Sunday, January 30

Carta de Pablo a la Iglesia en Guayaquil

La carta "perdida" de Pablo dirigida a la Iglesia en Guayaquil...

Carta de Pablo
Apóstol de Jesucristo

*Apreciada Iglesia de Cristo en la ciudad de Guayaquil:

Tú dices que eres cristiano, y te basas en el evangelio, y estás orgulloso de tu Dios. Conoces su voluntad, y el evangelio te enseña a escoger lo mejor.

Estás convencido de que puedes guiar a los ciegos y alumbrar a los que andan en la oscuridad; de que puedes instruir a los ignorantes y orientar a los sencillos, ya que en el evangelio tienes la regla del conocimiento y de la verdad.

Pues bien, si enseñas a otros, ¿por qué no te enseñas a ti mismo?

Si predicas que no se debe robar, ¿por qué robas?

Si dices que no se debe cometer adulterio, ¿por que lo cometes?

Tú que abominas a los ídolos, ¿tienes ídolos en tu propio corazón?

Jactas de tu conocimiento del evangelio, pero deshonras a Dios con tu desobediencia.


–*Guayaquileños 2:17-24

*ver similaridad con otra de mis cartas, a la que envié a los Romanos, Capítulo 2, versos 17-24

Thursday, January 27

Why I blog

A few days ago the 150,000th page was clicked on the M Blog. I know this isn't a big deal to anyone else, but for me it represents a milestone in something I felt the Lord leading me to do going back several years.

Why do I blog?

Everyone has their own reasons, but four years ago it dawned on me that I was personally doing very little to make disciples of the nations.

For us, Guayaquil is our "Jerusalem", not the ends of the earth. Though we are international missionaries living in a cross-cultural setting, I was personally not doing much of anything to engage our own Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth. What difference was there between what we were doing, and all those other churches out there equally focused almost exclusively on their own Jerusalems?

After some prayer and soul-searching, I decided to try and reach beyond our Jerusalem and begin to impact in at least some small way the Judeas, Samarias, and nations beyond. Blogging is one of the ways we have been able to do this.

Seldom does a week go by that someone reading the "M Blog" has not contacted us personally. Something clicks within as they read. They want to engage in more personal dialog. These people come from all over the world. These readers have questions. They too are seeking how to best win their own Jerusalems, Judeas, and ends of the earth. Sometimes they seek advise. Other times they want to know about materials we use. Over the years, literally dozens have ended up actually coming to Ecuador and serving their 'ends of the earth' through that initial contact made through the blog! We know of at least three families who are currently in the process of transitioning from their lives in the USA to full-time overseas service due to initially stumbling across something shared here on the "M Blog."

Many times a blog post written by myself or others touches upon an aspect that another brother is dealing with personally. Private emails and public comments are exchanged which often stimulate new ideas and function ala Hebrews 10 to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together...but encouraging one another... for more effective service.

Examples of this would be posts like What are we doing here? or Returning to Ecuador being used to encourage fellow laborers out there likewise going through times of questioning their own ministry, and hearing from fellow laborers that, we too, feel and sense these same kinds of weaknesses.

Likewise, I have received from other people's posts key insights, ideas, suggestions which we have used in our own church planting ministry. These examples are almost too numerous to mention. But in this way we are impacting one another's ministries for the good of the Kingdom.

One of the unforeseen ministries that has quietly evolved out of blogging, is the stream of emails and inquiries generated coming in from all over the Spanish-speaking world. Sometimes they are from fellow missionaries, but most come from Spanish-speaking brothers and sisters who have questions and do not know where to turn for answers. There are few resources available in Spanish for the who, what, when, where, and how of simple church, and church planting in general.

I personally observe a swelling tidal wave of people beginning to explore and reexamine the NT in light of church practice--especially related to the "nuts and bolts" of doing simple/organic/house church practice. I have mailed out dozens of copies of our materials over the past few years to church planters all over the Americas. Sometimes I hear back from them, sometimes not. Related to this is a good amount of time spent weekly answering inquiries generated by people passing on posts and information originating from material read on the "M Blog." In this way we are able to have an influence not only our own Jerusalem, but on far-away places which we normally would never have a chance to engage.

