Thursday, September 24, 2015

ROOTED DISCIPLESHIP BOOK NOW AVAILABLE ON KINDLE

Get "Rooted" and start flourishing as you get established in the truth of God's Word. 


Good fruit (and a healthy tree) starts with a good, healthy root system. If we take time to ensure that our roots are healthy - that we have a good foundation in our lives - it will help to cultivate a stable life that bears good fruit like peace, joy, courage, healthy relationships and wisdom. A tree is known by its fruit, and likewise we are known by our fruit (Matthew 12:33). Good fruit is not an accident and it’s not a spiritual gift either. Rather it’s the result of a good, strong foundation. 


"Rooted" contains 21 discipleship lessons aimed at establishing the you in the essential truths of grace. The topics range from "Relationship with God" to "The Benefits of Salvation", "The True Nature of God", and "The Power of the Word." This is a great discipleship tool for new believers in Christ, but will also refresh and challenge those who have been believers for a number of years. Each lesson contains questions for personal or group study and reflection. 


BONUS: at the end of the book we have included our very popular "Sovereignty of God Study Guide" which has liberated many people to enjoy an even deeper relationship with God.


Rooted is now available on Kindle!

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B015PKBL70?*Version*=1&*entries*=0



If you'd like a hard-copy of ROOTED you can check out our store at www.gracelife.co

Thursday, July 9, 2015

New Covenant Leadership

“Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, "What do you want?" She said to him, "Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom." Jesus answered, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?" They said to him, "We are able." He said to them, "You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father." And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."”
Matthew 20:20-28 ESV

I have read many leadership books and have benefited from them greatly. We can learn something from anyone, even if they are a “secular” leader who is not a believer. But we need to remember that while we are in the world, we are not of the world – we will often be led by God to do things differently than the world would. Jesus presents us with an important truth here in this passage of scripture: He tells us that the world’s leaders often lead through control and manipulation, but this should not be the case with us. The world has a system, a way of doing things, but God’s way of doing things is very different. Jesus made it clear that we should not lead like the world leads when He said, “It shall not be so among you”. Even though the world’s system of leadership may show some fruit, the way that God wants us to lead will always produce better fruit: real and lasting fruit.

Just before Jesus says in this passage that we should lead differently, there is an interesting situation. James and John’s mother asked Jesus if her sons could be the closest to Jesus and sit in a place of authority in Jesus’ kingdom. This was truly a political manoeuvre which upset the rest of the disciples. Obviously every one of them desired to be great, and they were all ready to fight for their positions. But Jesus intervened and redefined their idea of greatness.

The world’s system of leadership is a political one where there is a strong desire for power and control. Its leaders  are more interested in getting a desired outcome and will often stop at nothing to get what they want. There is also a religious system of leadership which attempts to make everything seem right and look good. This system is controlling, has high expectations, and wants things done perfectly. It is also mostly guilt-driven. Both of these systems of leadership focus on using people as tools to accomplish something. In reference to the controlling and unloving systems of leadership, Jesus says “it shall not be so with you.” He’s saying that kingdom leadership looks different to world’s systems of leadership. Jesus goes on to explain the way things should be done: a kingdom-styled leadership, or Jesus-styled leadership.

“…But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Matthew 20:26-28 ESV

Jesus defines great leadership as great serving. This is not the way most people think. He says that a call to great leadership is a call to great serving. John Maxwell rightly defined leadership as “influence”. If you’re influencing someone, you’re a leader. The temptation for many would be to obtain a leadership position (where they have authority over people) and then try manoeuvre people and get them to accomplish something through control, manipulation and guilt-driven tactics, all of which are goal-driven and not at all concerned with people. Leadership is influence - but great leadership is influencing people through serving them. Jesus said it: if you want to be a great leader, then you should be a great server. But He not only said it, He demonstrated it.

In John 13 we see that Jesus “showed them the full extent of His love” (John 13:1 NIV) by wilfully humbling Himself (God in the flesh) to the position of a slave by washing His disciples’ feet. This was not a pleasant task. In Jesus’ day people wore open-toed sandals and walked on dirty, dusty streets. It was a hot climate and they rode or walked with camels and donkeys which would relieve themselves without warning – I am sure they’d end up with animal poop between their toes. And so foot-washing certainly was not a pleasant task, and yet God in the flesh (Jesus) humbled Himself and served His disciples (even Judas, who He knew would betray Him) by cleaning their feet.

