Wasting Time Focusing On ‘Things’

“Upon reflection, it seems that many Christians regard salvation, evangelism, peace, power, holiness, joy, service, church practice, ministry, and doctrine as simply divine “things,” all detached from the living person of Christ and made something in and of themselves. But God never gives us spiritual things. He never gives us virtues, gifts, graces, and truths to acquire. Instead, He only gives us His Son. He gives us Christ to be all things for us. Consequently, Jesus Christ is the embodiment of all spiritual things. He is the substance of all divine realities.”

– Pg 302 ” Book – From Eternity To Here, by Frank Viola”

I am currently tracking many people who are pursuing ‘good things’ – that is they strive toward perfection, greatness and achieve much by world standards. I have come to the conclusion we could spend a lifetime striving toward these things and gain greater knowledge and power in the process, never actually getting closer to God. I was challenged by Franks statement, it made me realise that I was still pursuing the ‘fruits of my creator and not the creator himself’.

People, having innovation, discipline and virtues are good, but if we seek for these things and don’t derive them from Christ himself then they will fade away like everything else in this world.

To put it plainly, if we live a Christ-centred life (derive our living water and bread from Him) we will notice an abundance of these ‘things’ coming forth from our lives, and they will be eternal character traits of our creator and wont perish fade away like everything we try to create.

Jesus Christ is; hope (1 Tim. 1:1) peace (Eph. 2:14) wisdom (1 Cor. 1:30) redemption (1 Cot. 1:30) holiness (1 Cor. 1:30) righteousness (I Cor. 1:30). 

Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

life-is

 

One aspect of Church that Im looking forward to seeing pass away!

I recently attended a research symposium and spoke on organic, missional and simple church. During the meal breaks I was speaking to several ministers, and after some probing questions, I was promptly and repetitively referred to as a ‘layman’. I have read endless material on the clergy system and how some denominations think there is a distinct divide between the ministers ‘elite’ and regular folk ‘laymen’, but I had never experienced it first hand until now.

Karl Barth summarises my view well – ‘The term ‘laity’ is one of the worst in the vocabulary of religion and ought to be banished from the Christian conversation’

At the conference, the first minister that said it to me made me chuckle, but when the second used the same term.. I questioned him. “why do you create a distinct separation between yourself and your congregation?” He looked at me with concern, I then explained “the term laymen is sectarian and places a wedge between yourself and the priesthood of all believers, do you truly believe that divide is biblically warranted?”.. lets just say he scuttled away very quietly into the crowd.

Are you a minister/priest/pastor?.. do you truly believe you have authority to tower over the priesthood of all believers possessing higher abilities or powers from God? Today I question your pride and pomp, and hope the following articles can bring some insight into where the nasty doctrinal perspective was birthed.. lets  learn how God intended the Church to function, not bow down to the world and its military-roman style ways.

Here are some links that explain it better than what I can;

http://frankviola.org/2012/07/17/christianleadership/

http://www.churchauthority.org/resources2/mattamclergy-laity.asp

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Ministering to a Foreigner (knowing where God wants you to be) – Acts 8

I was listening to the audio book of Acts and was moved by Philips obedience when the Angel prompted him to step out of his comfort zone and minister to a foreigner on the road to Gaza from Jerusalem.

‘Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” – Acts 8:26-29

Phillip was obedient, he listened  and responded to Gods prompting without questioning. The angel asked Phillip to do a simple task, nothing extraordinary.. just to be obedient and a willing vessel. Phillip run up to the chariot and knew what the angel wanted him to do, share the truth of Christ with the Ethiopian eunuch. The Holy Spirit had prepared the heart of the eunuch while he was reading scripture, Phillip was able to share the good news of Jesus and baptised him immediately.

From this story I gain insight into how God wants us to be obedient to his prompting and respond to his mission. We are commissioned to spread the Good News of Christ and baptise people into his name. The challenge is to pray and understand what God has ahead for us, Listen the the holy spirits prompting,  desire to be used by God and step out in his strength. You may even find yourself encountering captives being set free and seeing people healed! 🙂

‘When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city.’

