‘Shaping the Future’ – A Season for Reformation
So …… Karen and I experienced a few days leave with family up in the mountains (for my birthday) where I witnessed 20 centimetres of powder dry snow all the way up the Snowy Mountains Highway to about 10kms east of Talbingo (40kms south east of Tumut NSW)
It was a miraculous sight and one I both wasn’t expecting and possibly won’t see ever again; as all things returned to a more usual scene only 36 to 48 hours later. Snow-laden Gum trees bent over the highway under the weight of this weightless substance (when it’s falling at least), way further west than has been true for quite some time according to locals.
What a privilege and joy to be a part of something that our Father God is doing. So exciting to engage with something creative that is shaped by a heart of love, mercy and an ever present, redemptive and restorative HOPE.
These simple pictorial thoughts also describe how I feel as our church family addresses the final third of 2018.
The reformation of our church culture over the past few years towards looking more and more like Jesus was and is imperative if we are to experience a truly Holy Spirit inspired and led revival or re-awakening to God’s heart and primary purpose i.e. becoming a company of Jesus’ followers, covenanted together to ‘share the responsibility’ for proclaiming, representing and demonstrating the kingdom gospel as the power of God that brings salvation ON earth as it IS in heaven.
We have prayed and worked through what is needed to transition us to a place that can sustain and reproduce such a mission and NOW is the time to put the finishing touches on this chapter of the journey so we can get on with the task we are called to represent together.
During this coming week I will be sending some draft documents to some key facilitating leadership people for their prayerful reflection and response. These drafts will include thoughts about the developing leadership process, what covenant partnership could look like and what a Constitution that reflects these things should include. This process was clearly outlined in the recent and first ‘Shaping the Future’ paper. Not everyone will see these next draft documents so we can expedite the process appropriately BUT the final product will form a Special Resolution that every person connected to our church family will receive and be encouraged to respond to, TWO (2) months prior to our 2018 Annual General Meeting where the new process for moving forward will be ratified or not. Please partner with us in prayer for this important work to be concluded and that it would open doors for advancing God’s kingdom through community engagement.
We are Backyard Missionaries & our Backyard is Filled with Frontiers for Missio Dei
We have an apostolic calling on us as a church family. This has been prophesied and testified about over and over again. We are a company of committed people, covenanted to God and to each other with ONE purpose; the Primary Purpose of our Father God.
That primary purpose is to BE SENT and TO SEND people into the spheres of our God given involvement, influence and responsibility. To proclaim, represent and demonstrate the kingdom of God, ON earth as it IS in heaven (definition of Missio Dei – see this week’s message summary). Please read on as this article concludes with an important plea. Jesus builds His church! Being liberated by this truth, we believe that the more we engage, dwell and live out of the revelation we have received which simply stated is; ‘mission starts with God, is led by the Holy Spirit AND should look more & more like Jesus’; the more we won’t need to be concerned about what this wineskin looks like BUT RATHER focus our gifts, resources, time and effort on equipping the saints for the work of the ministry, reaching to the very height of Christ’s full stature. And, as each and every part engages as it should, be bound together and grow to maturity in love. THIS is what it means to trust God with all our heart(s) and live the ‘resurrection life’ which is ONLY possible IN Christ because it is the gift of His Spirit poured out for us as the out working of Jesus’ life, death AND resurrection.
As we enter this Spring 2018 Campaign season, we are excited about any and all collaborative opportunities to partner with people who represent the kingdom as we engage our neighbourhoods and the wider community at the frontier of the harvest; plentiful as has always been the case.
We will talk more about the opportunities that this apostolic message and journey affords us over coming weeks but this week I want to highlight one such collaboration at the mission coal face – scripture in the three High Schools in our immediate area because there’s more in this than we may currently think.
On Thursday last, whilst wrapping up some leave time with my family, I took an hour or two to hang out with the terrific people that are the scripture teachers that together, eleven of the combined churches of Northern Illawarra fully financially support.
I bought them coffee and we shared stories, reflecting on the joys, humorous occurrences and the genuine struggles associated with representing Jesus to teenagers who spend a minimum 30 hours a week in a compulsory teacher-student-peer environment.
As wonderful as this environment can be, it IS a full on cross-cultural mission scenario and you know when I speak about culture I’m not just talking about ethnicity. I am also addressing the fact that these schools are not only multi-cultural ethnically; they are multi-subcultural in terms of everyday human existence. Young people, their families, their teachers and school support people each have a number and wide variety of cultural centres or icons that form the priorities that people live by in Australian society.
Because each school is a microcosm of humanity, people are generally BOTH on a search for meaning and real life purpose BUT also, recognizing the battle for human hearts is being fought in the spiritual realms across two kingdom frontiers, these intense demography’s can be openly adversarial or inadvertently hostile towards the ‘presence of God’ without a lot of understanding as to why, other than the lies and rumours of lies that have been sewn into the fabric of these mini societies for decades.
Interestingly and as a testimony to the difference that people with hearts full of ‘good news’ can make in these sorts of spaces, when trust grows and relationships are encouraged to develop, questions start to surface and this is when we need to take the principle strategies of Jesus and trust them.
