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READING LIST

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

Yearly Archives: 2014

Since 2009 we have been on an intentional journey to learn what Jesus desires His Church to be. In the process we have faced a need for change in leadership, language, and lifestyle. Leadership, because we had to embrace the walk of service to the Bride instead of entertaining Her; Language, becuase words carry meaning from history, so that new direction needs new dialogue; and Lifestyle because in the end our message is spoken by what we do – each of us, every moment of every day. We noticed that lifestyle is mostly guided by deeper beliefs, not conscious choice – So in our walk as disciples we have dug deeper in our closest relationships to let the Holy Spirit work on our hearts.

When we got to the challenge of staying engaged with our community outside of our Fellowship, we found that the connections God creates day to day are truly divine appointments, and that living “missionally” has nothing to do with programs. We are being read by others constantly. We are seeing right now the result of what dozens of others were reading in the life of a young man named Nick who let others know about his love for Jesus. When his life reached the finish line before anyone expected, his friends were affected. They were drawn to, and for some, drawn back to, following the Wild Messiah. How do we allow Jesus to be preached by our lives so that when we speak, and work, and “serve”, and hang out at home, the voice of God is sensed again saying, “This is My Son…”? (Matt. 3:17, Luke 3:22, 9:35)  I remember in all of this that it was God who did Pentecost; it was God who gave Steven the grace to forgive people as they were stoning him. These were the points at which the true God was revealed in unplanned events (at least by people). We are all along for the ride. It’s how we ride that proves the presence of Jesus.

We have a sign up in our house that says, “Live well ~ Laugh Often ~ Love much”. I think I like it because it describes what I think of when I read Jesus’ words, “I have come that you may life, and have it to the full.” If He came to give us this, then living this way is good way to “preach” His presence. Then all that is left to do is tell others where it come from.

I recently was directed to an article by Rachel Naomi Remen that had some powerful insights on “helping” and “serving”.  While it might redefine some common terms we use, I wonder if this isn’t often what we really mean when we use these terms – See what you think…

“In recent years the question “How can I help?” has become meaningful to many people. But perhaps there is a deeper question we might consider. Perhaps the real question is not “How can I help?” But “How can I serve?”

Serving is different from helping. Helping is based on inequality; it is not a relationship between equals. When you help you use your own strength to help those of lesser strength. If I’m attentive to what is going on inside of me when I’m helping, I find that I’m always helping someone who is not as strong as I am, who is needier than I am. People feel this inequality. When we help we may inadvertently take away from people more than we could ever give them; we may diminish their self-esteem, their sense of worth, integrity and wholeness. When I help I am very aware of my own strength. But we don’t serve with our strength, we serve with ourselves. We draw from all of our experiences. Our limitations serve, our wounds serve, even our darkness can serve. The wholeness in us serves the wholeness in others and the wholeness in life. The wholeness in you is the same as the wholeness in me. Service is a relationship between equals.

Helping incurs debt. When you help someone they owe you one. But serving, like healing is mutual. There is no debt. I am as served as the person that I am serving. When I help I have a feeling of satisfaction.  When I serve I have a feeling of gratitude. These are very different things.

Serving is also different from fixing. When I fix a person I perceive them as broken, and their brokeness requires me to act. When I serve I see and trust that wholeness. It is what I am responding to and collaborating with.

There is distance between ourselves and whatever or whomever we are fixing. Fixing is a form of judgment. All judgment creates distance, a disconnection, an experience of difference. In fixing there is an inequality of expertise that can easily become a moral distance. We cannot serve at a distance. We can only serve that to which we are profoundly connected, that which we are willing to touch. This is Mother Teresa’s basic message. We serve life not because it is broken but because it is holy.

If helping is an experience of strength, fixing is an experience of mastery and expertise. Service, on the other hand, is an experience of mystery, surrender, and awe. A fixer has the illusion of being casual. A server knows that he or she is being used and has a willingness to be used in the service of something greater, something essentially unknown. Fixing and helping are very personal; they are very particular, concrete and specific. We fix and help many different things in our lifetimes, but when we serve we are always serving the same thing. Everyone who has ever served through the history of time serves the same thing. We are servers of the wholeness and mystery in life.