This idea of Jesus washing their feet completely offended Peter who declared that Jesus would never wash his feet (John 13:8). This was because he saw leadership as a place to be served rather than a place to serve. Jesus responds to Peter telling him that “unless I wash you, you have no part with me”. Jesus was telling Peter that he needed to accept this kingdom-styled leadership or else he would not get to be a leader in the kingdom.

There is so much more that we could say about this, but the bottom-line is that leadership in God’s system is not controlling, manipulating or guilt-driven. Rather it is motivated by love to serve others (where they are at). When the people we lead see our love for them through our service for them, we will never have to use control, manipulation or guilt to motivate them.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Feeling disconnected at church?

It doesn’t matter how big or small a “church” is, it’s easy to feel disconnected and alone. I have been part of a number of churches, all different sizes. One was 15,000 people, and another was 30 people. In both these churches I felt connected and a part of and in both of these churches I know of people who felt disconnected and alone.

Church is all about relationships; relationship with God and each other.  Many people see church as an organization, and while there is some organization needed, it is primarily a family. That means that relationship should be the thing we value the most, and relationship should be the thing that holds us together, not organization. I am all for being an organized family, but sometimes we can mistakenly value structure and order, or even worship style more than friendship and love.

Ephesians 2:19, (GOD'S WORD® Translation), “That is why you are no longer foreigners and outsiders but citizens together with God's people and members of God's family.”

The church should have a culture of “hanging together in the living room” and of doing life together. We should not have a boardroom mentality and treat each other like members of a club. We’re a family. Whether you like your family or not they are your family. Many people don’t see church like the Bible describes it and as such they do not enjoy the many benefits of church.  

There are many people who don’t have mothers, or have lost their fathers. Church should be a place where there are mothers and fathers – godly men and women who will serve as role models and pillars who can offer advice and input into people’s lives. Church is full of brothers and sisters for us all. We should be seeing each other as such, and treating each other as family, not as members of the same club.

1 Corinthians 12:27 (New Living Translation), “All of you together are Christ's body, and each of you is a part of it.” 1 Corinthians 12:12 (Living Bible), “Our bodies have many parts, but the many parts make up only one body when they are all put together. So it is with the “body” of Christ.”

The Bible also shows us that the church is the Body of Christ. I like that. A body has different parts all with different functions but all towards the same main goal. Your body was created to function in unity. You don’t find one part being jealous of another or wanting to fulfil another role.

  • 1 Corinthians 12: 14-21 (Living Bible), “Yes, the body has many parts, not just one part. 15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And what would you think if you heard an ear say, “I am not part of the body because I am only an ear and not an eye”? Would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 Suppose the whole body were an eye—then how would you hear? Or if your whole body were just one big ear, how could you smell anything? 18 But that isn’t the way God has made us. He has made many parts for our bodies and has put each part just where he wants it. 19 What a strange thing a body would be if it had only one part! 20 So he has made many parts, but still there is only one body. 21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”

That pretty much explains it. In Christ, we are one and we are a part of each other, and we each have a special place in the body, with a special role to fulfil. Many people don’t enjoy church for a number of reasons, but one of the main reasons would be that they don’t know what church is. They don’t know that they have a place in the body, and they don’t realize what their special role is.

The worship service on a Sunday is not church. It’s a gathering together of the church. And it is a vital part of church but it is not all that there is to church. Church is believers doing life together, building strong deep relationships to support one another and bless others, while we together fulfil our commission from Christ to reach the world with the gospel of grace, make disciples and change the world.

Many people feel disconnected in church, and I am convinced it is not because of the size of the church. The size of the church is irrelevant. I have felt connected in churches with 1000’s of people, but disconnected in churches less than 100. I have spoken to many people who have felt disconnected and alone in church and I have heard their reasons and I find many similarities between each person. One person told me they loved the church but were very lonely and were not making any friends. They realized that is was not the church or the leadership at fault when I pointed out that they were too busy to attend Sunday services, they hadn’t been to their LifeGroup in months and they were too busy to get involved. Their desire to be connected was not a priority for them with regards to their time. They soon made adjustments to their lifestyle to make community and family (of church) a priority.  However, not all cases are like this. Sometimes people try their best to be involved and they just don’t get connected. It might be a personality issue or maybe they don’t have anyone in the church at the same life stage as them. I don’t think either is a valid excuse, but they are reasons.  Family is family. You don’t have to be the same age and like the same things to connect with someone, or support and love each other.

