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Forming (in) Community: The Practice of Equipping

For the audio teaching of these notes, click on:

Intro: Equipping is the fourth priority and practice in forming – and being formed in – Christ’s covenant community. The practices follow on from each other: relationship leads to healing, and healing leads to discovering and practicing servant gifts in the Body, which leads to ongoing equipping and training for life and ministry in Christ. We look at what is ‘equipping’ and then how we practice it.

WHAT is the practice of equipping?

John Wimber made Paul’s words, “Equipping the Saints” (Eph 4:12, King James Version), a ‘mantra’ in Vineyard Churches. This is what he wanted to be known – the phrase is on his tombstone! It’s meaning was reduced to ‘equipping the saints’ for healing ministry: that all believers can lay hands on the sick, not just leaders. But Paul meant that the gift ministries of Christ are to equip the saints for LIFE and ALL kinds of ministry. This priority & practice of equipping/preparation for life and ministry is part of spiritual warfare: God’s Church is his ARMY that enforces evil’s defeat, already suffered at the hands of Jesus.

What does this equipping mean? Paul’s word katartizo in Eph 4:12 is used in Mark 1:19, to “prepare” fishing nets as in knotting the strands. To equip means to prepare people by joining them in right relationships – God’s big fishing net – that the saints can serve in their gifts, to “do works of ministry so that the Body of Christ may be built up.” So, this equipping for all kinds of ministry is about developing one’s gifting, lifting the level of skill and excellence in doing ministry, to best serve God’s people – for his glory! Continue reading Forming (in) Community: The Practice of Equipping

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Becoming the Beloved

Recap: The Life of the Beloved 

Jesus’ newly affirmed identity as The Beloved was tested after his baptism in water and the Spirit. The three desert temptations in Matthew 4:1-11 are common to all people, but Jesus overcame them – our model to defeat evil. As Jesus later set his face to Jerusalem to die, the Father ‘broke the sound barrier’ for a second time (on Mount Tabor) saying, “This is my Son, my Beloved, in whom I am well pleased, listen to him” (Matthew 17:5). This confirmed the Life of the Beloved (as Henri Nowen writes in his book by that title), that Jesus’ life – and ours as his Beloved – is Taken, Blessed, Broken and Given. 

Practically, how then do we actually become God’s Beloved?

Henri Nouwen’s key point is that we must listen to the voice that whispers deep inside us, the voice of the Father that proclaims and affirms our Belovedness. We hear so many voices inside and outside of ourselves that continually say, “You are no good, you are ugly, you are fat, you are worthless, you are nobody…” These negative destructive voices reinforce our poor self-image and our self-rejection. To overcome these voices we must continually hear and believe the Father’s voice that says to us (quote from Nouwen, page 30-31):-

“I have called you by name, from the very beginning. You are mind and I am yours. You are my Beloved, on you may favor rests. I have molded you in the depths of the earth and knitted you together in your mother’s womb. I have carved you in the palms of my hand and hidden you in the shadow of my embrace. I look at you with infinite tenderness and care for you with a care more intimate that that of a mother for her child. I have counted every hair on your head and guided you at every step. Wherever you go, I go with you, and wherever your rest, I keep watch. I will give you food that will satisfy all your hunger and drink that will quench all your thirst. I will not hide my face from you. You know me as your own as I know you as my own. You belong to me. I am your father, your mother, your brother, your sister, your lover and your spouse… yes, even your child… wherever you are I will be. Nothing will ever separate us. We are one.” Continue reading Becoming the Beloved

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Prayer & Planning for the New Year – Part Two

Recap from last week:  Why prepare for 2014?

Because God is the God of second chances and new beginnings: “Don’t hold onto the former things… I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, don’t you perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:18-19). Thus we must PRAY to “attune” to God, to work with him in dependence on his power in what he’s doing in our lives. But we must also PLAN – it’s your responsibility, or else others/life will set your agenda and make you overly busy! Live life, live 2014, intentionally from conviction. To do that we need a deeper planning framework

A Seven Step LIFE Planning Framework Continue reading Prayer & Planning for the New Year – Part Two

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Post Resurrection Encounters – Peter’s Call Renewed (Part 2)

The text: John 21:15-23 (continue from previous sermon). The audio is available to listen online or download with notes.

This is Peter’s story: the emotional drama of how Jesus tenderly restores him, renewing his calling to follow… to minister… and to lead. How does Jesus do this?

Firstly, by the miracle of the large catch of fish (John 21:1-14), re-enacting Peter’s first encounter with Jesus, thus renewing his call to follow, form and fish (Luke 5:1-11).

Secondly, by making a fire of burning coals, re-enacting and reversing Peter’s threefold denial, which took place around a fire (read John 13:36-38 cf. John 18:15-18, 25-27).

Reflection: Jesus takes us back to unresolved pain and failure, to relive and resolve it in light of his intervening and healing presence. When & where has this happened for you?

Meditation on John 21:15-23: become silent before God; live into the scene by imagining you’re Peter around the fire, now warm and fed. Jesus probes your depths… the key issue is: Jesus wants to know if you truly love him – love for him to be THE motivation for your life, your following of him, your ministry, and leadership (if you’re a leader)

John 21:15 Why did Jesus use his full formal name, Simon son of John (after he had changed his name to Peter – ‘rock’, strong & stable, John 1:40-42)? Does God ever do this to you? Continue reading Post Resurrection Encounters – Peter’s Call Renewed (Part 2)

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Post Resurrection Encounters in Following Jesus – Peter’s Call Renewed (Part 1)

The audio is available to listen online or download with notes.

