the people on the earth, you bug me the least”
There is a unity and a love in the scriptures that we really don’t see in the church as we’ve been doing it. Maybe we’re regurgant – whatever we see in scripture is just what comes out.
We have to make sure this is driven theologically though. I’ve had other ideas: try this, try that. This is different. One of my elders said, “God doesn’t get mad at the people, He gets mad at the leaders.” Looking at scripture, we have to change… I don’t know how. This is theologically driven – it’s scripture – we can’t quit.
Be biblically corageous. Be as biblical as you can. Erase everything else. Open up the bible and do what it says. Would you ever have come up with this just reading scripture? My first thought wouldn’t be, “let’s have a gathering.” Make disciples – go out and make disciples. That’s what I would think. Staying on mission requires others – you can’t do it alone. Gathering would happen naturally in the disciple-making process. We domesticate.
In the church, when Jesus says it, we don’t have to do it, we just have to memorize it (compared to Simon says). If I tell my daughter to clean my room – she could just memorize it and say it in Greek and have a study group about what it would look like if she did that.
When I meet a brother, I have to treat that person like family. & . It’s radical what they did, but it makes sense. If you saw someone rise from the grave, you would tell everyone you know. The way we love one another is how others see Jesus. When others come to our gatherings they still don’t see that.
Do you think that way? Do we think about what Jesus wants. What does He desire? He wants to see us living like family. Like an extension of one another.
Why do people say this is cultural? Why would they write it down if it was just cultural? Why can’t this happen to us? What’s mine is truly yours if you ever need it. We are each other’s life insurance. Let’s be interdependent with one another. It’s so rare. It’s those times that feel like the Bible.
Are you sure you’ve experienced the Holy Spirit this last year? We’re not in here starting and strategizing a movement. This has got to be a Jesus thing. The disciples didn’t plan out Pentecost. It was the Holy Spirit working in a bunch of different individuals to create one unified result. You don’t go out to a calm ocean to try and make a wave so you can surf – this is the same thing. The waves are created by Jesus and we’re along for the ride. If we start a movement, there’s no power to it.
Do we pray for our neighbors and neighborhoods? Are we just trying too hard?
Like the Big Red Tractor – are we just pushing and pulling it along? Finding the most talented people and do enough to make us happy? That’s not enough. It’s not what we see in scripture.
Let’s pray – let’s pray that our churches are family. We don’t look like family anymore. We’re as individualistic as the rest of the world. If we pray for this to change, we know we’re praying in Jesus name because these are things clearly in scripture that God wants – help us to love one another so much so that people would see Christ in how we love one another. I’m asking that we really make Jesus Lord. Let’s not just memorize, study, and talk. Nothing was going to stop the church in teh book of Acts – it was an unstoppable force.
15 And he said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. (ESV)
2:1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”
14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servants and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
20 the sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him,
“‘I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;
26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
my flesh also will dwell in hope.
27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One see corruption.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’
29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,
“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
Sit at my right hand,
35 until I make your enemies your footstool.’
36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (ESV)
32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. (ESV)
I’ve been using Twitter for a year or so now. When I first joined up, it was in the middle of the throes of people who “got it” by using it primarily as a push mechanism and those who were n00bs because they were still using it to tell people where they were instead of providing “useful” information. Being as I was a person who rarely had any add’l useful information to add to the “conversation” I rarely tweeted.
Then I joined Soma. Twitter is being used for a very different and, in my opinion, a much better purpose. It’s a communication medium, but also a communal one. It’s like facebook (almost every Soman on Twitter is also on FB), except it’s not facebook. The conversations on Twitter are really more like conversations – could this happen on FB? Probably, but not as easily… FB has way more noise (due to games, events, apps, gads of friends, etc.) The conversation on Twitter can be immediate, delayed, or a hybrid of the two – but somehow far easier to follow and, interestingly enough, more encouraging to watch.
Active community is a primary goal at Soma and Twitter is evidence that a communal environment is growing. People “check-in” at various locales to let others know where they’re at and there’s a pretty solid understanding that if you’re nearby, please drop by and say hi or even join in (depending on what’s happening). In the one week since I’ve been following the Soma peeps on Twitter, I’ve seen the typical social media stuff like meetups announced and in-jokes and shout outs and cool links posted… but I’ve also seen confessions regarding struggles, concerns voiced, strong solidarity evidenced through group encouragement, church-wide mobilization to bring aid to Haiti, and prayers and praises offered… what’s amazing about this is that Twitter, unlike FB, is a fully public forum. Anybody can look into this, follow one of the soma lists and see what we’re talking about and how we’re interacting without “friending” anyone in the church.
Whether intentional or not, this public view is evidence of a growing gospel community: transparency, confession, prayer, encouragement, and social conscience on public display. A stream of thought display of people showing their love for Christ by clearly declaring His name and evidencing that love through our love for one another and our love of our neighbors. It’s beautiful to watch and by God’s grace, it will become more and more prevalent and then Austin really will know Soma belongs to Jesus because of our love for one another.
I’m a fairly apolitical person. I know the necessity of government and the importance of personal involvement in the political process. The difficulty I encounter is multi-faceted:
So, I continue to work and to fight and to pray that God would grow within me a passion for the people of this city that mirrors His own. Nobody loves more than He does. Nobody can outdo Him for His willingness to fight for the disenfranchised and the hurting. My King, Jesus Christ, lived His passion among us by spending time with and loving the criminal, the poor, the beggars, and the disenfranchised without ignoring the rest. He eschewed comfort so that He could more effectively live among those who needed Him the most. Yes, the culture is different and, no, Jesus did not advocate an ascetic or Franciscan existence – but He did call me to love as He loves while preaching the Good News: Jesus came to take those who are dead in their sin and make them alive in Him by revealing the Truth – that we were made for God’s glory and our greatest joy is knowing and serving Him, but we desperately need to be reconciled by Christ before that is even possible. One beautiful part of serving God is that we also have the great privilege of being useful here on earth by sharing His love with others and serving Him by serving all with passion and humility.
I haven’t the foggiest idea how to do this, but I know that I must… so forward I strive, trusting in His grace and power to pave and light the way. May I be a blessing to all those who know me – not for my fame, but for His.
*This can freak some people out as it sounds like I’m listening to some disembodied imaginary friend who could lead me to perform some act of violence for the sake of “god” – well, I can only say to those folk… you obviously don’t know me and you most certainly don’t know of the God of Whom I speak. He doesn’t need my help to exercise wrath; and, in fact, He calls me to be an instrument of His grace, not His sword.
Hopefully, you see in these writings a man who is staying The Course and pursuing The Path amidst the pitfalls and selfish ways of being a son of Adam. I pray earnestly that my writing would encourage some of you by showing you that this journey - though arduous and sometimes tragic - is a journey of great satisfaction. A satisfaction greater than our greatest imaginings. The trials and refining fire of tribulation are to be recognized as a small shadow of the suffering of our Savior so that we can rejoice, as Peter and the disciples did, to be counted worthy to suffer for the sake of the Name.