Christian life

I’m thinking I can’t afford to even consider another year of sitting in a “church service” and hearing someone preaching a sermon, or worse a sermonette, sing a few songs, saying amen, shake hands on my way out, and saying that’s church, my duty complete, and even worse think God’s happy with that.

When you look at scripture it wasn’t just show up for a service, sing a couple of songs, hear a message and walkaway, maybe be convicted or rejoice or whatever. On my way out shake hands, smile and ask “How are you? How’s work?” Respond I’m fine, works good, see you next week, and say church done for the week. No where do we ever see Jesus model that, describe it that way. Peter or Paul describe it that way. See it done that in in scripture or in the first 100 years of the church, no where. Read the book of Act’s, you will see a different church.

Jesus didn’t command us to get a bunch of people room to set around listen to one man talk one a week for an hour, that’s not what He asked for, not what He says the church will be known for.

God has been speaking to me, taking me deeper and deeper into His word and Himself the last 5 years, the last year especially He has been working in me in life changing everything. He has been speaking to me especially about church, what it is, and it’s purpose is according to him.

He has been speaking to me through His word, His Spirit through followers of Christ he has connected me with like Francis Chan and JD Greear and a few others.

I’m saying lets go back to Scripture and ask what did He say. Because Jesus did Not ask for a bunch of people just to come sing a couple of songs, to come sit and listen to a man give a sermon. God’s never wanted His church to be a one hour, one day a week event you attend like a Las Vegas show, something that’s put on for you. Something that is You centered, all about You and Your likes and dislikes.

I pick up the bible and read what Jesus said the church is to be, what its purpose is, read how God started the church, look at what the church did when it gathered in the beginning. And I say what God want’s is what I want. And I am not one of those who reads the word of God, then like Eve listen to Satin say to me, did God really mean what He said? Did he really mean what He said? After all the bible is descriptive not prescriptive for you today.

One thing I know for sure, when I stand before God, He is not gong to say to me “you fool” you actually believed my word, took it literally, you actually believed I would do what I said, you actually where obedient to what I said, you did church my way. You loved Me and Jesus so much you believed my words “you fool”. Not hardly.

On the other hand those who say the book of Act’s is descriptive not prescriptive, fables, symbolic, figurative or what ever excuse to not believe what it says, not to obey it, want to do it their way. Well let’s just say I don’t want to hear what they will hear the day they appear before God.

What does God say church is suppose to be? I say let’s go to the word and see what did Jesus die for. What did he say the church was supposed to be and just do it, no more excuses.

Imagine if you were on an island and never been to a church and just read the bible, over and over and over and over. And then you get rescued somehow and you come to America. And you went to visit one of those things you’ve been reading about, this gathering of believers. And then you walk into a building called a church going okay, I have been reading the bible. And I want to experiences what I’ve read about, with this group of people here. You walked in and look around, would you find what you would’ve expected? Would you find what Jesus describe, said He wanted? Find what you read about in Act’s? No, you would not.

I’m talking about the real thing, a gathering of the church done the way God said, designed it, what I read about in the bible. I don’t know about you but I want the real thing, the church I see in Acts, the one Jesus died for. I’m talking about doing what God asked His people to do, being what the church is to be, its reason for being according to Him, His word. What God said it’s to looks like when true followers of Jesus gather together. That’s what I am after, what God has been showing me in His word and speaking loudly to me about, that He wants.

Part 2 – Church – Christ Centered

Part 3 – Church A Loving Family

It seems every church, every person that calls them selves a Christian has their own definition of what it is to “follow Jesus” to be a “follower of Christ”. Their are a multitude of books, countless sermons on the subject, each with their own opinion of what it means.

Recently The Lord took me to Matthew 4:19 where Jesus says “And He said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”.

When I think about these words, “Follow Me,” and being Jesus is clearly and absolutely worthy of far more than church attendance and casual association.

