Community Building

Why in the modern church have we so used the term  “personal relationship”, come into a personal relationship with Jesus as a way of defining my experience of God?

Unknown-4I have discovered through reading the scriptures that my personal relationship is not enough, I have discovered that through my faith experience that it is inadequate.   the scriptures tell us that the church grows “as every joint supplies”, that if I say I love God and not my brother something is not right.
I have realised that we must apply this relationship to people around me and I must be vigorous and develop a strategic personal relationship with Christ’s people.    So we have a personal relationship that express itself in the “love others”, if we don’t something is missing.

I have discovered that I cannot say simple “I love you” without grasping they are the three hardest words that you have, it is a statement that challenges and deals with my “integrity” “intimacy” and my “identity” – I…Love…You!   It asks me to tell what i mean by LOVE

Community describes such large diverse formats in todays postmodern world, people in a home, monastic, celebrations where ever, what ever shape it comes in it does have highly defined principles.

These communities and practices so vary across our world from the House Churches hidden in countries where people are under threat of death to your G12 along with the mega church and many other expressions of various forms and practices.   Even through out history we have accounts of people who would gather out of their daily routine to read, pray along with enquire of one another’s health and days.   The Methodist in early days would gather and run a checklist on the condition of each others soul’s, the early pioneers would say if you did not involve in such a practice your conversion was likely not genuine.    This was not a small group administration as  we have today, although it was recognised that the best number of participants was 10 or 12 people,  it flowed form the conviction that you could not and did not have a solitary faith – it was community, corporate all the way

“It became evident (to Wesley) that it was only through such close fellowship that people continued in their faith. Those who did not join the ‘Society’ (of Wesleyans) sooner or later fell back into their former careless life… The members of the classes came to meet together, and so a real encounter and true exchange between the members was assured.       People shared experiences with each other, bore the burdens and care of a brother, spoke openly with each other and so nipped in the bud rumours and evil gossip.       People prayed and sang with each other.” 

Martin Schmidt,

For many decades this setting produced a fast growing church just as the underground church in China has experienced, so did the ‘House Church’ movement of Uk 40 years ago, clearly there was key to it.     It is the appreciation of the power of Christ-followers together in community.

Howard Snyder writes that “renewal movements – notably Methodism and  Pietism – offset the individual and otherworldliness thought structures of accountable community…they nurtured community that neutralised spiritual narcism to a significant degree. When these were abandoned they lost their key defines agains on overly subjective individualism”    Perhaps its realising the ‘House Church’ movement of the UK, the renewal movement of South America along with the ‘Underground House Church’ movements of China say much on regaining a pattern that retains and develops ours UNION with God and one with another rather than the systems that uphold the achieving personal gains/goals/destinies?

One of the saddest influences upon us today was the shift in the church history from community (koinonia) towards hierarchy (ierarchia) from the sense of being the charismatic “one-another” body of Christ to being a structured institution.     Its a challenge when we are to be the affirmation of the image of God in humankind and the manifestation of God’s glory, when God is never out of community, God is community, more than one, a covenant movement and the Church is to be its mirror in the earth…

One of my loved Africa sayings that come back to me time and time again, it is one that Archbishop (as he was when he used the statement) Desmond Tutu gave in a speech and spoke of the idea of community from an African perspective:

“We say in our African idiom, ‘A person is a person through other persons.’ The solitary human being is a contradiction in terms.        I need you in order to be me as you need me in order to be you.        We are caught up in a delicate network of inter-connectedness.         I have gifts that you don’t, and you have gifts that I don’t—voila! We are made different so that we may know our need of one another. The completely self-sufficient human being is subhuman.”images

If Tutu accurately reflects the African perspective on human relationships, then we need in the church, the ekklesia – this given the surname of God need to relearn to reflect the Covenant, the Divine Dance of Gods Kingdom Gods order.         And it’s this: that community—Tutu called it inter-connectedness—is essential in order for me to know myself … and to know you.

In the books written on the study of people you will find this quote that “True communities are built on the realisation that the autonomous individual is not a whole person. A person is whole only as he or she is a person-in-community.”

