Imagine a church that is HOPE-CENTERED not man-centred, formula-centred, nor centred on the latest fads and experiments in Christian culture. A church where belief in the absolute authority of the Word of God is paramount and where the Holy Spirit is free to move powerfully in the lives of people.
Imagine a church where the loving pursuit of a relationship with Jesus is primarily encouraged and everything is focused on knowing Him intimately, and making Him known – pleasing Him before pleasing men and pleasing ourselves.
Imagine a church where people realize they are the church and do not simply go to church! Where the realization hits that we are born for greatness and service not just attendance, where people find their primary purpose in loving and serving Jesus, one another and the community at large.
Imagine a church that is LIFE TRANSFORMING and where all are welcome, regardless of who they are or where they come from. Where people are restored and equipped to see life transformation happen in their world and so they too can restore others with the love and grace of God.
Imagine a church where people can feel safe and secure, be discipled, be accountable to each other and receive wholeness and healing in order to see lives transformed and progress in line with God’s purpose.
A church which has abundantly received a revelation of the goodness of God, and therefore become abundant in giving of themselves, their gifting, their expertise, their time and their money, having the realization that all good things come from God in the first place – He is the source of it all.
Imagine a church where the life transforming gospel has worked for the prosperity and wholeness of people spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically, financially and relationally. A church, a company of people, living in the manifestation of the blessing of Almighty God.
Imagine a church where changing the nation and the nations for the better is the ideal. A NATION CHANGING church that is attractive to the un-churched in its community. A church that exists for the purpose of God and for the benefit of others.
Imagine a church influencing and blessing the localities and nations in prayer, and working passionately with credibility and longevity into culturally diverse communities.
Imagine a church that is a joy to the town, a church that has an impact on the nation and to the ends of the earth – ENCOUNTERING GOD, TRANSFORMING LIVES.
Can you dare to imagine a church like this?
Let us see it happen together according to His power that is working in us.
Much Love, Geoff
“Now to Him who by the action of His power that is at work within us, is able to carry out His purpose and do superabundantly, far over and above all we dare ask, think or imagine, infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes or dreams – To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever. Amen” Ephesians 3:20-21
Love Has Backbone
God is love.
Love is not politically correct, completely inclusive above all else. Nor is love highly judgemental, critical or cynical. Love cares for justice, the needy, the lonely, the abandoned, love cares for everyone but does not tolerate everything. Love has no fear.
When our motives in life spring from the love of God within us then they are pure, and passionate and gracious and strong. Love has the courage of conviction. Love finds a way where there is no way. Love is tenacious.
The Apostle Paul put it this way:
"Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.
It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self- seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].
It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.
Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].
Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]."
(1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Amplified Bible).
This is love, love with backbone, non-sentimental, beautiful, creative, glorious love. This kind of Love decided to humble Himself and hang on a cross for a people and a world that rejected Him. The Bible says love is stronger than death. Love creates warm and brave people not a conveyor belt full of soft and sickly personalities.
Christianity is different from any other belief system in many ways, but for me, primarily at the heart of this faith isn't a god who needs to be appeased or a god who demands to be loved and adored but a God through Jesus Christ who loves us completely and brought us into true peace in Him.
This kind of love and grace is so overwhelming it causes us to give our all. If we haven't really experienced God then we won't understand that glorious compulsion. This compulsion is not an external legalistic imposition but an inward decision of a free man in Christ. Upon reading the responses of the early disciples to their new life in the love of Christ. I do not find any room in their hearts for passivity or apathy or inactivity in extending the Kingdom being justified as 'resting in grace'. Grace is free but it it not cheap. We need a people to arise motivated by love just like Jesus to draw a line in the sand and with great conviction stand up and bring hope into situations of despair and condemnation.
It was said of Paul the apostle that he "turned the world upside down". What was his secret? Yes, I know, he functioned under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. But the Spirit works with us as we work with him.
I believe that in 1Cor 9 Paul gives us an important strategy for sharing the gospel and its blessings. And I think this strategy would be effective for each of us - not just in the sharing the gospel with the unsaved but also in sharing the blessings of the gospel with other Christians.
As translated in the NLT, Paul said "I try to find common ground with everyone". He approached the Jew as a Jew, the gentile as a gentile, the weak person as a weak person. To each one, he became as they were. He looked for the common ground. This didn't compromise his gospel but the common ground was the bridge to reach the person. The classic case of this was when he went into Athens & saw all the various altars to the different gods. I know some Christians, and it probably includes the George Jarvis of years ago, who would take great pleasure in preaching against the idolatry. But Paul met them on common ground. He shared the gospel of Jesus from one of their own altars.
Common ground can often be an interest that someone has! Am I willing to learn a bit about cricket to reach my neighbour who is an ardent cricket fan?
