The Story of His Glory by Steve Hawthorne

“The Bible is basically a story about God. When we turn to the Bible as a self-help book, we end up bored or frustrated with what seems to be a rambling collection of stories. What if the Bible is more about God than it is about us? How thrilling to discover that every element of scripture—the reports of events, the verses of distilled wisdom, the lyrical prophecies—converge in one central saga of one worthy Person.

“We’re used to the idea that the Bible is a true story. It’s so true that the story is still unfolding to this minute. We are used to hearing that the Bible is a love story. But we tend to see only one side of the love: how God loves people. If the main point of the Bible is that God is to be loved with heart, soul, mind and strength, perhaps it would be wise to read the entire story from God’s point of view. When we look at it all from God’s viewpoint, the grand love story finally makes sense: God is not just loving people. He is transforming them to become people who can fully love Him. God is drawing people as worshipers to offer freely to Him their love-inspired glory.

“God can be loved only when He is known. That’s why the story of the Bible is the story of God revealing Himself in order to draw to Himself obedient worship, or glory, from the nations. With God’s passionate love at the core, the Bible is truly the story of His glory.

“To trace the story of God as the Bible presents it, we need a grasp of three related ideas which define the story at every juncture… READ ON

 

Impact from Greenhouse Training in Milwaukee

Greenhouse Story 1

We at CMA Resources were encouraged by this email:

Greenhouse Story 1
Subject: HOLY SPIRIT IS MOVING MIGHTILY

Hey,

Just a short update after our time at the Milwaukee Greenhouse Training. I am leading 3 simple churches now and we have at least 2 that have planted from people in these. I let God do what only God do and am PROFOUNDLY dependent on Him to lead these. I have grown so much in my faith and like you, I desire to be nothing and Him everything. I learned alot from your trainers.

I have been meeting with our lead pastor and sharing what God is doing in our simple churches. He is going to have a total makeover of our 35 small groups and have them based on the organic church. We are spending the summer in our groups digging into 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus for leadership development and disciple training. We are desperate to learn from Him and Gods word.

There has been alot of heartache in my journey and I would not have it any other way. I will save a few of those stories for another time. I am living my dream my friend and I love it. Please pass what God is doing in Milwaukee on.

I am simply focusing on 2 things; the lost and leadership. You are always a great inspiration to me.

Jim

Review of Viral Jesus by Felicity Dale

I’ve been looking forward to the release of Viral Jesus: Recovering the contagious power of the Gospel by Ross Rohde for some time. A few months ago I was given the privilege of reading the manuscript and writing an endorsement, and immediately I was struck with the relevance of Ross’s message to not just the simple/organic church movement of which both he and we are a part, but far beyond that, to any Christian who desires to make an impact for the Kingdom of God.

We have known Ross for several years, and every time we meet him he has a new story of how he has met with a “person of peace” (see Luke 10), led him to become a disciple of Jesus and started a community of Jesus followers. The book is full of stories of supernatural encounters, God working miracles in people’s lives.

The early church spread like wildfire, spreading throughout the then known world in a comparatively short time. Since then, it has become something different–a lethargic parody of the vibrant life it was supposed to be.

Could we see a viral Jesus movement again here in the West? Christianity is meant to be an adventure, we as his ambassadors on mission with God. Do you want to see your church revitalized? In this outstanding book, Ross examines the principles of what it would take to recapture the excitement and viral nature of evangelism and making disciples.

Don’t start reading this book late at night–you’ll not be able to put it down. I highly recommend it.

Originally posted on Felicity Dale’s Blog HERE

Heaven Must Be More Than This! by Neil Cole

I fell into a dream. I found myself in the heavens. A voice was speaking all around me. Clouds surrounded me. Was this what heaven will be like?

Much to welcome to heavenmy surprise I found myself sitting in a seat that was not meant for a man my size. In the back of the seat in front of me was a pocket with literature explaining a plan of salvation, and an envelope in the event I wish to cough up anything.