We are talking about the Savior King of the universe and the Righteous Judge of all, God in the flesh saying, “Follow Me.” Just let it soak in, the thought alone is Mind-boggling when you realize Who’s speaking here. God. And when He speaks you don’t just memorize it.

When Jesus comes to you and says, “Follow Me,” this is not a minor thing, there’s no potential for a casual response here. It’s either turn and run or bow and worship. You ether say No or Yes Lord!

So one can establish right off the bat that following Jesus is far more than church attendance, casual association, simply being a fan of Jesus. Imagine yourself standing before Jesus and Him saying to you “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men”. How would your life change from that moment on.

As you know if somebody gets hit by a Simi Truck they look different. How much more when a person comes face-to-face with the God of the universe in the flesh, the Savior King of the nations and the Righteous Judge of all peoples Who is sovereign over everything in the world, when you meet Him…….you look different. Everything changes, you do not go on with life as it was, with the same goals, worldly ambitions, desires, purpose, lifestyle or even identity. Everything changes!

I go from doing what I want to do with my life, pursing what I want to do and be, to doing what Jesus says I am to do.

Jesus did not say follow me and ______________, you fill in the blank what that means, with what you want to do. No, He tells us what following Him means, what follows the word “and”. I don’t need to read commentaries, read volumes of books, ask Google to know what it is to be a follower, Jesus tells me here.

Jesus says, “I’m going to make you a fisher of men.” In other words, Jesus says, “I’m going to do a transforming work in your life that will enable you to spread My gospel all over the world. Your life is going to be spent for My purpose, being a fisher of men, that’s what it looks like to be a follower of Jesus.

Every follower of Jesus is to be a fisher of men according to Jesus in this passage.

And like I said in my last post, I want to be simple guy, be black and white, an authentic follower of Jesus. Just pick up my bible daily, read it, believe it, believe its for me, for today, and do it. That simple, that black and white.

So I pick up my bible, read Matthew 4:19 and Bingo, Jesus defines following Him, or maybe more precise, the result of being a follower perhaps. If we are following Him, He will make us fishers of men. Going back to my last post on Matthew 28:19-20 about “Go, make disciples”, put the two verses together it’s quite clear Jesus is saying if you are following Him,  you’re a fisher of men, you will be making disciples.

So according to Jesus, what does it look like to be a follower of Jesus, you are a fisher of men, you are making disciples. That’s your new identity, purpose, and lifestyle.

Again like I said before if I just start with scripture, say here’s what it says, then I would get up every morning and say this is my job today, to let Jesus make me a fisher of men, and go do it, go make disciples.

It’s just black and white stuff, if I just started with scripture, pick up the bible and read it, and believe it, say here’s what I would do. I would be a fisher of men, that would define who I am and I’d start making disciples!

According to Jesus’ own words, if someone ask what does it mean to be a follower of Jesus, I would answer, if you’re a following Jesus, your a fisher of men, busy making disciples. Is there more to it than that, Yes, but this is where you start, this is the core of what following Jesus is, to be a fisher of men, to Go make disciples.

See Jesus Says – Go make disciples.

When I was a kid we played a game called Simon Says, I doubt kids today even know it since it not played on a smart phone. How you play it is if the person who’s “it” says, Simon says pat your head, or jump on one leg, or bark like a dog, you have do it, because Simon said to, or your out. That’s what the game is about, if Simon says do something, no matter what it is, you have to do it because you must obey Simon’s commands.

It’s very simple game, but it’s so weird how in the church, Jesus Says is a totally different game. If Jesus says to do something you don’t have to do it, you just have to memorize it, talk about it, have bible studies about it, and that’s it, you don’t have to actually do it.

It doesn’t make any sense, Jesus tells us to Go and make disciples, but yet how many people in the churches are actually making disciples? They’ve memorized the verse, so what, is that what Jesus asked us to do, memorized His commands? Do bible studies on what it would be like to do it?

