Sunday, January 31, 2010


This ministry thing is rather an amazing thing. I am up at 3:30 am. The body creeks under the weight of struggling with all his energy at work within me. My mind rushes. Like a power point presentation, portraits of our wonderful southlands@thegallery community rushes past me. Each extraordinary, each with a story to tell. Each with an intriguing spiritual story to tell and journey to explore.

In December 1983 I left school teaching and entered the amazing world of leading God's people as my life passion, pleasure and privilege. The young idealistic dreamer was captivated by the notion of growing the biggest church in Durban [South Africa]. I look back today and I am so embarrassed to have considered such an ego driven dream.

Meeting Dudley Daniel was my saving grace. As a friend, spiritual mentor, father and apostle, he dragged me out of the myopic world of one city that captivated and impressed me, and placed me in a world where the nations beckoned. From my first trip to Europe in 1984 to the trip that changed my life, Hong Kong and OZ in 1990, I knew there was another world out there. Another way to do ministry.

M and I are now in our 27th year of church leadership. It has been an amazing ride. We have led 2 churches on 2 continents [Africa and North America] and helped plant many along the way. I have known Christian community at her best and her worst. I have seen passion, commitment and sacrifice that has amazed me, I have also seen an absolute disregard to God's appointed leaders, his word and the wonder of obedience. We have known the presence of the Holy Spirit that has been riveting but have also had to find sanity as we have walked through the valley of the shadow of death. The sheer weight of pastoral ministry has at times overwhelmed me. The pain of people's pain has been to great to bear. Unanswered prayers have weighed heavily on us. Saying goodbye to loved ones who died too young with unfulfilled 'prophecy' has been loaded with too many tears. By nature I am an optimist. By vocation I have had to fight the darkness of the soul with pain and loneliness too difficult to describe.

It is now 4:26 am. In a few hours I will walk into a room full of expectant Jesus lovers. The children will come and give me some love. My daughter will lead worship in prophetic sensitivity. M and the boy will stand with me in worship. We will be found in his presences as we drink in the amazing wonder of worship. The God stories today of healing and financial provision will be met with hooting and hollering. We will talk about the container with about $30,000 worth of goods that will leave for Africa after the meeting. We will welcome back the team that were in Kenya and then I will preach. Shaking in my boots [though they probably wont know], I will talk about Jesus and this remarkable gospel. The blood will wash us. Somewhere in the room, someone will sit and just weep. Normally a broken leader abused by life's ministry journey, will just weep.

After the meeting we will pray for numbers of folks. New folks will come and introduce themselves as the buzz of community will be washed down with lattes. When the din slowly subsides, M and I will probably be amongst the last to leave. Weary, emptied with happy hearts we will know why. Why we love Jesus so much. Why we love his bride so much. Why we love his presence so deeply. Why the pain and privilege of ministry is our daily preoccupation. I am not sure why he chose me to walk on this journey but I am so glad...

Thursday, January 28, 2010


"If there ever should come a wretched day when our pulpits shall be full of modern thought & the old doctrine of substitutionary sacrifice shall be exploded, then will there be no comfort for the guilty or hope for the despairing". CH Spurgeon

Dear oh dear... the prophet spoke of these days where the penal substitutionary atonement is viewed as child abuse. Our pulpits are overshadowed by the opinions of men - egotistical men who are impressed by their own words. Driven by their culture, fashioned by their time yet untouched by the true life transforming gospel... can we appeal for this gospel to return to center stage... and let cleansing and hope restore the true beauty of life?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


This is the final part of our mini series. We have been exploring gospel centered training of pastors built around the Acts 20 interaction between Paul and the Ephesians elders who came to meet with him. It is a great moment of partnership, passion, intimacy, challenge, warning and tears.

I have loved exploring this text through the lenses of the gospel. So often it has been taught as leadership principles. That it is not. It is an encounter between an apostle and the elders he loved. It is loaded with God life, spinning around the power, freedom, healing courage and boldness that the cross brings. Hope you enjoy reading it, better still studying the text for yourself. It has been written as a teaching text rather than in article form. You are most welcome to use the material to teach your emerging elders / pastors...

