Friday, December 30, 2011

Introducing The 8 Keys of Discipleship


            Our desire is to produce unreasonable, unorganized, uncompromising, focused spiritual people who will carry out the desire of Christ to reach a lost and dying world. The 8 Keys of Discipleship represent 8 Key Truths which form a framework to help in this process as you learn to walk with God yourself in the freedom and power that is rightfully yours as His child and to help others do the same.
This book is a working textbook so you will have a clear plan on how to be a Kingdom disciple and how to make Kingdom disciples that truly function as disciples of the great commission. Each person who works through these teachings will know how to walk with the Lord in freedom and joy, see others come to Christ and know how to equip the new disciple to reproduce their lives to do the same.
We have written a short synopsis of each key followed by many Scriptures for you to explore on your own under Discovering Each Key.   Then go back and focus on those keys the Lord is speaking to you about. 
You can only disciple people to the level you are yourself. If you are not living free you will not be able to disciple others to be free.
The Scriptures are the most important part of this study. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God.  We believe God will speak to you as you read His Word; He will reveal His truth to you and teach you about His gospel. 
The first three keys are consecutive.  Keys 4-8 are one set.  All five are true for you now as a believer in Jesus Christ. So feel free to jump around and explore the keys.  Learn and grow, live free and disciple others to do the same.
We want to encourage you to sit with God, and read His Word to KNOW HIM, not just to finish a study.  Following the Scripture verses, we have a deeper study of each key called Going Deeper.  In this section, you will walk through the key, digging deeper into this particular part of the gospel.
You can only disciple people to the level you are yourself. If you are not living free you will not be able to disciple others to be free.  So it is critical that you dig into this study for yourself, to know your God and to love Him. As you walk with God, learning to listen to Him and move with Him, He will give you opportunities to disciple others, teaching them all He teaches you. 
Discipleship is a living process, not a system of lessons to teach. Discipleship is not just a Sunday school class or bible study.  Discipleship is not just memorizing Bible verses. Kingdom disciples follow the wisdom of God in a person, not personality, though sometimes personality initially attracts.  Wisdom is what the heart of a true disciple seeks.  They seek to know God and live for His glory alone.
  Knowing and loving God is foundational. We are not interested in just giving you more Bible knowledge or information about God. Many of you have had plenty of Bible knowledge. Has that knowledge alone given you peace and joy and an unshakeable security in your life?  We also are not interested in helping you just survive on this planet, to struggle through the Christian life.  We are interested in helping you to truly thrive, to be all you were created by God to be in Christ! Knowing God is the true Key. You will learn how to be a disciple of His. As
If you are tired of trying to change yourself, tired of trying to find joy and meaning, tired of not feeling good enough or worthy, or tired of trying to do enough for God, then come and find rest.
your love for Him grows, His passion will drive you right into the centre, into the very heart and activity of God.
            The 8 Keys of Discipleship express the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The first three keys — Realize, Admit, and Surrender — focus on who God is, on who we were before we knew Him, and what God did in Jesus Christ to bring us to Himself.
            The next five keys — Believe, Transform, Abide, Love, and Reign — are all true for believers, from the moment we surrendered our lives to God.
The first three keys are progressive.  You must realize who God is, know your condition and surrender to Jesus to enter the Kingdom of God.  The next five keys are not progressive. They express the reality of being a believer in Jesus Christ. They are the foundational reality of the Christian life. As you understand and believe that this reality, as expressed in God’s Word, is true for you, you will begin to experience the free and abundant life in Christ.
It is critical to understand how the gospel flows and works in the human heart.  You are a living system and the life of Christ is living in you also.  As you study the 8 Keys, we encourage you to sit with God and listen to Him. Come with no agenda but to know Him. He will reveal the mystery of the gospel to you. As you look at this book, pulling one key out too long and focusing on it without the connection to the others will move you to misunderstanding.  Each key is essential to the whole.  They cannot stand alone and express the full picture.  They are like pieces of a pie.  Each piece represents a part of the whole pie. Or you can think of it like this:  If you wanted to study the life of an animal and you remove its heart to look at it, it will die.  If you remove the lungs, it will die.  You must look at the animal in its completeness as it functions and works.
The gospel is not robotic, like a system that man can build.  It is God’s living system showing how He functions. The gospel shows God in His completeness.  If you want to examine God’s love and pull it out by itself but do not have an understanding of His Sovereignty, His wrath, His righteousness, His justice, His mercy, His holiness, or His power, then soon your view of His love will become perverted and unhealthy. God is a living system. His attributes all describe Him in His wholeness.  He always loves even when wrathful.  He is always righteous, even in His mercy or judgement. He is life and must always be examined as a whole Being.  The gospel is the same.  We can look at the parts, and we do in this study to understand the gospel more fully, but the parts must be living in the whole.
Being a Kingdom disciple is being all you were created to be in Christ, not about trying to live the Christian life.  Jesus says, “Come to me all who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). The Christian life is not hard, but it is impossible without the Christ. There is incredible joy in this journey of learning to walk by faith in our God. We pray that God will speak deeply to you through this study and that you will come away with joy and peace and a solid assurance in the goodness and love of God in your life. So let me encourage you to come to the fountain of life and drink. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Kingdom Disciples



Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. Matthew 28:16-20

     When they saw Him, they worshipped Him; but some doubted. What a challenging verse! They had seen Him die. Now He was alive! Jesus had risen from the dead and walked among them. He had entered their rooms without walking through the doors. He let some touch His nail-pierced hands. Some disciples had eaten food cooked by the Lord Himself. He was alive. Very alive! What more evidence did they need? Yet still… some doubted. Why?
     Then Jesus came and spoke to them and said the now-famous words we casually call the 'Great Commission, "All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth."Jesus is now in charge. He has been given supreme authority in heaven and earth. He defeated the power and principalities through His death and resurrection and now He had the Name which is above every name! He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Everything is under His control and power. So, He commands us, "Go, therefore, and make disciples…"
     What is the connection between His authority and our ability to go? Making disciples is an impossible task. How does someone go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things He commanded? Jesus closed the Great Commission with a revealing statement and promise. He said, ―And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.‖
     I am with you. Me, He said. Not a system or a method. Me. A Person. I am with you. You can go because I am with you. "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit, for without Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). Jesus was pretty clear. A disciple is created to bear fruit and he or she does this by abiding in Him. Bearing fruit does not mean producing fruit. Bearing fruit means displaying the fruit produced by the Lord as He works with you, in and through your life. Kingdom disciples know apart from Jesus, they can do nothing of eternal significance at all.
     A disciple is a student, a learner. As Kingdom disciples, Jesus is our teacher. A person who abides in Jesus must abide in His Word, or he is not truly a disciple. Jesus said, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:31, 32). As we abide in His Word, we will learn from Him. He will teach us truth and the truth will set us free to be who we truly are in Him, more fully expressing the resurrection life of a disciple of Christ.
     Jesus set the example, as the Son of Man, for us as One Who learns from Another. He was also a Disciple. He was fully God, yet He took the form of a man and submitted Himself to the Father God‘s leading, walking in perfect faith. Jesus said, "Then Jesus said to them, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him." (John 8:28,29). 
     Jesus did nothing of Himself. What an amazing statement coming from our Lord. Jesus said only the things the Father taught Him to say. He did only the things the Father told Him to do. Always! Perfectly! Wow! He always did those things that pleased God, and what pleases God more than faith?? Nothing! Jesus perfectly walked by faith in the Father, obeying His every command. If Jesus did nothing of Himself, but said and did only what the Father said to say and do, how much more should we speak and do only what we are taught by God to speak?
     Without faith it is impossible to please God. Jesus walked in perfect faith, learning obedience through what He suffered. He was taught by God and obeyed God. He lived a life in complete submission to the Father. What was the impact of one life completely surrendered to the will of God?? Unstoppable, uncontainable, indescribable impact of transformation that continues today.
     We are disciples who are being conformed into the image of Jesus, the King of our lives. He is teaching us to live by faith, completely abandoned and yielded to the reign of God within us. Jesus authored and He is perfecting our faith. He called us to Himself for the praise of His glory, as He draws men and women to Himself for His Name‘s sake. When we grasp and embrace who we really are in Christ, we discover we are on mission with our King, reigning with Him on the earth. We are His ambassadors, with one voice proclaiming His message to a lost and dying world. Our King is taking over the visible world, conquering all who stand against Him. And He is doing it through His people, His Kingdom disciples, His church.
     When we speak of Kingdom disciples we are talking about the reign of God in and through His people. He is bringing us back to Old Testament times when the invisible God was the King of Israel, but His people dethroned Him and set up a king they could see. The prophet Samuel warned the people not to do this ungodly act. As he cried out to God, God said, "They have not rejected you, they have rejected Me. Give them a physical king."
    But in Christ, God has reinstated Himself to the original plan as the invisible King of His people. He wants no person to be in this role physically. No pope or priest. No pastor or church. He is King and He reigns with His people in the spiritual realm, and all who call themselves Christians will openly admit Christ is their only true King.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Celebrating Life

