It’s time to leave the safety of the shore

A few years ago, I had the privilege of training a church in India in the principles of church planting. One of the activities we did was to listen to the Lord on behalf of the church. What was he saying to them as a body of believers? They were a wonderful group of people and the Lord spoke clearly. Yesterday, I had an email from them asking me to write some words for their anniversary and reminding me of a vision I had for them while I was there.

 

The picture I had seemed relevant beyond just their situation.

 

Here’s what I wrote for them:

 

“I remember when I was with you that I had a picture of boats docked by the shore. The wind (of the Spirit) was blowing, but the boats had not yet put out to sea. A boat in the harbor cannot catch fish. Until it trims its sails and moves out of the safety and shelter of the shoreline, a sailing boat is land bound and cannot live up to its potential of being like a live creature, responding to every gust of wind and to the direction of the one at the helm.

 

It’s time! It’s time to hoist your sails. You’ve had plenty of time to get everything ready and bring in provisions for the voyage. You are as ready now as you’ll ever be. The wind of the Holy Spirit is blowing. So experience the adventure and exhilaration of setting sail under the guidance and in the power of the Holy Spirit.  As you sail under the direction of the Master Helmsman, you will be challenged by the risks of the unknown, and you will learn to rely on the One who will not fail you.

 

Jesus is not safe or tame, but he is good. As you follow him into the deep, your boat will produce a wake that other boats will follow. As others see your walk of faith, they will desire that same voyage of exploration that you are experiencing.

 

Go for it!”

 

Sailing boat

 Photo Credit: Tim Green aka atoach via Compfight cc

When women champion men…

As part of some correspondence, a pastor’s wife, Kathy, wrote the following. I LOVE what she says here!
My prayer is that one day, women will “champion” the men who are brave enough to come out of the “male only” leadership box.

I believe that women who are free are the ones who will be used by God to open the doors for men (and other women) — so that they walk in freedom.  The slaves cannot free themselves.  I am no longer enslaved by the lies of the enemy about my position in Christ.  

I have permission from God– God’s Female Image is free and equal to His Male Image.
Complete freedom and peace came for me to live and minister as God’s Female Image — when the Spirit clearly revealed to me that God had opened the door and I realized satan was keeping me in bondage because I thought that my husband or “the Elders” had to give me permission to be free.  

I stand on Galatians 5:1 — 

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Why you chose option #3

And a hint for bloggers…

Thank you for all of you who responded to my request for help choosing a subtitle for The Black Swan Effect–the book on women I’ve been compiling. With all the numerous possibilities, it’s been a daunting task. You’ll be interested to know that more than 70% of you picked the same subtitle–the third one, “A response to gender hierarchy in the church.” The question is why.

Photo Credit: Frank Peters via Compfight cc

And here’s where it becomes fascinating.  A few days ago, I was introduced to a site that helps analyze the emotional impact of headlines. Type in your headline and  it comes up with a percentage score. A good copywriter averages a score of 30-40%. A gifted copywriter has a score of 50-75%. I checked out my past blog headlines, and sure enough, not exclusively but in general, I would say that the posts that garnered the most interest had also scored well on the site.

I had perhaps 25 to 30 subtitles that had been suggested over the months. I tested all of them with the site. The vast majority were very mediocre, several even scoring 0%.

Back to the drawing board.

As I played around with the subtitles, I began to find words that increased the score. I had decided on the patriarchy headline which scored 63% when several people told me that they weren’t sure that everyone would understand the title.

I was just about to send out the last post when I decided to give the site one more try. Which is when I found that “A response to gender hierarchy in the church” scored 100%! So almost as an afterthought, I added it to the options.

I know that we need the Holy Spirit to breathe life into the title, and that we are totally dependent on the Lord for how he uses the book, but in the face of innumerable choices with no clarity even after prayer, it was invaluable to have some help!

Is the Holy Spirit enough?

Modern wisdom would have us spend much time discipling new believers.

But consider the following:

Philip had no time with the Ethiopian eunuch after his baptism (which occurred at salvation).

The Philippian jailor became a disciple in the middle of the night, and next morning, Paul was gone.

Paul was in Philippi for “several days” (Acts 16:12) and yet the letter to the Philippians is full of praise for their faith and good works.

In other cities, (for example, Thessalonica–three weeks, Berea) Paul was there only a short time before being thrown out of town.

I became a believer at age 11 through reading a children’s book and knew no other Christians for four years. Somehow I realized that prayer and reading the Bible were important, and after a few weeks I led the girl who lived next door to Christ, but other than that I had no contact with other believers.

I’m certainly not saying discipleship is unimportant, but in situations where it doesn’t happen, is the Holy Spirit enough?

 

Some feminine wisdom

In the church that meets in our home, we’re studying through the book of Proverbs. We came across some interesting verses last Friday on the topic of wisdom. There was some lively and spirited discussion. At the end, someone commented, “I predict a blog post coming on!” They were right, and here it is.