The bottom line, of course, is that we can fix without serving. And we can help without serving. And we can serve without fixing or helping. I think I would go so far as to say that fixing and helping may often be the work of
the ego and service is the work of the soul. They may look similar if you’re watching from the outside, but the inner experience is different. The outcome is often different too.

Our service serves us as well as others. That which uses us strengthens us. Over time, fixing and helping are draining, depleting. Over time we burn out. Service is renewing. When we serve, our work itself will sustain us.

Service rests on the basic premise that the nature of life is sacred, that life is a holy mystery, which has an unknown purpose. When we serve, we know that we belong to life and to that purpose. Fundamentally, helping, fixing, and service are ways of seeing life. When you help you see life as weak, when you fix, you see life as broken. When you serve, you see life as whole. From the perspective of service, we are all connected. All suffering is like my suffering and all joy is like my joy. The impulse to serve emerges naturally and inevitably from this way of seeing.

Lastly, fixing and helping is the basis of curing, but not of healing. In 40 years of chronic illness I have been helped by many people and fixed by a great many others who did not recognize my wholeness. All that fixing and helping left me wounded in some important and fundamental ways. Only service heals.”

God’s has a basic pattern for creating:     Typically from a  centrifuge…”

galaxy (2)

     

     

   

   

   

   

 

As we have become students of the formation of the Church body in God’s Kingdom, we have noticed how the work of the Spirit begins with a manifestation of God’s power, then spreads through that which was created by that manifestation – all that comes out of it being shaped and empowered by the ground zero event.

 The Five Rhythms are expressions of this process – The manifesting of God’s power creates a community of all who witnessed it, who then form more close-knit groups, each of whom support the individuals whose lives were transformed in meaning, purpose, and destination. The order created accomplishes its work, down to each individual “body” which lives in the gravitational pull of the system created by the one, “ground-zero event”.

 This event is thereafter repeated in each “spin-off system” – an echo of the original creative power of God. These are what we refer to as Revivals, or Awakenings. They occur at a wide variety of magnitudes – from individuals, to communities, to global.

It was in reading a new book I picked up called “Influencer” that my understanding of discipleship was actually reborn. I have referred to discipleship often, and tugged on what it is, and what it looks like for the past 35 years  In reading this book, I stumbled onto what I think is the heart and soul of discipleship as defined by the life of Jesus. First, I should review what I have thought it to be in the past – making clear that, at its core, I DON’T believe it is any of these things:

  • it is not about meeting
  • it is not friendship, as we know it
  • it is not a class where we get information
  • it is not mentoring someone according to a specific agenda

What I do see, after being challenged to go back and look at the Testimony we have of Jesus, the great disciple-maker, is that everything He did had one purpose: The success of His disciples – and not narrowly defined, but based upon what THEY needed to be successful. It was the same heart that told Peter to “throw your net on the other side..”, as also warned him about being “sifted” by Satan, and encouraged him to “strengthen the brothers”, not if you are restored, but when. In the end, His going to the cross was not His agenda, but necessary for OUR success with God. He asked that it not have to be, but accepted it as the ONLY solution.

We live in a culture that promotes investing in and shaping others lives only if it meets our goals, or what we have in mind for people. It is ultimately centered around our limited understanding of what people need. But not until we are willing to take responsibility for the success of others, as defined by them, are we truly discipling as Jesus did.  I beleive that this is an essential part of the irresistable love of Christ that has the power to change our world. Who could say “No” to someone truly committed to his or her personal succes? May we abandon our control-based, self-centered notions of discipleship, and embrace the way of Jesus in committing to the success of just a few other people in our lives.

Last Saturday, Duane hosted our weekly Journey gathering for the first time – at his Mom’s house. For Duane, his mom, his sister Cheryl and me, there was a special memory in that place. As we hung out in the living room, I spotted an old Bible with especially large print. Written on the cover of that Bible was the name “Wink”. I knew it was a name, because I knew Wink.

