New Testament Church Proliferation Digest

 

Spreading the Gospel via House Churches

 


New Testament Church Proliferation Digest Saturday, January 26 2002 Vol 02 : 022
Re: [NTCP] Re: Wounds Upon Wounds
[NTCP] 1 million house churches in the US
Re: [NTCP] Re: Wounds Upon Wounds
Re: [NTCP] Re: Wounds Upon Wounds
Re: [NTCP] 1 million house churches in the US
Re: [NTCP] Early church practice (was: cell groups) - response to Link
Re: [NTCP] 1 million house churches in the US
Re: [NTCP] Re: Wounds Upon WoundsHi TC and Sam! (fwd)
Re: [NTCP] 1 million house churches in the US
RE: [NTCP] 1 million house churches in the US
Re: [NTCP] Re: Wounds Upon WoundsHi TC and Sam! (fwd)
[NTCP] Re: Wounds

Date: Sat, 26 Jan 2002 07:58:50 -0800
From: jferris
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Re: Wounds Upon Wounds

Perhaps I should add one more thing to the last. In times like this it's
imporant to take stock of the condition of our heart.

Are you offended?

Deuteronomy 21:22-23, "And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and
he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: His body shall not
remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day;
(for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which
the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

Galatians 3:11, "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a
curse for us, for it is written: `Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree."

John 19:31, "Now it was the day of preparation, and the next day was to be a
special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses
during the Sabbath, they asked to have the legs broken and the bodies taken
down."

Ephesians 4:25-27, "Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak
truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. `In your anger
do not sin': Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not
give the Devil a foothold."

Galatians 5:11, Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still
being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished.

John 6:61, "Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to
them, `Does this offend you?"

Offense, and offend, these are two words much in use where the contents of our
hearts are concerned. It is written, "Out of the fullness of the heart, the
mouth speaks." Grumbling is symptomatic of a heart full of offence.

According to Strong's, the word "offend" as here used, has the meaning "cause
to sin". The word "offence" comes from the Greek word, "scandalon ... a trap
stick (bent sapling) ... stumbling block."

Our present focus, is not so much with the one who offends, as with the one
offended. Surely it does not go too far to say that the offendedness of the
church in our day is a scandal, to borrow a Greek word. The degree of the
division in the church is the degree of the offendedness in the hearts of the
saints. The degree to which the church has offended the world is a subject for
another exploration.

GRIEVING THE SPIRIT

The Scriptures tell us that grieving the Holy Spirit is an unforgivable sin.
This is to say that there is a connection between grieving the spirit and
unforgiveness. Unforgiveness is a negative reaction to a thought word or deed.

Jesus said in this connection, "Anyone who speaks a word against the son of man
will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against against the Holy Spirit will
not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come." Matthew 12:32

According to the Scripture we are made up of spirit, soul and body. I
Thessalonians 5:23.

With the above as background, then we would like to take a little closer look
at unforgiveness based on our own experience and in light of the Scriptures.

To be offended is to have a negative reaction. When our body reacts negatively
it is more or less obvious to others. When our mind, will and emotions react
negatively it may or may not be immediately obvious. When our spirit reacts
negatively, it may be very difficult to detect.

II Corinthians 2:15, "... he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he
himself is judged of no man."

One aspect of spiritual maturity is that a spiritual man becomes increasingly
sensitive to thoughts words and deeds, while at the same time becoming less
outwardly reactive to such things. A spiritual man is redemptive, not
alienated. The spirit, even the spiritual aspect or spirit of man is very
sensitive. It is like an early warning system. The spirit is the first thing
that gets hit by an offence. It is immediately grieved, even before the mind
will and emotions have had the opportunity to sense and respond to the offense.
In this sense then, the spirit is already affended before the mind gets the
opportunity to take the offense captive.

DIVINE WEAPONS

II Corinthians 10:4, "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty
through God... and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of
Christ."

