Psalms 78:72 - So he [David] shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, And guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.
Jesus, the True Shepherd, raised up David, a shepherd after God's own Heart, to lead Israel into God's Plan. David is given two characteristics in this verse: integrity of heart and skillful was of hand. He had "heart with his art".
A Godly leader must have these two qualities to be utilitized by God in the lives of His people. There must be Truth on the inner man, Ps 51.6 as well as wisdom from Him in what a leader is doing - skill.
Today there is too much development of talent without the inner character of integrity. A heart of integrity is the inner momentum of balance in the gyroscope of leadership. Without inner integrity and the discipline of personal sanctification there is a loss of balance resulting in the inevitable tipping and failing of the endeavor.
Walk before God in your inner secret life and see God promote you in your ministry and call as it was with Abraham, Gen 17.1. He will use that kind of leader to guide His People into possessing their possessions in God's Promised Land for them.
We can't cut corners with integrity, because in the end, what's in a leader's heart is always revealed.
"Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel." -Ephesians 6:18-19
"The fountain of prayer and all supplications is sourced in the limitless flow of the Holy Spirit who knows the "deep things of God" - 2 Corinthians 2:10. The Spirit reveals those deep and secret things hidden in the darkness, Daniel 2:22, dark not because some evil or horror dwells there, but dark due to the ignorance of many to its riches.
Prayer sourced in the Spirit is true worship - John 4:23. It has been weaned from the obstructions of sight and the tantrums of the restless soul. It is prayer that rises above the opaque columnous clouds, above the cyclic rise and fall of the worldly fray, above the frivolous opining of men and far above the frenetic traffic of the "Prince of the Power of the Air".
When we have entered into the Holiest of Holies, having passed through the outer court of the world and the flesh, passing through the veil by the Cross of Jesus Christ, we discover that meager ability of the soul is too incompetent to comprehend what awaits the believer at the Throne of Grace. Only the prayer whose path was made by our Hero, Jesus Christ the Forerunner, can bring us there.
That Holiest Place is the altar where the atoning Blood has been applied. There is true freedom from the bonds of the corrupt nature of the flesh and the chainsof theself-consciousnessofthehumansoul. That Holiest Place is the sphere of the Spirit, where we hear the voice of the Word of God speaking to the deepest parts of us, seeing us, knowing us, and counseling us.
The "Mystery of the Gospel" of which Paul spoke is not an esoteric mystery that cannot be known, it is this very thing - the mystery of knowing the depths of God: His Mind, His Plan, and His Grace. All these await the believer in the Word and in prayer. When we have been alone with Him in prayer and have opened our mouths in prayer, there in secret, we will observe that the Witness of God accompanies us as we preach the Gospel. Prayer sourced in the Spirit always guides us to the Gospel of Christ. Prayer's ultimate heartbeat is to bring the lost sinner into communion with God and his new creation in Christ.
Prayer without the Gospel is not prayer. Prayer and preaching are married and undivorceable. One cannot be without the other without both ceasing to exist. For when we find ourselves in the midst of His Holiest, time will not tarry long before we hear "Who will go for us?" - Isaiah 6:1-8
Prayer instills the mystery of a power in us that did not exist there before. It gives us hunger for holiness, missions, service, compassion, and the desire to serve.
Let our knees be marked with the inscriptions of our floors, let our lips be filled with His Praise, let our souls be stilled in His presence, let our heart burn with the matters of the Lord, and let our minds mull the burdens of the Lord . Let us be those men and women that have the marks of our Savior, that we too may be known as "those that had been with Jesus." For God knows this dying world desperately needs it.
"There is a place where thou canst touch the eyes Of blinded men to instant, perfect sight;
There is a place where thou canst say, “Arise”
To dying captives, bound in chains of night; There is a place where thou canst reach the store Of hoarded gold and free it for the Lord;
There is a place–upon some distant shore–Where thou canst send the worker and the Word. Where is that secret place–dost thou ask, “Where?” O soul, it is the secret place of prayer!" ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson
In the early 1600s, the Wampanoag (Wam-pa-NO-ag) Indians covered the coast of what we now call New England. They raised crops, living close to the ocean in summer for seafood, moving inland in winter to set up hunting camps. Their encounters with Europeans over the years were mostly friendly.
