The Issue of Worldview

The Issue of Worldview

A worldview is a set of presuppositions (or assumptions) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously) about the basic makeup of our world. Another way of saying it is that a worldview is your basic belief system of how the world operates; some people are very conscious that they have a worldview, others are not quite aware of the worldview they possess.

Western, Australian culture has a worldview that it structures, and the worldview also helps structures the culture. In general, Western worldview renders our thinking and senses incapable of understanding spiritual realities, including the spirit world of angels, demons, heaven, hell, etc. This is because our worldview trains us to be materialists and rationalists — we default to believing that the only dynamics that influence us are the natural principles of cause-and-effect, and that if we can’t scientifically measure something, it’s unreliable.

This has resulted in many Western Christians not knowing what to do with the spiritual phenomena that we find abundantly scattered across the Bible. Instead of seeing supernatural work as a reality we can engage in, we have limited it to the role of authenticating Scripture — a role that is no longer needed today with the canonization of Scripture.

Of course, we challenge that limited view of the role of miracles, signs and wonders. Our position at MCChurch is that these supernatural works are crucial and vital to the ministry of the church today — that the primary role of spiritual phenomena (especially works of healing, the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit, miracles, signs, and wonders as we see in the Gospels and Acts) is not merely Scripture’s authentication, but the invasion of the Kingdom of Heaven on the earth today. These phenomena are signs that the Kingdom has come upon a person or a place, and that the kingdom of Satan is being pushed back and losing ground.

Romans 12:2 encourages us not to conform to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of the mind. For Christians to be involved in a supernatural that mirrors the works of Jesus and the Early Church in the Bible, the renewing of our minds in the area of our worldview is crucial. Worldview becomes the foundation upon which we exegete or interpret biblical texts; and if our worldview is biased against the supernatural, we suffer a blindspot that causes us to miss much of what God wants to do in and through us.

FASTING IN THE BIBLE

FASTING IN THE BIBLE

This article was originally taken from TheCall.

Almost every major biblical leader fasted at one time or another. They knew the power and importance of this practice. We should follow their example and the example of church leaders throughout history who had a lifestyle of fasting. John Wesley would not ordain anybody who did not fast Wednesdays and Fridays! If we are to see lasting revival we will need to pay the price and deny ourselves, being more hungry for God than for food!

MOSES FASTED
“Moses was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water.” (Exodus 34:28)

ELIJAH FASTED
“So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.” (1 Kings 19:8)

EZRA FASTED
“Then Ezra withdrew from before the house of God and went to the room of Jehohanan son of Eliashib. While he was there, he ate no food and drank no water, because he continued to mourn over the unfaithfulness of the exiles.” (Ezra 10:6)

DANIEL FASTED
“I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.” (Daniel 10:3)

ESTHER & MORDECAI FASTED
”Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: ‘Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.’” (Esther 4:15-16)

Fasting is continued in the New Testament.

ANNA FASTED
“And then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.” (Luke 2:37)

CORNELIUS FASTED
“And Cornelius said, ‘Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing.’” (Acts 10:30)

EARLY CHURCH LEADERS FASTED
“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." (Acts 13:2)

“Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.” (Acts 14:23)

PAUL FASTED
“For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.” (Acts 9:9)

He never forgot the lesson of prayer and fasting and later told the Corinthians, in his second letter, that he had been "in fasting often." (2 Corinthians 11:27 KJV)

MOST IMPORTANTLY, JESUS FASTED
“And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered.” (Luke 4:1-2 KJV)

Jesus was wise enough to know that without the Father he could do nothing. He sought the Father in prayer and fasting. He waited in the Father's presence until He was endued with power. Let us follow Jesus’ example!

FASTING FACT SHEET

FASTING FACT SHEET

The contents of this article are adapted from Lou Engle’s teachings.

As we prepare for 21-Days of Drawing Near, we must prepare ourselves adequately so that the fast can honour God and fulfill its purpose. Remember that a fast is not designed to be conquered; instead, it’s designed to conquer you. It’s an intentional, relational message that we’re sending to God that we are seeking His face and presence — a reality we desire more than anything else in this world.

Here are some points to help and encourage you.

1. Seek advice and permission before the fast, especially if you decide to do a Complete Fast or an intense Partial or Selective Fast. Seek medical advice before the fast, especially if you have any existing medical concerns or conditions. If you are under 18 years of age, discuss your desire to fast with your parents and get their permission because spiritual covering, submission and unity are important factors when fasting. Remember, fasting is an attitude of the heart!

2. Fast and pray in order to humble yourself and purify your worship. In fasting we are not trying to get something from God and “twist His arm”, but rather seeking to realign our hearts' affections with His. We are subduing the flesh and setting our minds on the Spirit (Gal. 5:16ff). In fasting we can more readily say, "We love you Lord, more than anything in the world." Lust of any kind is perverted worship, but fasting enables us to cleanse the sanctuary of our hearts from every other rival.

