Welcome Home 2
Belonging to His Church
Most of what we do around here is organized. As you participate in different ministries, you will also notice we are have interests.
Not only are we organized but there are people who are given responsibility to organize.
Here is what you might not know about us, however: we are not an organization.
An organization is a group of people who exist to accomplish a specific purpose; they share a purpose in common.
The Red Cross is an organization which serves a specific purpose; same with the American Cancer Society or Amnesty International—you get the point. Each of these organizations have vision statements, and they exist for their stated purpose—great groups.
There are also clubs, and they are different from organizations. Those who belong to clubs focus around a shared interest.
When I was in high school there was a Speech Club, Debate Club, Drama Club, Chess Club, Ski Club, and the list went on. Sports teams are basically clubs; they gather around a specific interest.
The church Jesus has built has many interests, but the church is not a club. The church Jesus has built is organized and has purpose, but it is not an organization.
If the church is not a club or an organization, how could the church Jesus has built be described?
Working through some of the metaphors the Holy Spirit has used to describe church might lend some help.
We Are His Body
We Are His Body (Ephesians 1:23; 2:16; 3:6)
We Are His New Humanity (Ephesians 2:15)
We Are His Citizens of His Kingdom (Ephesians 2:19)
We Are Part of His Eternal Family (Ephesians 2:19)
We Are His Home (Ephesians 2:22)
1. His Body
We Are the Visible Expression of His Body on Earth (Ephesians 2:16 NLT)
"Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus." Ephesians 3:6 NLT
We are organized but not an organization; we are an organism. We don't have a purpose; our purpose is living and breathing—our purpose is Jesus. Just like the way, the truth, and the life are not things because Jesus is actually the Way, the Truth, and the Life, so the plan of God is personal; His Plan is Jesus.
Our organization does not make us who we are; the Holy Spirit makes us His body—a moving and living body, a connected and cannot-be-separated body. Someone lives in us, and He keeps us in a love bond which is unbreakable. Yes, He has interests, and yes, He has a purpose, and yes, He is organized, but more than those things, Jesus is God's purpose and His purpose lives in a body.
2. His "New Man"
We Are His New Humanity (Ephesians 2:15 NLT)
"He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in Himself one new people from the two groups." Ephesians 2:15 NLT
We live in the same old bodies we had before we gave our hearts to Jesus, but we as His church are a brand humanity, a new race of people. We have more in common with each other than we do those who we share common interests with or those we share common goals with or even those we share race or gender with.
I am Christ's before I am white or American or anything else. I am a part of a “new race” and the new race I am a part of identifies who I am before any other marker.
Our sense of belonging to the “new Jesus humanity” is much greater than my other bond to any other group.
To be a part of Christ's "new humanity" is to be a part of a group of people who exist to live with Father at the relational center of everything.
3. His Kingdom
We Are His Citizens of an Entirely Different Kingdom (Ephesians 2:19 NLT)
"So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people." Ephesians 2:19 NLT
The Father made Jesus the King over His created universe. Right now He is righting everything wrong with the planet we have destroyed through idolatry and sin. We are no longer citizens of the realm which exploits the world for pleasure and self interest. We are citizens of the Kingdom where Christ is King, and loving kindness and the eternal goodness of God reigns over all. While we live on earth, we more truthfully and more consciously live in Christ, in the Kingdom of heaven which He rules. The Kingdom of heaven will someday rule the entire created universe.
4. His Family
We Are Part of His Eternal Family (Ephesians 2:19 NLT)
"You are members of God’s family." Ephesians 2:19 NLT
Not only are we His body who have become a brand new humanity or race and made citizens of Christ's Kingdom, but we are also family.
Yahweh is our Father, and He loves and cares for us. Christ is perfect, and through Him we are made children of God. We are not relatively a part of God's family; we are positionally and immediately His children. We have constant access to Him and we call Him "Daddy." Wow! (Romans 8:15) We are not merely citizens of a heavenly city; we are also adopted into His immediate family—we're His kids (Ephesians 1:5)
5. His Home
We Are His Home on Earth (Ephesians 2:22 NLT)
"Through Him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by His Spirit." Ephesians 2:22 NLT
Here is the mind-blowing truth; we are to be the very place on earth where God lives, where God touches earth, where heaven opens and Father touches down. We are to be His home.
