With all the talk now about safety and ‘health & safety’ procedures are going to new heady heights. Heights that would never have been actioned decades ago, so I thought a rewrite an old blog was in order:
- Also, I have included a 4-minute read of a message from a friend of mine Ps James Anson. James, a seasoned church leader for many decades and a church planter. He and Viv lead Faith Point Church – Auckland. James gives a profound, timely and prophetic take on what shifts are taking place for church life. You can find it below this week's blog.
Is God safe?
He made kittens, puppies and mice. But He also made tigers, lions, bears, sharks and scorpions and spiders of all dangerous kinds. I sometimes wonder if we try to domesticate God?
Of course, God does not abuse, manipulate and will never harm us.
In saying all this, I wonder if we in our ‘health & safety’ culture feel we can domesticate God?
I have come to the conviction that God will never be domesticated.
In C S Lewis’ famous work The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the Pevensie children find themselves in Narnia, with news that Aslan the king – a lion! – is on the move. A very young Lucy is somewhat frightened and asks Beaver, “is Aslan safe?” (Aslan being a type of Jesus). Beaver’s reply was “Oh no He’s not safe, but He’s good, He’s the King I tell you!”
May I suggest Christianity, security, comfort and safety don’t mix easily. Look at Paul’s life, or John the Baptist, or any of the disciples for that matter, or Jesus! John and Jesus were killed by the time they were 34! Paul and the disciples had uncomfortable lives.
When missionaries for Wycliffe Bible Translators travelled by boat to foreign lands early last century, they packed their belongings in coffins in case they succumbed to cholera or dysentery or locals who took them for enemies.
"They were willing to trust God with whether they lived or died," said Kent Hirschelman, head of church relations for the Orlando-based group.
Is God Safe?
Suffice to say, Safety, security, comfort and even church planting don’t mix! Yet it’s still God’s plan that His church is planted and multiplies. Men and women throughout the centuries have willingly and valiantly picked up the challenge of extending God’s Kingdom and that’s the reason many of us are part of His church today!
“Is God safe? No but He’s good, He’s the King I tell you”.
What can you do to forward the mission of His church and bleed His Kingdom into society?
 C S Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe(London: Harper Collins Publishers Ltd, 2001), p.89
I have used much of Ps James Anson’s message from FaithPointe Church Auckland. He shares some powerful prophetic insights for the church that I believe are so relevant at this time.
It’s fascinating to see the results of COVID-19around the world. Church as we know it has certainly changed. The way we conduct Church has not been able to carry on with business as usual.
How will things change is a question on many church leaders’ minds after this pandemic?
Not only is the World going through a reset but the Church of Jesus is going through a reset. Quite simply - from this point forward it would seem the world will operate very differently and that includes the church. How tragic would it be if Pastors around the world are simply waiting for the world to return to normal so they can get on with church as they always have.
Reset means: 'to set, adjust, or fix in a new or different way'
What do you think God is addressing or fixing or wanting us to change as we go forward from Covid-19? This is James’ 5 shifts, and I am sure as you read this other shifts may come to mind.
1. From distant to INTIMATE
From OVER activity to a place of rest.
From Martha to Mary.
From impersonal to personal.
Hebrews 4:9–10 (NKJV): There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did fromHis.
This is the place of abiding in Him and allowing His Word to Abide in us. It’s the place of re-discovering our first love for God and ceasing from striving in our own strength. Jesus' motto for doing the will of God is found in John 5:19 (NKJV): Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.
2. Move from being attenders to DISCIPLES
When you can no longer attend, a physical church gathering of God's people you are suddenly confronted with what you truly carry onboard as a follower of Christ. Jesus never said "Go into all the world and make people attend church services". He told us to go and make disciples. Just because we attend a church meeting doesn't make us a Disciple of Christ. That’s one of the results discipleship.
Are you making disciples?
3. Hearer only to DOER ALSO
James 1:22 (NKJV): But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. The Bible is not about information but transformation. A wise person puts His Word into practice.
4. Copycat to INNOVATE
Innovate means to make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products. COVID-19demands that we innovate in order to continue moving forward.
So much of the church world has been about COPYING successful church models - if we do it just like ??? or ??? we too can be successful. The only problem is that is not how God works. He has a special ‘custom built plan’ for your church.Let’s allow Christ to reveal His blueprints for us!
For example, when Joshua took charge of Israel to lead God's people into the promised land, he was confronted with his first major challenge, the highly fortified city of Jericho.
As he asks the Lord about taking the city. No doubt all the conventional means were in his mind, archers, spears, hand to hand combat. But God tells him I want you to march around the city once a day for six days and on the seventh day you are to march around the city seven times never saying a word. After the final time, around I want all the priests to blow their trumpets and your men are to give a mighty shout, and the walls are going to fall flat and you will go in and I will give the city to you!
What!! Can you hear and feel the immediate mind blockages to this strategy?
God has heavenly strategies for every situation andHe wants you to INNOVATE and see His hand at work. Remember the 5000-people hungry with no foodat hand and how Jesus fed them? One boys lunch fed the multitude.
What new ideas do you sense God whispering to you during this time?
5. Attractional to MISSIONAL.
We've been hearing this one for awhile now but it’s still on God's agenda.
We must move past the day of 'come to church' and move to 'go into all the world'. From only internally focused to externally focused.
If COVID-19 has showed us anything it’s that Church is not about brick and mortar. It is about people. It’s about mobilizing God's people to be on mission.
While we say come, Jesus is crying GO!
Jesus made it clear to His disciples: John 20:21–22 (NKJV): So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father, has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them,“Receive the Holy Spirit."
A few questions to sum up:
· Are you leading, working, active, labouring from a place of rest?
· Who are you discipling? Who is discipling you?
· Are you doing what He says?
· Where do you need to innovate? When did you last hear His voice for your ministry?
· How is the ‘Go’ in your life?
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