3. Don't boast about your fast. Let people know you won't be eating, if you need to (Matthew 6:16-18).

4. Do the fast as a family. Two are better than one! We encourage parents and kids to consider fasting together. Several generations fasting together has a powerful impact (Luke 1:17)

5. Have a clear target for prayer focus. Without a vision (a clear, prophetic prayer goal) the people perish. Make sure you familiarise yourself with our church’s prayer focus during this time. Also, make sure you write down your personal vision for this fast, so you can run with it (Habakkuk 2:2).

6. Commit to a type of fast. You can fast in many different ways. You may want to complete a Daniel fast (Selective Fast), a media fast (Soul-Cleansing Fast), skip a meal or avoid a particular type of food (Partial Fast). Pray and ask God what He will give you faith and endurance for during this fast. He is the author and finisher of your faith and faith is what makes it possible to please Him. These are some of the fasts that you can do:

  • A Daniel fast, with vegetables and water, is good for those carrying a heavy workload (like moms and students). Fasting "meats and sweets" allows you to get protein from other food sources.

  • A fruit or vegetable juice fast allows you to enter into fasting but still gives enough energy to function. Use juice and protein drinks to sustain you, in consideration of your health and metabolism. If you have sugar sensitivities or problems, consult you physician before attempting this fast.

  • A media fast is abstaining from the use of electronic devices (TV, internet, etc) for spiritual purposes. Replacing the time one spends on media devices for prayer and Bible-reading are the benefits of this fast. We highly recommend that you use this type of fast to wisely reintroduce media into your life in healthy ways and doses.

7. Prepare physically. If you are entering into a Complete Fast or an intense Partial/Selective Fast, we recommmend that you start to limit your intake of food to fruit and vegetables about 2-3 days before the fast. Fruit is a natural cleanser and easy to digest. Try to stop drinking coffee before the fast. Drink lots of water to help your body detoxify. Prepare yourself for mental discomforts such as impatience, crankiness and anxiety. Expect physical discomforts. You may experience dizziness, headaches and different kinds of pains. The headaches are not a sign to stop fasting. Your body is working to cleanse itself of impurities.

8. Take time to pray and read the Word. This may seem obvious, but busy-ness and distractions can keep you from devotions and worship. Reading books with testimonies of victories gained through fasting will encourage you. Head over to Koorong or Amazon and find a book that will build you up spiritually.

10. Prepare for opposition. On the day of your fast you can bet donuts will be at the office or in class. Someone will suddenly be inspired to cook your favourite meals. Press through. Many times, you may feel more tension build at home. Satan tempted Jesus on the fast, and we must expect the same. Discouragement may come in like a flood, but recognize the source and take your stand on the victory of Christ.

11. If you fail, don't give in to condemnation. The "to fast or not to fast" dilemma can be a major tool of the enemy. Even though you may fail several times, God always extends grace.

12. Feel free to rest a lot and continue to exercise with supervision.

13. Breakthroughs often come after a fast, not during it. Do not listen to the lie that nothing is happening. Every fast done in faith will be rewarded.

14. Break the fast slowly, over several days with fruit juice or light soups, especially after an intense fast. On a light juice fast or a water fast your digestive system shuts down. This can be dangerous if you eat too much too soon. Break the fast with several days of diluted, non-acidic juice, then regular juice, followed by fruit and vegetables. Consult with your GP to equip yourself.

FASTING & PRAYER, 3-23 FEBRUARY 2019

FASTING & PRAYER, 3-23 FEBRUARY 2019

The information in this article was put together to help you experience all the benefits and rewards of prayer and fasting, as we enter into a 21-day season of prayer and fasting. 21-Days of Drawing Near begins 3 February (Sunday) and ends 23 February (Saturday).

“A fast is not a hunger strike. Fasting submits to God’s commands. A hunger strike makes God submit to our demands.” (Ed Cole)

“Prayer is reaching out after the unseen; fasting is letting go of all that is seen and temporal. Fasting helps express, deepen, confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves, to attain what we seek for the Kingdom of God.” (Andrew Murray)

At MCChurch, we encourage our community to start the year with a 21-day season of prayer and fasting. This is a time for our church family to focus on drawing near to God, and asking Him to release Heaven’s realities in our lives and world. But we don’t limit fasting to just this time of the year; in fact, we encourage believers to fast at other times of the year as the Holy Spirit leads them. It’s a great, biblically-prescribed way to focus on God and grow in Him — as James 4:8 puts it, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”

There are many types of fasts that you can engage with. Below are some options:

COMPLETE FAST
This type of fast requires you to limit yourself to liquids only, usually water with juices as an option for energy. It is highly recommended that anyone who does this fast should do it with advise and supervision from your GP.

