Friday, November 9, 2012


As we begin this journey of church planting together I can already hear the first excuses that many of you are throwing out on why you could never be a church planter.  The excuse goes something like this:

"I could never be a church planter because I have no training, ability or idea on how to
 lead or administrate such a complex organization like a church!"

If that is your reason for not starting a church chances are you probably were raised in a church where there was a budget, committees, business meetings, deacon and/or elder meetings, programs up the , wazoo staff to manage, buildings to build or maintain and lots of conflict management to deal with within the membership.  And if that is your idea of church you are probably right that you are not qualified to start that kind of church. 

But listen to me carefully, I tell you the truth and I have some really GOOD NEWS to give you!  THE CHURCH OF THE NEW TESTAMENT DIDN'T LOOK OR SOUND ANYTHING LIKE THAT!  The structure of the New Testament church was so simple that any Follower of Christ could start a new church body.  While there are some character issues that must be taken into consideration when selecting a person to be an Elder of the church the only leadership/management qualification is found in 1 Timothy 3:4,5:

"He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, 
how will he take care of the church of God?"

When it comes to LEADERSHIP ABILITY in evaluating whether a person can start a new church the only question needed to be asked is:

 "How well do they lead their family?"

If a person can lead their family well then they have the leadership skills necessary to start a lead a church according to the Bible.  

However, if that is going to be practical in the 21st Century of North America we are going to have to change our image of what a church is to look like.  We will need to change your conception of church from being some major corporation that requires a CEO to run it, to a image of the church being more closely akin to a family unit that have spiritual parents guiding others to maturity.  We are going to need to move from a 21 Century image of the church to more of a 1st Century image of church.  

In other words we are going to need to develop a more Biblical image 
of what the church is to look like.   

That's right I did say, "A More Biblical Image".  The church image that characterizes the North American landscape resembles very little to what the New Testament church looked like and in many instances acted like.  For starters the church for the first 300 years of its existence never owned any property and never had any building used exclusively for religious services.  The Apostle Paul in Acts 20:20 reminds the church in Ephesus that he did not shrink from declaring to them anything but taught them publicly and from house to house.  In the New Testament there was public teaching which usually happened in an outdoor public location or in a building that the apostle was able to congregate people together but its main use was other than for religious.  But the main teaching and instruction took place in homes that met throughout the week in different locations.  An interesting note to consider is that once the church started experiencing persecution public teaching became less freqeuant and house church became more common.  So let me share with you what the best Biblical image of the church looks like from my point of view:

The New Testament Church was a group of 15 to 30  Christ Followers meeting in a home at least weekly but very possibly more often and then occasionally when it was safe and as the need 
arose gather in some public area with other house churches for a 
larger expression of their faith.

So now let me ask you!  Don't you think, as a Fully Devoted Follower of Christ, that you can gather 15 to maybe 30 other people in a home to help them grow in their faith, meet each others needs, pray for God's to provide His  power, presence and provision, and worship God? Don't you think that you can love and help spiritually mature 15 to 30 people?  No budgets, no committees, no staff, no salaries.  Just you and possibly another leader with 15 to 30 people living out your faith together as the Family of God.  Can't you see yourself doing that?  I CAN AND I PRAY YOU WILL ALSO!

In the blogs that follow we will be discussing exactly how to gather those 15 to 30 people and what you actually do when the church meets in your home.  But for now just start rethinking what the church looks like.  

HERE'S YOUR HOMEWORK:   Read through the entire Book of Acts two to three times.  As you read take mental notes each time that the church is meeting in a house or how people along with their entire household comes to faith in a home.  READ IT VIEWING THE CHURCH AS A HOUSE CHURCH!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


"By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith."  Hebrews 11:7 (NIV)

Here in the New International Version it uses the phrase, "holy fear" but in the New American Standard Version it uses the word, "reverence".  Here we see Noah receiving a warning from God that he was going to destroy the world by a flood but will save Noah and his family if he builds an ark.  So what does Noah do?  Motivated by Holy Fear or Reverence for God Noah builds the ark!  So from this we learn that:

Faith Is Being Obedient To God Out Of Holy Reverential Fear!

