Kamis, 25 Agustus 2016

NEW PODCAST: Robby Gallaty's Radical Conversion Story

NEW PODCAST: Robby Gallaty's Radical Conversion Story

We interviewed Robby Gallaty, who leads Long Hollow Baptist Church as Senior Pastor, about his story of radical conversion to Christ. He is now an avid disciple maker. Long Hollow, which is in Nashville, Tennessee, is where the Discipleship.org National Disciple Making Forum is hosted this year. It’s in interesting ministry and context for disciple making, because of the larger numbers at Long Hollow. Robby brings a unique perspective on making disciples in a large church setting because of his extensive ministry experience specifically in making disciples, even though he’s got a masters degree in preaching.

Listen here: E08: Robby Gallaty’s Story w/ Jeremy Brown and Tim LaFleur

Senin, 22 Agustus 2016

Are You Choking Discussion in Your Group?

Are You Choking Discussion in Your Group?

Choking Discussion in Your Group?
“As a leader, choose to work toward a healthy “discussion flow” in your groups.”
I’m not a mechanical person, but I’ve been vaguely aware for years that choke valves are an important component for internal combustion engines. Growing up, I had to work the choke pretty hard to get my dad’s old tractor to fire up when it was my turn to mow the lawn.
Now, after some Internet research, I have a better idea of why choke valves are so important. They basically regulate the amount of air that gets mixed in with the gasoline inside the engine. By choking back on the air, the engine receives a more enriched supply of gasoline, which can help get things started better under certain conditions.
While choke valves are a good and helpful tool for engines, they are not so helpful in small-group discussions. In fact, they can be damaging.
Unfortunately, many small groups contain “choke valve” people who regularly and actively choke out the discussion within the group. Worse, those choke valves are often the group leaders themselves.

Conversation Flow

In my experience, a typical “discussion flow” in small groups and Sunday school classes may look something like this:
• The Group Leader asks a question.
• Person A responds.
• The Group Leader comments on Person A’s response.
• Person B responds.
• The Group Leader comments on Person B’s response and adds a story of his or her own to illustrate what Person B meant to say.
• Person C responds.
• The Group Leader comments on Person C’s response, then ask if anyone else has anything to say.
• The Group Leader asks another question.
Unfortunately, many group leaders within today’s church feel the need to comment or categorize each response in a group discussion. When someone responds to their question, they feel the need or the responsibility to answer that person before allowing the discussion to proceed.
Do you see the problem with this kind of discussion flow? When a group conversation is centered on the group leader, it’s not really discussion at all. Instead, the group leader serves as a choke that prevents any genuine discussion from really breaking out.
Sadly, many group leaders have been taught to “manage” group conversations this way. This is what many people have in mind when they think about “facilitating” a discussion. In reality, serving as a choke valve will clog or kill the discussions in your group.

A Better Way

So, what would a healthy “discussion flow” look like? Here’s a good example:
• The Group Leader asks a question.
• Person A responds.
• Person B responds.
• Person C comments on something Person A said, and then adds another idea.
• The Group Leader offers a thought.
• Person D responds to the original question.
• Person E asks for clarification on something he or she didn’t understand.
• Person B offers that clarification.
• The Group Leader asks a new question.
The difference between the two approaches is striking in a group setting. When discussion is allowed to progress organically, without constant input from the group leader, there is a much greater chance of truly meaningful discussion.
As a leader, choose to work toward a healthy “discussion flow” in your groups. 

Minggu, 21 Agustus 2016

How to Bring Simple Rhythms of Grace Into Your Home

How to Bring Simple Rhythms of Grace Into Your Home
August 20, 2016

I was recently interviewed by Bryan Entzminger at Engaging Missions.  (Bryan interviews a different person engaged in some type of ministry each week and then produces a top quality podcast from the interview.)

Click on my picture below to listen to the podcast. Also, consider sharing this with your friends who might be interested in bringing "simple rhythms of grace" into their home.