As time has gone by, we have added to the blogging other projects to engage our Judea and Samaria that are beginning to yield tremendous fruit. One of these is our "Guayas for Christ" project to reach our Judea.

To engage our Samaria, our church planting team is currently partnering directly/indirectly with several ministry projects which seek to engage overlooked, or marginalized people's in our midst: the abandoned elderly, AIDS victims, street kids (gangs), women in prostitution, delinquent youth, and homosexuals.

This whole Acts 1:8 mindset is being caught by the churches in our network. It is exciting to sit with them over discussions of how they might be able to impact places like India, the surrounding provinces, and the jungles of Peru. Money doesn't seem to be the central issue; rather discernment of the Lord's will, prayer, faith, and how if we sacrificed more, we might be able to send out others as cross-cultural missionaries.

So, in a nutshell, that is why I blog. Thanks for reading and especially for all you do in obedience to engage in the task of making disciples of the nations.

Monday, January 24

"It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast" : THE ORIGIN OF A LOT OUR TROUBLE TODAY

I often wonder how we have managed to stray so far from New Testament practice and yet think we are being Biblical in our way of doing things. We are able to justify just about everything we do and back it up with a string of Scriptures that support our position.

One of my favorite Vance Havner quotes says, "The church is so subnormal that if it ever got back to the New Testament normal it would seem to people to be abnormal." So true! And yet this 'subnormal church' continues to sail along with few daring to ask the difficult question, why. Why do we do what we do?

Years ago I discovered a series of free downloadable audio teachings entitled The Tradition of the Elders by Beresford Job at This series of teachings brought to light many of the perplexing questions that have haunted me over the years. The series is in six parts* (TR1-TR6) and takes a while to listen to, but it is a most enlightening trip through early church history showing how we got from 'there' to where we are today.

It was in this series that I was first seriously introduced to the writings of the early church fathers. I now possess a large quantity of these writings and have spent many a fascinating hour pouring over their words. For me these early church fathers are the key to understanding how we managed in such a short amount of time to shift from the practices and teachings of Christ and the apostles into what we have today.

Take for example, Ignatius the second bishop of Antioch. Here is a direct quote from his epistle to the church in Smyrna written only a few years after John the Apostle died...
See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid. --The Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans, Chap. VIII:22b-25.

The whole concept that the pastor/bishop/elder is God's chosen servant to lead the church, and only the pastor can do certain holy functions does not originate with the teachings of Christ, nor the Apostles, but with bishops (pastors) like Ignatius. It is Ignatius who says that only bishops can baptize and officiate the Lord's Supper, not Jesus or the Apostles. Yet the practice that prevails today is that of Ignatius. His words have been elevated to those of Holy Scripture!

It is Ignatius who opines that bishops/pastors/elders are in separate spiritual classes. His order is clearly...

-God the Father
-followed by Jesus the Son
-then the local bishop
-the presbytery
-the deacons
-the common lay person (you and me)

How does this reconcile with Jesus' own teaching to his disciples in Matthew 20?
But Jesus called them to Himself and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. (26) "It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, (27) and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; (28) just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
To be fair, the Canon of Scripture as we have it today, was not in their possession at the time these and similar words were penned. I don't doubt the good intentions these early church fathers had in writing these kinds of things for the churches of their day. These were difficult days dealing with heresy, persecution, and things we cannot even imagine. There was no Bible to guide them like we have today. What is amazing to me, though, is that these aberrations were not corrected once they did have the complete Canon of Scripture in hand!

Few are aware that many of our church traditions, practices, and commonly accepted teachings we have today do not come from Scripture. Instead, they originate with things taught by the early church fathers, saints like Ignatius. These traditions have been passed down to us over the centuries. Any one questioning the traditions is suspect. But shouldn't it be the other way around? We should judge our traditions and practices by what we find in Scripture!

