“Follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”
Now it came to pass that a group existed who called themselves fishermen. And, there was a abundant amount of fish in the waters all around. In fact, the whole area was surrounded by streams and lakes filled with fish. And the fish were hungry.
Week after week, month after month, and year after year, these who called themselves fishermen met in meetings and talked about their call to fish, the abundance of fish, and how they might go about fishing. Year after year they carefully defined what fishing means, defended fishing as an occupation, wrote book after book about fishing, how to fish, the different types of fish, the best places to catch fish, and declared that fishing is always to be a primary task of fishermen.
Continually, they searched for new and better methods of fishing and for new and better definitions of fishing. They created witty slogans and displayed them on big beautiful banners.
These fishermen built large, beautiful buildings called “Fishing Headquarters.” The plea was that everyone should be a fisherman and every fisherman should fish. One thing they didn’t do, however: They did not fish.
In addition to meeting regularly, they organized a board to send out fishermen to other places where there were many fish. But no one every went because there was always a family activity. A football game to watch. A movie to see. Work around the house to do. A career to advance. So the board even hired staffs and appointed committees and held many meetings to define fishing, to defend fishing, what it would look like if every one fished, and to decide what new streams should be thought about. But the staff and committee members did not fish.
They engaged in all kinds of other occupations, some felt their job was to relate to the fish in a good way so the fish would know that they where loved. Others felt that simply letting the fish know they were nice, land-loving neighbors and how loving and kind they were was enough.
But eventual they stopped teaching that everyone was to be a fisherman, no longer talked about how to fish, no longer taught them how to fish even. Instead they started teach that everyone was to simply invite the fish to come to the “Fishing Headquarters”, let the fish know they where welcome, that even preparations where made to make them feel welcome and at home in the “Fishing Headquarters”. But no fish ever come, just others that call themselves fishermen who where looking for a nicer “Fishing Headquarters” than the one they where at.
Now it’s true that many of the fishermen sacrificed and put up with all kinds of difficulties. Some lived near the water and bore the smell of dead fish every day. Some world rub the scent of fish all over them so the fish would feel comfortable around them, feel like they where one of them. They suffered the ridicule of those who made fun of their fishermen’s clubs and the fact that they claimed to be fishermen yet never fished.
Imagine how hurt some were when one day a person suggested that those who don’t fish were really not fishermen, no matter how much they claimed to be. Yet it did sound correct. Is a person a fisherman if, year after year, he never fishes? Is one really following if he isn’t fishing?
I ask again, Is a person following if, year after year, he never fishes? ….“Follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” So Is one really following Jesus if he isn’t fishing?
I read this and found it of great encouragement, such a truth that I had to post it, if only that I might read it over again and again myself. This is what Catherine Booth, wife of the founder of the Salvation Army, instructed her fellow workers as follows in the winning souls.
"Do not tell anybody they are saved. I never do. I leave that for the Holy Spirit to do. I tell them how to get saved. I try to help them to the way of faith. I will bring them up as close as ever I can to the blessed broken body of their Lord, and I will try to show them how willing He is to receive them; and I know that when really they do receive Him, the Spirit of God will tell them quickly enough that they are saved. He will not want any assistance about that. I have proved it in hundreds of cases. Nobody knows the soul but God. Nobody can see the secret windings of the depraved heart but God. Nobody can tell when a full surrender is made but God. Nobody can tell when the right hand is cut off, or the right eye plucked out, but God. Nobody can tell when a soul is whole-hearted but God, and as soon as He sees it, He will tell that soul it is saved." Catherine Booth
These are three key things I now ask about a church, three questions I ask about a church, and require of a church before I would be part of it.
I ask these three questions about a church…..
1. How many churches has the church planted?
2. How many missionaries have they sent out?
3. How many baptisms do they do a week?
What I am look to learn, find out, is the church actively fulfilling the great commission, about Equipping and Sending, that is Making Disciples and Going into the world and Baptizing people. ( Matthew 28:19-20 , Mark 16:15 )
Jesus said, “Go and make disciples.” “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation”, so then as followers of Jesus, as the church we want people to become both disciples of Jesus and to Go and make disciples for Jesus. That is what the church is for, to make disciples, to equip them to be disciples of Jesus, and to go into the world and make disciples of Jesus. That is what Jesus did with the twelve disciples, He equipped them, then sent them to do the same thing.
If a church has been around for more than tow or three years should have a list of churches it has planed, missionaries they have sent out. A church that has been around 10, 20 or 30 years that has not planted a church is a dead church. Any church that’s not equipping, sending, and planting churches is not taking Jesus, nor the great commission seriously. It’s not doing its job to equip and send out.
Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa got it right, it is one of the few church in the last four decades that got it, when I was left there in the late 80’s Calvary had planted over 2,000 church around the world. Chuck Smith understood its all about teaching the word (verse by verse), equipping the body and sending them out to reach the lost of the world, planting churches.
If you entered ministry you where expect to Go, no one was to be on staff from more than three years, after that you where expected to Go and plant a church. I went out from Calvary as a missionary with YWAM.
So I have returned to my roots so to say, to the root of Jesus’ mission for His people, His church, to Go, to Go preach the gospel, to make disciples and to baptize, every nation. Every church should be doing that, must be doing that, the church’s very commission by Jesus was all about Going, Making all about Multiplying.
The gospel should so compel us that we are never satisfied to attend the same church every Sunday year after year and set on our pews. As a pastor you should never be satisfied with one church, growing in numbers of pew warmer, people who keep coming year after year to just sit there and admire you. Or with growth coming from transplants from other church, no one getting saved, just other church goers switching brands. You should burn to have a line of people to be baptized every Sunday, see the gospel go forth and soles get saved. That every Sunday there are names to be read of those who are Going, being sent out as missionaries and church planters.
Jesus was passionate about Going, spreading the gospel and so I’m going to be passionate about Going, taking the gospel to the world. And I want to fellowship with those who have the same passion as Jesus. Be part of a church that has the same passion. It was Jesus’ last words on earth.
If the word is being preached and the gospel being proclaimed then naturally the people will be Going into the world, people will be getting saved and therefore churches are being planted.
So now when I meet a pastor, or talk to others I ask, How may churches has your church planting? How many missionaries has it sent out? How many baptisms do they do a week? If the answer is none, my next question is Why Not?
And honestly the way I feel these days is that any church that is not doing those three things should stop calling it self a church, perhaps call it a Christian entertainment center, or Christian Community center, but certainly not a church.
Any church that is not “making disciples of all nations, baptizing them”, “Going into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” why would any follower of Jesus want to be part of it?
364 Days and Acts of Mission, that is for 365 days I will do at lest one act of Mission. Be Missional.
As I mentioned Wednesday when I blogged about my new commitment to doing 365 Days & Acts of Love, that it had brought to mind other things I wanted to do for the next year.
Project two is 364 Days and Acts of Mission, that is for 365 days I will do at lest one act of Mission. That is the mission of Jesus that was passed on to His people, to His church. Living missional as we say, but now with deliberate actions and intent daily just as I am also pursuing deliberate acts of love each day. (read here)
This will be doing things like sharing the gospel with strangers, make disciples, baptizing others, bringing healing to others, planting a church, acts that bring and build the kingdom of God to earth. That spread the gospel to the world.
I am not seeking to add another thing to my schedule, but rather making my existing schedule, life style missional. Everything from eating meals, going to the gym, work, grocery shopping, trip to the library, getting a haircut and playing basketball, will all be done with a missional intent. It is simply looking at what Jesus did and do what He did, looking for what Jesus is doing each day and join Him in it.
Simply put, mission and the gospel will be part of every activity I do, but I will do at least one distinct, intentional, bold act of mission a day, and I will try to blog about one of the acts each day to share with you.
The gospel component can be added in a natural but intentional way as I converse throughout the activities of my day. The mission is simply me living as Jesus did, everything He did and said was to further the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom message of reconciliation and healing to the world. (He said we will do everything He did and “even greater things” John 14:12 I am simply holding Him to His promise)
To sum it up ~ I will do 365 acts of Mission for 365 days of the next year.
The purpose ~ To not just talk about the mission of Christ, but be about doing the mission of Christ.
The goal ~ To live a life on mission that will spread the Kingdom of God and the gospel, the work of Christ on earth and inspire others to live the same.
An estimated 1.5 million evangelical Christians joined Brazil’s annual "March for Jesus" on Monday in Sao Paulp, Brazil, an event sponsored by a church whose leaders recently returned after being imprisoned in the U.S. for money smuggling.
Now in its 17th year, the march unites faithful from hundreds of evangelical churches and attracts dozens of Christian bands, preachers and local celebrities.
It is organized by the powerful Reborn in Christ Church, whose leaders said they had hoped to draw 5 million people to gather around a central Sao Paulo plaza where the main stage was located.
74 percent of Brazilians identify as Catholics, down from 84 percent in 1990. Fifteen percent classified themselves as evangelical Protestants, up from 9 percent in 1990.
"It’s one giant party for Jesus," one participant said, standing among a noisy throng of revelers.
