Here is a current testimony of what is happening when believers use God’s Plan for His Church manual to get them back into the Scriptures as their sole guide for personal walk, the family and the church.
“I was urgently invited to Ghana to attend the International Missions Leaders Workshop in Kumasi Ghana. The Theme for the Workshop was “MOVING FORWARD”. The director for Baptist Foreign Missions Rev. Phil Knott shared with us the Mission’s Vision and goals that is to multiply disciples, leaders, Churches and ministries that are reproducible and sustainable.
The Workshop was held because many of churches were relying on foreign support and when that supports ceased, the church fell or pastors moved to other ministry that will support him. So we were called and encourage that our churches should be self-sustainable and focus on God and the direction of the Holy Spirit.
Brother, what we have been studying from the training manual is exactly what is going on with so many pastors and churches here in Africa. We have been encourage that our churches should be self-sustaining; not money to be it lifeblood, because when money stop ministry stops. Thanks for the material that open our eyes and understanding. I took along the Training manual (GOD’S PLAN FOR HIS CHURCH), with me and I seized the opportunity to meet with pastors and church leaders from Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Mali, Togo and other African countries discussed with them the goodness and Biblical teaching of Planting and Church Renewal of the material. Having shared the introductory part of the manual many of them express their desire to be part of the study. While I was away the men studying with me in our church were busy in carrying on their studies and at times we shared our discussion on phone after our meeting.
I am going through the manual as well as a brother who has gone to Hungary with a copy of the manual. He will be back on the 26 of February, so that we can all do the completion of the material together.
It is our prayers that the Lord will give us strength and open our understanding as we study His Word to win souls for him.”
Our Worship and the Nations
One of the key principles we see in the Book of Acts is that the life, fellowship and preaching; all forms of worship of the early church, was a strong reason why the church grew so rapidly (Acts 2:14-47; 6:7; 10:34-48; 13:48-49). Dr. Edmund Clowney has said, “When we worship God as we ought, that is when the nations will listen.”
Is our worship truly God-centered? If we mix in to our worship anything that exalts man, we will weaken out gospel voice to the nations; the unreached.
The Purpose of God in His Hands
In the last post, we looked at Jeremiah 18:1-10. Notice that God “reworked the clay into another vessel as it seemed good to the potter to do” (v.4).
· Why do we question the design God is working into our lives? It is our pride.
· Do we think we know better that God for our lives, marriages, family and church?
· Do we allow human ideas, methods, and programs dictate what we will “allow” God to do with us?
· We don’t like what He is doing to us.
But I am learning – God has a perfect plan and purpose, and His design that He is working into my life has one goal; that He can use me for His purpose – to bring Him eternal glory! His hands make a “vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master…, ready for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21).
God has put His hands on my life that has caused pain and I almost lost sight of why. Thankfully, He has applied the water of the Holy Spirit to soften my “clay” so He can shape my life to bring Him glory. Ask God to enlighten “the eyes of your heart that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you” (Ephesians 1:18) to bring Him glory!
How Brittle Are You?
In Jeremiah 18:1-10; Romans 9:19-24; 2 Corinthians 4:7-12, God uses the analogy of clay in the Potter’s hand to illustrate how He wants to mold and shape us according to His design and purpose. One of the most importance elements in keeping the clay flexible in the Potter’s hand is water (the Holy Spirit). Without continual application of the Holy Spirit to our lives, we will become brittle and resist God’s shaping hand on us.
A lump of clay that refuses to be softened by water (the Holy Spirit) will become useless and perhaps even rejected as a vessel "honorable...set apart as holy, useful for the master" (2 Timothy 2:21). Read also 1 Corinthians 9:27.
