Monday, March 31, 2008

Easter Sunday Praise

Would anyone like to log on an Easter Sunday praise here?

Michelle and I spent Easter with her family in Merrillville, Indiana. Our son and daughter in law brought little Silas, our first grandchild, now 5 months young to the party later that evening. It was fun, fun, fun.

On Easter morning we went to the family church with Michelle's parents, her brother's family and her grandma Alma (almost 95). We honored Grandma Alma as the matriarch of our faith. Grandma Alma is an amazing lady and one with great vision. She is a huge supporter of the work Michelle and I do to build disciple driven churches where all Christ followers must make disciples who make disciples. When I talk about new believers quickly multiplying other disciples she rejoices with us. She is never threatened by what we do even though it is very different, she understands that God is big enough to do whatever He wants and however He wants outside of any box He wants. Jesus Christ is alive and we celebrate His birth and resurrection.

Thanks to God for Grandma Alma and her way ahead of her years faith in God.

Friday, March 28, 2008

I surely would...

I surely would rather spend all my time investing in a small army of believers who all believe it is their personal responsibility to engage the Great commission mandate to make disciples who also make disciples who also make disciples who...

All fulfillment in my Christ ministry comes from investing the rest of my in this small army of believers who are actively engaging the Great Commission mandate.

Preaching to 1000 or more people who are unwilling to personally make disciples is no longer a dream or a goal for me. I would rather be where the real action is where each one reaches one who reaches another and another and another.

It saddens me that we sell (or sold) the body of Christ short when it comes to disciple making. We really don't believe they can do it so we let em off the hook and take them out of the blessing stream of reaching hundreds to Christ themselves. When this happens, deception has taken root in the Christ family.

Getting new believers to reach others for Christ is the easiest thing I have ever been part of. Watching them bring new believers into the family is the joy of my life. Witnessing them baptize their new convert brings an indescribable joy to the disciple maker who just led his new convert through his first act of obedience as a new believer. And so much more... All of this gives birth to a movement of God an unleashing of the Holy Spirit in majestic power.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Late night thoughts...

Jesus Christ, my Jesus...

Is my Savior
My redeemer
My healer
The God of Glory for all, past-present-future.
Jesus is enough, He is the all I long for.

In the end, If Jesus is all you have, Jesus is all you need.

Jesus isn't an American God. He is the world's Savior.

When was the last time you looked at how the people of Haiti or Africa or Asia looked at Jesus. For them, Jesus is all they have and Jesus is all they need and they know it.

Now what about us. For those of us who have everything and yet are unsatisfied with everything, where is Jesus? Do we need to lose everything to have everything in Jesus?

Is Jesus enough???


The HOPE of the Church...

The Hope of the Church lies with the Church being surrendered to God. Are you satisfied with where you are? If the world's salvation lies with us, what are we doing to reach the lost?

If the Hope of the Church lies with the Church being obedient, how are we doing?

I would contend that the world will be lost (if in the end it is) because the Church refuses to face the fact that soul winning and discipleship is everyone's personal responsibility. It is all about personal sacrifice and commitment to Jesus.

In America, we love the church because the church loves and serves us. The world needs the church because they need our love and service. We don't need our own church (service) serve-us. We need to become the church that serves.

I recently told someone that if they wanted to be a part of the church it would mean they would have to give up "all rights" and "personal expectations" and they would need to "give it all up" with no personal expectation of reward or service. Being in the Body of Christ means "sacrifice" of everything we demand or expect to gain. We must not think that our tithes or service give benefits. The more you serve, the more you must give up for Jesus. The higher you go in church leadership the less rights you actually have. Having leadership in the body of Christ equals total surrender.

The Hope of the Church is for the Church to surrender all, including selfish expectations (serve us).

The Hope of the Church decides the Hope of the world. We decide! We will be held accountable. Are you ready for your reward?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Good stuff

I'm now reading "UNchristian, What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity...And Why It Matters", written by David Kinnann & Gabe Lyons.