One exception: In 1614 Captain Thomas Hunt captured several Wampanoag, along with a Patuxet named Squanto, to be sold into slavery in Spain. A Spanish monk purchased Squanto's freedom, taught him English, and introduced him to Jesus Christ. In 1619, Squanto returned to his native land, only to find his tribe wiped out by an epidemic. Thereafter he made his home with the Wampanoag.
Meanwhile, in 1608, a British group called the Separatists fled to Leyden, Holland. There they found religious freedom, but also poverty, grueling work hours and a secular culture that threatened to undo the values they had carefully instilled into their children. In 1620, they sold everything and indentured themselves for seven years to finance their journey to America.
On the Mayflower, the Separatists were joined by those seeking the new land for other reasons; these they called the Strangers. The two groups, 102 altogether, were called the Pilgrims.
Their journey lasted nine weeks. In one of those "accidents" which change the course of history, the ship lost its course and landed far north of its destination at what we now call Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Once outside the territory covered by the King's Charter, the Pilgrims became responsible for their own government, and so they wrote a set of laws called The Mayflower Compact.
On December 21, 1620, they began their new life at the place they named Plymouth.
It was a devastating winter -- whipped with wind and sleet and snow. Half the Pilgrims died. Still the Separatists clung to their faith; not one chose to return to England with the Mayflower that spring.
But spring brought unexpected relief w the help of a noble and generous Christian brother -- Squanto. He taught them how to grow corn, use fertilizer, stalk deer and catch fish. William Bradford, the governor of Plymouth, wrote of Squanto that he was "a special instrument sent of God for good beyond their expectations."
And so their first harvest was good. Governor Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving to God and the Pilgrims invited their Indian friends. Chief Massasoit and 90 members of his tribe came, along with Squanto, bearing venison and wild turkeys for all to share. Together in harmony, the Pilgrims and the Indians feasted, played games, ran races and showed their prowess with bow and arrow and musket.
How thankful were the Pilgrims? The first Thanksgiving took three whole days!
Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. - Daniel 10:12-13
"If thou art running to Christ, He is already near thee. If thou dost sigh for His presence, that sigh is the evidence that He is with thee. He is with thee now: therefore be calmly glad." - Charles Spurgeon
It is of great comfort to read the words penned “from the first day...thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.” Be glad child of God for our words are heard “from the first day”! This should cheer the wavering saint who labors in prayer!
When we think of international communication and how back in the day it used to take weeks to have a painstakingly written letter delivered to it’s eagerly awaiting addressee, we can truly appreciate the fact that there is no distance between the seeking soul and the listening God. We tend to think of God naturally, in terms of distance, that He is far away in the heavens on a throne, but nothing could be farther from the truth.
In the sphere of prayer there is no distance, no interference, no walls, no obstacle to catch our rising prayer and cast it to the ground. God is closer to the believer than the believer is to himself. As a matter of a fact, before we pray He knows our prayer altogether - Psalm139:4.
In warfare it is critical to know that there is no distance that our prayer must travel. A whisper of a prayer can be more powerful than a prayer of shouting and pleading with God. Often due to a delay of the answer, we assume there is distance, but contrary to appearance, He instantly hears and He instantly acts.
Yet there are times of a hindering of the execution of that prayer as we see in Daniel’s case. Though Daniel did not immediately know of the delay of an answer due to warfare and hindering, Daniel continued to fast and pray. It is of utmost importance that we cease not in prayer, that we knock until the door is opened. Because the answer is coming and your constancy in prayer is part of the warfare being waged. All too often answers to prayers in transit are halted due to the breakdown of prayer.