Just a few years ago I had been invited to bring the Word at Maple Ridge Church. It was communion Sunday, so as part of the message, I asked if those who were coming up understood what communion meant. After sharing from Scripture how in sharing the bread and cup we “proclaim His death” until He comes again, and I asked if everyone had received Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Several of the youth were unsure, but wanted to pray – and there before the bread and cup those young people committed their lives to Christ. That was followed by receiving the bread and cup with meaning for the first time.

After the services was over, an elderly gentleman waved me over to him where he was in the pew. He asked if I would come visit him at his home that afternoon, and I said I would. This was Wink – Elenore’s husband and Duane’s step-dad. He was of Catholic background, and felt very unsure if he could be saved, since his divorce many years ago had resulted in him being rejected by his church. It was with great joy that I shared with him and proclaimed the salvation by faith message of Scripture from Romans, and from the words of Jesus Himself. Wink prayed in his kitchen – with grateful tears – trusting in the blood of Christ to settle all accounts…finally. A great peace came over him – and a light shown in his smile.

Last Saturday was my first time back in that kitchen, and to think of how Wink had settled things with the Lord a matter of months before he crossed his “finish line” and went home to be with his Savior gave me such a grateful heart that afternoon. I thought, “God has an amazing sense of timing”.

We are getting serious about the spiritual battle of guarding space to hear the voice of God in our gatherings. We have tried to say “let’s get together for prayer before the meeting…” and had every intention of doing this, only to see distractions and competing demands break it up. Today we see that this is not a casual matter of logistics – There truly is a war against the potential of a praying group of believers who guard time to hear from the Spirit of God. As it was in the days leading up to Pentecost, and the days following, the gathering of the Body to pray will result in the room (and the world around us) being shaken in a way that others will demand an explanation – and will find that we don’t need to “market” the gospel.

We are done being casual about prayer. If it seems easy, and we are not seeing the world around us changed, then maybe we are just repeating words that sound good rather than engaging in a conversation with the living God. After all, there never was a “plan B” for Christ followers aside from being led by the Spirit of God. (Romans 8:14) If we are not perceiving the leading of God, we are have no way to really follow Him except to emulate what His followers used to do. Is not the definition of prayer to have heard from God? Jesus said that no one could come to Him unless the Father drew him, and that everyone who hears from the Father comes to Him. It’s the way we begin the way of eternal life, and it is also the way we are to live it.

Leonard Ravenhill once said, “Some Day Someone is going to pick up this book (The Bible) and believe it, and put us all to shame.”  Why wait for someone else to do this?

Jesus has always attracted attention – and attenders; But he calls disciples. The Church that Jesus has been building is not made up of attenders, graduates, or the water baptized…but rather the ones He calls “disciples” – His friends. (John 15) They are those who have accepted both His death, and His life (Luke 4:27).

It is for this reason that Mission-link was formed in February 2009. The vision was for a reformation movement dedicated to renovating of our paradigm of church. It began without a Sunday Service, and met in homes. There was teaching on the basics, but more than anything, there was established a core of disciples, and “Rhythms” of followership with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Worship        >           Kinship         >          Friendship         >          Fellowship         >         Leadership

We learned these from studying the life of our Savior, the way He walked out these rhythms, and the things He taught us about following Him:

1 John 2:5-6 “By this we know that we are in Him: 6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.”  And,

John 13:35 “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

We learned that “eternal life” was not a reward for praying correctly, but that according to Jesus is meant to actually “know God, and the One He has sent.” (John 17:3)

We found that being a follower of Jesus was costly, and seemed easy to start, but not so easy to finish. So we reminded ourselves of what we learned with a saying:

“Know God, Love People, Don’t Give Up”

Having begun with first things first, our vision is shifting to the missional, public ministry of Jesus – the rhythms that interfaced with a lost world, and facilitated a connection with those outside of the circle of disciples. We know that Jesus engaged on a regular basis in “public narrative” – establishing a way of telling the story about life and God, that generally flipped peoples understanding on its head. (We might call this “head flipping”)

Having built a culture of “simple church”, in which the church cannot be connected to a particular building, we recognized that this rhythm would certainly have been misunderstood had it been the first thing we did. So, we are listening for the leading of the Spirit as to how to walk this out. We already have an opportunity to do this monthly at our larger Gatherings, but we are listening for the Spirit’s input through others about what the heart of God is on this.