Quotes

What's the Point of Pentecost?

 El Greco - Pentecost, 1610 at Prado Museum Madrid Spain

El Greco - Pentecost, 1610 at Prado Museum Madrid Spain

Acts is the only historical book in the New Testament that deals with the life of the church.

Normally a church history would focus on the internal life of the church — organization, theological disputes and development, church and culture. They aren't the main story. They stay in the background.

What is the main story? According to Harry Boer,

Acts is governed by one dominant, overriding and all-controlling motif —  the expansion of the faith through missionary witness in the power of the Spirit. 

Restlessly the Spirit drives the Church to witness, and continually churches rise out of the witness.

His book on Pentecost and Missions is a classic. If you're quick you can get a second-hand copy for $2.

Standing on the right side of history

Right now, if you’re someone who is faithful to the teaching of Scripture, and you’re living in the enlightened West (UK, US, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada), I hope you feel like you’re standing on the wrong side of history.

The illusion is over, you can’t be faithful to the historic Christian faith and your culture any more.

But why are we surprised? This is what Jesus promised would happen. When it comes to the world expect trouble rather than transformation.

Here’s some wisdom from a Catholic Cardinal:

I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history . . . .

God sustains the world, in good times and in bad. [We] believe that only one person has overcome and rescued history: Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of the Virgin Mary, saviour of the world and head of his body, the church.

Those who gather at his cross and by his empty tomb, no matter their nationality, are on the right side of history. Those who lie about him and persecute or harass his followers in any age might imagine they are bringing something new to history, but they inevitably end up ringing the changes on the old human story of sin and oppression. There is nothing “progressive” about sin, even when it is promoted as “enlightened.”

The world divorced from the God who created and redeemed it inevitably comes to a bad end. It’s on the wrong side of the only history that finally matters.

Fools for Christ vs the Gospel of human flourishing

 Andrew Walker

Andrew Walker

God assumed from the beginning that the wise of the world would view Christians as fools…and He has not been disappointed. Devout Christians are destined to be regarded as fools in modern society. We are fools for Christ’s sake. We must pray for courage to endure the scorn of the sophisticated world. If I have brought any message today, it is this: Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world.

I want Christianity to influence culture as much as anyone. I want families intact. I love that the explosion of Christianity led to a revolution in human dignity; in hospitals and university. I want a renaissance of high culture that produces aesthetic wonders emanating from Christianity.

But if influence reduces merely to terms of human flourishing and the Common Good, we are not preaching the gospel. A flourishing culture that likes the trappings and benefits of Christianity, but not its kernel, isn’t biblical Christianity. A true gospel will be met with resistance because it overturns the accepted patterns of the world. New Testament Christianity assumes that a follower of Christ is well acquainted with scorn (2 Tim. 3:12).

Andrew Walker

Movement Pioneers practice

 Practice makes disciples

What will it take to master the challenge of multiplying disciples and churches?

Nathan Shank keeps reminding me, to keep doing the right things day after day. That’s more important than looking at the scoreboard.

Or as Troy Cooper would say, “You’ve gotta do the reps.” Keep looking for people of peace, keep praying, keep sharing the gospel.

Do the right things every day.

Some wisdom from Anthony F Smith, a business writer:

People have paid me a lot of money over the years to answer the following question for them: How do I become a great Leader? I will often answer them with the following questions:

Q: How do you become a great parent?
A: Do great parenting, day in, day out, over a sustained period of time.

Q: How do you become a great consultant?
A: Do great consulting, day in, day out, etc.

So, how do you become a great Leader? You guessed it, do great Leadership, day in, day out, over a sustained period of time!

Malcolm Gladwell called it the 10,000 hour rule. To master any field of human endeavour, you need to get 10,000 hours of practice.

The best time to get that experience was ten years ago.The second best time is today.

Do something today. Pray for a need. Share your story. Help a new disciple identify the people they need to share with. Gather five people and start training them. Find a friend and go out and look for a person of peace.

Add your obedience to God’s promises.

Movement Pioneers are broken

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The last chapter of Pioneering Movements is all about the people God uses. A major source was a guy we’ll call “Bill Smith". I keep thinking about this quote.

The people God uses to get to movement are all broken people.  

Back one hundred years ago people in the Keswick Movement and others talked about brokenness; it was common. I never hear Christians talking about it now.

I read old missionary biographies and they talked about brokenness. Then God broke me.

Bill Smith

Brokenness is a work of God. You can’t bring it upon yourself. You can only respond when it happens. But why not  get ready by reading some old missionary biographies?

Movement Pioneers Go First

Next time they tell you it’s never been done before, remember someone has to go first. And that someone is not alone.

Centuries ago an unrecorded step was taken by some unknown "Follower of the Way” across the national boundaries of Israel into the vast Gentile world. No one recorded the step. No one knows what border was crossed. But there came a moment, a place in redemptive history in which God's universal covenant with mankind started its immeasurable march through the nations of the world.

An unknown disciple on a distant and remote frontier made a beginning by challenging a fellow man to join him as a member of the disciple fellowship of Christ.

Only God knows where this happened, by whom that step was taken, with what fruit the witness was crowned. Its full consequence will not be measured until the sovereignty of the world has passed to our Lord and his Christ, when men purchased for God of every tribe and language, people and nation are made a royal house, to serve our God as, priests and shall reign upon the earth, when the vast strong, which no one could count, from every nation, of all tribes, peoples, and languages will shout together, Victory to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb! ... Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honor, power and might, be to our God for ever and ever! Amen! (Rev. 11:15; 5:10; 7:9-12).

That day will live in eternity as a day among countless others in which through the power of the blood of Christ a man was set free from his bondage to death and made a new creature in Christ. Who brought the message of liberation? Who was liberated? We do not know. We know only the Liberator.

The campaign for world-wide proclamation of liberation was commanded by the Liberator, who himself is and remains the great missionary.

Richard De Ridder

Discipling the Nations