When a person begins to discover the power of prayer, the Prince of Persia, the unseen authority of Ephesians 6:12, will begin his hindering program. He will use feelings, pressure, circumstances, people, or personal distractions to get the praying warrior to stumble in his prayer and stop. He will project impulses, fears, bad news, or whatever he can send to stop the prayers.
Were Daniel’s prayers a part of the victory in that Michael the Angel was sent to help get the words to Daniel of the vision? I think so. For when we read the disciple’s prayer of Matthew 6 we read “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” The distance between the will of Heaven and the will of God accomplished on the earth is only a prayer away. When we pray, God's will is accomplished. When we abide in prayer, we are an acting agent, an ambassador, that becomes a conduit of the accomplishment of the things of God on this earth.
!We must remember that the devil is the "Prince of the Power of the Air" so he has authority in the air, but not absolute authority. When believers live in their flesh, in the wisdom of this world, they become conduits of the air giving place for the devil, even speaking his mind about God’s people and God’s work. That is why when we are Spirit-filled we can detect demonic activity when we enter certain locales of entertainment, carnal activity, or territories given over to sin.
Be ever aware of the words that you speak and what you put out into the air. Negativity and fear, carnal comments, natural deductions, and personal opinions devoid of truth actually give the devil a stronghold to traffic in the air causing pressure and oppression over people.
It can be clearly observed when we travel to certain countries, and cities that are ruled by corrupt Godless political leaders, how the atmosphere of the country is heavy and oppressed. It is a great joy that when we pray, the atmosphere in which the Prince of the Power of the Air dwells, cannot stop or slow our prayers. Actually when we pray, the atmosphere is confronted and is cleared. Nothing was more effective in clearing the air in the Bible than the spoken Word of God and the prayer of the saints. Just as the air in a lightning storm is ionized and purged, so is the thick atmosphere of Satanic activity in warfare when the prayers of you and I arise.
With every new generation the cycle seems to repeat itself. The gap between the older generation widens with the younger generation. It’s almost as there is a language barrier that forms. Historically it seems these generational characteristics cycle, repeating themselves almost every 100 years. In every generation we can see characteristics of earlier generations - but with different emphasis'. My parents' generation "Baby Boomers" (the loyalists and hard nosed Cold War-ists) and my generation "Generation X" were somewhat idealists - we grew up learning definitions to words, principles, loyalties, rules, & absolutes. Because we were expected to adopt responsibility at a young age (had my first job at 14 was on my own by 18) we learned how to interpret our ideals from our parents into practicality because of dire need to - we were thrust into an understanding via that great crucible coined "sink or swim”
Here is a short outline of what is considered by many as the Gens: "Builders": 1920-1945 The Great Depression and World War II produced a generation with a strong work ethic, financial conservatism and respect for authority. Baby Boomers: 1946-1964 - Born in an era of financial prosperity, they are vocal on social issues and liberal in outlook. Generation X: 1965-1979 - Cynical about authority and open to new forms of spirituality, but insecure about their financial future. Generation Y: 1980-1994 - Labelled as flighty and transient, they are known as the “me now” generation. Generation Z: 1995-2009 - Tech-savvy, creative, confident and with a strong work ethic – the result of more mature parents and the economic downturn.
But Millennialists or Generation Y (born 1980-1994 - the "Pepsi Generation") grew up in an era where the internet came alive and a budding social media craze and grew. Facebook created a "Me now” society that is very self aware and self centered. They are not idealists like us and our parents - so black is not black and white is not white to them. Rather many of them balk at absolutes, principles, clear definitions and God-lingo. They will poke at and push a little against ideals and absolutes to see if they stand - and when they do Baby Boomers & Gen X will be shocked and get a somewhat insecure - "what do you mean? you can't question that - that's just the way it is." - but that's exactly why they do that - they need to know how strong it is. They are all about practicality - not the abstract of ideals but "what does this mean to me practically today now? - I can't get a job or get over this addiction! What does grace mean to me in a day to day application, not just a theological definition”. They are having kids and living in many cases unmarried with a set of values that are more situational ethics rather than principles, that is where we see them hungry for practical principles for living.
