Saturday, March 25, 2006

Jonah, Revival and Discipleship

This was written by my lovely wife Natalie
While reading Ray Bakke’s A Theology as Big as the City, I was stunned by an observation he made concerning Jonah’s preaching and the nature of lasting revival. He begins by attributing Jonah’s hesitation to preach God’s message of salvation to the people of Ninevah to his deep patriotism. In Jonah’s time, Ninevah was a city of violence and bloodshed and an enemy of God’s people Israel, with the Assyrian empire eventually carrying the Northern Tribe into captivity. In fact, Ninevah continued to rage against Israel until their own downfall at the hands of the Babylonians in 612 BC. So, Jonah logically assumed that his enemies, the Ninevahites, were also God’s enemies. Considering the way God dealt with Israel’s enemies in the past, Jonah firmly believed that God would and should destroy Ninevah. Imagine his surprise when God calls him to take his message of mercy and salvation to that bloody and hated city! Imagine his disappointment when he realizes that God is choosing to deal with Ninevah according to his mercy rather than wiping them out! Jonah, though he disagrees with it, knows that what God purposes He will do. If God says he will have mercy on Ninevah, He will have mercy on Ninevah. Poor disappointed Jonah! He would have gladly carried a message of doom to those people, but not one of salvation. Where is the justice in that? So, Jonah takes a boat as far from Ninevah as possible, but of course God, with the help of a fish, brings Jonah to city he hates, the very city God has chosen for salvation.
The observation Bakke makes about Jonah’s preaching is what really caught my attention. He says that Jonah brought only half of the gospel to Ninevah. He wandered the streets of the city barking a message of damnation. “Forty days and this city will be destroyed!” Where is the message of mercy and salvation? Where is the good news answer to this message of damnation? Jonah conveniently omits that part. I can imagine him shouting “destruction is upon you” hoping against hope that it would come to pass. To the very end, even on day 39, maybe Jonah was still crossing his fingers that God would rain fire and hail down on the city as he watched from the shade of his tree on the hill outside the city. But, God will have mercy on those whom He has chosen. As a result of Jonah’s preaching, the greatest revival in history before Pentecost took place among a Gentile nation, even one of the most feared enemies of Israel. God completely turned that entire city around. Ninevah became a God-fearing, Jehovah worshipping city in just over one month! Of course, Jonah continues in his disappointment, basically saying to God, “I knew it! I knew you would do this!”
So, we leave Jonah, still simmering over Ninevah’s salvation and we come to the prophet Nahum about 100 years after Ninevah’s revival. Without reading the book of Nahum one might think that Nahum’s message to Ninevah might be one of encouragement or at most one of exhortation to continue to walk in the ways of the one true God who saved their entire city not too long ago. But, surprisingly we find that through Nahum, God is now announcing a message of complete destruction to the people of Ninevah. No questions asked. Destruction, period. I’m sure Jonah was in heaven at the time asking why Nahum got to carry that message instead of him. The question that naturally comes to mind is “What happened?” This is a city that just one generation before experienced the greatest revival of Old Testament times, and now the children and grandchildren of those who were saved have, by this time, offended God to such an extent that He has determined to destroy them for good. Where was the miss? Shouldn’t a revival of that magnitude have effects that last beyond just one generation?
The key, according to Bakke, lies in Jonah’s message. Remember, Jonah only carried half the message to Ninevah. He didn’t experience God’s heart of love and compassion for those people. He preached doom, saw God save the whole city, and left disappointed that the Ninevahites escaped judgement. The Ninevahites experienced revival without follow-up. Jonah certainly was not going to volunteer to stay among the Ninevahites and instruct them in the ways of the God who saved them. One of the greatest revivals in history was snuffed out in one generation because it was a revival without discipleship. What began very well, fizzled out because the people did not know how to or missed the importance of passing God’s message down to their children and grandchildren. Jonah and Nahum is a lesson to all of God’s people called to take his message of salvation to the world. First, God is not a patriot. Second, revival cannot be sustained without discipleship.