Since we started Celebrating Life Ministries two years ago, we have seen many people come to Christ.  Now these same people are leaders and learning to disciple others who are coming to Christ and learning to walk with God.  What a beautiful work God is doing among us.  I am in awe of Him and so grateful to see the transforming power of His gospel.  He truly gives salvation to all who believe in His gospel. It is the power of God for salvation to all who believe.

These past two years I have seen more solid transformation than I have in all my years as a Christian.  The power and simplicity of Christ... that's all... Christ.  Jesus sets people free and He transforms the core of a person, giving them a new spirit and a new heart that only beats for God.  He makes a new creation.  A being totally dependent upon God for everything and He lives in and through us.

I am so amazed, in awe, really, at the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  

Thank you God!

Tonight, person after person gave praise to God for dramatically transforming their lives. People whose lives were filled with pain and despair. People whose lives where filled with crime and death.  People who were lonely and without a friend in this world.  These very people were praising the God who saved them and giving Him glory.

He deserves all the praise and all the glory.  What a gracious and loving God we have.  He is good to us. He does not treat us as our sin deserves.  Instead, He took the full weight of our sin and died to set us free from its power. Now He calls us to be who He has made us to be, righteous and holy beings, set apart to Him alone.

Celebrating Life has been in existence little over 2 years. We have seen about 50 people come to Christ during this time.  Alabaster Jar opened in May 2011 and we have now seen 11 women baptized.  What a joy to be apart of God's activity on this earth.  He is setting people free through His gospel.  Simply by faith in Him.  No other program or method, but to know God and love Him with all we are.

Thank you God for Your graciousness to us. Thank you for saving us and setting us free to truly live!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

What Do You Tell Yourself?

Who do you say you are?  What do you say to yourself about you? What is the self-talk you have?

How we speak to ourselves about ourselves either empowers us to live or demotivates us to continue.   God gives us the framework in His Word to work within.  He gives us the thoughts we have as new creations in Christ.  Any other thought, any thought that is contrary to the Word of God, is not a thought of our new creation life.  Any thought of dysfunction. Any thought of not being able to do something. Any thought of having limits is a self-focused thought.

In Christ we can do all things.  Why? Because it doesn't depend upon us.  It depends upon Him.  Why can He have such confidence that we can do all things?  Because He knows He is doing it and not we ourselves.  In and of ourselves, we fall short of His glory.  When we died in Him and were reborn, He joined us with Himself and we became one with Him. We are one with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit who abides in and with us; and we abide within Him. Permanently. Forever.  God works out His will on earth from within us and He is working all around us.  He is working all things together for our good, for the good of the called according to His purpose.  God is actively working out His will in and through us. We cannot fail because it does not depend upon us. The work is His and the power is His.  Our work is to believe Him. Our walk is a walk of faith, not a walk of trying to do.

How do you speak to yourself about yourself?  Do you limit yourself? Do you listen to dysfunctional emotions and claim them as your own?  Who are you?  Who do you believe you are?  If you are in Christ, you are a new creation.  The old is gone.  This means that... the old is gone.  The old you is gone.  The sin is taken away, having been poured into Christ who became sin on your behalf.  You have been been sealed by God's Holy Spirit and nothing can separate you from Him. You have been set free from the power of sin and death.

