Thursday, September 03, 2009



Are you in? Are you in far? And, are you inviting others in?

What are the benefits of being in, being in far and inviting others in? The benefits are all summed up in the person of Jesus. Over the years we have come to understand the following:

FIRST-Religion cannot regenerate a person's heart-not Christianity, not Islam, not Judaism, not Buddhism, not any.

SECOND-Churchianity cannot regenerate a person's heart-not the presbytists, nor the episcolics, nor the bapterians.

THIRD-Only Jesus has the power to regenerate and fill a person's heart with life that eternally satisfies.

Jesus is not into converting you to a religion, but wants a personal relationship with everyone on planet earth. Religion is mankind trying to avoid going to hell in order to go to heaven. Relationship is mankind saying, "I've been to hell and I don't want to go back!" Jesus offers Himself. It's like man says: "Jesus, I have a problem. It's me!" And Jesus says: "Man, I have the solution. It's me!"

He offers Himself as our SALVATION. Salvation is not what many make it out to be-a membership card into heaven or proof of fire insurance to keep you out of hell. Salvation is so much more than that! Check out this partial list of what salvation is:

1. To make wide-freedom from stuck, from distress-free to be! 2. God will come through on your behalf-wait and see mighty deeds! 3. Safety & Security-to maintain life unafraid of numerous dangers! 4. Healing-emotional/physical well-being-Wholeness! 5. Constant loyal love-genuine love that seeks restoration! 6. Destroys purposes of evil forces-You can count on it! 7. Distinguishes Himself as the God of gods! 8. God's unconditional love in action-He is relentlessly courting us! 9. Proactive presence of God among His people! 10. Death is a doorway to the presence of God! Only one who can save like this is worthy of our devotion! His name is Jesus!

God isn't calling you into Christianity, churchianity or some unique spiritual club. He is calling you into the fellowship of Jesus and His people. Believers in the 1st century "were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer" (Acts 2:42). God wants us to do the same today.

Listen in on Jesus' prayer about the fellowship: I spelled out your character in detail to the men and women you gave me. They were yours in the first place; then you gave them to me, and they have now done what you said. They know now, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that everything you gave me is firsthand from you, for the message you gave me, I gave them; and they took it, and were convinced that I came from you.

They believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I'm not praying for the God-rejecting world but for those you gave me, For they are yours by right. Everything mine is yours, and yours mine, and my life is on display in them. For I'm no longer going to be visible in the world; they'll continue in the world while I return to you. Holy Father, guard them as they pursue this life that you conferred as a gift through me, so they can be one heart and mind as we are one heart and mind. As long as I was with them, I guarded them in the pursuit of the life you gave through me; I even posted a night watch and not one of them got away, except for the rebel bent on destruction (the exception that proved the rule of Scripture).

Now I'm returning to you. I'm saying these things in the world's hearing so my people can experience my joy completed in them. I gave them your word; the godless world hated them because of it, because they didn't join the world's ways, just as I didn't join the world's ways. I'm not asking that you take them out of the world, but that you guard them from the Evil One. They are no more defined by the world than I am defined by the world. Make them holy-set apart for a mission-with the truth; Your word is truth. In the same way that you gave me a mission in the world, I give them a mission in the world. I'm consecrating myself for their sakes so they'll be truth-consecrated in their mission.

I'm praying not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me because of them and their witness about me. The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind-just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, so they might be one heart and mind with us. Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me. The same glory you gave me, I gave them, so they'll be as unified and together as we are-I in them and you in me. Then they'll be mature in this oneness, and give the godless world evidence that you've sent me and loved them in the same way you've loved me.

Father, I want those you gave me to be with me, right where I am, so they can see my glory, the splendor you gave me, having loved me long before there ever was a world. Righteous Father, the world has never known you, but I have known you, and these disciples know that you sent me on this mission. I have made your very being known to them-who you are and what you do-and continue to make it known, so that your love for me might be in them exactly as I am in them (John 17:6-26).

He wants you in! He wants you in far! He wants you to be inviting others in! Make fellowship a verb in your life!



After all is said and done, there is more said than done! Now, what are the action steps that must be taken in light of the fellowship principle? I believe there are three questions that must be answered-four decisions that must be made-in order to activate the fellowship principle.

First, ARE YOU IN? The phrase "in Christ" occurs approximately 167 times in the New Testament. It's a technical term that speaks of your relationship with Jesus. Just as you put something into an envelope and it envelops that something, so you have been placed "in Christ" and are completely enveloped by Him. When God looks upon you, He sees Jesus. This is why it is said that "there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). Being "in Christ" means that you have a personal, faith relationship with Jesus, the Christ-you have placed all that you know that you are into all that you know that He is.

Why is being "in Christ" so important? Well, in addition to all of the salvation issues that are available through Jesus, there is another reason. Being "in Christ" places you on a different elevation-a spiritual perspective on life, because all is not as it seems in this world. When you are "in Christ", you learn to move to a different drumbeat than the world system around you-walking, thinking, loving and talking like Jesus. You become one with the greatest revolutionary ever! Then, you are in a position to really make a difference in your world!

