Monday, September 28, 2009

Power of the Gospel

Several leaders of a church were gathered in prayer. During this time, the Holy Spirit revealed that He wanted two of the leaders to become church planters. After a time of preparation, the two men left to plant churches. The visited eight large cities, and planted four churches.

Normally, God spread His presence with His people. If His people are not in a place, then His presence is not in a place. God’s intention has always been for His people to cover the earth. But, at this time, as today, there are some places where His seed is planted, and some not. The cities they visited had varying degrees of influence by God’s people – some a lot, some not at all.

Let’s get a clear picture of the environment. The cities were spiritual cesspools. Idolatry, superstition and immorality were rampant. There were no Bibles in the heart language of the people. And if there were, there was only 5-10% literacy.

The cities were used to make commercials for relief organizations like Compassion. Families made their living sifting through the dump. There were some land owners, some soldiers, some subsistence farmers, some craftsmen, and possibly half the population were slaves. Poverty was overwhelming. Cities were dirty, smelly and unsafe. There was disease and malnutrition. There was a 25% infant mortality rate. 50% did not reach the age of five. 30% did not reach the age of eighteen. Life expectancy for men was 45. Life expectancy for women was 38.

These cities were “unplowed fields”, with lots of birds, rocks and thorns. The ground was hard. It was next impossible for any “desirable plant” to take root.

Moreover, there were no planes, trains or automobiles. There were three modes of locomotive power: wind, animal and feet. The journey was around 1200 miles, taking about two years. Average travel was around twenty miles a day. 1200 miles at twenty miles means 60 days of traveling. (That is, if everything went well – no sicknesses, no shipwrecks, no robberies, inclement weather, etc.)

Let us assume they attempted to plant a church in every city they visited. How do they do that? There is no TV, no internet, no radio, no newspapers or printing presses. There were no big evangelistic rallies. There were no call-forwards.

(“Call forwards” were not invented until the 1830’s or 1840’s. So, not only were they not part of these church planter’s arsenal, but the world had experienced several large, high-impact revivals with it.)

They sought out those who they believed would be most open. So, they went to the synagogues, arguing from scripture that Jesus was the Messiah. From there, they approached God-fearers wherever there were groups of people: markets, schools and places of business.
So, if they took:
• Two months to travel
• Fours to reach out to four unresponsive cities
• And eighteen months to plant four churches.

That’s an average of four and a half months for each church plant. And in most of the churches that were planted, they were beaten and thrown out of the city. And they left a group of baby Christian to fend for themselves for 1-2 years.

Understand –
• On barren soil,
• In destitute physical circumstances,
• Amid opposition and persecution,
• Amid scores of deceiving voices,
• Without leadership,
• Without resources,
• And with minimal grounding.

(Which sounds like a recipe for disaster) These baby churches survived, thrived and grew.

They presented the gospel and painted a picture of Jesus in a way that all those factors had no power against the gospel and the Spirit behind it. The testimony is that the gospel grew and increased. Transformation was evident everywhere it went.

Monday, September 21, 2009


When we became followers of Jesus, why didn't God perfect us? Why not transform us into morally perfect beings? Imagine the tremendous testimony.

Part of the answer is: going through the sanctification process is not just about becoming like Jesus. It is also about learning about God, people, relationship and forgiveness.

God also created many cultures. Why? God has placed a small piece of Himself in every culture. As we express this piece of God in our culture, we demonstrate God's nature to the world. And, as we see the faithful of God in China, India, Kenya and Kazakhstan express that piece of God from their culture, we see God in new ways. We learn what God values from His heart being expressed in and through them.

Many cultures have well-defined expressions of community. We learn God's heart about unity, mutual care giving, mutual encouragement and the need for all of us to have a place.

I have heard American praise these cultures amd lament living in America. As if God was displeased with America and its culture. As if God was somehow surprised by the way America turned out. What do we see when we look at America with God's eyes? We see how God values personal initiative, creativity, responsibility, risk taking, hard work, diversity, as well as individuals and minorities.

(There are not too many places in the world, where one person can stand in front of the whole nation and say "You're wrong!" and be right.)

Friday, September 04, 2009

Being Part of the Mission

If you are a disciple of Jesus, He has given you a mission. He has sent you into the world. He did not send you to be a part of the world. He did not send you to apart from the world. He sent you to fill whatever niche you are in with His presence.

To fill it with His glory. To fill it with His love. To apply the gospel – in word and deed. To be a priest of the Most High God – caring, serve and prophecy. (Phophecy in this case refers to understanding and proclaiming God’s word and purposes to where it is needed.)

Thursday, September 03, 2009


Watching over the church of God is a good thing. And it is a good thing for a man to aspire to it. But not just anyone can be an overseer. The primary qualifications must be a certain type of heart or character. This heart-character will be revealed by certain types of activity. Scripture tells us in several places that words and actions reveal what is in the heart.

God takes these men and set them to watch over His family. God also gives them to be models. He encourages His children to imitate these men. So, God wants all His children to grow to have this heart, this character and to demonstrate this activity. This description should describe anyone who follows Jesus.