We Baby Boomers and Gen X are calling them Millennialists (because that's what we do - we define things - they chuckle when we call them Millennialists because they don't see themselves that way. As a matter a fact - hey don't really look at other gens)
What I see the Millennialists and later gens need is a very practical, honest, authentic, down-to-earth Gospel message that is Truth oriented and not idealistic or exclusive or judging but inclusive - real love from God that is demonstrated with straight words. The more curious intellectual Millennialists have dived into apologetics because they are seeking to define their culture for who they are in contrast to idealistic stereotyping they could be labeled with. Don't get them wrong though, they are not wanting compromise or anti-authority - as we would interpret it because they question - they want real truth, love and relationship. The last thing they want is Gen X - (their parents) to try to be like them - they are looking for value.
When we've had Millennialists come to our church here in Philly they are not so impressed by programs or vocab but by straight truth, honest talk, and genuine care.
Case and point - the woman at the well in John 4. Jesus walks 24 miles to her - she did not walk to him or follow Jesus due to a miracle he performed. The conversation began with it being all about her. Once she understood that not only was it all about her but that Jesus knew her and her life without judging and condemning. She had real dialogue about real things with Jesus. Not religious ideals. He won her by his one on one authentic dialogue that was based in love and value for her soul. It was then she asked about who He was and then came the revelation to her that religion and ideals could not break through. She walked away amazed at the discovery of the “Gift of Eternal Life” and it transformed her life.
The Millennialists, Gen Y are now in their 20’s and early 30’s as another generation is growing up, Generation Z who are in their teens and graduating from High School. They are very adept in technology, and information gatherers.
There is yet another new generation upon us today. Babies born in the 15 years from 2010 will be known as "Generation Alpha". And they’re set to be the largest generation yet, as we experience a birthrate spike larger than the post-WWII baby boom. According to social researcher Mark McCrindle, the name was selected because, just as in science, once the Latin alphabet was exhausted they moved on to Greek letters. “This generation is likely to be the most formally educated in history. They will begin schooling earlier and study for longer.” Brought up in an era of information overload, they are expected to be even more tech-savvy and materialistic than their predecessors, Gen Z
The biggest mistake that Gen X and the Baby Boomers could make today is to underestimate their importance in the lives of Gen Y - the Millennialists, as well as the newer generation. The older generation has much that Gen Y needs - but Gen Y needs it in their language. Like Jesus did, he broke it down into practicality and real loving talk with inclusivity. Remember, God’s Love is trans-generational, trans-cultural and it is transformational. - Christian
Yesterday in our series on "The Life of David" we dealt with David's son Absalom, his wounding, shunning and his reaction that all led to the great rebellion Absalom led against his father. This is an eye opening study as there were 6 stages that leads to Absalom acting out his wounds. Here they are:
1. 2 Sam 13.1-19 - Amnon, David’s son thru Abigail, Absalom’s brother rapes his sister Tamar - incest and casts her out. The original wound = David is in a state of inaction over the incestuous violation of his daughter Tamar. Most likely because he has some what of a guilty conscience from his affair with Bathsheba. 2. 2 Sam 13.2-33 - David does not act to discipline Amnon so Absalom waits 2 years and conspires to kill his brother with his men and does so. The attempt to rectify = Absalom - a man with a type of a strong sense of justice as his father is deeply wounded for his sister. this wound festers for 2 years unhealed. Finally Absalom takes matters into his own hands and with his men kill Amnon in vengeance for raping his sister.
3. 2 Sam 13.34-39 - Absalom flees to his grandfather - the king of Geshur and lives there for 3 years. The festering wound = Absalom desperate for family connection in his pain and sense of justice less to his grandfather’s in Talmai. The separation from his father only causes a festering wound that is not being mollified.
4. 2 Sam 14:1-24 - David allows Absalom to return to Jerusalem to his own house but not to see his face. The rejection = David reacts to amnion’s murder and shuns his son for 4 years while he is in Talmai with his grandfather. This compounds the pain as now Absalom has two wounds - the second being that he is rejected by his father.
