A phone call to remember (part 1)

Telephone
Tony and I were enjoying a weekend lie in when
his cell phone rang.  It soon
became apparent from his end of the conversation that the person the other end
was interested in publishing a book called An
Army of Ordinary People
that I wrote some time ago.

“Put it on speaker,” I whispered to Tony, eager to hear what
was being offered.

The conversation continued.  Then the person the other end said, “Of course, we’ll put
both your names on the front cover. 
This book is far too important to have been written by a woman!”

It was at this point that I lost my sanctification.  It wasn’t that I minded Tony’s name on
the book—we’ve written together before. 
It was the insinuation that a woman could not write anything of
significance that frustrated me.

(Thankfully, An Army
of Ordinary People
has been rewritten and updated and is being republished
by Tyndale House Publishers on May 3rd .)

Sadly, even in these days when our society generally
recognizes women as equals, the attitude towards women in the church is often
medieval.  Over the years, I
remember being told:

        A woman can lead—she just does it through her
husband.

        A woman is equal to a man.  It’s just that her role is different and,
by implication, not as     important. 
Kind of like George Orwell’s “All animals are created equal but some            animals are more equal than others (Animal Farm).

              God will use a woman—but only when there is no
man available to do the job (my                          personal favorite!)

Christendom
has long been patriarchal in nature. 
For the most part, I don’t believe this is deliberate misogyny.  A patriarchal interpretation of the
Scriptures has led to the belief that women cannot hold any position of
strategic leadership within the body of Christ.  For some women (as for some men), this does not matter to
them.  However, God has placed in
the hearts of many of us women a longing to hear His voice, to think
strategically and to lead out—not in any lording it over sense, but in humble
service to His body—to be of significance.


A Woman Church Planter (Part 3)

The final part of the interview with "Mary," a church planter in India.

When asked to tell more about prayer walking, Mary says
this:

“When I go prayer walking we go as a group.  It’s not just going for a walk in the
morning.  We are entering into
battle.  We have to go fully clad
with spiritual armor—the name of Jesus, the blood of Jesus, the Word of Jesus,
fasting, praising and prayer. 
Whoever we take with us, we teach. 
First we submit ourselves to God and then we have battle with
Satan. 

“Each city is divided into voting divisions which contain a
number of colonies.  We prepare
many prayer warriors and divide them up so that each colony is covered. My city
has 2,000 slum areas. The basis for prayer walking is the word of God.  Jeremiah 29:7 says And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into
exile.
Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will
determine your welfare.”
  We
are to pray for the city and work for the city.  The colony where I live is my responsibility.  Every person is responsible to prayer
walk the area where they live.  We
have a special strategy at certain times of the year.  Whenever there is a Hindu festival, we prayer walk around
any big temple every morning and evening before the festival.  We get good results from this.

“The same is true at election time.  We surround the election booth with
prayer.  We appoint people to pray
that there shouldn’t be any corruption or bad events.  The government is very anti-Christian but because of prayer
they don’t do any damage to us.”

For more information and on-going news of global and regional house
church summits and training events please visit www.222foundation.org

A Woman Church Planter (Part 2)

Continuing the story of "Mary," a church planter in India.

Mary and her team believe that there should be a house
church in every language and people group.  There are 20,800 villages in Chhattisgarh, and they have
reached 1,800 of them with 6,000 house churches (some villages have more than
one if there is more than one people group in that village.) The house churches
meet every day, not just on Sundays. 
Each day they share fellowship, intercede, have teaching and take
communion.   The team keeps teaching in a church
until a leader emerges from that group.

Bindu is the coordinator of the women’s ministries
and Mary is one of her master trainers. 
There are six levels of leadership in the work:

  1. Working at a
    grass-roots level by starting a house church.  These people are given the vision of taking their own
    village and nurturing the people there.
  2. Leading a cluster of
    house churches in a block of 150 villages.  They have vision for their block.
  3. Leadership of several blocks
    of house churches.
  4. Master trainers at a
    district level—these are more mature leaders.
  5. Master trainers at a
    state level—they are responsible for all the training that goes on in a
    state.
  6. Master trainers at an
    international level.