"Despite the challenges facing Christianity, there is good news. This research project led Gabe and me to discover thousands of young people who want nothing more than to elevate the relevance of Jesus to our culture. These young believers are very concerned with how Christianity looks to outsiders. They see holes in present day Christianity, but they do not want Jesus to be hijacked, either by reinventing Him or by those whose lives and words do not adequately represent a holy, just, compassionate, and loving God. These young Christians feel disconnection between their lives and the way Jesus lived --a mission to bring the kingdom of God into sharp focus for all people, especially those who have the deepest needs. These young adults worry that the unChristian message has become one of self-preservation rather than one of world restoration."

"One thirty-five year old believer from California put it this way: 'Christians have become political, judgmental,intolerant, weak, religious, angry and without balance. Christianity has become a nice Sunday drive. Where is the living God, the Holy Spirit, an amazing Jesus, the love, the compassions, the holiness? This type of life, how I yearn for that.'"


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Disciple Driven Church Video #4

Check out Disciple Driven Church

Video Four

Disciple Driven Church Video # 1

Check out Disciple Driven Church - "The discipling line"

Video One

Friday, March 21, 2008

Why do so many people hate America?

David had some good thought provoking comments in a recent post so I thought I'd try to learn more from all of you.

I hope this post will not become a bash America post, but I would be interested in knowing how you feel. I was born in America and while we have many flaws and have made millions of mistakes, I am still proud to live in the land of the free. While I am proud to be an American I am also concerned with the world and what we can do to make the world a better place to live. I grieve world violence and the poorest of living conditions around the world and also in America.

My role in the Disciple Driven Church movement is one that seeks to lead people into a relationship with Jesus that releases people from the oppression of Satan and his efforts to destroy and attack what was once a beautiful and perfect creation.

Why do so many hate America? And if you hate America, please don't hate Jesus because of us. Jesus isn't an American Savior, He is the world's Savior.

Easter is...

Easter is the only time in history when Satan and His cohorts were totally silent.

In that moment when Jesus Christ the son of God, the very One and only God was resurrected back to life is the moment Satan was totally defeated.

Satan remains a defeated foe. And those who live for Jesus cannot be defeated.

EASTER SILENCED SATAN AND HIS COHORTS! For Satan and His cohorts there will never be silence again. Only the resurrection of Jesus could silence Satan. Nothing will ever silence him again.

Accusations toward Jesus and His body will prevail, that is, until Satan is bound up and punished for eternity. When He is eternally bound (and he will be) in punishment for his rebellion, then and only then will his accusations turn to everlasting screams for mercy to no avail. We have hope because Jesus died for us. Satan and his cohorts have no hope not today and not for eternity. Their (Satan and His cohorts) doom is certain, judgment is sealed, pardon is not available, eternity is their punishment. There is no hope for him or them. There will be no resurrection for Satan. He gets what he gets because he deserves what he gets because he chooses what he gets and he gets what he gets for turning against God and his efforts to destroy what God values most --His creation. (Trying to catch my breathe).

Satan condemns.....and there is no solution.

Jesus convicts....and there is forgiveness.

The difference makes all the difference.

Are you celebrating yet? Easter silenced Satan and his cohorts. For Him, time stopped for those moments in time! This will never happen again for sure.

Short post

Condemnation from the enemy has no solution....

Conviction from God always has a solution.

Far too many believers are living under the bondage of the enemy for things Jesus has already forgiven and for things already covered with His blood, the shed blood of Jesus on the cross of calvary.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A look at suffering and God...

God does not cause suffering, He allows it. God does not cause pain, He uses it.

Last Friday, March 14th I got out of the hospital after spending 6 nights and 7 days due to complications from a hernia surgery. This is my second surgery in less than a year that had to be redone due to staph infection.

I've come to conclude rather sarcastically that if you want to get sick, go to the hospital and stay their for a while. Even in America? YESSSS!

God does not cause suffering, He allows it. God does not cause pain, He uses it.
Without God allowing suffering in my life, I would have missed some of life's biggest blessings and lessons. Whoever thought that suffering could be beneficial, helpful and positive? Well the truth is, for me, God has used (is using) pain/suffering in my life (Romans 8:28) for my good and His glory.

I'm not trading pain/suffering for the blessings and lessons that come because of it.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The toughest and most powerful lesson of my life..

Throughout my life and ministry God has always tried to pull me back as I often ran ahead of Him. Not always, but as a high "D" driven type and with a driven work ethic it was always a challenge for me to wait.

