Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Human Hijacking of "Organic"

What is it in our human nature that thinks that we can take something God initiates and make it 'better' and mold it into our own style and paradigms ? And after doing so, claim it was never God after all because of its ineffectiveness?

Time and time again, God grabs our attention with an incredible invasion of our time and space with something that is obviously HIM. His fingerprints show a clearly divine, supernatural, and completely Scriptural initiative.
It doesn't take long before we take what He has begun and try to do it better.
To do it our way, 'the new and improved' marketable and human version. Taking control seems inevitable.
Remember the old Frank Sinatra song; "I'll do it myyyyyyy way!"?
Why do we end up making this same mistake and quenching, or at least watering down, what God is doing time and time again? Why aren't we learning from our past history?

Unfortunately, this is our human nature from the beginning of time, so I may be fighting a losing battle in even writing about it. But I am compelled to. I just can't sit by and see it happen in the simple, organic, missional movement without using my voice, and any influence I may have, to stay the trend of the human hijacking of the move of God.

I've been so privileged to have seen some of the most beautiful areas on earth.
Places of creation that take your breath away in their beauty, vastness, power and impact. The Rain Forest, coastlines, canyons, endless mountains, rich river valley's, forests of vast diversity and splendor, incredible rock creations and colors, rolling prairies, colorful deserts, peaceful meadows...I could go on and on.
I never tire from seeing the intricate beauty and great creativity of God in His creation. It is evident that He is truly the Master Artist!
Seeing His Hand in creation humbles me, exhilarates me, restores me, and awes me. I glorify God for His power, love and attention to details - all for our benefit and His expression of Himself.

I glorify God because it is obvious that it is His creation and His alone! No one could even come close to duplicating what He has already done.

I've also been to many places in the world that are considered to be the greatest creations of humans hands too. Renown cities for their architectural fame and claims to beauty, art and history. Palaces, gardens, cathedrals, art museums, bridges, historical ruins, ports, plazas, monuments, and so many wonders of human ability, talent, knowledge and effort. Great works of human hands, and albeit inspiring, they are in a far limited sense when compared to Gods creations.

The very best humans can offer, is far inferior to the least of God's creation. Like someone once said; "the good is the enemy of the best"!

Humans want to imprint themselves into God's work. We make improvements and adjustments for better "fit". We water it down to lukewarm. We enhance and organize. We put Spirit led initiatives into a system so we don't have to be wondering "what's going to happen today Lord?" We make it strategic and marketable for the masses. We take pride in the work of our hands and minds.

I remember seeing Mount Rushmore for the first time. My exclamation stunned our tour guide when I exclaimed; "Oh, they wrecked that beautiful mountain!" I couldn't understand how anyone could think that those carved human faces enhanced the mountain cliffs that they were carved from!

Being dependent upon Him daily for instructions and guidance takes a lot of time and effort. We have to slow down, listen and often wait.
It's easier, quicker and far more ego flattering, if we make our own way. We take what He started, make the adjustments we think it needs for consistent use and value and put it into action. We then feel good about our imprinting. We like the "new and improved" version because we see ourselves in it. And we like other people to see us in it too.
We are carving our own faces into a smaller version of Mount Rushmore.

When God brings in a manifestation of His will and Presence, it is like a bomb goes off. Chaos! Everything is shaken up. Man made systems of dead works, religion, and gnostic doctrines are exploded into fragments. The status quo is challenged, the equilibrium of a nice comfortable religion is thrown into upheaval, and blinders are removed. God steps in to claim once again; His Purpose, His Plan, His People, His Church.

We have seen this in the current move of God. The organic, simple, missional movement has shaken the status quo of "doing church". It has confronted much of the religious systems that have existed for years.

As the organic, simple, missional movement becomes more known and widely practiced, it inevitably becomes imprinted with human hands. In the process it begins to loose much of what was originally a part of it. How presumptuous and prideful that we as humans think we can always make improvements on God, but we do. The result is the we are far from the original when we do this. We delude ourselves into thinking we're not. Things not even remotely "organic", "simple" or "missional" are being touted as such, and they are far from it! You can read article after article with claims of being organic that are nothing but "same ole, same ole".

Neil Cole talks about this in his books, (Organic Church, Organic Leadership) and in the Greenhouse Training that CMA offers ( He uses the example that when we make a copy, then copy the copy, and so forth, soon the copy is so diluted that the original is completely lost. We are left with a distorted, and vague imitation of the original. We have people now doing this to the organic, simple, movement. They are taking the original, and making copies of copies and calling it organic, simple, missional when it has very little of the original in it. Instead, it has become a revised and humanized version. It's full of imprinting.

One of the greatest aspects of this present move of God, is that it works on the premise that everyone can hear God and do what He says (simple), that He has something to say and wants us to respond (organic), and everyone is invited to share in it if they want (missional).