"Earthquake victims in Kashmir"

I found this on the China Daily Websight
The photo, one of the series of "Earthquake victims in Kashmir" by Paula Bronstein from Time magazine wins "Photo of the Year" at the second China International Press Photo Contest, in Shenzhen City of south China's Guangdong Province on March 24, 2006. The picture was taken last October in the town of Balakot, where 90 per cent of buildings were destroyed. [Newsphoto]

me Posted by Picasa

Food for thought- Good Deeds Follow-up Material for New Believers

Good News and Good Deeds are ment to go together, so why do we so often in our teaching of the Christian life neglect "the good works prepared in advance for us to do?" Eph 2:10 This one of the new follow-up materials we introduced to help new belivers see an intricate part of their new life in Christ. We have seen some great response from the new believers who expect this to be a part of the Christian life.
The preceeding seven follow-ups are 1. Assurance of Salvation 2. Confession of Sin 3. Being Filled with the Holy Spirit 4. Growth 5. Bible Study 6. Prayer 7. Godly Relationships

Follow-Up 8 “Good Deeds”
Matt 5:14-16
14 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Q1. What does Jesus Say that we are?
Q2. What does light do?
Q3. What does it mean to let your light shine before men? (v.16)
Q4. What is the goal/result of good works?

Created in Jesus to do good deeds
Eph 2:8-10
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Q5. How are we saved?
Q6. What cannot save us?
Q7. Why were we created?
Q8. When did God prepare these good works for you?

Word of God
2 Tim 3:16-17
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Q9. What is scripture useful for?
Q10. What is the goal/result of this teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness?
Q11. How are we equipped for good works? Or “what equips us”

Matt 25:35-40
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
37 "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
40 "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
Q12. What types of needs are mentioned?
Q13. When we help people in need, who are we serving?

Matt 6:2-4
2 "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Q14. When people announce their good deeds, who gets the glory?
Q15. When we give, whose honor should we seek?

Good News and Good Deeds
Luke 4:17-21
7 The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21 and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."
Q16. What was Jesus’ mission?
Q17. What Good News was he to speak?
Q18. What Good Deeds was he to do?
Q19. What does this mean for followers of Christ?

Step of Obedience
Think of three people around where you live with a physical need you can meet this week. Pray for them and ask God to be glorified as you meet those needs.
What is one practical way you can show God’s love to your roommates this week? Pray for them and ask God to be glorified as you serve them this week.
What is one thing you can do to show someone God’s love right now? Show them God’s love right now and tell them that God loves them as you serve them.

Thank God for preparing good deeds for you to do so that he will be glorified through your service to others. Also thank God for meeting your needs, and ask Him to fill you with His Spirit so that you would be a light to the world.

Luke 10:25-37
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
26 "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"
27 He answered: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
28 "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
30 In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'
36 "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"
37 The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him."
Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."

The Bible is full of stories and verses that talk about service, the poor and needy, and how God cares for them. Here are few for self study:
1 John 3:16-20, James 1:22-27, Titus 2:7-8, Titus 3:1-2, Titus 3:14, Heb 10:19-25, 1 Tim 6:17-19, 2 Cor 9:6-15, 1 Peter 2:12, 2 Thess 2:16-17, 2 Tim 2:20-21, Col 1:9-14, Ps 113:7-8, Acts 4:32-35, Jer 22:15-16, Prov 14:31, Deut 15:7-11, Ps 69:33, Ezek 16:49-50, Prov 22:9, Prov 29:7, Prov 14:21, Prov 21:13, Ps 41:1, Luke 14:12-14, Prov 31:8-9, Ezek 18:5-9, 1 Cor 13, Gal 2:6-10, Rom 12:9-21