Here are a few tips I offer for those who are feeling lonely or disconnected:
1.       Attend church services regularly.
If you’re part of something, be a part of it. It’s popular culture to attend church only when it’s convenient, and for many people that comes to once or twice a month. I’m sure that you are glad that your arm doesn’t decide to stop working on a regular basis. If you heart did that, you’d be dead. Remember that you are a vital part of the body!

Sundays are a great opportunity to meet people, connect with people and reconnect with people you do know. But attending is not enough… step out of your comfort zone and greet people. Go up to them and talk to them. Come earlier and stay longer afterwards. Be brave! If you don’t know what to say, here are some conversation starters to help you. http://www.conversationstarters.com/101.htm

2.       GETTING INVOLVED is a great way to use your gifts, meet people and enjoy being a part of the behind-the-scenes stuff. Remember that you have special gifts which will add much value to the family. There is a place for you to help us fulfil the mission to reach people and help disciple them.

When I was in the 15,000 member church, the only way that I didn’t feel lost was by being involved through serving on a Sunday. I got to know people, make friends and knew that I was helping to add value to the bigger picture.

We could always use a hand with set up, pack up, hospitality, greeting people and especially worship on a Sunday. If you want to get involved on a Sunday, contact your campus pastor or the office. We can also always use help administratively in the week if you could spare a few hours.  Most importantly, ask God to show you how you can be involved, use your gifts and add value. You may not feel that packing out chairs is a good use of your time or gifting, but it is a great place to connect with people! Don’t wait for an invitation. Get a hold of your campus pastor and don’t let them go until they help get you involved.

3.       Join a LifeGroup.
LifeGroups meet weekly to get into the Word, pray together and fellowship. It’s the best place to meet people and do life together. This is family within family. I was a part of 5000 member church once, and the only way I didn’t feel lost was to be a part of a LifeGroup. Each week at church, I sat in the same area with my LifeGroup – this helped the auditorium feel smaller. This group of people became family to me, and yet everyone in the group was more than 15 years older than me, with the oldest being in her 70s. If you are not in a LifeGroup you are missing out. To join a LifeGroup you can chat to your campus pastor.

4.       ASK SOMEONE TO DISCIPLE YOU… discipleship is the process of being established in the Word to enable fruitfulness as a believer. This happens in many different ways (church, Bible Study, LifeGroup, etc) but is also happens one-on-one. All you need is to give an hour or two a week to do “Rooted” (discipleship course) with someone in church. You can ask any leader to go through it with you, or contact the office and they will help you out. Not only will you grow in your relationship with God but you will also get to know someone quite well.

5.       SAY “YES!”… There is no better way to meet people and connect with them if you start saying “YES” regularly. When there is an opportunity to serve or go on a mission or attend a social or have coffee with someone… say “YES!” You may not feel like it. You may prefer being by yourself or staying in your comfort zone, but I promise you, if you just go for it, you will connect with more people and grow. But don’t just wait for people to invite you! Take opportunities to go on trips and camps and serve, and then give others opportunities to say “YES!” bu inviting them for meals or coffee.


If you have been trying your best and have already been doing all these things, and yet you still feel disconnected, then I am sorry! The only thing I can think to say is “don’t give up!” Just keep on doing the right things and trust God! As Galatians 5:6 says, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

Monday, April 20, 2015

Keys To Staying On Track As A Believer

We are seeing such great things happening in our church family! God has a great calling on our lives and ministry, to reach the world with God’s unconditional love and grace through the finished work of Jesus. This message brings restoration and transformation, and will always draw people up to a higher and more abundant life. In chatting to Lameck over the past week we realized that over the past 5 years of GraceLife we have seen the enemy try to distract us and pull us off track – but we are standing strong and moving forward in God’s purposes. We have seen enemy also distract a number of people and sadly, manage to pull them off track. We want to help you stand strong and enable you to keep moving forward!

I want to share a few points that will help you to stay on track and not allow the enemy to pull you off track. God has such great and awesome plans for your life, and for us as GraceLife. I do not want to see you living an unfulfilled life.




