(Re-posted from 11/25/13)
I believe we have seen a profound movement, over the past decade or two, of people metamorphosing out of religious mindsets and structured church settings into a greater freedom in Christ.
However, I sense that many who have become butterflies do not fully know how to use their wings. There could be a host of people who are no longer caterpillars, whose wings are full of life, yet continue to walk because, for a variety of reasons, they are not ready to embrace the purposes God has called them to in their freedom. They are the walking butterflies.
Just a thought.
Here are some possible reasons why people may not yet be flying.
1. Some are still looking for another butterfly to hand them the external model for ‘how to do church.’ We are so accustomed to others showing us ‘the way’ that we continue looking for the ‘simple church manual’ or the ‘organic church step-chart’ that will give us the exact system to follow. In other words, some are not ready to trust that Jesus can speak to and lead them personally without someone else’s blueprint.
2. Some do not trust that God can help them connect with their unique destiny and Kingdom purpose. Or, perhaps more to the point, some are not willing to take the risk to step out into their own special Kingdom purpose and destiny. It’s just easier to lose themselves in lesser focuses.
3. Some still devalue themselves and/or their calling as being less significant than that of others.
4. Some avoid the silence and have not taken the time to seek God deeply in those quiet places where He can speak profoundly to them and give them the confidence as well as direction needed to move out and fly.
By the way, butterflies that never fly, never reproduce. Maybe as we all find ourselves and our courage, we will see a whole new generation of butterflies begin to emerge!
Pray for a Person of Peace
The exceptionally fruitful leaders in Africa that we work with often remind us of the significance of praying for and obediently seeking out the person of peace. The person of peace (Luke 10, Matthew 10) is one who opens the door of the Gospel to others. This person may be a believer or non-believer, but his/her response to the transformation from Christ causes them to influence many others.
These Africans often word it this way: “God prepares persons of peace. You don’t! You must pray and ask God to lead you to these people. When God leads you to a person of peace that He has prepared, then movements happen! If you are not finding those whom God has prepared, there will be no movement.”
Their point is that we are entering into a supernatural arrangement with God when we pray for persons of peace and look for them in our goings and comings. When God connects us with such a person, our influence is magnified through them because they are receptive to the things of God.
Now, granted this looks very different in different contexts. No question! At the same time, there is a principle here that is timeless: pray for and seek out the persons of peace God has prepared. This will open doors for our influence to extend beyond the groups or gatherings that we have become comfortable with. This will challenge us, at times, to go beyond our normal circle of relationships to seek out where God may be working. And, this will give us the opportunity to see God work rather than try to carry the work on our own shoulders.
(As a side note, your prayers are much appreciated as we are currently asking God for several new apostolic persons of peace who are ready to move in new areas of Africa with the capacity for regional or national movements.)
Simple Steps of Obedience
“It’s not hard to obey when we love the one we obey.” Ignatius of Loyola
“We learn more in one year of obedience to Jesus than in one hundred years of studying theology.”
In my last post, It’s Not About BIG Anymore, I suggested that walking in partnership with Jesus from a position of humility was the true mark of the upside-down Jesus-follower. But humility, though a vital foundation, is just a beginning.
The next step, perhaps, is to recognize that Jesus is the one who builds his church and he does it his way. Our part is to learn the lifestyle of loving him, listening to him, and surrendering our self to the simple steps of obedience he calls us to. It is the collective obedience of his disciples that results in the “big” kingdom outcomes that transform people, nations, and even the world.
It is the collective obedience of his disciples that results in the “big” kingdom outcomes that transform people, nations, and even the world.
Now, this certainly sounds simple… but it is not easy. In my own soul is an abundance of self-seeking, self-will, and an automatic careening after self-interests many of which mascarade as good things. The process of weeding out the weeds on a daily basis (taking up the cross) is an ongoing one that starts and stalls and starts again. But I desire to keep moving ahead because the call of the surrendered, obedient life is the call to a life of purpose, freedom, and joy. And it is the only pathway I know of for Jesus to build his kingdom-people into the kind of expression of himself that truly impacts others.
I love him.
I listen and surrender to his leading and direction.
God accomplishes God-purposes.
Maybe we need not wait for the next big thing to come along in the world of church and churchdom. Rather, maybe God is waiting for his church, his ekklesia, his people, to learn the simple steps of growing up into a lifestyle of simple love-motivated obedience thus expressing him more fully in the world.
“The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.” Eph 1:23 The Message
It's Not About BIG Anymore
America is often known for being big: big land, big houses, big cars, big companies, big drinks that come with free refills…
And we learned to measure our churches by the same standard: big buildings, big programs, big organizations, big influence numerically… even big sales of books and music. Whether leaders or not, our egos have enjoyed being part of that which is bigger and/or better in the world of church-dom. Let’s be honest.
The challenge is that Jesus was just the opposite. His was a small band of disciples, whose feet he washed like a household servant, that would eventually turn the world on its head.
He demonstrated absolute humility coupled with a deep investment into that which the world would naturally see as inconsequential.
Are we ready to follow this example? Are we willing to let go of our own fascination with any type of recognition and or ‘bigness’ in order to invest in the least, or the lost, or the most forgotten, or the overlooked? Are we passionate about the one person in front of us? Are we willing to give our lives for obscurity and pour ourselves into others no matter how small or big, recognized or hidden? In short, do we have the humility to walk in partnership with Jesus and leave the results to Him? This may be the true mark of the upside-down, simple, organic, Jesus-first revolution that the ‘church’ (ekklesia) is being transformed into. May God help us, strengthen us, encourage us… and may we embrace the humility to be transformed and used His way!
Prayer opens doors!
- What is your vision of the abundant life that God has promised you? Pray on it!
- Where are you stuck, frustrated, broken down, or discouraged? Pray it through - wrestle it out with God.
- What is the purpose God has given you that He wants to work out through you? Pray until it begins to become reality and then pray on it ongoing.
- What is the next step for _________ part of your life? Pray until you know!
- Trying to sort out your church life? House church? Simple church? Traditional church? Missional church? Pray until God reveals His next step for you!
I am just back from Africa where the leaders reminded me that the heart of their disciple-making movements is finding persons of peace who will reach others and disciple others who will do the same. AND, the key to finding persons of peace is a simple one: PRAYER. “God prepares these people of peace. Through prayer, we find them!” In their experience, prayer opens the doors for movements to happen!
Yes, prayer opens doors…
AND prayer is the doorway to a deep relationship with God.
Remember that Jesus prayed for us that we would enter into an abiding fellowship with the Father as the way in which the world (and us) would be transformed. John 17. This is why He continually calls us into prayer! He wants to fellowship with us!
Prayer is both the experience of time with God (Jesus was all night in prayer) and a lifestyle (abide in me).
Prayer is both the result of our organic relationship with the living Christ, and it develops that relationship further.
Prayer is opening our heart, pouring out our needs and wants, and prayer is also waiting and listening and opening ourselves to what Jesus’ will is. I like the way The Passion Translation expresses Revelation 3:20:
Behold, I’m standing at the door, knocking. If your heart is open to hear my voice and you open the door within, I will come in to you and feast with you, and you will feast with me.
When prayer develops, it becomes a feast.
Somehow we have to find our way past just the religious approach to dutiful prayer. Though we most often start at that point. Pray is a dynamic interchange between mortal and immortal that takes us beyond ourselves and connects us relationally to the eternal, majestic God. May we find a way to touch on that reality as prayer becomes the foundation of a life lived in the presence and miracle-working power of God. In this way, it moves from duty to delight and from heavy lifting to feasting.
And, in this way, we discover a life lived in feasting-style prayer is a life lived by the impetus, motivation, and power of God.
Prayer opens doors and is the doorway to deep intimacy with our God.