 

Mary is training to be an international master trainer.  They use different teachings for
different levels of trainer.  
New believers are not trained with the same teachings as those who are
more mature.

A Woman Church Planter (Part 1)

While I was in India I had the opportunity to visit with “Mary,” a church planter who has seen more than 6,000 churches start under her leadership.  Here is a little of her story:

Mary has been a church planter for the past 10 years.  She works in Chhattisgarh, a state in India. Before she learned about CPMs, she evangelized by sharing the word of God in villages and passing out tracts to every home in a village.  This produced no results.  People would come and get healed and then go away.

When Mary understood Luke 10 and the importance of gathering rather than scattering, her pattern changed.

She started using the principles in Luke 10, and the results are surprising. People come up to her and ask, “What must I do to get salvation.”  Wherever she prayer walks, a church starts.

Today, people come and get healed.  They become mature and then go to their own people group teaching the Word of God.  They baptize people and start house churches among their own people group.

Mary trains others in church planting.  Initially they survey the area.  This research determines where they plant a church.  Then they prayer walk the area on a daily basis. Prayer walking has been a key to what they have seen.  The whole world is in the power of the evil one, and people are to be rescued from his clutches and brought into the Kingdom.  This is done by spiritual warfare and the power of binding and loosing.  It has been the key to the establishment of churches.

How do we follow the Holy Spirit in a gathering?

Let’s saKid praisingy that we are sitting in a meeting and someone has
just prayed a great prayer full of praise to God. What should happen next?  In our experience, the best way is to
make that person’s prayer our own vehicle of praise to God. As we do that, if a
verse of Scripture or a song comes to mind, chances are the Holy Spirit is
speaking. In other words, if we fully participate in what is going on, the
things that come spontaneously to mind are most likely from the Holy Spirit. We
should expect variety— prayer for each other, insights from the Scriptures,
songs, gifts of the Spirit such as prophecy and visions.

God is very creative! And don’t be concerned about making
mistakes. Nobody will mind if we do, so let’s step out and try something new!

Some people might ask, "What about the kids?"  Children do not have a junior Holy Spirit.  They are often more sensitive than the adults when it comes to hearing God.  If we take their contributions seriously, they are an invaluable part of what goes on.

 

How to be an orchestra

Conductor

When she comes together, the functioning body of Christ is like an orchestra, with
the Holy Spirit acting as the conductor. The richness of a symphony occurs
because all of the different instruments in the orchestra play the melody
assigned to them. If we all play the same tune in church, we miss out on the
magnificent creativity of the bride of Christ.

But Paul goes beyond that. He says that the weaker members
are necessary and worthy of greater honor. The contributions of those who are
shyer or more reticent to speak should be given greater attention.

Of course, the head of this body is Christ, and as each
person follows the prompting of the Holy Spirit, the body functions as it
should. You see, the Lord wants to be more than “the guest of honor” in our
meetings. He actually wants to be in control.

If we are not careful, house or simple church gatherings can
run like a traditional church meeting, what our friend John White likes to call
“Honey, I shrunk the church.” Someone has been asked to lead the worship,
another person has been asked to teach . . . the venue has just changed from
pews to couches. But that excludes a major dynamic of a small group meeting; namely,
that the Lord has a plan for our times together. He knows what is going on in
people’s lives. If we will let Him, He will touch and change people and the
world around us.

God has given us the pattern for this in 1 Corinthians 14:26
which says that each person should take part and bring a contribution to our
time together. (This is one of the reasons that we are so sold on the concept
of church being small. In a larger gathering, it would be impossible for
everyone to have a part in the service.

(Taken from the rewritten and updated "An Army of Ordinary People", due out May 1st)

Listening to God together

2 people listening

God doesn't just speak to us as individuals.  He also speaks to us corporately.