5. 2 Sam 14.33 - David finally allows his son who is highly favored and loved by many in Israel because of his winning personality and good looks - to come into his presence but only on a formal filial level. The festering continues with no reconciliation = The festering wound in Absalom grows as he is gravely disappointed in his meeting with his father. He was wanting more.
6. 2 Sam 15.1-12 The conspiracy begins. The final blow = Finally after he has his moment to see his father - with no reconciliation seals the inner poison bomb.
Absalom had a wounded spirit - Proverbs 18.14 - The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear
The writer of Hebrews writes describing the destructive power of bitterness and unhealed wound and how it destroys those closet to us - Hebrew 15.15-16 - "Strive to live in peace with everybody and pursue that consecration and holiness without which no one will [ever] see the Lord. Exercise foresight and be on the watch to look [after one another], to see that no one falls back from and fails to secure God’s grace (His unmerited favor and spiritual blessing), in order that no root of resentment (rancor, bitterness, or hatred) shoots forth and causes trouble and bitter torment, and the many become contaminated and defiled by it—That no one may become guilty of sexual vice" - (Ampl)
The wounds Absalom has were bitterness due to sexual vice - when Amnon his brother raped hi sister Tamar.
What was Absalom to do? When we are wounded and victimized by life, people and situations we must learn what to do with those wounds. Otherwise they cause a root of bitterness and defile many that we love.
The answer is this: we take "all our stuff", our anger, all the reasons we are hurt, what people did to us, how we were mistreated, how we were betrayed, how we failed and all of it - and leave it at the foot of the Cross of Jesus Christ. There we find Jesus took it, He took it 2000 years ago, and crucified it at the cross. It is no longer ours to remember, to poses to us as our crutch or chip on our shoulder. There we are set free from it and we can be healed by the love and forgiveness of Christ.
Friends, this is our only option. Lest we stop receiving grace and a root of bitterness springs up hurting many around us.
Before we could approach the subject of prayer in this small treatise, we are prompted to evaluate the natural state of every human being, and that being unregenerate, spiritually dead, impotent. A man that has been seeded from the earth, born of the flesh, is therefore flesh. We originally being fleshly and blind to the things that of the Heavenlies, are in need of new “genesis” in the deepest part of ourselves. That “genesis” differs from the Biblical account of the origins of the material world in that it has an entirely different source. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” – John 3:6. This source afore mentioned is rooted in the Heavenlies and shares nothing with the soil we stand on now. The Source from which this comes is from The Spirit of God Himself.
Mankind needs a total rebirth, an absolute rejuvenation that is sourced from that Heavenly sphere from which springs up a new creature. Mankind cannot be remade, remodeled, or refashioned. You and I need a new genesis – a creation that is not made from the materials from ourselves, or this world.
God created this universe not out of mandate but out of love, and because of love God sends His only Son into it to rescue it. Jesus’s love and mission to this world was terminated by the ingratitude and sin of man (and of you and I). Yet it was the Love of the Spirit of God for humankind that raised Jesus from the dead and burst Him from the sullied grave.
Thus we may be reborn by this Love from Above. Anyone that allows the Love of the Spirit of the Father to enter and believe on His Son that He sent, will be a recipient of a supernatural miracle – a rebirth of the Spirit of God. Something or rather better stated; Someone will be born inside that is born from Above, that is sourced from Above, and speaks the language of Above.
!This is the new creation that the Bible speaks so much of. This new creation is born of the Spirit and cannot sin, fail or be destroyed. It is sourced from the Seed of the Gospel of Grace. Just as a new born babe cries out for it’s mother’s breast and her caress, so this new creation hungers and thirsts for God; His Word, His Love and His Communication to the inner most parts of who we are.