PARTIAL FAST
This type can be done in different ways and allows flexibility for the person fasting. For example, you can choose to skip a meal or fast from 6am-3pm. This is a great fast for those who have busy schedules and need energy to function.

SELECTIVE FAST
The Selective Fast involves removing certain types of foods from your diet. For example, you can remove meats and sweets from you diet for 21 days — this is type of fast is normally called a “Daniel Fast”. Like the Partial Fast, this is a great fast to engage in for those who have busy schedules and need energy to function.

SOUL-CLEANSING FAST
This fast is a great option if you do not have much experience fasting food, have health issues that prevent you from fasting food, or if you wish to refocus certain areas of your life that are out of balance. For example, you might choose to stop using social media or watching television for the duration of the fast and then carefully bring that element back into your life in healthy doses at the conclusion of the fast.


Check out these other posts on fasting to help inspire and equip you to fast:

Fasting Fact Sheet
Fasting in the Bible


It encourages us to know when people join the 21-day season of fasting and prayer. Please contact the church and let us know what you plan to do: office@mcchurch.org.au

The Reality of the Enemy

The Reality of the Enemy

Without glorifying demons, we need to understand the nature of the enemy if we are to engage effectively in spiritual warfare. Jesus was not silent about the reality of demons. In fact, whenever He engaged them it was always to forcefully cast them out - He never met a demon He liked and wanted to coexist with! He taught about the nature of demons too, and that teaching can be found here.

In summary, Jesus taught that demons:

  1. Are able to outside or inside humans. Preferably, as the passage implies, demons would rather exist inside humans.

  2. Have unique identities. Jesus’ teaching also seems to imply that demons are tormented beings who find refreshing when inhabiting a person.

  3. Are able to travel.

  4. Have a level of intelligence, as shown in their ability to communicate, make and remember plans, and evaluate and make decisions.

  5. Are able to combine forces with other demons.

  6. Vary in degrees of wickedness, or specialize in areas of wickedness.

So how do we deal with demons?

Firstly, we have to take on Jesus’ attitude towards demons. As already mentioned, Jesus never met a demon He liked. He never made friends with demons or worked out a compromised state of coexistence with them. He hated demons and their work in people’s lives! He wanted to get rid of them and destroy their work, so He would forcefully and violently cast them out of people’s lives.

Secondly, we have to understand that the Cross is spiritual warfare. Not God’s only or final act of spiritual warfare, we have to understand the Crucifixion to be Christ’s greatest and most decisive act of spiritual warfare. From that place of finalized and secured victory, Christ wages war on everything evil and demonic in the power of the Holy Spirit - even today. But the application of the power and victory of the Cross has now been entrusted to us, the Church, which is His body. And to you, the believer, as an ambassador for Jesus Christ.

(This blog is part of Ps. Paul’s message series on Spiritual Warfare, January 2019)

The Reality of Spiritual Warfare

The Reality of Spiritual Warfare

How much of spiritual warfare affects the Christian, the child of God?

How much influence does Satan or his demons have in our devotion to God? Can we be affected by demonic interference in such a profound way that our faith is led astray, our blessing is robbed from us, our maturity is stunted, and our destiny is aborted?

What does God say in the Bible?

1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be self-controlled and alert. You enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Some Christians erroneously think that the devil is like a little pet chihuahua – all bark but no bite. But the verse doesn’t actually say that; in fact, the verse says the exact opposite of that.

Peter was using the imagery of wildlife in 1st Century Palestine, when lions roamed the land. When a coalition of young male lions coming into their prime come to take over a territory that’s controlled by an older team of lions that’s past their prime, these young male lions roar to alert the old lions that their coming to devour them and take over their territory. They’re roaring because they’re picking a fight.

The apostle Peter is, in the above passage, warning us that we are in a fight. We are engaged in very real spiritual warfare and, if we don’t engage, we will be devoured.

2 Corinthians 11:3 says, “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” The Passion Translation puts it this way, “But now I’m afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s clever lies, your thoughts may be corrupted and you may lose your single-hearted devotion and pure love for Christ.”

What’s at stake in spiritual warfare? Apparently, a lot! If we don’t engage in spiritual warfare and allow ourselves to be deceived by Satan, we can be so corrupted that we lose our single-hearted devotion and pure love for Christ. That would be a terrible condition for a believer to be in.

But here’s the GOOD NEWS:

Jesus, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah - the Lion of lions! - has arrived at the scene of spiritual warfare and He has come to violently and forcefully attack, overpower, and overcome every demonic personality and stronghold. He has come to strip the enemy of his defenses and his weapons, and He has come to divide the spoils! (Read Luke 11:20-22)

In the words of 1 John 3:8, “The reason (the PURPOSE, the MAIN OBJECTIVE) the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” In Acts 10:38, Jesus is described as being full of the Holy Spirit and power, going around “doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with Him.” A holistic and biblical approach to our personal transformation and sanctification must include the Kingdom-dynamic of receiving God’s blessing in all areas of life, including the destroying of the works of Satan and his forces.

