Daily Prayer :: Wind

First steps on the journey of faith and community

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September 23 — Grow disciples naturally

We are called to move with what the Spirit is doing next
Like any healthy organism, we grow. So we are always preparing to birth a new cell, plant the next congregation and generate the next venture of compassionate service.

Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt

Read 2 Timothy 2:1-13

[B]e strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.

More thoughts to ponder

Let’s not be deluded. The United States speaks the language of business, so every time we hear “growth” we have a deep understanding of “market share” and “profit” and “gross national product.” But when we use the word, we are not using the capitalist idea of “growth.” We mustn’t let our words get stolen.

We are not a business, even though we can do some good business, we are the body of Christ. Our growth is a natural feature of being alive in the Spirit. We are instinctively determined to reproduce. So we talk about how we are growing all the time, just like any of our aunts might see us and say, “Well, look how you have grown!”

This is an excerpt from one of the resource pages in “Fire” on the Way of Jesus site that talks about reproducing disciples and so, growing in number as the church. The author wants everyone to get back to an organic expression of the church so we make disciples in everyday life, not in “school:”

Jesus didn’t explain in advance everything His disciples would need to know; instead He gave them His Holy Spirit to continue their training after His departure (John 16:13). With the Holy Spirit’s guidance and empowering, the disciples then trained others to follow Jesus just as He had trained them—through modeling, practice, transparency and discussion.

Consider these essential components of what Jesus gave the disciples:

• Being a living example of what complete obedience looks like.
• Real time training in working alongside the Holy Spirit.
• Guided experience to develop appropriate skills.
• Group obedience to overcome individual hesitance.
• Clear assignments, feedback and correction.
• An example of empowering disciples to make other disciples.

The Church in Acts had no written record of Jesus’ teachings, and Jesus drew others to Himself so quickly that there were soon too many followers for most to have direct contact with the Twelve. Yet despite the unavailability of the tools we depend on today, explosive growth continued as Jesus-followers received Spirit-led ministry from one another in small groups (1 Cor. 14:26). This reproducible group process resulted in multiplying, Spirit-led, loving obedience to Jesus which rapidly drew yet others to follow Him.

Circle of Hope thrives, or not, if we maintain that organic sense of who we are and let the Holy Spirit cause our growth. It is very tempting to give up and let ourselves be re-colonized by people who control us with procedure and hierarchy in order to manage the “disciples” we’ve got. We are resisting that temptation.

Suggestions for action

Pray: Make me strong in your grace. Empower me to entrust others with the life with which I am entrusted.

Why don’t you read the 2 Timothy passage again and read it like it is not “the Bible,” but is a tool Paul gave his disciple Timothy, who was learning to follow Jesus on-the-job?

Who is one of your disciples (or the closest thing you’ve got)? What if you were writing them a letter to encourage their faith? What would you write? Maybe you should write it and give it to them. They might like being taken so seriously.

September 22 — The past gives us tools for building now.

We are called to move with what the Spirit is doing next.
We intend to keep all the great things God has given through the church of the past and be totally at home in our own time, ready and able to relate to the people of our day.

Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt 

Read 1 John 4:1-15

My loved ones, I warn you: do not trust every spirit. Instead, examine them carefully to determine if they come from God, because the corrupt world is filled with the voices of many false prophets. Here is how you know God’s Spirit: if a spirit affirms the truth that Jesus the Anointed, our Liberating King, has come in human flesh, then that spirit is from God. If a spirit does not affirm the true nature of Jesus the Anointed, then that spirit does not come from God and is, in fact, the spirit of the antiChrist.

More thoughts for meditation

Our mapping process will come around again next May, It is a deliberate, visible way we take the scripture from 1 John very seriously. We fully expect every person, cell and team to test the spirits. As evaluations are made and new direction is suggested, we expect that our process will lead to real confidence that the Spirit is guiding us into what is next.

We bring that same sense of confident discernment and loving dialogue to our place in the transhistorical Church. We are discerning the Spirit in our spiritual ancestors. We want to sort out the genius of all the movements of the Spirit since the Church began and take those good gifts with us into the future. We also want to discard what is finished or misguided from the church’s past (and ours!), repent, and move on. This discernment takes some skill. John’s initiative in writing his letter implies that he thinks he has the skill and others need to benefit from that.