What do you think?

*If you don't have time to listen to the entire series you might consider starting by fast-forwarding to TR3 and TR4 to get at the heart of the series.

Saturday, January 22

Church in the ashes

Here is a true story I heard yesterday from a fellow Ecuadorian church planter who works in a neighboring region of our province.

After training, Luisa was eager to get started. She had no where to go, and did not know where to start. After praying she was led to a tree. Her first gathering consisted of herself and two other girls. Luisa was ecstatic. She was on her way to becoming a church planter!

Two weeks later, the tree was cut down by the owner of the property. Luisa was devastated. She went to her church planting mentor and cried, "Now, what am I supposed to do? I have no where else to meet. The tree has been cut down."

Her wise mentor told her, "Thank the Lord! He has now provided you with a place to sit! Resume meeting in the branches of the fallen tree."

Luisa did so, and the group meeting continued to meet for a couple of more weeks. All was going well until the owner decided to burn the fallen tree.

Luisa went back and lamented, "Now what are we going to do? The owner has burned our tree. Now we don't have anywhere to sit when we gather."

Her mentor told her, "Go back and continue to meet amongst the ashes. Church is not the place, but the people the Lord has given you to work with. Trust God, He is with you."

Luisa did so. She and her little band of new believers continued to meet in the spot where now only ashes remained.

Meanwhile, the intrigued owner continued to wonder at the group that so faithfully gathered no matter what he did to the tree. Finally, he too began coming to the gatherings to learn more about what was going on.

After a few weeks, he too gave his heart to Jesus. With his new heart, he donated the portion of land where the church had been gathering. Since it is hot out in the equatorial sun, he also decided that it would be nice to build a shelter to meet under as well.

Luisa's "ash church" is the first this year of 25 that my new friend is praying for in 2011.

So many lessons can be learned from this story.

One that registered with me is that God often has to reduce our "trees" (works) to ashes before He can build his church amongst us.

Another goes along with the idea that set-backs, trials and even tragedy are often viewed as detriments to the work. More often than not, they end up being the very means God uses to accomplish His purposes.

What other lessons do you see in this story?

Thursday, January 20

What if church were a verb instead of a noun?

No post today.

The title says it all.

What if church were a verb instead of a noun?

The video below asks some good questions...

Wednesday, January 19

El bautismo en el libro de Los Hechos

A continuación una lista completa de todos los pasajes en el libro de Los Hechos que hablan del bautismo.

Al estudiar los pasajes haga las siguientes preguntas...

¿Cuándo fueron bautizados?

¿Cuál era el requisito para ser bautizado?

¿Quién bautizó?

¿Cuanto tiempo pasó en cada caso entre el haber creido y el haber sido bautizado?

En estos pasajes, qué es más importante, ¿la persona quién bautiza, o el nombre en quién se bautiza?

¿En estos pasajes hay algo que prohibe que una hermana en Cristo pueda bautizar?

Según los pasajes arriba, ¿cuándo sería un caso cuando un pecador se arrepiente y NO se le debería bautizar?

¿Qué podemos aprender en cuanto al bautismo acerca de la práctica de la iglesia en el primer siglo?

¿Tenemos el derecho de imponer otras prácticas o impedimentos al bautismo a las que se observan aquí en estos pasajes del libro de los Hechos, la Palabra de Dios?

Hechos 2:36-41 Sepa, pues, con certeza toda la casa de Israel, que a este Jesús a quien vosotros crucificasteis, Dios le ha hecho Señor y Cristo. Al oír esto, compungidos de corazón, dijeron a Pedro y a los demás apóstoles: Hermanos, ¿qué haremos? Y Pedro les dijo: Arrepentíos y sed bautizados cada uno de vosotros en el nombre de Jesucristo para perdón de vuestros pecados, y recibiréis el don del Espíritu Santo. Porque la promesa es para vosotros y para vuestros hijos y para todos los que están lejos, para tantos como el Señor nuestro Dios llame. Y con muchas otras palabras testificaba solemnemente y les exhortaba diciendo: Sed salvos de esta perversa generación. Entonces los que habían recibido su palabra fueron bautizados; y se añadieron aquel día como tres mil almas.