Paul and Frances Hiebert

Consider some of the scripture that so lock us into a UNION of many, the body of Christ.  It seems that God relates to us in term of our connectedness not our individuality.    Charles Simpson a wonderful friend once ministered that the church was “flexible…digital…”, and expanded  on the digital aspect.
That each digit has all it requires in itself, nothing required adding but it does not fulfil its purpose or become useful until it is plugged into the mother board, only then as connectivity flows from digit that surround it does it come to life, working and become useful.

Could this be the true emphasis of 1 John 3:11  “We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers. … This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”

This is not your light contact but a serious kind of experience, its not sentimental or emotional but a deliberate, intentional love, a life-giving relationship we enter into, for longevity, not friend today and gone tomorrow type.    I note that people change friendships and their belonging, ho they along to and are friends with, they change as often as they change their clothes, what is fashionable in the moment or who is fashionable to be running with or who can give me what I am after?

As i said it is intentional, we connect not because you have some thing i need or want but because being “born of the Spirit” we have been “interconnected”, knowing i cannot display that in its world wide sense but i must locally be part of a people who receive my faithfulness, my commitment, my poured outness.   In Union with Christ means I must replicate the way of life with one another.  As i mentioned in my last blog it was meant to be the identifiable motif that distinguishes the Relational Movement we call Christ like or Christianity

I am because we are…A person is a person through other persons…I am who I am because of who you are

What is it..?

Two things happened to me this week that pose questions to our Christian walk. One I sat with my evangelist friend Johnny Kinch, our discussions were far and wide however one of our conversations was around the importance of images-3revelation to our Christ-like pursuit.

Today we have so many challenges of where we stand, what we believe and how we practice it really is an overall challenge to the Christ likeness that we are and that we are to pursue.

I hear many saying, I must admit I’ve said it as well, that we are in the midst of a reformation of our faith which will transform much about understanding and therefore practice. We’re challenged on sexuality, justice, grace and law, on everything at every hand. My belief is that what God is bringing us into a Reformation on is simply adjusting our view of God. This adjustment of our view of God will bring a new paradigm which will cause a new practice or shall I venture to suggest wine skin.

I must put this as a caveat, has this not always been the way wineskin adjustment, our wineskins will always have to adjust. The challenge is whether the changes are pragmatic in adjustment or whether there is an eternal input into that adjustment. Are w adjusting to ‘get more’, what ever the more we are after or are we adjusting to restore the image and likeness of God to all creation. The adjustment coming from a discovery and deepening understanding of the nature of Good, Father, Son and Spirt ?

Therefore in every fresh breath, understanding, insight or revelation it really is about seeing and continuing the Christ call who came to explain the father (John 1:18).

Through our discussion it came more sharp,my to me that we must look to see in every life that is ‘coming to Christ’ will see and be transformed via a revelation, a vision of Christ. This seeing, this revelation is what cultivates our pursuit to live Christ likeness. If this revelation, whether it be an Emmaus Road, Damascus Road, or a still small voice whatever it may be it’s the last impact that enabled me to put to one side one way of life , the way I once was, Paul said it to many of the new Testament churches did he not, “…once you were one of these…”, whatever these are. This seeing, this revelation, this vision, this transformation, this conversion that so impacts me it enables and creates an onward desire to be like Christ. That my was seeking my whole emphasis is to live a life according to a revelation of Christ.

Our conversation concluded in that we wanted to bring everyone immediately into a revelation of Christ which would fully impact our world. It also would determine a lifestyle.

Today more and more people seem to live in whatever way they wish to, and justify it on terms of grace. Yet Grace saves me the Bible says. So how I would suggest to you that when Grace, a revelation of Christ takes hold of you, you have nothing else in your life but a longing to live according to that arresting.

The very same day I was in discussion with Johnny a book was delivered, a gift from a dear long friend Dr Timothy Larsen. The book is called ‘Theology questions everyone asks” subtitled Christian faith in plain language. My first thing was to enquire to see what Tim had written in 12 chapters, he writes the first and asks ‘What is a Christian’. which brought me back to my earlier conversation of the impact of revelation in my life, in Johnny’s life, in many I know that are pursuing Christ. You see ‘seeking first the kingdom of God’, only happens in the light of this revelation. One of my challenges is not to make the revelation so grand and so vast that no one can enter, or only the few neither to dumb it down so suggesting a simple discharging of information. Seeing something I’ve never seen before in information, Is a revelation in any measure when revelation enters our own mind and soul it means I cannot get up from the chair, leave the room or walk away from that moment unchanged. So never mind how gentle how small the narrative or how big, did you leave that moment knowing that you couldn’t live the way you had. Something had to start and something had to stop.

