Friday, September 28, 2012

GROWTH HORMONE #3 - LISTENING



If we would listen more and speak less, we would grow in leaps and bounds.  Have you ever noticed how fast-talkers are sometimes slow-thinkers?


Those who feel they have to have a comment and opinion about everything are often rehearsing old lines they picked up from someone else.



Heartfelt, discerning communication does not happen unless there is a listener.  Be the listener.  And when you listen, learn to respond with wise questions that lead the other to dig for the truth they need.

Listening is spiritual discipline as difficult to master as a daily prayer life or habit of reading.


Monday, September 24, 2012

GROWTH HORMONE #2 - TEACHING


Until people understand their responsibility to take what they learn and share it, most will content themselves to remain as a student.


Hebrews 5:
11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn.
12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!
13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.
14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.



The writer in Hebrews was frustrated that these disciples were still dealing with kindergarten knowledge of the Almighty.  For the length of time they were in fellowship with the church they should have been capable of leading and instructing others about walking with God.

Instead, the classroom of the church is often filled with followers in need of constant guidance and direction.  


Those who pastor, teach and counsel are usually willing to help others, but somewhere along the line people need to grow from being co-dependent on their pastor to supporting and teaching others. Your pastor is there to equip you to do the work of ministry in your life. He or she is not the paid professional to do the ministry work that God has for you to do.
 
What is a mature teacher?  He/she is one who is passionate about learning more of their given subject or discipline.  Their fascination is contagious and causes those around them to desire knowledge and wisdom.

Be a passionate learner who seeks to know God.  Share your findings and you will become a teacher.

The child will put the bottle in its mouth or dirt from the garden.  The child is not discriminating and is vulnerable to choking hazards.  The mature person learns to make wise choices about what enters their being.



Thursday, September 20, 2012

GROWTH HORMONE #1 - LEARNING




Let’s look at a few factors that stunt your growth and what it will take to grow again.  Do you want to ‘un-stunt your growth’?  I remember a boy I knew twenty years ago who was undersized and went to the doctor. He was prescribed growth hormones to convince his body to grow again.  Here are several ‘growth hormones’ to help you grow in God.

Growth Hormone #1 – Learning


It’s amazing how many people know very little about the God they love.  It’s an age-old problem with church people who come to Christ but do not get too far past the baby steps of faith.  This was a problem in the Early Church as well.


Hebrews 5:
11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn.
12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!
13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.
14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.


These Jewish believers came to know Jesus as their Messiah.  Still, many Jewish converts struggled with returning to the old ways they were taught before Christ.

The New Testament is ‘new’.  There is new knowledge and understanding to be gained about God’s character, His ways and His plans.  The New Testament is the story of a people meeting God in new ways through Jesus Christ and being refocused for eternal purposes in God’s Kingdom.  It is a departure from keeping an external code of conduct and having the Law of God written into our hearts.  It is a departure from saving ourselves through religion and sacrifice and instead finding a Savior.

If we fast-forward to now, there are many followers who have been introduced to faith but not grown up into creative, responsible adult believers.  They need to get out of the fishbowl of once-a-week religion and enter the ocean of God’s World.  In the fishbowl experience, you get a few flakes from someone else who cares for you.  That’s what you get from Pastor Fish-flake.

In the ocean of God’s Word you hunt for the food that you depend on.

Milk is fed to you, while meat is the food you hunt for yourself.  You can get meat from others, but until you reach the point of getting answers for yourself, you will be satisfied with bottle feeding.

At our church we have a Bible College named Urban Cry School of Mission.[i] We have students from young adulthood to retirement age who are digging into a Bible College education that is having a multiplying effect in their lives.

The seed of God’s Word grows into a fruitful, multiplying, life-giving tree. We have people at retirement age who are growing in new ways because the Word of God is coming alive in them.

Do not believe the lie that you are too old to learn something new. That kind of thinking has stunted the growth of many people and many churches. We all need to be passionate, lifelong learners. That means we will need to become more teachable.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

BE FRUITFUL AND MULTIPLY





New Song Church is one of more than 320 PAOC[i] churches in Western Ontario. One of the ongoing themes for us as a movement is multiplication. In each of our churches we want to ask these questions:





1.     What is your church doing to multiply its ministry in your community?
2.     What are you as an individual believer doing to multiply the work of God in your own life?

Multiplication is a Kingdom of God word. Our District Pastor Lorrie Gibbons said this:

The motive for multiplication is crucial.  The reason to plant, satellite or reach out in a community must, without exception be, to see lives changed by Jesus.
In Galatians 4:19 Paul states, “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you …” 
Paul talks of the commitment he made to builds this church and even likened it to childbirth.  Church multiplication is all about birthing people into the kingdom of God, about providing opportunities for them to find Christ as their savior.[ii]

How many people attend the church you are part of? Can you imagine if every one in your church took the gospel call seriously and determined to lead one person to Jesus this next year? How would you lead another person to live a full-life commitment as a disciple? How is your church thinking and planning in ways that allow it to keep growing? That kind of thinking leads to multiplication.



At my church multiplication takes several forms. In 2010, we began a 2nd service on Sunday morning to reach more people. This month we are launching a 2nd campus on Saturday nights in another location to reach even more people.

We have several community service projects that exist to meet the needs of non-believers in our community. We run a breakfast program, a weekly community meal, a series of concerts called Hardcore Church for local kids who like heavy metal music, community gardening, etc.

As a church we have an identity as ‘the house of God’. We live that out by gathering for worship, teaching, education and all the usual aspects of church life. But in reaching our community, we have built porches around the ‘house of God’.

In older style homes and neighborhoods, you would know your neighbours and visit one another on one another’s porch. Everyone knew plenty about their neighbors because they had a welcome station on the front of the house where you could exchange greetings and beverages. If you got to know someone you liked and trusted, you could enter the home upon invitation.

Too often our churches do not multiply because we have no way to interface with the community God calls us to reach. We want to invite people into our house but we do not have an effective means of first becoming their neighbor.

Our mission in the world is all about multiplication, not division. We are about addition, not subtraction. Jesus said it this way:


Mark 4:
30 “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. 32 Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”


Do you know that God’s potential in your life is like this? You are called to enter a Kingdom that keeps on expanding. From a tiny seed to a large tree, this is how God works in us. Isn’t it interesting that this Kingdom picture includes an eco-system where other parts of creation benefit? The birds would have eaten the seed, but instead they find shelter in its growth. What a picture of how God wants our lives to be.

If the scientists are right, the universe is constantly expanding. Why is that? It is because the Creator is a multiplier. So, what keeps us from experiencing more godly growth in our life?

I have a 120 gallon aquarium at home in my basement. With a mix of different fish I know approximately how large they will grow. An interesting fact about fish is their ability to only grow proportionate to the limitations of their environment.  For example you can catch an infant shark and put it into a saltwater aquarium where it will only grow to a few inches in length.  The same shark turned loose in the ocean can grow to its normal 8-foot length.

Charles Simpson said, “That also happens to some Christians. I've seen some of the cutest little six-inch Christians who swim around in a little puddle. But if you put them into a larger arena--into the whole creation--only then can they become great.” [iii]

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