Becoming a commercial fisherman

It may have been the salty yak milk tea, but I had a vivid
dream one night when we were in Mongolia. In the dream, I was with a small
group of people. I handed them a book saying, "This is a book on how to be
a commercial fisherman."


The clue that this was a dream with some spiritual
significance as I woke up, was the overwhelming realization that Jesus has to
tell us where to fish.

The effective of this dream on me was extraordinary. For
weeks I could not stop thinking about it. One of the first things to strike me
was that the disciples he was speaking to were commercial fishermen. When Jesus
spoke to them on the beach as they were preparing their nets with their fishing
vessels anchored close by, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of
men," they would have understood this in the context of their working lives.
As commercial fishermen, they were not interested in catching individual fish
with a hook and line, but in pulling in nets teaming with fish. Because of
their profession, they would have instinctively known that they were to
influence many people.

The votes are in!


 Last week, I sent out a tweet asking people to vote on the next topic I will be covering in this blog. The votes are in! By a 2 to 1 majority, people would like to hear more about the subject of church planting. So over the next few weeks, I will be covering that topic.

I often hear the comment, "Jesus did not tell us to plant churches, he asked us to make disciples." This is indeed true. However, the phrase, "make disciples," only comes once in the Gospels, or indeed in the whole of the New Testament for that matter, and that is in the Great Commission in Matthew 28.  But both disciple making and church planting are very clearly demonstrated throughout the book of Acts. The two are inseparable. When disciples were made, a church was the result. The job of the apostolic teams that were sent out was to preach the good news of the kingdom. The result? New disciples gathered into churches.

On another note, I am excited to see that the new book by Frank Viola and Leonard Sweet is in the Amazon top 10! ( Congratulations to both!


Social media; becoming a trust agent

I've been reading a book recently called "Trust Agents; Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation and Earn Trust" by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. I would have downloaded a picture of the book but my technological expertise failed me yet again! 

There is no question that social media is here to stay.  Facebook has over 103 million users in the US (more than 400 million worldwide), and is now the most visited website in the country, and Twitter is gaining influence daily. Social media has overtaken porn as the number one activity on the web. 

I have read several books on social media, but "Trust Agents" stands head and shoulders above the others. The book not only gives practical suggestions on how to get involved without it taking over your life, but also examines the importance of integrity and values in this medium. If you want to have influence,  become a trust agent by saying something of value that is designed to help others; promote others rather than yourself; create relationships rather than mere contacts. Reading this book helps you to understand the practicalities and the potential of social media.

The question is, how will we in the simple/organic/house church movement engage with our culture within this framework?

“Imaginary Jesus”

Imaginary Jesus

 I recently read the book "Imaginary Jesus" by Matt Mikalotos and George Barna. It was a book I could not put down (rare in the Christian genre). Matt uses an "almost fiction" approach and brilliant humor to lower our defenses and then hits us hard with the truth. We often either create Jesus as we want him to be or believe in a Jesus that others have invented for us.

Will the real Jesus please stand up!

A response to the discussion on women in leadership

The following comments were made by Carolyn Spence in response to a very active discussion on on the subject of women speaking in meetings. They illustrate what the last few blog posts have been trying to do.

“This discussion has allowed freedom to develop in me, because it wasn't until I had to answer the claims of the "scholars" that I understood what God had been saying to me all along. It hasn't been the posts that really spoke to my situation. It was answering others’ dialog and discussion that brought out some things the Lord wanted me to see. I began to see what I had avoided because I wanted to "fit in." It has been really fun to ask God, "Well, see what he is saying? How do I reply to that?"  and then to find a new perspective on a scripture that I had not seen before.

In that process, I also saw that I was living and practicing a form of submission and quietness which I didn't really believe was what God had planned. I am not sure why I don't believe it, because there are certainly enough passages that could be interpreted the way I was conforming to them. But, I began to see that something deeper was working in me. 
The freedom for which Christ came to set us free began to well up in my heart, and I saw areas of responsibility in which I have allowed others to assume roles that God has placed in my authority. I own a business, and have about 18 associates who work for me. I have often deferred to males within my own company and God has been shining a light on why, in those areas, he was not able to bring me into the fullness of peace and skill and prosperity that he had planned.

It is beginning to really crystallize… the understanding of my place in business, and family, and in the coming together of the body of Christ to worship him and to manifest his presence, his gifts, and his kingdom. My place is never really under another although we really do submit to one another in love. It is under the Lord Jesus Christ. It is directed by the Holy Spirit. It is founded on his word, and it doesn't matter whether it is business or simple church. I am to be what he has called me to be in every place.