The Bible warns us that there will be people (who knowingly or unknowingly) who seek to pull us off track and deceive us. They are used of the devil to derail us from fulfilling God's plan for our lives. For us to discern well and keep ourselves on the right track there are a few safeguards we should have in place. Here are a few simple points that I would like to share with you:
  1. Get grounded in the Word. Be discipled and established in grace. 
    "Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus."
    2 Timothy 2:1 KJV

    "Do not be drawn aside by all sorts of strange teaching; for it is well to have the heart made stedfast (or established) through God's grace, and not by special kinds of food, from which those who scrupulously attend to them have derived no benefit."
    Hebrews 13:9 WNT (brackets mine)

    We should be established in the grace of God, not in the law. Remember that the law came by Moses but grace and truth came by Jesus (John 1:17). We are disciples of Jesus, not Moses.

    The better you know the Word, the better you can discern between truth and error. Make an effort to study the Word and receive good teaching.
     
  2. Stay stuck in a grace community and fellowship regularly.
    Regular fellowship in a grace community (not just a Christian community) will help you to stay focused and grounded.

    Hebrews 10:25 says "Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing..." Getting connected into the church (grace community) and not just being an attendee will bless your life greatly. Merely attending church is not enough if you desire to reign in life and grow as a believer. Now I am not saying that we "reign in life by going to church", but going to church (a good grace-based church like ours) should help you stay focused on the grace of God, encouraged in the truth of the Word and on the right track.

    You need to allow the grace community of church to "rub off on you" because bad company corrupts good character (1 Corinthians 15:33). The opposite is also true, that "good company influences bad character." LifeGroup is a great place to allow the grace community to rub off on you as is getting involved in church and serving on a Sunday.

    Regular fellowship (at church and LifeGroup and even over a cup of coffee) will enrich your life! God did not create you to live in isolation and do life alone. If you're lonely, make an effort to set time aside to be at church, attend LifeGroup and get involved in serving. Be friendly to people and seek to bless them with friendship. The kind of relationships you will build in a grace community will help you keep on track!

    A major point I want to hammer in here is that there is no substitute for a church which is rooted and grounded in the grace of God. Grace IS the THE message of the Gospel. You cannot attend a church which preaches a mixture of law and grace and expect not to be negatively influenced. A little bit of legalism goes a long way in infecting your life negatively. I heard about someone recently saying that “my church also preaches grace sometimes.” If a church preaches grace, sometimes, you can be sure they don’t preach grace properly.

    A lot of people are then easily distracted by bigger churches, or ministries which appear to be cool or adventurous - they are attracted by hype and marketing, or even the lure of friendships. These things cannot replace good, solid Word (grace) in your life. I have seen people become discontent and seek to fellowship elsewhere or receive from other ministers and they do not realize that they are setting themselves up for disaster. It will infect you. The bottom line is that "A little leaven leavens the whole lump." (Galatians 5:6) A little bit a legalism goes a long way in infecting your life to eventually pull you off course.
     
  3. Be wise in who you allow to speak into your life.
    Again: a little bit of legalism goes a long way in infecting your life to eventually pull you off track. Be wise as to who you allow to speak into your life, where you fellowship and even what books you read. There is a lot of junk out there. As Jesus said, "A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit." (Matthew 7:17). It doesn't matter if someone sounds good, looks good or even speaks grace, you need to make sure that they are legit before you allow them to influence you or speak into your life.
     
  4. Don’t allow offense to bring division. Seek unity and restoration in relationships.
    “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” James 3:16 KJV.

    One of the strategies of the enemy is to bring division in relationships through offense (strife). It is easy to get offended but offense is usually more taken than given. Even if someone is offensive, you will only ever be offended if you take offense. The root of all strife or offense is always pride or self-centredness (Proverbs 13:10). If we are selfless and operating out of God’s kind of love, which always assumes the best and keeps no records of wrong, you will never be offended.

    We have seen how the enemy seeks to bring division in relationships through strife and offense. Don’t play the devil’s game of offense. If you don’t understand why someone does something or why church leadership made a certain decision they did (etc) then ask questions and seek to understand before you get offended and burn bridges. If you feel distance growing between you and your loved ones or even your church leaders, seek to draw closer and build, rather than pull away.

    If the devil can destroy our relationships with each other, he will be successful in destroying our lives, our church family and he will succeed in holding us back from accomplishing God’s purpose for our lives.

