Kingdom Living

Casting Vision for the Future of the Kingdom

Kingdom Living

God & Money: Why There Is Never a Money Problem in the Kingdom

June 28th, 2022 · 1 Comment · God

Since we planted a church we have discovered that God has a different system of accounting than we do. We like to call it “God math.” When we lived under the umbrella of “big church” we didn’t have much concern for money. Things were stable and secure. But in church planting, you become a lot more reliant on God and are far more in tune with what God is providing.

I want to tell a story that is a direct reflection on the kind of God we serve. This story isn’t a promise…that if you do such and such then God will do such and such. God doesn’t operate like a formula. It is a principle rather than a promise and an example of what our BIG GOD can do! I hope it encourages you to cast vision and work to carry it out…and watch God take care of the rest!

The Story

When we resigned from our “big church” preaching position we had saved some money to pay the bills in between ministries. We resigned effective October 15, 2020 which meant we were cash flowed through November 15. When we hit the end of November we got an unexpected tax refund that floated us through the end of November. Some time in November/December the government was sending stimulus checks and I also received pay from some organizations for work I had done over 6 months prior that I wasn’t sure when it was going to come in.

We hit the end of November…still plenty of money to pay the bills. Same in December and January…all the way to half way through February! It was unreal. We never touched that savings account and we never asked anyone to support us during those months. I have heard people share stories like that but had never experienced it first hand!

I cannot begin to tell you how affirming it was – that God had us in His hand and that we didn’t have to be afraid.

This happened again last week. We were raising $7000 for a specific mission we have coming up and on short notice. We needed another $3000 within 10 days. I had just gotten off the phone with an elder when I got a text about our online giving not working. When I checked our system to see what the problem was…there it was…the other $3000 had already come through! I had to let that elder know that we were good! How often do you ever unask for money? God had met the need already from people I had never heard of before!

Vision, Intention, and Means

Dallas Willard used to say that where there is vision and intention, God will provide the means. He called this VIM. We have seen this over and over again and so I am thankful that we can brag on God a bit…his math is not like our math!

“Listen, my people, and I will speak;
    I will testify against you, Israel:
    I am God, your God.
I bring no charges against you concerning your sacrifices
    or concerning your burnt offerings, which are ever before me.
I have no need of a bull from your stall
    or of goats from your pens,
10 for every animal of the forest is mine,
    and the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know every bird in the mountains,
    and the insects in the fields are mine.
12 If I were hungry I would not tell you,
    for the world is mine, and all that is in it.
13 Do I eat the flesh of bulls
    or drink the blood of goats?”
– Psalm 50:7-13

In ministry it is never a money problem. It might be a vision problem. It might be an intention problem…but never, ever a money problem! God will give you what you need to do what He said to do. Period.

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Have We Given Up Studying the Bible With People?

June 15th, 2022 · 1 Comment · Bible, Bible Study, Evangelism

What do you think about someone when you hear they have Bible studies with people? Does it make them seem like a super Christian? Maybe they sound like a saint?

What if that was just an ordinary thing to do? What if being a saint was just another word for being a Christian, because that is what Paul thought…starting his letters off by calling God’s people saints.

Why don’t we?

Maybe we don’t study the Bible with people because we don’t study the Bible ourselves? And maybe we don’t talk with others about it because we don’t have faith that the Holy Spirit will help those conversations go well.

So we are left with little knowledge and little power and it only makes sense that we would feel stuck in our tracks when it comes to helping others come to know Jesus on a deeper level. We can’t take people deeper in the pool than we are willing to go ourselves.

But here is a little secret

The most important things in the Bible don’t require a PhD to figure out – they are actually quite simple and have been easily sharable for thousands of years!

So let’s get back in the Word. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit for help. Let’s walk with people through the Word and watch and see what God does with it. You will never go wrong!

Here is a little tool to help keep things simple. It’s called Discovery Bible study and you can use it with anyone, anywhere…all you need is a verse. I suggest you start using it for daily study. Then start asking others to study with you and use it together. Then see what God does!

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Where Do Mass Shooters Come From?

May 30th, 2022 · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

Mass shooters don’t come out of the blue. They aren’t random. They are discipled to be who they are.

We live in a culture that has stripped out absolute truth. There is no objective standard of what is right or wrong. What is true for you may not be true for me. That is a recipe for disaster – what do you do when someone takes that system “all the way”? If you think there are no absolutes then how would you answer “What makes what happens in a school shooting wrong?”

Our movies and music are full of violence and the degradation of men and women. This leads to and is produced by a culture of objectification. People become objects and when they become objects we are justified to use them rather than love them. We are addicted to violence – it sells on the big screen and it sells albums. One definition of addiction that is helpful at this point in time is “healthy people love people and use objects. Addicts use people and love objects.” We are seeing this played out daily and maybe you and I play into this more than we know.

We have demonized our men for being male and attempted to feminize them. That won’t turn out well either. Our young men are confused and hurting. They often don’t feel okay to be who they are (when I thought that was the message we were all supposed to be getting – just be who you are – somehow that is not okay for young men). I am not excusing bad behavior…I am saying we should accept and celebrate masculinity. It isn’t all toxic or even mostly toxic.