Each of the three teachers shared recent stories which provide evidence that there is a hunger for ‘real’ alongside and shadowed by a jadedness with what has been presented.
The questions being asked by students right NOW are about how to turn disbelief into belief, how to be assured of something you can’t necessarily see, why the gospel they see being lived out by people seems to major on DON’T rather than DO and so on.
God has spoken to our church family clearly about why we need to focus on becoming more like Jesus. God has encouraged us with the belief that we DO have something to offer young people as good parents, grandparents and great grandparents should – cultivating heaven on earth is is a family responsibility. God has promised that we will soon be asked to nurture young people who will get a vision of the kingdom for themselves and have visions of things we have never even imagined that we will need to release them into pursuing for the sake of advancing God’s kingdom rule in the hearts of their peers.
So …. In the meantime God has given us a first step responsibility to work together with brothers and sisters to achieve the sort of consistent support that ensures a level of professional scripture teaching in our High Schools. That’s the Scripture Board’s task and I believe God opened the door for me to chair this group (on our behalf) for his primary purpose.
This is OUR mission partnership. PLEASE pray with me, strategically and consistently so that our teachers can discover ‘anointed’ young people, look for the MOVE OF GOD in these public High Schools and be IN IT.
God wants us to plant a seed of his body in these high school communities, so Jesus can build His church right there IN those fields that for too long have been enslaved by every wind of ‘world system’ doctrine.
We don’t know how that will work BUT we do know that Jesus knows, and there is a bunch of missionaries already primed for the task and a bunch more being readied. The schools don’t just need a ministry from one or two people who are largely strangers who have responded to the call to GO, they need the BODY OF CHRIST in the midst to crash down the gates of hell so that the kingdom advances and hearts are redeemed for His purposes.
Will you pray with me? Will you join me with committed effort, working towards His kingdom come and His will being done in and through these High School spheres? Talk with me SOON if God is nudging you about this. I’m looking for a ‘think tank’ who will help me establish a workable strategy, a Jesus looking strategy, a kind of ‘Youth HOPE Task & Support Force’ if you will. Interested?
A Summary of Sunday’s message for Prayer, Reflection & Response. Signpost: See & Engage the Harvest
Theme: ‘Discovering the Language of the Kingdom Part 1’
Reference Scriptures & Material
Mark 4:30; John 17:13-21; Dr. M.L. King Jr’s Speech to the ‘March’ on Washington 1963
Preparing for the ‘Spring 2018 Campaign’
In our trek up the unclimbed peak so far, we have been re-shaping, re-forming the culture of our church and its mission to establish a strong foundation for Jesus to build His church, the NEW wineskin.
We’ve touched on some issues and we’ve sought strategic help from Jesus by allowing the Spirit to lead us into greater understanding of the living written word and its description of how God’s kingdom rule on earth; as it IS in heaven, was initiated and for what Primary Purpose.
We’ve searched for some tools BUT we’ve just skimmed the surface in order to paint a picture that we can work with – NOW we need to prepare for the campaign by road testing or mountain track/field testing the contents of this growing tool kit.
We need to do this testing in ‘the actual conditions’ and as such we will discover that some things will need some refining work done on them.
For E.g. IF we believe that a key strategy of Jesus (and Paul) was to start in the religious / cultural centre of the spheres they were sent to engage (Synagogue), then we need to check that what we are presenting / proclaiming is LIFE GIVING, LIFE SUSTAINING, LIFE TRANSFORMING (i.e. it actually comes from heaven) and doesn’t simply continue to create barriers or stumbling blocks for Kingdom or ‘Heaven On Planet Earth’ advancement in similar ways to the Synagogues in Jesus’/Paul’s spheres of involvement.
- DISCOVERING THE LANGUAGE OF THE KINGDOM (Let me START to unpack this)
So far we’ve explored the message of the kingdom gospel as it was delivered in Jesus’ natural habitat. His sphere of mission was initially to the house of Israel but because his strategy was the Father God’s primary purpose, by being obedient to his Father in this specific way, Jesus opened up the whole world to receive the good news.
NB: IF WE OBEDIENTLY FULFIL THE TASK GIVEN US (WHATEVER THAT IS), GOD CAN AND WILL USE THAT AS A KEY TO UNLOCK BROADER KINGDOM ADVANCEMENT OPPORTUNITIES – THIS IS A CORE REALITY OF THE KINGDOM GOSPEL
When Jesus spoke of the kingdom, his language focused on urgent political, religious and cultural issues that needed to be re-aligned with heaven.
We have needed to discuss the language Jesus used so that we could understand his purpose and as such our purpose – i.e. God’s mission (missio dei)
Latin expression literally meaning ‘God sent’ or ‘the sending of God’ describing God’s work on earth. (an apostolic work by definition AND by practise)
So …. You and I, like Jesus, are SENT by God to be his agents of transformation or to re-align stuff with heaven. The Father sent Jesus, Jesus sends us and so on …. (John 17)
We are Christ’s body on earth (he is the head) and as such we have a unique task.
