Thursday, August 28, 2014

LifeLines #3

Feeling depressed, anxious or stressed?  

LifeLines offers biblical wisdom as a source of HOPE for today and tomorrow.



Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.  Philippians 4:8

You have heard it said, "You are what you eat."  Well, the same is true for what you think. Your thought life is like fuel that drives the engine of your beliefs and behaviours.  You put bad fuel in and you run the risk of 'engine problems' by distorting what you believe about yourself and damaging the way you behave towards others.  I once heard a youth worker say, "You take normal kids and fill their minds with abnormal ideas, you will produce abnormal behaviour."  While this sounds obvious, it is extraordinary how many people do not make the connection between the way they feel and the stuff they feed their minds.  It is no surprise then that the Bible speaks so much about renewing our minds and guarding our hearts.  If you want to change the way you think, you need to be selective in what you will allow to fill your mind.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Who Do You Pray For?

Sitting in the Worship Gathering at Tabor College this morning, we were introduced to a time of prayer by one of the lecturers who shared an interesting conversation he had with a student about the dichotomy he experienced in prayer.  The student reflected, "With my Anglican friends we pray for the world.  Whereas, with my Pentecostal friends we pray for each other." What an insightful contrast!  

This immediately caused me to reflect upon my own church context, "Who do we pray for?  Is the focus of our prayer others or ourselves?"  Neither prayer focus is wrong, but it seems to me that one without the other is incomplete.  As I extend this reflection to whom Jesus prayed for, I see no such dichotomy but a union of the two.  In the model of prayer Jesus taught His disciples in Matthew 6, Jesus prayed both for His kingdom and each other.  In the prayer Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane in John 17, Jesus prayed for Himself, the disciples and all believers.

I have often thought that you can tell a lot about the priority of mission by what one prays for.  For the whole body of Christ to effectively engage in mission we need to pray for both.  We need to pray for each other and we need to pray for our world, probably more than ever before! 

Who do you pray for?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Who Is Speaking Into Your Life?

Coming home from an inspiring Men's Retreat gives you much to reflect upon after sitting under godly leadership and enjoying the fellowship of other like-minded men!

The theme of the retreat was "Only Men Aloud", a clever play on words that focused on men finding and using their voices to speak out as anointed men of God.  Guest leader Commissioner Floyd Tidd spoke from the book of Acts to draw on the lives of three men whose relationships with God and each other encourage us to find and nurture "solid brotherly relationships" that speak into our lives.

Based on the three men identified in Acts, we have a pattern for three key relationships we need in our lives...

1.  Paul is the one who is a couple of steps ahead of you - a MENTOR
2.  Barnabas is the one who walks alongside you - an ENCOURAGER
3.  Timothy is the one whose life you are investing into - a PROTEGE

After examining the influence of these three men, the questions were asked, "Who is your Paul?  Who is your Barnabas?  Who is your Timothy?

As I reflect on my spiritual and leadership journey, I am immensely grateful for the key people who have influenced my life, investing in my growth and development.  I am also humbled by the opportunity I have to influence the lives of others, investing into their journey.  Therefore, in the wake of the Men's Retreat I thought it appropriate to honour those who are a Paul to me, encourage those who are my Barnabas, and affirm my commitment to those who are a Timothy in my life today.

1.  Paul (Mentor/s)
There are people whom I consider to be a mentor from afar - Bill Hybels, Patrick Lencioni, John Maxwell, Wayne Cordeiro, Andy Stanley, Erwin McManus, among others, whose writing, speaking and example has provided me with a significant platform of learning for my development as a leader and maturity as a Christian.

Then there are people with whom I meet in person formally or informally from time to time - Pastor Danny Guglielmucci, Pastor Michael Grechko, Majors Len & Marney Turner, Major Sam Hancock.  Their godly and wise leadership teaches and challenges me to become a better leader.

2.  Barnabas (Encouragers)
The people who journey alongside me and I them are a few colleagues and friends with a shared vision and heart for mission and leadership - Major Andrew Craib, Major Gary Grant, Major Nyoman Timonuli, Loren Pratt.

The other people in my life who are very much encouragers for me and whose support and friendship I deeply value - Ian Abbott, Mark Creasey, Chris Garcia.

The person who has and continues to fulfill both roles of Paul and Barnabas for me is my dad - Robert Evans Snr.