8:9-13 Y cierto hombre llamado Simón, hacía tiempo que estaba ejerciendo la magia en la ciudad y asombrando a la gente de Samaria, pretendiendo ser un gran personaje ; y todos, desde el menor hasta el mayor, le prestaban atención, diciendo: Este es el que se llama el Gran Poder de Dios. Le prestaban atención porque por mucho tiempo los había asombrado con sus artes mágicas. Pero cuando creyeron a Felipe, que anunciaba las buenas nuevas del reino de Dios y el nombre de Cristo Jesús, se bautizaban, tanto hombres como mujeres. Y aun Simón mismo creyó; y después de bautizarse, continuó con Felipe, y estaba atónito al ver las señales y los grandes milagros que se hacían.

8:34-39 El eunuco respondió a Felipe y dijo: Te ruego que me digas, ¿de quién dice esto el profeta? ¿De sí mismo, o de algún otro? Entonces Felipe abrió su boca, y comenzando desde esta Escritura, le anunció el evangelio de Jesús. Yendo por el camino, llegaron a un lugar donde había agua; y el eunuco dijo*: Mira, agua. ¿Qué impide que yo sea bautizado? Y Felipe dijo: Si crees con todo tu corazón, puedes. Respondió él y dijo: Creo que Jesucristo es el Hijo de Dios.Y mandó parar el carruaje; ambos descendieron al agua, Felipe y el eunuco, y lo bautizó. Al salir ellos del agua, el Espíritu del Señor arrebató a Felipe; y no lo vio más el eunuco, que continuó su camino gozoso.

9:17-18 Ananías fue y entró en la casa, y después de poner las manos sobre él, dijo: Hermano Saulo, el Señor Jesús, que se te apareció en el camino por donde venías, me ha enviado para que recobres la vista y seas lleno del Espíritu Santo. Al instante cayeron de sus ojos como unas escamas, y recobró la vista; y se levantó y fue bautizado.

10:44-48 Mientras Pedro aún hablaba estas palabras, el Espíritu Santo cayó sobre todos los que escuchaban el mensaje. Y todos los creyentes que eran de la circuncisión, que habían venido con Pedro, se quedaron asombrados, porque el don del Espíritu Santo había sido derramado también sobre los gentiles, pues les oían hablar en lenguas y exaltar a Dios. Entonces Pedro dijo: ¿Puede acaso alguien negar el agua para que sean bautizados éstos que han recibido el Espíritu Santo lo mismo que nosotros? Y mandó que fueran bautizados en el nombre de Jesucristo. Entonces le pidieron que se quedara con ellos unos días.

16:13-15 Y en el día de reposo salimos fuera de la puerta, a la orilla de un río, donde pensábamos que habría un lugar de oración; nos sentamos y comenzamos a hablar a las mujeres que se habían reunido. Y estaba escuchando cierta mujer llamada Lidia, de la ciudad de Tiatira, vendedora de telas de púrpura, que adoraba a Dios; y el Señor abrió su corazón para que recibiera lo que Pablo decía. Cuando ella y su familia se bautizaron, nos rogó, diciendo: Si juzgáis que soy fiel al Señor, venid a mi casa y quedaos en ella. Y nos persuadió a ir.

16:29-34 Entonces él pidió luz y se precipitó adentro, y temblando, se postró ante Pablo y Silas, y después de sacarlos, dijo: Señores, ¿qué debo hacer para ser salvo? Ellos respondieron: Cree en el Señor Jesús, y serás salvo, tú y toda tu casa. Y le hablaron la palabra del Señor a él y a todos los que estaban en su casa. Y él los tomó en aquella misma hora de la noche, y les lavó las heridas; enseguida fue bautizado, él y todos los suyos. Llevándolos a su hogar, les dio de comer, y se regocijó grandemente por haber creído en Dios con todos los suyos.

