Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Gratitude

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Rejoice. Be glad. It is His gracious command, for the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8.10).

Pray. It is His generous promise, for whatever we ask the Father in the name of Jesus, He may give it to us (John 14.13; 15.16; 16.23).

Give thanks. It is His good precept, for His steadfast love endures forever (Psalm 118.29).

Gratitude is the habitual attitude when our humble and contrite heart experiences His grace and mercy. It is therefore the culture of the Kingdom of God. It is also a sign of maturity as a man/woman of God.

Gratitude begins as a belief, a belief that God the Father, the Son, and the Spirit is absolutely good to us personally and individually. Gratitude as a belief expresses itself in words and acts of thanksgiving to God. They, in turn, produce the habit (attitude) of gratitude.


It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night,
to the music of the lute and the harp,
to the melody of the lyre.

(Psalm 92.1-3)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Africa's Next Boom

The following presentation is a TED talk by Charles Robertson on Africa.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Ninety-Five Theses

Schlosskirche Wittenberg

The following is the translated text of The Ninety-Five Theses on the Power of Indulgences, from Blue Letter Bible at blueletterbible.org.

Out of love and concern for the truth, and with the object of eliciting it, the following heads will be the subject of a public discussion at Wittenberg under the presidency of the reverend father, Martin Luther, Augustinian, Master of Arts and Sacred Theology, and duly appointed Lecturer on these subjects in that place. He requests that whoever cannot be present personally to debate the matter orally will do so in absence in writing.