Just returned from an awesome Pastor's Retreat with about 110 other GGWO pastors. We were challenged, encouraged, built up, and inspired by new ideas and vision. Here are some notes on a session I did on Church Building and Strategies:
Building from the Inside Out
Church Growth vs. “Making all men see” - Numbers are God’s part - we can’t make a tree grow faster. It’s the inherent life within the seed - in the tree. The Gospel Seed is the The Life in the Body = the Word. 1 Pt 1.23 & Jn 6.63. Our Passion is not growth but Paul’s passion: "And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ" - Eph 3.9. It’s the Word of Grace that caused growth in the first church and that made disciples - Acts 4.4. Is the Father’s desire to have a full house - Lk 14.23
“The stat that 80% of church plants that fail is bogus - The truth is that after 4 years 68% of church plants are alive and well - only 32% fail" (see Ed Stetzer‘s research on this). There is a revival of missions and church planting across the country and the world today.
Divine Creativity is Good - Jesus has the Key to the city where we minister = Function by principles and not patterns. Concepts & religious idealism kill - principles breathe creative life into programs and events.
Critical Internal Ingredients:
Inner heart picture of what the church will be like in 2 years, in 5 years and beyond.
“Self Talk” - what is the content of what we are speaking in our heart as a pastor/planter? Eccl 5.2
The team has to be led in vision and passion -
Word of God intensity
“Team Talk” - what are we talking about on the team consistently? Complaining? Vision?
Pastor and team members personal discipline in the Word, prayer, and private life - personal growth as a leader.
Develop Timothy and men. “If we have one man we have the country”
Be patient - Let people grow. We are not here to conform people to Christ’s image or a pattern of religious behavior - the Holy Spirit through the Word transforms people by the renewing of their minds.
Attack laziness - Col 4.17
7 Reasons Why Church Plants Fail - Generally church planters and church planting ministries all agree on these 7 reasons.
Unqualified and or novice leaders
Lack of understanding or respect of the local context
Resiliency in defeat - “Everyone has a plan until they are punched in the face” Mike Tyson
Intangibles: Calling? Timing? Right Man? Sent?
Church Growth Analysis: NG = VF x RR – BDL
Net Growth = Visitor Flow x Retention Rate minus Back-Door-Loss (Dr. Larry Sherman - Director of Church Planting - Great Lakes Conference ECC - 82 new churches this year)
Breaking Barriers: With two or three people, there is disciple-making. When you have 12, you have a unit of disciples. A group of 70 you have Body where you assess, train and at 70-100 like Jesus & theMoraviansyou send out.
Breaking the 100 barrier. Unless you are an extra-ordinary pastor / leader - the average pastor can only pastor 70-100 people affectively before he starts losing touch with some. Delegate. Trust. Listen.
Breaking the 200 barrier. Disciple & raise up men. Many churches had to break down and hire a small staff to go beyond the 200 mark.
Breaking the 500 & 1000 marks - The pastor takes on more of a preaching/teaching role only & with effective training and raising up men to lead teams, groups and departments. He focuses on his investment and discipleship of this handful of men that are leading.
6 Team Positions That Must be Filled to Grow a Church plant startup: (this may be obvious but a common mistake is the planting pastor does it all himself with little to no delegation & trust)
1. Lead Pastor: You have to have a point leader - A builder of men. Jesus had disciples, Acts 20.4-5 Paul traveled with his men and you should mentor the team & others as well.
2. Worship Arts Director: Someone who can provide leadership and build teams at every level. Web, stage design, media and graphic design.
3. Children’s Director: a MUST, a Youth Pastor can wait.
4. Connections/Assimilation Leader
Greeters, parking lots, cafe, etc. = connections, and follow-up from first-timer through them accepting Christ and becoming discipled is key in being baptized into the Body. Many times assimilation is shared with the Pastor and the Assistant Pastor in this list or this is 2 separate roles.
5. Office Administration/Pastor Assistant
This is such a key role that again, your wife does NOT want to fill.
6. Prayer Warrior/Leader
#1 Problem all leaders struggle today is they are not encouraged. Not built up. Tell a man who he is and he’ll know what to do. Here are 12 reasons (among many) leaders lose their passion in their call and they stop growing - in return their ministry stops growing. Very often the people that a leader leads will not grow beyond the level the leader himself has grown - we need as leaders to be constantly challenged and constantly grow.