We were all seated in rows staring at the heads in front of us as someone up front was delivering a message that was of life and death importance. But as I looked few were paying attention. Some people were nodding off while others were conversing to themselves in hushed voices. Still others were sneaking a peak at their phones even though they’d been told to turn them off. The speaker went on with a well-rehearsed message with compelling hand gestures speaking of escaping an impending doom by following the light that beckoned us to our salvation but everyone seemed inoculated to the message having heard it so many times and never actually needing it.

The leader of this group assured all of us that he had received the correct direction and would get us all where we were supposed to be. He would do all the hard work while we just go along for the ride, because that’s what he’s paid to do–he’s a professional. Everyone seemed to trust this man implicitly and put the well being of their souls in his care.

There was an intense amount of scrutiny for all those allowed to be part of this group–all had to pass through a narrow way one at a time. Some were more important than others and received preferential treatment. They had been coming to this place for a long time and more frequently than most and had special reserved seats up in the front.

There were strange rules in this place that we all had to conform to with blind obedience. The rules seemed to carry a life or death importance, but about things that really didn’t seem that dangerous. In fact, I think these rules were made up a long time ago and just passed along in a system that is easy to add new rules to, but near impossible to eliminate any old ones. Many of the rules were outdated but we all kept them just the same. All of us were just waiting for the guy in charge to finally stop circling around and just bring this thing down for a landing so we could go home.

Suddenly I heard a voice coming from above my head, all of us heard it at once. It spoke with authority and said, “Bring your seat backs and tray tables up to their full and upright position. Please fasten your seat belt low and tight across your lap. Turn off all your portable electronics and anything that has an on or off switch.”

I sure hope the real heaven is not like this.

____

© 2012 Neil Cole
Used with Permission. Originally Posted on his blog COLE-SLAW

Follow Neil on Twitter

Learning about Movements from History: Russia & China

China & Russia FlagsWe can learn much by comparing the results of the communist revolution in Russia with that in China. Both were bloody revolutions that attempted militarily to snuff out all opposition, close down all churches, remove all missionaries and incarcerate all of the church leaders.

The church found in Russia prior to the revolution was centered on cathedrals led by priests and was distant from the everyday lives of the people. When communism seized the church and all her assets the people had nothing to turn to spiritually and there was no movement.

In China, leaders such as Watchman Nee, had already made strives to empower ordinary Christians with the Gospel and let indigenous churches form in homes and places of business. As a result, when the revolution occurred the true church was still intact even after her buildings and leaders were taken away.

In fact, the Cultural Revolution of Mao Tse-Tung sought to eliminate all religion from society in China but instead mobilized the church and it grew from about 2 million Christians in 1949 to over 60 million. It is estimated today that there may be upwards of 80 million Christians in China.

Why did the church thrive in China and not in Russia? The foundation of empowering the common Christian in China set the stage for what happened there. The Little Flock movement and others we already in place so that when the heat of persecution hit the church she exploded with growth. There was no such preparation prior to the Soviet Union’s rise to power in Russia.

How will you prepare those in your “flock?”

by Neil Cole

© 2009

Originally posted here
Posted by permision

A Simple Story of Darkness to Light

Darkness To Light

A simple story of darkness to light – from @FelicityDale

 

Yesterday evening church met at our home….

Read it on the Simply Church Blog http://t.co/IJsGVsHv

New Tools & Trainings E-newsletter

 

CMA LogoTools & Trainings E-Newsletter
Issue 66                                            January 19, 2012   
Prisoners Coming to Christ

Becoming Missional: We Reap What We Sow by Felicity Dale

Becoming missional: We reap what we sow

I’m reminded of a story about D.L. Moody. Someone once criticized him for the way he brought everyone to the front to respond to the Gospel.

“Well, how do you do it?” Moody asked.

The man had no answer because he wasn’t leading anyone to the Lord.

Moody’s response: “I prefer the way I do it badly to the way you don’t do it at all.”

There’s much I don’t like about the way the Gospel is preached in this country–for example, televangelism. But can I criticize if I am doing nothing myself?

John wesley small
Photo credit: Pete Reed (Creative Commons)

Another story, this time about John Wesley.

John Wesley was an itinerant evangelist traveling widely in order to preach the Gospel. One day, someone challenged him that he should only speak to people about the Lord when he sensed God prompting him. He tried it for one week. During that time he spoke to virtually no one because he never sensed the Lords’ prompting. At the end of the week he concluded this didn’t work and went back to speaking to everyone he met.

I speak to myself: we have lost the art of abundant Gospel sowing. 

The principle of sowing and reaping applies. The harvest we reap is directly proportional to the amount of seed we sow. (Obviously other factors such as quality of soil, water etc. need to be taken into account). In general, we reap little because we sow little. Are we trying to harvest in fields where little or no seed has been sown?

The International Mission Board of the Southern Baptists have produced a wonderful video called Like a Mighty WaveIt can be downloaded from their video resource section  It examines the ten common practices of movements where many people are finding Christ and many new churches are starting. One of these practices is abundant Gospel sowing.

What does it look like for us to sow abundantly in a way that fits our simple/organic principles? If we cannot do it here in our own culture, how do we expect to do it on the mission field?

-By Felicity Dale

Reposted from her blog: Simply Church here

My Head in Her Hands, Her Heart in God’s Hands

A story from the field about Gospel sowing to encourage you from Jay Bell…

Jay & Jan Bell
Jay & Jan Bell

Meet Emily.  Yesterday Emily, a young wife and mother of two toddlers, cut my hair.  She is a God-seeker and I have been planting myself into the soil of her heart over the years through friendly “God-talk.”

Hey Emily, have you been keeping up with the “Tebow talk?”  She said, “Yeah, kinda, but what’s it all about?”
Well, Emily (as she is clipping), it’s about a Bible verse, the number 3-16 and his journey as the quarterback of the Denver Broncos (as I am praying).  I then explained how he wore John 3:16 as eye reflectors during his years as QB at the U. of Florida.  She asked, “What does John 3:16 say?”

Slowly, with a smile, I quoted the verse with passion.

But, Emily (clip, clip), check this out.  During Monday nights play-off game against the favored Pittsburgh Steelers he threw for 316 yards.  She exclaimed, “No way!”  And, Emily (pray, pray), each pass averaged 31.6 yards.  “Get outta here!”  And the Broncos’ time of possession of the ball was 31:06 minutes!  “Jay, are you making this up?”  And, Emily, the TV rating of the number of people watching the fourth quarter was 31.6.  “Jay, that’s so weird!”  And the only interception of the game was thrown by the Steelers QB when the play was 3rd down and 16 yards to go.  “Jay, what does all this mean?”

Emily, may I answer your question with a question?  And my question is just one word:  Coincidence?

Emily, do you have a Bible at home?  “Um, let’s see, yes.”  Let me send you these 3-16 numbers in an e-mail and then lay the verse and the numbers on your husband.

My head is no longer in her hands, but her heart is still in God’s hands!

 ___

Jay & Jan work with Encompass World Partners mobilizing people in the USA to love and reach out to Internationals.

If you would like to be on the email list for Jay & Jan, drop them an email at jaybell@encompassworldpartners.org

Micro Discipleship article in a Denominational Magazine by CMA church planter

Posted in ONE MAGAZINE

Big impact, small group…

Micro Discipleship

By Scott Cheatham

How successful is the discipleship program of your church? While many churches offer a Sunday School or small group format, attendance in these classes has been declining for some time. Even small groups are suffering, and a large percentage of those who attend church do not participate in these groups. The reality is that our culture is overscheduled. If you live in an urban area as I do, the opportunities for activities are numerous, and families are stretched thin.

In 2011, in response to this problem, we changed our discipleship focus. While I didn’t want to do away with the Sunday School program, I also saw the need for implementing new ideas in order to bring about valuable changes in the lives of my congregation. Our desire at Rangeview Free Will Baptist Church was to increase commitment while deepening real spiritual growth.

So, we instituted IOU. The initials are known well enough, but for our families, they stand for the three relationships to which God has called us. Those relationships are Inward, Outward, and Upward. Inward in that we need to always cultivate our spiritual growth, outward in that we should always be trying to serve others just as Jesus did, and upward as we worship and praise God each day for all He has done and continues to do for us.

To better cultivate these relationships, we started micro groups of three or fewer people of the same gender who gather weekly to read Scripture, confess sin, and pray. The goal is to encourage members to read 20-30 chapters of Scripture each week, discuss things with which they struggle, and talk about what they have learned from their weekly bible reading, and then close by praying for others outside the church.

Each person identifies at least two people outside the church for whom to pray—six people per group. The goal is to get those people involved in a micro group and ultimately in the church. When a group adds another person (four people), we ask them to split into two groups of two, and each group add another person.

The primary benefit to micro-groups is that it is much easier to increase participation because there are only three schedules to coordinate. In a small group, someone is almost always missing each week due to a conflict. We have encouraged the teens to create similar groups with a little help. A micro group is a natural setting for the average teen, and many teens will not share a lot in a larger group. Because serious discipleship takes place at the micro groups, large group gatherings can focus more on cultural subjects and a bit of fun.

I would like to share more about micro groups beyond this quick overview. Please feel free to contact me at 720-296-1719 if you would like to talk more about this exciting new way to disciple new believers.

About the Writer: Home missionary Scott Cheatham and his family are planting a new in northern Denver, Colorado. Find the church on Facebook.

Your next church planter could be a crack dealer…

The Harvest Is Plentiful

Your next church planter could be a crack dealer. Most of us go looking for our next church planter among bright young youth pastors or seminary students. Neil Perry found his next church planter among drug dealers and prostitutes. It’s only five minutes but you will be amazed by what you hear…

http://www.cmaresources.org/audio/next-church-planter-was-a-crack-dealer

Ohio LTG Story

12/27/2011

Life Transformation Group…I have, currently, over 25 LTG’s running and planning on having a few more!! I appreciate all that you are doing and the tools you provide so that my ministry here in Ohio can be an even great influence in our community. God bless and Happy New Year.

Rev. Jason Everidge

More about Life Transformation Groups / LTGs here

Prisoners coming to Christ through Life Change Groups

12/30/2011

Just wanted to give you a quick update on what God is doing at the Wynne Unit in Huntsville, Texas:

The training of missionaries who will be serving as a catalyst in starting house churches officially starts on Feb. 1, 2012.

Life Change GroupWarden Pittman has taken some of these men (those that will be trained as missionaries) and has begun using them to do a one-on-one Life Change Group among offenders in Administrative Segregation (Ad Seg). The offenders that are housed in Ad Seg are either the most violent and disruptive offenders or belong to certain gangs that are the most dangerous to both the offender population and security staff, and thus, are housed in Ad Seg for safety reasons. Some of the men (missionaries) that you have met in your tour of the Wynne Unit are being used by Warden Pittman to bring about transformation in Ad Seg.

REMEMBER that because of security, there are no religious programs offered to Ad Seg offenders other than one on one ministry done by select religious volunteers. This is the darkest area of all of the prison system. A bright light is shining in the darkness. In the last several weeks, two Ad Seg offenders have accepted Christ and been baptized. A third accepted Christ this past week. Over one hundred men in Ad Seg have requested to be part of this Life Change Group process. Leadership from TDCJ (Texas Department of Criminal Justice) witness the last baptism and was literally blown away in regard to the process and the transformation. Recently, because of what God is doing, the Vice Chair of the Texas Board of Criminal Justice visited the Wynne Unit. I’ve been asked to give a report to this board in February.

I want to thank you for your prayers and support. God Bless!

David Valentine
Covenant Fellowship
Huntsville, Texas

P.S. One of our volunteers, Eddie Harmon just called to inform me that they are baptizing the third Ad Seg offender along with twenty-four other offenders (non-Ad Seg) next week. One of the twenty-four is a muslim at the Wynne Unit. This will be the second muslim that we will have baptized because of Life Change Groups.

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