Then what about others in the church? Do we expect them to find common ground with us? How about looking for the common ground we may have with that person in the church to whom we have never spoken?
G J Jarvis
I have been challenged this week by a couple of scriptures in my daily readings.
Esther 4:16 - If I must die, I must die.
Luke 18:8 - How many will he find on the earth who have faith?
Read these quotations for yourself to see the context. But I thought about my own faith. I feel strong at present and in real faith for the coming Kingdom. But how will I respond when the crunch comes. If my comfort is dislodged, to say nothing of my life being threatened, where will my faith be? Will it match up to Esther, that young Jewess, as she went into the king's presence under the threat of death.
If the fulfilment of God's purposes is delayed, will I become discouraged, disillusioned and become amongst those without faith when Jesus returns.
Greater men than I have declared that their faith will stand scrutiny when under pressure. The classic example being Peter. If he could fail, what does that say about me.
Our faith pleases God, and I want to please my heavenly Father.
We live in a lukewarm Christian era in this country but I don't have to be lukewarm myself. Whatever I pray for, I must always pray for myself that my faith goes from strength to strength. I must pray that, as with Jesus, zeal for the Father's house - the church - will increase and consume me.
I know that nothing less than such faith is sufficient for a citizen of the Kingdom, and I pray "Amen, Lord. Let it be in my life".
G J Jarvis
Jesus Bled Peace into the World
"He has always been! It is His hand that holds everything together. He is the head of this body, the church. He is the beginning, the first of those to be reborn from the dead, so that in every aspect, at every view, in everything—He is first. God was pleased that all His fullness should forever dwell in the Son who, as predetermined by God, bled peace into the world by His death on the cross as God’s means of reconciling to Himself the whole creation— all things in heaven and all things on earth."
Col 1:17-20 - The Voice
Peace is only found when we are reconciled to Father God. Every thought of distance, of separation, of sin, of unworthiness just makes us dull to the reality of our reconciliation. Every thought of "God will get you for that" and "Don"t mess with God or He will smite you" does not produce in people the fear of the Lord but simply fear of approaching God full stop. Greatness of character is shown in how merciful we are not how judgmental we can be. God makes sure His mercy is triumphant over judgement. God does judge but His judgement is all about deliverance if His people turn to receive Him in His steadfast love and tender mercy that are new every morning. God does act in judgement but His actions are never reactions or impulsive. He is not motivated by fear and anger. God is Love He doesn't just love He is Love and He is the complete expert at kicking out fear and filling hearts and lives with peace.
People try to find peace in so many ways outside of relationship with Jesus none of these ways produce a lasting peace. Through self-denial and human effort people try to subjugate every insecurity and every evil passion in their lives and then usually go on to protest about the same in the lives of others and at worst mock others for their weaknesses. All this activity produces no heart peace. Or people may band together on points of theological or ideological agreement and anyone who does not fit into that paradigm and conduct their lives in that particular praxis of theology is seen as an outsider.
A "them and us" culture is established and this is also rife within the charismatic church. "I am from a different stream brother, and therefore I love you in the Lord but I don"t need to fellowship with you"
All these attitudes frankly come straight from the "pit" and originate from the spirit of fear. If you are basing your life on this kind of foundation and living in this kind of culture you will not have real heart peace.
In the third of the Star Wars prequels there is a conversation between the evil Emperor and Anakin Skywalker (recently seduced by fear to join the dark side). The Emperor commands Anakin to go and destroy a whole group of conspirators and politicians that the Emperor no longer had need of. At the same time the Emperor was on a mission to eradicate the Jedi, the guardians of peace.
The Emperor turns to Anakin and says in a menacing tone that when all this has taken place "then we will have peace"
Peace does not come from dictatorial rule in the world or in the church. Peace does not come from subjection to a legalistic system of right and wrong and good and evil - only God is good. Peace does not come from fear or conformity to a group identity to alleviate personal insecurity. No, peace is here because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Real peace from every storm of mind, of emotion, and of heart. He Himself is our peace as the Apostle Paul put it. (Eph 2:14) The liberty that comes through the Gospel and is ministered to us by The Holy Spirit, this is Shalom - nothing missing, nothing broken - every bit put back together.
Jesus bled peace into the world so we could receive His peace and be reconciled and truly be at peace with God and others (read: 2 Cor 5:16-21) - for He has reconciled us to himself not counting our wrong doing against us. May we experience in ever greater measure that peace that comes from the Christ's rule in our hearts - the rule of Love not fear, for only Love has the strength to bleed peace into the world.
The spirit of the age is fear. Let our conviction of truth in the Word of God be immersed in the love of the Father, the grace of Jesus and the dynamic fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Perfect love casts our all fear. Perfect love is never compromised by fear and perfect love has backbone and conviction to stand for truth.