It believes that God actually can instruct the average Joe/Jane Christian in "the way he should go" that will make an impact of eternal significance. That each person is valuable to "the plans and purposes of God", regardless of ordination and professionality. That we can, and are expected, to walk like Jesus when "He did only that which He saw the Father doing. "

Leadership is seen as serving, self-sacrificing parents who want more for their "kids" than they want for themselves. Leadership that seeks to encourage (you), release (you), empower (you) and launch (you) rather than follow (me), (my) vision, (my) plan for your life, support (me and my). Leadership that really believes in and lives out; "that you may increase" and "I decrease". Church is viewed and participated in as "family", relationally sharing life together, living in natural rhythms and flows - not just having meetings and "doing stuff" together like a work crew.

This is a life and faith of complete dependency upon God as "the author and perfecter of our faith." "Of growing up into all aspects of Him".
Not dependency upon a leader, a church, an organization, a system or institution.
It is a movement of the whole Body of Christ growing into maturity and being available for impact. Each person strategic.

Yup, you and you alone are responsible to read the Bible for yourself, to seek God for understanding and obey what it says. You are responsible to pray and develop intimacy with God on your own. To recognize His Voice above all others because it is so familiar to you. That's maturity. It is a movement of each of us fulfilling our design and purpose in Christ.

"until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13), and "we are to grow up in all aspects into Him" (vs 15.)

Just like snowflakes and grains of sand - no two are exactly alike in their design and formation, and yet in their coming together as one, they seem like one and the same! And in their mass, they are formidable! Believe me, living in Minnesota, one learns the impact of one flake of snow joined with others! It's called a blizzard, and that's impact!!

We have another opportunity in these days to be teachable and trainable by The Spirit so we can fully experience and participate in this incredible time in history. We have choices to make. Will we allow the Spirit free "artistic creation" in our lives, or resort to the comforts of doing it ourselves? Will we choose to take responsibility and mature in Christ, or remain dependent children tossed around? What will we do?

Lord help us!

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Puzzle Master

One of my daughters loves to put together jigsaw puzzles. The huge, challenging 2000 piece kind. I am amazed at her patience and diligence, and even more so, that she actually finds the process both fun and relaxing! For me, the process is frustrating, slow, and frankly a bit overwhelming looking at all those pieces that somehow will fit together and form something recognizable from the chaos of pieces.

My daughter starts doing the puzzle by sorting through the pieces one by one and placing them into piles of similarities. Then she begins to slowly join them together with another piece that has some of the same features but still uniquely itself. Eventually she will find the ones that fit perfectly beside it.
In time, she will have whole areas that are joined and
slowly, the puzzle begins to form into the picture on the box cover.

God is doing the same with us. As the great Puzzle Master, in diligence, patience and purpose, He is forming us into one larger picture of His Kingdom. I'm confident He is enjoying the process of putting it all together piece by piece, group by group into His finished work. He has cut and designed each of us to uniquely fit alongside other pieces and then into groups of resemblance to be joined with still other groups, and eventually into one whole.

Completely strategic and completely His to work out.

Let me give you one story from my own life that illustrates this.

In 1995 we started a 501 c(3) ministry called 'Outreach To The Nations'.
We wanted a "vehicle" of ministry that would encourage and enable people sitting "in the pews" to get out into the mission field and to use their gifts and abilities in Kingdom ministry. No superstars, few if any, professionally trained, none with flashy gifts or notoriety. Just regular, faithful, average Christians loaded with the riches of Christ to share with the world.

Our first trip was to a seminary in southern Brazil. We went down with a team of four guys and me, to do a conference on the Holy Spirit. (I could write a whole lot on what happened in that week on so many levels and topics, but I'll save that for other future blog posts. )

Suffice it say, that God showed up and did all the things He loves to do; heal physically and emotionally, grant deliverance from satanic strongholds, bring conviction of sin resulting in repentance, offer salvation and new life, and to call, empower and release into Kingdom service.

It was powerful, supernatural, incredible, and oh so much fun!

Many students touched and changed as a result of this week, invited us to bring ministry teams to their home regions of Brazil when they graduated from the seminary. I did take teams to a few different areas and had fruitful ministry, but one area proved to be the puzzle piece I was meant to be connected to above the others. It had "perfect fit" written all over it.
I have been going back to this particular region of northern Brazil with teams since 1995, planting people into the Kingdom of God and coming alongside Brazilians in their ministry callings.
Disciples have been made, churches of fellowship formed and established, training, mentoring, equipping, strengthening and encouragement of the work of God have all come from many years of ministry working alongside one Brazilian man that is more than just a "ministry contact". He is closer to my heart than any earthly brother, and we are completely fitted to each other in what we are called to do, and do together. We don't speak the same language or come from the same culture or environment. And yet, we "get" each other and work side by side in union and fruitfulness. It really is a manifestation of the Puzzle Master, working out His purposes in the bigger Kingdom puzzle. Fitting and knitting His pieces together.

When we do see the Puzzle Master's Hand in our life and the strategic connections made for divine purpose, it's encouraging and exciting! We all want to be counted in the larger purposes of God and that is what we were created for.
"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:9-11

The longer I live, the more I am awed by this act of the sovereign formation of His Church, His Bride, His Body. Jesus said, " I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not prevail over it". He is certainly is "doing the work of My Father" even now on earth as He places us in His strategic places of connection. This gives me great encouragement and strength as a lowly little puzzle piece with only limited views of the bigger puzzle formation.