The Bible says that without a vision the people are unrestrained, in other words vision, revelation brings into my life what I must do and why I shall not do. Today people read these statements as inflicting laws upon them, but really its due to the encounter, revelation, seeing I now have a life style that looks as Paul outlines Christ occupied, that cleans up my speech (no unwholesome word comes from my mouth), brings my life into order (live Christ like by the power of a Resurrected life), enables a generous lifestyle (become a giver like the nature of God birthed in us), just to name a few.

I’ve not read Timothy’s chapter but I will read with interest, but I’m convinced that what we need today is constant revelation impact, not just experiences. Without revelation our faith will become like a drug addict constantly looking for the next experience and having to experience regularly to keep the high. Or let me be the first to see that a deep experience in my personal walk of faith, and I pray that every one of us will encounter them, is much more about revelation making the transformation. So what is a Christian, someone who is caught with a vision of Christ and is propelled forward in Christ likeness, Christians are arrested by revelation that has brought a way of life. we have discovered our Hero – the Christ and we are total absorbed by this Christ in ever way.

Some people suggest that Paul laid down laws ‘you shall not”, but I would suggest Paul simply said in the light of your revelation of the Christ some of you lived a way “as some of these” but now there is an evident outflow form ever way of my life, as an individual and asa corporate family. It was not you should, you shouldn’t, you shouldn’t ,you shouldn’t. it was more about having caught the revelation this is the life that you can now expect to live. Revelation life has an outflow of shape, the way you talk, you deal with people, the way you include people, the way you conduct your affairs, the way my home runs, the way my relationships are conducted, the way I speak. All these have a shape in the light of revelation of Christ.

So it’s not about law it’s about Christ being birthed inside me and I will live in this way. It’s much better to wake people up to their revelation, which will make them led by the spirit and their lives will have a form that is Godly, Christ likeness, the image and likeness of God.

I now look forward to reading Timothy’s article on what is a Christian.

Barrier of the Mind

The Barrier of a Closed Mind – Breaking through Sound Barriers…

imagesWe can deliberately and inadvertently close the possibility of hearing God.   This Sound Barrier (see preceding blog)  comes in a number of ways.  As already mentioned one barrier is the lie of believing our lost-ness which makes us unworthy.

Lost-ness is where we have not only a barrier created in our hearing it’s where another sense is changed our seeing becomes skewed, and it is where our insecurities arise and self-centeredness is created.   This Sound barrier creates a preoccupation with ourselves and our welfare, a feeling of loneliness, a need of acceptance, and the drive to prove ourselves, it provokes us to finding something that makes us secure.  This belief we are lost creates threat, aloneness, guilt, it creates a fear and anxiety of the soul, which drives us and forms our relating and responses, the lost-ness in us, forms its own world and history.

The sound barrier is there when we struggle with our worth, this lie has not awakened us to the mission of the Holy Spirit which is to lead us to KNOW what the Father has made of us in Christ.   We are not known as we are known (1 Cor 13:12). NASB    For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.

Don’t get caught in the barrier of “somebodiness” find your self in Christ.

“Who, me?” when God speaks it is accompanied by disbelief and discredit.  Gideon’s story paints this picture well, a reaction of disbelief and self dis-credit.   Gideon an unimportant member of a minor family in the weakest clan Judge 6:1, I want a sign to prove I am hearing you, is it really you?    I wonder why we ask for signs, which is such a gift from God, but what is the basis of my asking?

This young unconvinced general doubt, not that God would speak but that God would speak to him, why would the God of the universe and beyond converse with a nobody?

Would God speak to little old me?  O yes remove the sound barrier as God has asked us to ask, align our will to Gods and ask Luke 11:9, the God that has numbered even the hairs on my head Luke 12:7, the Father of the detail of our lives cares enough to speak to you.

“That’s just thunder”, in John 12:29 a place where a conversation between earth and heaven went on, even the voice from heaven was spoken for those around that had a sound barrier.

Some times the closed mind is such we can not hear God because our expectations of how God might speak did not include the way God did speak.  In this passage clearly the way God would speak did not include an audible voice.    When God spoke they heard a noise…thunder.

