‘Believing God for Unreached People Groups’ by Greg Mundis


201304_104_Unreach_artIn the fall 2013 issue of Enrichment, Greg Mundis writes:

What we believe shapes our priorities and determines how we live.

We believe, as the founders of our Fellowship did, that our Lord commands us to proclaim His gospel and establish His church in all the world. We also believe, as our early leaders did, the Lord’s promise that His Spirit would empower us to accomplish that mission.

Recent statistics reveal that the worldwide Assemblies of God now numbers 65 million. We rejoice in the church growth that has taken place in the last 100 years. Yet we know, as former Assemblies of God World Missions Executive Director Loren Triplett said, “You don’t measure yourself by your success but by the unfinished task.”

More than 4 billion people have not yet had an adequate witness of our Lord’s saving message. The purpose of AGWM is “so all can hear.” We must pay any price to keep fulfilling that purpose.

Read the whole thing here.

‘Believing God for a Mobilized Church’ by Zollie L. Smith Jr.


201304_110_Mobil_artIn the fall 2013 issue of Enrichment, Zollie L. Smith Jr. writes:

As we can attest, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people” (Proverbs 14:34). The righteousness of the Church is the answer to an oppressed people. Jesus’ prayer of unity on behalf of the Church has become my focal point, and I am more committed than ever to see it fulfilled.

The challenges we face in America are going to require the services of every Christian becoming unified in the war against sin. We must clothe ourselves with the garment of love and reach out to the lost in every people group by showing grace and being Good Samaritans — that none perish. When we mobilize as one, with each member doing his or her part, nothing can stop us.

The Church is the property of Jesus Christ, and He has grown it with quality, gifted people: the laborers added by God to work in the fields, and the gifted equippers given by Christ to His church to train the workers to build the Church through reconciliation. God reconciled the world unto himself through Jesus Christ. He commissioned the Church to go into the world and share the good news that Jesus has provided the way for them to be redeemed and restored.

Read the whole thing here.

‘Believing God for a Prophetically Relevant Church’ by Doug Clay


201304_098_Prophet_art In the fall 2013 issue of Enrichment, Doug Clay writes:

Prophetic relevance does not mean reciting a litany of passages from Minor Prophets in the Old Testament about God’s judgment on people. It does not mean getting in the face of others with a bullhorn to your mouth and a placard in your hand. It does not mean standing on the steps in a sports stadium shouting “Repent or die!”

No, the practical way to have a prophetic voice in a secular culture when the world’s values are not the same is learning the art and practicing the science of demonstrating courtesy, expressing sympathy, and speaking honestly.

Sometimes our mere presence can make a deep and lasting impression. Job’s friends did the right thing the first 7 days after he went through his series of horrific events. They just stayed with him and wept. They said nothing (Job 2:12,13).

Before we try to change culture by passing out tracts to strangers or conducting mass evangelism rallies, perhaps a better method is to develop a relationship with one or two people. Before we start railing on them about their advocacy of cultural issues that are not aligned with our values, we should show them courtesy, express sympathy and speak honestly — and thus earn the right to present the gospel to them.

Read the whole thing here.

‘Believing God for Jesus-Style Leaders’ by Jim Bradford


photo In the fall 2013 issue of Enrichment, Jim Bradford writes:

Louis Pasteur lived at a time when thousands of people died each year of rabies. Pasteur, a scientist, had worked for years on a vaccine. Just as he was about to begin experimenting on himself, a rabid dog bit Joseph Meister, a 9-year-old boy. The boy’s mother begged Pasteur to experiment on her son. Pasteur injected Joseph for 10 days, and the boy lived.

Decades later, of all the things Louis Pasteur could have asked to have written on his gravestone, he asked for just three words: Joseph Meister Lived. Those words frame the legacy of Christ’s living church. People will live eternally because of our investment in Christ’s mission. Our calling is not to focus on ourselves or play to the preferences of people who think more like spiritual consumers than servant ministers. It is to proclaim the gospel and mobilize Christ’s church to do all it can to reach spiritually lost people.

The great missionary pastor from Canada, Oswald J. Smith, wrote in his convicting book, The Cry of the World, “We should have kept before us our Lord’s post-Resurrection commands. We should have evangelized the world. Otherwise we have no ground for our existence as a church. There is no reason why we should have churches unless they are reaching out to those who have never heard.”

Change is difficult in many of our churches, and change for change’s sake is a useless exercise. But change that is motivated and necessitated by our mission to effectively reach people is change that we must never give up on. Missional leaders courageously solve problems and remove obstacles to reaching lost and hurting people. Missional leaders relentlessly seek results and find ways to get things done. Missional leaders never take refuge in the predictable or the familiar or the safe. Jesus said, “Go,” so they do not “sit.”