This is to say, once the the offense gets to the thought level, there are
things that we can do about it. Because God has equipped us for this kind of
battle, we have the responsibility to use these weapons and not be offended,
not sin. "Be angry and sin not."

Our faith governs our reality, for "faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen." "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the
Word of God." Faith determines the contents of our thoughts, and,.. "As a man
thinks, so he is."

"We believe, and so we speak... "Jesus was never scandalized, never trapped,
never sinned. "To offend is to cause to sin." Jesus is for us the love of God.
God's kind of love does not take up an offence.

John 16:1, "These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be
offended."

In Matthew 18, Jesus discusses the problem with offending and being offended.
Peter wants to know just how many times he must forgive in a given day, "seven
times?" Jesus multiplies the number into the ridiculous, "... seventy times
seven." This could hardly mean that we should become accountants. adding up
offenses that come our way. It can only mean that we ought to be unoffendable.

Most of the messages I have ever heard preached from Matthew 18 are concerned
with going in private to a "... brother who has trespassed against us." And
usually, going to one that we may have offended is included in the same
message. Having spent a good deal of my early years in the Lord, "going to" or
chasing down offenses, either mine or others, I should say that a word needs to
be said in behalf of being unoffendable.

Matthew 18:7, "Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be
that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!"

Why shouldn't we be offended? There are three good reasons which come
immediately to mind. First, Jesus was offended for us, "... the offence of the
cross." From that cross, He forgave those who had offended, those who crucified
Him. Was there ever such an occasion for offense? Or, in the words of Jeremiah,
"Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Behold, and see if there be any
sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me , wherewith the Lord hath
afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger." (Lam. 1:12)

Second, being offended takes too much time and energy. I found that I was used
up trying to put things right, with those whom I had offended. Then I noticed
that Jesus offended almost everyone at one time or another, especially
religious leaders. Nowhere does the record suggest that he chased them down
looking for their forgiveness.

Third, being offended when the sun goes down, makes, "... a place for the
devil." The problem is that when we hang on to these offenses in our hearts,
they fester and rot there, they become the smell of death. We might be able to
get used to the smell and not notice, but others notice right away, especially
the Devil and his demonic helpers. Like a dead animal in the desert, the
vultures come.

These second two reasons for not being offended are really secondary. The
first, and most important one has to do with the object of our faith. It has to
do with Jesus on the cross, "Jesus and him crucified", what He accomplished
there, and what God was saying to us from the cross.

THE CROSS

On the cross, Jesus forgave us for putting Him there, and he did this before
the sun went down. In fact he had already worked it through where he was able
to make intercession for us with His Father, "Father forgive them for they know
not what they do." For Jesus to pray that prayer, He first had to have it
settled in His own heart.

The reason that we know that it was finished before the sun went down is
because there was a "special Sabbath" coming with sunset. He had to be off that
cross by sun down so that the people of God could enter His rest.

Has anyone said or done anything to you that Jesus has not already forgiven?
or, as Paul said, "Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I do
not inwardly burn." (II Cor. 11:29) As the title for one of his books, Paul
Bilheimer puts it this way, "Don't waste your sorrows."

What is it in you that causes you to be offended, except perhaps your sense of
how things ought to be? Jesus had a sense of how things should be. In His
flesh, that sense was abolished, nailed to the tree, "Having abolished in his
flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances:.."
(Eph. 2:15)

The day He said I love you, His expectations were nailed to the tree. Where are
your expectations?

"If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross,
and follow me." Mat. 16:24

Jay Ferris - October 1999


------- <><><> -------


Date: Sat, 26 Jan 2002 09:41:22 EST
From: DenverWH
Subject: [NTCP] 1 million house churches in the US

Dear Church Planting Friends,

I am sometimes amazed at all of the energy expended on the various topics
discussed by this group. I'm sure they all have value but to me the central
issue is how can we make disciples of every people group (ethne) through the
rapid multiplication of NT churches. The question is: what moves us towards
that objective?

