Sunday, March 28, 2010

Jesus, Lazarus and Judas

Pastor Reuben of the Randers Free Church with Gary Sweeten

My sermon for Palm Sunday

Here is a terrific story. Jesus and his pals come back to the small town of Bethany located just outside Jerusalem to visit with His old friends Mary and Martha and their brother Lazarus. The story is found in the Gospel of John Chapter 12 and it has some real characters in it.

Here is how it begins: "Martha was serving and Lazarus was reclining at table with Jesus. Mary took a jar of precious, very expensive ointment and began to anoint the feet of Jesus with it." Not much seems to have changed in this family. Martha is still serving while Mary is forgetting to work so Jesus can eat with Lazarus.

Oh, wait a minute. something has changed. Lazarus is not dead any longer. He is sitting there at the table as big as life and twice as active. "But," you say, "he was dead as a door nail. What happened?"

Lazarus, Mary and Martha lived in a rather small town so everybody knew everybody's business. Not a soul in Bethany was ignorant about the death of Lazarus and that it was a tragic death for a man so young. Everybody talked about it for days. This must be why so many of the people of the village were gathered outside the house to see if they could get a glimpse of Jesus and Lazarus.

They also knew that Lazarus was so dead for so long that his soul had already ascended out of his body. Every Jew knew that one's soul stayed in a dead body for no longer than three days, yet Jesus had called Lazarus forth from the tomb of death after he had been dead for four days. IMPOSSIBLE!

As an observer from modern times, it seems to me that everyone present would be overjoyed with the situation. what could anyone find to criticize in this situation. Well, some people found a great deal to disloike and even hate.

More later. I must have some tea with Peder Poulsen, my current Danish host, and Galina Chentsova, head of our ministry in Russia .

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Models of Ministry

I am in Copenhagen with Dr. Galina Chentsova, head of the ministry in Moscow, Russia. We are headed for a meeting with Peter Dyhr of DAWN to discuss setting up teleios training for 400 new church plants.

Then we go to Randers to be with Peder Poulsen to do a workshop on healing and growth.

For three days I have been with the brilliant and effective Kirsten Callesen. If you want to change the world with Christ's word, works and love, you need a good model of ministry. The current models are not doing so well. They are based on one person lecturing others who learn to be helpless, powerless and dependent.

I suggest that you read a book on a different model now used widely in businesses, internet companies and non profits. The book is: "The Spider and the Monkey.

it is easily read and well written with lots of examples and stories.

i saw the model being used in Denmark by Dr. Kirsten Callesen who heads the Asperbeger's Institute in Copenhagen. She is training the parents of disabled kids to help their children progress. The meet in small groups to learn, share and practice the new insights. the new insights are spreading like wild fire and helping hundreds of families.

The decentralized approach is the only way new ways of behaving can quickly sprad to others. read the book and get trained. Move out for God to touch others.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

How Did We Grow So Large?

Equipping Ministries International, an organization we started from the Teleios Ministry at College Hill Presbyterian Church in 1978, has spread to over seventy nations. How did they do that?

Sweeten Life Systems, a ministry we started after leaving EMI, has spread to another ten or so nations with our unique equipping ministry that focuses on Discipleship in Building a lifetime of great relationships. How did we do that?

By following the model laid down by Jesus. We teach, train, coach and mentor high quality Christian leaders who wan to learn about building solid relationships with God, themselves and each other. These men and women are sold out to Christ and to a Discipleship Model not just a "Stand up Comedy Routine".

We "Equip Equippers to Equip the Saints to DO Ministry".

Galina Chentsova is a great example of this model. She came to Cincinnati in 1994 and learned our materials and methods of teaching them. She returned home to Moscow and started training her own Russian friends and colleagues. Now, fifteen years later there are dozens of training centers and hundreds of graduates who are multiplying themselves daily.