Noah's motivation for building this ark was not because he wanted to do something that no one else had done!  It was not because he wanted to show God that he was worthy of being saved!  It was not because he had been sitting around and had nothing better to do!  No!  Noah built that ark because he knew that God was Holy and Righteous, that God was tired of this sinful world and that God would do exactly what he said he would do and that God wasn't playing around.  And that understanding brought

Holy Fear Into Noah's Life That Caused Him To Obey!

You see faith is believing that God will do exactly what he said he would do.  Do we really believe that Christ is coming back one day to judge the living and the dead?  Do we really believe that Christ when he returns will destroy the world by fire? Do we really believe that those who don't repent from their sinful life and turn to Christ as Lord and master will spend an eternity in hell?  If we truly do believe those things doesn't that belief cause you to take pause and fell you with a Holy Reverence for God?  

And if we truly do believe those things shouldn't that Holy Fear cause us to act in obedience to fulfill the mission that Christ has given us of making disciples of all peoples.  I mean if we truly believe that Christ is going to do these things and in the mean time has given us this important task to accomplish should we have the same kind of faith that Noah had that fills us with Holy Fear and grips us with Reverence?  I think it should!

In Galatians 6:9 it says,

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (NIV)

So out of Holy Fear let's not grow tired, 
let's not grow weary, let's not give up!

In Holy Fear let's press on with the mission of making 
disciples for Christ of all people.

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"Good, Better, Best
Never let it rest, 
until your good is better 
and your better is best"

This was a poem that my high school football coach had us recite everyday at practice.  For two straight seasons, everyday during practice I recited those words.  They sunk deep into the fabric of my soul and help shaped the person that I am today.  It is a poem about not compromising, not being content and not settle for anything less than the best.  Maybe this was one of the reason that every year our football was a contender for the championship and where we actually did win the championship for two straight years!  The culture of our team was that we would never settle for just being good or for just getting better.  It was our aim and goal to be the best.  And we knew that being the best, or at least the best we could be, would not come easy but would require discipline, sacrifice and lots of hard work.  To be honest with you there were days during our practice I didn't feel I would make it through.  My coach stretched us farther than I ever thought possible.  He got doing things that seemed impossible.  But for Coach Bill Marsh the impossible was what he expected and required.  The land of impossibility was where Coach Marsh lived and thrived. When other coaches said it couldn't be done Coach Marsh not only did it but did with excellence.

Today I follow a new coach!  But like Coach Marsh this new coach also lives in the land of impossibilities and everyday he takes the lives that others have thrown away deeming as worthless and transforms them into great men and women of God.  And he is challenging, no he is demanding,  his team to not settle for anything less than the best and to move forward to victory.  My new coach is named Jesus Christ and he has us involved in a new game, it's the game of eternal life.  He demands of us our very best and total surrender.  And I can hear my new coach reminding me of what my earthly coach taught me:

Good, Better, Best
Never let it rest,
Until your good is better,
And your better is best.

Let us not grow weary in the game of eternal life! Let us not comprise or give up! Let's fight the good fight and let us finish the race and let us never settle for just good or better but let us press on to the goal of the BEST!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


So what exactly is faith?  I mean we have all heard the Biblical definition of faith from Hebrews 11:1,

"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance 
about what we do not see."  

