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Archive for August, 2010

What Happened? – Gospel for Asia

August 31st, 2010 No comments

Someone once said that within the timeline of any movement, the original life, passion and vision would be sustained about 25 years. The excitement, freshness and newness are on a basic uphill incline up to that point. After that, things will begin to change. There will be more of a plateau effect on the distinctive of the movement.

During the early days of my ministry with Operation Mobilization, I heard its founder, George Verwer, speak about the problem of losing vision and passion. He said, “God raises up a man with a vision and heart for God, and that becomes a movement. Then it turns into a machine. Then it ends up becoming a monument, and it is history. It is dead.”

This is exactly what happened to the YMCA, the Salvation Army and most mainline denominations, such as Methodist, Lutheran and Moravian. What glorious beginnings they had under godly leaders! But now look at some of the mission organization of the past and see—where are they today? The vision, the burden and passion are gone.

Unfortunately, I have found this to be true in organizations I have known. But the greater question to ask is when will we ever learn from others failure? Let us take a look at what changes.

Radical Becomes Conventional

In the secular world, a business’s generation is also said to last about 25 years, after which freshness and vision—and thus success—decline. Japanese organizations, however, have manipulated this time frame through education and structure changes. They begin to implement changes after only about 10 years, before people become set in their ways and find difficulty adapting to change. In this way, businesses are perpetually moving on, without losing their edge and success in the industry.

After a certain point in the life of a movement, things somehow shift into “maintenance” mode. The life that was once radical is now a part of the past, a part of history; now the goal is simply to “do it the way we’ve always done it.” What was once a fresh, flexible way of doing things now becomes a hard, stiff structure of rules, regulations and bylaws that we build around ourselves to feel some sort of protection.

Individuals now have positions on a variety of levels—some you can approach directly and others you cannot. By the time you attempt to go where you want within the organization, the structure is so complex you almost need a road map to navigate the maze!

A movement that has gone from radical to conventional is no longer regulated by vision and faith; instead, the decisions that come out of it are based on careful calculations of the lowest risk possible. Prayer meetings become planning meetings. Simple, childlike faith is replaced with smart, business-oriented brains. Change becomes nearly impossible because the ball and chain of bureaucracy is too strong.

This shift has happened to some of the finest movements in the history of the Church. Even right now there are some that are going through a terrible crisis. And we should not think that, regardless of the organization with which we serve, we are immune to this change. It can happen to us!

Keep in mind—I am not saying that structure is wrong. With the growth of any movement, structure is vital, for you cannot function without discipline. The last verse of the book of Judges says, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). The next verse in the Bible is Ruth 1:1, which says, “. . . there was a famine in the land.” No army can survive without discipline. No nation can survive without discipline. And no organization can survive without discipline.

But what I am talking about is the heart. The danger we must avoid is not discipline and structure, but replacing love, enthusiasm, freedom and empowerment with laws, regulations and power-based structures. When that happens, do you know who pays for it? The lost world . . . and our children who are growing up within the context of our ministries.

This entry was written by K.P Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia, with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

 

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The Correct Focus – Gospel for Asia

August 30th, 2010 No comments

One of these well-meaning actions, for example, is taking on work that God did not give to us, just because the need is so great, the opportunities seem unlimited, and we are driven by urgency.

I know for our ministry, the need is absolutely huge, mind-boggling. We need to get the Gospel to so many people before they die and are lost for eternity. So it is logical and reasonable to be absolutely committed and fully involved in doing everything we possibly can to reach the lost. But if we do this independent of Him, our love for and intimacy with the Lord begin to fade away and our ministry cannot be pleasing to Him, no matter what kind of fruit it is producing.

As a ministry, we have found that the safest thing we can do is to come into the Lord’s presence and draw closer to Him, that we may know His ways and follow His lead. In the beginning of our ministry, we would ask the Lord, “What more can we do?” Now it is different. As one of the fastest-growing movements, we are continually challenged and confronted with so many things we could do. So much so that our major concern has become, “Lord, what should we not do?”

Another independent action that results in the loss of intimacy and love for the Lord is when we fail to stop and ask Him how He wants His work to be done.