I have tried for four years to get something going, but it fizzles every time. At last I see why. When you won't take the role God has given you, and when you won't move in the authority he has placed in your hand (you will know it if your heart is right) then he will not help you go forward to accomplish his plans. I will no longer look for a man to start church planting, but now rather I will be a part of that "army of women" who will announce the good news. 

Timing is everything. Yesterday Peg (Batcheller) arrived from Albuquerque. I had heard some consider her a woman apostle, and after talking with her for hours, I must agree. There is in her the capacity to begin things, and to develop them, and to lead, and to admonish. She is here to help us begin to walk in simplicity of form and in depth of relationship with God and with each other. I believe God has prepared hearts, and that we will see the kingdom of God in a new expression among the body of Christ in our area, and all over our area. It is time. 


John White on women in leadership (part one)

 I was talking with a group of women friends the other day and we were discussing how many men we know between us who are actively training and promoting women into leadership. The number is sadly very small. John White is one of those who is doing this.  He is actively seeking for women apostolic leaders and working with them via his site.  I asked him to create a video talking about his views and why they have changed over the years.

What can men do to set women free?

What part can the men play in this?  If this is just a movement of women, it will by default become a feminist movement.  This is not what we want.  However, if the men will join is in promoting women and encouraging them to take their place alongside them on the frontlines, it will become a Kingdom movement.  Where are the men who will join us?

On the few occasions when we speak on this subject, we find women coming up to us in tears, deeply hurt by the attitude of the church towards women over the years.  Several times more recently, however, we have been in situations where the Lord has led the men in a gathering to repent over the attitude of the church to women.  They, often with tears, have confessed, both at a personal and a corporate level, the wrongs done to women, and then released them to go out and be everything God is calling them to be. These times have always been profoundly healing for the women involved.

My husband, Tony, has long been a champion of women.  He is a very gifted communicator but he came to realize that the only way I would speak out was if he kept quiet.  For many husbands, the best way they will help their wives to contribute meaningfully and strategically is to willingly stand down and joyfully promote their wives’ gifts.  At first the women will not do as well as the men would have done, but in the longer term, this will allow the women to take their rightful place as equal ministers alongside them in the Kingdom.

We have some African American friends who God is using in remarkable ways.  But they have chosen service as their way of operating within the Kingdom.  They have willingly embraced slavery (to Jesus and His body).  As women, we have many centuries of service in the body of Christ behind us.  We could demand our rights and militantly seize position or prominence as a reaction to the injustices of the past.  I do not believe God will bless this.  Let’s humbly, and with a spirit of service, move alongside the men into whatever God chooses to bless us with.

The day of women in the Kingdom is approaching fast.  We have seen how some men have approached leadership in the Church in the past—competition and rivalry, lording over and putting down, forging ahead while ignoring women.  Let’s not go that road.  This is a time for us to bridge the gap and bring healing to the body of Christ.  Let’s choose to die to our ambition and agendas.  We don’t want the limelight or the prominence.  And let’s serve Jesus with all our hearts alongside the men and see His Kingdom come. 


Setting Women Free

Chocolate lab

We have a chocolate Labrador wannabe named Sugar.  Sugar used to frequently go AWOL to terrorize the local cat population.  Our yard is fenced, and we have an automatic gate.  Sugar used to lie in wait for a car to open the gate and would make her dash for freedom as the gate was within inches of closing.   

We decided to put a stop to this behavior and installed an invisible fence across the gate.  Sugar is not normally known as a fast learner, but after a couple of, shall we say, shocking experiences, she learned not to cross the invisible line.  In fact, she would sit gazing longingly out of an open gate long after the battery in her collar had died. 

Today, at least within the simple church movement, there are no theological barriers to women moving into their destiny in the Kingdom of God.  But comparatively few are taking this privilege seriously.  Why?  Because, like Sugar, we have become accustomed to our lack of freedom.  We are content to sit on the sidelines, even as we gaze longingly at what other women are doing around the world.  We wait for a man to follow, rather than daring to step out to follow the Lord.  We need the Lord to help us break out of our inertia so that we can move into our calling as women of the Kingdom. 

There are women who function apostolically and prophetically.  There are those who pastor and teach.  The Lord is releasing women again to co-labor alongside the men; men and women together are working towards this end.  Increasingly there are regional initiatives within the simple/organic church movement that provide training and encouragement for all the churches.  Frequently women are responsible for these initiatives.