Choosing God's Best
Why are we so willing to accept something less, a lower standard, or a different method than what God has held up in His word? Why are we so quick to proclaim ourselves as the “cutting edge” in ministry, but unwilling to humbly acknowledge how far short we fall from God’s design as He gave it to us in Scripture? Every decision we make in life and ministry will either reflect and give glory to God or will detract in some way from it!
a. What brings about change and a desire to return to God’s plan? We must open our hearts to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit and this will result in immediate REPENTANCE! How does this happen?
i. God’s Word becomes a mirror (James 1:22-25), reflecting a clear comparison between God’s plan and purpose for my life, marriage, family and church, with what the facts really are.
ii. God’s Word is like fire and a hammer (Jer. 23:28-29) that burns up what is useless to God and breaks what is hard, stubborn and resistant to the Spirit.
iii. God’s Word is like water (Eph. 5:25-27). The more I take it in the more it cleanses from the inside out.
iv. God’s Word is “perfect, reviving the soul” (Ps. 19:7). There is always hope when I apply God’s perfect Word to myself and my situation.
b. If true repentance takes place, what can you and I expect? “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:19–20, ESV). If you have never experienced sweet fellowship with the Lord, this is the path where it begins.
Let the Word of God change us so we become better reflectors!
News of God's Work
Tim and I are home and very thankful to see our wives and families. Picking up from our last letter, on May 14, we spent four days in Phnom Penh, Cambodia training a church planter among the Khmer people. He is unique as he seeks to following Paul's example of working to provide for his own needs. To accomplish this, several helped purchase a Tuk Tuk which he will use for income and transportation. His vision is to train other "Timothy's" with GPHC and help them start a business that will provide their income. He clearly has a heart for living and duplicating the Early Church model.
Tim and I left on the 19th; Tim to Laos to deliver Bibles which had been provided by Wake Christian Academy, Raleigh, NC and others here at home. I proceeded to Chiang Mai to start training a pastor from Pakistan. Tim arrived a few days later and we focused on one-on-one training him and then two other men from Myanmar for the next three weeks using God's Plan for His Church manual. We are convinced of the effectiveness of this method! The personal interaction, valuable discussion and fellowship over how the biblical principles work out in each culture brought inspiration and a fresh appreciation of Scripture in their setting. With a few, time was taken to complete the "pre-assigned" work, but these brothers were diligent and hard-working so that each one completed the final project, developing their own strategy for ministry in their setting with the principles they learned. These men represent the Karen, Chin, Katchin, Burmese, and Naga people groups of Myanmar and the Karen in Thailand. Translation work is already in progress for these languages.
Let me summarize how the Lord has led us to this point in our ministry. Having taught the manual in conferences for many years and seen little multiplication from this venue, we felt that Paul's method of mentoring Timothy was more effective and would multiply much faster. After much prayer and searching for about a year, Tim found a Christian couple in Chiang Mai who would rent us a four bedroom house with a kitchen and sitting area for a very reasonable price.
Paul said in I Corinthians 16:8 that he would “stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective work has opened for me.” God has opened many doors for us, but like Paul, we desired to enter this “effective” opened door. It allows us to train one-on-one, face-to-face, where persons are away from the responsibilities of ministry, culture and family in a quite neighborhood, yet within walking distance of village stores for food and necessities. The owners are convinced this is the purpose God has for this place and are fully behind us.
While we were there, God opened another door through the owners. Here is a comment from them: "A new teaching team from the United States viz., Pastors Tim Bunn and Sherman Driver of Go-Reconcile, will train our evangelists in August; and our regular mentor Rev. Dr. Tan Wai Choon in November." This training will be with the Lahu people group in Thailand.
We praise the Lord as we share this with you. Please continue to pray for us that we remain sensitive to the Holy Spirit for His "effective work", humble in spirit, and physically able to meet the demands. Also pray that God will raise up Timothy's who God will call to this work. Tim will be returning to Burma/Myanmar at the end of July for a conference in Yangon. From there, he will return to Chiang Mai, Thailand to train leaders from Africa and the Thailand Karen and Lahu. Pray that each of these open doors will turn out to be God's "effective work" for His glory!
We are very excited to announce God’s Plan for His Church, (GPHC) a new manual for Church Planting and Church Renewal. This revised edition has new lessons not previously covered, illustrations for better visual understanding, and a format that makes it easy for anyone to follow.