  1. When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said "Repent", He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance. 
  2. The word cannot be properly understood as referring to the sacrament of penance, i.e. confession and satisfaction, as administered by the clergy. 
  3. Yet its meaning is not restricted to repentance in one's heart; for such repentance is null unless it produces outward signs in various mortifications of the flesh. 
  4. As long as hatred of self abides (i.e. true inward repentance) the penalty of sin abides, viz., until we enter the kingdom of heaven. 
  5. The pope has neither the will nor the power to remit any penalties beyond those imposed either at his own discretion or by canon law. 
  6. The pope himself cannot remit guilt, but only declare and confirm that it has been remitted by God; or, at most, he can remit it in cases reserved to his discretion. Except for these cases, the guilt remains untouched. 
  7. God never remits guilt to anyone without, at the same time, making him humbly submissive to the priest, His representative. 
  8. The penitential canons apply only to men who are still alive, and, according to the canons themselves, none applies to the dead. 
  9. Accordingly, the Holy Spirit, acting in the person of the pope, manifests grace to us, by the fact that the papal regulations always cease to apply at death, or in any hard case. 
  10. It is a wrongful act, due to ignorance, when priests retain the canonical penalties on the dead in purgatory. 
  11. When canonical penalties were changed and made to apply to purgatory, surely it would seem that tares were sown while the bishops were asleep. 
  12. In former days, the canonical penalties were imposed, not after, but before absolution was pronounced; and were intended to be tests of true contrition. 
  13. Death puts an end to all the claims of the Church; even the dying are already dead to the canon laws, and are no longer bound by them. 
  14. Defective piety or love in a dying person is necessarily accompanied by great fear, which is greatest where the piety or love is least. 
  15. This fear or horror is sufficient in itself, whatever else might be said, to constitute the pain of purgatory, since it approaches very closely to the horror of despair. 
  16. There seems to be the same difference between hell, purgatory, and heaven as between despair, uncertainty, and assurance. 
  17. Of a truth, the pains of souls in purgatory ought to be abated, and charity ought to be proportionately increased. 
  18. Moreover, it does not seem proved, on any grounds of reason or Scripture, that these souls are outside the state of merit, or unable to grow in grace. 
  19. Nor does it seem proved to be always the case that they are certain and assured of salvation, even if we are very certain ourselves. 
  20. Therefore the pope, in speaking of the plenary remission of all penalties, does not mean "all" in the strict sense, but only those imposed by himself. 
  21. Hence those who preach indulgences are in error when they say that a man is absolved and saved from every penalty by the pope's indulgences. 
  22. Indeed, he cannot remit to souls in purgatory any penalty which canon law declares should be suffered in the present life. 
  23. If plenary remission could be granted to anyone at all, it would be only in the cases of the most perfect, i.e. to very few. 
  24. It must therefore be the case that the major part of the people are deceived by that indiscriminate and high-sounding promise of relief from penalty. 
  25. The same power as the pope exercises in general over purgatory is exercised in particular by every single bishop in his bishopric and priest in his parish. 
  26. The pope does excellently when he grants remission to the souls in purgatory on account of intercessions made on their behalf, and not by the power of the keys (which he cannot exercise for them). 
  27. There is no divine authority for preaching that the soul flies out of the purgatory immediately the money clinks in the bottom of the chest. 
  28. It is certainly possible that when the money clinks in the bottom of the chest avarice and greed increase; but when the church offers intercession, all depends in the will of God. 
  29. Who knows whether all souls in purgatory wish to be redeemed in view of what is said of St. Severinus and St. Pascal? (Note: Paschal I, pope 817-24. The legend is that he and Severinus were willing to endure the pains of purgatory for the benefit of the faithful). 
  30. No one is sure of the reality of his own contrition, much less of receiving plenary forgiveness. 
  31. One who bona fide buys indulgence is a rare as a bona fide penitent man, i.e. very rare indeed. 
  32. All those who believe themselves certain of their own salvation by means of letters of indulgence, will be eternally damned, together with their teachers. 
  33. We should be most carefully on our guard against those who say that the papal indulgences are an inestimable divine gift, and that a man is reconciled to God by them. 
  34. For the grace conveyed by these indulgences relates simply to the penalties of the sacramental "satisfactions" decreed merely by man. 
  35. It is not in accordance with Christian doctrines to preach and teach that those who buy off souls, or purchase confessional licenses, have no need to repent of their own sins. 
  36. Any Christian whatsoever, who is truly repentant, enjoys plenary remission from penalty and guilt, and this is given him without letters of indulgence. 
  37. Any true Christian whatsoever, living or dead, participates in all the benefits of Christ and the Church; and this participation is granted to him by God without letters of indulgence. 
  38. Yet the pope's remission and dispensation are in no way to be despised, for, as already said, they proclaim the divine remission. 
  39. It is very difficult, even for the most learned theologians, to extol to the people the great bounty contained in the indulgences, while, at the same time, praising contrition as a virtue. 
  40. A truly contrite sinner seeks out, and loves to pay, the penalties of his sins; whereas the very multitude of indulgences dulls men's consciences, and tends to make them hate the penalties. 
  41. Papal indulgences should only be preached with caution, lest people gain a wrong understanding, and think that they are preferable to other good works: those of love. 
  42. Christians should be taught that the pope does not at all intend that the purchase of indulgences should be understood as at all comparable with the works of mercy. 
  43. Christians should be taught that one who gives to the poor, or lends to the needy, does a better action than if he purchases indulgences. 
  44. Because, by works of love, love grows and a man becomes a better man; whereas, by indulgences, he does not become a better man, but only escapes certain penalties. 
  45. Christians should be taught that he who sees a needy person, but passes him by although he gives money for indulgences, gains no benefit from the pope's pardon, but only incurs the wrath of God. 
  46. Christians should be taught that, unless they have more than they need, they are bound to retain what is only necessary for the upkeep of their home, and should in no way squander it on indulgences. 
  47. Christians should be taught that they purchase indulgences voluntarily, and are not under obligation to do so. 
  48. Christians should be taught that, in granting indulgences, the pope has more need, and more desire, for devout prayer on his own behalf than for ready money. 
  49. Christians should be taught that the pope's indulgences are useful only if one does not rely on them, but most harmful if one loses the fear of God through them. 
