Eat first: meet later

Teachings from India (6)

Luke 10:5-9 is all about the importance of creating relationship.  When we have found a person of peace (who we recognize because they offer us hospitality), the first thing we do is to build a relationship.  Church is all about relationships.  This is what Jesus offers us in Revelation 3:20.  (“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you
hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a
meal together as friends.") 
First we eat with them, then, as we  get to know their needs and the needs of their family and friends, we offer to pray for them.  When God answers our prayer, they will ask what power we used to bring this about.  That is our opportunity to tell them the good news of the Kingdom.

This rebuilds the social fabric of a community.  And it gives us the opportunity to reach out to their circle of relationships too.

"If you don't work with and through local people, when you leave, the work leaves with you."  Victor

Lambs and Wolves

Teachings from India (5).  Spiritual warfare is much more obvious in an Indian village context, but the same principles apply in other places too.

"Now go, and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves.  Don’t take any money with you, nor a traveler’s bag, nor an extra pair of sandals. And don’t stop to greet anyone on the road. (Luke 10:3-4)"

If you go out into villages making a lot of noise, wolves will have you for lunch!  This is serious business. You are in enemy territory.  This is not a social occasion.   Don't even stop to greet other people.  You are there to demolish the enemy's kingdom and establish the Kingdom of God as you prayer walk that village.

Psalm 2:8  says we need to be asking the for the nations as our inheritance.  God told Moses that He would give him the land of Canaan and its tribes.  When missionaries just asked for people they were thrown out of the villages–that is why they had to build compounds.  If they had asked for the land too, they would have been able to stay.

The first thing to do in a new village is to bind the strongman (Matt 12:28-29).  What are the possessions of the strong man?  The people and the land.  The land is cursed because of idolatry and prostitution etc. In prayer we can demolish strongholds and bind the strongman.  We have the same Holy Spirit to help us that Jesus had.  If we expel the strongman from the village then we can take possession of the village.  If all we do is preach, then nothing will happen.  As we use the power of binding and loosing (Matthew 16:18-19), the strongman is expelled from the village and we can establish a church there.

(We have friends in India who tried an experiment.  They picked two villages.  One they prayer walked in extensively before trying to reach out to people and in the other they just reached out without any preparatory prayer.  In the first village, 45 families came to faith.  They were thrown out of the second village.)

The Over Ready Harvest

Luke 10 is a passage God is using all over the world to bring in a massive harvest.  Here are the principles again, as taught by an Indian church planter who is living the reality of this.  (Teachings from India 4)

Jesus sent the disciples out in teams.  The team consists of three people, because Jesus must go with us.

In Luke 10:2, Jesus says the harvest is plentiful.

Following the testimony of the woman at the well in John 4, the people of the town come out to see Jesus.  He tells his disciples, "You say that there are still four months until the harvest is ready.  Look and see, the fields are already white."  Ripe grain is yellow in color.  If you leave ripe grain in the sun, as it dries out it becomes white, so Jesus is saying that the harvest is over-ready.  The disciples thought the village was not ready, but Jesus response was that it was past ready.  Jesus is Lord of the harvest.  He sends us to where the fields are ready.

Jesus found the most worthless person of her village.  She was alone, unable to face the other women in the village who would not have been collecting water in the middle of the day.  After her encounter with Jesus, she became bold, letting everyone know what had happened to her.  She brought her whole village to the feet of Jesus.

Millions of laborers for the harvest are sitting in church.  A farmer wants his laborers to be out in the fields.  The harvest is ready.  Are we willing to leave the comfort of the pew (or sofa) to become a laborer?

The Difference Between a Believer and a Disciple

Teachings from India (3):

According to Matthew 16:17, certain signs will follow a believer–they will cast out demons and speak in new tongues etc.  But a believer who casts out a demon may not be a disciple.  He may believe in all the promises of God, but still not be a disciple.  Matthew 7:21-23 describes a group of people who prophesied, cast out demons and performed miracles, but because they hadn't done the will of the Father, they would not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. 

A disciple is a person who makes disciples that make disciples (Matthew 28:16-20).  The eleven disciples were commanded to make disciples who obeyed what Jesus taught.  That teaching includes the instruction to make disciples.  Many of us may sit in church or read the Bible or pray but that doesn't make us a disciple.  A disciple will bring forth an abundant harvest, a vine loaded with fruit (John 15:1-8).

If everyone in our churches is equipped to make disciples, and instead of listening to long sermons listens instead to testimony of what God is doing, and if we are willing to hold people accountable by asking them what they are doing to make disciples, then the church will grow rapidly.  If a church has short sermons and long testimonies, it will grow!

[This sort of teaching goes against our Christian culture here in the West.  But remember, this teaching comes from a group who saw more than 250,000 baptisms on the Day of Pentecost last year.]

The Great Commission

Teachings from India (2): 

Matthew 28:18-20:  Jesus is the sender in the Great Commission–not the church, and not a mission agency.  God may use these things, but Jesus Himself is the one who sends you, and he's sending you with all power.