Friday, March 20, 2015

What's True About You



The Christian life is not about becoming someone or achieving something. It is about discovering what Jesus has already done for you, what He has freely given you, and who you already are in Christ. Christianity is also not merely “pie in the sky when you die”. It’s also “steak on the plate while you wait”!


For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved (Greek word: Sozo) through him.
John 3:17 (ESV, brackets mine)

God sent Jesus to save the world. Salvation is more than just forgiveness of sins. The Greek word for “saved” is “sozo” which means to heal, deliver, prosper and make whole. Salvation includes freedom from darkness, healing of sickness, provision and prosperity and wholeness, in this life.

Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.
Colossians 1:13 (KJV)

This verse shows us that our deliverance from the power of darkness is past tense; it has already happened. Many Christians are trying to get free from the devil - but through what Jesus has done for us, it is already done! You have been delivered (rescued) from the power of darkness, which means that darkness no longer has any power over you. The devil is powerless against you. The enemy’s only power over you is deception (John 8:44), and as soon as you know (or realize) the truth, the truth will set you free (John 8:32). When you realize what Jesus has done for you and who you are in Him, you will begin to experience freedom and life abundant.

We are no longer under the dominion (control) of the enemy, but have been translated (transferred) into the Kingdom of Jesus (the Kingdom of light). We’re not trying to get into this kingdom – we’re already in it.
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Philippians 3:20 (ESV)

We have been translated or transferred out of the kingdom of darkness (out of one way of doing things) into a new kingdom (into a new way of doing things).

We have been taken out of sickness and placed into health. We have been delivered out of sin and are now holy and righteous; out of bondage and we are now free; out of depression and have joy and peace; out of confusion and we now have a sound mind.

By the which will we are sanctified (made holy) through the offering (sacrifice) of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Hebrews 10:10 (KJV, brackets mine)

Jesus was the Lamb of God that took away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Through the sacrifice of His body, He has made us holy. We do not make ourselves holy - He has made us holy. Holiness is not something we become; it’s who we are because of what Jesus has done for us. In our spirits we are perfectly holy. When we realize that we are holy, and when we focus on that holiness that is given to us, we will start to see it affect our souls (emotions, decisions) and bodies (actions). We are holy, in Christ.

He is the propitiation (atoning sacrifice) for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
1 John 2:2 (ESV, brackets mine)

Jesus was the atoning sacrifice (the payment, or sacrifice that satisfied God’s wrath against sin). The sin problem has been dealt with. Sin no longer separates you – or anyone else - from God. Sin has been dealt with - not only for believers, but for the whole world. There is no longer a sin problem between man and God.

That is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them…
2 Corinthians 5:19 (ESV)

Sin was a problem. But through Jesus, God was reconciling the world to Himself - resolving the sin problem and re-establishing a close relationship between Himself and mankind, and not holding men’s sin against them. God dealt with the sin problem. Sin does not send a person to hell - because sin has been paid for through Jesus’ sacrifice. A person’s rejection of Jesus is what sends them to hell, not sin. The worst unbeliever that ever lived was as forgiven as Mother Teresa was. The difference is that one accepted the gift of salvation in Jesus, and the other didn’t.

The whole world is forgiven and God is not holding anyone’s sin against them, ever. As believers, we are now saints (holy ones) and have been made holy and righteous because we are in Christ.

For he (God) hath made him (Jesus) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (Jesus).
2 Corinthians 5:21 (KJV, brackets mine)

As believers, we are now the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. This means that we are 100% right before God - not because of our own goodness, but because Jesus has given His goodness to us and made us right. This means that we are always in God’s good books. We never have to and can never earn favour with Him. We never have to do anything good to be in God’s good books, and we can never do anything so bad that we’d be out of His good books! We are completely accepted, highly favoured and deeply loved, independent of our performance or lack thereof!

… as He is, so are we in this world.
1 John 4:17 (KJV)

As Jesus is, so are we in this world (right now, not in the life to come). This verse shows us that our righteousness (right standing with God) is 100% equal to that of Jesus' righteousness – it is His righteousness which He has given to us. When God looks at the believer, He sees the believer in the same state of perfection as Jesus.

There is therefore now no condemnation (or disapproval) for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:1 (ESV, brackets mine)

Now the decisive conclusion is this: in Christ, every bit of condemning evidence against us is cancelled.
Romans 8:1 (Mirror Translation)

We are completely forgiven, completely righteous and completely holy. There is no place at all for any shame or condemnation in our lives. Any shred of condemning evidence against us has been cancelled (destroyed or invalidated). We should not allow ourselves to suffer any guilt or shame. Jesus has made us worthy!

