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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