(This blog is part of Ps. Paul’s message series on Spiritual Warfare, January 2019)

REVIVAL IS RE-BIBLE

REVIVAL IS RE-BIBLE

A great revival preacher named Charles Finney said that Revival is “nothing more or less than a new beginning of obedience to the Word of God.” Revival is not airy-fairy or by chance. It is not mystical or magical. Revival is a heartfelt return to love and faith in the living and written Word of God – the Bible. And that's why here at MCChurch, we say, "Revival is Re-Bible."

There’s an epidemic spreading among believers today: Christians who profess to be followers of Christ no longer read the Bible today. Or we might read the Bible occasionally, but we don’t read the Word of God every day. But, in an atmosphere of Revival, Christians read and feed on God’s Word every day.

The common excuse, of course, is, “I’m too busy.” And that might be true, but that’s just an excuse. Because these same people have time to watch TV and Netflix, or binge on social media. The other excuse is slightly more alarming. There’s a trend of thought and attitude among Christians today that the Bible is not sophisticated enough to deal with the issues of contemporary society; so Christians would rather equip themselves with the language of POP PSYCHOLOGY, rather than SCRIPTURAL THEOLOGY. Put differently, Christians would rather draw wisdom from talk shows and TED talks and magazines, rather than from the simplicity of reading the Word of God and reliance on the Holy Spirit.

I want to encourage us today: Let’s feed on the Word of God every day; let’s get into the Word of God every day. Read the Bible daily and let God’s Word nourish your mind and emotions. After all, Jesus said, "People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4).

Have you checked out our R.E.A.P. journaling and Bible Reading Plan? Find out more here.

STRIVING TOGETHER AS ONE

STRIVING TOGETHER AS ONE

Philippians 1:27, "Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel."

I love this verse. I actually preached on this verse last year as part of our Miracle Offering where we received from the church an incredibly generous offering. I believe with all my heart that God is saying something very profound to us RIGHT NOW through this verse, summarized powerfully in that last statement: “striving together as one for the faith of the gospel.”

God is saying to us, “STRIVE for the faith.” If you zoom out of this verse and look at the surrounding verses, what God is actually saying is, “Strive for the Gospel to extend out and get many to believe in Jesus.” Some Christians are very uncomfortable with the word "strive". It brings up images of religious performance to earn righteousness and God's approval. Obviously, that's not what this verse is talking about; instead, it's referring to the spread of the Gospel and the harvest of souls. The reality is: the harvest is hard work. Jesus called for "labourers/workers" (Matthew 9:38) to enter the harvest field. Making disciples is simple, but it requires people who are willing to roll up their sleeves and get to work!

So, we are to STRIVE for the faith; but don’t just strive…strive TOGETHER.

But don’t just strive together…strive together AS ONE. Despite our differences and diversity, God our Father calls us to strive together as one.

I think there’s two extremes that people fall for in church life. The first is some people get cocky and think that they can do this on their own – “Where would this church be without me?” “You just watch, when I leave this church, this church will fall apart.” And on the other end, some people develop a “worm”-mentality and say, “I’m so useless; I’m not needed. "I have nothing significant to offer this church or the Kingdom."

But the Holy Spirit, through the revelation of this verse, directly contradicts and corrects these 2 extremes: "we’re better together as one.”

An unrenewed mind sees differences as a weakness, but a renewed mind sees the differences of people in the body of Christ, in the church-community as a strength. The renewed mind understands that WE – despite our differences and our diversity – ARE BETTER TOGETHER.

No one at MCChurch has to do discipleship on their own. God calls us and has designed for us to do it together as one.

BUILDING A "PERSONAL" HOUSE OF PRAYER

BUILDING A "PERSONAL" HOUSE OF PRAYER

Making disciples is a clear and simple mission, but it's not easy.

There will be spiritual opposition to this crucial Kingdom task. Therefore, the role of prayer is both crucial and essential. We cannot make disciples through processes or systems alone - we must involve prayer.

Below is a list of strategies you can apply to build a "personal" house (or culture) of prayer, or strengthen even further your prayer-life.

  1. Develop a daily habit of prayer. Set a time to meet with God in prayer. Start with a short time of prayer and then gradually increase it.
  2. Thank God daily for all the good things in your life. Spend time worshipping and expressing your love to Him. Use some praise and worship music to assist you.
  3. Make a list of prayer requests and bring them regularly before God. Spend time praying for yourself, for those you know, for opportunities to witness, for wisdom in decision-making, for help in times of difficulty and for anything that you are worried about. Don’t just think it, talk to God about it.
  4. Take time to listen to God speaking to you. Use a journal/notebook and write down things that He tells you.
  5. Get with other Christians and pray together.
  6. Be faithful to attend any church prayer meetings.
  7. Offer to be a prayer partner for your pastor or one of the key leaders in your church. Ask them for specific things that you can pray for.
  8. Read some good books on the subject of prayer to help improve your prayer life.
  9. Ask someone who is experienced in prayer to mentor you in your prayer life.