– Acts 8:6-8

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Expanding your understanding of scripture – a sensory experience!

Typically we isolate understanding scripture to one human sense, God has given us the ability to see, hear, taste, smell and touch and I believe we can understand things deeper by using more than just one of our senses. Quite often we rely on our ministers, preachers and teaches to fullfill our sensory experience through hearing and listening. We all read scripture, but why not listen to it?

Over the last two years I have taken a keen interest in listening to scripture while driving to work and home. I have found a massive change in my understanding of scripture, my ability to focus longer while reading and obsorb more content. I would recommend that if you arnt listening to scripture in some form… your missing out on a fresh experience in Gods Word. His Word is living and real, by listening we can give full attention to what the author is saying helping us to gain a better understanding of its original context and meaning.

It is widely acknowledged that the inspirational Word was spoken and god breathed, many of the New Testament authors utalised the skills of scribes and listening diversifies the readers expression and can add greater insight.

A helpful APP I frequently use on my iphone to deliver audio books is Amazons Audible (www.audible.com)

A rich bible experience I have found extremely helpful is the award winning ‘The Bible Experience: New Testament & Old Testament inspired by the Media Group’ for more info Click Here

‘For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.’ – Isiah 55:10-11

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Lets Try Something Different This Week – Expression

Christians typically make everything too complex, to grand and important, we structure everything, impose rules, create guidelines and policies, we force our opinions on others, we seek for God in places based on our needs and then expect him to show up! This really needs to stop, instead of forcing him to attend our diverse portfolios of services and meetings, lets try and simplify things and invite him in our midst as we gather together. We need to shift our focus away from religiously automated programs and allow ourselves breathing room for the Holy Spirit to attend and work on us.

If your struggling from religious information overload, why not have a break and try a different approach to sharing what God is placing on your heart to equip and encourage others;

1. Gather over a early meal – (maybe a pot luck dinner) break bread together and share what Christ is doing while indulging in a feast, we all love to eat… make an excuse to enjoy some nice food together!

2.  Gather with a purpose – edify God, (truthfully and honestly) encourage and uplift one another, and seek His face in prayer and petition.

3. Gather somewhere different – doing life together requires non-meetings and gathering in different places and circumstances – as the spirit leads! Be sensitive to a place where people would feel comfortable to open up and share their story and life with you. (Note: a shared life community was never intended to just gather on a Sunday! They gathered as often as they could)

4. Gather with Christ in focus – Keep Christ as your focus and allow his spirit to minister to you. (let Christ be your topic and sustenance, don’t shift away from him.. Remember the only way we can approach our heavenly Father in through his Son – Christ Jesus)

Would love to hear how it goes! Sometimes the simplest things in life can prove to be the most important.

Hands and smiling

www.awakeninglife.com.au

Darkness Cannot Hide From The Light

The potence and power of light is a fascinating image. Put simply, when light enters a dark space, darkness has nowhere to hide.. its overcome by overwhelming force and nothing can be done to get away from it. I was driving to work this morning watching creation screaming out Gods glory in the most simpliest way – light. I left home in the dark and watched the awsome power of light reveal everything hidden.

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” – John 8:12 (NLT)

“I [Jesus] have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”- John 12:46 (NIV)

We cannot deny the overwhelming power of light, when Jesus says that ‘He is the light that leads to life’ I start to realise just how dead I was before I met Him. We are all born into sin and darkness, but we have an escape route and it comes through this ‘light’ – that is Christ Jesus. We were once condemned and on the path of destruction (Rom 5:12, 6:23), our hope exists in Christ who brought freedom (Luke 4:18)

If I could challenge you today about your actions, it would be this: Do you hide this Light in your life or let it shine for others to see?

“No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.” – Matt 5:15 (NLT)

If we truely believe in Christ and his light that penetrates all darkness, in His freedom and salvation why do we not share it… people stop allowing darkness to reign, let light do what it was intended to do – Shine, Overwhelm, Consume, Expose, Blind, Reveal, Bring Hope!