Read the whole thing here.

‘Believing God for Spirit-Empowerment’ by Alton Garrison


201304_084_Spirit_art From the fall 2013 issue of Enrichment:

Sadly, it appears that believers in many corners of the church are either abandoning Spirit-empowerment or have failed to access it in the first place. I fear that if the Holy Spirit were taken completely from a church, many elements of the work of that church would go on as if nothing had happened.

What a travesty of what every church was meant to be. And can this also be true of our personal lives? Are many of us in our area of ministry calling churning out “Christian” activity day to day that has no touch of God on it?

Without that touch, most powerfully brought about through the Holy Spirit’s infilling and influence, believers hobble their effective participation in the Great Commission. A.W. Tozer offered this observation, counterintuitive at first blush to the follower of Christ anxious to be of service in the Kingdom: “The popular notion that the first obligation of the church is to spread the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth is false.Her first obligation is to be spiritually worthy to spread it. [Emphasis his.] Our Lord said, ‘Go ye,’ but He also said, ‘Tarry ye,’ and the tarrying had to come before the going. Had the disciples gone forth as missionaries before the Day of Pentecost it would have been an overwhelming spiritual disaster.”

I believe churches that have diluted the original mission statement of our Lord merit the warning issued to the prophet Jeremiah: “ ‘My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water’ ” (2:13). Such churches have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof in their half-hearted acquisition of the Spirit’s leading and power. These churches have cut themselves off from the spring of living water and subsequently have nothing with which to fill their cisterns. What is left is an empty shell, merely an empty hull of theology.

These churches are Pentecostal sometimes — when it is convenient, when it is safe, when it is socially correct. Such believers are part-time Pentecostals. They have traded holiness for hype; they have forgotten righteousness in their pursuit of ritual; they have mastered the form of religion while sacrificing the force of the Spirit.

Part-time Pentecostals are high-maintenance/low-impact Christians. They boast of great authority, but are devastated at the first attack of the enemy. They know all their biblical rights, but recognize few of their responsibilities.

There is only one antidote to such a crisis. It is breathtaking in its possibility, it is awesome in its power, and it is liberating in its effect. It is quite simply the anointing. The anointing is the power of the Holy Spirit. At the end of the day there is no better definition. The anointing is the power of God to do the work of God in an ungodly world.

Read the whole thing here.

http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/201304/201304_084_sp_empower.cfm

Believing God for Greater Things: An Interview with George O. Wood


201304_078_Interview_art The theme of the fall 2013 issue of Enrichment is “Believe,” which was also the theme of the 55th General Council in Orlando, Florida. Enrichment interviewed Dr. George O. Wood about this theme. In the final question, he offered words of encouragement to pastors struggling to believe in their current season of ministry: 

My parents were pioneer ministers in the Fellowship. Their names were never in the “lights.” They were not well known. They were never asked to speak at a district council or General Council — in fact, they could not even afford to go to most of them. They labored in hard places with little visible result. But today the works they established are all flourishing — and some with amazing results. My mother used to say to me, “On that day, God will not ask us if we have been successful, He will ask us have we been faithful.” That’s a word of encouragement I constantly give. All God asks us is to pray hard, work hard, believe hard — and then leave the results in His hands.

Read the whole interview here.

Excerpt from ‘Relentless: Pursuing a Life that Matters’ by Dave Donaldson and Terry Glaspey


201304_046_relent_art Here’s an excerpt from Dave Donaldson’s new book, Relentless: Pursuing a Life that Matters, which was published in the fall 2013 issue of Enrichment:

Sharing is the only solution to bridging the gap between the rich and the poor. By sharing we can rescue our brothers and sisters from injustice, teach them to fish, and show them where to find the pond of opportunity. By sharing our time, expertise, and resources, we can save and improve lives.

Sharing is God’s plan for church growth. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. … Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14–16).

Paul started a relief program to help the Jerusalem church alleviate poverty in the city. To fund the initiative, Paul traveled throughout Asia Minor asking Christians to donate funds to feed the hungry (Romans 15:26). As a result of Paul’s journeys to help the suffering, he planted churches in Asia Minor, and the gospel spread throughout the world.

The only way most people in the world will discover Jesus’ love is when they see it demonstrated by the offer of a cup of water to the thirsty or a piece of bread for the hungry. Mother Teresa said: “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kind­ness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”

Paul declared there would be eternal results from sharing: “Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God” (2 Corinthians 9:13). But sowing is a verb and requires obedience: “Others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ” (2 Corinthians 9:13).