OUR MISSION - MAKE DISCIPLES

OUR MISSION - MAKE DISCIPLES

We are a church on a mission.

And our mission is not necessarily to grow the church, or to have great programs, or to have a church that looks like a church (whatever that means); our mission is to make disciples - to do whatever it takes to reach and win people to and for Christ.

There are generally three ways churches grow:

1. Biological Growth

In other words, babies and children! As a church, we need to embrace a biblical philosophy of generational discipleship and empowerment. We cannot afford to lose our children and leave them to a destiny outside of God's Kingdom; instead, our responsibility is to engage them with the Message of Christ in a way that's relevant and real to them, establish them in biblical truths to storm-proof their lives, and equip/empower them to minister and make disciples.

2. Transfer Growth

God has added to our church people who are already following Christ because sometimes, God repositions His people for greater effectiveness and fruitfulness. This kind of growth, though God-directed, is not necessarily Kingdom-growth. In other words, no new territory and no new souls have been added to the Kingdom of God - it is simply movement within the Body of Christ.

3. Conversion Growth

This happens when people come to Christ and become His disciples as a direct result of our church's ministry and work. In Acts 2:47, God added new disciples to the church everyday. This addition of souls happened through conversion, and Conversion Growth is what we're ultimately pursuing; it's the growth that comes from taking the Great Commission seriously and doing everything possible to win people to Christ.

The mission - The Great Commission - is the heartbeat of our church. We exist to engage non-believing, non-Christ-following people and bring them into the abundant life of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. We want to grow in every way that God has planned for us to grow, but especially through new conversions.

Let God's mission - our mission - be the purpose that defines you everyday!

PRAYER WALK GUIDELINES (MCCHURCH RESOURCE)

PRAYER WALK GUIDELINES (MCCHURCH RESOURCE)

1.      Meet at church at the designated time (e.g. 10AM) to pray together, take your maps, and receive final instructions.

2.      Walk in a group of two or three. Plan your route ahead of time to cover as much of the area as possible.

3.      Pray in your normal conversational voice, if you feel comfortable doing so. Or pray silently, letting your prayer partner(s) know what you are praying about. Don't call attention to yourselves: "You can be on the scene without making one."

4.      If anyone asks what you are doing, be prepared to respond: "We're praying God's blessing on the community. Is there any special way we can pray for you?"

5.      Be open to opportunities to interact with and bless people that may grow out of your intercessions. There’s a very real connection between prayer-walking and faith in action. Be aware that as you pray the Father’s peace and promises over specific homes or businesses, your faith and hope for the salvation of people will grow. You'll begin to see people as the Father sees them. You'll likely find yourself becoming more interested in the welfare of the people you are praying for, and you’ll be moved to reach out. So, watch for the ways the Holy Spirit might impress on you to display his love in practical acts of kindness.

6.      Plan to walk for about half an hour. If anyone in your group is not comfortable with walking, they can prayer-drive around the neighborhood instead.

7.      To finish, we will gather at a designated café to catch up and debrief about 1-2 hours after. Share your prayers, observations and experiences. What did you learn about the community? How was the Holy Spirit’s presence tangible in this experience?

REFLECTIONS ON UPRISING PHILIPPINES

REFLECTIONS ON UPRISING PHILIPPINES

About 2 weeks ago, I attended a conference in Davao City, Philippines called United Prayer Rising (or UPRisingPH).

More than a conference, UPRisingPH was really a massive prayer event, established on the conviction that prayer changes history and shapes the destinies of nations. I (Paul) was privileged to bring my eldest daughter along to UPRisingPH, and it was my great joy to see her engage with God at almost every altar call and prayer segment despite her inability to speak or understand Filipino.

During one of the sessions, I quickly jotted down some thoughts and observations I had of the event, and I want to share these with you. Here are some of my reflections from the event:

1. There was genuine engagement in spiritual warfare at UPRisingPH, founded on the biblical understanding that principalities and powers exist (Eph. 6:12) and can only be thwarted by prayer, fasting, and worship. The prayers prayed at UPRisingPH were emotional and heartfelt, no doubt; but they were led by informed and perceptive leaders. The leaders and pastors of UPRisingPH understood that the issues they were addressing in the Philippines could not merely be solved or understood by sociological and anthropological factors, but also by engaging spiritual realities and means.