And the most significant person in my life who is always alongside me is my wife and partner in ministry - Vanessa Evans.

3.  Timothy (Proteges)
Within my current ministry appointment I have responsibility for the discipleship and development of the next generation of leaders in our church through a program called Corps Cadets - Rebekah Evans, Adam Evans, Jessica Whittaker, Emily Simmonds, Cassie Simmonds, Luke Barratt, Caitlin Barratt, Danielle McMahon, Cassie Janssen, Michaela Dinas. I also fulfil my leadership mantle to "equip the people of God for the work of the ministry" by mentoring and coaching those on our current leadership and ministry teams.

There have been way too many others from previous appointments to name whom I have had the privilege to nurture in their faith journey and invest into their leadership and ministry development. It gives me incredible joy to play a small part in the growth and development of another person.

Such a reflection exercise is a strong reminder of how important godly relationships are in our journey of faith!  I am largely the person I am today because of the people who enlarge me, encourage me and entrust me with a part of their journey.

Who is speaking into your life?

Who is your Paul?  Who is your Barnabas?  Who is your Timothy?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

LifeLines #2

Feeling depressed, anxious or stressed?  

LifeLines offers biblical wisdom as a source of HOPE for today and tomorrow.



Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.  From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.  Psalm 61:1-3

When you are feeling distressed who do you call out to?  Who hears your cry?  As people who have been created to be in relationship with other people, we rightly call out to our peers or professionals for help.  But beyond the human relationships that are so necessary in our lives there is a divine relationship that enables us to call out to someone who is higher than us.  You can call out to someone who is far enough removed that He can see your life from a broader perspective, yet close enough that He knows your inner most needs.  He is strong enough to lift you up when you are down, yet sensitive enough to come alongside you and listen to the cry of your heart.  He is a safe refuge where you can retreat when you are feeling weak and find strength to face any conflict in your life.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

LifeLines #1

Feeling depressed, anxious or stressed?  

LifeLines offers biblical wisdom as a source of HOPE for today and tomorrow.



I lift up my eyes to the mountains - where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lordthe Maker of heaven and earth. - Psalm 121:1-2

Deep within the valleys of life it is easy to become overwhelmed by your surroundings when you are unable to see beyond your immediate circumstances.  Yet, when you lift your eyes above the horizon you see the heights of the mountains emerging out of the valley as a symbol of God's presence and power.  It was on a mountain that Moses encountered the presence of God, empowering him for the demands of leadership.  It was on a mountain that Elijah experienced the power of God, restoring him from a deep state of depression.  It was on a mountain that Jesus manifested both the presence and power of God, strengthening His disciples for the road of suffering ahead.  Lifting your eyes towards the divine source of help will give you a vision of hope that will reveal the same presence and power of God into your circumstances.

Monday, August 18, 2014

3 Warnings For Renewal Movements

Throughout the history of the church there have been significant periods of renewal that have been led by key leaders in response to spiritual revelation or theological breakthrough, usually resulting in the commencement of a new mission movement.  These movements of renewal are often a break-away from the centre of the institutional church and originate from its periphery by a visionary leader.  However, history has demonstrated that every renewal movement runs the risk of being drawn back into the centre of the institutional church when the mission becomes subservient to the mechanics of the organisation.

In his book, The Dynamics of Christian Mission, Paul E. Pierson highlights three warnings that renewal movements should guard against to avoid losing focus of their original vision and being drawn away from their primary mission...

  1. Institutionalization - Pierson warns, "Every renewal movement, including those in which we are involved, faces the danger of institutionalization.  This happens when the maintenance of the institution becomes more important than the original vision of the founders."  If you want to assess whether or not your movement has succumbed to this danger, take a look at what dominates the agenda of a leadership meeting, what consumes the majority of the budget and what is the primary focus of the prayer meeting (assuming there is a regular prayer meeting).  More often than not, managing the growing size and complexity of a mission gets in the way of the original purpose of the movement.  This can turn successes into liabilities when 'where we have been' and 'where we are' becomes the primary focus rather than 'where we are going.'