  50. Christians should be taught that, if the pope knew the exactions of the indulgence-preachers, he would rather the church of St. Peter were reduced to ashes than be built with the skin, flesh, and bones of the sheep. 
  51. Christians should be taught that the pope would be willing, as he ought if necessity should arise, to sell the church of St. Peter, and give, too, his own money to many of those from whom the pardon-merchants conjure money. 
  52. It is vain to rely on salvation by letters of indulgence, even if the commissary, or indeed the pope himself, were to pledge his own soul for their validity. 
  53. Those are enemies of Christ and the pope who forbid the word of God to be preached at all in some churches, in order that indulgences may be preached in others. 
  54. The word of God suffers injury if, in the same sermon, an equal or longer time is devoted to indulgences than to that word. 
  55. The pope cannot help taking the view that if indulgences (very small matters) are celebrated by one bell, one pageant, or one ceremony, the gospel (a very great matter) should be preached to the accompaniment of a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a hundred ceremonies. 
  56. The treasures of the church, out of which the pope dispenses indulgences, are not sufficiently spoken of or known among the people of Christ. 
  57. That these treasures are not temporal are clear from the fact that many of the merchants do not grant them freely, but only collect them. 
  58. Nor are they the merits of Christ and the saints, because, even apart from the pope, these merits are always working grace in the inner man, and working the cross, death, and hell in the outer man. 
  59. St. Laurence said that the poor were the treasures of the church, but he used the term in accordance with the custom of his own time. 
  60. We do not speak rashly in saying that the treasures of the church are the keys of the church, and are bestowed by the merits of Christ. 
  61. For it is clear that the power of the pope suffices, by itself, for the remission of penalties and reserved cases. 
  62. The true treasure of the church is the Holy gospel of the glory and the grace of God. 
  63. It is right to regard this treasure as most odious, for it makes the first to be the last. 
  64. On the other hand, the treasure of indulgences is most acceptable, for it makes the last to be the first. 
  65. Therefore the treasures of the gospel are nets which, in former times, they used to fish for men of wealth. 
  66. The treasures of the indulgences are the nets to-day which they use to fish for men of wealth. 
  67. The indulgences, which the merchants extol as the greatest of favours, are seen to be, in fact, a favourite means for money-getting. 
  68. Nevertheless, they are not to be compared with the grace of God and the compassion shown in the Cross. 
  69. Bishops and curates, in duty bound, must receive the commissaries of the papal indulgences with all reverence. 
  70. But they are under a much greater obligation to watch closely and attend carefully lest these men preach their own fancies instead of what the pope commissioned. 
  71. Let him be anathema and accursed who denies the apostolic character of the indulgences. 
  72. On the other hand, let him be blessed who is on his guard against the wantonness and license of the pardon-merchant's words. 
  73. In the same way, the pope rightly excommunicates those who make any plans to the detriment of the trade in indulgences. 
  74. It is much more in keeping with his views to excommunicate those who use the pretext of indulgences to plot anything to the detriment of holy love and truth. 
  75. It is foolish to think that papal indulgences have so much power that they can absolve a man even if he has done the impossible and violated the mother of God. 
  76. We assert the contrary, and say that the pope's pardons are not able to remove the least venial of sins as far as their guilt is concerned. 
  77. When it is said that not even St. Peter, if he were now pope, could grant a greater grace, it is blasphemy against St. Peter and the pope. 
  78. We assert the contrary, and say that he, and any pope whatever, possesses greater graces, viz., the gospel, spiritual powers, gifts of healing, etc., as is declared in I Corinthians 12 [:28]. 
  79. It is blasphemy to say that the insignia of the cross with the papal arms are of equal value to the cross on which Christ died. 
  80. The bishops, curates, and theologians, who permit assertions of that kind to be made to the people without let or hindrance, will have to answer for it. 
  81. This unbridled preaching of indulgences makes it difficult for learned men to guard the respect due to the pope against false accusations, or at least from the keen criticisms of the laity. 
  82. They ask, e.g.: Why does not the pope liberate everyone from purgatory for the sake of love (a most holy thing) and because of the supreme necessity of their souls? This would be morally the best of all reasons. Meanwhile he redeems innumerable souls for money, a most perishable thing, with which to build St. Peter's church, a very minor purpose. 
  83. Again: Why should funeral and anniversary masses for the dead continue to be said? And why does not the pope repay, or permit to be repaid, the benefactions instituted for these purposes, since it is wrong to pray for those souls who are now redeemed? 
  84. Again: Surely this is a new sort of compassion, on the part of God and the pope, when an impious man, an enemy of God, is allowed to pay money to redeem a devout soul, a friend of God; while yet that devout and beloved soul is not allowed to be redeemed without payment, for love's sake, and just because of its need of redemption. 
  85. Again: Why are the penitential canon laws, which in fact, if not in practice, have long been obsolete and dead in themselves-why are they, to-day, still used in imposing fines in money, through the granting of indulgences, as if all the penitential canons were fully operative? 
  86. Again: since the pope's income to-day is larger than that of the wealthiest of wealthy men, why does he not build this one church of St. Peter with his own money, rather than with the money of indigent believers? 
  87. Again: What does the pope remit or dispense to people who, by their perfect repentance, have a right to plenary remission or dispensation? 
  88. Again: Surely a greater good could be done to the church if the pope were to bestow these remissions and dispensations, not once, as now, but a hundred times a day, for the benefit of any believer whatever. 
  89. What the pope seeks by indulgences is not money, but rather the salvation of souls; why then does he suspend the letters and indulgences formerly conceded, and still as efficacious as ever? 
  90. These questions are serious matters of conscience to the laity. To suppress them by force alone, and not to refute them by giving reasons, is to expose the church and the pope to the ridicule of their enemies, and to make Christian people unhappy. 
  91. If therefore, indulgences were preached in accordance with the spirit and mind of the pope, all these difficulties would be easily overcome, and indeed, cease to exist. 
  92. Away, then, with those prophets who say to Christ's people, "Peace, peace," where in there is no peace. 
  93. Hail, hail to all those prophets who say to Christ's people, "The cross, the cross," where there is no cross. 
  94. Christians should be exhorted to be zealous to follow Christ, their Head, through penalties, deaths, and hells. 
  95. And let them thus be more confident of entering heaven through many tribulations rather than through a false assurance of peace.