The church was put together living stone by living stone. We are built into a temple, a place where God's presence abides and makes His home.
Not Me But Us
God loves and saves individuals but places them in a family; He baptizes them into His family so those many individuals make up one body. Each person is arranged in the body by God's choice. My arm did not decide to be my arm; God made it so.
The Bible is clear: everyone remains an individual, but every individual makes up the ONE body of Christ as each become what God has made them to be (1 Corinthians 12:13,18,27; Romans 12:5).
This is not some kind of rhetoric; "I got saved and somehow mystically, but not ‘committedly’ belong to the church."
These verses in Ephesians are talking about people who have actually had their lives radically changed. Christ is at their center, and they now belong individually to His church and have become ONE while not losing the individuality of their person.
His church is tangible, visible, experiential, not invisible, not just attended, not a religious duty, and certainly not merely an interest group or an organization.
In Paul's mind, to not be both an individual and at the same time church and ONE with the church is to essentially not experience being a part of Christ.
“Up” and “On”
Oddly, the primary calling of the church is not to accumulate as many numbers as possible. Nor is the prime interest of the church to build "attractional" worship and ministry centers. Unusually, the church is not even called to build "church." The church is to build on (1 Corinthians 3:10) or to build up (1 Corinthians 14:12,26; 2 Corinthians 10:8,10; Ephesians 4:12, 16, 29) but never to do the actual building of the church. God through Christ has already built the church. It can only in actuality be built on and up
The church was built by One alone—its Head is Jesus. “Starting” churches or “planting” churches can be dangerous terms if we mean by those terms that we are starting or planting something other than what Jesus has already built.
Jesus plainly said; "I will build My church" (Matthew 16:18).
If we mean by “starting” and “planting” that we are building “up” and “on” what Jesus has already built, then we are safely using those terms. If we mean by “starting” and “planting” that we are doing something comparatively different from other churches, those less adequate churches, then we might be stretching the term to mean we are building something other than what Jesus has built. This is likely a much greater temptation to churches than any of us might want to imagine.
Where Does Your Pastor Work?
There are two words which might help demonstrate the difference between church and organization: “study” and “office.” To best understand Living Hope, let us go back and talk about the place where a pastor works.
Men and women with highly developed business skills and minds have begun to occupy the rooms of what was formerly called the “study.” In the 60’s, the sign on the pastor's door would have read “Study.” If you wanted to see the pastor in those days you would not have gone to his office; you would have gone to his study. The main task of the pastor in former times was to study the Word of God, spending his best hours and most energetic activity interpreting the Scriptures, praying, and in meditation.
His goal was to bring a sermon and lead the church as he was being inspired by the Holy Spirit, discovering Jesus’ will while all the time interpreting Scripture accurately. All of that required time. Yes, he would visit and manage, but this was not his main task.
At some point, things shifted, the word "study" was taken down, and the word "office" was used in its place. The pastor's main objective became leadership and management. If the pastor had enough funds, then he might hire a research team for study and creative ideas. Prayer, meditation, and scrutiny of the text may not be his or her highest priority. Apart from deeply considering Scripture and really discerning Christ's voice, messages and programs can become aimed at providing “step help” for problems and frustrations people experience.
Here could be some potentially common sermons you might hear from a more business-styled church.
"Space": a sermon on steps to take to get margins in your life.
"Fit": a sermon on steps to take to become spiritually strong.
"Through": a sermon on steps to take to get through tough times.
"Friend Request": a sermon on steps to take to build meaningful relationships.
"Divine Direction": a sermon on steps to take to get direction from God.
Notice in all these sermons that the goal is steps the listener can take to fulfill a need or acquire a skill. These sermons would not take hours of study, prayer, and meditation. These sermons would not need to be aimed at helping listeners better grasp Scripture. These sermons would be aimed at helping the listener to become a better person or at least better at doing something.
Those pastors who have abandoned study, prayer, and meditation as their primary focus and went to developing leadership skills work hard at making all things God relevant while producing a marketable spiritual product to attract people.