Matthew 16:19 states:  "I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.  I'm giving you the keys of the Kingdom and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

The tense of the binding and loosing implies this has already been done.  Jesus is sending you with all the power and authority in heaven and on earth to bind and to loose. 

Jesus is the center of the Great Commission.

The first command is that to go.  The second is to make disciples of all nations.  According to John 15:8, a disciple is one who bears fruit. John 15:16 says that Jesus has chosen and ordained all of us to bear fruit–fruit that remains.  Every Christian is a royal priest who is to bring forth fruit that remains.  The fruit of new believers will not remain unless they are baptized.

Teachings from India (part 1)

Prior to the World House Church Summit in India, a much smaller group came together to go through the training that the Indian church planters use.  It is interesting that similar training, from many different sources, is being used all over the world.  The Holy Spirit is giving the same principles to those who are seeking him about reaching out to transform society with the Good News.

I took extensive notes during that time, and hope that what was covered will prove useful to others.

Victor:  Making Disciples

It is the business of a bride to produce babies.  If she is not able to have babies, then she is investigated by a doctor.  Similarly, a church has to multiply to show she is alive!

John 1:35-40

Two disciples of John spent time with Jesus.  From that time on they made disciples–for example, Andrew brought Peter to Jesus.  The very first house church was planted in Jesus' house.  It lasted one day.  There was no singing, no pulpit, no pastor.  The message was about making disciples which is the primary function of the church.

John 15:8

God is glorified when we bring much fruit, and that fruit is disciples. To be a discipler, you have to make disciples.  If you want to glorify God, make disciples!

Drinking from a Fire Hydrant

At the beginning of October, Tony and I left for a five-week trip that included Turkey, the UK and India.  What a privilege!!

The first week was spent in Turkey near Antioch.  Actually it was at Seleucia, which is the port from which Paul and Barnabus set sail on their first missionary trip.  The jetty from which they would have left was just behind our hotel.

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There have been some great blogs about our time in Antioch. I suggest you start with Mike and Leslie Kim's account and then follow their links to other blogs on the subject.  http://bit.ly/7TgOoL

From there, we went to the UK where I had a wonderful couple of weeks with family and friends while Tony came back to the States for some business related conferences.  This was followed by some time in the south of India to follow up on a healthcare project we have been involved in for the past couple of years.

Then on to the World House Church conference in Delhi.  That's where the fire hydrant came in.  The first few days about 50 of us gathered to experience the training that one of that nation's leading church planters does.  This church planter and his wife saw 68,000 baptisms in their network in January followed by more than 250,000 baptisms on the Day of Pentecost this year.  I plan to blog about what was taught there in subsequent blogs. 

Following that, 200 of us from more than 40 nations came together.  A report on that time will follow. 

Love Has a Face

It is rare these days that I am so gripped by a book that I read it all in one day.  That was the case with Michele Perry's book "Love Has a Face."  It doesn't hurt that we know Michele well–I was chatting with her on Skype just the other day.  She is the real deal.

Michele is one of my heroes.  She was born with only one leg, one hip and one kidney, yet despite her physical condition manages to pack more into life than most people I know.  In 2006, the Lord led her to Sudan.  She started her work there by throwing a party for 1,000 people.  She is now "Mama" to more than 100 children; she has started a school and plants churches.  When she prays, the blind see and the deaf hear.  Her love for Jesus and for others shines out of every page.

Although her story is like reading Acts 29, Michele's writing is humorous and down to earth.  I believe God will use this book to help others fall in love with Him all over again and to cause them to reach out to "the least of these."

Warning:  Don't read this book without an adequate supply of tissues. 
http://tinyurl.com/p7xc5u

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Movements that Change the World

I believe God is taking our thinking beyond the planting of individual simple churches or even networks of churches to movements.  What are the principles of movements?  How can we cooperate with the Holy Spirit in the movements that are taking place in the world today.  It's one of the reasons I'm so excited about the House2House conference over Labor Day. (http://tinyurl.com/m2l9ef) Neil Cole will be sharing about movements.  I've had the privilege of reading the manuscript of his book (due out early next year) called Church 3.0.  He'll be sharing some of his thoughts and ideas about the principles behind movements.  If we can grasp some of these and put them into action, it will change how we think and the way we do things.

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I've also recently read a book by Steve Addison from Australia called Movements that Change the World.  He describes several characteristics of movements:  white-hot faith,commitment to a cause, contagious relationships, rapid mobilization, and adaptive methods.  He examines various missionary movements that have changed the face of Christendom and encourages us to continue the missionary movement that Jesus started.

 

Not so much a programme…

When I was a teenager, there was a popular satire on TV called "Not so much a Programme–More a Way of Life."  Isn't that a great description of what this life of following Jesus is about?  We are followers of "the Way."  We are not living a cookie-cutter approach to life–a series of rules or behaviors that conform to some preconceived norm.  We are free to follow the "Wild Goose" (as John Eldredge likes to call the Holy Spirit).  It leads to a life of adventure, a journey where the ultimate destination may be known but the route is a surprise.