Spiritual Formation

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 β€œBill 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?

A friend of Job

Job and his friends - Rowe
Job and his 'friends' - Guy Rowe

It has been a difficult last few months. My old nemesis depression returned with a vengeance. I'm through that now and back in the game.

The book of Job has come alive for me. Francis Andersen's commentary has been a delight. Here's a sample:

It is one of the many excellences of the book that Job is brought to contentment without ever knowing all the facts of his case. In view of the way in which the Satan brought up the matter, something had to be done to rescue Job from his slander. And the test would work only if Job did not know what it was for.

God thrusts Job into an experience of dereliction to make it possible for Job to enter into a life of naked faith, to learn to love God for himself alone. God does not seem to give this privilege to many people, for they pay a terrible price of suffering for their discoveries. But part of the discovery is to see the suffering itself as one of God's most precious gifts.

To withhold the full story from Job, even after the test was over, keeps him walking by faith, not by sight. He does not say in the end, Γ’β‚¬ΛœNow I see it all.' He never sees it all. He sees God (42:5). Next to Jesus, Job must surely be the greatest believer in the whole Bible.

Andersen, Job, 271-2.

Two stories β€” one lesson

Tongariro

This week I'm in the land of the long white cloud, the Maori name for New Zealand.

Had some meetings cancel on me so unfortunately I'll be spending tomorrow wondering through Tongariro National Park expecting to bump into Frodo and Sam.

Aussies find each other over here. Bumped into a guy this morning I sort of grew up with twenty years ago. His father was pastor who fell on hard times and left the ministry, his marriage and his family.

Another pastor heard about the need and organized as much relational and financial support as he could.

It wouldn't be hard for a young man to lose his faith after an experience like that. But because of the support he saw his mother receive that young man not only came through with his faith in tact but is now in the ministry himself.

Caught up with a Kiwi pastor later in the day. Half the week he's an architect, half the week he's leading a church. It's probably more like 75% and 75%.

It wasn't a role he chose for himself. A few years ago the church he was an elder in a church that was imploding. About two thirds of the congregation disappeared. He chose to stay.

When the pastor left, he was asked to step in and rebuild a shattered community. So now he juggles building houses and building up the body of Christ. Both ventures are prospering under God's blessing and he's been on a steep learning curve.

What did I learn from these two unplanned encounters?

Character counts for everything. Blow it there and you can lose your marriage and your family, you can see the body of Christ torn apart.

Yet in both these stories, God's grace prevailed because godly leaders stood up.

Cherish godly character above all else and the kingdom is yours.

009-As good as it gets?

Steve Addison @ Malmo, Sweden

Steve Addison @ Malmo, Sweden

Greetings from Malmo, Sweden. A beautiful city just across the water from Copenhagen.

I've been here for Pionjar (Pioneer), a Swedish church planting conference. This morning I spoke at the Immanuelskyrkan on "Is this as good as it gets?"

I think this is my life message. You can listen in and download if you don't mind a bit of Swedish translation.