Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Acts 15 SAVED?

I don’t know if I was an abnormal Middle Schooler, but I spent a good amount of time wondering if I was SAVED. I was asking a few questions: What do I do to be SAVED? How do I know that I am in fact SAVED?

I want to share with you my experience then and what I understand from Jesus and the Bible Now.
The first time I went to the altar was 6 years old. An adult at the front asked me if I wanted to accept Jesus and I said yes of course what kind of idot wants to Go to hell when presented with the choice at 6 years old. For the next 7 years I accepted Jesus’ sacrifice for my sins almost every time I was given the opportunity. I wanted to make sure I was SAVED. I was always able to think of a number of sins I had committed and I was afraid I had fallen away from God.

It felt a little like this. Jesus and I were drawing up a contract at the altar. I was committing my life to him and he was forgiving all my sins. Then when I sinned I was breaking the contract ripping it up, and I would need to go and make a new contract.
And these were interesting Contracts I would make in Middle School. Here is a list of sins pretty well accepted by my Youth group.
A person shall not:
1. Cuss
2. Listen to Non Christian Music
3. Expose yourself to Nudity
4. Have Sex before Marriage
5. Do Drugs
6. Believe in Evolution

So if you can get into my Head. Those who did these things did not have a contract with God and were not SAVED. This is what you heard earlier in Antioch. The list was different: Circumcision, eating right, and sexual immorality, but the idea is the same.
What is your List?
Peter Stands up and gives us some help.
He says God desires for all to Hear the Gospel of Jesus and Believe. God desires everyone to be SAVED.
Saved meant 3 things when Peter Said it
1. Rescue from Physical and Spiritual Death
2. The healing of our Bodies, Mind, Emotions and Will
3. Deliverance from evil

What do you do to be SAVED (rescuced and Healed)? Believe in Jesus.
How do we know we are Saved?
When they believe the Gospel They receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes inside of us and starts filling us with Love and Joy and Peace. The Holy Spirit desires to reshape us into Jesus like People.

The Holy Spirit does not run away or get scared when we do something wrong, he is working on us for the long haul. It is the difference between a relationship with a friend at school and a parent or relative. If we do something stupid it might damage a relationship with a friend, but the Holy Spirit is like that Parent you can’t shake always trying to fill you with love, joy and peace for the World.

Then Peter Says: Don’t try to SAVE people through Rules.(it didn’t work)

Next Face to Face Discussion at the IkeBox 8:00pm Thursday June 29th.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Acts 13 A Public Testimony

Acts 13:13-41
The Good News
A Public verse Private Testimony

This story starts with Paul and Barnabas visiting a synagogue in Antioch. They are participating in the community worship and reading of the texts and they are invited to share a word of encouragement (verse 15). We then hear the there encouragement in the form of a public history. This history very well may have been painted on the Walls. The exodus of Moses, the Movement from nation states to a King. From Saul to David, and then the promise of a New and everlasting life and Kingdom.

Paul shares the Good news about Jesus - His death, resurrection and salvation through bringing people into a common Public Story. When we talk about sharing a Testimony we often think in terms of our specific personal (if not private) story. For instance, I came to experience the forgiveness and new life in Jesus as Savior and Lord after I saw my workaholic chain smoking Father give his life to Jesus and radically change his priorities, habits and character.

Paul is not giving the people a Personal Testimony, he is telling them the Public Good news that can be found in Jesus. This is incredible important on several levels.

1. Having only a personal testimony leaves our faith as only an individualized personal experience with God. In a pluralistic and relativistic culture we the have no more to say then any Spiritual person with their OWN home grown religion.
2. Having Only a Personal Testimony Requires that a Personal Relationship must be established before we ever start talking about the Good News.
3. Having only a personal Testimony makes it seem like Faith and the Good news is only about personal betterment and growth.

The temptation many Christians have in handling this first problem is to tell the Public Good News exactly as Paul told it. These are the people who are often seen as good Bible thumpers and scripture quoter’s. They think that to be like Paul is to quote what Paul said. I want to argue that to be like Paul we need to be able to share a word of encouragement to those asking. Therefore the Context we are sharing in will change what we Share.

St. Francis
Was a noble man and a Knight in the Crusades. In hearing the Gospel from Luke 10 Francis sought to Live the Good News of God’s Kingdom for his Context. Francis went forth at once encouraging the people of the country-side to repentance, brotherly love, and peace. In the time of war, he spoke boldly about peace. In the time of great poverty he spoke of generosity and feeding the hungry. His Public message of peace and care for the poor was so pointed to the context of his time that he would eventually come before the Pope and the Sultan. The Pope would eventuall recognize Francis as the Leader of a Spiritual Movement. The Sultan after capturing Francis would listen to his message and allow him to live and return home.

