Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Game Changer 2.

Our conversation around the latter part of Acts 8 now takes us to examine the chief players in this unfolding drama.

There are four:
       The angel - space does not allow me to explore this most glorious piece of the text, yet we do it at our peril. Simply stated angels are still catalysts in the global gospel outworking. They are God's to send not ours to commission. They are there to minister to the believers [Heb 1:14 - 2:4] not our servants to direct. However we have to be somewhat humble enough to say we do acknowledge their presence and role but do not fully understand it - are we ready enough to embrace them?

       The Holy Spirit - We simply cannot live without him. This new creation story is supernatural. It is not improving the old me with some extra morality. It is me recognizing that I was dead in my transgressions and sins and have been born again to a new life by the Spirit. Then living this new life, is only possible through the empowerment of the Spirit. Being co-laborers in the kingdom, we can only uphold our part of the story by "being filled by the Spirit... led by the Spirit... live in the Spirit... with the fruit of the Spirit... operating in the gifts of the Spirit..."

       The Ethiopian Eunuch - this is a remarkable man. He travelled from modern day Sudan to Jerusalem and "still haven't found what he was looking for." In him we see
*   An educated seeker - reading and desiring to find answers
*   Even being a foreigner / alien did not prevent his hunger from wanting salvation
*   Being wealthy and influential were not deterrents to asking humbly for help
*   Possible religious rejection [he would not have been able to enter the temple] was not going to stop him pushing into God
*   His sexual identity was not a hinderance from finding a messiah who could make sense of his situation...
There is so much more to say about this man, but enough to say, there were many reasons why he could have disengaged from this story, but he chose to overcome them all, for he knew there was a savior worth pushing all these aside for - to travel thousands of miles to find.

        Then Philip - Up until these last two chapters, the church was about the apostles did. Then deacons are appointed and Stephen gets stoned and we know that the game has changed:
*    Philip was probably a business man - few were salaried by the church in these early days. God still loves using the ordinary person who sees their whole lives as a gospel adventure collaging all the pieces into a single entity;
*   He was a good father who raised his daughters to love the church and flow in the gifts. We read in Acts 21:9 that he had four unmarried daughters who prophesied;
*   He was a bible lover as he was able to explain the texts to the eunuch;
*   And he was an evangelist. This is the first time this most noble office is reported in the early church. This piece is important because up and till that time the apostles have been the loud voices and big names of the early church. However God makes himself clear as this was not his plan. The apostles stayed in Jerusalem while "Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word" Acts 8:4. Now we see all believers preaching the word, not just the apostles. We also see that we need more than one or two gifts for the church to advance but all five of the Ephesians 4 gifts to pioneer the new frontiers.

Everything is different in the church from this time forward. That is why this is a game changer. The church then and longingly today needs all believers on divine gospel assignment. Then we need all of the five fold gifting involved to get the global job done...

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Game Changer 1

I loved teaching at Rock Harbor this weekend.

Going through the Book of Acts series can always be captivating and inspiring. When I was asked to teach the latter part of Acts 8, my heart leapt - I always seem to get the cool texts.

This is a game changing chapter - in fact I framed it as a two part new season opener. Up until Acts 7 the early church was dominated by those who had been with Jesus. But the new landscape changes everything:

Isn't it amazing how often key things happen in the wilderness. God could have gotten the Eunuch and Phillip to meet in a cool little eatery in Jerusalem. But God does some of his deepest work in us in the wilderness - where the noises of the many are silenced to empower us for the voice of one. When I look back at my life, my most impacting moments with the Father have happened in the wilderness. Look at Moses, Abraham, David, even Jesus - all had major wilderness victories. They are orchestrated for our good, not ill. They are not passive but are on the road headed somewhere. They answer the question that we so often pray "there must be more than this".  There is, but we often find it in the wilderness with a bible in our hand, a prayer on our lips and a stranger who may bring a prophetic word of clarity. The best way to handle the wilderness is quickly - "hear and obey".

In order to understand this text we need to frame this story is through the lenses of trust. Imagine being Phillip. God has moved dramatically through you, salvations, miracles, deliverances, even big name dudes in the region are coming to faith. Now God [through the angel] says that it is time to move. Can you imagine the confusion for this evangelist? He is to leave a revival to go to a dusty desert road - but he is not told why! Trust reassures me that "God will get us to leave the much and to what may seem little but it will never be less". He did not know that he would meet an eunuch, who would come to faith and take the gospel to the uttermost. He was not to know that his lonely convert would take this good news of Is 53 to Africa for the first time. But he had to trust his Father. God is both providential is his construction of this meeting, but he is also sovereign in his global gospel adventure - lets be part of that.

These are great moments to pause and reflect on how God has used the wilderness in our lives. We somehow feel robbed with these moments, as we subconsciously don't feel like they should exist. The wilderness, finds to souls colliding together around the text. One to be the student, one to be the teacher. Sometimes our wilderness times are for our own soul - getting clarity in contexts of confusion. But sometimes, we are in the wilderness for others - that we might teach them. That is a sign of maturity - "living for the benefit of others'. Where are you know?

Friday, February 22, 2013

March 2013

Thanks for the prayers and perspectives.

Here is a quick look at the March calendar for M and myself -

Feb 22 / 23 M to teach at Redemption Church Ladies event; then teaches on Sunday at their main gathering;

Feb 23 / 24 I teach at Rock Harbor at the 6, 9, 11 on Acts 8

Feb 24 pm - teaching the Intro to Leadership at Southlands

Feb 28 - meet with all the LA lead pastors of the churches that we are working with in that city

Mar 7th our monthly Exploration - conversations for pastors & planters at Rock Harbor, followed by some strategic conversations about the way forward with new church plants;

Mar 8 - 11 off to Toronto to connect with our friends there as well as minister with Redhill Church

Mar 14th - lunch with Costa Mesa pastors we journey with;

Mar 17th - well Darren and Alex & crew at the Garden in Long Beach

Mar 21st - day down in San Diego with planters we are journeying with

Mar 22 - 25 off to Tyler Tx to teach and ordain elders at Harvest Church

Isn't that a cool month?

Friday, February 1, 2013

Hey friends

Here is a list of books I am reading right now - may be helpful:

Victor Frankl: "Man's search for meaning"
A remarkable little book that interprets man's quest for meaning and survival in Nazi death camps. A very helpful lens of such weighty matters.

James D Hunter: "To change the World"
I am finding his writings carry some important substance. Without grumpiness, he is challenging the common held perspectives on how evangelicals believe the world can be changed. Reading is slow but very impacting.

Leslie R. Crutchfield: "Forces for Good"
Assessing which key ingredients are evident in all Nonprofits that have held firm over decades. I think it is a good read for church leaders as it gives us different lenses on how we can be effective over the long haul.

Leon Morris: "Revelation"
Am enjoying his eyes on this very powerful book - what are the truly big pieces of this book - not the charismatic propensity for the exotic and existential.

Any good books you are reading?