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

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

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

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.