And I would agree that this is by far the most meaningful and beneficial definition that any person can hold to.  But in order to help us begin to view Biblical faith in God differently but in total agreement with what Hebrews says I would like to offer the following:

Faith Is Following God's Instructions Even 
When It Doesn't Make Sense!
"By faith, Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going."  Hebrews 11:8
Can you imagine that conversation between Abraham and God?  Think about it for a second and imagine with me if you would how that conversation went:

God, 'Abraham.' Abraham, 'Yes God I'm listening.'   God, 'Abraham I want to pack up your bags and get ready to move.'  Abraham, 'O.k. God, sure. When will I be leaving?'  God, 'I'll tell when it's time to leave but for now just make sure that you, your family and all your servants are packed and ready to go when I tell you.' Abraham, 'Sure God if you say so. That's no problem.  So where exactly are we going?'  God, 'That's not for you to know right now but once I tell you to leave I will also tell you what direction to go and when you get there.'  Abraham, 'Well I guess that's alright.  How long will it take for us to get there?'  God, 'Not for you to know.  You just keep on going until I tell you to stop.'  Abraham, 'Well if you say so I guess I can do that but let me make sure I understand you clearly. You want me, my family and all of my servants to pack up and get ready to relocate to a place that's an unknown destination, I'm not sure when we will be leaving exactly and I don't know how long it will take to get there.  Is that correct God?'  God, "Yes that's exactly correct. Do you have a problem with that?'  Abraham, 'No, not at all. I was just checking."

So let me ask you from our human perspective does it make a bit of sense to pack for a journey that you are going to take at some unknown point in your life, to go on that journey without any idea how long it will take to get there and without any map or instructions on how to get there?


But that's faith in God.  He tells us to do something but it doesn't make a bit of sense to us but we do it anyhow!  Why? Because we trust God and we trust that he can do anything even if it doesn't make sense to us.

I don't think that it made a bit of sense to Gideon to engage in a battle with his enemy numbering 10,000 soldiers when his army army had been downsized by God to only 300 men.
"So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the Lord told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues as a dog laps from those who kneel down to drink.” Three hundred of them drank from cupped hands, lapping like dogs. All the rest got down on their knees to drink. The Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.” So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites home but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others.Now the camp of Midian lay below him in the valley. During that night the Lord said to Gideon, “Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands.If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp.” So he and Purah his servant went down to the outposts of the camp. The Midianites, the Amalekites and all the other eastern peoples had settled in the valley, thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore. Gideon arrived just as a man was telling a friend his dream. “I had a dream,” he was saying. “A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp. It struck the tent with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed.” His friend responded, “This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash,the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands.” When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he bowed down and worshiped. He returned to the camp of Israel and called out, “Get up! The Lord has given the Midianite camp into your hands.” Dividing the three hundred men into three companies, he placed trumpets and empty jars in the hands of all of them, with torches inside. “Watch me,” he told them. “Follow my lead. When I get to the edge of the camp, do exactly as I do. When I and all who are with me blow our trumpets, then from all around the camp blow yours and shout, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon.’ Gideon and the hundred men with him reached the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just after they had changed the guard. They blew their trumpets and broke the jars that were in their hands. The three companies blew the trumpets and smashed the jars. Grasping the torches in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets they were to blow, they shouted, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” While each man held his position around the camp, all the Midianites ran, crying out as they fled. When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the Lord caused the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords. The army fled to Beth Shittah toward Zererah as far as the border of Abel Meholah near Tabbath. Israelites from Naphtali, Asher and all Manasseh were called out, and they pursued the Midianites. Gideon sent messengers throughout the hill country of Ephraim, saying, “Come down against the Midianites and seize the waters of the Jordan ahead of them as far as Beth Barah.”  Judges 7:5-24 (NIV)

Really does that make any human sense?  Does it make sense to downsize your army to 300 men and tell them to shout, blow horns and reveal some light from lamps that each man was holding and then as a result then enemy would run around and kill themselves.  Not unless it's God who is doing it.

You see Gideon had faith in God just like Abraham to believe that God would do exactly what he said he would do even when what he said doesn't make a bit of sense from our earthly experience.

So how well are you following God's instructions?  Do you ever get a word from the Lord and then try to redefine it because what you understood from God doesn't make sense?  Why do you think that God gives us instruction that don't make sense and shouldn't work at all?  Why?

Because God is doing something that will prove that he really does exist and can do anything!  That's why!