Here's how Bryan introduced the podcast...
John White shares about the house church movement and the benefits it brings to the spread of the Gospel. He currently serves to equip believers in how to start house churches as well as “CO2s” (also known as Church of Two). After working in the traditional church setting, John felt called to take part in the house church movement and has seen God work through it.
During the show, John focuses on the important steps and tools for a house church. For example, he strongly addresses the significance of hearing the Lord in everyday life as well as during church gatherings. Once we are able to listen to His voice, we will learn to do what we see the Father doing.

Click on the picture below...

Is Jesus Enough?

Is Jesus Enough?
by Chip Brogden
“After they had eaten, Jesus asked Simon Peter,
‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me
more than these other things?'”
John 21:15

If Jesus was all you had, would Jesus be enough for you?

Many precious believers are in love with the things of the Lord, but they are not in love with the Lord Himself. Many Christian workers and ministers are in love with the Lord’s work. Almost without realizing it, the work of the Lord becomes more important than the Lord of the work.

There are prophets and teachers who hold words from God in higher esteem than the God Who speaks the words they attribute as being from Him. People seek these words and teachings. The more they receive, the more they want. Before one word is digested they are craving another. They are seeking “things” – words, prophecies, teachings, visions, dreams – but they are not seeking the Lord Himself.

Is Jesus enough?

When the saints gather together most of the activity is focused on “one another”. This is important, but it is not the most important thing. Fellowship is good: but is Jesus enough? Gatherings are good: but is Jesus enough? Meetings are good: but is Jesus enough? Special speakers and special music are good: but is Jesus enough?

Even with praise and worship it is possible to sing “about” Jesus and not truly worship Jesus. With preaching and teaching it is possible to talk “about” Jesus and not truly meet Jesus in what is shared. In prayer it is possible to talk “about” our needs and never actually commune with Jesus Himself.

Among Christians I have discovered something. There is Jesus, and then there are all the things ABOUT Jesus that are NOT Jesus. Jesus Himself occupies only a small portion of what is said and done in Christian circles. Most of what is said and done is merely ABOUT Jesus, but it is NOT Jesus...