I want to suggest that one (not the only) key element is simplicity. Only that
which is simple can multiply rapidly. (See Wolfgang Simson's comparison of the
multiplication of rabbits vs elephants.) Now, I'm not hostile to the
traditional church. I rejoice at any place where Jesus is proclaimed (Phil.
1:15-18). However, I believe that what is needed is a 'rabbit plague'. To say
it another way, a massive and spontaneous expansion (thank you, Roland Allen)
of organic NT churches. Specifically, I'm praying for 1 million new house
churches in the US in this decade.

Any body want to talk about that?

John White
House Church Coach
Denver, CO.


------- <><><> -------

Date: 26 Jan 2002 10:05:44 -0500
From: Mike Sangrey
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Re: Wounds Upon Wounds

Dear brother TC,

You have caught a number of pieces of God's vision. Keep praying and earnestly
desire God to realize that vision. Continue to look at the people who are all
around you and earnestly desire God to love those people. Continue to be
resigned to whatever, however, whenever God wants to move forward with His
vision by tasking you with a task to do. Joy comes in the morning after a night
of darkness.

On Fri, 2002-01-25 at 23:19, TheologusCrucis wrote:
>
>[snip]

I know you didn't ask for advice, and I'm going to try to not give you any
(other than what I hope was some encouragement above). I would, if I may, like
to help a little with the question you ask in the next paragraph. Your
question may indicate more just frustration on your part--if so, I understand
(at least I understand as much as I am able to). But perhaps I can share
something that will trigger a little something in your mind to help you through
this. If nothing else, I think (I pray) that what I say below may help some
others on this list.

You ask: "why can't I get these people to see?"

>Everyone, at the moment I am one confused unit. What we are doing isn't new or
>even cutting edge -- why can't I get these people to see? I realize that my
>vision of church, if it ever caught on, would end the incorporated church and
>a "professional" clergy, and is therefore a threat to them. But I really don't
>think they understood enough to get all that, and what chance is there that
>what I do will alter anything on a District level? And I realize that on paper
>I'm no bargain -- I'm a 38 year old ex-youth pastor working in the Campus Food
>center. Sometimes life is all hard edges and bright, glaring lights. Why
>should they think what I see can become reality?
>

Well, it's not your fault. But let me try to bring what I hope will be some
clarity.

I think there is a better way of looking at "it" than as a threat. I don't
think these people are really threatened by these "novel" ideas. Many react in
a way that can better be described by their expressing: "Gosh, what a silly set
of ideas." That doesn't strike me as they're being threatened.

It's a world-view sort of thing. You know you've bumped up against a
world-view when the person looks at you and says, "If I believed that, I
wouldn't know who I am." And I think that's the issue.

Picture if you will me coming up to you and saying, "Hey, I got this
handy-dandy little device here that uses the electrical differences which exist
between different molecules in the air. It sums all these differences together
and produces enough energy to power things. I can make one about half the size
of a dishwasher and it will power your whole house. For nothing! It just,
literally, takes electrical power right out of the air."

Think about what that might mean. The whole oil industry. Well, actually, the
whole oil economy. No pollution. No electric bills. Automobiles run for free.
Hmmmm...what would people in power do with unlimited free power? I could go
on. It's Nirvana. It's Horror.

My point is that EVERYTHING changes. Not only are their jobs completely
unimportant, but they have no clue how anyone else can function in this new
church you're talking about. It's like landing on a planet where the music
smells funny and petunias are everyone's favorite mathematical property.
Nothing fits.

Your world-view, which I happen to quite agree with (at least in this area)
doesn't fit in their world. The end result is that the gears of your world and
the gears of their world do not mesh. That has resulted in more than just
blank stares in meetings; meetings which look all the world like they had a
hidden agenda. More than watching someone you thought was a friend sit in that
meeting and NOT take on the risk you have suddenly found yourself taking. It
also means paying bills doesn't quite work the right way; and a lot of other
practical, mundane things, too. A somewhat intelligent person working at a
mundane job, for example. Go figure. Your world view doesn't FIT in the
system. And the clash is clearly felt--it's all that pain you feel.