  1. Now I commit you to God: Paul has set a most outstanding example. In fact he says that believers should “follow him as he followed Christ”. I would like to use Paul’s closing comments as concluding comments to these elders. May I reiterate, when the gospel is rediscovered as the hub around which all of Christianity spins, we can no longer teach principles as a checklist for performance. That will always lead to legalism and the subtle [or not so] pressure to conformity.
    1. “Word of his grace…”

i. Colossians speaks of ‘grace in all its truth’. The elder is surely to have a growing revelation of grace and teach, love, lead with that in his eyes, heart, mouth,

ii. The elder must ensure that leadership and believer responsibilities placed on folks are all clearly biblical, soaked and stroked in Christlike grace,

iii. I am not sure we can preach any text without landing in the gospel and massaging the subject in grace,

iv. A sense of praise continues to grow in the community because it is all so undeserving,

    1. “Build you up…”

i. The gospel is loaded with kindness, forgiveness, cleansing, restoration, healing, so when it is presented, the people will not need shallow motivational talks, as they will be grounded in the true measure of our soul. That will inspire like no other,

ii. Gospel centered leadership will prophecy. I am Reformed in my theology but also certainly Charismatic. Whilst these words can ensnare because of stereotypes, I am so passionate about sound theology building up but also around the role of the Holy Spirit gifts. They are for today. They are available to the church today. They empower the priesthood today. They undermine the celebrity culture that always weakens the church ultimately and keeps all in immaturity and with dependence on the ‘superstar stud’,

iii. True effective eldership show how the gospel when fully presented has all the ingredients necessary for us to handle all situations – Jesus is still the answer - not as a cheap slogan but as a true truth born out of his full incarnation, execution, resurrection and consummation,

    1. “Give you an inheritance…”

i. Paul’s great foundations for every believer, is what he speaks about in Colossians 1, is that every believer has “the knowledge of his will…” our inheritance is found in the will of God for our lives,

ii. Eph 1 tells us that the Holy Spirit is the seal of this inheritance,

iii. Ps 2 tells us that if we “ask of me and I will make the nations your inheritance…” again the wonder of the gospel appears again… “ all over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing” Col1. Inheritance is always people… friendships, partnerships, allies, disciples, the lost, the nations…

    1. “I have not coveted… it is more blessed to give than to receive”:

i. The ‘shalom’ of God is our portion – both peace and prosperity come with the atonement. This is not the ‘prosperity message’ [that is definitley not a gospel at all].

ii. It is born out of our gospel theology that God “gave his only begotten son…”- God is the giver, he is extravagant and generous. In turn as his seed takes root in our lives through the gospel, it will “bear fruit and grow” as Paul says in Colossians 1,

iii. We accept that through the redemption work, God paying our ransom, we have been bought with a price, we are not our own – that is especially true of leaders-

iv. We live for the benefit of others, daily we lay our lives down,

v. The well being of the sheep is our highest calling,

vi. ‘I should you that by this kind of hard work…’

vii. We must help the weak…

    1. “He knelt down with them all and prayed…”

i. The first and greatest gift a pastor can give his community, is his prayers,

ii. Kneeling is an act of enormous humility,

iii. Acts 6 tells us, this is what we give most of our time, effort and energy to,

iv. These were passion prayers about life and death, weighty indeed.

v. These prayers were not disimiliar to Matt 28 when the apo mantle was handed on p this time not to 11 men but to a community to continue to be faithful to their origins in Acts 19, and their mandate as they are reminded in Revelation 2. These prayers continuously remind the community of their apo and prophetic responsibilities.