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CHARACTERISTICS OF A MISSIONAL LIFE! What Kind Of Life Does God Want Us To Live? Part 2

"Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary?  Who may live on your holy hill?  He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman, who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the Lord, who keeps his oath even when it hurts,
who lends his money without usury and does not accept a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken." Psalm 15 (NIV)

Now we are moving to the second characteristic of the missional life that God want to be evident in the life of his disciples.  That second point is:

He Does The Right Things!

Many Bible scholars have described this as a person who has HONEST & STRAIGHT FORWARD DEALINGS!  It is a person who is ETHICALLY RIGHT!

This is a person who is so honest and trustworthy that he might sincerely tell someone whom he is doing business with that:

"My word is my bond!"

He is truly an honest person and never has as his intent to deceive another.  He is the kind of person one can count on, believe, trust and have no doubt of deception.

Jesus described Nathaniel as that kind of person when he said, "Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false."  John 1:43-51.  When the writer of this Psalm used this description he was talking about a person that you never would have to guess what they were thinking or feeling and most importantly would never have to guess what they were going to do!  Why? Because they were the type of person who would behave in the most ethical manner.  They were going to do the right thing regardless of personal harm.

This kind of person reminds me of the old Cowboy movies from the old western shows.  In those movies you could always tell who the good guys were from the bad guys.  The good cowboys always wore white and the bad ones always wore black.  When the good cowboys was questioned why he was willing to defend a town or woman at such great risk to himself his response was always something like, "Well because it's just the right thing to do!"

Living out this characteristic is easier said than done many times.  Most people that I know of and especially Christians want to think that they would do the right thing.  But the real test in living out this characteristic is not when things are going well and easy, no, the real test is when doing the real things is difficult or costly and maybe even dangerous.  I have found that many people, who do exemplify this characteristic, don't do it boldly and confidently but instead they do filled with fear and worry.  

They do it but they do it shaking in their boots.  

Why? Because doing the right thing is not always easy.  I remember a particular time in my life when I was confronted with the challenge of doing the right thing but doing it with the real possibility of personal harm.  My wife and I were living in Pittsburg, California on a very dangerous street.  Everyday there was some kind of yelling, screaming, theft and on this one particular day fight.  

Inside my house I could hear a crowd of people yelling outside when I went to look outside my front door I could see all the neighbors, mainly adults, crowding around in a circle much like you would see in high school when two people were beginning to fight.  As I looked closer to the center of the crowd I saw a teenage boy kicking a man down on the ground over and over again. The man was unable to defend himself and the boy wasn't stopping.  With fear in my heart I shouted to my wife to call the police and I picked up a baseball bat by my door and walked out in the middle of the crowd and stood over the man and said to the teenage boy,

"This is not going to happen anymore! I have just called the police and they should be here in just a few minutes but I am not going to allow you to hurt this man anymore."

To be honest I wasn't sure what was going to happen.  That teenage boys was extremely angry and mad, the crowd, who was just standing there watching look like they wanted to see someone killed.  I thought for a moment that I was going to be the next victim. I was literally trembling in my shoes.  But the crowd dispersed and the kid walked away.  As I helped the man to his feet I asked him if he need to go to the doctor.  In his drunken stopper he said no but thanked me for stepping in. When the police showed up I was the only out there to tell them what had happened. 

The reason I share this story is not to glorify myself but to express that doing the right thing is not always an easy choice and at times is done with the risk of real personal injury.  I share it because I did it not with boldness but I did in the midst of fear and trembling.  

The point is not how we do the right thing but simple that we do the right thing!

This is one of the characteristics that God looks for in His people.  God wants His people to do the right thing even if its difficult, dangerous or cost them greatly!  

How well can you do the right thing even if its hard to do? Many people are willing to do the right thing when its easy to do but many people struggle doing the right thing when it's dangerous or even just difficult.  Which kind of person are you? 