http://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/luther_martin/theses/95theses.cfm

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Church

The Church is an unstoppable force of the good for the beautiful by the true. It never stops growing, multiplying, extending its reach and transforming every segment of society it touches.

The Church is the body of Christ whose head is Jesus the Risen King, whose life is the Holy Spirit, and whose allegiance is with the Father.

The Church is the ambassador for Christ, sent into the world with the Great Commission.

The Church is the image of Christ in the world, covenanted in the Great Commandment.

The Church represents the Kingdom of God whose culture is gratitude and generosity.

The Church is a fellowship of faith, bringing liberty to the oppressed and imprisoned.

The Church is a community of love, leaving behind the wake of life.

The Church is a beacon of hope, overcoming darkness with light.

The Church is a city set on a hill. Its work of grace and truth is displayed for His glory.

The Church is an oak of righteousness. It presence in the nation is undeniable.

The Church is the pillar of truth who is the steward of the Gospel, the power of God for salvation.

The Church is the bride of Christ given a beautiful headdress.

The Church is the gathering of the redeemed given the oil of gladness.

The Church is the assembly of worshipers given the garment of praise. Its creative expressions of worship send powerful shock waves that shift the foundations of all spiritual realms.

The Church is the family of new creations with true and pure hearts designed to see God, proclaiming the year of the LORD’s favor.

The Church is the chosen race, created in Jesus Christ for good works, destroying the works of the devil.

The Church is the royal priesthood, offering the sacrifices of praise to the One Triune God.

The Church is the holy nation, set apart for the ministry of reconciliation.

The Church is the people for God's own possession, proclaiming the excellencies of Him who called His people out of darkness into His marvelous light.

This is the Church.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I Have Something to Teach!

During our pastoral training, we heard more than once from our students that they now had something to teach. With the theological and ministry foundation and framework they gained from our training, they were able to see the bigger picture, clearer paths and more concrete steps they would want to take to lead others in discipleship.

It is God's design that we need one another. We believe in sola scriptura, but we need the body of Christ to learn how to live by the Book. Even though we are ultimately discipled by the Lord Jesus, we sharpen each other. God speaks to us individually and personally, but we still need the voices of others to instruct us to walk in the manner worthy of the Lord.

As always, while sharing with them the knowledge and experience we have gained in life and ministry, we were blessed and recharged by the vitality of their faith and their hunger for God and His Kingdom. It is truly a privilege to be part of their ongoing effort to take the Gospel to unreached towns and communities of Ethiopia.


Students (ministry leaders) in Shashemene


Ethiopian trainers

During a coffee break

In class session

donkey


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

2013 Pastors Training (Vision Leadership Institute)

Pastor Girma of Medhane-Alem Evangelical Church, Seattle
and Pastor Josh of Overlake Christian, Redmond, WA

Vision Leadership Institute has been a vision of Pastor Girma Desalegn for many years.

This year, it has bore the first fruit of 101 graduates from the Institute with the diploma in Biblical studies. I was privileged to witness to the result of this collaborative effort between the American and Ethiopian bodies of Christ!

Earlier in March, I was invited to take Pastor Josh's place on the 2013 training team. Pastor Josh McQeen and his Overlake Christian Church have been a vital partner of Vision Leadership Institute since its inception. In his absence, I became the instructor of the one-week intensive course in systematic theology.

It is Pastor Girma's vision to provide free high-quality training in theology, Biblical studies, pastoral ministry and leadership for those ministry practitioners in rural areas of Ethiopia. Most evangelists, that is, non-ordained pastoral staff, and many pastors in rural churches cannot afford formal pastoral training which is available in Addis. And yet, they are on the front line of outreach to reach towns and communities dominated by the Muslim faith and other spiritual forces such as witchcraft.