Oftentimes, meeting the current needs becomes more important than how ministry is done. It is in response to necessity that we often create new structures, new systems, new leaders and new training, and we just keep being pulled in all kinds of directions. It is easy to be so consumed by the immediate that it eventually becomes the focus.

This entry was written by K.P Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia, with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

 

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How All is Lost – Gospel for Asia

August 26th, 2010 No comments

There will come a time when each of us and the ministry the Lord gave us to do on this earth will be tested by fire (see 1 Corinthians3:13). Only that ministry which was done in His way will last. It does not matter what it may have looked like on this earth, it does not matter how well-known it may have been or how much fruit it may have seemed to produce. If it was not done as unto Him, it was not done in His way and it will not stand in eternity. My brothers and sisters, I share this message with you soberly, knowing how easy it is to run about with our own ideas and our own agendas. Everything can look so good and we can seem to be running on the right track. But if our understanding toward ministry has moved from being one of ministry unto Him to getting results, building a name and serving the people, we are dangerously off course.

How is it that, even in ministry, we can lose our first love?

It all begins when we neglect to come into His presence and sit at His feet. It is in His presence that we grow in our understanding of Him and His ways, and are equipped to go and carry out the ministry He gave us to do. Our lives take on the atmosphere of living moment by moment waiting, listening for His voice and being sensitive to Him, seeking to do what He desires.

But when we walk away from this, unfortunately it doesn’t mean that all ministry screeches to a halt. In fact, the “ministry” can seem to carry on as usual. The need is still there. The people are still there. Yet when we choose to carry on without waiting before Him, we take the first step off of the right road. We may take well-meaning actions to see the ministry continue, but they are independent actions if not born out of His presence.

This entry was written by K.P Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia, with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

 

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How the Job Was Done – Gospel for Asia

August 25th, 2010 No comments

In 2 Chronicles, we find the story of King Asa, ruler of Judah. Having inherited the throne from his father, King Asa tore down all the idols of foreign gods early in his reign and commanded the people to seek the Lord (see 2 Chronicles 14:2–5). Soon thereafter, an army of 3 million men and 300 chariots attacked Judah. With only a mere 580,000 men comprising his army, King Asa quickly called everyone before the Lord and prayed, “LORD, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. O LORD, you are our God; do not let man prevail against you” (2 Chronicles 4:11, NIV).

The Lord was faithful to deliver that great army into King Asa’s hands—because he looked to and depended upon Him. The Lord also granted his nation 20 years of peace after that battle.

But oftentimes, the way we start out is not always the way we finish. And this is the reason why I seek to remind us that dependence upon the Lord is an absolute necessity if our lives are to bear any good fruit. We will never come to a place at which we will no longer need to look to God, depending fully on Him to provide strength, life and power. No matter what comes or goes, this spiritual truth remains central to the work of God in us and through us.

Twenty years after experiencing God’s faithfulness, King Asa is faced with another battle. Baasha, the king of Israel, begins to attack Judah by walling in the city, letting no person or supplies in or out. King Asa panics and quickly sends word to the King of Aram, asking him to break treaty by attacking Israel, forcing King Baasha to abandon his attack on Judah to defend his own country. The king of Aram does so, King Baasha flees back home to fight off his new enemy and Judah is kept safe (see 2 Chronicles 16:1–6).

This entry was written by K.P Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia, with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

 

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It Is Relational – Gospel for Asia

August 25th, 2010 No comments

The third characteristic that marks the beginning of any movement of God is that everything happens through relationship, just as we see in the book of Acts (Acts 2:42, 44–47).

When Jesus sent the disciples out to the villages, He sent them two by two, not one by one (Luke 10:1). If you look in the Gospel of John, beginning with chapter 13, Jesus gives His disciples some final instructions before He goes to the cross. But the crux of His message has nothing to do with world evangelism, changing the world, the reality of hell, how to start an organization or a list of rules. All He simply said was, “If you love one another, the world will know you are My disciples.” His prayers, His concern had everything to do with this one truth.