This is the third part of Gospel centered leadership. It is a study I did with our leaders @thegallery, with the community @thegathering, as well as with the pastors @Exploration. It is a study from Acts 20 when Paul calls for the elders from Ephesus to join him in Miletus. I have intentionally kept it as my notes rather than an article so they are easily usable for those who wish to teach it themselves:

  1. Paul’s four part address to the elders: Acts 20:28 - 31;
    1. "Keep watch over yourselves...":

i. Watch the barometer of our red hot devotion to Jesus [Piper]; – we are always lovers before we are laborers,

ii. Watch out for your devotion to the text; we are learners before we are teachers, when we stop learning we are in danger, danger, danger –

1. Our theology should be ever going deeper [mining specific texts, truths,]

2. higher [a higher view of God esp. his sovereignty]

3. wider [not limited to our prejudice & preferences]

4. longer [overview of the whole of scripture not selected portions]

iii. Watch out for the Holy Spirit presence; we are to lavish ourselves in his affection – for me that is not to be limited to his manifestations! Let the wells of worship, meditation, reflection, being quiet, tongues, exercising the gifts, all flow,

iv. Watch out never to lose sight of the magnificence of God’s grace; we are eunuch leaders of the bride

1. Deepest devotion to Jesus above all other loves,

2. Endless thirst for his texts,

3. Real and resilient affection for his bride,

4. Spurred on by the privilege to lay down our lives,

5. Keep ourselves rooted in relationships,

a. With our spouse,

b. With our families,

c. With apostles,

d. With peers,

e. With friends – new and old,

f. With ‘the sheep’

6. Keep an eye on our health

    1. I would like to make some observations from Paul’s life that may help the marketplace elder: [It is often rather challenging for marketplace [MP] guys to transition from one world to the next and to be able to check how they are doing. From a world of results, deadlines, and various forms of measurables, to the ministry with its people intensity but not defined,

i. “How I lived among you”- by the qualification of 1 Tim 3, the MP has already established that his life, home, relationships are of such a nature that other can take a read off him. This is in and of itself a high value – to show others how this Christian journey can be done…

ii. “With these hands of mine I have supplied my own needs and of my companions… we must help the weak…” The MP elder has a unique opportunity to keep the eldership team connected to the life’s challenges of those in the congregation. The freedom to do what they do, simply because they love the sheep and feel called to do so, is huge.

iii. “ I served the Lord with great humility and with tears, although I was severely tested…” MP’s are incredible gifts of love and sacrifice to the body. Whilst we do want to train with faith and grace, we cannot keep from them the weighty moments of pain and trauma –welcome to the ‘house of privilege and pain’.

iv. “I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God [NIV] attest to the good news…whole purpose, plan and counsel of God [Amp]” The MP elders have such a remarkable opportunity to take the gospel to their world, when most salaried pastors rarely have those moments. They invariably can help others find the will of God for their lives, using house-to-house moments as well as the public places. Very cool.

    1. All the flock: [It is all about THEM and not me or my ministry]

i. All:

1. As overseers, all the people,

2. No prejudice,

3. No preference, [Paul ministered to both Jew and Gentile, even though he was an apostle to the Gentiles]

4. All gifts, callings, giftings, ministries, ages, economic groupings…

ii. The: focus of Jesus’ affection, specific, set aside, by name, as opposed to a generic, general, vague, possible; … Eph 1:3 - 14

1. Blessed,

2. Chosen,

3. Predestined,

4. Grace given,

5. Redemption,

6. Purpose of his will,

7. Sealed with the promised Holy Spirit

iii. Flock:

1. He is the chief shepherd, [a study of John 10 is very helpful]

2. We are described here with these parts of a job description:

a. Elders – govern,

b. Bishops – oversee

c. Guardian – protect

d. Shepherd – lead

e. Pastor – nurture,

3. He chooses whom he sends us to lead and oversee. We are only relieved of this requirement when the chief shepherd releases us and not when they leave the church…