Vision Leadership Institute is beginning to meet this critical spiritual need of the Ethiopian believers. It is the result of the Kingdom-minded collaboration among pastors, churches and Christian organizations both here in the States and in Ethiopia:

Medhane-Alem Evangelical Church, Seattle, WA
Overlake Christian Church, Redmond, WA
Cascade Community Church, Monroe, WA
Evangelical Church Fellowship of Ethiopia [association of Evangelical denominations in Ethiopia]
Acts 8 Ministries
Global Training Network
One Challenge USA

Through Evangelical Church Fellowship of Ethiopia, pastors from various denominations have taken the lead and ownership of the in-country operation of the Institute. Better equipped Ethiopian pastors have been appointed as "master trainers" to lead ongoing training locally throughout the year. The American training teams provide one-week intensive courses.

I am very excited for us to take part in this joint Kingdom adventure!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter 2013


The cross of Jesus was a victory.

His death destroyed the one who had the power of death.

His cross purchased our pardon, our redemption, our freedom.

But Death could not keep Him in the grave.

On the third day, the dawn of a new week, He rose from the dead.

Death is no longer the end for One Man. It is now powerless before Him.

Jesus is risen and declared the Son of God in power, Lord of glory, King eternal, the Holy One.

The resurrection of Jesus breathes life back into love, faith and hope.

Love always triumphs over doubt, faith over disbelief, hope over despair.

Good wins, in the end, always, even in our world.


May your Easter be filled with the power of our risen Lord!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday

Once upon a time...

There was a powerful kingdom. It was rich in natural resources and beauty. Its people were peaceful and prosperous. Then evil came. Death ruled unchallenged in the land. Despair, disbelief and doubt enslaved the people of the once magnificent realm. The power of Death was final. None in all of the vast kingdom could stand up to it.

A familiar fairy tale...In the world of fairy tales, good always wins.

However, in our world, the power of Death is invincible.

Jesus of Nazareth walked on earth 2,000 years ago, speaking of the Kingdom of God, of the love of God the Father and of life and freedom. He was the friend of sinners, outcasts, marginalized, poor and weak. He said that was the heart of God. Jesus was good.

Then He was crucified. Politicians, religious leaders and the masses banded together and demanded His execution. The Devil was on their side. "Crucify Him!"

So He was arrested, scourged, crucified, dead and buried.


It's Good Friday, commemorating the death of Jesus, who His followers thought was the Messiah, the Christ, the Promised One, the Savior.




Friday, March 15, 2013

Death

When Jesus left earth,
He sent the Holy Spirit to live in us,
thereby multiplying exponentially His presence and power among us.
 
We are made in His image.
He in us and we in Him.
If death had no power over Him, it has no power over us.
Even in the death of his saints,
death is defeated-
because just as the death of Jesus resulted in power being released,
so is power released when His beloved leave their place here.
 
Their absence calls to mind their virtues.
Their memory beckons to our desire,
and their love calls us to action.
 
A seed dies, and a mighty tree grows.
Oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Krissy on Mercy: Unraveled.

A good friend of ours has posted a powerful insight from her mission field.

Krissy on Mercy: Unraveled.: “ I’m feeling unraveled .”  I’ve heard this statement several times in the last few days… from others, and from my own mouth. The image t...

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Fellowship of Hope

A Christian fellowship exists to bring the Kingdom of God on earth.

This is a fellowship of hope because Jesus is our hope.

Jesus is in us and we in Him. Wherever we go, we can bring the manifest presence of Jesus with His life, love, light, liberty and lordship (five Ls).

This is how we are a fellowship of hope, being the Jesus in the world both individually and communally.

Being fully and inseparably united with Jesus means that we are also a people of hope. We are hopeful as long as Jesus, our hope, dwells in us.

How can we, who know Jesus, remain full of hope when things go wrong, when bad things happen, when we face trials and challenges because of our faith, when we fail, and when our prayers go unanswered?

There are many reasons. For one thing, we remain hopeful because we are destined and ordained to be conformed to the image of Christ, the perfect humanity. Nothing and no amount of failing can stop us from being changed, from one degree of glory to another, into who we are truly meant to be.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)

In other words, we know the end. Indeed, all will be well in the end. Therefore our part is not to win every battle but to stay in the war till the end. This requires strength, determination, character, courage, for sure.

for the righteous falls seven times and rises again (Proverbs 24:16)

from Robin Hood (2010)

Rise and rise again until lambs become lions.

This is from the movie, Robin Hood (2010) with Russell Crowe and Kate Blanchett.