Here are the points that we noted:

  • Wisdom is personified. The Greek word is Sophia.  I, Wisdom live together with good judgment (Proverbs 8:12). Listen as Wisdom calls out!… She takes her stand at the crossroads (Proverbs 8:1-2)
  • Wisdom is female. She offers you long life in her right hand…Wisdom is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire compares with her (Proverbs 3: 14-15)
  • We are to seek Wisdom, and in doing so find life.  Those who search will surely find me (Proverbs 8:17) Whoever finds me finds life (Proverbs 8:35)
  • Wisdom helped create the earth. The Lord formed me from the beginning, before he created anything else. I was appointed in ages past at the very first before the earth began (Proverbs 8:22-23)  I was the architect at his side. I was his constant delight,
        rejoicing always in his presence. And how happy I was with the world he created; how I rejoiced with the human family! (Proverbs 8: 30-31)
  • Wisdom sounds remarkably like Jesus. In the beginning the Word already existed.  The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him,  and nothing was created except through him. (John 1:1-3)  …Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30) I am the way, the truth and the life (John 10:10)
  • Wisdom sounds like the Holy Spirit too. She will guide you down delightful paths (Proverbs 3:17) When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth (John 16:13)  I know where to discover knowledge and discernment (Proverbs 8:12) Think of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

One can come up with some interesting ideas about the interplay of the feminine with the godhead from this. What do you think?

A story: Child of Promise

It seems that wherever we turn at present, God is doing amazing things.

Yesterday we held a baby shower: here’s the story behind it.

Shama is a new Christian from a Hindu background. She and her husband had been trying for a baby for several years, but with no success. When they finally consulted an OBGYN, tests showed she would need surgery before conception was possible, but with the various things going on in their lives, they knew they would have to delay.

One evening this last January, when Shama was feeling especially despondent about this, she flipped open her Bible and said., “God, I’ve no idea if you speak into this kind of situation, but will you show me something from your Word?”

Her Bible fell open at a passage in 2 Kings 4–not a passage that a six-month old believer usually reads. In this story, a Shunammite woman has prepared a small “prophet’s chamber” for Elisha. When Elisha asks what he can do for her in return, his servant, Gehazi, suggests that he prays for her to have a child. They call her in, and as she stands in the doorway, Elisha tells her, “Next year at this time, you will be holding your son in your arms!”

This verse was a huge encouragement to Shama, who took it very literally. She brought it to the church that meets in our home, and everyone prayed for her using this verse as the basis.

One Friday in April, Shama came back to church looking very solemn. The only sign that something might be going on was that her husband was holding a video camera. We usually start our times together by asking what the Lord has done in anyone’s life that week. Shama started. “Do you remember how three months ago, I read to you that passage about Elisha?” she said. “I’d like to read it to you again.”

She read the passage, very solemnly. I remember thinking, “Oh no! She’s past the time when that verse could be fulfilled.”

Then all of a sudden, she bursts out with a huge grin, “I’m pregnant!!”

Pandemonium broke out in our group as we realized that the Scripture was going to be fulfilled literally. One year from the Lord giving her that passage, Shama will be holding her son (and yes, it’s a boy!) in her arms.

Praise God.

Photo Credit: Etolane (Creative Commons)

Another wave rolls in

Arthur Wallis, a British “elder statesman” in the Kingdom wrote a fascinating foreword to a book by Frank Bartleman called Another wave rolls in: (formerly) What really happened at “Azuza Street?” The book describes from a first-hand perspective, the events at Azusa Street–the beginning of the Pentecostal Movement. In this foreword, Arthur described how the life of the early church quickly degenerated and was nearly extinguished during the Dark Ages. But then God began recovering waves of truth.

 

  • In the 15th century, the Bible was put into the hands of ordinary people (Wycliffe and Tyndale).
  • In the Reformation, through people like Luther and Calvin, the truth that salvation is by faith and not by works was recovered.
  • In the 17th century, the Congregational Movement recovered the truth of the autonomy of the local church, and the Baptists also stood on this ground while adding baptism by immersion.
  • In the 18th century God raised up Wesley and Whitfield. The Methodist movement emphasized salvation by faith as a work of the Holy Spirit, holiness, and the fact that neither ordained preachers nor sacred buildings were necessary to preach the Gospel.
  • In the 19th century, the Brethren taught that the Bible is sufficient for running the church and the priesthood of all believers. The Salvation Army looked at the social implications of the Gospel. The deeper life movement recovered the potential of a victorious Christian life through union with Christ’s death and resurrection.
  • In the 20th century, the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements characterized the church.

Each of these waves of recovery built upon the previous wave, like a tide coming into the shore. The waves may break and recede, but the tide itself moves inexorably forward.

What will be the waves of the 21st century? It’s too early to answer that fully, but I believe that one of the waves is this: that God wants his people to be led by the Spirit.
  • His ordinary people will engage with him in the harvest, following the Holy Spirit as he leads them on mission with God to make disciples. It’s no longer the DL Moody’s, John Wesley’s or Billy Graham’s, extraordinarily effective though they have been, but all of us–“an army of Billy Graham’s” that will usher in the final harvest.
  • Church, too, will be in the hands of ordinary people, and therefore will become simpler and more organic, again following the Spirit’s leading. This won’t be limited to house/simple/organic church, but will increasingly be recognized across the denominations.

What other waves do you see?