Note: Our role is to be the lamp (a willing vessel), the fuel that ignites the flame (Holy Spirit) and the light that comes from it (Christ) is ready for you.

BeamLight

Take A lesson From Peter, We Are All Just As Frail..

We are absolutely frail and weak.. but there is a reason why God is obsessed with loving us, and nothing can separate us from His love.

Today I am reminded of how frail I am, its only when you get to the point of helplessness do you realise that we need real genuine help from God… and only He can give us that saviour. I am now convinced that a man cannot be used by God unless he first lays down his visions, dreams, ideas and desires in front of the cross. When we realise that we cannot achieve anything, that’s when Jesus says ‘you are now ready to let Me work through you’. (Gal 2:20, Rom 8:38-40, 2 Cor5:20-21, 2Cor 2:14-17, Phil 4:13, 2 Cor 12:9)

Frank recalls the story of Peter clearly below;

Recall Peter, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus. His former name was Simon Peter. This man earned a PhD in failure. Among all of the Lord’s apostles, Peter had shown himself to be faulty clay. He was a very marred vessel just like the rest of us. Despite this fact, when Jesus called Simon to be His disciple, He renamed him “Peter,” which means rock. More specifically, it means little stone.

Near the end of his life, Peter had a revelation that he and every other Christian were stones designed to be the building blocks for God’s house. He writes, “You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5 nkjv). Peter understood God’s dream. He understood that God’s eternal quest was to have a house through which to express Himself.

Like the rest of us, Peter began his spiritual journey as a fragile piece of clay. Then God put him into the refining fire and turned up the pressure and heat. Peter was then transformed into a precious stone for the Lord’s house. At the end of the story line, Peter becomes one of the precious stones that make up the foundation for the new Jerusalem. (Rev 21:14,19)’ – [From Eternity To Here Pg 219]

I hope today you can get on your knees and pray this:

“Jesus without you I am nothing, but with you, in Your Name all things are possible. Lord I am weak, if I continue to do things in my own strength I cannot succeed, and I realise this. Today I ask that you transform me from the inside, you make me realise the power of victory that came when you defeated death. In you all things in heaven and on earth shout your Glory, may the Holy Spirit reveal these truths to me. Renew a right spirit in me and speak to me your living word and may I receive this peace that’s transcends all my understanding.”

Strength and Weakness

Awakening In Our Gatherings – Hunter Valley NSW

In 2010 my wife and I did a hard-nosed examination of what the New Testament taught about the practice of the church. The result? The Lord threw the circuit breaker on all my religious activities. My spiritual life came to a screeching halt. And I concluded that the only way forward was to go back a step or two. I also discovered that the off-ramp wasn’t terribly hard to find for those who wished to take it.

So we began meeting with a group of Christians of like mind outside of organized religion. We quickly discovered that we were on a pretty steep learning curve. We came to learn that many of our modern-day church practices were rooted in connecting dots that the New Testament authors themselves never connected. This led us to begin knocking on the door of the “knowing Christ” that Paul so frequently spoke about in his letters. Having to learn and seek Him in Gods Word in a way we never had before.

For several long years we have been on this journey and today we are so different because of it. We are longing to gather in a Every-Member functioning community where Christ is truthfully the Head of all we do as we are built together.

We discovered what the cross was in the process and it gave NEW LIFE to what being a Christian meant.

The cross is the instrument of death. It’s the principle whereby we lay down our own life in order that the Lord’s life may be expressed. The cross means death to self (Matt. 16:24; Mark 8:34–35; Luke 9:23–24). It means death to our ambitions, our preferences, our agendas, our opinions, our desires, and our wishes. For what reason? So that Jesus Christ can have His preference, His agenda, His opinion, and His desire. Body life is built on the principle of the cross. It is built on the resolute decision to live by the Lord’s own words: “Not My will, but Yours be done.”

Paraphrased and altered to coincide with our experiences.. extract from ‘Eternity To Here – Frank Viola Pg 218’

I want to hear from you if this stirs you.. its so important!