I now have come to realize that God has placed me in the Disciple Driven Church Project because it requires "wait" and total reliance on God to lead my every steps. Through adverse circumstances in recent years, God has used them (didn't cause them), but used them, to teach me things I may not have learned otherwise.

God is causing me to "wait" in all things. Let me the use fund-raising part of my ministry involvement as an example: As I trust God for our personal financial support and needed Disciple Driven Church Project resources,I have finally "sold out" in the truth that it has everything to do with God. I "dare not" do anything ahead of God without He and He alone first preparing the hearts (soil)and the work He wants to do through Michelle and I. There is nothing I can do to move people to give, God must speak into their hearts. It's a total God thing. God has called us to a Holy Spirit prepared work.

Now the hardest but most effective lesson born through "trials" is the lesson of "waiting" or "going" or "doing" only as God leads. It is during these periods of God appointed "waiting" or "going" or "doing" that the greatest fruit is harvested.

Bragging rights....

I have added two new links to my blog and your visits are well worth your time. Of course we are proud our two kids and their spouses (we love very much) and all their accomplishments, in this post I will talk about Matt and Mel (Melissa).

Michelle and I rarely "publicly" brag on our children but today we want to brag a little, if you don't mind. We are extremely proud of both Matthew who is now 27 years young and Melissa (Mel) who is 26. Their kindness to others and love for God and His creation has profoundly shaped them in ways to numerous to mention here. They have accomplished so much in their young lives. I personally believe their generation is being used by God to change the world as they live their lives with passion for Him.

Mel Barlow (our daughter) has an extremely creative eye (gift) for capturing the moment(s) in her specialized field of wedding photo documentary. Click on the link below and then go to "Mel Barlow Photography" and then to "interview" to see into her life. Her business is based out of California and New York and she travels worldwide as you will see in her work. Even as I write Mel is in the Philippines where she just photographed a spectacular wedding day. Feel free to visit Mel Barlow for a look into her world.

Matt Carder is on staff at Union Chapel United Methodist Church (a Christ family of great influence in Muncie, Indiana), and has an extremely creative gift for effectively communicating the Word of God in the "logos" (the truth) and the "rhema" (revelation of the Holy Spirit). Please feel free to visit Union Chapel and click on "sermons" and scroll for Matt Carder and have a look into his professional and spiritual passion.

We really feel that the prayers of God's people are being answered in their lives. Throughout our ministry our greatest prayer was that our kids would not get spiritually hardened like so many PK's and MK's around the world. In spite of my putting the church first "madness" at times, God protected their hearts.

As you can see we are very proud of what God has done and continues to do in the lives of Matt & Elizabeth as well as Matt & Mel Barlow. I now ask you, my worldwide friends to pray for them. Please also pray for "preacher and missionary kids" and their families as they endure the kind of hardships Paul the apostle spoke of.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Pagan Christianity rebuttal #4

In "Pagan Christianity" by Barna and Viola, we see a strange twist in the chapter on the Bible is not a Jigsaw.

They wrote, using Mr. Joe Household who grew up in the institutional church. "Mr. Joe Household has lifted three verses out of context. In Matthew 28:19 and Mark 16:15 Jesus is sending His apostles. And in Acts5:42, these same apostles are preaching the Gospel. In the original Greek, the Great Commission reads:'Having gone your way...' Therefore is a prophecy ('having gone'), not a command ('Go'). The Lord did not command the apostles to go, He told them that they would be going."

The Planter speaks: I believe Barna and Viola just violated their own argument against taking Scriptures out of context in the above quote.

In the Great Commission Jesus said, "Go and make disciples... (not having gone your way as they suggest). The word "GO" actually means, "As you are going make disciples..." Jesus was giving a command as God and with all power as the resurrected King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He didn't come back and have an idle speech (chit chat), He came in power and boldness and with great authority as God. It was as if Jesus (if you can picture it) takes time to make a huge point before ascending into heaven to remind the apostles -those dear to Him, those He trusted fully to take this command seriously and teach/preach it to others. This Great Commission command was a culmination of His life and the passing of His mantle of reaching the world He came to redeem through His death and resurrection.

