Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Become Dissatisfied

There are three responses one can have when facing a powerless church. 1) We can reset the standard by defining the 'normal' Christian life according to our experience rather than scripture. Thereby creating a culture of compromise, weakness, and powerlessness. 2) We can reject supernatural intervention completely and create a Christianity that is utterly humanistic, relative, and universal. 3) Or, we can become dissatisfied with our experience and keep the biblical standard, thereby relying solely upon a touch of the Holy Spirit to do the impossible.

In my opinion 1 isn't far away from becoming 2, and 3 is the only antidote to a form of religion that denies God's power. What is created will always reflect the nature of the one who created it. If we build a ministry based on our own talents and abilities than people will only end up seeing us. True ministry is allowing God to supernaturally work through us, so that people encounter Him rather than only meeting us.

When we let go of our 'form', our 'control', we make room for the Holy Spirit. We need to put ourselves in situations, to have dreams, such that if God doesn't show up they will fail. The world needs God, not our best efforts at doing ministry. They see through the facade, they see that the church is little different than themselves. The church today mainly relies on psychology, sociology, and philosophy to guilt trip and motivate people to try and religiously regulate their lives to mimic a moral standard. Although all of these tools are useful and beneficial, they are not the primary avenues which God has given us for ministry; rather, He has given us Himself.

Will we surrender and let go of control so that God can speak, direct, and reign? Will we live with an expectancy that defies human reason? Will we live out of His strength and power rather than our own?

God give us faith so that we can live from a heavenly perspective rather than an earthly one.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Identity (Discipleship Program)

My brother and I are putting together a 9 series program purposed to help small groups begin going deeper in their identity, purpose, and calling in the Kingdom.  Each area will be broken up into three seminars each.  Here is the first take for an intro to the first set of seminars on Identity.



Our identity is the foundation of our life in God, and it is essential for us to grasp who we are.  Satan, the accuser and deceiver, seeks to rob Christians from knowing who they are; he even tried to make Jesus question His identity (see Matthew 4).  It is essential that we agree with God about who we are; if we don't we will continue to live a life in bondage, fail to enter into true intimacy with the Holy Spirit, and never fulfill the purposes that God has for our lives.

Starting Question: How would you define identity and why is it important?

Identity is at the center of the work of the cross and we see this throughout the scriptures.  God is constantly changing the names of His people.  Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel, Simon to Peter.  These names carry significant meaning, and God is declaring over them a transformation that has or is taking place in the very essence of their identity.  

In Hebrew culture a name revealed the whole character of that person, as it was known or revealed.  A name includes your reputation, person, and character. When Jesus instructed us to ‘ask anything in my name and I will do it (John 14:14)’, it’s not because saying the name of Jesus verbally has power.  

Putting the name of Jesus at the beginning, middle, or end of our prayer doesn’t make it any better.  What this verse really means is to ‘ask as Jesus’.  We ask knowing the very character of the Son and His relationship to the Father.  When we ask in the revelation or knowledge of who Jesus is, two things change.  1) Our will is conformed to His, and 2) We pray/proclaim with boldness because we have faith in God’s response.  Our boldness comes from and inward recognition and trust in a person, rather than a formulated way of praying.

Read Genesis 32
*Jacob wrestles with this angle and asked to be blessed.  The angel gives him the greatest blessing he possibly could, he gives him a new name, he changes his identity.

Moment of Contemplation: What identifies you? How would your closest friends and family honestly speak of you? What is your ‘name’?

Discussion Question: How would you describe the identity of a Christian? What words would you use?

Identity can be assessed in three ways.
1) How we identify ourselves
2) How others identify us
3) How God identifies us.  

Only one of these are important, and in fact only one of these are true, the other too assessments will always be skewed to some degree.
Many times we aren’t comfortable addressing and admitting some of the things we find in our own character and identity, neither would we be brave enough to ask those closest to us to honestly give their assessment. We all have insecurities, and these insecurities manifest in many different ways. Insecurities exist because we don’t know who we actually are.  The whole world is in an identity crisis; when we don’t know who we are, we find ourselves in a constant pursuit of significance, acceptance, and recognition. However, when we do know who we are in Christ, we live from a place of fulfillment and power, knowing that we are loved and destined for great things. That is why Identity is where the majority of Satan’s efforts are aimed, to make us question, doubt, and dis-believe in who we are.  We see him doing the same this to Jesus in the wilderness.

Read Matthew 4:1-11

The temptation really wasn’t the food, the glory, or the praise; Satan continually attacked Jesus’ identity, “If you are the Son of God.”  He did everything he could to make Jesus question and doubt this truth; for if Jesus doubted it, he would have bowed to the requests of Satan to prove it to himself.  Where doubt exists sin is soon to follow. Jesus didn’t doubt who He was, and through this trial He reveals that when we we have confidence in who we are, Satan has nothing on us.

We always live out of who we are; it is this that drives us and causes us to behave the way we do. ‘We become what we behold.’   We conform to an understanding of our identity in a variety of ways, and if we are displeased with who we are, we strive to create a change, to make others see us differently, to make for ourselves a new ‘name’.  It is easy to see the effort and attention that is put into identity when we look around us; clothing, activities, attitudes, and associations, all of which we use to construct our identity. As Christians only one opinion matters, there is only one who sees us for who we actually are, and He is trying to convince us of who we are in Christ Jesus.