What to do?

You could go through the gut-wrenching effort of changing your world-view to be
like there's. I know this sounds like living a lie; but what this option
really means is becoming someone different than you are. If you do that, then
it won't be a lie your living...errrr...at least you won't sense that it is.
Everyone feels quite comfortable within their world-view. This really is what
you're asking these other people to do--change there world-view. It doesn't
work for them; it won't work for you either.

When Jesus said take up your cross and follow me, what did he mean? I know the
various ways that's understood, some are better than others. But I think what
that is really getting at is that each of us must choose our own amount of pain
to bear in order to focus on the needs of others. Read Luke 14:27, but read it
WITH the context of Luke 13:31-15:32. Notice how much value Jesus places on
others. But also notice Jesus didn't say you were to pick up HIS cross. It's
YOUR cross. You have to make the decision based on an enormous number of
variables which relate to who you are, where you are, and all the rest of the
stuff that makes up your life. God may very well take you beyond a threshold
so that you will function with moderate ease and conviction with a level pain
you CAN bear. But in all cases, it's YOUR cross.

He doesn't want you to be functionless. Living in too much pain will make a
person functionless. So, I'm not advocating a martyr complex. However, He also
realizes that reversing entropy in people's lives takes moving a fair amount of
energy from one place to another. And everyone plays their part. Some are at
the front of the procession; some are at the end. But, the first shall be last
and the last first. It's your decision and people are important. Even those
people with that funny world-view.

Bearing the pain, taking in the pain, appears to be a mechanism by which we
bring about salvation for others. Jesus bore an enormous amount of pain, and
thus He is called the Christ (the Messiah). We, likewise, follow in His
procession, and so, we are called Christians (followers of Christ). I'm not
saying our pain saves others; but it appears to me to be part of what makes it
happen. It's the "fellowship of sharing in his sufferings."

>[snip]
>
>Blessings to you all,
>
>TC

And to you, too.

"Finally, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord!"

- -- Mike Sangrey
Landisburg, Pa.

"The first one last wins." "A net of highly cohesive details reveals the truth."


------- <><><> -------


Date: Sat, 26 Jan 2002 15:25:42
From: "David Jaggernauth"
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Re: Wounds Upon Wounds

Sam said:

"TC, it is not your job to make them see. They see what they want to see.

Dear TC,

Sam is correct. I decided long time ago to stop trying to show my old
institutional church people the truth.

Like I said before, its God's job to save His Church, not ours.

I want you to know you are not alone in this, I realise many of us have had our
own unique experiences since leaving the establisment but all of us have one
common thing, the assurance that we are in the will of God.

My group and I will be praying for you from this day until your breakthrough
comes. I will be sharing your post with them. I know your breakthrough is near.
God sometimes likes to takes us to the edge before He shows up, he always does
with me.

Remember Abraham? God told him to leave the Chaldees that he was going to take
him to a new land. He also gave him seven promises ( genesis 12:1-3) He left
home and travelled for many miles in the desert and where did he end up?? In
verse 10. A famine, not only was it famine but a man tried to take his wife
from him!

I realised some time ago that for my ministry to become what i want it to I
will have separate it from the institutional church . Even the one I am
attending right now. I am fortunate that I have someone held in very high
esteem in the body in my country who understands our vision because he shares
it as well. I do not try to share my vision with any and everyone I meet, there
are many who cannot see or understand unless they pass through what I have.

Abraham walked alone with God and sometimes we have to muster the faith to do
the same. The greatest miracles happen when we walk alone with God.

May God's grace and mercy abound towards you and your family.

David Jaggernauth
Trinidad.


------- <><><> -------


Date: Sat, 26 Jan 2002 10:35:30 -0500
From: "Michael Gastin"
Subject: Re: [NTCP] 1 million house churches in the US

Hey Coach,

Sure. I want to talk about this.

I do not know if you have been reading my posts in the last week or so, but I
too would like to talk more and hear more from others as they endeavor to
plant, plant, plant.