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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

CHARACTERISTICS OF A MISSIONAL LIFE! What Kind Of Life Does God Want Us To Live? Part 1

Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary?  Who may live on your holy hill?  He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman, who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the Lord, who keeps his oath even when it hurts,
who lends his money without usury and does not accept a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken. Psalm 15 (NIV)

This passage starts off by asking two  very important questions:

  1. Who may live in God's sanctuary?
  2. Who may live on God's Holy hill?
In a very figurative way both of these questions are asking the same thing.  They are both asking what kind of person is fit to stand in the presence of an Almighty God? or What are the qualities God looks for in a person which would allow him the privilege of being in His presence?  

What follows eleven characteristics that God looks for in people.  However, men in and of themselves are totally incapable of living out all of these characteristics.  In our sinful nature it is impossible for anyone, other than Jesus, to reach those standards.  One of the great lessons learned from the Old Testament is that mankind is totally hopelessly enslaved to sin and totally unable to change their predicament.  The Apostle Paul teaches us that the lesson of the Old Testament is to prove to mankind that they are completely unable to live up to the standards that God has set forth and the purpose for learning that lesson is to prepare us for admitting we need a savior.  Read what Galatians 3:21-25 says, 
"Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.  Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law."
 In the New Testament what we have learned is that through Christ, and in Christ, our old sinful nature has died with Christ on the cross and was buried with Christ through baptism and through participation in Christ's resurrection we were born again through the working of the Holy Spirit and God has now begun a process transforming our lives through the renewing of our minds into the likeness and image of Christ himself. (Romans chapter's 6 & 12).

While in our old sinful nature actualizing all eleven characteristics would be totally impossible but now in our new nature, through Christ, we can experience all eleven of the characteristics by God's transforming power!  It is my prayer that by studying these characteristics and meditating on their application to our own personal lives our minds will become renewed and our lives will be transformed more into the individual that God has always intended for us to be.

One last thought needs to be mentioned before we get into studying each of the characteristics.  There is a tendency that once a Christians learns what the characteristics are that God want in them to go out and make it happen in their own strength.  Please understand none of these qualities can become part of your normal daily life by you forcing it to happen. It is only through the power of Christ living His life through us that we will be able to see this transformation take place.  Paul again in Galatians says,
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20 NIV
So in other words the way to experience this transformation of life is not through WILLPOWER but through  CHRIST'S POWER. We need to live a life where we consider ourselves dead to sin and alive in Christ where Christ lives his life through us.  It's not us doing it but it's Christ in us, the hope of glory, doing it through us.  This is so very important because Christ is the perfect example of a life that exemplifies all eleven of these characteristics and as we learn to allow Christ not only to live in us but more importantly through us we too are then able to stand in the presence of the one and true living and breathing God.  That, by the way, is how the righteous live by faith.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012


While I was the pastor of Valley Baptist Church in Salinas, Ca I had the honor of working with some wonderful people whom God's amazing grace was demonstrated upon.  These four Ordinary Christians share about how God took their lives and transformed it into something beautiful.  The truth is that:


Before Christ these four people had been involved in drugs, alcohol, gangs, jail and a life headed to no where!  But then God is stepped in and changed everything.  Now some of these four people are a deacon, a Sunday School teacher, a drug rehab counselor, and a worker with troubled teens.

Watch and be inspired and allow God to work through you also.

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Monday, October 29, 2012


In North America we live in a time where people are desperate and need hope.  As Followers of Christ it is our place to lift up people in prayer to God and ask God to meet their needs and thus show himself as real.  In Tucson Fellowship Of The Cross sponsored a Community Prayer Fair where we invited the community to come out to a park and receive for whatever need they had.  There is power in prayer for our God is all powerful. I would encourage you to consider sponsoring a prayer fair in your own community.

Suggestions For Hosting A Prayer Fair:

  1. Conduct it in a public place like a city park surrounded by a neighborhood and not at your church facility.
  2. Have music playing either with a live band or piped in using your ipod.
  3. Have 2 to 3 people ready to give their personal testimony over the the speakers to share the power, presence and provision of Christ.
  4. Have prayer warriors trained and posted in different places around the park.
  5. Have a welcome table where you can pass out Bibles and to escort them to where different prayer warriors are at.
  6. Share the plan of salvation and how people can come to faith in Christ.