If you think we in any way would disparage a church running more like a business you would be wrong. We are observing, attaching no moral assessment. I am observing that there has been a shift and the shift has been quite an effective shift. Never in American history has there been so many large churches. We must conclude that the shift away from a "study" to an "office" has produced favorable results.
Replacing “Scripture exposition” with “step help” has also proved to produce incredibly fruitful results (By “Scripture exposition' we mean exposing the truth of Christ in the Scripture through preaching.) There is no way I would trivialize such results, no way I would label it anything other than what it has been: highly successful.
However, every church has to be true to who they are, so to understand who Living Hope is would be essential.
We are more like the guy who goes into the study to wrestle with Scripture, prayer, and meditation. We are not so good at “step help”; we are called to expose Scripture to the heart and prepare people to discern the voice of Jesus as He speaks to their hearts.
There are two Jesus mandates which drive us.
“My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me.” John 10:27 NLT
“On the last day, many people will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, we spoke for You, and through You we forced out demons and did many miracles.’ Then I will tell them clearly, ‘Get away from Me, you who do evil. I never knew you.’” Matthew 7:22-23 NCV
First, those who know the “steps” but can't hear the Voice are of concern to us. To follow requires listening. To listen is to become practiced at discerning the thoughts of Jesus within our own minds.
Second, we can do the steps and still not know Jesus. This means, according to Jesus, that it is possible to do the steps and be separated from God. To know the steps, to do the stuff, but not know the One guiding the steps can still make a life troubled with evil.
We know how powerful evil is because every time we are offended, we are capable of anger, betrayal, avoidance, even gossip. We want to make sure we hear Jesus’ voice and allow Him to know us intimately. We realize that apart from an intimate relationship with Christ we are more capable of evil than we had ever imagined. Knowing Christ intimately humbles us, sensitizes us, and makes us capable of compassion and forgiveness.
Because of those two mandates, Living Hope is a church dedicated to helping each other listen to and know Jesus. It is our first priority, our main objective. All else forms a line behind "raising up lifelong learners."
The question of course becomes: how do we build up and on? How do we build up and on what Jesus has already built, His church? By fulfilling Christ's "Great Commission."
The church has one absolute commission from Christ. In short, that commission is to make disciples by teaching them to observe all Christ taught.
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." Matthew 28:19-20 ESV
The term "make disciples" in the Greek is one word (mathetes). It may be best understood as an “apprentice,” but yet the word is so much more. Ryan Dillon has given a paraphrase to the word which I think best captures the meaning of this Greek word, "to raise up lifelong learners who have pledged their allegiance to Me."
There it is, the longing of Christ: "to raise up lifelong learners."
Just as Jesus watched and listened to His Father, so we are called to raise up others to listen to and watch Jesus.
So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by Himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does." John 5:19 NLT
"I do nothing on my own but say only what the Father taught me." John 8:28 NLT
Every church plants his or her flag on a hill; they have one focused call, one grand cause around which all others are built. For some churches, it might be worship, some discipleship, some the teaching of the word, for some it might be evangelism, and for others missions or church planting. I have never talked to a pastor who did not have a cause around which all others are built.
Our grand cause can be best stated, "to raise up lifelong learners." If you want our clever slogan, I guess it would be that we want to be a people who "walk with, suffer for, and rejoice in Christ."
Clever words aside, we believe everyone who takes time to strive to and listen to Jesus as they encounter Him in Scripture will naturally do great things—miraculous, great things raining down from heaven.
We believe we can do all kinds of good things for Jesus, but apart from "walking with" Jesus, the miraculous kind of good things are impossible. Those who become "lifelong learners," fully allegiant to Christ, can do good things with Jesus that are beyond mere human ability.
So our commission or CO-MISSION; we share together is to raise up lifelong learners who are in full allegiance to Christ.
Raising Up Learners
There are four specific challenges we are faced with when considering "raising up lifelong learners."