A Hero’s Welcome

Because we are living overseas, it has been difficult to communicate, But yesturday i had the chance to talk to my brohter and catch up with him. It was great to hear his voice.
This article was in the Louisville Times on Wednesday. By Meagan TaylorColorado Hometown Newspapers
Even at 4 a.m., waiting on an airstrip in the middle of New Mexico, the Swanson family was never so excited.
Jeff Swanson, a specialist with the New Mexico National Guard’s 126th Military Police Company, was on the plane that landed that morning, after serving 18 months in Iraq.
Swanson was coming home to a special surprise, his 6-month-old baby boy, Gentry, whom he and wife Ashlie conceived during his short visit home in December 2004.
“That was the dream for me,” Ashlie Swanson said of her husband’s early-morning homecoming. “It was so surreal and the girl side of me romanticized it.”
Ashlie, baby Gentry, Jeff’s parents, Liz and Eric Swanson, and his sister, Casey, met him on the airstrip with hundreds of other soldiers and families.
Twenty-two-year-old Jeff Swanson, grew up in Louisville and wrestled on Centaurus High School’s 2001 state qualifying team.
Of the 14-member team, half of the wrestlers went into the military, a coincidence that Jeff’s mother, Liz, thought was notable.
“This is something you can attribute to any sport,” Jeff said of the skills he learned in wrestling. “To stick through it, persevere, don’t give up.”
But he said his faith played a major role in maintaining his courage on the unpredictable streets of Baghdad.
“I think I kind of had an advantage, because I have Jesus,” he said. “Anything that happens, you know what is going to happen.”
Swanson was sent to military police and combat training before his deployment in March 2005.
Ashlie Swanson found out she was pregnant just before Jeff’s departure.
“I freaked,” she said. “I was in denial ... even after the doctor told me, I thought, no way.”
Ashlie said she sometimes felt like a single mother, though she had strong support from her family and the Swansons.
“I didn’t know really what to think,” Jeff Swanson said. “I knew I had to be really sweet and give her that, because what else could I give her?”
He was disappointed at not being able to witness the first six months of Gentry’s life, and missing Ashlie’s first pregnancy.
“I had to act like it didn’t bother me,” he said. “That’s why it’s a sacrifice, not because it doesn’t suck, but because it does.”
However, Jeff was given leave in September, to be with Ashlie in the hospital for Gentry’s birth.
“It was like a dream,” he said, noting that his fatherly instincts kicked in almost immediately when doctors took Gentry’s blood for the first time. “I said, ‘What are you doing? You just poked my son with a needle!’”
Jeff said the worst feeling was having to return to Iraq for six more months before he would be reunited with his family.
Swanson’s company was the third of a series of units sent to train, mentor and assist Iraqi Police in securing the country. He served as a gunner on a Humvee.
“I had no idea what it was going to be like,” Swanson said of the war zone. “I couldn’t imagine how you could fly a plane over Baghdad ... I thought we would have to shoot our way to the safe part.”
Having been in the country, he explained that the military bases are organized, and terrorist acts are not consistent.
“Some days, we were out on the streets every day in Baghdad, seeing different landmarks,” Swanson said. “Then we would go home and see on (television) that something happened where we were.”
He also said many of the protests seen in television media reports are staged for the cameras.
During the company’s various missions, five men were injured and one was killed in a roadside attack.
“It will take awhile for everyone to get to know the freedoms they have,” he said of the social situation in Iraq, noting that some Iraqis lack confidence in the country’s leadership, and religious differences create turmoil.
“It will take time, and in the mean time, there will be good and bad and people will make a big deal of it,” he said. “There’s just no other way to do it. But, they wouldn’t have had a chance without us.”
Despite being relieved that her husband is home safe, Ashlie Swanson said she felt proud that Jeff served his country.
“I couldn’t even comprehend what losing him would be like,” she said of her husband’s dangerous job. “In my heart, I knew, as scary as it was, that God wouldn’t have started what he started between us.”

Me and Nat Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

"Community of Kindness" Notes

Community of Kindness by Steve Sjogren and Rob Lewin (can purchase at
A few months ago i read this book and it really helped me and the people on our team to think about doing ministry differently. Here are some of the key points from the book modified a little to go along with our current situation. the numbers refer to the pages in the book where the notes and quotes are from