I am your brother,
Chip Brogden 

Jumat, 19 Agustus 2016

Short Teaching, Personal Update, Prophetic - John Fenn

Hi all,
As we reach the middle of August I wonder where the summer went! (Greetings to our Aussie, Kiwi, and RSA friends, who are looking for spring).
The Lord seems to move in seasons* rather than minutes and seconds, which sometimes causes us to be anxious because we live in a minutes and seconds world. We observe that "God came through at the last second" while He is thinking He provided the answer within His season of our life. *Genesis 1:14
Your seasons used to be your own, but now they belong to Him
In John 7:3-5 it is recorded Jesus' unbelieving brothers teased Him about going up to the Feast of Tabernacles and proving Himself to His followers. (Later at least 2 of His brothers would become believers, leaders, and authored 2 letters of our New Testament: James and Jude)
When they told Him to go up to the feast to prove himself, He responded in verse 6: "My time (Greek; season) has not yet come, but your time (season) is ready anytime." (Gk; hetoimos, ready, standing by).
Jesus marks a difference between those who believe in Him and those who don't: Those who don't believe in Him are in control of their own seasons of life. But Jesus was sensitive to the Father's seasons for His life, indicating the time wasn't yet right for Him to attend the feast, yet He didn't say why.
And that is how it is with us today. The Lord doesn't always reveal the timing and events within a season of our lives, but we are submitted to Him, trusting He is in ultimate control of our seasons. We do know however, that in each season He expects us to use it to grow in Him.
Yesterday I taught in one of the house churches from Psalm 37:23 which says in the King James Version: "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord; and He delights in his way."
The Lord takes delight in your life
We all compared various translations and all agreed the second half of that verse says that God delights Himself in (a good person's) way. The Amplified Bible translates the second half of the verse this way: "...He delights in his way and He busies Himself with his every step."
That is amazing - The Father busies Himself with our every step. Linking the two together we realize if we submit our seasons of life to the Lord He not only orders our steps, but He finds delight in doing so, and personally involves Himself in our every step. Unbelievers don't have that blessing, and there is great peace in knowing He is in ultimate control and guiding our steps - no matter what it looks like right now.
There is a rest and peace that comes upon us when we join Him in looking at the big picture of our lives - as Hebrews 4:9-11 so states, our labor is not to stir up faith, but to enter into rest. Faith is a spiritual force that Satan cannot touch, so he attacks our peace by destroying hope.
Our effort is to stay in the peace, and hope is strengthened best by stepping back and realizing we've submitted the seasons of our life to Him, and He is involving Himself in our every step. Ahhhh....that is so nice.
A personal note
Especially over the summer when people go on vacations and take holidays and such, we've been especially blessed by those of you who continue to remember us in your giving, especially monthly giving, because in such a busy season you remember us and our work in the Lord - thank you so much for your conistency.
Paul wrote of the household of Stephanus in I Corinthians 16:15; ‘who have addicted (devoted) themselves to the ministry of the saints’. And in his second letter to them, speaking of the Philippians and others in that area that they ‘urgently pleaded with us for the privilege in sharing of this ministry to the Lord’s people…and they gave themselves first to the Lord, and then by the will of God to us.’
Barb and I thank you so much, those who have given their hearts first to the Lord, and then out of that appreciation and love, to us - thank you!
Update on Wil and Ank's move to a larger home
Wil and Ank send their thanks as people have responded with enough pledges of support for their opportunity to move out of their town house into a large country home, big enough to host people and hold regional house church conferences. We add our thanks to theirs for those who have responded!
Prophetic happenings in the news
Things lining up for the Ezekiel 38 war in the news include now not-so-secret meetings between Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other Arab nations, formulating agreements and plans against Iran’s increasing presence in Syria and the Mid-east. Remember that Ezekiel mentions ‘Sheba and Dedan’ in particular, understood by most to be modern Saudi Arabia and other smaller Arab nations in the region, joining with Israel and her allies against a future Iranian and Russian invasion.
And of course the failed coup in Turkey is very important prophetically, for it has tipped Turkey away from the US and the EU, now re-formalizing relations with Russia, including talks of more Russian pipelines for gas/oil through Turkey, and the building of a nuclear power facility in Turkey.
History records the last Caliphate, a multi-nation Muslim rule, was out of Turkey known as the Ottoman rule, which ended in 1922. Some say Turkey wants to re-establish itself as the Muslim leader in the Mideast, and it seems headed in that direction. Again, in 3 separate visitations with the Lord going back into the 1990’s, He has told me ‘watch Turkey’ – so we watch and pray. CWOWI has friends in Ankara, and life is hard…praying.
House church isn't about the house
House church isn't about the house, it's about the church, which is the people. Those relationships are #1. Think outside the 'church' mentality and be creative in how you invest in one another. Lunch hour meals together to reconnect, an evening meal together, inviting someone to join you in a walk, bike ride, movie, window shopping or something creative.
Even if you are just 1 person wanting to start a house church, don't start by holding 'church'. Start by investing in people. House church isn't a program or model of how to do church, meeting in homes is the natural result of healthy relationships in Christ. Invest therefore in relationships and at some point you will want to gather in a home for a meal, some prayer, maybe some worship or study of the Word...we will know each other and be together for eternity, so act like it. Invest in your relationships!
I'm so, so saddened by the shallow and immature Christians who attend a house church for awhile, then who break off fellowship because of doctrinal differences or they don't get to spout their favorite slightly off the norm belief at every meeting. In the auditorium church people come and go like that all the time because they find no place to share their view, so end up going nowhere and their leaving isn't even noticed.
But in house church the numbers are small and they are noticed and loved, and when they leave it makes a hole. They are missed as the others truly loved them, but they reveal they were only in it in the hopes of sharing their particular belief. Jesus brought them to that house church in the hopes they would grow into balance through healthy relationships rather than the false relationships offered by (for instance) web sites that theorize this whose currency is fear. In leaving real people and real relationships they reject His plan for why He brought others into their lives, going with their own plan for their life. That is idolatry.
The larger picture - is that new affiliates in the US and other nations continue, and all are on the same spiritual page, eager to celebrate Jesus with others and grow in Him. It is SO exciting and so exactly what we see in Acts - growth and people coming to the Lord in the midst of life's difficulties. 
Thank you for being part of our lives, Barb and I appreciate you very much. Keep us in prayer, Chris especially, as we've had a very hard time with his behavior at the group home. With our travel and hosting schedules his normal routine of coming home Friday and Saturday has been disrupted, and he has been confused as to when dad is coming to get him, leading to fits of anger and such...thank you. And thank you again for remembering us in your giving, joining yourselves with us in this work of the Lord.
        John and Barb
New cd/MP3 series:
Overcoming when Overwhelmed
Everyone faces a crisis from time to time, but not everyone emerges whole and victorious on the other side. In this series John shares 5 key things successful people do in the midst of a crisis, detailing a process to be walked through when hit with an unwanted surprise. Sharing from personal and Biblical examples along with a few favorite verses that continue to minister to him, this series instills confidence, faith and peace when your world is falling apart. When all the voices are speaking destruction, you'll learn what to do to counter those voices and come out the other side victorious!