4. They will drift, but the true shepherd will keep pursuing them,

5. Shepherds know the number in their flock – this discipline is not to encourage or discourage but to hold to account,

6. Lambs are a natural, consistent, continuous part of flock life.

    1. Savage wolves:

i. This is very strong language Paul uses… not a matter to be taken lightly. The Exodus texts grant many examples of divine discipline. The elder needs to be acquainted with these passages, as obedience to the Spirit is needed in every unique situation.

ii. “Come in among you…”

1. Look like sheep,

2. Sound like sheep,

3. Act like sheep,

4. Under pressure they become wolves

iii. “Will not spare the flock…”

1. Solely preoccupied with their own agenda,

2. Are not bible people in their humble submission to the text,

3. Known by their open and clear Absalom-styled rebellion which they eventually strut as if ‘they own the place’,

4. They show no respect, honor, recognition for God appointed leaders,

5. They are not Jesus lovers, their spiritual language is either absent or very mystical and ethereal,

6. They will destroy the sheep, snarling, biting, scattering-it is truly all about them and they are so often injured form their fights!

  1. From your number:
    1. ‘Distort the truth…’

i. So often this group of folks have been embedded in the community, hiding their lack of true conversion, or their unresolved hurts, pains or disappointments,

ii. Academic gymnastics are now required to justify their own rebellion,

iii. True measures of exegesis and hermeneutics are forfeited to reach their own ‘theological’ ends,

iv. The end justifies the means,

v. They will be un-teachable and will intimidate with loud, brash accusations especially about the apparent fragile theology of the God appointed leaders,

    1. ‘Draw away disciples…’

i. Lack of the fear of God is evident to the discerning,

ii. Lack of respect nor recognition of God given authority,

iii. With use all means fair and foul… emails, phone calls, special meetings, even highjack legitimate meetings for their own ends,

iv. Especially use sentiment and emotion for most are not firstly founded on Jesus, the gospel and the full biblical text,

v. I am deeply saddened by the bible illiteracy. ...This has produced believers who have a very fragile foundation from which to process these challenges – and in a relational house, unfortunately, the emotion places a disproportionately high role – Jesus dealt with the sentimental when the 5000 followed him by the call to ‘eat of my flesh…’ – he just refused to let anything but truth claim our allegiance.

As leaders we need to love deeply, lead strongly, feed consistently. This is not the time to focus on the aggressors but on Jesus and his gospel - this gospel bears fruit and grows, not punch counter punch...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


This is a journey. A beautiful stirring, invigorating journey. The discovery of "the gospel" as the central hub around which all else spins, restores the fire around the community. To listen to a CD or podcast, and then move on to other material is to reduce this magnificent mandate to a passing phase or a seasonal emphasis. This is certainly not true. If we lose the gospel, we have nothing left but pleasant platitudes or murky morals that have to compete on the open market where philosophies are bartered for. Jesus is the difference. His incarnation caused a revolution. His incarceration caused a crowd driven scattering , his execution caused a demonic celebration, BUT his resurrection trumpeted a new kingdom that would advance forcefully... this is not a quiet affair.

These are notes from a talk I gave firstly to our leaders @thegallery, then taught it on a Sunday at the Gathering, then opened it up to the pastors who gather monthly at Exploration. The note-form will help any who wish to use it as teaching material in their situation. The challenge is always what to put in and what to leave out... I would love to hear from you as we continue to explore the gospel centrality of our leadership:



Acts 20:17 – 38.

  1. Context for the conversation:
    1. True apostles are at an intro level – “the sent ones”-always on the move,
    2. Can only be an apostle by divine appointment,
    3. The text is weighed by the importance of the moment. It is loaded with Paul showing:

