The Call For Blacksmiths by Robin McMillan and CMM Updates and Valentine's Special Gifts
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The Call For Blacksmiths by Robin McMillan and CMM Updates and Valentine's Special Gifts
Robin McMillan, guest writer, and CMM Staff
Feb 5, 2007
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Florie Santiago, director of CMMP (Philippines) writes:
Dear Bro. Jorge & Sis. Anna Marie,
I praise God for the great things He is doing in us and through us with you as our partners. Just last Saturday, we had our Adult Conference at Erlinda's church. It was a great encouragement to have the program well attended. There were 150 or more adult members from the different CMMP congregations who came. What a joy and blessing also to have adults even age 80 and above who joined us in worship to the Lord and learning God's Word. Hectic as it was, for it started 8:30 in the morning and ended up about 9:00 in the evening, we all enjoyed being together for the presence and power of the Lord were evident. Glenn sent me a text message as they were on their way back home that their member was testifying to their colleagues how she has been enriched spiritually through the program. God excites us in many ways. We thank Him always.
Todd Atkins and Doug Turner's recent visit was helpful to our ministry, too. We are all encouraged to pray for missionary/missionaries from CMMP to other country. As they taught us more on missions, Ariel and Mercy Faith expressed with us their desire to go on mission field (Cambodia I think) as the Lord opens door for them. Help us pray for them for God's leading.
I am requesting you to please help us pray for God's provision for our 12th CMMP Youth Camp in April. We are needing some $1500 to help provide for about 300 young people to attend.
Bless you dear ones! I send you my warm regards and love!
To read Todd Atkins, CMM Revivalist, report of his January trip to the northern Philippines click here.
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During the era of Saul's early reign the nation of Israel was afflicted by the oppressive influence of the neighboring Philistines. The Philistines removed all the blacksmiths from the nation, effectively disabling them from providing for themselves agriculturally and defending themselves militarily. This is a prophetic picture of the church in our nation in the area of equipping the saints for ministry.
"Now there was no blacksmith to be found throughout all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, "Lest the Hebrews make swords or spears."
But all the Israelites would go down to the Philistines to sharpen each man's plowshare, his mattock, his ax, and his sickle; and the charge for a sharpening was a pim for the plowshares, the mattocks, the forks, and the axes, and to set the points of the goads.
So it came about, on the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people who were with Saul and Jonathan. But they were found with Saul and Jonathan his son" (1 Samuel 13:19-22).
Weaponless in the Day of Battle
The Philistine strategy in removing all blacksmiths from the nation effectively impeded the ability of Israel to produce weapons of war and farming implements. When crops did mature, enemy spoilers would raid the nation, stealing their bounty. Thus the Philistines rendered the nation helpless both agriculturally and militarily. Israel was defenseless. The only weapons in the nation were in the hands of the leaders, King Saul and his son, Jonathan.
Armed leaders, disarmed saints
In today's church we have a similar situation: the leaders are armed while many of the saints are not. Week by week pastors and leaders use the gifts and ministries entrusted to them by the Lord to speak to their congregations, but typically the rank and file member is without proper training and weapons.
I am sure many leaders want to train their fellow saints but are unsure how to do it in the context of today's normal church setting. The point is that it cannot be done without changing our current mind-set and church practices. Pastors and preachers must transition from ministering to equipping if we are to accomplish God's purposes. When we realize that our commission from the Lord is "for the equipping the saints for the work of ministry" (Ephesians 4:12a), then we must discern what ministry each church should be doing and develop the necessary training to that end. We must also realize that it is not just the leadership of the church that must make adjustments in this area. Church members also have fallen into traps that have hindered them from becoming fully equipped for ministry.
'One Man Show' Mentality
One plan the enemy uses to disarm the people of God is to convince them that the ministry is the job of professional religious leaders. For too long the focus has been on the leader and not upon the effective equipping of every member. The Apostle Paul taught that the growth of the body of Christ was dependent upon every member effectively working and doing its necessary share of that work: "...(so that) we may grow up in all things into Him who is the head Christ from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love" (Ephesians 4:15-16).
One prevailing danger inherent in building a congregation upon the powerful ministry of just one person is that the enemy need only snare or remove that one to scatter the sheep and ruin the work of God in that ministry. All too often we have seen the leader of a congregation or ministry leave, or become snared in some moral failure, resulting in the destruction of the lives of many of the saints.
The early church was built upon the effective labor of apostles and prophets, plural, with Christ Jesus being the chief cornerstone:
"Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit" (Ephesians 2:19-22).
The first century church was certainly tested in this specific area on a number of occasions. The first one was when James the brother of John was martyred. He was one of the three men closest to Jesus and most depended upon by the church. Nevertheless, the church continued to prosper even under dangerous and difficult times because of the presence of substantial and multiple ministries.
There are many tremendous preachers and teachers in our land who have powerful and effective ministries. For them to achieve maximum effectiveness in an ultimate sense, they must build with a team and release others in ministry that operate at their same level of competency.