John Fenn, Random Thought: 1 Slave Changed the World

Hi all,
Have you ever wondered why the short letter of 25 verses Paul wrote to Philemon about a run away slave, was included in the New Testament? Maybe you have, maybe you haven't - but we owe nearly everything to the subject of Paul's letter, Onesimus.
Without him we wouldn't have our New Testament. That's correct. The New Testament you have in your hands or as an app on your phone wouldn't exist without him - surprised? Let me tell you a story...
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away...
There lived a teenager named Onesimus. He was raised a slave in the household of Philemon, a man who lived in ancient Colossae, a city in modern Turkey situated about 120 miles (193km) east of Ephesus.
When Paul spent over 2 years in Ephesus, Acts 19:10 tells us everyone in that region known as Asia heard the word. The (house) churches at Colossae no doubt were born in this time, as Epaphras* took the Word to Colossae. *Colossians 1:7 & 4:12 
Colossae was an important city along the supply road running from Ephesus towards the middle east, as was Laodecia its closest neighbor, and was so known for its (dyed) wool that the Roman Empire declared it to be free from taxes.
But all that meant nothing to young Onesimus, a non-Christian slave in a Christian home where adherents of this new religion gathered to worship a man named Jesus and hear stories of His life. Onesimus had bigger dreams, dreams of seeing the world, of being a man of the world - he would worry about the afterlife later.
The runaway...
And so it was at some point in his late teens or early twenties, Onesimus, whose name means 'useful', ran away to the big city; Rome. We don't know how he got all the way from Turkey to Italy, what risks he took, how he presented himself to those who questioned the credentials of this young man making his way, but we know he made it to Rome.
Paul is already a prisoner of Rome at this time, somewhere in the years 60-62, which is where Luke closes Acts. He states Paul was under house arrest for 2 years but allowed to receive guests, and it was during this time Paul meets a certain run away slave from Colossae, the young man, Onesimus.
In his letter to Philemon Paul says this about Onesimus: "...Paul, an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus - I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is useful to both me and you..." v9-11
And he continues in v13 saying, "I would have liked to have kept him here with me because he is a great help in your place, but I don't want to do that without your consent, so I'm sending him back to you with my heart as well..."
So we learn Onesimus in his effort to run away from that house full of Christians back home in Colossae, runs right into Paul in Rome, and becomes a Christian. The fact Paul met him while he was a prisoner might suggest teenager Onesimus had run out of money and no prospects of a job in the big city and turned as a last resort to his master's friend, Paul. We don't know. But we do know that in his effort to run away from home, he ran right into Paul and a new life in Christ.
Do the right thing
Now that Onesimus has become a believer, Paul tells him that he must return to Philemon and take his punishment, which could have been death. But Paul's letter to Philemon in our New Testament is his letter of recommendation and request for leniency, in fact suggesting in verses 12-16 the larger plan of God was that in leaving as a runaway slave, God has now returned him better than a slave in a play on words, now as a (useful/onesimus) brother in Christ.
Paul even tells Philemon in v19 that he would pay whatever damage Onesimus did or whatever he owes his master, and he reminds him that he owes his own spiritual life to Paul, to seal the deal. Yet as if to add even more weight to his request, Paul closes by adding "And prepare a room for me because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers." He will come personally to see how Onesimus is being treated!
And so it was that Onesimus, the one time runaway slave, now returns home with money in his pocket to repay his debt, and carrying the letter to his master from the great apostle Paul in his hand. What joy and what nervousness he must have felt. How would he humble himself and ask forgiveness? Would Philemon be so angry he wouldn't even read Paul's letter and instead sentence Onesimus to immediate death?
With no overnight or 2 day mail, no phones nor texting, no way of sending word in advance of his coming, one day Onesimus just shows up at the door, letter in hand. What would be his fate?