You are seated in the heavenly realm and are a spirit being houses in a suit made for the planet.  You are not your body, but your body is yours to live in and take care of as you walk as an ambassador of Christ to proclaim His message in the world.  You are free, accepted, dearly loved. You are royalty, as a child of the King of Kings.  And you reign us the most powerful being in all the universe. He reigns in and through you as He sets  up His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.  He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords and He is able to complete what He started in you and to glorify His Name through your life.  There is nothing that can stop you because God is on your side and you are connected forever to Him as He actively working out His righteousness in and through you.

What are you telling yourself? Are you telling yourself the truth?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Go and make disciples

What does it mean to make a disciple?  What is a disciple?  How do we know if we make a disciple?

A disciple is a learner, by definition.  A disciple listens and learns from his or her teacher.  A disciple of Christ listens and learns from Jesus and becomes like Him.  But what is a disciple?  A disciple is a spiritual being who has been brought from death to life by the power of God and who now lives in the reality of heaven on earth.  A disciple dwells in the spirit realm all the time.  Their spirit is seated in the heavenly realm in Christ all the time. They are in the world but they are not of the world. They have been born again, of an imperishable Seed, and they have entered into eternal life.

A disciples is the workmanship of God.  We are not who we were.  We are born from above and are children of God. We are beings who are righteous and holy and sealed by God's Holy Spirit. Nothing can separate us from God. We exist in Love all the time. We dwell in the shadow of the Almighty. We stand on the Rock that cannot be shaken.  We stand in grace alone.  We cannot be moved.  We abide in Christ and He abides in us.  He has made His home with us and He is our home.

Discipleship is teaching the reality of being a new creation in Christ.  Focusing on the Truth that sets us free and teaching others to focus in the same way, because it's true.  We are not trying to make it true.  The Truth is True because God has spoken it and He does not lie.  As we believe the truth of His word, we live within the freedom we have in Christ.  If we choose not to believe, we do not experience the reality of existence within Him.  It is according to our faith that we experience the fullness of what God has done in Christ.  We come to know God by faith, and we continue to walk by faith in Him all the time.  Moment by moment, day by day.

This is  discipleship.  Speaking the truth in love that we may grow up into the maturity of a child who walks by faith in his or her God.  We grow up into child-likeness of complete dependence upon the God who is our bread and our drink. The God who is our life.  He reigns in us, and we move with Him as He sets up His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.  We get to walk with Him. We get to love Him. We get to experience Him and come to know Him more and more deeply.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Renewing the Mind


1I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)

You are a spirit being housed in an earth suit, your body, designed for the planet, with a soul that has also been trained by earth. The soul has a mind, will, and emotions. All the information you have been taught through education, through your family and through your life experiences resides in your soul and it has become automatic to your life on the planet. Through your will, you have directed your own steps, learned to provide for yourself, and to make your own decisions. When you surrendered your life to Christ, your soul submitted to the Truth of God’s Word and stepped out of the driver’s seat of your life. Christ entered your life and became the Driver. He is now in charge. He is reigning in and through your spirit, and your soul and body are now being conformed to His image, with or without their permission.
Your soul resists this process. It wants to reign still, but now it has to submit to who you really are in Christ. You are commanded by God to not let it reign (Romans 6:12). This is the struggle you feel. Within your soul, you have conscious and subconscious parts of your mind. You also have the automatic engine of your brain which runs the vital functions of your body.

