Wednesday, February 29, 2012

My mate Mike

I am jetlagged. Returning from a very empowering trip to the UAE and then in the UK, I am sitting here in LA, at 3:00 am reflecting on the trip and its many implications.

Seeing Mike and Charmaine honored was a truly wonderful moment. I met Mike in the 70's when both of us were involved with the Invisible Church in Durban. For him it was a brief encounter before he went off to bible college as God grabbed this thorough sinner and redeemed him for a very large God story.

Look over a person's shoulder to see what fruit trails behind them. When uncertain, see what their life has produced, what evidence there is of their calling. That is what Peter did to Paul. In Galatians 2, Peter extends the right hand of fellowship to Paul in recognition of the grace gift that is upon him to be an apostle to the gentiles.

For Peter that was not difficult. From the first time they met, till they met again 14 years later, Paul planted churches, raised up leaders [church planters, Ephesians 4 gifts and others] pioneered new beach heads in new cities and countries, with great teaching and signs, wonders and miracles. There was no guessing needed. There was no speculation needed. The fruit was there to see.

Mike has a remarkable track record. With Charmaine and the boys, they left their great years with Rheinhard Bonke, [where they learnt so much about the multitudes, faith, healing and evangelism] to plant a church in the inner sanctum of the red light district in Durban South Africa. There they eked out an existence . With no promise of support but a call from heaven, they planted and established a community whose elders looked like poster boys on a most wanted list.

Eventually handing that over to a spiritual son, they moved across town to Durban North where they replanted a most wonderful community amongst the most wealthy in the city - yeh go figure. These again were very amazing years. Fruit there was aplenty. Not only did the church grow in health and salvations but they invested themselves in the call to the nations through the an apostolic team - doing a most outstanding job.

During this time, they in turn began to plant a church in Dubai in the UAE. Isn't this just an amazing story. As the Middle East began to open to them, leading a church in SA was no longer possible. So, they handed over the Durban community to a spiritual son [again] and embarked on their Middle East adventure.

By establishing a strong base in Dubai, they have planted churches into several other key cities in the region as well as Madrid, Paris, Brisbane, as well as working with planters in India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. I know, it does sound amazing and I am only giving the headlines here. The soul of this story tells even more beautifully. Right now they have handed this community's leadership to a spiritual son [again] as they want to invest their time with churches, planters and city pioneers. They could be cruising on the back of a very wonderful base church, protecting their life's investment. But that would not be their apo heart. They have handed over captaincy of the church to step into the faith world of uncertainty but confident in their God.

I simply want to honor them. When a group of us E4 friends laid hands on them last weekend, it was not to commend them to a life of potential and promises. It was in recognition of what they have already done in Christ, with the gospel, for the advancement of the kingdom. Surrounded by friends, they were honored and applauded. Of course they have made mistakes. This they will admit readily. But there is much that still burns in their hearts. This new chapter of their lives has just begun.

May it to be a very fruitful and impacting season of your lives, reflecting the past with multiplied fruitfulness. You guys are courageous warriors in an unfolding apo story. Well done. We love you guys and are so proud of you.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Dirty Apo fingernails

"I daily carry the burden for all the churches" 2 Cor 11:28

I am sitting in Reading in the UK. I have loved watching the sun come up on a glorious UK morning. The last two days were spent loving on some pretty amazing men and women. On Friday M and I taught from 10 till around 4 to a group of pastors and wives whose deep love for the church and their nation is inspiring. It has not been easy for them. Several left very high paying jobs to engage on a Jesus journey that has reflected sacrifice and hardship. I love them.

Yesterday, we spent around 3 hours examine the nature of our divine calling with a broader group of leaders. Oh my - these are tough, tenacious God honoring bi-vocational leaders who let the gospel grab their hearts and change their way of thinking. Some were in the doldrums of weariness but left with their heads held high. Put Jesus in the room and watch and see what he does.

There is a clarion call resounding from heaven for the re-engaged role of the Ephesians 4 grace gifts to the church. All are essential. All are necessary. Each in a unique and different way is vital to every church in every city in every country in every part of the world. It is such raw naked arrogance to suggest that we can design the church better than Jesus - that apostles are replaced by mentors, coaches, consultants.

Apostles are known biblically, not as CEO styled leaders of organizations, networks or even movements. Biblically they are driven by a love, deep and sublime for "all" the churches. They are held captive by this love that compels them. They are in a deep love affair that the Father gives them for the churches they serve. They have dirty fingernails because are trench diggers. Paul says that apostles work with foundations... that is what they do. They are not roof wetters, champagne poppers. They have dirty nails from being in the trenches of the churches they love and serve to ensure that the foundations are true, biblical and fully Jesus.

So, how do we know who is an apostle? Two simple ways - look over their shoulders to see what they have built - strong, sturdy, Christ focussed churches that live for reasons beyond themselves; and look at their fingernails - they are in the trenches forging foundations that are essential for each specific church's future. They are intimately involved with these churches, not figure heads or distant administrators.

My pained hearts appeal - let us not lose this great moment of divine restoration again. For the sake of these churches, we simply have to get it right this time.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


When I get home from this trip...

I am going to pour myself into writing a book on apostles...

I would love your help

1. Any books you can recommend?
2. Any thoughts perspectives or questions you may have?
3. Stories that can help?
4. Any help with Church History on this one?


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Can I trust you?

Thanks for your patience. I have been in my own hiatus. There are times, we need to sit back and reflect more than write, ponder more than pontificate, meditate more that meander publicly with our thoughts.

Blogs aren't meant to be narcissistic self righteous reflections of personal opinions. I think they are there to empower their reader through the challenges of life. This empowerment helps identify the key questions, may help to shape the essential components in the conversation and then watch the reader journey their way to their own conclusions.
There is so much adjustment and divine realignment taking place across the board. So many of yesterday's answers are simply not enough to ritualistically repeat for today's challenges. In the humility of leading through these uncertainties, we can all posture ourselves as students rather than tutors. Only the ignorant will quickly punch out a standard answer.

M and I have discovered through the clouds of uncertainty that the call to 'faith and patience' remains loud and clear. Having walked in a life of faith for some 35 years now, one would think that confidence in the journey would produce a air of boldness that is unstoppable. In many ways that is true, but there is another beautiful part of this mystery for which I am also so appreciative.

The longer we walk with Jesus, the less we are impressed with ourselves, our efforts and our labor. It is almost as if we become increasingly mesmerized with him - and that makes our humanity glaringly lacking. Yet the marvel of grace keeps us from despair and depression. It simply drives us to ever deepening wells of grace. There we find him 'whom our soul loves'. No words can adequately describe this very private walk. As we look into our own eyes and are embarrassed by our frailties, we look into his eyes and discover 'love so amazing so divine'. Faith's foundation is not revelation but love. When perfect love grips our soul, faith splashes our daily lives.

We are all on a journey. We are all on a great gospel story. There are so many promises that he has given us - both textual and prophetic. We will not find them in a pandora box. They are only found at the throne of grace. That is where he quietly asks : "Will you trust me?" Our one syllable answer will make all the difference. Faith and patience are only found where he is...