John Wesley
He was an ordained Pastor of the Church of England, but the message of the Gospel was not reaching the poor normal people. So he took a message of repentance, victory over alcoholism, and hope for the poor to the fields and Factory yards. His Public Testimony of Jesus Love, Salvation and New Life for all social Classes changed England and America.

BT Roberts
100 years later the same Movement would need a renewal of the Public message with a few additions. BT Roberts called for a refocus on helping the poor and called for the end of slavery as a part of Jesus Good News of God’s Kingdom for that Day.

I would suggest we need to observe what the Good News or encouragement would really sound like in our context (city or town)?

What are some of the Public Testimonies you are imagining or hearing?

People I know are in need of a message of peace, social justice, equality, racial reconcilation, care for the Foster Children, Help for the widows... and thing else you can think of?

Friday, June 16, 2006

Act 13 and 14 Barnabas the Servant

Today we are going to be looking at the life of Barnabas as someone with a Redemptive Gift of Servant, and he is given the office of Apostle. What is really great about Barnabas is that he get labeled as an Encourager, but he has the characteristics and the Birthright of a Servant.

This reminds us of something extremely important. Every gifting is called to grow in the fruits of the Spirit: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. They are also called to grow in the other gifts. Teachers need to be encouragers and show mercy. Rulers need to give and serve. The point of understanding our particular DNA is to find out where we are extremely Gifted by God for powerful and redemptive purposes in the world.

So I hope this will be helpful on several Levels.
1. I hope some of us will discover we have a servants DNA and start to possess our birthright from God
2. I hope all of us will be inspired to grow in servant hood
3. I hope we can understand and value and honor people who are wired different then us.
Our society does not put a high value on servant hood, and unfortunately the church does not always honor those with the gift of servant. We don’t have allot of Servant hood Conferences.

Behavioral Characteristics:
æ This gift is incredibly significant to God, one that is vital to all the rest of the gifts
æ Sees needs (external, environmental) and quick to meet the needs

Barnabas is the first person mentioned who is makes a sacrifice for the external needs of others. Picture this we are a community of 120 and we are helping each other with everything someone gets sick, we care for them, someone looses their job and we feed them. Now God starts growing our community, 3000 in one day. All of the sudden our we have allot of needs, and treasure is freaking out, about not having enough bread for the homeless. Barnabas sees the physical need, goes and sells a field and gives all the money for the needs of the community.

æ Difficulty saying no. They will be the busiest people in life and in the church, because they don’t want to miss a chance to help.
æ Women Servant often– Finds faults in own service and ability, inability to admit excellence in their works.

- I have a mother-in-law who is a servant, and she will throw out the biggest spreads I have ever seen for a party, a lunch break or a snack. But almost every time she will apologize that it is better or that there is not more. Servants are often afraid of honor and pride.

æ Key way to find a Servant: A purity of motive (honest and trustworthy); they never count up IOU’s to get something out of their leader.

- Every one has been hearing about Saul. The man who was rounding up Christians to kill them. The man who had Stephen Killed. They have heard rumors that he has changed. Barnabas goes to check it out. He reaches out to Saul, and it is Barnabas who brings him before the leaders of the church. Because Barnabas is know for his honesty and trustworthiness.

æ Few enemies, desire to extend honor to others, even make excuses for others
æ They see the best in other people
- We see the difference in Paul and Barnabas personality on this point. Mark went on the first missionary journey with them. This was new ground for everybody on the team. They come against allot of opposition, and really Mark is just a young man, but he abandons the mission and head back to the Home Church. When Paul and Barnabas are preparing for their second missionary journey after spending some time sharing with everyone in Jerusalem. Barnabas wants to give Mark another chance. He sees the best in Mark and is not worried about what he has done. Paul doesn’t feel like being abandoned again and tells Barnabas if he wants to take Mark he is on his own.

æ The (immature) Servants: Spoil their children and make excuses for
æ Fierce anger generally comes out when there is harm to friends and family (very loyal) – profound connection to family
æ Inherently obedient (Comes easy to them)

Joseph Father of Jesus (obedience as a servant lent him to be the protector of Jesus), he goes when God tells him to.