The Conscious Mind – Our Filtering System

The conscious mind is the part of your soul that receives initial information from your surroundings using your senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. With the conscious mind you make evaluations, including moral judgements. The conscious mind acts as the filtering system through which information is processed and accepted by your soul.
You receive input from the world around you through the conscious mind. We receive information from many sources into our senses: people talking to us, books we read, TV shows we watch, actions of other people we hear about even if totally unrelated to us, movies, songs, news broadcasts, weather reports. The list is endless. We are receiving information all the time. As a Christian, you also receive input through the Word of God, through sermons, and through talking with other spiritual people.
Like all humans, you are aware of yourself. You can talk to yourself in sentences. When an external event occurs and catches your attention, you respond to it first by talking to yourself about it. You may not always notice what you are telling yourself, but you are evaluating the situation.  You are deciding what to think about it.
Consider this scenario: I wake up to a rain storm on a day I planned to play golf with a client. I think, “Man, I sure wanted to golf with Bill today. If I had gotten him out on the golf course, I could have made that big sale. This storm is terrible.” My wife asks why I am depressed. I say, “Because it’s raining.” But that’s not entirely accurate. Does the rainstorm have power over me to make me feel depressed? No. My mental evaluation of the storm does. In other words, events do not control my feelings. My evaluation of events affects my feelings. My body responds to my evaluation by feeling depressed. Suppose I were to change my evaluation from, “This storm is terrible” to “Money is important but I trust God to meet my needs. Although I’d like to play golf, it is not terrible that I can’t. God must have something else in mind to provide for my needs.”  How would I feel then?  I would feel peace and an assurance that God is in control, which is true.
When an event happens, you evaluate it in the conscious mind.  For every event, you have a choice to make. You must decide what to believe about that event.  Consider another scenario:  You are riding on the sky train through Vancouver. A man is sitting across from you and you notice that his children are running wild on the train disturbing everyone. The guy next to you gets annoyed and mumbles, “Why doesn’t this guy control his kids!” In your mind, you agree that the man should take care of his children.  You are beginning to think he is irresponsible and you, being a Christian, decide to talk to the man to see what you can do to help, so the other passengers, and yourself, by this time, do not get more annoyed.   You cautiously approach the man and ask, “Sir, are you aware that your children are running all over the place and disturbing the other passengers on the train?”  
The next statement the man says will either confirm or deny the opinion you are forming in your mind about him.  He says, “Oh I’m sorry. Their mother just died this morning, and I don’t know what to do. I’ll try to help them behave better.”  This statement forced a major paradigm shift in your mind.  Your emotional level dropped from acute annoyance, to deep compassion in a moment’s time. Of course, this man is having a hard time. Of course, his children are running all over.  It made total sense now.
A sign of a mature Christian is that they do not believe their sight and senses. They wait on Father God to reveal to them what is really going on.  They assume that God is in control and that He is working all things together for good of those who love them.  So they do not react right away to what they see and hear. They remain calm They wait, filtering what they see through their mind, applying the Word of God and waiting for God’s perception of the event.  To a strong, mature Christian, an event is just an event.  It’s not good or bad.  In fact, a strong, mature Christian assumes the event is good, because God is working even the bad events and the tragedies together for good. So, as in this scenario above, even the death of his wife can become a good event, if that event ends up leading that man to Christ and the whole destiny of his and his children’s lives changed forever.  The fact that God placed that man next to you is an indication that He is doing something beyond what you can see.  If you react in the flesh to that event, immaturely, getting angry and telling that man off, the opportunity to work with God would be gone.  Who knows, but it is entirely possible that this man’s wife was a believer who had been praying for her husband for years and God decided to take her home, so he could call her husband to Himself and have him actually listen.
We do not know all that is going on in any given event.  We choose what we will believe and how we will respond.  When we initially react to an event, that reaction comes directly from our subconscious mind. What we believe pushes the impact of that event deeper into our value system, moving it to the subconscious part of our mind where it takes on a life of its own and begins to control our reactions and responses. Spiritual growth, as a believer, depends on how we perceive and evaluate our world. In order to understand why we evaluate events as we do, we have to take a look at the Subconscious Mind.

The Subconscious Mind – Long Term Storage

17This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; 19who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20But you have not so learned Christ, 21if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:17-24

