Your Kingdom Come, in my Neighbourhood, my Workplace, my Home …

Our Church Family is at a pivotal point in its recent (if not longer) his-story.  We have almost complete buy in to the idea that true mission starts with God, is led by the Holy Spirit and should look more like Jesus; the idea that we should be a PART of the body of Christ in our region, committed to discovering what shape we are, how we best fit into the whole, meshing with other cogs in the kingdom of God wheel to help the whole church that’s being built by Jesus  move forward under God’s rule and Christ’s headship.

We have agreed that we don’t have to be everything or do everything, we just need to BE who we have been anointed and called to BE and get on with it so other sister church families have a better chance of discovering for themselves who they are and so on. The landscape is … advancing the kingdom NOT our local church empire. Our focus is following Jesus, learning to fish for people with the language of NOW, discipling and equipping those God gives us favour to hang out with; equipping them to serve the community by serving the church, whenever and wherever that is needed, whether that is to help our specific efforts OR other church efforts that might mesh with the anointing on the new disciple’s life and so on. What a privilege to be a foot or an arm or some other important part of Christ’s body in the Illawarra, in the Northern Suburbs postcode area of 2518.

We have been being prepared for a ‘time such as this’. We have faithfully prayed that we would, each day, see where the move of God is and be IN it, and God has been moving, even without our complete awareness.

Members of our family who have sought for years to find their place IN faith or find their way back into an authentic expression of faith have been receiving revelation of the good news. Because of this and being inspired by covenant relationships developing around them between equipping ministries, they have been prophesying amongst family, friends, their involvement spaces and in church gatherings; they have been seeing healings after they pray for people; they have been used by the Holy Spirit in their work places to introduce people to the counsel of God’s word, people that otherwise wouldn’t have any connection to the resources of heaven; they have had kingdom conversations with neighbours, fellow train passengers, fellow students, fellow recreationalists, fellow coffee drinkers, even emergency service officers of all types and brands and they have been surprised by life and faith questions from family members.

These are just some of the current testimonies being shared with me by our people and we haven’t even registered that we’ve already begun climbing from Base Camp to Camp One.

Last week we committed to each other, to be a company of fellow workers, sharing the responsibility for the mission God has called us into. The hidden message of the Kingdom of Heaven is becoming visible in soft hearts and the surprises are starting to emerge.

Please pray with us NOW as we respond strategically to the Holy Spirit’s leadership; putting our hands to the plough, committing to see the harvest with compassion, engaging it with justice, mercy and humility and not looking behind … as Paul urged in the 3rd stanza of his letter to the church in Philippi; 12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Lead us on Holy Spirit. Help us re-calibrate the coordinates of our efforts to align with Yours. Show us how to lead as Jesus would have us lead and facilitate the growing number of approved (i.e. equipped) workers in the field.

Developing a Community Platform for Equipping

The second half of the year is fast approaching, and we decided back in March that we would wait upon the Holy Spirit regarding the launch of the discipling framework, HOPE College, until we had a reason to utilize it.

In light of the season we are now entering, our first mission activation workshops will be conducted SOON. As we discover and start walking in the gifts God has provided, we will create safe spaces within which we can hang out together in focus ministry groups designed to encourage and sharpen each participant to the next level of implementation that is appropriate for them, as part of the whole effort. We will refer to this process as a ‘Community platform for equipping’ where people practicing similar giftings will work with each other in teams to reach growth goals together.  For example, we will encourage people who are at various stages of exploring a possible gifting in communication / speaking / preaching or similar, to work as a team for a season, whenever that’s possible. In an atmosphere of mutual accountability, each member will use their gift to help the others to grow into their potential. Be on the lookout for a few workshops being scheduled shortly.  This is the Year of Equipping for Increase. 