John’s Church did not have highly-educated leaders expositing a collection of writings (now called the Bible), which were interpreted by further writings stretching over hundreds of years. Most of the people he wrote to had to depend on others to read what he wrote to them! He assumed people would need to learn how to distinguish truth and falsehood spiritually and relationally, not by mere argument. He presumed the Spirit of God would be present to make Jesus known and to reveal the truth.

Many of us use the world’s methods to discern spiritual things. It does not work out too well. Sometimes we are disappointed with the Bible before we have even listened to it. Some of us have adopted a cultural Christianity that has more to do with our parents than Jesus, is more about a social system than a mission. As a result, we reap the fruit of our methods and systems instead of discerning and following the Spirit. A harvest of worldly thinking does not make us free to follow Jesus, but it often gets us stuck defending something fruitless!

It is quite an art form, isn’t it, to fully receive the gifts of what has gone before, yet be totally at home with one’s own application of it all in the present! That’s our goal; to be confident in the Lord right now, surrounded by the cloud of witnesses who have gone before and helped lead our way. We are part of a transhistorical body, an eternal fellowship of all Jesus followers.

Suggestions for action

Pray: May your Spirit, Christ, be clearly seen in me today.

First of all, affirm “the truth that Jesus the Anointed, our Liberating King, has come in human flesh.”

Second, consider how you decide what is true. Do you test the spirits to see if they are from God? When you discuss the future direction of Circle of Hope, are you serious enough to discern rather than just react out of your own feelings and experiences? Try discerning.

Third, consider your own flexibility and ours. Are we all ready and able to relate to the people of our day, or would be be more comfortable twenty years ago? That might be a good question for your cell.

September 21 — Inspire others with the wisdom you’ve been given

We are called to move with what the Spirit is doing next.
Words of wisdom and knowledge are given in many ways, but always within accountable relationships.

The Flammarion “engraving” is about seeing beyond self-imposed limitations. A Medieval man has peeked under the horizon of his perceived sky. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flammarion_engraving

Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt from it

Read 1 Corinthians 14:1-25

I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding. Otherwise when you are praising God in the Spirit, how can someone else, who is now put in the position of an inquirer, say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since they do not know what you are saying? You are giving thanks well enough, but no one else is edified. I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.

More thoughts for meditation

The Pentecostal revival that came to bloom in the early 1910’s helped USonian Christians get out of their heads and mere morality and into a life-changing relationship with the living God. It was a great corrective. It was also an insightful application of the scripture. But that application was quickly colonized by individualism and quickly conformed to the structures of Protestantism.

The movement continues to be influential all over the world. As a result, people sometimes come into the meetings of Circle of Hope and think we might be a little “pentecostal.” We are. But where is the speaking in tongues and prophetic utterances? We are all for those, but we think they are expressed in a Biblical and more practical way if they are expressed in the small groups that Paul imagined when he wrote his letters⁠—groups like our cells. Christians did not have large meeting places, for the most part, until the 300’s! They mostly met in small homes, large living rooms, or out in the open.

Rather than planning for theatrical performances of ecstasy-produced teaching and revelations in a public meeting, which require that each person receives the “divine data” and does something with it individually, we steer people toward face-to-face relationships in their cells. There, the prophecy can be received with grace, interpreted, and passed on from that secure base. Or the offering can be improved or refused by people who can work through that process personally, in love.

We don’t want to do anything that quenches the Spirit’s fire. We want to hear from God and move with what the Spirit is doing next, together.

Suggestions for action

Pray: Inspire me with something to say that builds others up today.

Paul imagines a very active church, doesn’t he? Everyone makes a difference and they come with something to give⁠—either a rapt, listening ear or a deeply felt revelation of grace and truth. The church is a constantly-developing place fueled by Spirit-inspired-and-monitored dialogue. Is that the church you are living in? Is your cell that place? How can you make it even more so?

Today is Henri Nouwen Day! He has taught us a lot about living a deep but practical Christian life. Meet him at Celebrating Our Transhistorical Body.

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