The subconscious mind receives what the conscious mind holds to be true. As conscious thoughts move into our subconscious mind, they become values on which we build our lives. At first, we choose what enters our conscious mind. Once we receive input into our mind and value it as true, whether or not it is actually true, it enters our subconscious mind and our choice begins to choose us. Our body begins to follow and respond to what we really believe about the event, regardless of whether or not it is actually true. You can see that what we put into our conscious mind becomes very important to our mental health.
Our behaviour follows what we really believe and value in our subconscious mind. What we are doing right now reveals what we really believe at the subconscious level, because the subconscious mind is having us live out the thoughts we have valued as true.  The subconscious part of our thinking has potential to be used by the flesh or the spirit. This is the reservoir where values and emotions reside and desire to be lived out. This reservoir contains the basic assumptions or values that we firmly believe and emotionally hold. If those values are based on a lie, we will live out the lie. If the values are based on truth, we will live out that truth. From this value base, we determine how we will live and how we will meet the needs we think we have.
Since we lived out our behaviours from our thoughts about ourselves and our circumstances happening around us, it is critical to think correctly about ourselves. The Lord said we are to love our neighbours as ourselves. We are commanded to love ourselves. The reason is we will not love others beyond how we love and view ourselves. Christian, you are to love yourself, in Christ. You are not a sinner at the core. You are not one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread. You are not a sinner saved by grace. You were a sinner who was saved by grace. You are a royal priest and holy person working in union with the Creator God Himself.

As we saw in Key 4, all people tend to have three basic needs: significance, security, and belonging. In the Garden of Eden, all these needs were perfectly satisfied in man’s innocent relationship with God, until sin entered Adam.  Adam’s task was to take dominion over all the earth and fill it with his kind. His need for significance and meaningful work was satisfied. Adam was connected to God and God provided his need for security. Adam was secure. Adam lived in unhindered fellowship with God, and God even provided Adam a companion and helper. Adam belonged to God and to another person.
When Adam entered into sin and death, by choosing to disbelieve God, he began to seek fulfillment of these needs apart from God.  The problem is that these needs cannot be met that way! We are created for Him. So there is a feeling of desire and longing that is never attained but always sought out.
Thanks to Adam, each of us, through our birth into sin, have been programmed in our subconscious mind, to believe that happiness, worth, and joy depend upon something other than God. This programming is called the flesh, and the flesh works itself out through our bodies. Our bodies move in response to what we really believe to be true.  As a believer, the flesh resides in our soul and body, but we have been given a new spirit in whom there is no sin.  Our spirit is sealed by God with His Holy Spirit and cut away from the sins of the flesh through the circumcision of Christ.
The Bible tells us that we no longer have to obey the programming of the flesh. What do we do with the flesh? It is there, and it will want to speak to us, giving its view of reality, trying to get us to focus on self-thoughts, rather than God-thoughts. We deny the flesh. We do not recognize the flesh as having any kind of substantial input in our lives because it has been crucified and no longer has any value to the working out of our spiritual life. We mistrust it and de-value it because it always focuses us away from God to self. The flesh will never tell us the truth of God’s Word.  We see it as wanting us to connect with the world system instead of the spiritual system. 
Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have been circumcised away from the body of the sins of the flesh (Colossians 2:11). The flesh has been crucified (Galatians 5:24).  The truth is the Son has set us free and we are free indeed (John 8:36).  We are free from the power of sin in the flesh. Christian, love yourself because God has created you lovely. He has made you pure and clean again to be fully embraced by Him.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Storm is Coming


This is the preface of Kingdom Disciples: 8 Keys to Life-Transforming Discipleship written by myself and Alan Braun, Senior pastor at Royal Heights Baptist Church.  We just finished this book and we hope to see God use it to help equip the church to know how to disciple people in living as transformed people in Christ who know how to disciple others to maturity in Christ. If you are interested in a copy of this book, feel free to contact us at Celebratinglife@royalhbc.com.
_________________________________________________________________________________

A storm is coming!
A storm is either a fearful event or a welcomed event. It depends on the perspective of the one anticipating the storm.  If the people are unprepared, a storm creates confusion and fear. Dark clouds spell trouble and damage as they swirl overhead. But if the ground is dry and desperate for life-giving water from years of drought, then a storm is welcomed, celebrated and needed.
I believe the church of the living God is beginning to awake from her sleep. A storm is coming.  The church is moving from a system of attendance to a system which lets her experience her God. She is becoming aroused and alive! The church is getting on mission with her Master, passionately embracing Her King, learning from Him and listening to Him.  She longs to be used by her God, working with Him as He sets up His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. I believe God is raising up people totally sold out to their King!  These people are Kingdom disciples.