  2. Power - Pierson further warns that, "Movements also face the danger of becoming powerful both materially and politically."  Combine success with wealth and that which should be a means of empowerment can easily become a means of enslavement, both to the movement and those whom the movement seeks to reach.  Sadly, we don't have to look too hard to find examples of churches and church leaders who start out with all the right motives become intoxicated with misplaced power and misused possessions.  However, if we keep influence and affluence right sized as being a blessing from God to be used for His glory and honour in advancing His kingdom, then this danger can be kept in check.

  3. Popularity - Pierson finally warns, "Movements face dangers when they become popular."  I think it is fair to say that most movements would prefer popularity over persecution.  However, history has also revealed that the integrity of a movement is most at risk during the former rather than the later.  This is because the pursuit or protection of popularity can come at the expense of purpose, exposing the movement to a number of compromises that arise from conflicting expectations.  While persecution is an undesirable state of being, opposition has a way of crystalising the mission.  In seasons of popularity, we need to be careful not to allow the applause of people to become more alluring than the approval of God. 
Renewal movements have been vital to the advancement of God's kingdom throughout the history of the church and will continue to play an important role in fulfilling the Great Commission.  Therefore, we must guard the integrity and impact of new mission initiatives against these three dangers if they are to continue to function as a dynamic movement of God instead of a static monument to the church.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Blessing In Fellowship

While reading one of my text books for this semester of study I stumbled across a very interesting context for the word "blessing."  The author asserts that, "Blessing in the Bible is something that unites men and women with God and each other and brings them into a permanent fellowship" (Paul E. Pierson, The Dynamics of Christian Mission).

In this context, the meaning implies that blessing has little to do with individual "divine favour and protection" (as defined in the Oxford dictionary) and more to do with divine communion that fosters unity and intimacy between God and His people - "I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one - I in them and you in me - so that they may be brought to complete unity" (John 17:22-23).   Immediately after reading this I began to wonder how this definition of blessing would apply to the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:1-12 where being 'blessed' is the central theme... 

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
  • The blessing of the kingdom of heaven is fellowship within God's community.
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."
  • The blessing of comfort is fellowship with God's Spirit
"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth."
  • The blessing of inheritance is fellowship in God's kingdom
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."
  • The blessing of abundance is fellowship at God's table
"Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy."
  •  The blessing of mercy is fellowship with God's heart
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God."
  • The blessing of intimacy is fellowship in God's glory
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God."
  • The blessing of adoption is fellowship in God's family
"Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
  • The blessing of the kingdom of heaven is fellowship within God's community 

Blessed are those who live in complete unity with God and His people, who are embraced by the love of the Father, who experience the grace of Jesus Christ and who enjoy fellowship with Holy Spirit! 

Published in October/November 2014 edition of JAC:  Journal of Aggressive Christianity

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Charter Of Justice

"Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed." - Psalm 82:3

Defending the weak does not exploit a position of power but journeys alongside in a spirit of humility.
Defending the fatherless does not patronise but displays empathy.
Upholding the cause of the poor not only provides welfare but addresses the issues behind poverty.
Upholding the cause of the oppressed not only alleviates distress but addresses the issues of injustice.

"Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow." - Isaiah 1:17

Doing right is not conditional upon popular opinion or political advantage but a moral alignment with a holy God.
Seeking justice is not determined by social, ethnic or religious status but a shared humanity with a just God.

"He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk Humbly with your God." - Micah 6:8

To Act Justly...

Lord God, stir in our hearts a holy indignation for injustice. May your righteousness so burn within our spirits that we are compelled to stand up for the vulnerable, defenceless and voiceless of our society. Open our eyes and hearts to the injustices of our world. Challenge our own attitudes and actions that may inadvertently contribute to injustice.*

To Love Mercy...

Lord God, may we not only be a people who speak up for truth, but be a people of grace that displays your mercy and kindness to a lost and hurting world. Give us a deep compassion that sees people the way you see them, so that we may serve them as you would. Soften our hearts and quicken our hands so that we may “do for the least of these” as though they were Christ.*

To Walk Humbly with your God...

Lord God, give us “the same attitude as that of Jesus Christ” who humbled himself “taking the very nature of a servant”. Remove any pride that would cause us to think more highly of ourselves than we ought. Restore within us a right image of ourselves so that we may see what our Creator sees. May everything we think, say or do bring glory and honour to you, O Lord!*

* Prayers taken from my book 'Divine Conversations - A Journal of Prayer" -

- See more at: