Monday, October 27, 2014

Exponentially His

 © Copyright Phil Champion and licensed for reuse
under this Creative Commons Licence
As I look at my notes for the rest of the Exponential West 2014 conference, they're on the sparse side.  Either highlighting some things I wanted to remember or to bring back broader thoughts.  Where I have notes we're going to try to keep the order the same as the conference.  

Some of the speakers had shorter periods to fill, so there was less to take notes from.  Others covered things I already understood from being in a ministry that's very active with both church planting and personal evangelism. Nonetheless, between my notes and some quotes supplied by the conference staff, there are lots of goodies to chew on and digest. Let's start where we left off, which brings us to Craig Groeschel.

Craig Groeschel is senior pastor at LifeChurch.tv.  If Life Church sounds familiar, it should.  They're the church that distributes the wildly popular YOUversion Bible app.  In fact, Pastor Craig created YOUversion.  And LifeChurch.tv pioneered the multi-campus, multimedia based church, although you may be more familiar with Crosspoint.tv and Pastor Pete Wilson for that.  Anyway....

Pastor Groeschel had a brief video presence at the conference.  But he said two things that I thought were important.  He said, “If you are not ready to be criticized for your obedience to God. You are not ready to be used by God.”  And, along with that, he stated, "Extraordinary acts of God often start with ordinary acts by us.".  Those statements make me think about the blind man healed by mud on his eyes or Namaan dipping in the Jordan River seven times.  Both could easily be mocked for involving themselves in such crazy activities.  Yet, both were healed when they were obedient.

It comes down to our call.  God is a God of details.  If we're called to be a janitor, that's just as important as becoming a pastor.  Because God gave the calling.  Indeed, if the pastor became that through his own decisions and efforts, the janitor walking in the call of God is more spiritual.  It's not how big or little the function, it's not how much effort goes into getting there, it's how much of God do we allow to be involved.

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I was really looking forward to hearing K.P. Yohannon.  I'd heard a lot of good things about him, but never heard him or read his books.  I had an expectation of hearing something fresh and new. That's not what I got.  Everything Pastor Yohannon said was good and right on.  But, I'd heard it all before, said in very much the same way, by Pastor Karl Silva, our pastor in Mumbai who oversees our churches in India.  And it was still good to hear.  There are a couple of thoughts he shared that I want to expand on.  The first is this:

“Sometimes our discipleship model is all about our doing instead of being completely His.”

That's an insightful statement.  Even when we realize that anything we do is useless unless God is behind it, it's easy to slip into doing without asking.  We might think of Ephesians 2:9 which says, "Not of works, lest any man should boast.".  But, if we look at the preceding verse, we see it refers to our salvation.  It's not by our own efforts.  If we look at all the mentions of works, we see numerous mentions of good works and many references to bad or evil works.  It's not the works that are the problem.  Indeed, James suggests that faith without works is dead.  If one or more persons of the Trinity aren't involved in some way in what we do, the works are meaningless.  It's bad when we move forward on our own, worse when we intentionally allow our flesh or the devil to push God out of the picture.  But it's not the works that are bad it's the attitude and source that produces them.  We're all familiar with:

Romans 11:6 (KJV)  And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

and

2 Timothy 1:9 (KJV)  Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

Those and the passage in Ephesians 2 have us stating that it's grace not works.  But the reality is that good works couldn't exist without grace and without being in relation to our Lord.  Do a word search on "works" or "good works" and I think you'll see my point.

There are two more K. P. Yohannon quotes that I think go together.

“We are created by Him, for Him for eternity. His purpose that we may become like Christ.”

“You can’t be HIS, without being deeply concerned about the world around you.”

When we look at Christ's life on earth, yes He went up on the mountain.  But those times were events in His life, not His mode of living.  As we view Christ's life, we see an unavoidable truth. Everything Jesus did was about people.  From His detour to teach in the temple as a child, to His meetings with the disciples after His resurrection, to Him calling Paul with a blinding light, everything He did was for our sake.  Some of what Jesus did was in groups, in public. But more was done on an individual basis.  Christ was personal in His ministry, whether it was healing someone or rejecting their sin.

If we are to be Christ-like, we have to be concerned with those around us and in a very personal way.  If we are to be Christ-like, we need to deal with both people's physical and their spiritual needs.  And we need to go beyond "one size fits all".  Which means God has to to be a part of all our ministry.  He knows the needs, He knows how best to deal with them and bless.

There's more from Exponential on Friday.  But are we ready to go out on a limb for God?  To be criticized?  To be thoroughly personal and Christ-like?  Are we ready to be exponentially His?

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