2. The leaders at UPRisingPH carried a vision larger than the local churches and ministries they led - they burned with a vision for their nation. As a pastor, I found this refreshing and challenging. In my role, I have to be faithful to the welfare and success of my local church; but I believe God has also anointed me with a capacity to dream big. So let's dream big and believe God that He can use us to impact the nation we are in, wherever we might be!

3. Unity matters and must be proactively pursued because it doesn't just happen. I listened to a "bishop" (the title used by Filipinos for leaders who lead denominations, movements, or major ministries) share about how bishops/overseers in the Philippines have been getting together for some R&R and strategic planning. They are actively working together to see more evangelical churches planted in a country that has approximately 13% evangelical Christians. I'm not sure if you got what I just said - these are not just bishops/overseers of a single denomination getting together to ensure growth within their denomination. These are multiple denominational bishops/overseers working together to see the Kingdom move forward in the Philippines! This highlights the importance of unity at every level of Kingdom life - whether it be within a local church, among local churches, or between denominational leaders. Unity matters, God honours it, and we have to be actively and continuously pursuing it.

4. Generational unity/partnership that says "NO" to individualism and an independent/isolated spirit. I know firsthand that the heart of UPRisingPH is built on generational reconciliation and honour: turning the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers (Mal. 4:5-6 and Luke 1:17). The founder of United Prayer Rising, Jerome Ocampo, would often say to the delegates that isolation is the greatest killer of people's spiritual lives and destinies. And that's not just isolation from community and family, but includes isolation from generational, divinely-given dreams and destiny. Individualism says, "I have a destiny that's uniquely my own." But Jesus was different; He said, "Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by Himself; He can do only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does" (John 15:19). Jesus, the most unique and most secure Person in the universe, understood the power of generational partnership. UPRisingPH embodied this dynamic powerfully - clearly impacting the lives of many young people present.

5. Identificational repentance matters. Lots of national sins were addressed at UPRisingPH. But the prayers that were prayed were not prayed with a condemning tone, but with an attitude and character of humility - the sins of the Filipino people were sins of all Filipino people, whether saved or unsaved. 

6. There was a tangible faith-filled longing for God to move without abdicating the responsibility of God's people to act. I find that this is often the contention of people against prayers for revival - why pray for what God commands us to do (e.g. evangelism, disciple-making, etc,)? But in my experience, the number of significant ministries that are birthed out of these prayer events is undeniable evidence that prayer is not an act of abdication of Kingdom-responsibility, but an act of "birthing" and activation of what the Holy Spirit has placed in us.

I can also add to this list the unashamed and free expressiveness of praise and worship that I observed from UPRisingPH. Filipinos are SO expressive and artistic, and it is beautifully shown in the way they worship the Lord. I pray for God's ongoing favour on this ministry as it continues to spread in the Philippines, as well as in other parts of the world. I look forward to bringing my family along to events run by United Prayer Rising, and hope to bring my church along in this journey.

Check out the video summaries of UPRisingPH below:

THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

When you read the New Testament, it's not hard to conclude that the practice and experience of the gifts of the Holy Spirit - those supernatural abilities that produce spiritual and miraculous results - were normal to the New Testament church. Jesus embodied the model of Spirit-filled living for us to follow, and Jesus operated in all the gifts of the Holy Spirit - so why shouldn't His church, which is the extension and continuation of His physical body and presence in the earth?

For our church to operate in the gifts of the Holy Spirit with great effectiveness and much fruitfulness, we need to align ourselves with some biblical principles. Here are three that are incredibly important.

PRINCIPLE 1: The gifts of the Spirit are always released to the body (faith-community or local church), for the body, and out into the world through the body.

Read and meditate on these passages: 1 Corinthians 12:7, 27-30; Ephesians 4:12; Romans 12:4-5.

The Holy Spirit places spiritual gifts and abilities on followers of Christ who are vitally linked to and planted in a local church or body. The gifts are not for self-glorification or self-promotion; they are designed to fit in a body or community - to bless that body, to build it up, and to impact the world through the body.

So, if I were to take my leadership gift (Romans 12:8) and apply it to business (in other words, a realm outside of the local church I'm called to serve), my spiritual gift will be ineffective. I were to take my gift of healing and start a business with it, I will have unfruitful results. Why? Because the gifts I have were not meant for me, they were meant for the body I am a member of.

PRINCIPLE 2: The spiritual gifts in a body synchronize with one another through the harmonious relationships of each member or individual in that body.

Read and meditate on these passages: Ephesians 4:1-3; Colossians 3:12-17; 1 Corinthians 13.

The gifts of the Spirit released to the individual members of a local church-body will only synchronize with one another and produce great results through the healthy, honouring, and harmonious relationships of the gifted individuals.