Therefore, since we have been justified (made right) by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:1 (ESV, brackets mine)


We have peace with God; God is not against us. He is not angry with man. The sin problem has been dealt with and we have been made right with God by believing in Jesus’ sacrifice for us. 

This is a discipleship lessons from our new discipleship tool/book, "Rooted", which will be available soon. Each lesson contains questions to help you process the truth from the lesson as you dig deeper into the Word. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

What's True About You


The Christian life is not about becoming someone or achieving something. It is about discovering what Jesus has already done for you, what He has freely given you, and who you already are in Christ. Christianity is also not merely “pie in the sky when you die”. It’s also “steak on the plate while you wait”!
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved (Greek word: Sozo) through him.
John 3:17 (ESV, brackets mine)

God sent Jesus to save the world. Salvation is more than just forgiveness of sins. The Greek word for “saved” is “sozo” which means to heal, deliver, prosper and make whole. Salvation includes freedom from darkness, healing of sickness, provision and prosperity and wholeness, in this life.

Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.
Colossians 1:13 (KJV)

This verse shows us that our deliverance from the power of darkness is past tense; it has already happened. Many Christians are trying to get free from the devil - but through what Jesus has done for us, it is already done! You have been delivered (rescued) from the power of darkness, which means that darkness no longer has any power over you. The devil is powerless against you. The enemy’s only power over you is deception (John 8:44), and as soon as you know (or realize) the truth, the truth will set you free (John 8:32). When you realize what Jesus has done for you and who you are in Him, you will begin to experience freedom and life abundant.

We are no longer under the dominion (control) of the enemy, but have been translated (transferred) into the Kingdom of Jesus (the Kingdom of light). We’re not trying to get into this kingdom – we’re already in it.

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Philippians 3:20 (ESV)

We have been translated or transferred out of the kingdom of darkness (out of one way of doing things) into a new kingdom (into a new way of doing things).

We have been taken out of sickness and placed into health. We have been delivered out of sin and are now holy and righteous; out of bondage and we are now free; out of depression and have joy and peace; out of confusion and we now have a sound mind.

By the which will we are sanctified (made holy) through the offering (sacrifice) of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Hebrews 10:10 (KJV, brackets mine)

Jesus was the Lamb of God that took away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Through the sacrifice of His body, He has made us holy. We do not make ourselves holy - He has made us holy. Holiness is not something we become; it’s who we are because of what Jesus has done for us. In our spirits we are perfectly holy. When we realize that we are holy, and when we focus on that holiness that is given to us, we will start to see it affect our souls (emotions, decisions) and bodies (actions). We are holy, in Christ.

He is the propitiation (atoning sacrifice) for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
1 John 2:2 (ESV, brackets mine)

Jesus was the atoning sacrifice (the payment, or sacrifice that satisfied God’s wrath against sin). The sin problem has been dealt with. Sin no longer separates you – or anyone else - from God. Sin has been dealt with - not only for believers, but for the whole world. There is no longer a sin problem between man and God.

That is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them…
2 Corinthians 5:19 (ESV)

Sin was a problem. But through Jesus, God was reconciling the world to Himself - resolving the sin problem and re-establishing a close relationship between Himself and mankind, and not holding men’s sin against them. God dealt with the sin problem. Sin does not send a person to hell - because sin has been paid for through Jesus’ sacrifice. A person’s rejection of Jesus is what sends them to hell, not sin. The worst unbeliever that ever lived was as forgiven as Mother Teresa was. The difference is that one accepted the gift of salvation in Jesus, and the other didn’t.

The whole world is forgiven and God is not holding anyone’s sin against them, ever. As believers, we are now saints (holy ones) and have been made holy and righteous because we are in Christ.

For he (God) hath made him (Jesus) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (Jesus).
2 Corinthians 5:21 (KJV, brackets mine)

As believers, we are now the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. This means that we are 100% right before God - not because of our own goodness, but because Jesus has given His goodness to us and made us right. This means that we are always in God’s good books. We never have to and can never earn favour with Him. We never have to do anything good to be in God’s good books, and we can never do anything so bad that we’d be out of His good books! We are completely accepted, highly favoured and deeply loved, independent of our performance or lack thereof!