I am located in Western NY and have a group that meets weekly in our home. My
wife and I are praying that the Lord will open the floodgates and that we will
be able to plant a whole network of house church's in our immediate region.
Right now we are simply praying and seeking the Lord. We do share what we do
with some brothers and sisters that have been rejected by the institutional
church or have trouble identifying with the institutional church , but that
has been the extent of our outreach to date.

Mike Gastin Average Work-A-Day Joe Nunda, NY


------- <><><> -------


Date: Sat, 26 Jan 2002 10:39:06 -0500
From: David Anderson
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Early church practice (was: cell groups) - response to Link

>There are some on this list that have been beligerent and very strong willed
>in their opinions, and some of us have had to continually defend and justify
>what we are and believe. This wears us out.

Hi Sam,

There is but ONE FAITH and ONE LORD, regardless of the rest. Nobody gets to
give up on other brethren regardless of how stupid they are in our eyes. Nor
are they of "another kingdom" if they are children of the King. Why not make
the extra effort to answer or refute your adversaries rather than write them
off?

I know we all have limits ...

Link is right on. The previous generation of house church people, pretty much
lined up to take turns kicking and poking at the " great institutional church
whore." Many house churchers pretended that they had the sole franchise on
things like "truth" "revelation" and "intimacy."

>Unfortunately many of 'us' have been demonized by former friends and even
>associates in the ministry. So what are we to think or say or do if we cannot
>speak out safely about planting house church's on this list?

You CAN and SHOULD speak about planting house churches, which is what people
expect to find when they sign up here. Something else you can do to improve
this list is to follow the posting guidelines. NTCP wasn't set up as a chat
room. Chat is a great thing, btw. Wonder how you would like to go into court
and present your evidence one time and your opponents took the stand 3 or 4
times, guaranteeing themselves the last word on every point? I write that NOT
to discount your opinions but to appeal to you to spread yourself out a little
more. And also, you and others should send your "amen" messages via private
mail, unless they contain reasons for the "amen."

Obviously a group this size is able of producing more than the rest can read
each day.

Well, thanks for venting, brother. Keep the good stuff coming. I'm now heading
for my son's Pinewood Derby on this beautiful day.

David Anderson


------- <><><> -------


Date: Sat, 26 Jan 2002 13:02:57 -0800
From: jferris
Subject: Re: [NTCP] 1 million house churches in the US

DenverWH wrote:

>To say it another way, a massive and spontaneous expansion (thank you, Roland
>Allen) of organic NT churches. Specifically, I'm praying for 1 million new
>house churches in the US in this decade.
>
>Any body want to talk about that?

Seems like the new creation is a lot like the old one, where growth is
concerned. (Romans 1:20: "For the invisible things of him from the creation of
the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even
his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:")We might be
more fruitful by reproduction than mass production. The quality of the fruit
might even be better.

Yours in Christ,

Jay


------- <><><> -------


Date: Sat, 26 Jan 2002 16:04:12 -0500
From: forwarded
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Re: Wounds Upon WoundsHi TC and Sam! (fwd)


From: Zeekster(--AT--)prodigy.net (orig sent as web mail, thus too long -
forwarder)

I totally agree with everything you've shared. I too, being an AG guy, after a
number of years, became very dissatisfied with how ministry was done and the
values that were embraced. Once I became aware of cells and house churches I as
ruined (in a good way). I knew in my spirit there was no going back to a
program minded, numbers driven, professionally clergy led thing. At first, I
did think that I could come back to my current staff situation and share the
new revelation that I had received but it was futile. While my Pastor agreed
with the values of cells/house churches, there was no way he was going to
release people to do it. For two years I would occasional push the idea but in
the end it only made me more frustrated and caused a distance in my
relationships with the rest of the staff.