To Elijah he spoke in the opposite expectation of the prophet 1 Kings 19:11-13 tells me.  Not in wind, fire, earthquake but a whisper a prophet who expected sensational ways would have had a sound barrier.

Our open minds are sensitive to ordinary and surprising ways of God speaking.  images-1

“I might not believe it” or “it might get weird”, “its not the way our protocol is”.   How many cults start with ”God told me…”, how many unbalanced people have engaged in action, crimes and said God told me?   How many times do normal people make poor decisions as they acted under God’s private, specific instruction?

We don’t want to ascribe to God our silly notions, do we; by claiming God told us that and it proved untrue.   No one brings any one to account for it.    April 2014/15 has been announced as being the importance of the four ‘blood moons”, along with this will be climax of the end of the end (Fall 2015), when international prophets through TV sit and affirm this, yet if your reading this, after the ‘Fall of 2015’ – it has not happened and the Christian world brings no one to account…?   How many times doe this need to happen before we say enough….

Caution is admirable, yet we are those who hear God voice, know Jesus speaking don’t switch your new birth right off, you are meant to hear God, designed to hear God.

We live in a world where we all have access to so much information, so many teachings, so much we find agreeable and information we disagree with.   Years ago it was about teaching what we must believe taught from pulpits now we must train, teach, help and empower people on how to hear God in the midst of so much sound.     Train to discern, we have to work with the sound barrier of so much noise to hear God, the Father.

The hearing of God will always be affirmed by other confirming ways.   Simple, we all know it but why don’t we do it?    Confirm it through the scriptures, affirm it through wise counsel our friends.

What a loss to our lives if we did not take heed of some “weird” direction from time to time, the experience, the meeting of God would not have been if I had allowed a fear of “weirdness” to keep me from responding to that word from God.   Do not fear, but do confirm.

Be nostalgic or Seize the NOW…

imagesAs we take stock of life and take a look towards the future and being wise looking back over the events of days gone, for this is true wisdom when we can draw from our past and now to mold the future.  As we do this I am sure we all have different thoughts of what the future holds.  Even as we consider the past we would have different thoughts about what got us to this point.

We all get asked in the light of world events what does this mean?   I have to say some times I don’t know helps us Lord in the changes that are rushing towards us all.   Several years ago I picked up a book called “The Tipping Point”, I am told it has become rather a buzz statement for many, with many taking it up to sum up their feelings of now.    The notion is that everything comes to a point of balance, one that is ready to tip and throw its weight towards a certain direction.   Many things can tip the balance, it could be  a reasoned thought, an emotional response, or a circumstance that tips the balance and takes you over an edge.    In other words the statement we often used to hear of  “its got to break” has now moved into a roller coaster a movement, beginning a direction that seemingly has its own momentum.    So many people I talk to feel as if they are either on the approach to or at the point of just starting over, on the edge of their own “tipping point.

Whatever way we consider, the past, the present and the future I have come to one conclusion, that echoes out loudest over all my thoughts, and I have shared this in several settings over the last 3 years.  It was so loud in my thinking that it drowned out every other thought in my mind; it is “what got me here will not get me there”.   An understanding formed in me, that what ever brought me to know what I now knew, whatever had positively assisted, empowered and served me/us, was not sufficient to carry me/us into tomorrow.  A now, new moment had arrived, in every new moment there is a new encounter, which is necessary to envision and equip the day.   Moses saw God in the burning bush, Abraham met God for his journey and new pilgrim life style, even Jesus encountered the Father in the Garden to face he cross, earlier he encountered the Father at his baptism in preparation for the wilderness and the 3 ½ years of function.

Wherever you are, I think the tipping point is becoming a life-style, not just a moment but also a way of life that we are always negotiating.  There is in fact a cost to be considered in every tipping point, be it into an event, a way of life, or a life choice, that will not even allow us to return to where it all began.

A place of no return so to speak, a rub-icon crossed?, this all sounds high and mighty, but we make these kinds of decisions daily.    Decisions effecting people and relationships, how we use our money, our job/vocational choices, we even see it in the small events of life as they may be.    Please realize that most lives are a sequence of small events and we cross rub-icons daily that have no pain attached but certainly are transformational in terms of our friendships and families – people, what we do – time, and the final resource in our lives, money and how we dispose of and work our money – finance.

