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The Permanent Revolution, by Hirsch & Catchim

With by Skye Jethani. - Reimagining the way you relate to God.

Cracking Your Church's Culture Code, by Samuel Chand

The 21 Most Powerful Minutes in a Leader's Day, by John C. Maxwell

The Forgotten Ways Handbook, by Alan Hirsch

The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations, by Brafman & Becksrom

Untamed, by Alan Hirsch

Church 3.0, by Neil Cole

The Shaping of Things to Come, by Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost

Monthly Archives: October 2011

“The Third Chapter of Acts” – almost sounds like the story after the headlines. For me, in the 1970’s, it was the group “2nd Chapter of Acts” that redeemed my musical taste away from Earth Wind & Fire and Fleetwood Mack. It was my personal revival after a three year wandering in the desert while I put off letting God take over. But what happens after the revival, and the excitement is yesterday’s news? We live in a culture that would just as soon wait for the next wave – the next flavor of the month being handed out to us by a god we call “the Market”. The witness of the disciples, on the other hand, goes forward in power…
     The Witness of Healing. The man had made a lifestyle out of dependence on others – sitting at the gateway to the Temple, right where people would be thinking about their relationship and “obligation” to God. A prime spot for begging when so much of the Torah and the Prophets exhorted giving to the poor.
Then comes Peter and John…having no silver or gold (not much giving from those 5,000 new converts?), and instead of money for a bill, they give him power to live differently. They dealt with him decisively: “Fixed his gaze upon him” (characteristic of a deliverance), demanded that he look at them, and commanded “In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, walk!”  Them he “seized him by the hand” and helped him up.
Well, the people immediately wanted to treat Peter and John like rock stars. But I like Peter’s statement, “Why do you gaze at us, as though by our own power and piety we made this man walk?!?” This wasn’t for their entertainment – it was to prove that the REAL God had raised up this guy Jesus, whom they had crucified, and that they needed to,

        “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”  Acts 3:19-20

 Jesus is presented here as the “prophet” who would be the great divider of Israel – those who listened to Him would have life, and those who did not would be destroyed! What impresses me here is that Peter nailed what it was that was keeping them from the “presence of the Lord”, and invited them to turn away from it.
     How often do we do this with others? – Nail the thing that is keeping them from following Jesus Christ and invite them the give it up? We mostly hear about believing in Jesus as something to just add to our other values in life. But I have found that there just isn’t room in my life for walking with Him as a disciple without giving up something, and it’s really not that hard to figure out what God wants me to kick out so that He can have His right place. The first thing for me back in the 70’s was the toxic music. Lately it has been control of money. What is in God’s place in your life that you need to let go of in order to follow the real Messiah? Do it. Turn away from it, and as it says, “…times of refreshing will come from the presence of the Lord.”
NO DOUBT ABOUT IT, this chapter of Acts may seem to be the most exciting one in the book. It covers the outpouring of the Spirit of God on the Church (the 120 that were still around after three years, a crucifixion and resurrection).
So let’s really look more intently at the meaning of what happened: Remember, Jesus told them this would happen in the last chapter, and what the purpose and result would be. “You will receive power…you will be…witnesses…” Keeping this in mind, I notice that there are four different descriptions of what the Holy Spirit did that day – all describing the same event:
  1. Baptized them (Acts 1:5)
  2. Came upon them (Acts 1:8)
  3. Filled them (Acts 2:4)
  4. Poured upon them (Acts 2:17, 2:28)
It’s hard to notice this and still make a big deal (or even a doctrine) out of separating these descriptions. Jesus said the Spirit would come upon them (tongues of fire) and baptize (immerse) them, Luke writes that the Spirit was poured out on them, and filled them. And the result? They became Witnesses! There were Jews from at least 15 countries listed, and they heard “the mighty deeds of God” (verse 11) in their own language. The question they asked in verse 12 was “What does this mean?” So Peter told them.
The reason the “mighty deeds of God” were now being heard in all these languages was because “God has made Him (Jesus) both Lord and Christ”! (verse 36) That’s why. This was a witness to the fact that Jesus is the Messiah – Savior of the world. Peter preaches from the Prophetic Psalms which describe David’s relationship to the coming Messiah – showing (witnessing) that Jesus is the One.
I think that the witness of Scripture is designed by God to help us see our own life in the Story. Our witness (experience) of what God has done in our lives is what the Spirit of God seeks to empower. Who is speaking about these things? Different from teaching doctrine, instructing how to live, the witness of God’s “mighty deeds” in our lives lifts up His authority and worth before others. If we are not witnessing of what we have seen, how do we expect God to show us more? Where is our joy over the true treasure, when we so quickly move on to talk about the latest movie, or news about the Vikings stadium? What we seek, and what we think is worth talking about, that is what we will find! As Jesus said:
“Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?  When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!’ In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”  Luke 15:8-10
Acts 2. It’s about the power of the Spirit of God – to make us Witnesses.
The follow-up workshop for those wanting to be further equipped in spiritual warfare is meeting on Tuesday nights between now and Thanksgiving at the Threshing Floor, 4 Enterprise Commons (behind and next to the John Deere dealer on highway 65, north of Isanti). We meet from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. for an hour of teaching and an hour of application. Please call or e-mail if you would like to join us.  763-221-4760.
A Youtube video of the opening session of the last conference called “Intro to Spiritual Warfare” can be seen by clicking this link:

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Many have taught on the Book of Acts, and I have heard many sermons and studies on it. There is always this tension around it – like an elephant in the room – because when we look at the record of the life of the early Church, it begs the question, “Why aren’t we experiencing these kinds of things in ‘church’ now?”

This is kind of an embarrassing question for leaders. But I think there are a lot of reasons we don’t see what we read about in Acts – everything from our understanding of “church”, to our leadership culture, to a misunderstanding of the Holy Spirit. As I finished reading Acts a few months ago, I sensed the Spirit of God prompting me to go back (yes, I was out running at the time) and work through the meaning of the testimony of Acts for us today. Please feel free to chime in on this at the Facebook Page “Organic Church Movements”

I believe that the first chapter holds a key to understanding the rest of the story – it is in the words of Jesus. Like so many other things about Him and His mission, I think we have over-interpreted Him. He said a simple thing here: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be my witnesses…”  That’s it. No mention of gifts, miracles, signs and wonders – Then I thought, that was His point. The empowering of the Holy Spirit was not for any other reason – TO BE WITNESSES. I thought that if that is the case, everything else from here on should show that to be true.

As I would read on the chapter, even the concern with replacing Judas as an “apostelos” was all about the witnessthe witness of those who had seen the life of the Messiah from His baptism to His resurrection. I don’t think it’s a stretch to put this also next to the last words of Jesus in Matthew to the disciples: to “…make disciples of all nations…teaching them to obey all I have commanded you…”. The appointed task of disciples is to make more disciples – the role of the Holy Spirit’s empowerment is all about being witnesses to the living Jesus Christ.

What I think it means for us today is that our witness of the reality of Jesus’ work in our lives is the most powerful thing we have here. We can change the atmosphere around us by just saying what we have seen Jesus do. Haven’t we all experienced this? Why do you think it is so hard to do? Is the enemy pushing back with all his might to stop the witness of the living Christ? Consider the power that accompanies your testimony – If we want to see what we read about of the early church, we can start here.