HOW NOT TO LIVE A MISSIONAL LIFE! By Guest Blogger Willis Loftin

A Friend of mine, here in Tucson, AZ, wrote this very thought provoking post that I think all Christians in general and particularly those Followers of Christ who intentionally are trying to live a missional life should read!  It give us a perfect example of 


in living a life on mission with Christ.  Read and be challenged or convicted which ever shoe fits!
"After a week of taking care of a sick and grumpy 2 year old, my dear wife told me to get out of the house for the weekend to relax and recharge.  Sunday morning I stopped in at a  popular local restaurant to have some food and a little quiet time to process what I've been learning over the weekend.  I popped out the ipad and keyboard and began to organize my thoughts by taking some notes.  

The restaurant had a hand full of people in the outdoor seating area where I was enjoying the morning breeze.  All of the wait staff were friendly with big smiles and even a little bubbly as they had a good time talking to patrons about sporting events and other happenings of the week.  The atmosphere was light and very enjoyable.  I got lost in my thoughts and a couple hours passed.  When I finally became aware of my surrounding again I found it interesting that all of the original patrons were still present, albeit a couple were getting ready to leave.  A couple more people had joined and were now eating their food.   

Then "it" happened.  A well dressed lady came waltzing in and was hurriedly looking for a waiter.  I was shocked at how she treated the wait staff like her personal servants.  Dictating how the tables should be arranged for her church group in a most obnoxious manner.  Then other families started arriving, some part of the "church" group and others not, but all were wearing the same type of attire.  I assume the churches had let out.  I started to leave to make room for more people in the restaurant but decided to stay for the experience.  What an experience it was...

I was surprised at how demanding this crowd was to the friendly  staff.  The families and group would order their food often with a unpleasant attitude, and then if the food did not arrive in perfect condition... wow I was embarrassed for these folks.   Another aspect I noticed is the apparent lack of interest in anyone else.  Sure they were all smiles and giggles toward one another as they shared the latest gossip, but the smiles would fade and the eyes dull when interacting with anyone else.  

The table closest to me was occupied by three older Christians.  They made their religious convictions clear by the load prayer with bowed heads.  They were actually some of the more pleasant ones in their interactions with others but I was intrigued by their conversation.   I'd like to get  some opinions about some of their comments:

"Missionaries came to my Sunday school class today... it was heart breaking to hear about all the AIDS, HIV and malaria that they have to deal with in their work.  It is obvious that these people have a big heart to even raise their three children in a place like that but I think the real problem is the evil at the top of all these nations, the governments just don't do anything for the people!  " 

Later on the conversation came back to the missionaries and my ears perked up again:
"If only the missionaries could impress the Christian ideal into the culture. The people just do not get it.  I know its  hard for the missionaries to change these cultures..." 

What do you think about these comments? 

On with my story though:  as the church crowd settled down into their meals I watched the staff.  I know they had been busy but they seemed more than just physically tired.  They took care of their guest with diligence but they didn't seem to enjoy themselves and the twinkle was gone from their eyes.  I hurt for them.  I wondered if they were feeling drained like taking care of a sick and grumpy two year old... ; - )  

As I was finally leaving I decided to pay a compliment to one guy that seemed to have taken the biggest swing in mood.  When I arrived he was all smiles and welcomed me with warmth.   Then for the last thirty minutes of my visit he had shuffled around with his eyes on the floor as he delivered food.  He was collecting the garbage when I walked over to him and said "Man I really appreciated your smile today! "  He stopped and looked at me - cracked a smile with the twinkle back in his eyes and said " What's up brother, its good to be seen!  Yes sir, its good to be seen!"  I have to admit I wasn't prepared for that response.  I probably looked like a deer in the headlights as I processed what he said.  After an awkward moment I finally said, "Look forward to seeing you next time"  and we parted ways. 