1 Corinthans 13 is often applied to marriage, but the immediate context and application is actually the interpersonal relationships of the members of the body. The greatest value and ethic in the interrelations of church life and the spiritual gifts is love (1 Corinthians 13:13). Faith for the expression of the gifts and hope for a glorious future are important, but love for the church-body is what compels us to serve with the gifts of the Spirit, harmonizes these gifts to maximum effectiveness, and brings us into the fullness of maturity in Christ.

PRINCIPLE 3: The gifts of the Spirit are expressed through our S.H.A.P.E.

Read and meditate on these passages: Judges 6:34; Romans 12:3, 6.

Ps. Rick Warren coined the term S.H.A.P.E. to help Christians identify how God has shaped them for fruitfulness in life and ministry. I love S.H.A.P.E. because of its simplicity in explaining how our multifaceted lives affect our calling and spiritual gifts. So here's the breakdown of what S.H.A.P.E. stands for:

S - SPIRITUAL GIFTS

What are the top 5 spiritual gifts on your life? Do you know what they are? Are you serving out of your spiritual gifts or are you too caught up trying to copy somebody else's?

H - HEART or PASSION

What inspires intense emotions and strong devotion in you? What makes you laugh and what breaks your heart? What compels you to move?

A - ABILITIES

What are your natural talents and inclinations? Are you a numbers-person or do you prefer dealing with words? Do you like history, science or the arts?

P - PERSONALITY

Are you a morning-person or an evening-person? Are you naturally organized or do you not mind a bit of mess? Some people have personalities that are either dominant, influential, steady, and compliant - which one is your personality type?

E - EXPERIENCE

What was your upbringing like? What kind of painful and joyful experiences have you had? What have been your education and work experiences?

So there you have it!

Whether we know it or not, these three principles define and structure the outworking of the gifts of the Holy Spirit at Maroondah City Church, and I believe every church because these are biblical principles. I am convinced that the more we build these principle-structures into our church-body, the more effective we will be as a Christ-centred and Spirit-empowered community.

For Revival,
Ps. Paul

PS. PAUL'S VISIT TO CARNARVON W.A.

Last weekend (16-19 June 2017), I had the joy of visiting the church planted and pastored by John and Jenny Davidson in Carnarvon, WA. After 10 years of hard and faithful work, God has blessed the faithfulness of Ps. John and Jenny with a thriving congregation that meets regularly at an ACC-owned building.

Ps. John and Jenny are ministry-champions! They are down-to-earth people with a solid faith in Jesus, they are people of the Spirit and prayer, and their ability to persevere through tough times makes them great pastors. My heart is to continue to support the church in Carnarvon, but more than that - to support Ps. John and Jenny Davidson in any way we can so they remain encouraged, strengthened, and refreshed in the work God has called them to do.

My hope is that in 2018, we can take a team from our church to visit Caranarvon. I'm sure that this will encourage the Davidsons and the Carnarvon church, and it will challenge and inspire us - Maroondah City Church - to stay on the cutting edge of the vision and work God has called us to accomplish. So watch this space - more updates on Carnarvon and our partnership with Ps. John and Jenny to come!

For Revival,
Ps. Paul

This is the "mob" that meets for the Sunday evening services. Ps. John is second from the left, in the back row. 

This is the "mob" that meets for the Sunday evening services. Ps. John is second from the left, in the back row. 

Ps. John and Jenny pick up the "fellas" with this mini-bus and van for Sunday morning and evening services.

Ps. John and Jenny pick up the "fellas" with this mini-bus and van for Sunday morning and evening services.

Ps. John and Jenny are credentialed pastors with the Australian Christian Churches (ACC) and are also supported by Australian Aboriginal Outreach Ministries. The name of their church is Carnarvon Aboriginal Outreach. I had the joy of bringing one of my sons with me to this trip!

Ps. John and Jenny are credentialed pastors with the Australian Christian Churches (ACC) and are also supported by Australian Aboriginal Outreach Ministries. The name of their church is Carnarvon Aboriginal Outreach. I had the joy of bringing one of my sons with me to this trip!

The building where Carnarvon Aboriginal Outreach meet.

The building where Carnarvon Aboriginal Outreach meet.

A very artistic member of the church!

A very artistic member of the church!

Lawrence is Ps. John's right-hand man.

Lawrence is Ps. John's right-hand man.

Ps. John and Jenny Davidson at an earlier visit to MCC this year.

Ps. John and Jenny Davidson at an earlier visit to MCC this year.

THE PERSON & WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

THE PERSON & WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

We kicked off the month of June with a series on "The Presence and the Person of the Holy Spirit." Presence is an incredible word; nothing can take the place of presence - not gifts, or pictures, or memories. The presence of a loved one in your life is impossible to replace.

So it is with the Holy Spirit. Often, we want to bypass the Person of the Holy Spirit and jump straight to the gifts and the power. But without the presence of the Person, we can easily fall into serious error because everything that the Holy Spirit has to offer springs from His presence in our lives.