1. Activating the TOOLS
2. Unleashing the TALENT
3. Defining the TOUCH
4. Redeeming the TONE
Activating the TOOLS
When we think of tools, we think of those tools Christ has given every follower to help them in their quest of being those fully allegiant "lifelong learners" of Jesus. Our hope is to help every single "Jesus learner" to use these tools with great skill and consistency.
Foundational to everything we do is the Holy Spirit or the Spirit of Christ. He is ever with us, empowering us to live.
The key to Christ being the ultimate Center of our lives and hearts is prayer. The man who prays trusts, but the man who does not pray does not trust. Prayer is the gift God gives us to be in immediate communication with Him at all times.
Every day there is a Scripture from which Jesus will speak, revealing, comforting, leading, promising, and the list goes on. This too,l like every other, is essential.
Lastly, there is a team around us. This team sees our potential, and we see the potential in our team--it is one tool. As a team, we can reflect Jesus, unleash His potential in our lives, and accomplish the amazing.
All four of these tools are essential, but how are they built into the life of others? This is where discipleship comes in. Everyone belonging to Christ and His body uses their talents to develop these tools and then unleash "works of service." We will show you how this all works.
When Paul considered the Great Commission, here is how he explained it.
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip His people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him Who is the head, that is, Christ. From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Ephesians 4:11-16 NIV
Unleashing the TALENTS
The Talents of Christ Given to All
Apostle: words that establish new mission
Prophet: words that reveal potential
Evangelist: words that offer grace and hope
Pastor: words that heal and encourage
Teacher: words that explain, coach, and guide
Jesus gives each of the above talents for discipleship. Some consider the above to be leadership offices within the church. This, from my perspective, has never bore out Scripturally. The most clear office within the church was that of an "elder" who was also called a "pastor" and a "bishop." To see an evangelist or a teacher as an office in the New Testament just does not seem to find clear distinction. So Paul seems here to be listing five Jesus talents given to each person for the purpose of discipleship and making the body of Christ ready to do the work of serving the world.
Let's take this passage apart to see Paul's perspective on how God takes the initiative to fulfill the Great Commission.
... to equip His people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up ... Ephesians 4:12 NIV
Every member of Christ’s body has a job to do: equip His people for works of service. Works of service are those things the body does which cause His body for others but which also have the power to build up the body.
When His people are equipped, they not only do "works of service" but they do it reflecting the image of Jesus.
These five talents of Jesus so equip the body of Christ to move in complete unity and to reflect Jesus to the world and it serves the world.
... until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:13 NIV
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Ephesians 4:14 NIV
As the body matures and reflects the Person of Jesus, the entire body, along with the individual parts, quit, cease, and stop being motivated by their emotions and feelings and begin to find their standing and position in Christ and His love.
Expressing Our TALENTS
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him Who is the head, that is, Christ. Ephesians 4:15 NIV
You will notice that everyone has been given a communication talent. To communicate the word of God is central to being able to do the works of God. The apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher are all word speaking communication talents. Everyone shares; everyone has an essential place and role.
In this verse, Paul tells the church how each person expresses their talent: by "speaking the truth in love."
Speaking the Truth
To speak the truth in love means to speak in a way where the success, interest, honor, and advancement of another is placed above self.
Paul is calling upon every member of the body to speak, to use their word talent but to do so in a way where truth is not used as a club or a weapon to harm.
Connected and One
From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Ephesians 4:16 NIV
When each member is committed to not weaponizing truth but using it as an instrument of love, then two miracles happen. The body is joined to the head, and the entire body is joined to each other. Paul is saying in this verse that the body grows and is held together by every relationship expressing love, by each person becoming apart of the work force.
There Are Two Actions Required for Growing Up
1. Using Your "Word Talent" to Equip the Body
2. Participating with the Body in Works of Serving the World
When engaged in "works of service," we are to do so expressing the image or character of Jesus.
What TALENT Did Jesus Give You?
I am likely to be someone who commits first and most deeply to developing a new way of reaching more people to be grow stronger in Christ.
I am likely to speak up, share, or lead an idea when there is something new which should be started or re-created to cause more people to grow stronger in Christ.
I likely get involved with starting up new things and or restarting old things when they will result in people coming to and getting stronger in Christ.
I often remain sidelined when it comes to maintaining well-running structures even when they are working very well in strengthening people in Christ.