18:7-8 Y partiendo de allí, se fue a la casa de un hombre llamado Ticio Justo, que adoraba a Dios, cuya casa estaba junto a la sinagoga. Y Crispo, el oficial de la sinagoga, creyó en el Señor con toda su casa, y muchos de los corintios, al oír, creían y eran bautizados.

19:1-7 Y aconteció que mientras Apolos estaba en Corinto, Pablo, habiendo recorrido las regiones superiores, llegó a Efeso y encontró a algunos discípulos, y les dijo: ¿Recibisteis el Espíritu Santo cuando creísteis? Y ellos le respondieron: No, ni siquiera hemos oído si hay un Espíritu Santo. Entonces él dijo: ¿En qué bautismo, pues, fuisteis bautizados? Ellos contestaron: En el bautismo de Juan. Y Pablo dijo: Juan bautizó con el bautismo de arrepentimiento, diciendo al pueblo que creyeran en aquel que vendría después de él, es decir, en Jesús. Cuando oyeron esto, fueron bautizados en el nombre del Señor Jesús. Y cuando Pablo les impuso las manos, vino sobre ellos el Espíritu Santo, y hablaban en lenguas y profetizaban. Eran en total unos doce hombres.

Bautismos en Salitre (a media hora de Guayaquil) poniendo en práctica lo entendido de arriba.

Sunday, January 16

My 'Top Ten' favorite books for 2010

Here's my list of favorite reads for 2010. They aren't in any particular order, but all are 5-Star, must-read books. If you force me to choose the best of the ten (and please do not ask me to do so!) I would have to go with the first three titles. But truly each book below is well worth the time it takes to read.

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt was probably the most challenging read of the year for me personally. Click here for a video promo that gives an excellent overview of what this challenging book is about. If you can watch this video and not feel convicted, you are way too immersed in the American Dream!

Church 3.0: Upgrades for the Future of the Church by Neil Cole. Very helpful and practical stuff for anyone involved in organic church planting. To view a short video by Neil about the book click here. This title is an excellent follow-up to Cole's classic "Organic Church Planting."

Heaven by Randy Alcorn. For years I'd heard references to this book but had somehow not gotten around to reading Alcorn's comprehensive study on the subject of Heaven. This book recharged my spiritual batteries like few others have done.

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. After loving his Blue Like Jazz I was eager to read more from this unique writer. This title and the next below, "Through Painted Deserts" were both gems. Check out this video review to see if you too might be drawn in to reading this great book.

Through Painted Deserts by Donald Miller is a book that the author describes as "...the beginning of a long trail of walking away from home, from religion and from an American version of Christianity."

Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer. Whether you agree or not with Joyce Meyer's teachings, I personally found this to be an honest and helpful read. The biggest battles we fight are in our minds and Joyce helps with many practical and Biblical helps.

No Graven Image by Elisabeth Elliot. My own review of this novel that engages the graven images we conjure in our minds about God can be read here.

Sheet Music: Uncovering the Secrets of Sexual Intimacy in Marriage by Kevin Leman. This book is about what the title says it is about, and in vivid detail!

Nobody can tell a story better than Jeffrey Archer. Few things in life bring me as much pleasure as sitting down with anything this man writes. And Thereby Hangs a Tale is his latest and sixth collection of short stories. Each is a gem with ten of the fifteen stories based on true events.

I have read many books over the years about prayer, but Philip Yancey's Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? is one of the best on the subject that I have ever read. In typical Yancey fashion he gets into the tough questions and doesn't try to sugar-coat the answers. If you struggle with your prayer life, this is a great place to find some help. Check out this video if still wondering whether this book is for you.

I still have a pile of books on hand acquired in 2010 that I have yet to get around to reading. I know several of these titles should be on this year's list, but until I actually read them, will have to wait before appearing on any lists!