A storm is coming!
The life-giving rain will pour down through the Holy Spirit, reigning in and through God’s people, Kingdom disciples.  Kingdom disciples are people who know their God. They know how to walk with their God and equip others to do the same. These men and women will not be doing church, they will be the church! They want more than a meeting to attend.  They want God!
When this rain falls, some church leaders will feel uncomfortable and grasp for methods to create order. They will fear they are losing control.  When this rain falls, chaos will be the norm as God sets captives free and binds up those who are broken.  Ministry will get messy and be out of our control, but in the control of the living God. God will be at work in and through His disciples, doing what only He can do, redeeming a lost and dying world and setting them free to proclaim the message of His grace.
Kingdom disciples are people radically abandoned to God. Kingdom disciples walk by faith. They know who they are in Christ and they love being who they are.  When the rain falls, there will be freedom from religious performance and rules; freedom to work and move with God for His glory alone. Baptisms and teaching will be common throughout the week as God calls people to Himself through the gospel proclaimed by His people. 
The leaders will attempt to organize the movement of God to keep it safe and controlled but the movement will be alive and dangerous. Church gatherings will be divided. Many will leave as things get too intense.  
“Church” will no longer be comfortable to just attend. People will be challenged to live beyond mediocrity and to embrace their God, radically obeying Him, even at the cost of their own lives or all they own. Each person will know how to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ and lead their friends to Christ.  Evangelism will be the norm as they are on mission with their God, knowing it is God who works within and through them, calling people to Himself. Excuses like, “it’s not my gifting” will be the thing of the past for all will desire to live out the great commission of Christ to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matthew 28:18-20)
The experience of the Church will be what it really is:  a vibrant, living system, empowered and driven by the unstoppable and uncontainable God.  Church will be the church, the bride of Christ, redeemed humanity on mission with their God.  The mission and power are His. He flows in and through His people, seeking to save the lost, bringing all things back into alignment with Himself.  When this happens (and it will happen and is happening throughout the world) a movement will come with such force it will turn the world upside down!
This is Kingdom discipleship:  a movement of people who believe God, know who they are and live for His will and glory alone.
The purpose of this book is to produce unreasonable, unorganized, uncompromising, focused spiritual people who will carry out the desire of the Christ to reach a lost and dying world.  It is written for a variety of people:  people who don’t know how to be spiritual; people who are tired of religion and tired of trying to live a Christian life devoid of power. It is written for the church leader, lay or otherwise, who are tired of having zero converts, zero baptisms and zero impact on their communities, year after year!
This book is not a book to be read and shelved. It is a book to equip you as a believer to live out the Kingdom experience with your Lord and Master and to learn how to equip others to do the same. This book is not for cowards or the lukewarm. This book is written to stir you up to live by faith, to passionately love God and those He brings to you to love.
This book is a working textbook so you will have a clear plan on how to be a disciple and how to make Kingdom disciples that truly function as disciples of the great commission. Each person who works through these teachings will know how to walk with the Lord, see others come to Christ and know how to equip the new disciple to reproduce their lives to do the same.
I believe the Lord is tired of our impact-less worship services. He doesn’t need our routine of singing songs without passion or love.  He has angels that sing better than us. He is tired of fellowship that is only a cookie and a cake.  He wants us to grow up in the faith, speak the truth in love to one another, seeing His Kingdom impact the world around us. 
            I believe He is tired of little passion as the norm of Christianity.  He is tired of religious activity and meaningless prayer.  I believe He is tired of passionate, spiritual people being removed from any form of influence in the Body of Christ because they scare people with their faith. He is tired of the church watching the old evil one come down day after day and blaspheme His Name with so few Kingdom disciples to challenge him.  I believe He is ready for us as His church to be who we really are in Christ, believing Him, obeying His voice and speaking His gospel boldly to those He is calling to Himself. 
A storm is coming! The rain will flow in and through Kingdom disciples! God is working. This book has one goal in mind, to equip you to live as a Kingdom disciple, so you can equip others to make disciples who can make disciples to the glory of God.

-- Alan Braun, Pastor