Read the whole thing here.

Excerpt of ‘Pentecost: This Story Is Our Story’ by Robert P. Menzies


201304_038_Pentecost_art In a previous post, I reviewed Robert P. Menzies new book, Pentecost: This Story Is Our Story. Enrichment, the journal I edit, has excerpted the book in its most recent issue. Here’s a taste:

Pentecostals have always read Acts, and particularly the account of the Pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2), as a model for their lives. The stories of Acts are our stories. Pentecostals identify with these stories. This sense of connection with the text encourages us to allow the narrative to shape our lives, our hopes and dreams, and our imagination. We read them with expectation and eagerness: stories of the Holy Spirit’s power, enabling ordinary disciples to do extraordinary things for God.

Pentecostals have never viewed the gulf that separates their world from that of the text as large. Western theologians and scholars of the past two centuries, however, have exerted great energy wrestling with how to interpret biblical texts that speak of God’s miraculous activity. As Evangelical theologians sought to explain why we should accept the reality of the miracles recorded in the New Testament but not expect them today, Pentecostals were (at least in our eyes) witnessing Jesus perform contemporary “signs and wonders” as He established His church.

The hermeneutic of the typical Pentecostal believer is straightforward and simple: the stories in Acts serve as models for shaping lives and experiences. This simple, narrative approach to the Book of Acts is one of the great strengths of the Pentecostal movement. The simplicity of reading the text as a model for our lives, without angst about the miraculous or how it all fits into complex theological systems, clearly enables people to readily grasp the message.

Read the whole thing here. If you like what you read, make sure to buy the book (Paperback / Kindle).

‘The Jesus-Hearted Woman’ by Jodi Detrick


JesusHeartedWomanThe latest issue of Enrichment contains an excerpt from Jodi Detrick’s new book, The Jesus-Hearted Woman (paperback, Kindle). Here’s the conclusion of the excerpt:

Many times while writing about these 10 qualities so crucial to being an enduring and endearing leader, I’ve discovered something that startled my predictable way of thinking, encouraged the deeper places in my heart, or inspired my sagging hopes.

There were also times when the bigger revelation was just how Jodi-hearted I am, instead of how Jesus-hearted I should be.

Yet, I take heart in this: all these leadership qualities (and infinitely more) are personified in Jesus. Colossians 2:9,10, gives me hope: “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness.”

As we make more room for Jesus in our lives, He transforms our hearts, develops the qualities we need to serve Him best, and ultimately brings us to fullness. This, too, is a long journey with many twists and turns. But His Spirit is navigating our steps, and He knows just how to get us there.

Detrick outlines “10 qualities of Jesus-hearted leadership” in the excerpt, qualities that apply as equally to Jesus-hearted me as to Jesus-hearted women. They are confidence, authenticity, humility, stamina, resilience, courage, self-awareness, kindness, soul care, and vision.

Read the whole thing here.

‘Against the Wind’ by J. Don George


From the latest issue of Enrichment comes this excerpt of J. Don George’s new book, Against the Wind:

Jesus came to seek and save the lost. He didn’t leave the world in its status quo. He stepped out of heaven to make a difference. It cost Him dearly. Are the people in our communities worth the price we have to pay to reach out to them? We must overcome old, suspicious, stiff, self-absorbed, lethargic ways.

Many pastors see a few black or Hispanic faces in their congregations on Sunday and assume they are reaching these cultures. They may be doing a great job of connecting cross-culturally, but they may be doing nothing at all. We need to gauge the effectiveness of our cultural awareness and outreach by the comparison of our church demographics with community demographics. In 1995, Calvary was 98 percent white. Today, we are a clear reflection of Irving and the surrounding community: 30 percent white, 30 percent black, 30 percent Hispanic, and 10 percent Asian.

Love propels action; but, when love is absent, we withdraw into the safe confines of the status quo. We are glad when someone responds to the gospel, but we seldom invest our time, energy, or reputation in pursuing outcasts, sinners, or foreigners.

We need to ask penetrating questions:

  • Do we see people of other races, cultures, genders, and ages as annoyances that ask too much from us?

  • Do we see them as projects to pursue?

  • Or do we love these people so much that we’re willing to take any risk and pay any price to reach them?

Read the whole thing here. And watch J. Don George’s message on the same topic from this year’s General Council in Orlando, Florida.

GC13 Communion Service from Assemblies of God USA on Vimeo.