Well, I then decided it was time for me to leave and my Pastor was very
supportive of that and agreed to work with me as I transitioned to a new place
of ministry. After about a year of searching, I was courted by a church in
central Florida to become their new Pastor. I was somewhat excited, yet at the
same time hesitant knowing that I wanted to do church differently. The church
and I talked numerous times and they then decided to come visit me in NJ to see
me in my own element. They liked what they saw but were a little skeptical in
some of my views about church. Upon them leaving they decided to have me come
for the week to their church. We met everyone, took in the area, talked some
more and in the end decided that this was the place for us. The asked us to
come based on their desire to change and walk in a new expression of church. We
definitely thought that's the way it was going to be.

Surprise! Upon us getting here, in a very short time, they started restricting
me and wanted to pull me back into the old wine-skin. The church was around a
120 people and quickly became a church of 80 people. They weren't going to
stick around and follow this young pastor (34) who didn't wear a suit and tie,
didn't want to be addressed as "Pastor" and who wouldn't pray for everyone in
the house, and facilitated meeting times where everyone was encouraged to
participate. In the end, they just wanted "good old church". Following a year
of this friction, my wife and I decided to resign (I'm sure they were going to
ask us anyway) and let them have their church back. They were very fair in
giving us a 5 month severance package to help us out being that we just
purchased a new home and the understanding that it takes a good amount of time
to transition in ministry.

A few weeks after my resignation, I received a phone call from a pastor friend
in NJ who was the sectional rep for new church plants and wanted to know if I
was interested. At first I told him no, that I wasn't interested in doing some
stereotype AG church plant. He assured me that there would be room for
expression and that if it was up to Him, there wouldn't be a problem if I never
owned a building, had church sat., Friday or any other day of the week, or that
it didn't look AG. I said if that's the way it's going to be then let's get the
ball rolling. I have to mention that I was still a bit hesitant, knowing in my
heart that the District would probably have a hard time swallowing it.

To get the ball rolling I first filled out the church planting application.
Based on their approval of that I then Had the church planter's evaluation
which I scored very highly and in their eyes deemed a worthy candidate to be a
church planter. I shared with them my vision for a new expression of church and
that's where they started getting nervous. Following additional phone
conversations and emails, they decided to pull the plug. It didn't surprise me
but I was totally disappointed in how they dealt with it. It was the same
bureaucratic way of how they always operate. I knew my days were numbered with
the AG. I'm not bitter but rather disappointed because I was faithful in what
was expected of me, had good relationships with everyone, but because I see
things differently, there's no room for me. I have since let my ordination
lapse.

Right now my family and I are ending the end of my severance package. I have
continuously looked for work to support my family and have found nothing that
will even come close to meeting our needs. The pay is terrible. We have even
put our home on the market but there have been no offers as of yet. We are
prepared to relocate or downsize in order to do whatever it takes. It has been
very frustrating because while I'm open to work a job, I'm not all that
qualified to do much being that the majority of my experience has been
full-time ministry the past 11 years. The work environment isn't too friendly
to ministry experience. The other thing is that I've been very sensitive to not
just jump back into the church to just have a job. It's very difficult not to
do.

The past several months we have had little fellowship with like hearted
believers. The church we left practically broke off all relationship with us.
That hurt a bit! WE have occasionally gone to a church down the street that it
seeker sensitive but it lacks depth of relationship and we don't share the same
values when it comes to the moving of God's Spirit. While there are literally a
few hundred churches around us, their mostly just "doing church" as we've
always known it. I can't even get motivated to go out there and look for
anything else, its so discouraging. People mostly like their good old time
religion.

All this to say that I relate with where you are TC and I would appreciate your prayers as well. We really need direction what to do from here and an open door for good employment.

Thanks everyone for listening. Really like all the insight that I've been
reading. Glad that there are others out there to share this journey that all of us are on.

Grace and peace,

Zeekster


------- <><><> -------


Date: Sat, 26 Jan 2002 14:21:45 -0700
From: "John Cooke"
Subject: Re: [NTCP] 1 million house churches in the US

now your talking my language

John Cooke church planting coach


------- <><><> -------


Date: Sat, 26 Jan 2002 15:55:18 -0600
From: "Tony Dale"
Subject: RE: [NTCP] 1 million house churches in the US

Count me in!