We learn this task from Jesus, from His strategic principles of the mission He was SENT to do
Once we get revelation about the language HE HAD TO USE to achieve that work and realize it is NOT THE SAME as the language we need to use, we start to recognise that the parables (i.e. how they were shaped and targeted) were the key to his communication of truth. They were full of the sort of metaphors that were appropriate for the centre of culture he was challenging.
We desperately need to discover the kingdom language that will communicate truth in OUR kingdom conversations
So … we need to ask the SAME question that Jesus asked to get what He needed in order to get the answer from heaven that we need. His question????
(Mark 4) 30 Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it?
This is missiology training 101 – learn the language of the mission field (i.e. the actual language AND the cultural language descriptors) if we are to teach what Jesus taught in the MANNER he did
I have taught communication and missiology at tertiary level for nearly 30 years and I still do the same thing I always have for the first lesson of any communication class I have had the privilege of mentoring … (so I welcome you to class) I ask them to close their eyes and listen carefully for the language of the kingdom of God, the language of heaven whilst I read the transcript of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Speech to the ‘March’ on Washington – August 1963)
This is a terrific example of a communication of kingdom truth in the language of heaven in answer to the question ‘What shall we say the Kingdom of God is like?
BUT perhaps not until MLK went off script. Yes, he went off script … surprise, surprise
The final thing King says from his script is … “No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
(My interpretation of what witnesses say happened next is that IN THAT MOMENT KING SAW THE PEOPLE IN FRONT OF HIM and right there in the developing sweltering heat – he bantered with them about what they had each come from to be there in the language of their culture).
In the TV recording of his presentation, he obviously shifts and almost chokes as he thought about the next sentence which was supposed to start wrapping the speech up … “And so today, let us go back to our communities as members of the international association for the advancement of creative dissatisfaction.” I think I’d have stumbled over those words at THAT moment also. What King began to say, in a more conversational tone was; “I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulation ……
Witnesses saw him push his notes aside and I believe as he looked out on the people and connected in his HEART to what needed to be conveyed, the Holy Spirit took over.
He continued .. “Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. ….. And then, the I have a dream climax unfolds …
In EVERY one of the ‘I have a dream’ segments, King was describing God’s dream for humanity … and THAT’s the language of heaven which speaks to HEARTS … that was the answer to the question ‘What shall we say the kingdom of God is like? What parable should we use to describe it?’
God’s Dreaming – is one example of a way to describe the kingdom in our conversations that people in our sphere(s) might relate to …
There are a bunch of metaphors for the kingdom (the kingdom of heaven is like ….) that I’ve been trying to discover, to open doors for genuine kingdom conversations that I’ve been engaged in and I’ll share some of them over the next week or two.
I discovered this first one when I was pulling ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ apart in order seek revelation from the Holy Spirit about the kingdom nature of the prayer Jesus taught us.
He prayed to the Father, ‘Your WILL be done ON earth as it is in heaven’ and this is the core of the revelation God gave me which became the HOPE Project.
BUT in seeking deeper understanding about WILL (and the strength of that idea; will being associated with dominance and power OVER),
I sought a definition of ‘will’ from the Greek & Hebrew …
The root word for will in Greek is to ‘want, ‘wish’ ‘desire’
The root word for will in Hebrew is ‘to delight in’ ‘to take pleasure in’ …..
Therefore, perhaps Jesus actually prayed;
‘Your want – wish – desire – delight or pleasure BE done on earth as it is in heaven.’ Together, these descriptive words sound like HOPE to me, they sound like the HEART of God’s purposes to me.
For MLK, to say ‘I have a dream’ is to say ‘I have a wish, a desire, something that would delight me and give me great HOPE’
For me, the Kingdom of God ON earth as it is in heaven is God’s DREAM and in that moment in front of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream aligned with God’s dream.
Do our dreams ALIGN with God’s dream? Have you ever said to someone when they’ve questioned what’s happening in the world, ‘it’s NOT God’s dream for the world’
A chat over coffee about what God’s dream might look like? That’s a kingdom conversation starter right there …
Some review questions you can use to equip or sharpen each other as you engage these tools in kingdom conversations in YOUR spheres of involvement OR patches; ON earth as in heaven.
- In your time of prayer, keep praying for your own spheres of influence and ask the Lord to reveal to you what the ‘cultural centre or icon’ might be in that sphere?
- Take that a step further and in light of what’s culturally important for your sphere, reflect on what language of heaven would be most helpful in engaging with that culture. What metaphor(s) for the kingdom of heaven (e.g. God’s Dream) might be a door opener for discussions with the contacts that God has given you favour and responsibility for?
- Take the challenge of this week’s message and field test what God is revealing to you. Use Graeme’s example as a starting point if that helps. If you believe that God has a dream for your sphere(s), what is that dream? Are you aligned with that dream? How? How not? Write down what you’ve learned and what needs to happen now. Maybe grab a fellow worker first and share what you’ve received, THEN pray for each other as you GO!
- Don’t forget to journal anything and everything that happens so you can share the testimony (victories & struggles) and as such build the story that helps OTHERS find their way on this journey.
Here’s the Link to the home page for all that’s happening with the HUB https://www.corrimalcommunitychurch.com.au/blog