ChangesAhead

The Central Theme Of The Books Of Acts

Much debate has taken place about the central theme of the book of Acts. Some have argued that it’s a record of the Acts of the Apostles. Others have argued that it’s a record of the acts of the Holy Spirit. Still others have argued that it’s a defence of Paul’s ministry.

Each argument can be cleverly supported. But rather than being broken on this stone of stumbling, I wish to point out that Luke himself tells us what the book of Acts is all about. The theme appears in his opening words:

The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach. (Acts 1:1 nasb)

In order to understand the above sentence, we need to compare it with the opening statement of the gospel of Luke.

Since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. (Luke 1:3–4)

Luke was the hand behind the gospel that bears his name as well as the book of Acts. Both books were addressed to a prominent man named Theophilus. The gospel of Luke and the book of Acts are twin volumes. They are two parts of the same story. The gospel of Luke is a record of what Jesus Christ “began to do and to teach” (Acts 1:1). It’s a record of the beginning of Christ’s life and ministry on earth.

The book of Acts is a record of the continuation of Christ’s life and ministry on earth through His body. As John the apostle said, as Jesus was in this world, so now is the church (1 John 4:17).

Throughout Acts, we see Jesus Christ preaching the gospel, reaching out to the Gentiles, and raising up corporate expressions of Himself throughout the Roman Empire. Let’s look at some specific examples and let Scripture speak for itself.

Continue Reading in ‘From Eternity To Here’ – by Frank Viola – Pages 239-240

Acts_cover

A Creature From A Different Realm – A New Species Part 1

Imagine for a moment that a creature from another universe invades planet earth. This being is male, but he is profoundly different from us earthlings. He is neither Jew nor Gentile. He is altogether “other.” He is a unique creation from a unique world. He is, if you please, a new species.

As this creature enters into adulthood, he begins to teach the principles that govern his world. These principles operate on a higher plane than those that govern our world. He also demonstrates these principles in visible action.

He is directed by a voice from another realm, the realm from which he came. He has the capacity to receive two forms of nourishment: one human and another that comes from his own world.

Again and again, this creature mystifies and perplexes those who observe him. No one can quite figure him out. His message is deeply challenging. It flies in the face of all cherished tradition – political, social, and religious. It confronts the status quo.

More surprising, he becomes the champion of outcasts, some of whom are notorious. He gravitates toward the marginalized, the poor, the oppressed, and the downtrodden—the “scum of the earth.”

His message is scandalously inclusive. It excludes no one, except for those who resist its radical inclusivity.

His revolutionary message and behavior quickly furnish him with enemies. This creature is a threat to the wealthy, to the powerful, and mostly, to the religious. His enemies stand in line to try and trap him with his own words. They seek to put him into a box of their own making. He, however, refuses to be put into anyone’s box. 

With unbroken consistency, he transcends the boxes erected by mere mortals. His thoughts are unique. His ways are uncommon. He is completely “other” than fallen humanity, on every level.

One of the centerpieces of this creature’s message is that he is not native to planet earth. Instead, he has been sent  from another realm.

But more startling, he proclaims that he has come to establish his rulership on planet earth. Specifically, he has been sent to establish a colony of his own kind that will represent his rule.

And that colony On the heels of this alarming message, he issues a call to action. He invites all earthlings to abandon their way of life, and instead, embrace his way. He beckons them to yield their lives to his rulership and to shape their conduct by the principles that regulate his world. In short, he demands that all humans pay complete allegiance to his kingship. What happens next is as strange as it is shocking. He announces that he will suddenly leave the planet and return in a different form.

And when he returns, he will impart his own nature into those who wish to have it. The result? He shall reintroduce his own species on planet earth. Those who submit to him will become part of his species, citizens of his world, and they, along with him, will eventually rule the universe. for only three days.

Does this story sound at all familiar to you? It should.  Because the story of Jesus Christ and God’s ultimate purpose in Him.

What grips you from this story?

Extract From ‘Eternity To Here’ – Frank Viola – Pages 223-225

Creaturebeyond

Reflecting on Worship – “In Spirit and In Truth”

Well its good to be back! It feels like its been too long since I have had time to sit down and share with you all.

