LESSONS I DID NOT LEARN IN BIBLE COLLEGE

People matter more than programmes. It is easy to be under pressure to be creative and visionary. As you read blogs and listen to podcasts from the movers and the shakers – you can get to the place where you get distracted and impatient with the ordinary encounters with people. And that will be the beginning of your downfall… Jesus always noticed people!

Leadership matters. If you keep developing as a leader and helping to train and release leaders – you will experience a greater sense of blessing in your ministry. Read, listen, sift, learn, apply, customize. Lead in such a way that Christ is replicated in other leaders too. Jesus had a great team and formed good leaders!

Setting right priorities ministry is crucial. Expectations will ‘fly’ at you daily. From within (as you read what others are doing/dream of what ‘could be’) and from outside (overseers, leaders, congregation, community). If you respond to the urgent – you can forfeit the important. Learning to please God and fulfil His commission in your life/ministry is a vital skill. The actions should only flow out of that. Jesus had a clear agenda, to please the Father, be led by the Spirit and proclaim the Gospel (verbally & tangibly).

You need to pray just as much if not more than prepping, planning, preaching and visiting. We hardly had a lecture on personal prayer or pastoral prayer. Because we live in a workaholic culture here in the Western world – it seems like an excuse to schedule and spend a significant amount of time in prayer. Resist the temptation to bypass this. Jesus withdrew to pray for a significant amount of time!

If you dislike confrontation, you are likely to try to please man more than God. Conflicts are part of the package for any Christian leader. You serve/lead people and where people are involved there are messy conflicts. Some leaders get a ‘kick’ out of ‘sorting’ people out – and that’s dangerous and thankfully rare. Most leaders pretend/avoid/postpone dealing with conflict and cause greater problems, all this out of fear of upsetting or losing people. Jesus was never shy in dealing with conflict, in truth and grace!

WORDS OF WISDOM

‘It is the normal state of the human heart to try to build its identity around something besides God. Spiritual pride is the illusion that we are competent to run our own lives, achieve our own sense of self-worth and find a purpose big enough to give us meaning in life without God. Søren Kierkegaard says that the normal human ego is built on something besides God. It searches for something that will give it a sense of worth, a sense of specialness and a sense of purpose and builds itself on that. And, of course, as we are often reminded, if you try to put anything in the middle of the place that was originally made of God, it is going to be too small. It is going to rattle around in there.’
TIM KELLER

‘[Repentance] is not a merely intellectual change of mind or mere grief, still less doing penance, but a radical transformation of the entire person, a fundamental turnaround involving mind and action and including overtones of grief, which result in (spiritual) fruit.’
D.A. CARSON

‘Revivals begin with God’s own people; the Holy Spirit touches their heart anew, and gives them new fervour and compassion, and zeal, new light and life, and when He has thus come to you, He next goes forth to the valley of dry bones…Oh, what responsibility this lays on the Church of God!’
ANDREW BONAR

 

CUVINTE DE TOAMNA

Chiar ca mi-au inviorat sufletul aceste cuvinte azi. Scriem si postam tot felul de lucruri efemere si lipsite de profunzime pe Facebook. Dar iata ca mai gasim si o doza de prospetime si incurajare pentru sufletele noastre. Multumim, Vladimir!

De o sută douăzeci de zile n-a mai plouat în Beiuș. De bucurie am ieșit afară și am stat în ploaia rece până mi s-a făcut frig. Încălzit de becul din tavanul biroului m-a apucat colindatul.

Vă urez tuturor prietenilor mei să vă înhămați la căruța vieții o stea. Adică să omorâți cotidianul, scufundându-l fără milă în vis. Visați mult și albastru, nu vă mulțumiți cu pământul, un laptop și o mașină. Făuriți-vă o lume a voastră pe care să nu plătiți impozit. Gândiți dincolo de stomac, râdeți de ziua de mâine câtă vreme asta de azi e atât de frumoasă.

Vă urez apoi să vedeți cu ochii închiși ceea ce nu văd alții cu ochii deschiși. Fiecare om pe care îl întâlniți pe stradă e un om normal cu o plasă în mâini plină cu cărți, pâine și parizer. Dacă închideți ochii veți vedea o golgotă și un Hristos ce a murit pentru el. Atunci, omul cu parizer e fratele vostru…

Vă doresc să nu uitați că e mai bine să nu știi nimic decât să știi ceva greșit. Dar să nu vă mulțumiți cu neștiința, căci fără cunoaștere adevărul nu valorează doi bani. Învățați din Scriptură, frunze, stele, vorbe, căderi și trădări.  Luați-o de la început din noroi. Căderea e normală dar obișnuitul cu țărâna nu. Trăiți toamna asta, n-o muriți!

de Vladimir Pustan
via http://www.resursecrestine.ro/devotionale/97531/ce-va-doresc-in-toamna

 

START: Come

As we I had the privilege to be part of launching one of our newest LIFE Groups this year, here are some essential values of how a healthy small group can thrive. The four non-negotiable values I have highlighted to our new members as we have launched (I’m sure there are far more than just 4) are: Come, Care, Communicate and Change.

Over the following weeks I will take some time to write something about each of them – hoping that it might inspire you as a leader and encourage your group too.

COME

This seems like a no brainer. If people don’t attend there is no group, there is no community there is no ‘us’. As much as this is part of the ABC of any gathering, it can so easily be seen that attendance is optional.

True, there are other pressures and unexpected urgent priorities that would demand our time and diminish our ability to attend. I believe that if we desire to experience relational intimacy and see spiritual growth – we need to show up. We need to see the small group as something that goes in the diary first, rather than an afterthought.