The text: John 21:1-23 (following it over two weeks)

This story of Jesus’ encounter with Peter is but one of Jesus’ appearances over a 40 day period (Acts 1:3), proving his bodily resurrection, restoring his followers and weaning them from his physical presence – for them to depend on the indwelling Holy Spirit.

First, note the broad features of this most tender encounter:

  • The setting on the shore of the sea of Tiberias (Galilee) and the miraculous catch clearly connotes Peter’s original call in Luke 5:1-11 (read it and compare)
  • And by making a fire on that cold early morning and asking Peter three times if he loved him, Jesus recreated and reversed Peter’s threefold denial, which took place around a fire (see John 13:36-37, 18:10-27)
  • The implication: Jesus comes to each of us at critical times to restore and heal, often by recreating and reinterpreting what happened (our disillusionment and death), leading to a deeper honesty and self-knowledge, with a profound renewal (resurrection) of our followership and calling to minister (love) in his name

Second, meditate on the details and layers of meaning in the first story (John 21:1-14):

John 21:3 – Why did Peter go back to fishing? What do you ‘go back to’ when disillusioned… ? Continue reading Post Resurrection Encounters in Following Jesus – Peter’s Call Renewed (Part 1)

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Post Resurrection Encounters in Following Jesus – On the Road to Emmaus

The audio is available to listen online or download with notes.

Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection over a period of 40 days (Acts 1:3), proving that he was alive, restoring them from the trauma of his death (renewing faith and following, e.g. Thomas: “my Lord and my God”). The encounters and disappearances weaned his followers from dependence on his physical presence, so that they live by faith in his invisible presence – the indwelling Holy Spirit. The post resurrection stories are paradigms of how Jesus encounters us today by his Spirit, to restore and heal us.

The Two on the Road to Emmaus
Read this beautiful story in Luke 24:13-35 as an exercise in “Lectio Divina

  • Lectio: Read the story slowly and prayerfully, asking God to speak to you… then…
  • Meditatio: Meditate on what God says to you through the reading – whatever ‘grabs’ you, a word or phrase that speaks to you, or an image that fires your mind… then…
  • Oratio: Pray orally (or mentally) about your meditation on the text; i.e. respond to God by praying about what he says to you in the text via your thoughts, feelings… and then…
  • Contemplatio: Contemplation is the last step in Lectio Divina, moving from mediation and prayer to complete silence – beyond thoughts, images, words, feelings – to the still point of simply resting in God’s most intimate and loving embrace.

To help you ‘feed off’ this story – and for discussion in your home group – here are some pointers for meditation (the best is to relive the story in your imagination):

Reconstruct the context in your mind: it’s the Sunday that Jesus rose, they are walking home depressed, traumatized by Jesus’ death, confused by reports of him being alive… their Kingdom hopes utterly dashed. How have you been disillusioned? Continue reading Post Resurrection Encounters in Following Jesus – On the Road to Emmaus

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Exploring Membership – Session 6 (with Notes)


Listen to the audio of the Sermon for Session 6

We have looked at:

    1. Jesus and his first community – to follow Jesus was to join his local group;
    2. The Early Church – initiation into Christian faith (in baptism) meant belonging in the local church;
    3. Three Sociological models of ‘doing church’ and their underlying values – we do ‘centered set’ church;
    4. Our Ministry Framework – our mission, vision, values, priorities and practices (the circled triangle); and its structured implementation via HELP (Holistic Equipping Life Process) and the People’s Flow chart.

    Also attached is some accompanying notes about Home Groups: 20130317 – Exploring Membership 6 Notes Continue reading Exploring Membership – Session 6 (with Notes)

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    Post Resurrection Encounters in Following Jesus – Thomas’ experience

    The sermon audio is available to listen online or to download (updated).

    Last week we remembered and relived the resurrection in John 19:38-42;20:1-23 (Pope Francis said in his ‘Resurrection Homily’ that Mary’s tears at the empty tomb were her “glasses” through which she saw Jesus ever more clearly. Our tears of sadness, loss, trouble, pain, etc, are a gift to see God ‘in all things’).

    Mark (Mark 16:9-14), the earliest Gospel, says Jesus appeared to various people after his resurrection, re-affirming the call and commission to follow, form and fish.

    Luke says (Acts 1:3) the risen Jesus revealed himself to many over a period of 40 days (before He ascended to heaven) teaching them about the Kingdom of God. He was weaning them from dependence on his physical presence, to live by faith (not by sight) in his invisible presence: His indwelling Holy Spirit.

    Thomas’ encounter with Jesus (John 20:24-30)

    Firstly, what is the significance of his followers recognizing and identifying Jesus by the marks of crucifixion – His scars (that he will have throughout eternity)? Continue reading Post Resurrection Encounters in Following Jesus – Thomas’ experience

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    Audio for ‘Exploring Membership’ Teachings

    A quick explanation regarding the audio teachings (MP3s) that accompany the notes of Exploring Membership with Following Jesus. I’ve received numerous requests for the audios. Our church is in process of changing the audio upload from the old website ( to the new one ( Hopefully it will be operational next week.

    Continue reading Audio for ‘Exploring Membership’ Teachings

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    Exploring Membership with Following Jesus: Session 2


    We looked at following Jesus, which meant joining his community: Following Jesus… in community… for others (one reality in three inseparable values). Jesus told them to “go, make followers…” How did the early church do this? What did belonging in community (‘church membership’) mean in this context?

    Continue reading Exploring Membership with Following Jesus: Session 2