æ Like to save stuff, not particularly organized
æ Servants work very hard, downfall: unless they understand how to serve, they become enablers – a wise servant will learn how to empower, not enable
æ Seem to attract dishonor from others in the home (willingly allow this dishonor)
æ Tends to have a victim spirit (exploited by others)
æ In games and athletics they are very competitive; desire to win; ironic when they are seen most of the time supporting others

Understanding a Servants Contribution from the Outside
æ The Servant prefers not to be seen, embarrassed by the spotlight, the Servant is vital to the life of the Body
æ the Servant seems to be able to walk through more filth without being personally defiled, Servant is specifically involved in cleansing.
æ Relatively free from the desire to have their own turf, focus on meeting needs
- Barnabas was a big name in the early church, big giver, big encourager. When they first go out on the missionary trip it is Barnabas and then Saul, but by the end of the trip Barnabas has moved into his spot of Supporting leadership and meeting needs. He doesn’t need to be on Billboard and every other time they are mentioned it is Paul and Barnabas and then Paul and all these companion.

The Authority God gives
æ God gives more spiritual authority given to Servants than other gifts because they don’t want it, they are not infected with the empire-building germ like the other gifts
æ The Servant’s prayers for leaders carry more weight than other gifts, because of their purity of motive (not controlling).
æ Authority over land (restoration of ecology). They simply see physical needs better then other people

The Battlefield: Authority
æ Dignity versus Shame (are you your past or are you someone in whom God has invested). Servants are extremely hard on themselves.
æ Dominion versus Victimization (so many Servants buy into the victimization people put on them, cannot allow what others say define who they are – need to walk in the dominion God has given)
æ Spirit of illegitimacy – believing that they are not the best for the job, Servants are masters of passing their authority to someone else

æ Tenacity to reach out to the wounded and hurting (not limited to, but especially in family situations)
- This is the birth right of the servant, but where I get really inspired by servants.
The Servant was created by God to be able to Go into the ugliest situations, and show people the love of Christ, and they have the ability to hold on the longest. This has been called porcupine hugging.

- I would like to use my mother-in-law as an example again. Gabi’s family are farmers and storage unit owners, and her Mom can find plenty to do Managing the books for the farm, and running the storage unit office. But because of who she has been created to be there are not enough needs. So she works at a quilt store where the owners are open homosexuals, she built a relationship with another employee their who is a single Mom, who can’t keep her life together. Every time she has to go to court Lori is sitting their with her. She can walk in the hardest places with tenacity to bring them the love of Christ, but without condemnation.

Barnabas is a great example of a man who possessed his birth right. If it was not for his tenacity to walk into hard places and love wounded and hurting people we might not have many of the books. in our NT. It was Barnabas who went reach out to Saul in Tarsus and brought him to Jerusalem. It was Barnabas who gave Mark another chance to serve God and he later became a gospel writer and friend of Paul.

Next Face to Face Discussion June 29th at the IKEBOX (8:00pm)

Monday, June 12, 2006

A Missionary Message Acts 13:13-41

In these verses in Acts chapter 13 Paul shares with the people in Antioch the History behind Jesus coming and Impact his coming can have on their lives. This chapter reminded me how important it is that we as Christians have a History. We are standing in the history and activity of God since the beginning of time. Jesus is not some new age spiritualist with a divine revelation that changes how a few people see God. Instead Jesus mark a point in time when God enters our history in Human flesh to open up the Kingdom of God he had been actively creating since Adam and Eve chose against God's plan A.

I believe it is important for us to know the History of God's activity in the world. It helps us understand what he desires for us now and in the future.

Much has been added to the History of God's people since Paul. It would be good to reflect on what our 1 minute history would include. If you are up for it I would challenge you to pick 4-5 of the following events and write a short history of Western Christianity.

Abraham, Moses, Exodus, Joshua, Samuel, Saul, David, Isaiah, John the Baptist, Jesus, Cross, Resurrection, Holy Spirit, Peter, Paul, Constantine, Council of Nicene, Augustine, Aquinas, Armenias, Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, John Wesley, Thomas Kramner, George Whitfield, D.L. Moody, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Finny, B.T. Roberts, Billy Graham, Bill Hybles, Rick Warren.

Of course the History is not the end in itself, but supports the message that Jesus has opened the Kingdom providing forgiveness and the justification of our relationship with God.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Acts 13:1-3 called and GIFTED

Acts 13

1 In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul.
2 While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.
3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

The church in Antioch is praying and fasting anticipating God’s voice, anticipating God’s direction. I hope this sounds familiar. We spent 6 weeks before Easter (in the season of lent) asking God for direction. Praying and fasting. I want to draw your attention to one of the prayers we prayed.