What are were some of your favorite titles of books read in 2010? Please share in the comments below some of the more meaningful books you read last year.

Saturday, January 15

Anna's Quinceanera

Our daughter turned 15 this past week. Last night we celebrated her Quinceanera with her friends at our house. The following video was part of the festivities last night.

Anna's Quinceanera from Guy Muse on Vimeo

Wednesday, January 12

Modelos para orar en grupos pequeños

Si la oración es tan importante, ¿por qué no oramos más en nuestras reuniones? Para mi la razón radica en que necesitamos nuevos “odres de oración” cuando nos reunimos. Cuando estamos reunidos con otras personas, es importante que las oraciones sean...

...puntuales dirigidas específicamente hacia un solo punto acordado
...participativas con todos participando, y
...variadas, usando una variedad de modelos diferentes para orar

El lugar para orar largas oraciones y abrir el corazón al Señor se hace a solas en su aposento con la puerta cerrada (Mateo 6:5-6.) Allí, en su lugar secreto, ore las horas que guste. El Señor se complace de escuchar todo lo que tenemos para decirle. PERO NO LO HAGA EN LA REUNIÓN PÚBLICA con los otros hermanos presentes!

Para ser sincero, muchas veces los tiempos de oración cansan más que edifican.  Con toda la buena intención, un hermano(a) puede matar al espíritu de una reunión con sus largas oraciones. La razón no es la oración en sí; sino la forma que sabemos orar en público al permitir que una o dos personas oren largas oraciones que nunca terminan. No sé de dónde salió la idea que orar largas oraciones es algo edificante. Al contrario, en la mayoría de los casos ¡pone a dormir a las personas que no aguantan!

Sugerencias para variar la oración cuando estamos reunidos...

• “CANGUIL”: frases cortas de alabanza al Señor oradas con todos participando

• “CADENA”: orar por la persona a su derecha por nombre bendiciendolo y orando promesas de Dios sobre ellos y por sus necesidades

• “CON LISTA”: preparar una lista por escrita y repartida a todos y orar punto por punto en grupos pequeños de dos or tres personas turnándose

• “POR ESTACIONES”: en cada estación (rincón de espacio designado) hay algo específico por la cual orar. Ejemplo: estación 1–alabanza y adoración, 2–gracias por oraciones contestadas, 3–petición específica, 4–otra petición específica, etc.Cada 5-10 minutos se rota a la siguiente estación de oración

• “CONVERSACIONAL”: hacer una lista de temas por la cual orar...anuncia el tema por la cual se va a orar y todos oran sobre ese tema como “conversando” con el Señor...hagan preguntas, etc. No cambiar de tema hasta agotar todo lo que tenemos que conversar con el Señor sobre ese tema

• “DIRIGIDA”: el líder menciona en voz alta una petición o motivo y varias personas oran en voz alta mientras los demás oran en silencio...después que hayan orado dos o tres personas por el motivo, el líder anuncia un nuevo tema y otras personas oran por ese tema (dejando que todos participen)

• “ALTERNADO”: alternar entre orar y cantar...orar-cantar-orar-cantar, etc. Se puede usar papelitos preparados de antemano con motivos de oración

• “BIBLICA”: orar un pasaje de la Bíblia que se presta para ese uso...ej. muchos de los Salmos...lea una frase o versículo y ore el contenido de lo que leyó.

• “COREANO”: todos orando en voz alta clamando a Dios

• “SILENCIO”: todos orando en silencio usando una guia de confesión para autoexaminarse

• “TAIZE”: canto corto repetido...pasaje bíblica leido...y largos períodos de silencio donde dejamos que el Espìritu de Dios nos guie en oración silenciosa

• “MEDITACION” ó “PROMESA”: repetir al unísono en voz suave una frase/versículo Bíblico 7 veces y despúes llevar en oración la petición en contexto de la promesa bíblica que hemos repetido.

