Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Quench Not!

Reading through 1 Thessalonians 5 the other day and I came to the flurry of last minute one sentence commands from Paul to the fledgling church in Thessalonica.

12We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle,£ encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16Rejoice always, 17pray without ceasing, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19Do not quench the Spirit. 20Do not despise prophecies, 21but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22Abstain from every form of evil.
Some of these are easy to understand. Rejoicing is important to the general moral of the church. (Nothing good comes of the fault finder who can't find joy in the moment!) Being thankful... I think we get that. Abstaining from evil (not the appearance of evil as one translation says. This has nothing to do with how things look, rather, every appearance of evil is literally "every where evil appears"!) But then we come to DO NOT QUENCH THE SPIRIT. What? What kind of church would want to be the kind of church where the spirit is quenched? Who quenches the Spirit?
1. People who have grown cynical. Sometimes they say "Don't rely on emotions!" but the message they are really saying to the zealous is "calm down you will again be disappointed and grow callous and cynical as I have". This is really unfair to the person who has zeal. Rather than squash someones zeal we should add knowledge. Proverbs 19.2 says "It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way. " Rather than squash someones passion for Jesus, if you are concerned that it is strictly emotional, wait for the teachable moment and point them to the truth of the Lord. For instance, if someone is buring hot for God our message is not "calm down" but rather at the moment when the fire seems to wane a little stir them on to serve irrespective of emotion and zeal. God's work can be furthered rather than hindered.
2. People who are convicted. Often we are provoked by anothers fire. It actually casts light on the shadowy areas of our own lives... and we don't appreciate that when we are trying to hide our lukewarm hearts.Oswald Chambers writes in the Classic My Utmost for His Highest, "... if in sharing your personal testimony you continually have to look back, saying, “Once, a number of years ago, I was saved.” If you have put your “hand to the plow” and are walking in the light, there is no “looking back”— the past is instilled into the present wonder of fellowship and oneness with God (Luke 9:62 ; also see 1 John 1:6-7). If you get out of the light, you become a sentimental Christian, and live only on your memories, and your testimony will have a hard metallic ring to it. Beware of trying to cover up your present refusal to “walk in the light” by recalling your past experiences when you did “walk in the light” (1 John 1:7). When-ever the Spirit gives you that sense of restraint, call a halt and make things right, or else you will go on quenching and grieving Him without even knowing it."
3. People who are living contrary to the will of God. We surely can learn a great deal from others, but only if our hearts are submissive to truth. There needs to be a cultivation of humility and submission to the truth of God in our lives. Otherwise, we will try to dampen anyone's fire because it stir up conviction and because it infuriates the rebellious nature of our flesh. People who practice gluttony don't like to hear about self control! And when that rebellion gets stirred up it often lashes out at the spiritual person nearest us. A Spouse, a Friend, a co worker can have their spirit's fire quenched when rebellion stirs.
4. People who are confused because they haven't had the experience. Sometimes I hear people warn me regarding getting too spiritual. (Is that even possible?) I find that it is often because I am walking where they haven't been before. Spiritual experiences are otherworldly that is true but God is a God who leads his children from glory to glory! Don't fear the things of God... pursue God and he will lead you into truth!
 5. People who don't understand the need. The task given the church is large and gradiose that it is impossible unless we have the spirit's fire burnign bright. When we lose sight of our need for the miraculous intervention of God then we eventually don't see the need for this spiritual fire. In fact, we cannot be half of what the Lord has called us to be without the fire of God!
Let's determine to stoke fires rather than put them out. To feed the flame rather than steal the heat. To Burn brighter than ever before...Because we have a world to win for Jesus!

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Lead or get out of the Way

The great hunger in every arena of life these days is for leadership. It is especially true in the church. For lack of leaders the church flounders in its mission. The church model we follow here at CLC is one that is based upon the book of Antioch model. Various ministries were called out of the Antioch church. These were assigned by the Holy Spirit to different leaders. They each gathered teams of ministries and began to do what God called them to do. For Paul and Barnabus we read that the Holy Spirit separated them to the minsitry of church planting through out the unevangelized gentile world. They gathered teams of ministers to follow them. Among Paul and Baranbus served Luke, Silas, Timothy, Titus, and a number of other lesser known spiritual leaders. We recognize that they leadership style they saw imodeled n Paul was implimented and mimiced in the their later ministries.

So how can you tell if you are a leader. Here are a few simple litmus tests that EVERY leader will live out.

Leaders lead out of their own God encounter. They are not dependant upon being spoon fed or entertained into the will of God. Jesus ministered out of his time with Father. Where ever he went he brought people to God. In the synagogue, on the dusty Jerusalem trail he "brought people up". To many of us are waiting for the next spiritual fad to tickle our carnal fancy. Leaders lead because they know where they are going. Is this pressure? You better believe it is!
Leader challenge people to purpose. Spiritual leadership is defined by great sacrificial generosity. Real Spiritual leadership calls people to follow but doesn't demand uniformity. Each of us have a purpose that is different and God inspired. Leaders aren't interested in recieving as they sit in the church as much as they are interested in giving out and mentoring others.

Leaders are out front and available. You can't take people where you haven't been and you can't lead people when your not out front. At CLC it is expected that Spiritual leaders will be available to lead. They don't have all the answers but they are their to push beyond the question. Leaders can't always leave service early, or be absent from their assigned place of ministry. To be Christ like is to be present at the moment of need.

Leaders work for transformation. They're goal is not to put on a slick service but to work for life transformation. Spiritual growth and spiritual health is foremost in their mind.It is their passion and their hunger; but not because they need the applause or accolades of men or titles, but because they are following Jesus.

Leaders raise the core temperature of the places that they go. Their presence should cast vision. Their life should be a challenge. They should smell of hope and sound like transformation. They should be walking billboards for what God is doing in these days. And they should be looking forward not backward at the past.

The Leaders authority comes out of the God encounters that they have not the titular recognition by men. In other wards a servant is a servant because he serves... whether or not he has the title of deacon. A pastor is a pastor when he sheperds, irrespective of his position in the church.

Fire came down to the Israelites in the desert to lead them in the Exodus. In the same way, we must pray that the leadership of the church expereinces the fire of God, that they will lead us out. Otherwise, we will just wander in circles around the mountain of the Lord.