How big is your vision?

We often hear stories of the extraodinary things God is doing in other nations.

"Why doesn't this happen here in the West?" we ask ourselves. Part of the reason is that we don't yet have the vision and passion that many in other nations do. We get distracted by so many things that we think are important (our own houses–see the last post) rather than God's Kingdom.

The following vision for harvest was just sent to me by an Asian church planter who is seeing incredible numbers of people swept into the Kingdom of God. He has asked that I not use his name for security reasons. I''ve had the privilege of interacting with this apostle over the past few years, and if the past is anything to go by, by faith he will make his goals.

Catch his heart for the harvest.

VISION 2012-15

Shoot for connecting 10 million new followers of Christ.

Possible or not possible. Humanly speaking: impossible. But we believe in a God who is God of the impossible.

The mandate- Multiply: And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.  (Genesis 1:28) 

Command to become a thousand: IA little one shall become a thousand and a small one a strong nation: I the LORD will hasten it in My time. (Isaiah 60:22)

Victory Assured: And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword. (Leviticus 26:8)

Chain Discipling: And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:2)

All Nations:  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. (Matthew 28: 19) 

Go Global: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

God’s End Vision: And behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, saying, Salvation belongs to our God that sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. (Rev. 7:9,10) 

Leavenize your Generation: “It is like unto leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till it was all leavened.” (Luke 13:21) 

People across the nations have adopted a Judeo-Christian culture, dress code, language, food habits, education-medical systems,  and business practices. They use tools, technology, transportation and governance developed in Christian countries. But they are still in darkness and heading for a Christless eternity. All that is needed is for Christians to be salt and light to their colleagues and neighbours and connect them to Christ. 

500,000 babies are born every day. 78 million people are added to the world every year. 250,000 die into a Christless eternity every day–all because we Christians are not doing anything significant for the lost. Yeshua came to seek and to save the lost. (Luke 19:10) 

It is not enough to be saved. It is not enough to be follower of Christ. It is important to graduate into being fishers of men otherwise you will be an incomplete and an unfulfilled disobedient Christian. Yeshua said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19 

The concept of each one catching one for the Lord every month and teaching and training them to catch one new person for the Lord every month – evidence that we are truly ‘Followers of the Lord Jesus’.  The amazing thing is that if you catch one person each month and train them to catch one person each month and train them to catch one and train one each month, by the end of twelve months there will be 4,096 new believers!! 

  Fishing nets

Time to harvest

Corn

After our early morning wake-up call, Tony and I started praying through the book of Haggai.

The context of Haggai is that the first wave of Jews have returned from captivity in Babylon, but, apart from an initial spurt of activity in which the foundations of the temple were laid, nothing more has been done to build the temple in almost 20 years.

So God tells the Jewish leaders, through the prophet Haggai that all the problems they face (poor crops, drought, more bills than money at the end of the month) are because building their own homes is more important to them than building God's house.

At one point, Haggai tells the leaders :

"This is what the Lord of hosts says: The people are saying, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord.’”

"You know what this verse reminds me of," Tony said, as we prayed over this verse yesterday evening. "The passage where Jesus tells the disciples:

You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest.  The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike!" (John 4: 35-36)

"God led us so clearly to this passage, so are we in the simple/organic church movement saying this too?" I commented."Lord, as soon as we've built community, as soon as we're more mature, as soon as life quietens down, as soon as…, then we'll reach out to our neighbors."

 

Jesus says the harvest is ready now, just as God told the leaders of the Jews in the book of Haggai, "Now is the time to build my house."

John chapter 15 is all about producing fruit:

 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples (verse 8)

I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name (verse 16).

We usually take these verses in John 15 to talk about having a Christ-like character–the fruit of the Spirit. But according to John 4, the fruit we are to produce is people brought to eternal life.

It's time for us to wake up and see the harvest. 

What do you think?

 

 

Guest post by Chris Jefferies: presence and power

Chris2-100

Chris Jefferies lives in the UK. He trained as a biologist but ended up working in IT. His blog can be found here.

When we were in the UK recently, we had long conversations with Chris about what it would take to see the power and presence of Christ that we knew back in the Charismatic Movement of the 70s and 80s within the current simple/organic church structure today.


During the 1970s we met house to house with a group of around twenty friends. We met because we all knew there was much more to following Jesus than we were experiencing in our denominations. There was also a strong sense that denominational divisions were wrong, though we failed to notice that we might be starting yet another one ourselves.

We would pray and sing, praising and worshipping the Father and the Son, feeling the presence of Jesus amongst us, and reading the Bible with renewed minds and hearts. We expected his Spirit to sweep through releasing us in the use of tongues, interpretation, prophecy, visions and more. They were rich times of abundant blessing; we knew that if we listened and obeyed we would stay on track.