I now believe for some it will take a Holy Spirit "Rhema" or Holy Spirit revelation in order for them to see this truth and all of it's implications for believers. You must not read this passage just in the Logos but it must be read with both the Logos (truth) and Rhema (revelation)of the Holy Spirit.

We treat this passage with little importance when Jesus made the point in the manner He gave it to show it's importance. We have done a great injustice to the life and message of Christ by minimizing His command to suit ourselves at the huge loss of souls we are supposed to reach. Why? Because Jesus said so. :)

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Are Church

Are we "Going to Gather" or "are we Gathering to Go"?

Was there a time in Church history when the Body of Christ gathered as believers to go into the world? Did that gathering include unbelievers? Are there Scriptures that back up your answers?

This discussion will lead to a greater question plaguing my mind.

The problem needing an answer..

My friend Dave D writes, Hey Bob - you are right on! The danger of attractionalism is that it attracts to Church instead of attracting to Jesus!!!

How can we fix this problem?

Widely Ignored TRUTH....OUCH!

As a pastor for in great churches in Indiana and Illinois, for the most part it was full of joy and fulfillment. I saw people come to Christ. I saw marriages healed. We witnessed those with huge addictions delivered by the power of God.

I was also grieved deeply over the sins of the church. I preached about gossip, selfishness, condemnation on others, the Great Commission mandate, the need to stop being pew potatoes and get off the duff and go to work, I often spoke against the feed me mentality. I even liked Christians to being spiritual porkers eating at the spiritual buffet of options and regular feedings.

I have repented for not insisting with more boldness that these things and others be evident in all the hearts present. Sometimes at risk of offending my boldness was toned down.

1. I should have gotten every believer in discipling relationship and actively engaging the Great Commission.
2. I should have boldly called out the sin of not personally engaging the Great Commission instead of just saying "Amen" to the great messaging and then letting the church ministries fulfill the Great Commission.I failed to hold members accountable to obey these things.
3. I should have rebuked pastors and denominational leaders for encouraging the church to lay down on the Great Commission. It's not called "Great" for nothing.

But back then, I was doing what I was taught to do and how to do it. And I learned what I learned to do and I did what I learned to do very well. It wasn't that God didn't show, because He did. He worked in spite of me and others. So just as I needed grace, we all need it because it was as if our eyes were blinded from this mandate truth and it's implications for the kingdom.

As pastors and denominational leaders we have failed in teaching and leading people to fulfill the mission of Christ. We do a great work to fill meet great needs but in doing so we have cheapened grace and watered down obedience. I grieve that the congregations I served may never taste the sheer joy leading someone to Christ in natural settings as a normal part of their lives. We all get grace for not knowing how important this is. Even pew sitters who let the church program fulfill the great commission without personally owning it, get grace. THAT IS UNTIL NOW! We must live the Truth or stand before God alone, not having even one disciple.

Those Pastors/denominational leaders and believers who now know this truth mandate must proclaim it with boldness that "Christ followers must personally engage the mandate of the Great Commission as a supreme act of obedience". To obey or not to obey is the question. We must teach them/equip them and release them to return with a level of accountability much like Wesley's groups. Isn't this more important than singing in the choir or something? (Actually we should do away with the choir, my greatest church problems/divisive actions came through the choir. Isn't this true for most of you reading this? I have discovered that two or three rotten eggs can cause quite a stink in the choir loft. Enough sarcasm and statements without thinking.)

I am finding that all new believers we are reaching just normally accept the mandate of the Great Commission while many leaders and believers defend this truth away in some sort of excusing themselves away. When we lead someone to Jesus in our disciple driven church project they immediately go out and lead others. They do it because we immediately teach them the supremacy of the Great Commission and that it is their responsibility and then we show them how to do it -- that's the easy part.

What part of this blog bothers you? Is my choir thoughts and my need to forgive the 2 or 3 rotten eggs? Or, is it the bold proclamation regarding our new job description. Or do you agree with some part of this?

GRACE THOUGHTS: I really love choral music and those who allow the Holy Spirit to sing through them. I have been blessed many a time. But the truth remains, a few rotten eggs in the choir seem to always win and poison others leading to divisiveness. Because of this I was often tempted to shut down the choir. At the same time I can honestly say that I love every choir member I served with in ministry. God has given me a grace that heals.

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