If you told your daughter or son to go clean their room, they wouldn’t come back to you two hours latter and go, I’ve memorize what you said. You said “go clean your room”…….. and I can say it in Greek too. And my friends are going to come over and where going to have a study on what it would look like if I clean my room. Tomorrow I’m going to start a discussion group on the theology of what you said, theorize as to if you really meant “I” should do it, what exactly you meant by clean, and and is descriptive of prescriptive.

Your kids know better than that, and so why do we think we’re  going to come before The Judge one day, before the one we say is our Lord. Stand before Jesus and quote everything that He said, talk about how much you know, and Jesus will say “well done good and faithful servant”? Really!

Note the key word in His statement is “done“, its a action, a verb, meaning you have completed a task you where given to do. The only way you can hear well done is if you do what Jesus said to do.

It’s just black and white stuff, if I just started with scripture, pick up the bible and read it, and believe it, here’s what I would do. I’d start making disciples!

I would Not just memorize it, do a bible study on what it would be like to do it, read two dozen books on the theology of it, argue whether or not it was for then only or for today, or is it’s descriptive or prescriptive. That’s not what I would do, I would say, Yes Lord Jesus and start making disciples.

If I just start with scripture, say here’s what it says, then I would get up every morning and say this is my job today, to make disciples of Jesus, and go do it.

I would just Go and make disciples……… baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that Jesus has commanded. (Matthew 28:19-20)

And when you combined that with Jesus saying:

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15

Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” John 14:23

Jesus’ very words to us are if you love Me you will do as I say, and He said, Go and make disciples. So ether we love and obey, or don’t and make excuses. that’s are only two choices.

I want to be simple guy, be black and white, an authentic follower of Jesus. Just pick up my bible daily, read it, believe it, believe its for me, for today, and do it. That simple, that black and white.

See part two: Jesus Says, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

onething-dm

I ended my year at the Onething Conference 2013 just as I have for 10 years, God moved in power, did some amazing work in me, big changes coming for me.

No better way to end the year than with teaching from the likes of Francis Chan, my favorite man of God. Mike Bickle, Banning Liebscher and others. Even my old WYAM boss John Dawson was there and shared something.

Something like 20 hours of worship by passionate lovers of Jesus, such as Jesus Culture, Misty Edwards, Matt Redman, Laura Hackett. Worship that brought God down or us up to Him.

A stranger came up to me during worship and said he felt God wanted him to pray for me, his prayer addressed the very things God was saying to me, in other words, a word from the Lord.

For the last 3 weeks I have be struggling with some issues, talking to God about a list of things, everything was addressed, 3 of the speakers covered what I was in dialog with myself and God about. Even during worship, many songs even gave me answers from God. Add in the prayer by a stranger. God was speaking loud and clear to me. God is so awesome like that.

Ending the year surrounded by 35,000 of the body of Christ from all over the world, met people from China, Korea, Australia, and many different states.

I can think of no better way to end the year.

 

pastor-chuck-smith

Chuck Smith passed on to heaven Thursday ( October 3, 2013) morning after his body gave out after a long struggle with cancer.

Chuck Smith was one of the key figures of the Jesus movement in the late 60s and early 70s. and was my pastor and mentor for 10 years. He is the most significant man of God in my life, God used him in so many ways in my life.

Time magazine ran a story on the phenomenon that was Calvary Chapel, a little inconspicuous church in the middle of booming Orange County, California, it began with the 25-member church Smith founded on a Costa Mesa lot in 1965.  He taught the bible very simply, verse by verse, and continually pointed to the Holy Spirit, rather than his own abilities as the unexplained explanation.  When asked him to share what the “method” or “secret” was, he said, “It’s the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.  If you can explain what God is doing, then it probably isn’t God.”

From the pulpit, and in person, he emanated a disarming warmth. Calvary Chapel became famous as a sanctuary for a generation of counterculture refugees. He wore a Hawaiian shirt and a big, benevolent smile.

He didn’t care how worshipers dressed or how long they wore their facial hair. He welcomed hippies, dropouts and the drug-damaged. He allowed guitars to accompany worship songs. He became Papa Chuck to the thousands he baptized below the ocean cliffs of Corona del Mar (as many as 500 at a time, including myself).

