Coffee’s ON … Afternoon Chats OPEN … and Neighbours are ENGAGING

As we have been sifting through Mark’s gospel, Jesus has taught us that these THREE things are imperative for kingdom advancement. Put the boat in the water (ON = Pack and GO) … get out of the boat at the God given destination (OPEN = Be faithful to the Call however many questions we have) … respond to those who engage. (ENGAGING = be accessible in their spheres of life).

Jesus never expected humans to come to heaven to discover the Father’s love. The Father SENT His only Son to represent and demonstrate the kingdom of heaven in OUR sphere.

It’s very early days and people are just starting to trust that what we do inside the WALLS is worth engaging with on their street and within the borders of their embassies.

Please keep praying for God’s purposes to be seen and experienced in our neighbourhood and beyond. Oh … by the way. It’s NOT just a church program; it’s a model for the neighbourhoods where YOU and I live, work and or play. Let’s talk about this and seek to equip each other well.

Jesus is doing a New Thing

It is worth celebrating that God is stretching us beyond our comfort zone week by week in this Stage ONE of The HOPE Project in a number of ways. Each and every one of us has a unique part to play as God opens door after door for us to step through. Our church family has a history of serving other church families and I would go so far as to say it is a prophetic mantle or charter that we have been anointed with. Last weekend was no exception and in fact was perhaps a next level. Together we must recognize that God PLUS ONE is always a majority (God is a majority on His own BUT chooses to pursue His primary purpose WITH us – so there it is).

Whatever membership numbers we experience, the measure of what God is doing with us and through us is how much of what you and I bring to the table is making a difference in OTHERS’ lives. I am so thankful to God that whenever He calls us to serve beyond ourselves, we can BE CONFIDENT, as Jesus always was, that the Father will do a beautiful thing whenever we faithfully step up to serve, especially acknowledging that without God we can do nothing and can never achieve the extent of the call. We thank God together for what others received in ministry across the THREE local church families we served last Sunday morning.

HOPE College preparation closes in on a LAUNCH date

This week we will put the final touches to the resources which will establish HOPE College as a reality in our midst. Please pray with us for Kingdom advancing outcomes as we seek partnerships for this endeavour across the region. Graeme had the opportunity on 2 or 3 occasions this last week to start conversations with brothers and sisters about what the HOPE College opportunity could bring. Here following are some unique and exciting facets of this initiative quoted from our 2018 Student Guide Book.

  • HOPE College is designed to equip & provide tools for people who see their major calling is to be a missionary in their current or future spheres of influence e.g. neighbourhood, workplace, community involvement, church or ministry organization etc. All the training will presuppose students who want to see the community transformed and who want to be agents of that transformation.   It is a ‘vocational’ training enterprise for advancing “Heaven On Planet Earth” (Matt. 6: 9-15; Jn. 1:14-17)
  • We simply can’t see why people shouldn’t have the opportunity to pursue this kind of missionary training alongside their regular vocational training. We are working to produce models that could assume elective status in a senior high school course as well as tertiary courses.
  • We are seeking grace from heaven that will empower ordinary people to produce effective forms of ‘common-unity’ (church) in “their own back yards.” The missionaries we want to equip will be trained for the cross cultural ministry experience represented by the spheres where they live, work and play – in this country as much as any other.

Mark Chapter EIGHT (What did Jesus actually DO?)

  1. Jesus called His disciples to Him – consistent compassion seemed to be the ‘be-attitude’ that Jesus wanted them to be equipped with …. (equip = to re-set, re-align, to have tools and resources with increasing fidelity) (vs 1-3)
  2. The case in point about equipping. Jesus responds to the disciple’s announcement that they were happy to pass the responsibility on to someone who had the wherewithal to be able to help so Jesus ‘basically reminds them’ that compassion starts with what we HAVE not with what we DON’T have. If we trust, He will take care of the rest. (vs 4-5)

NB: It is worth making note that this miraculous feeding episode happens only 2 chapters after the previous one. In between, Mark 7 definitely takes the journey of the work of Jesus between the Jew and the Gentile and highlights the coming of the word from the bread to the Jews to the crumbs/scraps that Gentiles were able to retrieve from under the table. Here in Mark 8, we are located in Decapolis again. 2 key things to reflect on. 1. The gathered crowd on the gentile side of the lake may have grown due to the activities recorded in Mark 7 but maybe because of the ‘missionary’ endeavour of the Gerasene demoniac whom Jesus specifically tasked to share what God had done for him in the Decapolis. 2.  What truth may there be in the Mark 6 story recording the bread of life coming to the Jews and the Mark 8 story – to the Gentiles?

  1. Jesus once again leaves the responsibility for interpretation of the answer to the questioner when challenged by the Pharisees. (vs 11-13)
  2. Jesus didn’t often hang around when there was a sniff of a confrontation. He didn’t just run off either, it simply looks like He would ALWAYS engage with a need or question BUT THEN, NOT be distracted from His task. He just went to His next destination (vs 13)
  3. Jesus never missed an opportunity to interpret a circumstance in a parable or to equip. The disciples found themselves in a ‘bread’ conundrum and Jesus did His work by challenging the hierarchy of needs (i.e. hunger) with a kingdom challenge or three. (vs 14-21)
  4. Jesus was compassionate AND considerate with the blind man. He removed him from the difficulty of what being able to see suddenly IN a crowd would be like and THEN used spittle (a well-known remedy) so the man would not be alarmed by His method and THEN did the healing gradually. So much for us to learn here. (vs 22-26)
  5. Jesus sought to give His followers opportunity to express their hearts IN and DURING the journey. Hard hearts become softer as the relationship becomes more intimate. Here in Mark’s version of Peter’s confession we see the beginnings of softening and the revelation that comes as a result. Once more it is worth noting that Mark’s gospel was probably interpreted a bit through Peter’s camera shutter. (vs 27-33)
  6. Jesus never sought a popularity response to His teaching. He certainly never sugar coated it. You follow Jesus because your heart has been transformed and your love for Jesus and others (the kingdom gospel) will do anything in response rather than be measured or adjusted by what is comfortable, doable, or rational etc. (vs 34-38)

Here’s the Link to What’s Happening at the HUB this week

Here’s the Link to this week’s Prayer Diary for The HOPE Project