And how did Paul do his work? Read his epistles, and you will find such phrases as these: “This brother greets you,” or “this sister greets you”or“the church in your house (see Romans 16:23, 1 Corinthians 16:19, Colossians 4:15). And at the end of each letter there always seems to be a list of names tagged on. You will always find relationships working here. Paul’s life and ministry have everything to do with working with others.

We are commanded to forgive one another, to bear one another’s burdens. Look at Romans 12 and Philippians 2, as well as other Scripture portions that deal with our relationship toward one another in the Body of Christ. You will see clearly that this is how God works. This is His plan to get things done.

This entry was written by K.P Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia, with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

 

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Transformed – Gospel for Asia

August 18th, 2010 No comments

Think about the apostle Paul after he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. Most believers did not want to have anything to do with him. “He’s dangerous,” they believed (see Acts 9:21, 26). But then you see Barnabas enter the scene, put his arm around Paul and vouch for his integrity to the early church (Acts 9:27). And Paul, who had once worked tirelessly to persecute believers in Jesus and eradicate all traces of Christianity, becomes totally transformed into one of the greatest apostles who ever lived. How did this happen? Not all in one day, but in a process that took time, starting with 14 years out in the wilderness.

In our early days, when we thought about recruiting staff members, we had no application form or interview process. I’ll never forget the day when one couple just showed up on our doorstep with their little baby in their arms, ready to serve God with us. I never even thought to ask him for references! It was all so fresh and amazing.

You’ll find that same wonder, awe and fear of God in the beginnings of any organization. God just brings people—no forms to be filled out—He works in their lives and changes them, and then uses them to change others. It is a continuous, perpetual motion in which somehow things just keep happening. Nobody stops to think about how! You see, God is always more concerned about people than about what they can do. And if we follow Him, He will make sure that we keep this in mind. God’s approach is always from the inside out (Luke 11:39–40; Psalm 51:6). Character is the important thing. If this is taken care of, the rest will follow.

Jesus’ only requirement for those who wanted to be His disciples was that they obey and follow (Matthew 16:24). He did not ask about anything else. He knew, like a potter, that if the clay would submit, He could mold and transform it to become the most precious vessel to be used for His kingdom.

This entry was written by K.P Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia, with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

 

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Yielded Vessels – Gospel for Asia

August 17th, 2010 No comments

A couple of years ago at our Bible school in Bangladesh, one man who served as a cook at the school desired to enroll in classes so that he could become a missionary. His heart for the Lord was great, but unfortunately, he did not meet the minimum education needed to be admitted into our Bible school. When the head principal heard about the cook’s desire to serve the Lord but that he was unable to attend the school, he told the cook that if he wanted, he may sit in on the Bible classes after he finished his cooking duties.

The cook was thrilled with this idea. So every morning and afternoon, as soon as he finished all his responsibilities in the kitchen, he attended bits and pieces of as many classes as he could to learn as much as possible. Soon the school year was coming to a close, with 18 smart, strong, young men ready to graduate from the Bible school and start their mission work. But the first new church in the area was not planted by one of the graduates. The first church was planted by the cook! And after he planted his first church, he turned it over to one of the graduates and went off to start another!

A classic biblical example of God using an ordinary person is found in the life of Noah. Never having built a boat before, Noah had absolutely zero qualifications to do so. But in Genesis 7:5, we find out why Noah was successful in the ark’s construction: “And Noah did according to all that the LORD commanded him.” Because Noah completely depended upon the Lord to show him what to do, the ark withstood 40 days of the greatest storm the world has ever known. The boat held up against all the beatings of the storm and finally came to rest, with all its animals safe and sound. The Titanic was built by men who knew what they were doing. It was specially designed by experts to be unsinkable. Men bragged about the wonderful ship they had built. Yet on its first voyage ever, it ran into an iceberg and men, women and children drowned in the ice-cold sea.

From David to Noah, we see that the only qualification to be used by God is absolute dependence on Him. These men were simple, yielded vessels looking to God alone, never relying upon mere human strength, experience or skill. Because of that, God was able to display His greatness through their lives.