i. Deep apostolic emotion,

ii. Profound contextual urgency,

iii. Certain death threatening finality – so every word counts,

iv. Clear kingdom direction,

v. Fatherly affection,

vi. True gospel centeredness,

    1. Some of the implications of being this God-called apostle:

i. How I lived among you,

ii. I served the Lord with great humility and tears,

iii. I was severely tested,

iv. I have not hesitated to proclaim the full gospel,

v. I have declared to Jews and Greeks,

vi. I am compelled by the Spirit,

vii. The Holy Spirit warns me… prison & hardships,

viii. I have preached the kingdom,

ix. I consider my life worth nothing to me,

x. I may finish the race

xi. Complete the task of testifying… gospel of grace,

xii. I am innocent of the blood of all men,

    1. Paul is gathering the elders from a church he had planted. This seems to mean:

i. As with the Corinthian church, he sees himself as a father to this community – that is the tone with which he addresses them,

ii. He had an ongoing role in that church even though it was by now significant church in its own right,

iii. He is seeking to protect them from the immediate and future challenges by enabling them to see the dangers ahead,

iv. He uses military metaphors to further magnify the responsibilities that await them: “watch out – be on your guard”

1. Fully ready, on perpetual standby,

2. All armor / weapons clean and ready,

3. Reminds them of the mandate to protect,

v. He seems to handing full authority over to them – setting them free to completely fulfill the ‘base church” responsibility they now have to carry,

    1. These are weighted last words. He will never see them again so every word counts and is very essential,
    2. He is not trying to cover all bases. He is simply addressing the necessary ingredients for impacting this ministry for the next chapter,
  1. The Gospel hub:
    1. All to often this text spins around leadership principles. They become cold and a checklist of performance that is so counter the New Testament. In doing so, it misses the point. The chief ingredient here is ‘the gospel’!
    2. The Spirit of God inspired Paul to use that aspect of the gospel that reads: “ …he bought with his blood” Vs 28. To fully comprehend Paul’s approach is to understand it all hinges around this text [not elders, or apostles, or even the sheep in an ecclesiological sense…]

i. A love act of enormous depth, ‘leaving nothing on the table’ - is it possible that every ounce of Jesus blood was shed in order to complete every necessary act related to the blood shed?

1. Forgiveness,

2. Cleansing,

3. Healing,

4. Deliverance,

5. Protection,

ii. A legal and forensic act whereby we were fully justified by this penal substitutionary atonement therefore God’s wrath has been fully satisfied and turned to favor,

iii. An economic act whereby we have been bought with a price, therefore we are not our own but his and he can now do with us as he pleases,

iv. A fatherly act, whereby he will do whatever it takes to get us back into the family where we belong,

    1. Lest we forget, these precious sheep are his sheep,

i. He bought them,

ii. He paid the full price for them,

iii. He has loaned them to us to lead, nurture, care for, mature them… but they are ultimately his…

iv. We will give an account for their wellbeing.

    1. All the gospel ingredients he includes in his convo: [easy to be Reformed in my theology]

i. Repentance,

ii. Have faith, ‘sola fide’,

iii. In our Lord Jesus Christ, ‘solus Christus’,

iv. Gospel of God’s grace, ‘sola gratia’,

v. Whole will of God, ‘sola scriptura’,

vi. He bought with his blood, ‘soli Deo Gloria’ – to God alone be the glory!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Collaborating around Colossians

Hi friends

Paralleling with this blog convo is what I have been preaching at Southlands@theGallery... you can get the podcasts if you go to our website:

Next blog this week

Thursday, January 21, 2010


"Taking a new step; uttering a new word is what people fear most"
F.M. Dostoyevsky

We are all the products of living in yesterday's uncertainty. Yesterday, someone faced vulnerability with boldness. Yesterday, someone faced chaos with tranquility. Yesterday, someone took hold of the unknown and embraced it with opportunity and courage. Yesterday, someone stepped outside of their world of comfort and control and stumbled with humility into the shadowlands of ignorance.

Today we live in the boldness, optimism, courage and tenacity of these heroes of transition. However, the true gift with which we can honor these heroes, is not to deify their destination but rather to embrace their focus. The wild west has become with place of pleasure and passivity. The pioneers who carved a nation from wilderness have been dismissed to historical figures rather than reproduced to ongoing legacies in living human beings, today.