• “FORMAR GRUPOS”: formar grupos de 2, de 3, de 5, etc. y por 2-3-5 minutos orar por necesidades expresadas, ej. Formen grupos de 3 y pidan por 3 minutos que el Señor de la mies envié obreros a su mies.

• “EFESIOS 5:19": hablar y orar entre vosotros usando salmos, himnos y cánticos...un buen modelo cuando no queremos llamar la atención de personas ajenas que podrían estar en contra

• “SILLA ELÉCTRICA”: alguien con una necesidad especial es invitado a sentarse en la “silla eléctrica” en medio de todos y los demás se acercan e imponen manos sobre la persona y oran por la persona

• “GUERRA ESPIRITUAL”: destruyendo fortalezas espirituales y amenazas del enemigo...proclamando las verdades de la sangre de Cristo y su poder y dominio sobre las huestes del maligno...usar mucha Biblia para proclamar la verdad de la victoria absoluta de Cristo

• “CAMINATAS DE ORACIÓN”: caminando por un sector y dejando que el Espíritu Santo nos muestre espiritulamente lo que está pasando en la comunidad y orando por todo las cosas que él los haga ver.

• “PADRE NUESTRO”: usar el Padre Nuestro como bosquejo y estructurar la oración en base a lo que Jesús nos enseño a orar

• “A.G.I.C.S.A.”: rotar entre períodos de Alabanza...Gratitud al Señor...Intercesión...Confesión...Súplicas...y Adoración. Se puede mezclar las oraciones con cantos y pasajes Bíblicos relacionados con cada uno de estos temas...EJ. 20-min de alabar al Señor...20-minutos para interceder por otros...20-minutos para confesar pecado y reconsagrar nuestra vida al Señor...20-min para súplicas y necesidades personales...20-min para adorar al Señor

• “ORACIONES LIBRES”: 3-4 personas oren en voz alta oraciones que salen de su corazón

• “ORACIONES ESCRITAS”: existen muchas oraciones conservadas en libros por otras personas que pueden ser oradas

• “ORACIONES ASIGNADAS”: asignar a personas el orar por algo especí puede usar papelitos repartidas a todos donde está escrito el motivo por la cual orar

• “ORACIÓN PROFÉTICA”: dividir los presentes en grupos de dos para conversar un rato, y después orar en silencio el uno para el otro, escuchando lo que le dice el Espíritu Santo por la otra persona...anote en un papel todo lo que crees que está diciendo el E.S. en cuanto a la otra persona y compartalo con la persona

Experimente y ponga a la prueba 3-4 de estos modelos de oración en grupo pequeño. Algunos les serán de más beneficio que otros, pero intente abrirse a nuevas formas de orar. Que el Espìritu Santo le guíe en encontrar formas edificantes y variadas para orar en grupo.

Monday, January 10

New Year's resolutions

Many of us, including myself, use the beginning of the new year for setting goals for losing a few pounds, or getting out of debt. For others taking a needed and deserved vacation somewhere, or buying new furniture and carpet for the den is deemed a worthy goal to pursue during the new year.

But contrary to what many of us might think of as worthy ideals and goals, I have been humbled in the past few days with the responses shared by my Ecuadorian brothers in Christ about what they are sensing the Lord is laying on their hearts to do in 2011.

Here are a few that caught my attention as they were voiced over the past few days...
  • with the Lord's help, I would like to plant 20 new churches this year
  • begin a children's ministry in our community
  • travel as many weekends as it takes out into the neighboring province until a church is planted
  • with the Lord's help, plant 10 new churches this year
  • stop talking about evangelism and start evangelizing each of my lost family and friends
  • open a training center in my barrio to equip pastors
  • equip everyone in our house church to start at least one other house church
  • two things we want to do all year long: fast/pray for the lost, evangelize those we are praying for
  • buy a piece of property out in the jungle so that a multi-use structure can be built for the Indians coming in to town to have a place to stay while being trained/discipled
  • save enough money to be able to go to Haiti this year and help with the reconstruction

Mind you, none of the above are coming from full-time, paid, professional Christian workers. All are from what is commonly referred to as 'lay' people with secular jobs, families to support, and no Bible college or seminary classes. Just people who understand that their Master said, go and that means them, not someone else.