But our focus gradually shifted. Some were drawn into a new home church and others to various larger new ventures further afield. Judy and I wanted to carry on as before – one big happy family of Jesus followers. But soon we were left pretty much isolated and alone. I tried hard to stay in touch with the things others were doing but it wasn't the same. I felt I could only take a peripheral and occasional part while Judy really wanted no part of it at all.

But we were not alone; I suspect we all wanted to move forward together. Perhaps we all felt we were doing the right thing and just wished the rest would come with us. Our focus shifted and we began following teachings about Jesus instead of following the Teacher himself. We fell into a trap. Good teachers have an enormous responsibility to teach wisely (James 3:1).

Others across the nation were also being pulled this way and that, resulting in many new 'streams' of church life. In some ways these groups have done well and have been mightily used; our Father is patient and full of grace. But we are further than ever from the goal of one body, one church. There are more divisions now than ever before!

Stephen Covey once said, 'The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.' And for us the main thing is listening to the Spirit of Christ and obeying him in everything. The moment we put more store in what is being taught than we do in the Teacher (Jesus), we are undone.

There's a simple lesson for us in all of this. Don't follow the teaching about Jesus, follow the Teacher who is Jesus! Zealously following the teaching has a feeling of holiness about it but the Son himself is the only one worth following; only he is life and light. He is our bread, our wine, and the very air we breathe. So cling to him and let go of everything else.

Combining today's revelation about organic church and Kingdom principles while recovering a rich outpouring of spiritual glory and power would be a potent combination. We need to be both the church in the world and the church in heaven. We are the body of Christ, his bride. The relationship between us is one of pure love. He has given us everything he has. Will we use it all as we walk arm in arm with him?


The unfolding story of Jose and Rosaura

Jose and Rosaura

Rosaura praying for Jose at his baptism last Sunday

In the last post, I described some of the extraordinary things we have been seeing in the organic church that meets in our home. I also shared that 15 year-old Jose was diagnosed with a brain tumor last week. Thank you to all who have prayed for him.

Here's an update on his situation:

Yesterday, Jose had an eight hour operation to remove the tumor on his brain. The surgeon was unable to remove the entire tumor because it has already infiltrated some major blood vessels and nerves.  Further treatment will depend on the final pathology results.

  • Over the weekend, Rosaura was very clear that Jesus had set her free and placed her in a spiritual family who will love and care for her and Jose, just in time to help her deal with this situation. Please pray that she stands strong in her new-found faith and turns to Jesus as her rock in this situation.
  • It's obvious that medicine is unlikely to be able to cure Jose. We're now dependent on Jesus and need a miracle. Please pray that Jesus heals him and that he alone gets the glory.

Tony and I have been praying for a while that God would reveal his power and presence, not just in our home, but in simple/organic expressions of church around the nation. The story of Rosaura and and her sister finding the Lord because of Jose is part of an answer to that prayer.

Chris Jefferies sent this prayer in an email to me:

I'm praying for Jose, Rosauro, Roxie, the church in your home, and those who hear the story. I'm praying for the breaking out of new life and the defeat of the enemy in every way. Let the Kingdom be extended. Spread the tent pegs wider still.

A story from our simple/organic church–and an urgent request

We need to go away more often. It’s amazing what happens when we leave the country.

We currently have a simple/organic church that meets in our home. It’s actually run by our daughter and son-in-law. We turn up from time to time.

For most of September and part of October, Tony and I were in Russia and the UK. Shortly after we left, a young man named Jose (aged 15) turned up at the gathering–schoolfriend of two nieces of Roxie who is part of the church. Jose is a sweet, incredibly loving, guy with a great sense of humor and a real love for the Lord. Jose had one thing on his heart.

“Pray that my mom will come to church with me. She needs Jesus.”

His prayer was speedily answered. The very next week his mom, Rosaura, came with him. Rosaura had many needs. She had major problems with both drugs and alcohol. The group spent most of their time together that week praying for her. She surrendered her life to Jesus and was completely delivered–no substance abuse since then.

The following week the group didn’t meet for various reasons but Rosaura was anxious that her sister, who has also had problems with alcoholism, get prayed for too. So Roxie opened up her home and the sister was set free too. Roxie has had a weekly get-together in her home since then.

Two weeks ago we were back in the country. That week, during our time together, Rosaura’s sister gave her heart to the Lord.

Jose’s simple faith led to his mother and aunt finding Jesus.

Last week, the family turned up with some devastating news.

“Jose has been diagnosed with a brain tumor!”