Second, ARE YOU IN FAR? Being "in Christ" is an interesting dynamic. It's a relationship and therefore must be cultivated. Many believers in Jesus are content to stop at being "in Christ" and not progress any further. The result is that most believers are content to sit, soak and sour in the pew. Once you become "in Christ" you begin a meaningful, spiritual journey. This journey is all about fleshing out the person of Jesus into your lifestyle. Every day you walk, think, love and talk like Jesus, you allow Jesus to be seen and experienced one more day by those around you.

Being "in far" requires that you don't attempt to grow it alone. It requires that you gather other believers around you as partners who become your support system, encouraging and exhorting you in growing your personal relationship with Jesus. Being "in far" is your relationship with the people of Jesus.

But why is "being in far" so important? It is so important because there is a war going on out there in the universe between good and evil-between God and the Evil One. You cannot fight this war alone, but must have the strength of a small group of believers who stand with you-a covenant community.

A community of believers is galvanized by making covenants to one another. It is amazing how simple agreements and commitments to one another provide a bonding power among the participants. These covenants may be agreements to pray for certain things for a certain time period, going on a mission trip together, producing an event, or agreements to go through a study together. This is the fellowship principle!

I have been grappling with how to apply this multiplication strategy in my own life-purpose. So, in the spirit of the fellowship I asked 3 other men to come alongside me to be with me and to turn the fellowship into an active verb. As we came together, we (and our wives) we entered into a 45 day prayer covenant. We have entered into a covenant with one another to be faithful to the following:

1. To embrace the principles of Jesus as a lifestyle. 2. To mentor men and women in the Jesus lifestyle. 3. To believe God for the raising up of leadership world-wide. 4. To empower the youth of our world. 5. To restore the broken, poor, fallen, abused and addicted. 6. To serve everyone everywhere.

This small community of believers must answer two functional questions: First, are you willing to minister to anyone God brings your way? This may not be as easy as it seems. When God brings a drug dealer your way, are willing to minister to him? When a porn addict shows up on your doorstep, are you willing? What about the druggie, the drunk, the communist, the terrorist; are you willing to minister to anyone God brings your way? You may be the answer to someone's prayers.

Second, are you willing to be ministered to by anyone around you? This is even a more difficult question. Most people find it easier to minister to someone in need than to be ministered to by anyone around you. Years ago, I had it set up in a Sunday morning Easter service for the ushers to come forward bringing wash basins. I announced that we were going to experience the washing of one another's feet. The shock was incredible! Most had no problem with washing someone else's feet, but were very resistant in allowing someone to wash their feet. That was just too much! Someone you don't even know may be the answer to your prayers.

Third, ARE YOU INVITING OTHERS IN? At the end of each of the Gospels and at the beginning of the book of Acts Jesus commissioned His followers to do one thing-MAKE DISCIPLES! His command is still as relevant to us today. We are to be making disciples-inviting others into a personal relationship with Jesus. He gave 3 action-steps to do this:

First, make disciples by going. This is the principle of initiation. We as the fellowship are to pray for God to attract others to the light-to raise up laborers for the harvest. We are to actively set our hearts toward that end.

Go in the fellowship of Jesus (Are you in?). Go with the fellowship of Jesus (Are you in far?). Go tell of the fellowship in Jesus (Are you inviting others in?).

Second, make disciples by baptizing. This is the principle of identification. As the fellowship we are to identify the people God raises up as disciples of Jesus. The identification process will mean inviting them into the fellowship.

Third, make disciples by teaching. This is the principle of instruction. As the fellowship we are to teach all of the principles of Jesus to the ones who have been identified as disciples. As we continue to teach disciples of the principles of Jesus the cycle starts all over again for each new disciple and the fellowship grows like a mustard seed grows. You have a vital role to play in this great war! Are you in? Are you in far? Are you inviting others in? Who are the "others" we must be inviting in?

We have identified 5 groups of people that God brings our way. 1) The Enquirers who are actively seeking answers to life. They show up by the process of elimination-nothing else works. 2) The Restless who are on empty, lost, compensating and coping. They are caught up in the rat race of life, but somehow know that even if they win they will still only be a rat. 3) The Religious who have a heart to do right, but are burdened-down with religiosity! 4) The Stuck whose life and/or relationships are out of control. Life is not working. 5) The Wounded who are broken, poor, fallen, abused or addicted. Most often, the wounded will be found among the enquirers, the restless, the religious and the stuck. Remember, Jesus came to seek and to save the sick and wounded!

All of the above are the prisoners in the great war between good and evil-between God and the Evil One. The fellowship principle is all about setting prisoners free!

When you come together, be aware of the needs of everyone around you-believer and non-believer alike. The prophet Isaiah speaks of the Messiah's mission when he writes: "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; to comfort all who mourn, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified" (Isaiah 61:1-3). If you are to be a follower of Jesus Christ (the Messiah), you must follow His mission.

Jesus told the Twelve: "And as you go, proclaim, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' 'Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons" (Matthew 10:7-8).

If you aren't in a fellowship today, pray for that experience for yourself. Then, PRACTICE BEING IN A FELLOWSHIP with one another!