When I move in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, they are most often used in establishing or starting something new or restarting something old in the cause of strengthening more people in Christ.
(List of gifts; utterance of wisdom, utterance of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, working of miracles, prophecy, ability to distinguish between spirits, tongues, interpretation of tongues)
I am likely to commit to experiences where I can help someone or some group see their potential the way Jesus sees their potential.
I am likely to speak when someone or some group is not seeing their full potential in Christ.
I am likely to get involved with people who are blind to all Christ can do in and through their lives.
I most often decline involvement where I do not see or sense a need for people to see more of what Christ can do through them.
I usually move in the gifts of the Holy Spirit to express the potential I see in Christ in others and to reveal something they may not be clearly seeing.
I usually commit to opportunities to clearly and personally proclaim the promises of the Gospel when others are facing difficulty and hopelessness.
I am likely to get involved in some activity where the grace and hope of God can be communicated to someone or some group facing failure.
I am likely to speak when someone or some group is confused, mixing up God's love with needing to earn favor or God's lack of concern over the devastating consequences of sin.
I have a keen sense of discerning the difference between self-esteem, self-help teaching and the clear truth of the Gospel and would likely not get involved in the event.
I would most likely use the gifts of the Holy Spirit to express the grace and hope in Christ, especially to those who do not know Christ.
I would often commit to something where people or a group need healing and guidance to follow Jesus clearly.
I would likely speak up when someone or some group would be in need their wounds mended or need some gentle guidance from Jesus.
I would likely get involved and meet with a wounded person if I sensed I could bring relief to their pain or if I were to see someone straying from Christ.
I would likely decline involvement with those things which were more instructional and structural and less personal in seeking the healing of the hurting or help for the wandering.
I would most likely use the gifts of the Holy Spirit to guide people to Jesus and to minister the healing of Jesus to them.
I would most likely get involved when people need to have Christ, His Gospel, and His promises explained to them.
I would most likely speak up when words or images would be needed to explain Christ, His Gospel, or His promises.
I most commit to those activities where the power of the Gospel, the promises of Christ, and the purpose of God was being explained to those seeking to follow Christ.
I would most likely not get involved in activities where Jesus was not being explained where people were formally being trained to know the Gospel with all its wonders.
I would most likely use the gifts of the Holy Spirit to explain or express in power and action Christ in relationship to His Gospel and His promises so people could clearly understand.
Defining the TOUCH
Jesus gave amazing gifts to the church to equip every individual member as well as His body for "works of service." Certainly training people to do tasks is essential, but as you will see, the easier aspect is equipping.
The most vital aspect of equipping deals with “life with Jesus.” Everyone who is committed to Christ has a first role, using their gift (TALENT) to teach others to listen and to follow.
Dan Spader in his book Four Chair Discipling lists out what he calls "foundational priorities" or the "resources available to Jesus."
Spader makes the point that the same resources available to Jesus are available to us and they should be our "foundational priorities."
The very TALENTS we have been given are to used first in helping every believer make full use of these resources.
We explain it this way. Imagine you have a fist and your fist represents the power of the Holy Spirit.
No doubt the desire of Christ is to fill every follower with His power—the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:14), was led by the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1), and moved in the power of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:28). The fact is, Jesus wants every member of His body to walk, live in, and be empowered by His Holy Spirit.
Jesus relied on five resources to keep His life fully empowered, fully devoted to the Holy Spirit.
As we disciple people and help people with their walk, we will want to help every person become proficient in these same resources.
Apart from the Holy Spirit, all our "works of service" will be reduced to human efforts. To personally teach others to use their resources is key to the success of Christ's mission on earth.
This is our personal TOUCH, helping those we personally disciple to be really good at using the same resources available to Jesus.
Looking at this in metaphor form, let's say it this way. If you were to open your hand and name each finger one of the following resources (prayer, obedience, word, exaltation, and relationships) and then close your fingers, you would have a powerful spiritual fist.
We want to TOUCH people's life in such a way that they make their fist.
Please note the acronym below for P.O.W.E.R.