So, what are your New Year's goals for 2011?

Friday, January 7

What is the difference between a small group, cell church, and house churches?

In trying to understand house churches, one question that often comes up is, what is the difference between small groups meeting in homes, cell churches that meet in homes, and house churches (simple/organic) that meet in homes?

Rad Zdero, in his Nexus: The World House Church Movement Reader does about as good a job as anyone in answering this question.
Many believers today participate in 'small groups', such as Bible study groups, prayer groups, accountability groups, affinity groups, etc. However, 'small groups' are often utilized differently in various types of...traditional churches, cell churches, and house church networks. Small groups in all three styles of churches usually meet in homes and encourage the participation of believers. But, that's where the similarities end. While we must clearly recognize and celebrate the hand of God in all manner of churches, there are important differences between traditional churches, cell churches, and house churches that should be understood.

On one end of the spectrum, for instance, is the traditional church...[that] uses small groups (often misnamed 'cell groups')--this can be described as a 'church WITH small groups.'

Further along the spectrum is the cell church that places an equal or greater emphasis on its mission-minded small groups (properly called 'cell groups') compared to its weekly large group services--this can be described as a 'church OF small groups.'

However, the house church network sees each house church as a fully fledged, autonomous, church in itself--'church IS small groups'.

Sunday, January 2

Is God in everything?

Earth's crammed with heaven
And every common bush afire with God:
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it, and pluck blackberries.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, "Aurora Leigh" VII.821-22

Few lines capture as profoundly the mystery of God and his ways.

One of the most remarkable gifts God has given mankind is the freedom to choose. We can choose to see God in every common bush, or we can choose to see bushes and pluck their berries. The choice is ours. How we see the common bushes of life determines how we embrace life and God.

Is God really in every common bush? Is he in the coffee cup sitting by my side, or the laptop sitting on my desk? Is there really such a thing as a "holy telephone" or an "anointed paper clip"? Is that what Browning is trying to say?

I believe she is hinting we have the choice about what we choose to believe about God. We choose our responses to the things that come into our lives. It is like the story of two prisoners gazing out from behind bars – one sees mud and the other sees stars. Life can be seen from either perspective, mud or stars. Seeing things from God's perspective or choosing to see what literally stands before us. Perspective is everything.

When Moses encountered the burning bush in the wilderness what first amazed him, "though the bush was on fire it did not burn up."

When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!" And Moses said, "Here I am."

Does God still call us from the common bushes? I believe He does. But only when we choose to see, hear, and perceive Him in all things. Our response has to be the same as Moses, "Here I am, Lord."

When someone is late for an appointment that we have killed ourselves to be on time for, we have the choice to see a bush "afire with God" or a common bush to sit round and pluck blackberries (and fume!) Our common response is frustration and thinking of wasted time. But if every common bush is afire with God, is there always a spiritual reason or significance for even delayed appointments?

Elisabeth Elliot elaborates on Psalm 16:5, "Lord, You have assigned me my portion and my cup, and have made my lot secure." She comments, "I know of no greater simplifier for all of life. Whatever happens is assigned. Does the intellect balk at that? Can we say that there are things which happen to us which do not belong to our lovingly assigned "portion" (This belongs to it, that does not?) Are some things...out of the control of the Almighty? Every assignment [common bush] is measured and controlled for my eternal good. As I accept the given portion other options are canceled. Decisions become much easier, directions clearer, and hence my heart becomes inexpressibly quieter."

I think the key word in the above wise words is, " I accept the given portion..." As we choose, accept life as it comes assigned to us from a loving Father, we indeed learn to see "every common bush afire with God."

God is with us.
God is for us.
God loves us.
God is here.
God assigns.
God cares.