This entry was written by K.P Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia, with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

 

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In His Name Alone – Gospel for Asia

August 16th, 2010 No comments

The ministry that was first done unto Him and out of their love for Him now began operating under a different intent. If we are not careful, we can become so consumed with serving the ministry God gave us and forget the Lord Himself.

This is why He cries out to them (paraphrase), “Repent and return to your first love. Then continue with the ministry I have given you. Minister because you love Me. Whatever you do, do it as unto Me.”

What is doing the Lord’s work in the Lord’s way? We must properly define it so that we may be able to attain it.

In Matthew 25:40 (KJV), Jesus defines true ministry—doing the Lord’s work in His way—in one simple sentence: “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

Christian ministry, by nature, affects and benefits humanity. We serve God by serving people. The ministry that God has called you to is never isolated from the people He has placed in your life. However, there is a balance that must be kept in Christian service. It is not just a balance of external priorities, what is done first and what is done second, but one that runs much deeper and is the well out of which all ministry springs. It is the attitude of the heart.

Doing the Lord’s work in His way is living in the awareness that whatever we are doing, whatever ministry the Lord has called us to, forever we maintain the understanding that we do it unto Him. Our service must be rooted in Him, motivated by our love for Him and done with the desire to exalt His name and His name alone.

This entry was written by K.P Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia, with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

 

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Wearing Thin – Gospel for Asia

August 11th, 2010 No comments

After this, a general message from the Lord was given for everyone in the meeting. The essence of the message was, “You are extremely busy in doing My work and meeting the desperate need of the lost world. You sacrifice and suffer for Me. I am very happy and very pleased with what you are doing for Me. You share My concern, My burden, and I am well pleased. But, at the same time, I am sad because your love for Me is growing thin.” There was no judgment, no condemnation in what God spoke to them. But those words changed the entire agenda for their meeting.

Instead of seeking solutions on how to handle the work, their first priority became just to stay in the place of prayer and worship and draw closer to Him. At the next meeting place, a similar incident happened. God began to speak the exact same message through someone else.

Discerning that this was a serious matter on the heart of God, the leaders called for everyone throughout our work to take time and personally seek the Lord concerning this message. When I heard what had happened and all that had taken place, I began to think deeply about what the Lord had said during these meetings. It reminded me of what He spoke to the church of Ephesus. He commended them for all the good work they were doing, but then, just like in our leaders meeting, He said, “I am sad also.”

I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless, I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works (Revelation 2:2–5, emphasis mine).

In the midst of intense work and ministry, the Lord was saddened. Why? Because their love for Him was fading away. Nothing about their ministry had changed. The Lord said that He had seen their work, their labor, the patience and endurance that they had in it all. He commended them for their work and the lives they were affecting. But somehow, in it all, their hearts had changed. My brothers and sisters, we can be in the same danger.

This entry was written by K.P Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia, with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

 

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God Uses Ordinary People – Gospel for Asia

August 10th, 2010 No comments

God desires to do the same in our lives as well, if we would only trust, lean and rely fully upon Him. Like David, we do not need to have a long list of credentials to qualify us to be used by God—simple dependence upon Him will do. Second Corinthians 4:7 says, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” The treasure spoken of in this verse is God within us. All the treasures of heaven are ours as a gift, to partake of and share with others but held in simple “earthen vessels”—you and I. The NIV translation calls us “jars of clay.” God wants us and the world to know that the treasure, the power and everything good that flows out of our lives come from Him, not from us. The jar of clay cannot produce water in and of itself; it can only be used to pour out what it has been filled with. God’s treasures flow out of us as we depend upon Him, the source of all good things.

Even though we live in a world today in which people are professionals and specialists, with doctors trained to do only certain types of surgery and Ph.D.s with a lot of knowledge in one specific area, God still looks past credentials, searching above all else for a heart that will depend upon what He can do.

In fact, all throughout Scripture it seems God uses the foolish things of this world to confound the wise. That’s exactly what 1 Corinthians 1:27 (KJV) says, “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.” Numerous times, God finds an ordinary man or woman whose heart is fully dependent upon Him and works through that person in extraordinary ways, showing His power and might and bringing Him alone the glory and honor.

This entry was written by K.P Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia, with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

 

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