Prayer is not something someone learns on their own. Those who learn to pray on their own rarely develop a prayer life beyond petition. Asking God for stuff and to do things is the common prayer language. Prayer is so much more. Prayer is connecting so deeply with Christ and His Word that you become fully aware of what He wants to do and then in prayer declare it so. "Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done." This is no request; this is a declaration of God's revealed will. There is a place for request, "Give us this day our daily bread"; it is just not the sum total of prayer.
Learning to really pray deeply requires a community, requires praying with someone else who really knows Christ and really knows the "Lord's Prayer" (Matthew 6:9-13).
To TOUCH a person's prayer life is to bring the first finger of their fist into a position of power.
To obey means to listen and to hear as someone submitted to the One to Whom they are listening. When a person begins to listen to Jesus, they need another person to tell what they have heard. Not every thought we think is from Jesus, nor can a thought we like be bent into being something Jesus said. Listening comes from learning to discern Jesus’ voice through His Word, through His Holy Spirit and through one's own reborn heart. Rehearsing what is heard to someone else becomes an essential part of the process to bring clarity and discernment.
Not only does one hear, but one must then obey.
I cannot tell those I disciple what Jesus is telling them; they have but one Teacher, the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:27).
I can ask questions to help them discern His voice accurately. To ask questions is the part of the teaching I can do and I am called to do. I can also ask them what they are doing with what they have heard. I cannot do it for them, but I can ask questions to see if they are following through on what Jesus is leading them to do.
Most followers never learn to obey because they have not been personally discipled. Yes, when asking about follow-through it must be done in a non-judgmental way and tone but it must be done with those serious about following.
There was a young man who lived with us some years ago. He wanted to miss a Sunday night service to date a girl. I could not tell him yes or no—I was not the Holy Spirit—but I could ask him questions about the likelihood of being led by the Holy Spirit on such a venture. My question way back then was simple, "Why do you suppose God would want you to date on a Sunday night, this Sunday night, as opposed to all the other free nights you have available to you?" I actually had three other questions for him relating to the girl he was dating and regarding dating in general. I never told him what to do; I just asked questions while he discerned God's voice within Him.
To TOUCH a person's obedience life is to bring the second finger of their fist into a position of power.
To learn to read God's Word is primary. The Bible is not a book about morality any more than it is a book of rules to keep.
The Bible consists of sixty-six books, 1,189 chapters, and 31,102 verses. It is a story about God as He reveals the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ, Who has come to save, rule, and reign over the earth. His saving message is called Good News. To help people navigate the story is incredibly important.
The Bible is not complicated but neither is it simple. The Bible requires reading and reflection.
Scripture is inspired, timeless truth revealing the Father, His Son, and the Holy Spirit, along with their plan for the future of created universe along with every personal living on the planet.
Helping followers enjoy the lifelong journey of discovering Scripture is an essential role for every true follower. Helping them learn how to use the Bible tools and helping them comprehend the Bible language is vital. Even reading with them and discussing Scripture together is an absolute must as a person begins their journey.
To TOUCH a person's Word life is to bring the third finger of their fist into a position of power.
One of the most important activities of every follower is worship, the exaltation of Christ to the ultimate position of heart and life.
To personally worship Jesus with those we are discipling is critical and indispensable. Reading Psalms together and verbalizing praise, worship, adoration, and affection is not natural behavior; it is a learned behavior. When women and men are moving from being desire-driven and appetite-controlled to being Holy Spirit-led and grace-empowered, worship is key.
The full molding of a soul to fully reflect Christ depends on the depth of a person’s worship. To worship Jesus is not instinctual. Guilt makes all worshipers desire to do something to appease God's disappointment. Worship of Christ is an act of grace: "I worship You because You have made me Your child, thus You are Father."
To TOUCH a person's worship life is to bring the fourth finger of their fist into a position of power.
One of the most difficult tasks in life is learning how to make and maintain relationships. To make a relationship with people different from yourself, people from a different culture and people from a different perspective, requires death to judgment and the developing of forgiveness.