Getting stuck in the mud of the details of the ministry & spinning wheels.
Distraction of entertainment - movies, online entertainment, gaming, and excessive recreation
Google searches replace turning of the pages of the Bible and books.
Discouragement due to family pressures or marriage problems - find the right balance.
Soulish relationships - relationships that cross the lines into the inappropriate
Petty skirmishes - the tit-for-tat arguments because of insecurity
Hidden idols - toleration for error that slips in and causes to stumble
Personal sin. Sin steals joy, vision and concentration. Consecration produces concentration
Pursuit of materialism - Succumbing to the temptation to possess and acquire.
Knowledge replaces obedience - The stimulation of information replaces radical steps of faith
Psychological thinking replaces Bible Conviction
Departing from the basics of the vision & teaching to be more acceptable and less controversial.
Things that Have Brought new people for us in Philly/Hatboro.
Monthly events - Last month - Pig Roast - 200~ new visitors.
Concerts and Raffle
Bring a Friend Sunday - new visitors get a free gift bag
Social Media - targeting groups of people with special interest / topics - Meetup.com & Craigslist
Word of Mouth
Signs in front of the church
Street evangelism & visitation
Sermon series & hitting hot topics people talk about on the street.
“Surgical Outreaches” - Targeting community events and people hotspots with events such as coffee house outreach, etc.
Romans 8.28: "We are assured and know that [ God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose" We live in an environment and in a system of social understanding that is bent on “creature comfort” and “well-being”, where to suffer as a victim in anyway is a crime warranting the highest utilization of the current legal system. This philosophy has penetrated the Church today in many different forms such as the “Blessing Movement”, "It's All About You" and “Certain Healing”.
As Christians we need to guard ourselves from this trend of entitlement thinking as it is a form of deception. God's Eternal Purpose in our lives is not to make us happy or blessed or to even answer all our prayers as we would want; but His Purpose is that Christ would be formed in us - that we would be Christ-like. This of course creates the potential for seemingly unpleasant experiences, personal offenses and loss of opportunity.
We as finite creatures fail to see beyond our noses, beyond what we can touch, farther than what feels nice or what we can understand. Because of our human limitations we cannot even understand what is the most beneficial for us - we cannot even define what would make us the happiest. People explain well-being and happiness by what they feel inside and what would make them sense acceptance and experience elevation socially, politically or economically.
Why? Why would God want us only to be like His Son?
We were made for the eternal, the deathless, the enduring, the forever. You can hear it in our love songs on the radio, in films and on the internet. We were made to live beyond our limitations, our fears and our misguided illusions of pleasure - anything less of a life would eventually lead to restless discontentment and wander-lust.
There is only one thing that lasts beyond death and decay and that is Jesus Christ. This world and all its pleasure, fashion, education and fame will pass and we like our ancestors will meet our certain end at death.
To allow the Bible to chose for us - to allow our lives to come under the Holy Spirit's leading and to give up the steering wheel to God's Plan; is to start down the path of true happiness, true blessedness and true love. Because only God knows what is best in His Plan for us. This is a scary thought to lose control but here is the way of true freedom.
We cannot interpret the quality of our lives by what we are experiencing today whether good or bad. We cannot say this way is better or I do not want this in my life - because we are so blinded by our own senses to what is really best for us.
Suffering in our lives is mostly misunderstood as a threat when it is truly the threshold to greater blessing and purer joy than we could have discovered ourselves.
I look at my life and I cannot say that I could have chosen a better way - I see the blessings around me, the people I love in my life and the adventure I live and know that I could not have brought this to pass even if I had tried!
We have to walk by faith trusting God’s Way is best not living in ignorance to the reason for certain events in our lives. Those things He allows to impact us has a Higher Purpose - that “All things work together for good for them that love God and that are called according to His Purpose” - “to be transformed into the likeness of His Son” so that we can experience the best He has for us.