This is a powerful image. If we rose and rose again stronger and more fierce each time, this act alone would bring inspiring hope to the world.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Fellowship

from The Hobbit An Expected Journey 

The Hobbit, the movie based on J.R.R. Tolkien's literary work of the same name, was released over the Christmas break in the States. The first of The Lord of the Rings trilogy that came out back in 2001 was The Fellowship of the Ring. It was about the formation of the band of nine companions.

A Biblical fellowship or koinonia is not unlike the Fellowship of the Ring. It is a community on a mission. Fellowship is far more than a social gathering over a meal! What brought dwarfs, elves, hobbits and men (humans) was the common mission, a critical mission that would seal the fate and the future of the Middle Earth. They were also fighting against the common enemy.

We. followers of Jesus, forming the body of Christ, come from all walks of life. We are of different nationalities, ethnic origins, language groups, socio-economic backgrounds, cultures and traditions. What unites us is the One King to whom we all pledge allegiance. What binds us is our King's commission. We have the common Enemy, Satan and his dark army. Our mission? The ultimate mission of the body of Christ here on earth? To glorify God by bringing the Kingdom of God or the rule and reign of Jesus.

Some would say that our mission is to love God. Yes, it is the Great Commandment which also includes the command to love our neighbors. If we keep the Great Commandment, we will bring the Kingdom wherever we are here on earth.

Some would say that our mission is the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations. Yes. If we fulfill His Great Commission, we will bring the Kingdom wherever we turn men and women into the devoted followers of Jesus.

A Christian fellowship exists to bring the Kingdom of God on earth.

Some might say that the perfect Kingdom of God will not be realized until the second return of Jesus.

I would agree, for this wold still lies under the power of the Dark Lord. But I would also argue that there is more! In fact, there is far more of the Kingdom that we can bring here and now than we are made to believe and settle for. "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8). Do we see the works of the devil in the world today? Then we need to bring the rule and reign of Jesus to destroy them. There is more of His life, His love, His light, His liberty to experience and bring to the world!

A Christian fellowship exists to bring the Kingdom of God on earth.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Our Identity

A few months back, I had an opportunity to listen to a missionary to Albania speak. He spoke on our identity in Christ.

Then a few weeks before Christmas, I spotted a book in my home. I am not sure where it came from or how long it's been sitting in the corner of my home office. It's titled Spiritual Identity Theft Exposed! by Doug Addison. I finally picked it up to see what the book was all about. It's about our true identity in Christ and how it's been stolen.

Discipleadership focuses on our identity in Christ. In fact, we have seen the transformational power of knowing and embracing who we truly are in Christ. Through Acts 8 Ministries, we teach, train, coach and mentor on understanding and living out of our identity.

So I get fired up whenever and wherever this topic comes up!

So who are we really?

We are a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

This is a good place to start the New Year.

We are a different breed of human being, a new species, if you have trusted Jesus. We are united with Jesus. He is in us and we in Him. We are forever inseparably united with Christ.

They may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us...that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one (John 17:21, 23)

Human beings were originally created to bear the image of God. A man and woman were and still are His highest creation. But now in Christ, we have become partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). We are sons and daughter of God the King (1 John 3:1).

We can imagine who we are like as sons and daughters when we look at Jesus the perfect human.

If you study the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) in the Bible, you will begin to see who Jesus was really like. Here are some character qualities of his: humility, courage, integrity, creativity, candor, discipline, humor, strength, peace, wisdom, goodness and faith.

Above all, Jesus was perfectly at ease with who he was. He knew himself. He was never fearful of being exposed. He was open, vulnerable, transparent. He was totally free!

Those in Christ can and are meant to live like Jesus in this world.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

What If...

It is said that it required about 100,000 people to achieve gigantic and historic accomplishments like building the pyramids in Ancient Egypt, constructing the Panama Canal, and landing the first man on the moon.

What if 100,000 followers of Jesus from around the world joined together and offered unified, fervent prayers to the Lord of heavens for Ethiopia?

The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit. (James 5:16b-18)

If a single man's prayer stopped rain for three and a half years and then brought restoration to the land, would the unified prayers of 100,000 men and women restore an entire nation of 90 million people?

The deepest desires of the Ethiopian body of Christ are the same:

  1. To raise and mobilize Ethiopian believers for the worldwide fulfillment of the Great Commission
  2. To see the restoration and well-being of their country
One hundred thousand prayers. One voice for the healing of Ethiopia!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!


One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.