Chuck Smith’s life was a legacy of faithful bible exposition.  Chuck taught very simply, but the presence of the Lord flowed from him, and you could sense the Holy Spirit speaking powerfully and giving thrust behind his very simple words when he spoke.  Chuck taught trough the bible verse by verse, cover to cover, starting over about every 3 years. It was while at Calvary, that I not only got in-depth teaching of the whole bible, teaching  that surpassed any seminary, it was there that God taught me how to study the bible under Chuck, that I still use to this day.

Calvary Chapel has recently been hailed by Ed Stetzer of Lifeway Research as the biggest church planting phenomenon of the 20th century.  He added that it was largely an “unintentional” church planting movement.  In other words, it’s what happened naturally, organically, and spiritually.  It was as if the Spirit of God was directing young leaders to thrust out and plant, all of whom had no idea of what they were doing, but nonetheless, were entrusted by Chuck into the hands of God much like he, himself had been. Calvary planted  nearly 2000 churches, all where trained under Chuck. The process was, if you came on staff, the understanding was you where to be trained for three years, then expected to go and plant a church.

God through Chuck changed the world, the way church is done, worship, music. The emergence of Calvary Chapel paralleled — and helped to fuel what was called “The Jesus movement” of the late 1960s and early 1970s, which embraced those the “traditional church” rejected, and that lead to the greatest number of salvations in Americas history.

Because of Chuck Non-denominational churches became the largest type of church in America

Modern worship songs came from Calvary. Before Calvary an organ, choir and hymnal where the only way to “worship” in a church. Or what I called dead worship, this is one of the two principal reasons I was not part of a church prior to Calvary.

Christian rock music started at Calvary.

The first time I walked into Calvary as a back sliding Christina living with my then fiancé Joan Cooper, and for the first time I witnessed a true biblical church. I saw for the first time true lovers of Jesus worshiping Him, I heard for the first time from a pulpit the word of God taught word by word. I was the same after that. He is the single most influential man of God in my life.

He will be missed.

discipling2

Jesus’ disciples never stopped being disciples or making disciples. We must ask ourselves are we following their example?

We are all being discipled everyday by someone, the media, radio, music and the people we hang with. Billions of dollars a year are spent on media to give people meaning, identity, belonging and purpose in the products and services they want us to buy. The causes they want us to live for spend our lives for.

For the follower of Jesus, discipleship is not a one time class you take class you take when you received Christ, but the fulfillment of their destiny to be conformed to the image of Christ (Rom.8:29). It’s a life long event of both being discipled and discipling others. Jesus made disciples that made disciples, that is what it looks like to be Christ like, we make disciples.

Keys to Understanding

· Involves the critical task of becoming more like Jesus

· Generates authentic followers of Christ

· Established, well articulated discipleship standards are the norms for the community

· Discipleship practices are developed through a community-wide, collaborative process

· Disciple Making engage people as significant agents in ministry

Who is discipling us, everyone is being discipled by someone, are we being discipled by Jesus’ via His written word, infused with the Holy Spirit through prayer. Being discipled by other followers, His disciples through daily fellowship with them. With then through the word and doing life together.

We must be in true fellowship with Jesus and His body, other followers of Christ, not in shallow relationships with them, the meet and greet on your way in and out of the church building. But in disciplining relationships daily like we see in Act’s, doing life together daily, having meals together in fellowship around Jesus. Around His word, in worship and praise of Him.

The media creates consumers, people who consume what they sell.

The church does not need consumers, people who come to get, be entertained, and be waited on. Its need disciples, those who come to disciple others, give Jesus to others. The church needs to create disciples, not consumers, and they must be disciples that create disciples.

 

Company of Men I keep, Francis Chan, JD Greear

I believe one of the most important elements of our lives is the company of people we keep, hang out with, do life with. And this especially true for Christians, especially if you want to walk with Christ and be used by God.