Can I encourage you to think out of the box before you negotiate the “tipping point” and set your roller-coaster along life’s chosen pathway. Clear the house, your life first with start by determining I QUIT!   This I Quit will help the process of going over the edge taking that step forward I will give you just 4 “I Quit”

Quit making excuses

Quit complaining

Quit living in fear

Quit complaining 

Having chosen to negotiate my “tipping points”, having then welcomed them these “tipping points”, they have in turn set up various directions of life for me over the last 8 years.   It has caused much re-evaluation of resources, hearts, and direction as events and situations continue to present themselves.   I have had to remodel my view of life and more than that, remodel my view of God himself.    Which of course allows the remodeling of how we function.  Knowing this discovering View of God that will determine how well we all live.

Following all that I am excited over the phase we have now began to live though, a phase that clearly brings multiplication in a new way into my thinking.   Seeing Apostolic networks possibly becoming Apostolic families, heavily relational rather than organizational, realizing that we should not replace the single grace that so empowered many and much in last 30 years + with another grace, endorsing a Papal system again, but seeing the release of multiplication of apostolic graces across the countries and world in this phase.    Many networks or movements are giving way to family expressions with a relationship life flowing across them and through them, which is releasing the possibilities of continual multiplication.    It must then continue to fill the world we live in with organic family expression of Christ.

It’s a time not to be  the new phase and take hold of the circumstances that now face each of us.

Keep Kissing…Art of honesty

imagesProverbs says as we have discovered “An Honest answer is like a Kiss on the lips – Kiss of friendship” – this is our continued thinking into the art of using your lips…

Be gentle. Proverbs 15:1 contrasts the results of different approaches to honesty. A “harsh word [one lacking tact, kindness, and sensitivity] stirs up anger.” Anger can lead to a rejection. A “gentle answer [characterised by preparation, wisdom, and care] turns away wrath.” Gentleness can remove the barrier to honesty.

Since many of our relationships are not accustomed to the light of honesty, we need to move carefully and slowly. Because the truth does hurt, it only makes sense to handle it with care.

Be appropriate. Timing is crucial with the truth. If you need to confront your spouse, stay away from the loaded minutes when you first get home at the end of the day. A truthful conversation should be held in a private and quiet place.

Communication that holds potential for discomfort needs time and space. Don’t hurry. Don’t dole out a healthy portion of honesty on your way out the door in the morning. Don’t offer up a truth bomb as the last thing before you close your eyes for sleep and then defend your lack of discretion with, “I’m just being honest!”

Proverbs 25:11 compares “a word aptly spoken” to fine gems that have been set into gold and silver jewellery. That word of honesty will be true no matter where and when you share it. Put it in the right setting, and the result can be beautiful. Proverbs 15:23 says, “A man finds joy in giving an apt reply—and how good is a timely word!”

Build an environment of trust. Truth comes as a shock within a relationship where the norm has been denial. The resulting fallout may be devastating. Work on creating an atmosphere of acceptance and grace.

This is especially true when dealing with children. A parent who uses the truth like a sledgehammer, inflicting pain without grace, is an abuser.

Simon Cowell-type criticism without the safety produced by grace and love is rude, obnoxious, and malignant. It has no redeeming value. But, in a family where love is the main course on a consistent basis, a side dish of critique can be offered without fear of harm.

The honesty equation goes something like this: More honesty brings more intimacy—and more intimacy brings more honesty.

When you are in a friendship that is new or tentative, don’t unload truth all at once.

Set the stage for greater vulnerability later by sharing only a little now.

Perhaps Peter didn’t walk out on Jesus when Jesus called him “Satan” because by that point in their relationship, Peter knew that Jesus loved him. Did it hurt? Sure! But Peter trusted the giver of such forceful truth.

“In our desire to be an inspiration to one another we often veil what is true, because what is true is not always inspirational. But hurting believers whose lives are in tatters often need real help. If we were able to put aside our need for approval long enough to be authentic, then, surely, we would be living as the church.” Taken form Sheila Walsh book

Unpleasant truth is sometimes necessary. But our truth-telling needn’t be a slap in the face. Rather, it can be as gentle as a kiss that honours our relationships, demonstrates love, and confers value.

Learn the art of Kissing…. Truth telling….