History records...
Philemon did indeed forgive Onesimus, and better than that - he gave him his freedom and sent him back to work with Paul for as far as we know, what turned out to be the last 4 years of Paul's life. The next time history sees Onesimus he is working in Ephesus, just west of Colossae you'll recall, to work with Timothy who oversees all the (house) churches there.
Many scholars estimate there were about 25,000 believers in Ephesus, or 10% of the population of 250,000, and at that time they all met in homes rotating who hosted and led the meetings, having meals together, giving to one another as needs arose, and there were many full time workers coordinating all those resources and communication.
Fast forward 30 years: Foxe's Book of Martyrs tells us...
In the year 97, just over 30 years after the deaths of Peter and Paul, Timothy was now an old man and still overseeing the saints in Ephesus, where he was 30 years earlier when Paul sent him to Ephesus and wrote his 1st and 2nd letters to him there. Imagine that, he stayed faithful to his last assignment Paul gave him for over 30 years. No searching God for his next assignment, he stayed faithful right where Paul put him.
But in the year 97 the people of the city were celebrating a pagan festival called Catagogion which was noted by carrying idols in their hands as they celebrated up and down the streets of the city. Aged Timothy went to preach to the crowd about their idolatry, and the mob beat him nearly to death, and 2 days later he did finally succumb to his injuries.
Enter a former slave
With the death of Timothy, a former runaway slave named Onesimus became the overseer of Ephesus, and remained there until his own death in the year 108 AD. (Though some sources put his death in the year 68 that date doesn't match known history, which says he succeeded Timothy in the year 97 and died a prisoner or Rome by stoning and/or beheading, in the year 108.
What he did that changed our lives
But this one thing we know he did after he succeeded Timothy in the year 97 that no one else had done to that point: He began compiling the letters of Paul that had survived over those 50 years.
We can only imagine his thoughts, holding Paul's letter to Philemon in his hands, now a cherished personal treasure that had changed the course of his life.  Yellowed and torn around the edges these 50 years later - a brief letter of a only little over 400 words, but what if he could add Paul's other letters to this 1 cherished personal treasure. What if others could read Paul's letters as he did as his Assistant? What if others could be set free by Paul's letters as he had been by his brief appeal to Philemon?
And so it is that we have Paul's letters in our New Testament. Thank you Onesimus, for including your own letter, that little hint for us, your own signature as it were to your task of assembling Paul's letters, to let us know the hand of God set in motion by 1 act of kindness. And now you know why that little 25 verse appeal on behalf of a runaway slave is in our New Testament.
As with many good deeds, the consequences often deliver unexpected results - trickling down through the centuries to our lives changed because 1 man had mercy on, and shared Jesus with a runaway slave, and that former slave did not let the grace of God bestowed upon him be in vain.
We touch the lives of others but it remains to be seen how our investment in each life will bear fruit. The biggest miracles aren't always when someone gets out of a wheelchair, but rather when their heart is changed. For the ripple effect of that change may be seen generations from now, as it was when Paul met a certain runaway teenager down on his luck in the big city of Rome...
    Another random thought next week, until then, blessings!
        John Fenn
www.cwowi.org and email me at cwowi@aol.com
New CD/MP3 Series
Overcoming when Overwhelmed
Everyone faces a crisis from time to time, but not everyone emerges whole and victorious on the other side. In this series John shares 5 key things successful people do in the midst of a crisis, detailing a process to be walked through when hit with an unwanted surprise. Sharing from personal and Biblical examples along with a few favorite verses that continue to minister to him, this series instills confidence, faith and peace when your world is falling apart. When all the voices are speaking destruction, you'll learn what to do to counter those voices and come out the other side victorious!