3. God reveal to the people of Emmaus their calling and gifting to serve.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

In the 2nd week of this prayer I started listening to some new teaching on Spiritual gifts from a man named Arthur Burke. He challenge many of my assumptions, but the guy was so Biblically sound I could not help but keep listening. By the time we finished praying and Fasting I had a new understanding of how I was gifted

A prophet hear and sees God’s desire in situations, cultures and systems. Their responsibility is then to communicate this to the group in a way that brings correction and encouragement. They bring God’s truth and desire in love.

A teacher takes what is already available from history and the written record and uses their ability to teach and train others.

But not everyone in the church was supposed to be a prophet or a teacher. Paul Himself Lays out a understanding of Gifts that reinforces this. I want to share this understanding of Gifts with you this morning, but first I want you to know why I am sharing it. I believe these believers who are seeking God’s Call and direction on their life already know how they have been gifted and created for service to God.

I need to be blunt that I don’t think we have arrived at that place yet. I think many of us literally have the cart before the horse. We want to know what our ministry and calling should be, but we have no idea what Kind of Gifting (Horses) are going to drive that Cart. Where we are gifted is where God has made us Strong and were our greatest potential for bringing Glory to his Kingdom is.

What I am going to share now is hopefully just going to wet your appetite for gaining further understanding of how you are gifted.

A central important place in the Bible to look when talking about Spiritual Gifts is I Corinthians 12
I Corinthians 12
4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.
5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.
6 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.

These gifts of the Spirit are what we call manifestation gifts. They are given by the Holy Spirit for the strengthening and building up of the church, and they can come and go based on the Holy Spirits Will.

Next we have Vocational Gifts that were created by Jesus for the Building of His Body the Church. These are some times called offices and when someone is given the authority of this office often they are gifted beyond their ability to fulfill the demands of the office.
Finally, this designation maybe new to some of us be we are calling these Gifts of God the Father Redemptive Gifts. For they are given to every person by God for the Redemption of the world.
Lets look specifically at each group.
Manifestation Gifts are listed in I Corinthians 12

I Corinthians 12
7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
8 To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit,
9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit,
10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.
11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.

Manifestation Gifts
• Wisdom
• Knowledge
• Faith
• Healing
• Wonders
• Prophecy
• Discernment
• Tongues
• Interpretation

These gifts are only available through a relationship with Jesus Christ and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. These are gifts that must be intestinally sought after through seeking a stronger relationship with the Holy Spirit. These Gifts can come and go. Through the power of the Spirit any of us can be instruments in healing, but we may not all have a ministry of healing. These gifts like all the gifts require a process of Growth and maturity. The gift of discernment requires the disciple of listening intently to God and others. The best way to grow in the Manifestation gifts is to seek the Holy Spirit in prayer and find someone mature in moving in this gift.

Vocational Gifts are listed specifically in Ephesians 4
Ephesians 4
11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,
12 to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up
13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fulness of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.
15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.
The key to this set of gifts is found in verse 12
12 to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up

These vocational gifts

Vocational Gifts
• Apostles
• Prophets
• Evangelists
• Pastors
• Teachers

Are to be in service to the rest of the body of Christ (not the other way around)? I will argue that no one is born an evangelist. Instead they are called, appointed and given authority by the Church Body to function as evangelists and to equip others to evangelize. I believe Christ empowers people to fulfill these roles he calls them to and places them in.

Redemptive Gifts are listed in Romans 12
4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,
5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.
7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach;
8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

Listed in Romans 12 are 7 gifts that I believe can be found as the foundation of our life with God. I believe each person majors in one of these gifts.
Redemptive Gifts
• Prophet
• Servant
• Teacher
• Exhorter
• Giver
• Ruler
• Mercy

These gifts describe the spiritual DNA and Personality we were given by God the Father at birth. Even if a person rejects Jesus and the Kingdom of God they will still have this redemptive Gifting active within them. This is their Birth right as a human being created in the Image of God.

However, redemptive gifts that are not submitted to the will and power of God become corrupted and distorted. For those of us who desire to know God and have his will done in our lives this Redemptive gift is our foundational Calling in the World. As we learn to grow and mature in our gift we will fulfill God’s desire for our lives and possess our birth rights as Children of God.

Like I mentioned before you should know be dieing to know more about these redemptive gifts. What yours is and how it can be developed and nurtured.

What about the 3 categories of Gifts (Manifestation, Vocational, Redemptive) really makes sense? Are their clarification questions you have on the 3 categories?

Next Face to Face discussion June 29th at the Ikebox (time change 8:00pm)

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