The Chuckie Syndrome
The highest goal many Christians have is for perfect church attendance, to listen to the preacher, and partake of his ministry. Perfect attendance is not God's highest plan for the church because being there is not enough. When I was in the second grade my best friend was named Chuckie. In all honesty he was not a very bright guy but was a great athlete and fun to hang out with. In the academic realm his one claim to fame was that of perfect attendance. He had never missed a day of school beginning with his first day of kindergarten. Many times he made loud and long note of his perfect attendance, ultimately to the frustration of our second grade teacher, Mrs. Adams. I can remember the day when our beloved teacher lowered the proverbial hammer on dear Chuckie and all his bragging about his perfect attendance. She stood him before the class and asked him question after question about an area of teaching that she had diligently delivered to us. He could not answer one question. After his final wrong answer Mrs. Adams then said, "But Chuckie, is it not true that you have not missed one single day of class all year? How is it that you cannot answer one of these questions?". Chuckie had no answer.
Even as a second grader her point was made crystal clear to me. Showing up is not enough. We must be able to retain what we are taught. Jesus prophesied; "I will build My church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18b). You are called to assault the gates of hell, but if you do so, armed with your perfect attendance badge alone, you will be sorely lacking in the day of battle.
The Deep Teaching Syndrome
Retaining the information we are taught does not make us a threat to the enemy's work. We must be able to apply what we are taught. Thank God that many have not been satisfied just to attend church. However, many fall into even another trap and assume that the accumulation of Bible teaching equips them to withstand the works of the enemy. Adding your full notebook of teachings to your perfect attendance badge still does not cause the slightest stir in the camp of the enemy. Teaching is obviously important in the life of the Christian. But if we cannot or do not apply that teaching to our lives or ministry in some specific way, then we are still spiritually dysfunctional. We would be well advised to apply the 'So What!' rule to many of the things we are learning. If what we learn can not be translated into action and applied to our lives then we are learning in vain.
Do not be ensnared with an unrighteous quest for more knowledge without considering the functional outworking of what you learn. Many believers develop a condescending attitude towards others based on their acquired bulk of spiritual information, but do not know how to deliver the captive or help the helpless. Paul responded this way to the issue of having knowledge without practical understanding of how to help someone; "Knowledge puffs up but love edifies" (I Corinthians 8:1b). Here is one way to determine which kind of knowledge you have. When you see others struggle, do you criticize them based on your information or do you begin to see ways to deliver them from their condition. Be wary of the kind of knowledge that makes you feel superior but does not enable you to grow in grace and help those around you.
Both To Do and Teach
At the same time we should desire to know the Lord better through the knowledge of the truth. We are exhorted to study to show ourselves approved unto God, but it was not teaching alone that characterized Jesus' effective ministry. It was what He did with what He knew:
"The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,
until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:1-3 emphasis added).
Both doing and teaching characterized Jesus' ministry and so made it noteworthy. Jesus had a Kingdom perspective. His viewpoint was that the Kingdom of God was to be demonstrated in public both by Him and by those who would follow Him. Most of His exploits were done away from the synagogue. After He demonstrated the Kingdom, He taught those who followed Him how to do what He did, and then He sent them out. These were disciples in the truest sense.
Calling the Blacksmiths
It is one thing to demonstrate God's power and another one altogether to equip the saints to minister in the power of God. I am grateful for those who are demonstrating God's power, but I know that the current need in the world is for those who can equip others to function in power. The role of the blacksmith in the ancient world was to take the available raw material and forge weapons, tools, and other implements and put them into the hands of their kinsmen. We are to do the same in a spiritual sense -- to equip saints for the work of ministry. The raw material is available for forging powerful tools and weapons. Each believer has within themselves the needed raw material for fruitful service by virtue of the indwelling Christ and His abundant resource. Many have very little understanding of that which He has placed within them. The spiritual blacksmith is one who can help individuals identify gifts and callings that presently lie dormant within them and then train them in their use.
One problem we have today is that we are not thinking backwards! We must think backwards from end to beginning to determine what needs to be done to accomplish our goals. If in fact our job description is to equip saints for works of service then we must determine the following:
1) What works of service (ministries) are needed in our area?
2) What training do our people need to prepare them to do this work?
3) How do we change our church process to accomplish this training?
4) How do we release into ministry those we have trained?
5) How do we pastor those who are ministering?
When we successfully answer these questions and implement the solutions, the end result will be transformed people, churches, and ultimately, whole communities.
Our Calling- Your Calling
The calling we have at MorningStar is to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, not because we are unique, but because we are Christians. That is the calling you have also. We have not arrived in our pursuit of training and releasing others into ministry, but we have left. By that I mean that we are imperfectly engaged in the process but want to continue to grow and improve in doing so. God is calling all of us to be spiritual blacksmiths. The enemy has disarmed the family of God for too long. Let us pick up the hammer, stoke the bellows, strike the anvil, and do what we can to equip our brethren. Many lives are hanging in the balance.
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