Apparently Jose had been having increasing problems with headaches and deteriorating vision. He saw an eye doctor early last week. Several urgent specialist visits later, he was diagnosed with a large, infiltrating tumor pressing on his optic nerve and pituitary gland. He is scheduled for the 8-hour surgery tomorrow.  Full recovery of both nerves and his endocrine system is expected to take more than a year. As yet, there is no way to know if the tumor is malignant or benign.

Rosaura is standing firm in her new-found faith. The morning Jose was due to see  the neurosurgeon, she asked the Lord, “Please show me something from your word.” She opened her Bible randomly to Mark 1 and put her finger down on verses 30-34–the story of Jesus healing not just Peter’s mother-in-law but also many other sick  or demon-possessed people. She knows that Jesus is working in her son’s life.

Two days ago, we had a phone call from Roxie.

“Jose and Rosaura want to get baptized tomorrow before Jose’s operation.”

So yesterday evening, around 40 people gathered around our hot tub as Jose and Rosaura were gloriously baptized.  Many of their family members and friends were there, several having come into town to support Jose and Rosaura through the ordeal of major surgery.

So here’s our urgent request: obviously we have prayed for Jesus to heal Jose, but his surgery is scheduled for 10 am tomorrow morning. Rosaura has given permission for us to tell her story and to enlist others in the battle for Jose’s life and health. Please pray that if the tumor is still there, it is easily removed without complications, and that Jose makes a full recovery with no residual effects. And it would be wonderful if you would get others to pray too.

Many thanks–and if the Lord reveals anything to you as you pray, let us know.

Jose baptism 1


 

 

 

Further insights from a 3am appointment with God

Signet ring
Photo credit: macronix (Creative Commons)

The blog post on how God woke Tony and me at 3am to speak to us out of the book of Haggai has produced a wealth of insightful comments. Here's another one:

John wrote:

Don't overlook the significance of the very last verse.

The Lord brought this passage to me some time back. What he helped me to see is that when we are hearing the Father's heart (regarding His house/kingdom matters) and seeking to fulfill the will of the Father, He allows us to operate with the authority of having his "signet."

‘In that day,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘I will take you, Zerubbabel My servant, the son of Shealtiel,’ says the Lord, ‘and will make you like a signet ring; for I have chosen you,’ says the Lord of hosts. (Haggai 2:23 NKJV)

We are only acting as His agents with His "signet ring."

Initially I shrank back from thinking God would vest this authority in his children. But He kept bringing me back to this passage. I'm not talking "name it claim it" stuff here. I'm talking about hearing the Father's heart regarding any kingdom building issue and knowing that we have the full weight of His authority behind us regarding anything the enemy throws at us o/!

Walking in this new reality has been exciting and very humbling. My wife and I are seeing people's hearts change as we are seeking to plant the gospel in the field where the Father has placed us.

What John writes here is key. When we discover what it means to walk in Jesus' authority, we will see hearts changed and lives transformed. After all, the Great Commission begins, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples…" 

The signet ring was a symbol of kingship and used to endorse or seal official documents. 

The illustration I like is that of an ambassador who speaks and acts on behalf of his government. He is an ordinary person, but when acting in the authority he has been given, he can change the course of nations.

We have been given the right to use Jesus' name in all kinds of circumstance. We can speak and act in the name of the King of kings. 

Insights on God’s wake up call

3am
Photo credit: zebble (Creative Commons)

God woke Tony and me up at 3am on October 17th to speak to us directly from the book of Haggai.

It's worth reading the story if you haven't already done so. That will make sense of this very insightful comment from Ross Rohe, whose own blog can be found here.

Ross Rohde wrote:

I rejoice that God spoke to you about this and that God has given you and Tony a platform which allows this to go to a much broader audience than one family or some believers in Austin.

The thoughts that come to mind when I read this have to do with personal holiness and corporate holiness. We have a tendency to be self focused. We are much more concerned with our house than God's. At best we want to be connected with a God who is going to take care of US, ME, MINE.

We bring this lack of personal holiness to a group and we just have a bunch of people who are focused on US, ME, MINE. Then we wonder why the Lord doesn't show up.  I'm making a general comment about the self focused state of the Western church (simple church or non-simple church), with quite a bit of self reflection.

If we want the Holy Spirit to show up in power in our lives individually and among us when we meet we have to seek him, only him and his will, not our own. When we do this individually, corporately and nationally, we will encounter Him and His power. It really boils down to Matt. 6:33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

I think Ross has hit on something here. There's a difference between seeking God for an experience of his presence and seeking Him for himself. If we seek the experience, it gratifies our flesh. It's about US, ME, MINE. If we seek to know Jesus, and to listen to him and to do his will, I believe we will find him.

Jeremiah 29:13-14  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,” declares the LORD