I want you to consider and meditate on these verses that describe some of the things that the Holy Spirit does. These verses are significant because not only do they reveal how the Holy Spirit operates, but they also reveal His personhood as each of the verbs used in these verses demand a personal agent:

  • The Spirit searches and knows the mind of God (1 Cor. 2:10-11).
  • The Spirit teaches spiritual realities to believers (1 Cor. 2:13).
  • He dwells among or within Christians (1 Cor. 3:16; Rom. 8:11, 2 Tim. 1:14) and cries out from within our hearts, "Abba, Father" (Gal. 4:6).
  • The Holy Spirit oversees the distribution of the spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12:11).
  • The Spirit of God gives life (Jn. 6:63; 2 Cor. 3:6).
  • The Spirit leads us in God's ways (Gal. 5:18; Rom. 8:14).
  • Holy Spirit has desires that are in opposition to the flesh, drawing us to His life-giving desires (Gal. 5:17).
  • He helps us in our weakness and intercedes in our behalf, working all things together for our ultimate good (Rom. 8:26-29).

And this list is only a few of the myriad of multi-faceted things that the Holy Spirit does, revealing to us who He truly is. So the question we must ask ourselves is: With Scripture revealing so much of what the Holy Spirit does, wouldn't we want to have an appetite for more of the Spirit's tangible presence in our lives? 

Ps. Paul

Three key principles that guide us in Missions

Three key principles that guide us in Missions

3 Key Principles that Guide us in Missions, by Ps. Paul

This blog post explains why we support who we support, and why we partner with who we partner with, in relation to our ReachOut program. This month of May 2017, we have embarked on a 4-week journey, hearing from some of the people and ministries that we partner with as a church both locally and abroad. For us to make a real difference, we need to be strategic with our partnerships and we have 3 key principles that guide us in this area.

GUIDING PRINCIPLE 1: We send out and support "missionaries".

We don't merely support projects. We support people. We don't necessarily support organizations, but we support the individuals who have heard God's call to "go" and have made the commitment to do whatever it takes to respond to that call.

We are committed to supporting and partnering with men and women who have a heart for unreached people and the communities they live in. In 2 Corinthians 5:18, Paul the apostle says that the ministry of reconciliation was given to "us" - not to an organization or a non-profit or a project, but to "us". When the Holy Spirit set about to expand the Kingdom of God and spread the Gospel from the church at Antioch, He spoke to the leaders and said, "Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." The Holy Spirit didn't say, "Initiate a missions project." or, "Create an organization." He called on men (and women) and even singled them out by name.

E.M. Bounds said, "The church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men." And in the spirit of that quote, we committedly follow the principle that we will send out and support missionaries, not merely projects.

GUIDING PRINCIPLE 2: We champion the local church.

Studies and research show that the best way to engage a community towards long-term, Christ-centered transformation is still through the work of the local church. It always was, and always will be, the church's mandate to spread the Gospel in word and deed. I love how The Message Bible (in Ephesians 1:22-23) describes the centrality of the church in the way Christ continues to act and influence the world today, "At the center of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ's body, in which He speaks and acts, by which He fills everything with His presence."

So our instinct and first inclination is to look to partnering with local churches beyond our cultural borders, or, at the very least, we will work with organizations who partner with local churches in the outworking of their development and welfare programs.

GUIDING PRINCIPLE 3: We partner with those we are in relationship with.

I think this principle can be expanded to say, We will continue to build strong relationships with those we are in partnership with. The idea behind this principle is we will support and partner with missionaries and local churches that we have a growing, mutually honouring, and kindred-spirited relationship with.

Practically speaking, this means that if we can't visit them at least once a year, then it's not much of a relationship. Conversely, we will make every effort to visit our partner missionaries and churches at least once a year.

So there they are! 3 guiding principles that I believe will help us make strategic decisions in local and global outreach. I believe with all my heart that our ReachOut program will have the blessing of God on it, and many lives and communities will be transformed in Jesus' name!

Ps. Paul

 

TEAMING UP WITH the MUSTARD TREE & lilydale baptist church food bank

We're currently in the middle of an exciting month - we're taking a fresh look at our missions and local outreach programs as part of Christ's work to reconcile all things to Himself. This is God's great "CAUSE", that one day all will participate in God's redemptive plan and blessing!

The last 2 weeks,  we've been "stuffing the trolley" with non-perishable food items. We are partnering with Lilydale Baptist Church's Food Bank and The Mustard Tree, and donating all that we receive to them. If you have some time this during the week to visit this ministry, please do so! For more info about them, click here.

Ps. Paul

Laurie and Jan with some of the amazing volunteers at the Lilydale Baptist Church Food Bank.

Laurie and Jan with some of the amazing volunteers at the Lilydale Baptist Church Food Bank.