God Is Always At Work Around You

I met yesterday with a new friend and brother for coffee and conversation. During the course of our lengthy chat, Henry Blackaby’s name came up.  The context was the importance of seeing what God is doing around you.  I read Blackaby’s book Experiencing God more than twenty-five years ago.  The impact it had on my thinking has had a lasting effect.

One principle that Blackaby lists is that God is always at work around you.  This means that when we hear God calling us to action in some particular area or ministry we should look to see where He is already working and join Him there. Often we think we have to go out and recreate the wheel so to speak. Another necessary principle for experiencing the fullness of God in your life that Blackaby suggested was this gem – you cannot go with God and stay where you are.  I wish I had a dollar for every time I have made that statement over these last twenty years.  The gist of that statement is that when God calls you and reveals where He is already working it will most likely require some changes on your part.  Thus, you cannot stay where you are in attitude, behavior, or perspective and come along side of God in His work.

These principles have taken on a fresh and vibrant meaning once again for me personally.  As I have suggested in recent posts, God has graciously moved me into a new season of ministry.  This has come about through a time of prayer, fasting, and seeking His counsel.  I admit that this has caused me some consternation. After fifteen years as a senior pastor, and more than twenty-five years in church leadership roles, the idea that my message and teaching was somehow not aligned with God’s message gave me great pause.  He assured me that although my message was His message He reserves the right to change the focus of the message as well as the manner it is delivered and the audience it is delivered to.  I should have seen this coming but our Father delights in blessing His children so it came wrapped like a beautiful gift.

God has been at work all around Calvary Chapel of Lima and He is calling us to join Him.  This call has been responded to in a number of different ways already. Recently we began broadcasting the Sunday morning messages on three local radio stations. Already we are seeing and hearing of fruit.

Now it appears that we are on the cusp of venturing into what is for us as a fellowship uncharted waters.  I am thrilled at the depth of possibilities and see how God is desiring to reach people in these very difficult and troubling times through the opportunities He has presented to us.  One area of focus will be teaching, equipping, and modeling what a true disciple is and does, and then sending disciples to repeat the process with other folks.  Another area of focus will be the Lima community.  More on that later.

I want to share some more with you about what a fellowship can do to fulfill a calling to being disciples and disciplining others.  Read 2 Timothy 2:1-2 and see if you can identify some principles related to discipleship.  I’ll share more on that passage in the next post.

God bless you all today and be assured of God’s great love for you His children.

Christ in the Feast of Tabernacles

Join us at Calvary Chapel of Lima, Ohio on Tuesday, October 1 at 7 PM for a Jews for Jesus presentation of “Christ in the Feast of Tabernacles.”  Email events@cclohio.org or call 419-222-6100 for more information. Link below to the flyer.

Christ in the Feast of Tabernacles 2013

Revelation 17 and Discipleship

Arrived at another passage of scripture this morning that makes me pause. Revelation is as they say, “not for the faint of heart.”  Those familiar with the specific details of chapter 17 understand this perspective well.

The Apostle John is summoned by an angel to witness the judgment of the “great harlot who sits on many waters” (v. 1).  The question that arises is, who or what is this great harlot?  The context of the passage and the flow of the book identifies this harlot as an end times amalgamation of religionists (v. 15).   Included in this organization of global religionists is of course the apostate church.  This fact is what causes some consternation among believers today.

The apostate church is not a future condition.  The apostate church is here already. This condition goes well beyond the “wheat and tares” condition described by Jesus in Matthew 13.  My guess is that nearly every church in America has a couple of tares hiding out in the wheat.  The apostate church is defined as that so-called church that might still wear the name Christian but has denied Christ as only Savior and Lord.  That church will form the foundation of the Tribulation global religion.

This should not cause believers to despair but instead should encourage us to grasp the importance of contending for the faith daily.  One way we can do that is through focused and intentional discipleship. What is intentional discipleship and how would individuals and churches go about implementing this?

There are any number of processes and strategies being promoted today.  One that I like is described in a recent article on the Transformative Church website (http://www.transformativechurch.org) entitled, “Five Changes Churches Need to Make to Be Disciple Makers.”