Thanks,

Tony

www.thekarisgroup.com


------- <><><> -------


Date: Sat, 26 Jan 2002 17:44:58 EST
From: TheologusCrucis

Subject: Re: [NTCP] Re: Wounds Upon WoundsHi TC and Sam! (fwd)

Zeekster,

Welcome to the world of "between a rock and a hard place!" I know EXACTLY the
temptation of what a salary in an institutional church means. A local
Congregational Church was looking for a program Director when I first came to
Amherst, and they were paying generously for a limited part-time position. I
thought, 'Why not? Work there until things get going." Well, things aren't
going, and now things are getting tense all over again because of my different
values and priorities. All for about $600 bucks a month. Without the District
paying our GSL and this $, we wouldn't have been able to move here or to
continue to stay here.

I've come to the conclusion that to do what I want to do vision wise demands
the engagement in the community that employment brings -- I can't not be
bi-vocational. I love working beside the people I work with, as in all the
years on church staff I rarely came into contact with the "lost," except as a
target group abstractly. But like you, what hourly job am I qualified for that
will meet our needs and obligations? God placed me at U-Mass as a center of
community and as a good, secure unionized job! If we had no debt now except for
a car payment, car insurance, rent, food, clothes, etc., we could actually live
on what my wife and I make. Barely.

But God is good, Zeekster (love the name!), and He is always faithful! I have
been struck often by the opening of Romans chapter 5:

"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our
Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace
in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." vv. 1, 2

Our position in Christ is one of peace with God and hope for the future. But it
is only the beginning of trial and tribulation:

"And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation
produces endurance, and endurance, character; and character, hope." vv. 3, 4

Salvation doesn't shied us from the results of living in a fallen world. It
actually increases the chance for pain and suffering. Jesus warned us that if
the world hated Him, it will hate us as well. As a Pentecostal, it used to be
hard for me to reconcile this with the "Victorious Christian Life" and
deliverance stuff taught to me growing up. Now, with a little experience and
maturity, I'm beginning to realize that God didn't save us from trouble and
trial, He sent a Way to be saved in them and through them:

"Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in
our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given us." v. 5

The Holy Spirit has been given us like a seed into fertile ground. It grows
giving us the harvest of the attitude and character of Jesus, "But the harvest
of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, and self control." Galatians 5:22, 23

I think it was this very life of God in Paul that prompted him to write earlier
in the Galatian letter that "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer
I that live, but Christ lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I
live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave His life for me."
Galatians 2:20

I'll walk with you in the "Desert of the Real," Zeekster! I'll pray that both
of us can walk by faith and not by sight while facing harsh choices and
personal grief and sorrow. I'll pray that "the God of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of glory, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the
knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you
might know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of
His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power
towards us who believes, according to the working of His mighty power...."
Ephesians 1:17-19 (As you can tell, I've been praying and searching Scriptures
myself -- I'm trying to encourage myself as much as I am writing to you)

Wanna come over here and plant a community of believers with me, Zeekster?
Blessings to you and to your family, and provision as well,

TC


------- <><><> -------


Date: Sat, 26 Jan 2002 18:02:35 EST
From: TheologusCrucis

Subject: [NTCP] Re: Wounds

Howdy, everyone.

I just wanted to thank each of you who responded to my post! I am encouraged.
I'd also like to thank everyone who didn't respond except by beginning to pray.
Thank you for being my brothers and sisters in Christ!

TC

PS: MW, you wrote,

TC, Count on it! I am in the same place. Well almost, I have lost hope in the
vision I thought God gave me. Anyway, I do and will pray for you.

MW

I will pray for you as well, that God will reaffirm the hope in the vision and
mission that He gave you. God's blessings and great love to you!

New Testament Church Proliferation Digest V2 #22

< Previous Digest Next Digest >




house church eldership servanthood lord's day lord's supper world missions