Associated Press writer Bradley Brooks in Rio de Janeiro. read full story here.
I remember the good old days here in America when this type of activity was a regular event, being a child of the 70’s. I remember the Jesus movement well, when thousands of followers of Christ held marches on school campuses, streets, rallies in parks an schools campuses, and filled stadiums. I miss those days when love and passion for Jesus was so white hot, when every follower of Jesus was passionate about sharing Jesus, proclaiming the gospel, and the result was we baptized hundreds at a time. Church where growing so fast we where taking over closed stores and warehouses, sadly today churches are closing, dying off, and I do believe there is a connection. We need to get that fiery hot passion back, for Jesus for the lost.
Photo from Expo 72 in Dallas, TX
The new TV show Flash Forward (ABC Thursdays at 8:00 pm ET) debut last night, with an interesting show plot. If you did not see the first show, the plot is that everyone in the world blacks out at the same time and has a flash forward to their future. And while blacked out they see for two minutes and seventeen seconds, his or her life six months in the future on the same day. What they where doing on that day, what their life was like. And a FBI task force sets out to find out what or who cause it and why it happened.
One of the character points out that everyone was changing how they lived and how they have a different outlook on their lives based on what they saw about their future. People where beginning to change the way the lived, their outlook about life. Those who saw a bad future on that day where now seeking to change that outcome, create a different future for themselves, avoid the for seen event.
And I thought about that, how the author of the book that the show is based on, understood if we could see the future, even a single day, it would effect our life choices now, how we live now. How true that should be fore every follower of Christ, for we have seen the future, not just ours but the future of the all mankind, all of creation. How the story will end as they say.
We followers of Christ have had our own Flash Forward, only we have seen more than two min of the future. We do not know the exact date of events like in the show, they had a time line, we do not, it could be tomorrow, next month or ten years from now.
So my question is has it really changed the way we live compared to those who have not had a Flash Forward, seen the future. Has knowing the future really changed what we live for, what is important in life, what our life priorities are? Do we really live in light of our Flash Forward?
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Mat 3:1-2
That was the message of John the Baptizer, he spent his life going around call on the nation of Israel to repent and be baptized.
In Luke 7:28 Jesus says of John: “I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he."
That was quite a statement for God to say of someone, I know I certainly would love to be such a person that God would say that of me. And John had lived his life doing only two things, declaring repent and be baptized.
Twenty five times Jesus says the same thing in verses like:
From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Mat 4:17
No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Luke 13:3
Jesus makes is very clear that repentance is a requirement for salvation, this is why I believe John was crowed the greatest, because he was doing the most important step need for salvation, repentance.
And in verses like John 8:11 we read what Jesus said to an adulteress woman, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more." To go and sin no more is to repent, we could insert repent, “go and repent” that what repent means, to turn from sin, leave your life of sin.
But yet strangely enough I do not ever here repentance proclaimed in the post modern church today. Never hear a pastor tell people the must repent. Never hear Christian share that necessary step with others.
I believe we need another John the Baptizer, that it is time for God to send another to go about proclaiming His message “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. Someone who will shout repent not only to the world but to the church.
The Harvest Crusades with Greg Laure made history Sunday night, breaking the 4 million mark of persons reached, with 329,572 making a decision for Christ. A 126,000 people filled Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calf., last weekend with thousands more turned away at the gate. More than 4,500 people made decisions for Christ on Sunday, bringing the total number of professions over the three nights to 11,969, that’s 11,969 salvations in 3 days.
And over the last two decades 4,014,968 people have attended the crusades with 329,572 with decisions for Christ on this 20th anniversary weekend of them.
Greg Laure whom is one of my favorites pastors, I have known Greg for nearly 30 years, we go back to my/our days as Calvary Chapel. I set under his teaching for 10 years there, he is so gifted by God, endowed with the gift’s of both preaching and evangelism, I learned much from him. He has such great love and passion for Jesus, for the body of Christ and the lost, a true man of God.
In this day where it has become taboo to preach the gospel, teach the word of God and use words like sin, Hell and repentance. He unashamedly preaches the word of God as it is written, tells people they are lost in their sin and need The only Savor Christ Jesus and they must repent from their sins. And the result is 11,696 decisions for Christ in three days alone, proving the power of the gospel and the word of God.
He is the one model of a pastor – evangelist that everyone whom has such a call should learn from, imitate. Greg’s tag line should be theirs, “I have a Commander-in-Chief called Jesus, and He has commanded me to go into all the world and preach the Gospel.” And Go and do likewise!
Read about the Anaheim crusade here.