The strategy incorporates five shifts that churches can undertake to fully engage people in disciple making.  They are:

  1. Shift from reaching to making.  This involves going beyond merely training people how to share the gospel to teaching them through relationship over a longer period of time.  This goes to the heart of how to reach “Millennials” today.  I’ll speak more about this in future posts.
  2. Shift from teaching to modeling.  This can be a tough shift for church leaders who are accustomed to teaching others and not modeling for others how it is done. Modeling involves being a disciple and being led by Jesus.  A leader’s inability to make this shift will thwart disciple making before it has a chance to start.
  3. Shift from ingesting techniques to putting into practice the truths learned.  At some point those being discipled will begin to put into practice those things learned and demonstrated by their mentor.  Jesus taught His disciples Kingdom principles, demonstrated them for their learning, then He sent them out to do what He had taught them and demonstrated for them.
  4. Shift from connecting to transforming.  The body of Christ is meant to worship God and bring honor to His name through word and deed among other things.  A constant focus on being missions minded, what some are calling missional is important because transformation happens as believers engage their local communities in tangible ways as demonstrations of their faith.
  5. Shift from attracting to deploying.  Are we a lean, missional minded disciple making body or are we more focused on secluded, insulated living where we can become immersed in a Christian version of the world?  The church must get beyond the need to see attendance numbers increase.  Instead, we must seek to deploy people into our communities for Christ-centered ministry. My thinking is that as we do that Jesus will build the church.  It might surprise you what it will look like though.

This is but a short synopsis and I encourage you to read the entire article and series of which this one is a part.  The point is that relational disciple making, mentoring, modeling, sending rather than attracting, and developing people the way Jesus developed the twelve will in the end have a much greater impact on our communities and world and will strengthen the church to become exactly what God wants us to be.

It is important that we understand the times we live in and take appropriate action to tell the gospel story of Jesus Christ, the only name by which man will be saved from the judgment to come.

More to come on this subject.

Your thoughts?

Harvest America September 28-29 in Lima

The Harvest America Crusade featuring Pastor-Evangelist Greg Laurie will be simulcast live at Calvary Chapel of Lima beginning at 7PM EST on both Saturday night September 28 and Sunday night September 29.  Invite your friends, co-workers, and family.  Greg will present the gospel and challenge people to place their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.  For more information email events@cclohio.org or call the church office 419-222-6100.

The Only Constant Is Change

Readers of this blog will notice a change in blog title and focus.  Let me explain.

The last couple of months have been interesting in the least.  Lots of challenges and more importantly a fresh perspective given by the Lord.  As a Christ follower and disciple of Jesus I want to be certain that my life lines up with His teachings and His leading day by day.  Long story short, I believe Jesus has gently and graciously (doesn’t He always?) drawn my attention to a new “assignment” in a familiar place.

As some of you know I am a “tent-making” pastor.  Time is precious to me and normally way short of what I think I need to accomplish everything on my plate.  I have emerged from many hours of prayer with a new perspective on this ministry God has given me and on what He desires from me moving forward.  One of the changes is in this blog.  I haven’t taken the time to post my thoughts and things that I hope will encourage others in their faith walk.  Instead, I have posted things I found interesting that are written by others.  I haven’t always agreed with everything suggested in the articles I’ve posted, but found them to be a good explanation and insight into the subject matter.  There is nothing wrong with that of course and many bloggers do that.  That was not my intention here and so I will be posting what is happening in my ministry, life, and family as originally intended.  I hope you will find this much more edifying.

Additionally, God has opened several doors of opportunity for me personally and for Calvary Chapel of Lima as His local body of believers, to reach into Lima and the surrounding area with His message of hope and salvation.  When everything is said and done brothers and sisters, our life in Christ is about obedience to Him AND making disciples of Him.  Therefore, I will be sharing some of what I am doing and encouraging you to be a disciple maker in your city or area.  One way to do that is to begin to look outside your tradition and see what other like-minded believers are doing for the Kingdom.

Finally, if this blog is encouraging to you please consider interacting with me on it and sharing it with others. Conversation is a good and healthy thing and I am interested in hearing your thoughts on the subjects posted.

God bless you all today as you seek to serve Him through word and deed.  One day we will see Him face to face and rejoice in His eternal mercies toward us.

Mike