The secret is love. I am interested in things and people I love. I show up to things that I love. I rush home for things that I love. I sacrifice time, money and energy for things that I love. We need to pray and work hard as leaders to make sure that our small group gatherings are something people love (not just have) to go to.

The other secret is living intentionally. If we want to grow in Christ-likeness and have an impact on others – there is a price. Too often we are naïve enough to think that we will grow by accident. As if we could run a marathon on a whim or win an Olympic medal by chance.

  • Practically, put it in your diary – in pen not pencil – maybe even highlighted.
  • Practically, keep the commitment you made when you were passionate, even when you’re tired and don’t feel like showing up.
  • Practically, realiZe that others will miss out from benefiting from the gifts that God has placed within you, to edify them.
  • Practically, loneliness and isolation never built anyone up and encouraged them. The blunt truth is that you will lose out too.
  • Practically, show your family that God comes first. Our generation needs to rediscover commitment.
  • Practically, don’t attend out of guilt, but rather pray that the Spirit of God might give you the zeal you need.
  • Practically, make yourself accountable. Tell a small group partner about the struggle and give them permission to come and pick you up and take you with them. We all will need to have and be such friends at times

 

GREAT PRAYER

O my all-merciful God and Lord,
Jesus Christ, full of pity:
Through Your great love You came down
and became incarnate in order to save everyone.
O Savior, I ask You to save me by Your grace!
If You save anyone because of their works,
that would not be grace but only reward of duty,
but You are compassionate and full of mercy!

You said, O my Christ,
“Whoever believes in Me shall live and never die.”
If then, faith in You saves the lost, then save me,
O my God and Creator, for I believe.
Let faith and not my unworthy works be counted to me, O my God,
for You will find no works which could account me righteous.

O Lord, from now on let me love You as intensely as I have loved sin,
and work for You as hard as I once worked for the evil one.
I promise that I will work to do Your will,
my Lord and God, Jesus Christ, all the days of my life and forever more.

John Chrysostom (HT – Marc Cortez)

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QUESTIONS for Church Ministry

 

I had to fill in some work related reports in the past week and that set in motion a whole set of questions regarding evaluations in church ministry. For sure, to some of the questions I already have some answers, to others I have would write the answers in pencil and to some I have no clue at all. Here they are:

  • I wonder what God is evaluating?

  • wonder what really matters in the Kingdom?

  • How do we define success in the Kingdom?

  • How do make sure that growth in-depth is not sacrificed at the expense of growth in width, and vice versa?

  • How do we avoid falling in the trap of making money, the people in attendance, the projects we run in the community and the number of ministries we have in the church (though they matter for sure) – the benchmark of success?

  • Do we need to evaluate things – think ‘mustard seed parable’ or the ‘parable of the sower’?

  • How do we avoid (safeguards) the dangers of pride manifested through a sense of failure or feeling like we ‘made it’?

  • If the ultimate goal is the divine ‘well done, good and faithful servant’ – does it matter if we are successful according to our human evaluation markers?

A PRAYER FOR PREACHERS

‘O sirs, how plainly, how closely, how earnestly, should we deliver a message of such moment as ours, when the everlasting life or everlasting death of our fellow-men is involved in it! …There [is] nothing more unsuitable to such a business, than to be slight and dull. What! speak coldly for God, and for men’s salvation? Can we believe that our people must be converted or condemned, and yet speak in a drowsy tone? In the name of God, brethren, labour to awaken your own hearts, before you go to the pulpit, that you may be fit to awaken the hearts of sinners…Oh, speak not one cold or careless word about so great a business as heaven or hell. Whatever you do, let the people see that you are in good earnest…A sermon full of mere words, how neatly so ever it be composed, while it want the light of evidence, and the life of zeal, is but an image or a well-dress carcass.’

Richard Baxter in The Reformed Pastor (1656)

THE SECRET OF PRAYER

‘Pray at all times (pray without ceasing).’
1 Thessalonians 5:17

I never truly understood this verse. I always believed it and desired to experience it. Yet it seemed a mystery. A good but unrealistic intention. How can you pray all day long? Do you withdraw away just to spend time with God like a hermit? Do you neglect your mundane duties of work and family? Is it some sort of a special power for super-Christians (which don’t exist)?

In the last few weeks I had a new insight into understanding this type of prayer. When you step out of your mundane routines into the rollecoaster experience of a trauma or a trial, you simply lose control. You come face to face with a whole set of difficulties and sometimes seemingly impossibilities even. You lose control and you find yourself powerless… Your intellectual, financial, relational resources are simply not sufficient.

And that’s when you’re that desperate that you begIn to talk to the Father. You don’t compose prayers. You don’t go through lists. You don’t quote Bible verses back to Him. You don’t do it because it’s a scheduled ‘quiet time’. You don’t do it because you feel guilty or trying to impress anyone. You’re simply at the end of your hope and in a childlike manner, you run to your Heavenly Father.

That’s the secret. It’s not a special spiritual skill or discipline. It’s desperation. And I guess unless you get to that state it’s difficult to experience it. I know that not all of us will go through those experiences all the time. But we are just as weak, vulnerable and powerless at any given moment in time. Control is just an illusion.

We’re always nothing and can do nothing without Him! Fact! Yet too often we deceive ourselves and try to live that way. And that’s why prayer is neglected or transformed into a ritual.

We have a choice. Daily. Moment by moment. We can chose to talk to Him or talk to friends. We can chose to try to fix things with our resources or talk to Him. We can chose to pretend or talk to Him. We can chose pride or vulnerability, and talk to Him. And that’s the secret of experiencing this verse.