How to survive a crisis ...

To view this article online, go here.
Hey, Frank V. here. This email was supposed to go out yesterday (Thursday), but we moved to a new email service and there were some complications. So I apologize for it being a day late. Here it is:
If you are NOT going through a crisis right now, you will.
Life is peppered with adversity, hardship, challenge, and difficulty.
This is especially true if you're a Jesus-follower. We are promised suffering, hardship, and tribulation.
Your boyfriend/girlfriend suddenly breaks up with you.
You lose your job. Or you still can't find one.
You have a parent who is terminally ill.
Your best friend is in critical condition.
Your spouse doesn't want to be married anymore.
You have an enemy who is obsessed with destroying your life.
Your baby is sick and the situation is only getting worse.
And on and on.
How do you cope?
How do you survive without being destroyed?
How do you keep from becoming bitter (which is spiritual suicide)?
Well, here are several ways that will enable you to survive your present -- or future -- crisis.
1. Embrace the reality of the situation.
Many people crash-and-burn because they aren't willing to acknowledge the seriousness of their crisis. They pretend it doesn't exist. Or they minimize it.
Some overdramatize it.
A helpful way to avoid falling off one side of the horse or the other is to write down the reality of the crisis. By writing it down, you can better determine if you have made it worst -- or better -- than it really is.
But facing the reality of it -- however dire -- is critical for surviving it.
2. Refuse to lose hope in the end of the story.
While Scripture promises us trial, tribulation, suffering, and hardships, it also promises us triumph in every situation.
So whether God chooses to deliver you from your crisis or deliver you through it, the end of the story will lead to His glory and to your benefit.
Romans 8:28 hasn't been deleted from your Bible.
I'm presently writing a book along with 20 other authors called Where's God? and all my subscribers (that's you) will receive a complimentary copy when it's published. In that book, we all weigh-in on what the Lord is up to when He lets His children go through unimaginable crisis.
Very often, God seems to have walked off the stage during such times. And His grace doesn't appear to be sufficient.
But when time passes and you look back, you discover that not only was He present, but His grace was fully sufficient to handle the situation.
And so it goes for people of faith.
So never lose hope that the end of the chapter is going to be to your benefit and to His glory.
*** To read the rest of the article (containing steps 3 - 6), view it online here.
Frank's new book -- JESUS SPEAKS: Learning to Recognize & Respond to the Lord's Voice -- is a #1 New Release in its category on Amazon and it's still on discount.
Here's an Amazon Editorial Review.
"The Christian analog to the Lennon-McCartney brand, Sweet and Viola offer the third book in their JESUS trilogy. Jesus Speaks is a masterful study on hearing God's voice. Mixing the personal with the scriptural, Viola and Sweet offer a comprehensive and practical look at recognizing the voice of Christ. This book emerges at the pinnacle of the authors' creative output and stands as an entrancing statement by the duo. One of the most anticipated books of the Summer of 2016, I predict it will be the new touchstone in its field and the gold standard for practical spirituality. Ignore it at your own peril." - D.S.
Check out the book here - the various online outlets are at the bottom of the book page.
*** Hey! Be careful with the "unsubscribe" link below. If you click it, we won't be able to send you Frank's fresh articles and complimentary resources. He only sends to this list 2x a month. So click it at your own risk.