… as He is, so are we in this world.
1 John 4:17 (KJV)

As Jesus is, so are we in this world (right now, not in the life to come). This verse shows us that our righteousness (right standing with God) is 100% equal to that of Jesus' righteousness – it is His righteousness which He has given to us. When God looks at the believer, He sees the believer in the same state of perfection as Jesus.

There is therefore now no condemnation (or disapproval) for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:1 (ESV, brackets mine)

Now the decisive conclusion is this: in Christ, every bit of condemning evidence against us is cancelled.
Romans 8:1 (Mirror Translation)

We are completely forgiven, completely righteous and completely holy. There is no place at all for any shame or condemnation in our lives. Any shred of condemning evidence against us has been cancelled (destroyed or invalidated). We should not allow ourselves to suffer any guilt or shame. Jesus has made us worthy!

Therefore, since we have been justified (made right) by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:1 (ESV, brackets mine)

We have peace with God; God is not against us. He is not angry with man. The sin problem has been dealt with and we have been made right with God by believing in Jesus’ sacrifice for us.


(This is one of the lessons from a discipleship series I have recently written. It will be available soon!)

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Greetings from Albania!


We’ve been in Albania for one week now…

It’s been fairly easy for us to adjust to staying here because of the Bredenkamps’ great hospitality. Craig and Odette, together with their three children (Claudia, Craig JR and Linka) have been here for a year and three months, getting to know people and getting ready to plant a church here in Durres, Albania.

Life is very different here. You may think that it must be like a holiday here because it’s Europe - but it’s not! It’s largely a poor country and the culture is completely secular (having been declared an atheist state). 70% of the population are Muslim and less than 1% are evangelical Christians. What’s interesting is that the majority of Albanians (even though they are Muslim) are apathetic with regards to religion and say that it is not a dominant factor in their lives. This was proven for me when we went to a Halal pizza place and could order bacon as a topping and there was alcohol in the fridge.

After graduating from Charis Bible College in Colorado, the Bredenkamps came over to Albania. Arthur Meintjes (Bible teacher and a lecturer at CBC Colorado) introduced us and we got to know each other a bit when they were in South Africa. Shortly after, Craig approached us and asked if they could plant a church with us. After some discussion and prayer we decided to move forward together, and that is why we are now in Albania! The Bredenkamps have sacrificed a lot to be here, and Marna and I have grown to love them and really respect their dedication to the mission. Claudia, Craig JR and Linka are doing home schooling, and each of them is involved in the mission personally. It’s amazing to see how this family are united for the cause.

On Sundays about 20 to 30 people gather in the Bredenkamp’s apartment for a time of worship, word and fellowship.  I (Shayne) ministered at this meeting last week and will be for the next two weeks. We are broadcasting it live on Sunday 5pm – 6pm (South African time). We would love it if you joined us on http://mixlr.com/shayne-brian-holesgrove/). We are planning to move into a public venue next week (we’re just trusting for the finances to come through for it). There is a reason why we want to move into a public venue as soon as possible: most Albanians won’t want to come to your home unless they know you. But as soon as you have a public meeting, they will easily come! In the area in which GraceLife and the Bredenkamps are based there is no church. There is only a mosque, an orthodox church and a Catholic church. There is much need and much potential here.  A few hundred meters from here (in walking distance) there is also a university. We have been trying to make connections there, but because life is so explicitly secular here, it has been a challenge.

Marna and I are enjoying doing some leadership training with Craig and Odette, and helping them strategize with regard to reaching people and building a strong and effective grace community (church) here.  For us as a ministry, it is an honour and privilege to embrace the Bredenkamps as family, and join them in reaching the people of Albania with the message of God’s unconditional love and grace through the finished work of Jesus, making disciples, raising leaders and establishing a grace community.

It’s still early days here as we prepare, strategize and get going, but we’d love to ask you to continue to support this church plant through prayer, encouragement and financial support. The people here are worth it.

Much love

Shayne, Marna and William

PS. Check out this young lady who has learned some Afrikaans! She is VERY intelligent... http://youtu.be/HdlpGDpYNPo


You can help us support GraceLife Durrës financially:
GraceLife Ministries. First National Bank (FNB)
Account # 62308158452. Branch: 200610
Swift Code: FIRNZAJJ (For international givers)

Please reference your gift: "ALBANIA your name" or simply "ALBANIA" if you wish to remain anonymous.



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