I have been keeping the company of men whom I highly respect; men that I think are exemplary models of what our lives are to look like as followers of Christ. Frances Chan, and J.D. Greear. Each of the men are boldly living for Jesus in a way that I desire to, each have gifting that let them excel in their callings.

J.D. Greear went from college to the mission field, to pastor and church planter, pastors one of the fasting growing church in America and has so far sent out over 300 church planters to start churches across the globe. Raleigh, South Carolina

Frances Chan, my favorite pastor for the last several years, I have listened to him for many years while he pasted his church plant turned meg church, that he left two years ago to as he put it, do church right, the biblical way. After some time in Southeast Asia he returned to California and is embarking on planting churches across the bay area. San Francisco, CA

All are passionate lovers of God the Father and Jesus, purse them with all their heart and life. Passionate about preaching the gospel and salvation of the lost. Passionate about making disciples, equipping the body and sending them to Go into the world.  Passionate about God’s word, study and teach it diligently. They are Spending their lives Going and Doing, they don’t just sit on their theology, beliefs and talk about them, they are doers. “Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing.” Matthew 24:46, that is them.

They are the kind of men I want to do life with, imitate, keep company with, although I cannot hang out with these men, do life daily with them, they are spread out across the country. I have been connected to them as much as I can, listening to every sermon they give, attend every conference they speak at. Read every book they write, and blog post they write. Wishing all along I could sup with them, labor shoulder to shoulder with them for Jesus.

All of these men have an understanding, grasp of the gospel that is beyond the vast majority of churches in the US, and teaching it like no others. Francis Chan, JD Greear all understand the great commission, the call to preach the gospel and make disciples, and live it out, they are doers, everyday doers. they  have planted and are planting church across the globe, Frances Chan understands what the church is to be better than anyone else today, my heart has been burden for the same church his burns for, what we read of in the book of Acts.

I am now on the quest to find a group of men such as them to keep company with, do life with, gather with daily and labor shoulder to shoulder with them for Jesus. Passionate lovers of Jesus.

Men whose bibles are falling apart because they are so well used, pages worn out, highlighting, underlining on every page and notes written in every available white space on the page. They never go anywhere with out their bible in hand. That’s to say they study diligently the bible daily.

Men who have camel’s knees for spending hours a day in prayer, the can think of no better place to be that before the face of the Living God. That is men of prayer, deep, intimate prayer.

Men who worship with great passion, men who cannot sit in a pew and watch a “worship service”, but must worship in Spirit, with their whole being. They must dance before their God in celebration.

Men, who burn for lost souls to be saved, burn to preach the gospel to every living person. There passion is to take, preach the gospel in every corner of the earth with apology. Men who see the world as their backyard, they don’t just talk about the great commission, they are fulfilling the great commission.

Men who are disciple makers, they are about making disciples that go and make disciples. They know this is our first calling by Christ, the priority of our life. They don’t just talk about it, they are doing it.

They are church planters, they preach the gospel, souls get saved, then disciple them and there by plant churches.

So in prayer I am asking for such a group of men, even one man who is like the group above, lives as I described above, who lives near by that I can keep company with, break bread with, study the bible with, preach the gospel with, make disciples with, and plant churches with.

fuller theological seminary sign

 

I have begin taking classes from Fuller Theological Seminary (in my opinion the best seminary) working on my Masters, so far loving it. Even in the first classes I have learned new things, and they say you cant teach an old dog new tricks. Been good to renew old knowledge, refresh things learned in the past, sharpen the mind. Thank God for the internet,  how you can take classes from any college right from you laptop where ever you are, still would much rather be in the class room, long for the class environment, to participate in the discussion as well as the study fellowship. Looking forward to the challenge ahead, new knowledge, new skills to serve the Lord with.

Class I am most impressed with so far is “Christ Centered Preaching” loving it, it just does not apply to preaching from a pulpit, but witnessing, teaching, and even general conversations with others, loving it.