The economic times in which we live, do not require passive conservatism that shut our wallets in self defense. The true Christian faith entwines itself around the nature of an altogether supreme God who wraps us in the palm of his hands. His providence merges sovereignty with goodness which allows us to fall into his wisdom with absolute confidence. His protection of us is not to create a trouble free world. That actually produces overprotected children of possessive parents. He walks us "through the valley of the shadow of death". He leads us through the "valley of Baca to make it a place of springs". He " returns the captives to Zion to dream new dreams".

May I suggest, this is not a time to fear. This is a time to fall into the ever present arms of the one who seeks to bless us. Like Isaac we are to sow in times of famine and see a great harvest. Or like Joseph to see all around us blessed because of our presence-well actually because of the Father's favor. With Spirit led wisdom, it is time to sow, to give, to be extravagantly generous. Lets get the basics behind us and get that 10% into the storehouse of our faith. That Abrahamic, grace driven first response, can then be followed by the fun. Watch and see what God does. When we start giving offerings, give to the poor, give to the gospel to the nations, God will celebrate over us with delight. Then, splash your journey with daily generosity and you will be amazed at what God will do.

I said to M when we entered the salaried ministry, that we would never be rich, we would just do things that rich people do. That dear friends is what has happened. God's financial kindness has been our story. This is not time to fear. It is the time to have a different financial God story...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


[This is an email I sent out to our wonderful community in times of fiscal uncertainty, we need to stand together, fighting side by side, with growing faith and financial fortitude...]

Morning all you wonderful people

I have had a number of chats with folk since I have come back from vaca, to find they are under severe financial pressure.

May I suggest we get into some serious prayer, once a week for the next 4 weeks to stand along side those who are in these circumstances - as well as engage the church's financial journey, to get our full monetary breakthrough...? Let the strong, stand with the weak, let the rich share with the poor, let the faith filled stand with the faith fragile...

Lets take the next four Fridays to pray and fast if possible - staring this Friday, [Jan 22, 29,Feb 5, 12]

Here are some of the related prayer matters I listed in my journal this morning:
1. A revelation of Jehovah as our provider and our provision,

2. All our folks employed - 100%

3. Significant contracts for all our entrepreneurs / self employed,

4. Surprise checks in the mail,

5. Getting tax money back as well as all outstanding debts,

6. 'Tithers' - actually generous people, here @thegallery - 100%

7. Giving beyond our church budget needs,

8. Revelation of sowing and reaping...

And one of the texts I read this morning:

These are the generations of Isaac, Abraham's son: Abraham fathered Isaac, and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, the sister of Laban the Aramean, to be his wife. And Isaac prayed to the LORD for his wife, because she was barren. And the LORD granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived. In her womb was twins... Gen 25 it continues...

And Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. The LORD blessed him, and the man became rich, and gained more and more until he became very wealthy. He had possessions of flocks and herds and many servants, so that the Philistines envied him. (Now the Philistines had stopped and filled with earth all the wells that his father's servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father.) And Abimelech said to Isaac, “Go away from us, for you are much mightier than we.”

So Isaac departed from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar and settled there. And Isaac dug again the wells of water that had been dug in the days of Abraham his father, which the Philistines had stopped after the death of Abraham. And he gave them the names that his father had given them. But when Isaac's servants dug in the valley and found there a well of spring water, the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac's herdsmen, saying, “The water is ours.” So he called the name of the well Esek, because they contended with him. Then they dug another well, and they quarreled over that also, so he called its name Sitnah. And he moved from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it. So he called its name Rehoboth, saying, “For now the LORD has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.”

From there he went up to Beersheba. And the LORD appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of Abraham your father. Fear not, for I am with you and will bless you and multiply your offspring for my servant Abraham's sake.” So he built an altar there and called upon the name of the LORD and pitched his tent there. And there Isaac's servants dug a well.

This is a good time to develop our faith muscle on behalf of each other...

Send some more love around

C and M