Considering Christianity is growing at a 0.5% rate in the USA (Operation World p.862), we believe this revision is momentous and relevant for today’s church because GPHC:
· Lays a foundation in the authority and sufficiency of Scripture in the Holy Spirit.
· Provides an opportunity for a fresh work of the Holy Spirit in willing hearts and churches.
· Reveals the value of marriage and family in the process of church planting and renewal.
· Visually illustrates the principles of God’s plan for His Church from Pentecost forward
· Helps churches and leaders become Christ centered and self-sustaining like Paul.
· Uses powerful supra-cultural and timeless principles from Scripture.
· Gives biblical solutions to many of the current issues facing today’s family and church.
· Teaches a time-tested and proven model of church planting, growth and renewal that can actually thrive in financial deficiency, illiteracy, and persecution.
We ask that you take a serious, prayerful look at this enclosed material for a way that God would begin a fresh work of the Holy Spirit in you, your family and your church. There are life changing testimonies on pages 3-5 from those who have worked through previous editions published in 30 languages so that you can read firsthand how God has used this tool around the world.
We are so convinced of the importance of God’s Plan for His Church that we are willing to personally meet with you face to face. If you are interested, please feel free to contact us via information on the "contact" page for further details. A digital interactive CD or Internet copy is available upon request. All the materials and services are offered at no charge.
We are praying for you as you consider this timely opportunity for a new beginning of power, oneness, freedom and joy in serving our wonderful Savior.
GOD'S BIG PICTURE
In the last few weeks the Spirit has opened my understanding as I have read the Word and pondered its eternal application to us. What started this was that a dear brother was explaining the difficulties they are going through regarding a building that is not finished where the church wants to meet. As I prayed for him, the Spirit directed my attention to God's BIG PICTURE that began in past eternity. If we are going to grasp the details of God's plan, we must also look at the BIG PICTURE - GOD'S PLAN AND PURPOSE FROM ETERNITY PAST!
Let's start with Eph. 3:8-10 and Col. 1:24-29. Paul wanted to "make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations...the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:25, 27). The greatness of this mystery is not understood because we have a building, but because the Holy Spirit, the "Helper" is "with you forever" (John. 14:16) and He, the Father and the Son "will come...and make our home with him" (14:23). Plus the Holy Spirit "will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you" (14:26). This does not need a building; just human hearts that receive God's grace.
Now, let's go back to Genesis 1:28-30; 3:8-9. God began *HIS*story with man by spending time in The Garden talking to man, in fellowship with man in a relationship that did not need a temple, a building or a special place. It only need God and man in relationship as God designed it - *PERFECT!*
Solomon realized that "heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you (God); how much less this house that I have built" (1 Kings 8:27). Paul reminds us of what happened at Pentecost, "Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you" (1 Cor. 3:16) "your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (God) within you, whom you have from God" (1 Cor. 6:19).
John 4:19-28. The woman of John 4 realizes that Jesus is the answer to her problems and starts talking about worship. She points to a mountain where her fathers worshiped and that the Jews worshiped in Jerusalem (the temple). Jesus points to a different kind of worship and a different place of worship. The different kind of worship was a relationship with God as "Father" through the Spirit. The 'different place of worship' was the heart where our spirits are in agreement with His Spirit and where His truth is our only truth. This does not require a building or a place, but a living relationship in the power of the Spirit.
Revelation 21:3, "And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "*Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.*" The end of *HIS*story is the same as the beginning. God with man in *PERFECT* communion, in fellowship, man in worship without the need of any man-made things such as buildings, pews, pulpits, etc. The whole plan and purpose of redemption was to restore fallen man to relationship that needs nothing except the finished work of Jesus and the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. In pointing to these Scriptures, I fully understand that there is nothing wrong with buildings in and of themselves, but there is a transcending importance in the relationship we have with God through Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit. What a great opportunity we have in any difficult time or circumstance to point the saints to something that is far, far greater than a physical building or place. Build in the saints a vision for what is eternal! Ephesians 2:19-22, "So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit."
May the Holy Spirit give us this eternal 'BIG PICTURE' - God's thoughts, plans and purpose that do not change even in time!
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