A team of four couples led one of the church that we started in the UK.  Every week that team would meet to hear what God was saying to us.  He spoke in many different ways–through Scripture, through prophecy and words of knowledge and wisdom.  He spoke through visions and dreams, through tongues and interpretation.  He spoke on various different subjects.  None of us dared go into that meeting with unconfessed sin because the Holy Spirit would reveal  and deal with it.  He spoke to us about situations in the church we were part of.  He spoke to us about international and national situations.  Sometimes He would have us in prayer and intercession about a subject that we would then hear about in the next day's news!  They were exciting times.

We are now part of another group that gets together for two or three days every few months with no other purpose than to hear what Jesus wants to say to us.  We have had to lay down our own agendas and desires.  Again, He is speaking to us about many things.  One of the things He has told us is that there are things that we can hear from Him together that we could not hear on our own.

The Lord has an agenda for our times together.  It is too easy to schedule the Holy Spirit out of our gatherings.  If we will let Him, He will lead us clearly.  He is never boring!

Insights from John White on hearing God

John White talks a lot about listening to God.  A few days ago I briefly interviewed him to hear some his thoughts (and, to be strictly honest, to experiment with the technology.)  But what he shared is so good, I thought I would add it so you all can benefit.

John mentions Mark Virkler.  Many years ago I read his book, "Dialog with God."  It formed the foundation of my practice of hearing God personally.  Right up to the present, I still journal (write down what I think God is saying to me) on as near a daily basis as possible.

I'd also love to hear back from any of you on whether you like audio in a blog!

Other ways God speaks

The past few posts have described the different ways that God may speak to us as individuals and some of the criteria we have for evaluating what we have heard.

Other ways in which God may guide include our circumstances.  How often God speaks through the situation we may find ourselves in.  The apostle Paul ministered in Rome because he was in prison there.  An example: recently part of a small group interactive discussion that I was responsible for did not go that well.  What was my response to be?  I asked the Lord to teach me through what had happened, and He did, showing me how I might have better handled what went on. I could have just lamented the situation, but instead, God turned it into a learning opportunity for me.

God also speaks through His creation.  We can learn about His incredible attributes–His majesty, power and glory–through the things He has made (Romans 1:20)

Mountain and lake

God speaks to those who desire to hear Him.  He who has ears to hear, let him hear…  The question isn't, "Is God speaking?"  The question is, "Are we listening?" and are we open to the different ways He may choose to communicate with us.

In what other ways does God speak to you that have not yet been covered in these blog posts?  From here, we will also look at how God speaks to us corporately as His body.

When others advise us

Wisdom  Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where there
is no counsel the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is
safety.” God often uses what other people say to us to speak to us.  Sometimes we will go to them to ask
their advice and we do well to seek the counsel of those who are wise in the
ways of God.  Sometimes the other
person has no idea that they are saying something that has the potential to
change our lives. 

        I remember a time when Tony and I
both sensed from the Lord that we were to sell the house we were living in and
to do something very specific with the money that was raised.  We told no one what we were considering.  The following Sunday, a brand new
Christian was speaking for the first time in a meeting.  During his brief talk, he twice used
the example, “It would be just like if the Lord told Tony and Felicity that
they were to sell their house and give the money to…” and went on to describe
exactly what we were thinking the Lord wanted us to do with the money.  We were astounded by how specific God
could be.        

    How often has someone said
something in passing that grabs our attention?  To the person speaking, he has said nothing unusual, but the
Lord uses it to change our thinking about a certain issue.
  For example, recently someone mentioned the word authority in the
context of discipleship.  It was a
throwaway sentence.  But the Lord
has used it to lead me into a study on the authority that we have as disciples
within the Kingdom.  How do we gain
the authority to heal the sick, cast out demons, cleanse lepers, and raise the
dead (Matthew 10:8)?  It has the
potential to change the way I think about these things.