It is a fairly long and deep process that produces great fruit for God.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Innovative Christians

Fast Company is a magazine dedicated to promoting businesses that are "on the fast track" of innovation, growth and change. In the last issue they focused on HTC, a company in Taiwan they described this way:

Until recently, the name HTC meant little to consumers. Now the Taiwanese Google-phone maker is in the spotlight. Chairman and cofounder Cher Wang tells us about HTC's culture and her biblically infused thinking.

I hope you will read the article and take note of how a Christian can lead a company into one of the top spots of creativity in the world. In my view, we need many more like HTC and its Chair Cher Wang.

Do you know of any creative, innovative, cutting edge people and companies or not for profits?

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Ministry Trip to Denmark

I will be traveling to Denmark from March 21 to March 30 to see my great friend Peder Poulsen and his colleagues and other spiritual power houses. I met Peder way back in the Eighties at Vats, the high mountain ski resort where we gathered some fifty Scandinavian leaders for five days of Holy Spirit worship, praise and learning.

The testimonies that came out of the years we met in Vats were life changing and eternity expanding. Priests, Pastors, Missionaries, Lay Leaders and Para Church Leaders came together with a group from the USA to storm heaven and earth for God's love, power and truth. Many of the graduates of Vats are still expanding the Kingdom of God all over the world through care, counsel, evangelism and training.

The group in Denmark is a remnant of the Vats explosion. Hundreds of Christians have grown up in Christ to take His message to Europe and the nations. One of our friends is Kirsten Callesen, a PhD Psychologist who was a Flight Attendant with SAS when she came to our Teleios Training in the Nineties. God touched her life and called her to get a Masters' in Psychology.

As part of her training, Kirsten did an internship in a clinic that worked with people with Autism. This led Kirsten to take the classes in "Apples of Gold- Listening and develop a similar class for her clients. It worked beautifully and she has developed an entire training program called "The CAT Kit" for parents and children with Aspergers, a section of the Autistic Spectrum. She also finished a PhD in Psychology.

While in Denmark I will get to visit with Kirsten and see her in action plus attend two workshops on treating Autism. God has opened a wonderful door for me to learn how better to serve families with Special needs Kids.

Keep us in your prayers. More on this later.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Spiritual Growth and Missions

Dr. Richard Kidd just returned from a short term mission trip in New York City with 26 students from Regent University. The post can be found on my new blog Spiritual Healing and Growth.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Muslim Finds Christ

The Wall Street Journal has a terrific story about a young man who opened his heart to Jesus Christ after he saw His love, grace and forgiveness.

The WSJ describes it this way in a "must read story". Mosab is the son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, a founder and leader of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. Throughout the last decade, from the second Intifada to the current stalemate, he worked alongside his father in the West Bank. During that time the younger Mr. Yousef also secretly embraced Christianity. And as he reveals in his book "Son of Hamas," out this week, he became one of the top spies for Israel's internal security arm, the Shin Bet.

If that isn't enough to peak you interest I can't imagine what is.

Mosab also says that all Muslims need to be liberated from a god of murder, cruelty and revenge and find the true God of love, hope and mercy. WOW! These are strong words. The man holding a sign that calls for beheading anyone that insults Islam must be longing for a chance to kill this your believer in Christ.

Call to Action: Pray for Muslims to experience dreams and visions of Christ and come to faith in Him.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The Importance of Training

Almost the last words of Jesus to His followers were about education and training. Yep, He said, "Now hear this! Now hear this! You all need to stop standing around and get ready to go into the entire world and preach the good news. Make disciples or students of mine by teaching them everything that I taught you."

Any church that does not have a planned, orderly, sequential education;/training plan for the adults is failing to do what The Lord said. Why do we always have a standard Sunday school class for kids but not for adults? Every Pastor and Elder has been to high school and most have attended college. All of us have seen how schools operate. Why then do so few operate a school for adults?

If you were designing an Adult Education Training Program. what would you include in the curriculum? What would you train them to do? How would you combine educational theory with skills?

It can be done. it is being done. But not by many and even then not done well. Why?