A Summary of LAST TWO week’s message for Prayer, Reflection & Response. Signpost: See & Engage the Harvest  

Series: ‘Welcome to HOPE Project Base Camp’

Theme: ‘Keys to Getting a Revelation of the Kingdom’ Graeme Hush with some insights from Brian McLaren ‘The Secret Message of Jesus’ 

Reference Scriptures = Matthew 5, 13, 15, 18, John 14, Acts 2

People have asked me, what is this all about? Why are we talking about base camp and summiting and stuff? (27th May 2018)

I believe we have misinterpreted the atmosphere and the human climate we live in and as such we prepare for the wrong battles; so we struggle to be effective in our mission and even when we see gains they are short lived, even if I may be so bold – these gains can be distractions that divert us away from the ‘way’ .. Jesus warned us in His sermon … He anticipated that His followers would cool off and drift into complacency.   (Matt. 5:13)

I want to be a part of a local church in community that grows and has impact and influence for the kingdom of heaven? Well, the only way is to let the kingdom of heaven invade your hearts …. This takes time, devotion, submission to be equipped (i.e. re-aligned)

That’s the message of the Be-Attitudes. And a couple of weeks ago we talked about being harnessed to Jesus, being a bond – servant; a doulos for God as Mick re-iterated … No turning back …. Nowhere to go other than trudging around on the ice, slipping and sliding, getting somewhere then falling back OR instead; get your rope fastened to Jesus and HANG ON …

If we have soft, teachable hearts, all the keys to s revelation of the kingdom that can invade those hearts, are accessible. Matthew 13 is most helpful.

KEY #1 – The Parables: – the language of the message of the Kingdom of Heaven is EVERYDAY stories that use the realities of the audience’s life circumstances to paint a picture of truth that needs to be explored and discovered. (Like jokes to comedians)

E.g. Matt. 13 34 Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. (That doesn’t seem true … it’s hyperbole – an exaggeration, rhetorical device used to illicit a ‘strong’ response) 35 “I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.”

KEY #2 – Parables end with a HUGE HINT Vs 9, 43

NB: Explained a bit by Jesus Vs 11-17 and scattered the idea throughout

“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear”

It’s almost a parable indicating in the language used that there is more than the literal meaning beyond the surface. (Cf. 20/5/18 blog = Nicodemus in Jn 3)

“unlearn everything we think we are sure of and become like a little baby, a child, all over again.  This is Jesus’ request of Nicodemus & Us

KEY #3 – A Hiddenness that Becomes Visible

  1. Parable of the Sower: We have seeds scattered, different soils, no guarantees but ALL had potential. They are hidden in soil where their germination and growth are mysterious, even concealed until they eventually mature to different levels
  2. Parable of the Weeds: We have weeds, secretly planted where they can’t be seen, they are further hidden because they resemble grain, made visible at harvest time
  3. Parable of the Mustard Seed and Yeast: We have the smallest of all visible seeds hidden in soil without acknowledged potential which eventually becomes clear. We have yeast, hidden in the lump of dough until a mysterious transformation
  1. Parable of the Hidden Treasure: We have treasure hidden in a field that becomes visible and transforms a person’s life
  2. Parable of the Pearl: We have a phenomenal pearl hidden amongst average ones – when found it transforms
  3. Parable of the Net: We have fish, both edible and inedible hidden under water. Once in the net they can be revealed. Their usefulness only seen once removed from the net.

The Kingdom of heaven is LIKE … something precious hidden that once revealed changes everything.

KEY #4 – But not without SURPRISE!

  1. Parable of the Sower: Surprise! There will be a variety of harvest
  2. Parable of the Weeds: Surprise! Not only are there weeds growing amongst the wheat, DON’T do any weeding. Let it all grow to be sorted more effectively at harvest time.
  3. Parable of the Mustard Seed: Surprise! The little seed you planted is about to take over your house.
  4. Parable of the Net: Surprise! There might be a great catch of fish, BUT they aren’t all tasty. You might have to kiss a few & chuck them back

Reflections on Keys to Receiving a Revelation of the Kingdom of Heaven

  1. We need to do more than simply hear with our ears and see with our eyes on a literal level
  2. We need to invest ourselves in knowing as much about the one we seek to serve and emulate (as we would anyone we are close to …. I’m not talking about salvation/rescue BUT fullness & completion and a MORE JESUS way to offer redemption)
  3. We need to search for meaning – even if surprised with discovery

The disciples are seeking more …. Vs 10 gives us a clue to their desire for deeper engagement. We might expect the disciples to ask a more fundamental question like – What does this parable mean? But instead they ask WHY, why Jesus are you doing this? You’re telling stories, but nobody is getting your point. Can’t you find a clearer, more direct or obvious way?

