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July 2009

Sophia Fund Testimony

I received the following email from my friend, Dr. Andrew Reid, in Zimbabwe earlier today.  I could not wait to share it with you:

Thank you for sowing USD $500 for food into the young people with HIV who attended our June Champions for Life camp. Your seed was really appreciated. Attached above is a report of the Camp. This was our 9th Camp the Camps started in 2005 and are Celebration Church's and Pastor Tom's and Pastor Bonnie's ministry to young people living with HIV (age 9-21 years). Many of the children are single or double orphans and many live with food shortages so it was a great blessing to give them them a bountiful diet.

Unless you have seen the devastation from HIV/AIDS firsthand, it is hard to comprehend. Thank you for helping me help the orphans and widows. 


 

Proverbs 30:5-6

Your daily dose of Proverbs:

“Every word of God is flawless,
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. 
Do not add to his words,
or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar” - 30:5-6.

It's critical that you know God's Word and not be casual toward its interpretation. It is never sufficient to say, "This is what I think it means."  What are you doing to grow in your ability to know, understand and teach God's Word? What are you reading, what class are you taking?  Better yet, how much time do you invest in reading and studying God's Word? You may also want to read 2 Peter 1:19-21 and 2 Timothy 3:16-17.


Proverbs 29:25

Your daily dose of Proverbs:

“Fear of man will prove to be a snare,
but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe” - 29:25.

Fear of others' disapproval or scorn is a great hindrance to a productive life. What could you do if you weren't afraid of what others may say? How much time do you spend trying to figure out what someone may think of you if you say or do something? You may also want to read what Jesus said about this in John 5:41-44.  


Proverb 28:14

Your daily dose of Proverbs:

“Blessed is the man who always fears the Lord,
but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble” - 28:14.

You can harden your heart or keep it pliable and tender toward the Lord. Are you "in trouble" right now? Then perhaps you need to check the condition of your heart. You may also want to read Mark 7:20-22


Proverbs 27:4

Your daily dose of Proverbs:

“Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming,
but who can stand before jealousy?” - 27:4.

Joseph's brothers were jealous of his coat, the Jews were jealous of Jesus' ministry success, and often we gossip, slander and backbite because we are jealous of someone's looks, gifts or popularity. Is jealousy having an affect on your behavior in any way?  Is another's jealousy having an impact on your life? Today's verse warns us not to underestimate the power of this sinful attitude.  You may also want to read Acts 7:9, Acts 17:5, and 2 Corinthians 12:20.


Proverbs 26:12

Your daily dose of Proverbs:

“Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? 
There is more hope for a fool than for him” - 26:12. 

All of us are smarter than one of us, but all of us aren't as smart as we need to be to get the job done well. That is why we always need to be expanding our team of workers, advisers and consultants so we can draw from a greater variety of life experience and viewpoints. Do you consult with others as you plan your work or ministry, or do pride and insecurity make you a one-person team? How well do you collaborate with others as you plan your work? This verse makes me think of the Apostle Paul in Galatians 1:1-2. 


Proverbs 25:6-7

Your daily dose of Proverbs:

“Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence,
and do not claim a place among great men;
it is better for him to say to you, ‘Come up here,’
than for him to humiliate you before a nobleman” - 25:6-7.

How do you feel when you are overlooked for a promotion, raise or project you would like to work on? Have you put your career or ministry in His hands, trusting Him for the progress?  You may also want to read Psalm 75:6-7 and 1 Peter 5:5b-7.


Proverbs 24:16

Your daily dose of Proverbs:

“For though a righteous man falls seven times,
he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity” - 24:16.

Failure and setbacks are part of every believer's life. They do not indicate you have done something wrong, but are opportunities for God to prove His faithfulness to you. If you are down right now, be encouraged, for you will rise again! You may also want to read Acts 14:21-22 and James 1:12.


New Book Excerpt Part 4

I have posted three of four excepts from my upcoming book release, Changing the Way We Do Church: Seven Steps to Purposeful Reformation. Here are the first three parts if you missed them. I will include the last paragraph from the third excerpt and then pick it up from there in this final part.

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THE DYNAMICS OF CHANGE IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
Dr. John Stanko
 An excerpt from John’s new book, Changing the Way We Do Church: Seven Steps to Purposeful Reformation

    This story [from Acts 6:1-7] epitomizes what I refer to as Holy Spirit chaos, for the ministry idea bubbled up from the bottom, or from among the membership. It did not come from the top.  When you make room for the Holy Spirit working in the people, the Spirit does not have to follow any predetermined rules, strategic plan or vision.  Leaders who want to control the process can do that easily, but they are then restricted to what they alone can see instead of accessing all that could be.

    I promised a second passage, which is found in Acts 13:1-3:

In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

    Barnabas had played a key role in the revival that was taking place at Antioch and had brought Saul in as his assistant.  At some point, the leaders took time to minister to the Lord in prayer and fasting, and the Holy Spirit spoke that it was time to send Barnabas and Saul out as missionaries.  The Spirit did not ask permission; He did not seem to care what Barnabas and Saul were doing in the Church at that point or what their absence would mean to the team left behind.  The Spirit spoke and the people were expected to respond.  I am not sure this mission was part of the church’s vision, but that didn’t matter once the Spirit had “spoken.”

    In the first example from Acts 6, we saw how a problem created a need for a whole new level of leadership. In this second example, we see how the Spirit moved people around according to His own plan and purpose.  You can see how “chaotic” this kind of ministry can seem to those who want to plan their work and work their plan. Yet purpose creates just this kind of disorder, if I can refer to it as such, for which God does not apologize. 

    Please note that this kind of disorder is not the same as confusion. There was clarity of direction in both instances, but the direction was a shift from the way the church had been conducting business.  From a human perspective it could appear to be chaotic, but from God’s perspective it made perfect sense.  This is why leaders and followers learn to live with and respond to what I refer to as Holy Spirit chaos. 

    Responding to this kind of chaos requires constant change and adjustment.  As I have said to many audiences, the church should eat change for breakfast, for we are the Spirit-led people.  Yet I have found that the Church is not particularly adept at managing change, and it starts at the top.

    Years ago, I heard Peter Drucker, father of modern management studies, say, “The only way to manage change is to initiate it!”  We should not have change imposed on us but rather have the courage and faith to seek and initiate it.

    Feel free to write your comments to this entry on the site where it is posted.

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Changing the Way We Do Church: Seven Steps to Reformation is due to be released July, 2009 by Evergreen Press. To order your copy, please send an email to johnstanko@gmail.com.


Proverbs 23:4

Your daily dose of Proverbs:

“Do not wear yourself out to get rich;
have the wisdom to show restraint” - 23:4.

We need money, but God promises to provide. We work to extend God's kingdom, not to amass riches. Perhaps it's time to ask: Do you own your stuff or does your stuff own you? Do you work for money or does money work for you? This verse makes me think of many others, but for now, you may want to read Matthew 6:25-34, Psalm 127:1-2, and 1 Timothy 6:6-10.

As always, you can add your insights to any of these verses on the site where they are posted.