It's not about us - but how we may lay our life down as Jesus did in His Father's Will...
I've been meditating and digesting A. W. Tozer's book "Fiery Faith" recently and noted for my personal study a series of quotes from his book. I hope you enjoy these and are as blessed as I was reading this spiritually meaty book
• Before there can be any faith there must be enlightenment first - Jn 6.44
• Faith is not abstract and is to be for the immediacy of the physical life - see the words that reflect the physical: "taste & see that The Lord is good" Ps 34.8
• Imagination tries to create - projects unreal images out of the mind and seeks to attach reality to them
• Faith creates nothing but simply reckons on what's already there.
• There is no difference between the spiritual and the real - one does not contradict the other - the spiritual is the real
• Faith is present - living in the present of God - people live in their past with God and they're in the future hope in God and the work but live lonely in the present because they live with out present of God in faith
• Christian rationalists, Christian moralists, vs Christian mystics
• Faith never goes contrary to reason - it just ignores the reasons and rises above it
• The original sin was not disobedience but it was unbelief. Unbelief always proceeds sin
• Faith cannot use tangible worlds like "mountain, star, lake" if it could it
would become pagan. Faith uses words that are intangible "love, forgiveness, promises"
•Unbelief is a moral thing. Living in unbelief is demoralizing because it assumes the immoral condition of the heart before it can exist.
• There are things reason cannot do that are beyond it's capacity, for example - “wonder” - "they all wondered at Him" leads to marveling - faith moved forward supernaturally and reason follows wide-eyed in amazement - this is the way it should always be
• A believing Christian is a miracle - the moment you can explain him he is no longer the wonder of a Christian but a religious idealist or religious philosophist
• Faith must rest on not the promises but on God's nature first or the promises are taken out of context and misapplied - promise follower vs Christ follower
• Ps 116.11 we are brought up in an environment of lies Jer 17.9
• Satan’s ﬁrst attack upon the human race was his sly eﬁort to destroy Eve’s conﬁdence in the kindness of God. Unfortunately for her and for us he succeeded too well. From that day, men have had a false conception of God, and it is exactly this that has cut out from under them the ground of righteousness and driven them to reckless and destructive living.
• Much Christianity since the days of Christ’s ﬂesh has also been grim and severe. And the cause has been the same - an unworthy or an inadequate view of God. Instinctively we try to be like our God, and if He is conceived to be stern and exacting, so will we ourselves be.
• They continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. (Acts 2:42) So says Luke of the thousands who received the Word and were baptized following the preaching of Peter on the day of Pentecost. Conversion for those ﬁrst Christians was not a destination; it was the beginning of a journey
• Came the revolution, quietly, certainly, and put another construction upon the word faith. Little by little the whole meaning of the word shifted from what it had been to what it is now. And so insidious was the change that hardly a voice has been raised to warn against it. But the tragic consequences are all around us. Faith now means no more than passive moral acquiescence in the Word of God and the cross of Jesus.
• Such a faith as this does not perturb people. It comforts them. It does not put their hip out of joint so that they halt upon their thigh; rather it teaches them deep-breathing exercises and improves their posture. The face of their ego is washed and their self-conﬁdense is rescued from discouragement. All this they gain, but they do not get a new name as Jacob did, nor do they limp into the eternal sunlight. “As he passed over Penuel..." Limping Gen 32.31
Sadly, all to often, I see the same disastrous pattern repeat itself - a pattern that is as old as man himself; people get settled & comfortable in a familiar rut that lulls them into a state of ease and passivity where a daily faith walk is no longer characteristic of their lives and Calvary's Cross becomes just optional furniture in the rooms of their soul. It is then the fatal mistake is made in a bad decision or a behavioral indiscretion that leaves a person paralyzed and a casualty. Friend, guard your heart, walk circumspectly and ponder the path of your feet. Take steps of faith in your calling and grow in grace and conviction daily. For the Devil as a roaring lion roams about seeking whom he may devour.