What do you dream about? Is it a big movement or changed lives?
How can we build disciples that will be world changers? “Discipline yourselves to count only changed lives and new believers launched into the world to be with people in real ways and enabled to live big lives that count for eternity.” P. 22
What are the actions that you and your team believe make up a true disciple? What transforming actions do you want them to do? Lives need to be transformed not just information passed along.28 the goal of a transformational community is to build people who do something that fundamentally changes the way the world works.
Which of the people I spoke to were excited about going and doing? They might have ideas, they might have tried, they might have failed. Who do you work with? These people. “Focus your energy on the people who are already doing something, not the people who are waiting for you to do something.”24
If honoring others ideas and traditions causes you to ignore the current calling of God in your life, you must choose the way of Christ.26
Belonging = doing
“Servant evangelism is about activating people into the ministry. There are no observers.”27
Give people an opportunity to give of themselves. If people are only there to take, they are going to get too full and pretty soon you start a barf-o-rama.
Coach and care for the small group leaders. You aren’t going to pastor the city, you are going to pastor the pastors of the city. Your job isn’t to care for everyone, you job is to train caregivers.176
Model- Being a believer has to do with action directed at someone else. Have them bring their friends with them to serve. Action changes people. Seeing that you mean what you say changes people who change the world.
In building disciples focus on modeling behavior you want your disciples to do. They will more rapidly display the behavior you are seeking to reproduce by doing the ministry with you.48
Let everything you do be a double purposed matter: Do it for the purpose of doing it and do it to train someone else. Take someone along wherever you go. Let them watch you doing ministry. Model your ministry values all the time.
Your leaders need to see beyond themselves to the needs of others in your ministry. They need to see that it is not just about them getting their needs met but loving the people God has brought to your ministry.49
If outreach isn’t the first point in your discipleship model, it will be no point in your discipleship activity.114;
If you aren’t requiring people to delegate, you are crippling them, if you are requiring them to delegate, then you are drawing out the best in them.
5 steps to conveying a new behavior149
1. Do it alone
2. Do it with someone watching you do it.
3. Do it with someone helping you do it.
4. The other person does it while you watch them.
5. The other person does it with someone else watching them.
Love the people
Is there anything that can stop you from loving these people? If you can think of anything, you better face it fast. Lack of love is something that will eat away at the possibility of you being successful in that city.67
Learn the top 10 negative and positive things the city is known for.
Wherever you are is ok. Don’t spend time hating the things you can’t change right now, spend that time loving people.72
Serving is the fastest way to recalibrate your heart to why you are working this hard and investing your life in this ministry. A simple act of kindness that wants to honor Christ makes everything clear again.88
people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. 76
The role of the catalytic staff is to coach leaders who will make this unified statement: We love you, we welcome you, we want the dynamic life of Christ to shine in you so that you will make difference in the world!87
Our prayer is that a newcomer would experience a sense of coming home- of being truly wanted180
There is an environment of joy, of genuine friendship, of grace-come as you are, and you’ll be loved; come as you are and you’ll be changed; come as you are and you’ll never be the same. 181
There is a lot of latitude and a lot of forgiveness which allows for experimentation to see what works. Don’t call it failure, it is a chance to see what doesn’t work.
Live openhandedly. Don’t grab people. Allow them to come in, and allow them to leave. No shame, no angst. Don’t keep folks from leaving. If they stay, they’ll be bitter ad poisonous, and their attitudes will spill over to many others. It’s not worth it. Allow people to make their own decisions and respect them- even if you know their reasoning is stupid. 93
Do more outreach. Do focus on the person who just left, but instead focus on the person who isn’t in your movement yet. The more time you spend obsessing, the less time you have to find the person who can’t wait to be involved in the vision you’re bithing.97
Begin today building the skills you will need for the rest of you life of ministry.118
When less people show up than you expected or than those that said they would be there, it is easy to get frustrated. You focus on who is not there instead of who has come. The challenge is to teach the 2 that did show up as through there were 5000. these are the 2 people Jesus has given you right now. They are the two most important people in the world.
Abandon you expectations- give the whole thing to God
Select one person who needs to hear what you have to say and speak to them.
Think of Jesus and how many time this sort of thing happened to him. He is the son of God!144
Never cancel an event. When you say you’ll be there, be there.
What do we do?
In choosing what to do, determine what will give spiritual life to your city and do those things.
Gather lots and lots of people. Have lots of different interests. Get exposure to things that are not ministry. Be able to talk to a wide variety of people about a wide variety of things.
Read significant magazines like, The Economist, Utne Reader, Wired, Christianity Today, Charisma, Fast Company and Rolling Stone.,,
Promote the name of Christ and the cause of the kingdom. Involve people in service to meet the needs of someone. Do what Jesus did.
Focus on: gathering, training small group leaders, assimilating newcomers into your group. Praying in the community you are trying to impact. Leave the house every day before 9:00am. Do service evangelism project between appointments. Give substantially to the ministry. Take an outside job and get to know the people of your community in a different way.
Define yourself179
What do you think a disciple is?
What kind of church is going to be effective at reaching your community in 10 years?
Who do you need to become in order to lead your church in 5 years?
What’s the most important spiritual need you have in your life right now?
Are there new models and new styles that need to be involved to help you evolve?
Live openhandedly. Don’t grab people. Allow them to come in, and allow them to leave. No shame, no angst. Don’t keep folks from leaving. If they stay, they’ll be bitter and poisonous, and their attitudes will spill over to many others. It’s not worth it. Allow people to make their own decisions and respect them- even if you know their reasoning is stupid. 93
Plan a vacation for each person with in the first 12 months. It helps morale and helps people feel like you care. It is professional and it forces you to plan for others to do their roles during those times.157
Thank your leaders and volunteers. Write them thank you notes. Let them know that they are appreciated. Celebrate success even when it seems insignificant
Tell your vision from the perspective of how it will benefit the hearer and the Kingdom rather than haw it will benefit you or the organization. Your story is part of God’s Story. He is doing Big stuff through you and your ministry. He wants to do big stuff through the people he brings to you.
Communicate to your people: “We intend to make a difference. Our dream for this is not small. If you are ready for a wild ride, hitch your wagon to us.”172
Fund Raising
Picture each person as a gift God has given you. If they aren’t your gift they are someone else’s. It is your job to direct that gift to where he or she belongs.159