Beloved … If your goal is quick fix, prescription, short term gratification, ritual, duty, religious regulations …. Then ignore this message altogether.

If your goal is contentment, well-being, relationship, intimacy, access to constant resources, internal transformation that is externally contagious …. Then listen up.

In an age where dependence on teachers or leaders is frowned upon, we’ve thrown the baby out with the bath water because of the lowest common denominator; i.e the power hungry empire builder who bullies, manipulates & forces people to respond in extreme.

No, Jesus is the leader, Christ is the head of the church … no one safer

Look at the early church … yes there were arguments & power struggles but at the core, this TRUTH OF THE KINGDOM was understood & lived. Which apostle was the leader? Church grew and made decisions because it was good to them all and the Holy Spirit.

The parables, Jesus’ message of the kingdom of heaven weren’t aimed at conveying information but rather the shaping of hearts to trust the growing relationship they have with the teacher – Jesus.

We can respond as many have, with arrogant and impatient anger, saying,  “I have no idea what he’s talking about, this is a waste of time” OR we can respond with eager and curious humility “I can’t let this go. I must know more. (these two sentences describe my journey to as tee)

If it’s the heart that counts, hearts can’t be coerced because as soon as you stop coercing, they seek release and completion. This is why we are on this journey … We don’t want to set things up here, based upon answers we think we already have and we sure don’t want to grab people by the lapel and manipulate them into something that can’t last because it didn’t come with a freedom and a love that can reveal truth to their hearts.

We want to sit at the feet of Jesus like the disciples in John 14: 25-27.

We want to be desperately DEPENDENT on the Holy Spirit to teach us how to do this ‘on earth as it is in heaven’ and to bring to our remembrance, everything hidden that we’ve found or rediscovered.

That’s the way those we hang out with will see and receive Jesus

What you win people with, you win them to

(3rd June 2018)

As a result of last week’s church family meeting, I have begun the process of writing as clear a document as possible that can be used as a ‘building block’ or a ‘discussion starter’ for the coming ‘Think Tank’ forum(s).

In some ways it could be called a Manifesto, simply because it sums up to this point in time what I believe we’ve agreed that we have heard as clear revelation from God and sets about suggesting ways we can move forward to achieve what the Holy Spirit is guiding us into; a framework (if you like) to hang the operation on. So, I will summarize the sketch or outline for the task I believe God has set for me, coming out of the meeting last week so that you can partner with me CLOSELY in prayer because that’s what a committed company of people on a journey together, DO.

I am asking a bunch of questions, (based upon the building blocks we have already witnessed over the past few years and WITHOUT answering with knowledge I think I have) to determine as clearly as possible what else we need to learn about why Jesus was sent, why he operated the way he did when He walked on the earth, why He chose to send us, what the result of that sending should look like and how that impacts on what the end game is, if it even does…. With that set of questions I have started reading and will complete the 4 gospels, Acts, Romans, Ephesians, Peter’s and John’s letters & the Revelation (cf. with OT Prophets)

As I read each part freshly, I am writing down any revelations and any more questions that need to be asked (as I’m trying to trust the Holy Spirit to teach, counsel and bring to my remembrance what is needed – cf. John 14)

Now to give you an idea of the process, the following is what happened when I was reading through Matthew again this week. I got to Matthew 18 and …..