This experience, while not surprising to me anymore  is disheartening.  I understand John 13:34-35 states that we are to love one another;  that the world will know that we are His disciples by the love that we have for one another, but is this what Jesus was talking about?"  Willis Loftin

(This blog post was reposted by permission author)

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Friday, October 26, 2012

EMPOWERED TO DO CHRIST'S MISSION: Part 2: Representing The One Who Has Authority

In giving us the mission to go make disciples Jesus wanted us to know that he has the authority to issue it.  Notice how The Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20 starts off. Jesus speaking says,

"All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth ... "

How much authority does Jesus say he has?  Does he have only some authority or does he have most of the authority?  

No, Jesus said he had 

And where exactly does he have this authority?  Is it just in heaven? Is it just on earth? 

Again, it's a 

Jesus not only has all authority but he has all authority in both heaven and on earth.  It would be one thing if Jesus' authority was only in heaven where the angels had to obey but not on earth.  I mean there are people from other countries where they have a tremendous amount of authority in that country but now live here in the United States and just because they have lots of authority back home in their home country doesn't mean they have any authority here in United States.  Just because the Prime Minister of England, while visiting here in America, tells me to do something doesn't mean I have to do it.  Why because his authority does not extend over the citizens of the United States.  So if Jesus' authority was exclusive to heaven that would not mean he had the right or authority to tell us to do anything here on earth.  

But notice the Great Commission does say that Jesus' authority does extend to both heaven and earth.  All things are under his authority and his control.   I love the way the Apostle Paul states it in Colossians 1:16-18,
For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. (NIV)
All thing were created by Jesus, for Jesus, and are held together by Jesus.  And why?  So that Jesus would have supremacy over all things.  In other words what Jesus is saying is that we should listen up because what he is about to command us to do he has the right and authority to command it.  It is as if he is saying to all of us who follow him that what he's about to say is not an option, it's not a suggestion but it's a command that most be obeyed! 

It Is Jesus' Authority
That Empowers Us!

Because Jesus who is the King of kings and the Lord of lords has given us this mission we are thereby empowered to do that mission.  No one has the authority to tell us to stop doing it because the one with all authority has already commanded us to do it.
  • We need not ask person permission from any person if we can share Christ because the one who has all the authority has already commanded us to do it.  
  • We need not pray and ask God if we should witness or make him disciples for he has already, with his last recorded words, said to go make him more disciples.  
  • Because Christ has all authority and commanded us to go make him more disciples we can pray with confidence that he would lead us to those whom the Father has been preparing to believe.
Our empowerment to do this work comes straight from the one who has all authority and who has commanded us to do it.  

So when people begin to question you on who gives you the right to share your faith about Jesus you can take confidence and say boldly that your right comes from the one who has all authority and he commanded you to do it!


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

EMPOWERMENT TO DO CHRIST'S MISSION Part 1: Knowing What's Most Important To Christ

In the summer of 1990 my wife, four children and I went to go visit my parents.  We lived down in North San Diego Country in a city called Oceanside and my parents lived in Marina California.  It was about a 6 to 7 hour drive from Oceanside to Marina and I was pastoring a small church so we didn't get a chance to visit them more than once, twice or if we were lucky three times a year.  This visit, however, was a special visit and one that I will never forget.  My father was dying of cancer and it had reach a point where it was progressing quickly and my wife and I knew that this would probably  be our one and only chance to visit with my father before he passed away.  We were able to spend four days with them and it was absolutely wonderful.  We didn't go anywhere special. We just stayed around the house enjoying every minute of each others company.  On the last night we were there the family decided to watch a movie however it was kind of late when we put the movie on so all of the family except me and my dad went to bed before it was finished.  My dad and I stay up and finished watching that movie together.  The movie was FIELD OF DREAMS. I had never seen it before nor heard anything about it and I had no idea how it was going to end.  At the end of the movie the star of show was told was once again, "If you build it, he will come." This phrase had been told to him over and over again throughout the show and he still had no idea what it meant until right then at that moment.  At that moment he saw the baseball catcher take off his mask and he realized it was his father, as a young man, who had passed away many years earlier, now standing beside him wanting to play catch.  With that realization and with hearts filled with unspeakable emotion the two of them began to throw the baseball back and forth to each other.