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” – John 4:23-24

The Holy Spirit in me searched the meaning to this verse and I have discovered a depth to it that has brought conviction to my core. When I ponder the word ‘worship’, I usually think of a 1 hour session in church on a sunday.. or the latest hit just released by Hillsong. The fact that we have mixed ideas about ‘worship’, reflects on our diverse ways we seek Gods face and return to Him the Glory He deserves.

What if, our preconcieved ideas and perception of worship.. were all wrong? What if Gods Word says one thing and our default was the do the opposite..?

I was deeply challenged when I realised that worshiping God demands absolute Truth, a kind of ‘Spritual Truth’ that I had not considered before attempting any form of worship before. When I sat back and thought about the usual worship service on a sunday, or the quetimes I have been devoting to God, I realised that on many occassions I had NOT been absolutely Truthful and honest to Him. The Holy Spirit convicted me to be more truthful in my weakness, and not to be afraid to be seen needing Him.

Know that your default sinful nature says wants you to approach God in worship being full of shame, doubt and undeservingfear. If we realise that we are weak, be honest today when you chat to God and he will attend to your every need. Allow the Holy Spirit to identify where you have not been truthful, and allow Christ to minister to you in your weakness.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me”. – 2 Corinithians 12:9

Honest

 

Simple.. Just Share Jesus Without Fear

Over the last few weeks we have been trained in the T4T process by Grant. T4T is basically a biblical process that enables you, with Gods Word and the Holy Spirit, to be an effective embassador for the Kingdom Of God.

To give you a taste here is a basic way to share the gospel message;

Let God’s Word speak.

a. Mark these verses beforehand in your Bible.

b. Ask your friend to read each verse aloud.

c. After they have read a verse ask, “What does this say to you?” Listen to the person.

• John 3:16

• Romans 3:23

• Romans 6:23

• Romans 5:8

• Romans 10:9

d. If your friend interprets a passage incorrectly, don’t argue or offer your interpretation, but ask him to read it again, and then explain your take on it a second time.

Check understanding by asking:

• Are you a sinner?

• Do you want forgiveness for your sin?

• Do you believe that Jesus died on the cross for you and rose again?

• Are you willing to surrender your life to Christ?

• Are you ready to invite Jesus into your heart and into your life?

If they do want to know Christ and make the decision go here http://whatsnextkit.tv/

This was taken from a resources provided by Grant on behalf of http://www.movenetwork.org/

For further informationcontact us here

From the Old Testament ‘With Us’ to New Testament ‘In Us’

There is a subtle but critical prepositional change from the Old Testament to the New Testament. In the OT is says ‘God with us’ but in the NT it shifts to ‘God in us’

Jesus says it’s better for you if I go, because while ‘God with us’ is good, ‘God in you’ is better! Jesus could be with His followers, but now He could be IN his followers.

Some people I know have made the statements, “wouldn’t it have been great to hear Gods audible voice like that of Moses and Elijah in the Old Testament scriptures?” The funny thing I don’t think we should limit Gods greatness to that, but understand truly what has changed. I think the wonderful things God did was to give us His counsellor and His ambassador – The Holy Spirit. For we no longer need to imagine just hearing His voice, we now have him dwelling ‘in us’ and living through our lives. For those who believe in Christ this has become a reality.

Acts 1 documents the Holy Spirit now dwelling in his followers and becoming spirit filled followers. They no longer need to rely on their own strength and abilities but can now achieve all things through and In Christ. In Acts 4:7 we see people amazed by the transformation occurring in these spirit filled believers, unschooled ordinary people taking the gospel of Christ into the world.

Grasping this subtle yet critical change determines how you live – “For it is no longer I but Christ who lives in me”

Romans 8:11 powerfully illustrates the magnitude of the Holy Spirits power  – knowing that the same spirit who raised Christ from the dead, now lives in you.

 

Reflection from ‘Not A Fan’ – http://www.notafan.com.au/index.php