It has been my experience that no one has ever developed the art of forgiveness apart from being discipled. Forgiveness requires constant forgiving of another and requires Jesus to do it through us. To learn this art requires the help of another. Without another, I would ever excuse some case of bitterness as being justified by God. In the name of religion we can easily conclude God wants someone demonized which is such an evil to the heart of God. To learn Jesus’ style of forgiveness is a miraculous task, for His forgiveness is something which is walked out perpetually (Luke 17:1-4). Again, I have never witnessed a person coming to genuine forgiveness without the help of someone else.
Second, without being discipled I would never let my life be interrupted by spending time with another person, helping them develop the five resources we have just outlined. We are selfish by nature and tend to only develop friendships which benefit us. Apart from being discipled, most people remain trapped in their own soul.
To TOUCH a person's relationship life is to bring the fifth and final finger of their fist into a position of power. Once all five resources are in play, there is no limit to how God can move through that person or that body.
- Has anyone spent some time discipling you on any level, helping you grow?
- Is there anyone you are discipling right now?
- Come up with a list of people you think God could be asking you to disciple. Think about friends, family, people from your past. How could you be ready right now to begin helping them?
Redeeming the TONE
Lastly, once you are moving in your TALENTS, you will want your TONE to be right. To do the right thing with the wrong attitude or TONE can destroy the right thing. There are three ways we encourage you to keep the right TONE in every place you serve and relate.
Stay in Your LANE
To stay in your lane is simply to keep doing the things you are good at and you have been called to do. If you do, there will be plenty of space. God will make room for you, and in your moment you will be promoted. If you get out of your lane and wish for a position or recognition you have not been given, it will cause envy, ambition, and frustration.
Stay in your lane; serve with all your heart. God wants to promote you, everyone in the church wants you promoted, and everyone wants you to advance in what you do well.
I can carry a tune, but you would not want me to be the worship leader. If I wanted that, I would create nothing but a bad TONE in the church. I need to and we all need to stay in our lane.
Stay in Your LOVE
You are filled with the Holy Spirit; you are oozing comfort whether you know it or not. Let comfort, gentleness, honor, respect, and esteem flow from your core. Always and without ceasing, let honor be the culture you create everywhere you go.
To stay in your love is to show respect and honor to all. Honor leaders, honor your peers, and honor those you lead. Let your heart be smothered in honor. If our TONE is honoring, then you and we can minister to anyone.
Above all, refuse to talk negatively of anyone; refuse to bring up past mistakes and sins. To honor is to renounce sarcasm and cynicism. To stay in love is to be careful in speech, wanting every word to build and strengthen the spirit of another.
Love and Giving
Paul used the word “honor” to define how those who preach and lead the church should be financially supported. “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor (paid well), especially those who labor in preaching and teaching (1 Timothy 5:17 ESV). To stay in love is to stay generous, meaning to give.
This was Paul’s way of confirming a sacred custom practiced during Old Testament times: tithing. Tithing means “tenth” and God throughout the entire Bible has encouraged tithing as a foundational place to learn to begin to give.
To “stay in love” is to love to give. Those who give are really saying, “Father, Your word, Your world, and what You want to do is more important to me than anything else.”
While those who give generously don’t give primarily to get, they do also understand that giving comes with a promise of reaping a harvest from the money seed sown (2 Corinthians 9:6).
From experience, I have learned that those who do not stay in love by practicing generosity have a tone contrary to harmony and love. One of the ways we stay in love is to practice the honor of giving.
Stay in Your LOOK
As a born again believer, you have the power to decide how big a problem is. Jesus said it this way, "Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!" (Matthew 6:22-23 NLT)
You get to decide the "look" of a thing. You get to decide if Jesus can or cannot handle a problem. You get to decide if the circumstance is impossible for God.
You get to decide to throw a fit or have faith. You get to decide to be the drama or be the one devoted to Jesus Christ, the King.
How you "look" at everything will determine your TONE, and your TONE will determine your success and the success of Living Hope.
Stay in your "look" and make your "look" the look of Jesus, Who sees "everything working together."
- LANE: what are you the best at doing?
- LOVE: what do you love the most about Living Hope?
- LOOK: what is the biggest problem you are facing right now that God is resolving for you?
- Where do you think would be the most likely place you could get started serving in the church?