I was completely caught off guard by the ending of the movie and was totally unprepared for the emotional response that came rushing out of me at that moment.  My eyes welled up with tears and I just laid my head in my fathers lap crying uncontrollable, like a baby, as the realization of that moment hit me.  I realized this would be the last night I spend with my father on this earth and the next morning when I would hug and kiss him goodbye that would be our last hug and kiss until we meet again on the Day of Resurrection.  Together, into the wee hours of the night, we spent talking.  Do you have any idea of what kind of things we talked about?  I can assure you that we didn't talk about the weather, we didn't gossip about the neighbors nor did we even talk about politics.  No, the things we talked about in those last few hours were the things most important to us.  My father shared with me THE MOST IMPORTANT things that he felt I needed to know. They were things like how he loved me, my wife and my kids; how to be a good man that God would be well pleased with; and to truly trust God at his word that he would meet all of my needs.  This was not a time for chit chat or just shooting the breeze.  This was a time for both me and my father to make sure that the most important things that needed to be said, got said.  The next morning I packed up the car, loaded up the kids and then I gave my father the last hug and kiss that I would ever give me in this world and I drove away.  


This is the same kind of scene that we find here in Matthew 28:18-20.  These are literally the very last words of Jesus to his disciples before he ascends into heave to be seated at the right hand of God the Father and await for his return.  These are his LAST WORDS that he said to communicate to them what were his priorities.  It wasn't chit chat! It wasn't shooting the breeze! No, he was sharing with them the most important things on his heart and the things they needed to be doing while he is away.  Listen to what Jesus says, 

"And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples 
of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the 
Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that 
I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even 
to the end of the age.”  Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)

So what's the most important thing on Jesus' heart, mind, and soul?  It was for them, while he was away, to:


That's what he wanted his disciples to do while he ways away!  Just to go make him more disciples.  They had watch and learned how to do it for the past 3 1/2 years and now Christ wanted them to go out and do it while he was away.  

And Jesus is very specific from where he wants these disciples to come from. He said to make him disciples from all the nations.  Most of the time when people hear the word nations they think of geographical boundaries but that is not what this word, NATIONS, means.  The best English word we could use is ethnic. Quite literally what Jesus is saying is to, "Go make me disciples of people from every ethnic group, every people group and every language group.  What Jesus desires is to have representatives from every kind of group there is from the face of the world to be his disciples.  This was the most important thing that Jesus wanted his disciple to know before he left and what he wanted them to be doing until his return.  He wanted them to be intentional and deliberate about helping others become Fully Devoted Followers of Christ.  Making sure that his disciples was about disciple making is what was on the Christ's heart the most right before he left to go back into heaven and that's what should be the most important goal and objective that we should have on our hearts as well.

Having a thorough understanding of what is most important to Christ and what he is most passionate about is what empowers us!  


When a person receives a vague set of directions the possibility of mistakes and making wrong choices can occur.  However, when a leader is specific and clear about what he wantS to be accomplished then the planning and execution can happen more effectively.  Jesus did not give us some fussy or unclear instruction.  His words could not have been any more clearer.  He kept it short and to the point:


With that clear instruction those of us who are Followers of Christ are now empowered to say "Yes" to those things that help accomplish that mission and "No" to those things that don't accomplish it.  


While there may be many good things a Christian could get involved in that doesn't mean they should get involved in them.  A Christian could fill up their entire calendar with really good things to do but still never accomplish what they've been commanded to do.  The real question that needs to be ask is whether it is the "BEST" thing we need to get involved in and whether it accomplish the mission that Christ left us here to do.  Does it help make disciples for Christ.

Making Disciples For Christ Is The Best Thing
And Knowing That Empowers Us!

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