Whilst asking my questions and prayerfully reading, I got a greater sense of the characteristics of followers of Jesus who make a difference in their world and so reinforced and further clarified what a NEW leadership and mission effort should be most concerned about.   (Read Matthew 18 yourself)

Humility (1-4), responsibility (5-7), self denial and personal re-alignment (8-9), see the crowd as one person (10-14), reconciliatory discipline and transparency (15-18), communion-ity – one heart .. one mind .. one spirit (19-20), the LIFE – style of forgiveness (21ff).

In the midst of it all though, I was freshly challenged about what we are trying to attempt (summit and back / peaks of holiness, oneness & fullness towards completion) and remembered a verse from a few chapters previous AND that verse in context with Jesus’ kingdom message. Read Matthew 15:3ff (cf.Ch 13)

I found myself wondering if I was still among the dull and if I was asking the right questions.  I do not want to be ‘nullifying the word of God for the sake of (protecting) any tradition’, even the ones I don’t even realise I’m protecting.

I’m pretty sure that’s not a disease I suffer from BUT in order to establish a way forward for us that genuinely honours Jesus and represents heaven, I have chosen (in this process) to re-submit myself, maybe as an example (as per Nehemiah) but definitely for transparency/accountability etc.

So, I prayed and asked the Lord what questions I should be asking

(Remember – this is the process I am asking you to pray into)

The following is a ‘sample’ of a couple I received

If Jesus didn’t come to initiate a new religion, what did He come to start – could it be a political, social, religious, artistic, economic, intellectual and spiritual revolution that would give birth; not to a new religion BUT a new world? Is there any foundation for such an interpretation?

What if this hidden, surprising, revealed to the ‘invested soft hearts’ message has practical implications for such issues as how you actually conduct your daily business (7 days a week), how you earn and spend your money, how you treat other people – regardless of their race, religion, or any other cultural issue, how you appropriately use Facebook and even how the nations of the world shape and implement their foreign policy?

What if Jesus’ message directly or indirectly addresses a whole bunch of ‘isms’ like environmentalism, terrorism, individualism or the quests for happiness, peace or reconciliation?

If so …. Would I be willing to look harder, look deeper, search longer, and or be willing to rethink, even let go of my assumptions?

What if the message is good news for EVERYONE (pretty sure it is)?

What if His message also contains warnings for everyone including Christians?

What difference would both THAT message and the way we respond to it make in our families, circle of acquaintances, neighbourhoods and beyond?

What would it look like if we responded to the message of Jesus with the same passion or activism as we do to tax injustices, the Australian Cricket team or our favourite sporting code, whether we are lefty’s or fundo’s, whether we like Holden or Ford, republic or monarchy, to shop or not?

What if we saw the mission as being pertinent from the very first interaction we have each day instead of just the leftovers once everything else is done?

Don’t tell me it’s not possible in Oz? In a western country where we have to earn money to live and do certain things to survive.

I’m not talking about not earning money to live, or us all becoming locust eating, camel hair wearing, smelly prophets.

No, but it should have impact on how we earn, and how we engage the culture and how we engage our work place ….

Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and everything else fits better (G’s amplified version) Acts 2:42-47 = the believers of the first church were just like us; they had families, worked to put food on the table …

This is the task …. So Please pray with me …

One of the outcomes I am hoping for out of this ‘Think Tank’ is that we will TOGETHER, decide that we, who live in one of the most comfortable places in the world, can re-prioritize the important things by seeking first the kingdom of heaven  .. And maybe find a way to equip each other daily, weekly and as a priority for what I personally think might be …. the final harvest

You see, even though I agree with Billy Graham who said,

“If you don’t preach the cross and the resurrection, you are not preaching the gospel”, for the people I connect with, my neighbours, my community involvement partners, the people in the spheres of involvement and influence that God has given ME/US favour for; if I don’t engage with the heart of Jesus’ message and learn to live the life that His message shapes, the life that gives the cross and the resurrection context for a world that can’t see it; my words will be like a clanging gong and a crashing cymbal

Let’s encourage each other, discuss revelation and pray together …

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