Fathers have left the home, leaving our young men to be discipled by social media. Most of the people who commit mass shootings lack a father in the home. These young men have often lived lives that lack accountability so that their antisocial behavior has gone unchecked for years.

Social media has appealed to our most base instincts and made socially acceptable the profane and pornographic.

You can take a lifetime to make a name for yourself (or fail at trying after all those years and toil) or you can be known throughout the world in one violent hour…this news sells. The 24 hour news cycle has really hurt us.

It isn’t just one or two of these things…it is a combination of factors that lead to events like what we just saw in Uvalde.

Where is the church in all of this?

How are we shining a light? How are we being salt?

Who are we discipling and how are we reaching into the lives of the at risk to help them find a path to peace?

There isn’t a single mass shooter who is following Jesus. We cannot force anyone to Jesus but we can certainly help some. We can’t get rid of all the socials but we can keep ourselves from objectifying others.

How are we not talking about evangelism and discipleship after this event as preventative factors?

Congress wont’ fix this for us. Better technology won’t fix this for us because the real fix is a fix of the heart and you cannot ever legislate hearts to be better hearts. We often hope others will solve problems God put us here to help with. We avoid this because it is hard work and we don’t know where to start.

These events will always be with us…to the very end in one way, shape or form. But in the meantime we do what we can to make a difference. In order to make a difference we need to pay attention to how people are formed to do such violent and unimaginable things and begin changing the culture, addressing the fatherless and giving them mentors, and not perpetuating or indulging in the cultures that produce people who do such things.

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Does God Still Speak Today? How Do You Know?

May 25th, 2022 · 5 Comments · God, Holy Spirit

Sometimes we will hear megachurch preachers say that God told them to do a particular thing or that God told them to tell the church something specific.

Is that really how God operates?

This is an area of my faith that has grown over the last five years. I would have said years ago that God didn’t ever do anything of the sort. I have changed my mind with some nuance.

First, I believe God still communicates to us directly today. A while back I needed to go talk to someone and I was praying over and over asking God to help the conversation be successful. It could have gone poorly very easily.

On my way to have the conversation I kept feeling a strong urge to do a very specific thing that seemed completely random. I resisted this urge a few times until finally I decided that I should “listen” to this prompting. I stopped my trek to see this person, did the thing that was impressed upon me and then went on my way to have the hard conversation. When I got there the person asked me if I had been doing the thing I stopped to do! I couldn’t believe it…and it turns out this person is an expert in what I was doing! Instead of our conversation starting off on a sensitive note, they were able to give me advice on what I was doing. It changed the whole conversation by putting them in the driver’s seat.

Second, there are times when very specific words or phrases come to mind that you just can’t escape that coincide with other people using those same words seemingly out of the blue. The other day someone I know had a strong urge that was like “check on this person…check on this person.” It wasn’t an audible voice…just a strong sense of those exact words. When they did…the person they were checking on said, “I can’t believe you checked on me…I was just praying to God that someone would check on me.”

I believe the Holy Spirit aligns these moments and conversations through divine communication. I don’t know any other way to explain it.

What does God’s communication feel like?

Here is the best way I know to explain it. In Galatians 5 and Romans 8 Paul contrasts the flesh vs the Holy Spirit. The flesh and the Spirit work toward opposite purposes. They are not compatible. Have you ever had a strong urge from your flesh to sin? An idea came to mind that was strong…desirable? You felt like you couldn’t escape it until you took action. It is like the desire is pressing down on you!

Do you know what I am talking about?

Holy Spirit promptings aren’t all the same but to me they often feel like what I just described only toward a righteous result. The desire comes to mind very strong and repeated. You feel like you just can’t escape it until you take action. Like temptation you can ignore it and get away from it…it isn’t anything impossible to escape but it is a pressing feeling toward a particular action or thing to say that does not come solely from yourself.

God is still communicating today. He is communicating all the time. The more I anticipate it the more I pick up on it.

Does God speak to preachers to tell them what the church is supposed to do?

Here is where I get skeptical. I am fine with God communicating with me about me but I have a harder time with God communicating with me about you! Because that is ripe for abuse…not impossible for God to do but very tempting for us to think it is what God did when in reality it was our flesh not the Spirit that is using God to leverage our agenda.

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How Do You “Share the Gospel” if You Don’t Know What It Is?

May 12th, 2022 · 3 Comments · Uncategorized

What is the gospel?

It is a question we all need to spend some time working on answering.

It isn’t steps of salvation – that is our response to the Gospel.

It isn’t just dying and going to heaven (although eternal life is part of the gospel).

But what is it?

Is it penal substitutionary atonement?

Or is it something else?

What is the gospel?

The more books I read the more complicated it seems to get and yet, somehow, for hundreds of years the church grew exponentially with an uncomplicated gospel.

I heard someone say there was an inverse correlation between how much theological education a person has and how much evangelizing they do. I don’t have the stats on that but I can believe that to be the case…that the more theological education you have the less likely you are to reach the lost.

Maybe it is because we learn so much nuance that it becomes nearly impossible to explain to a beginner and the people who need to hear it most are the uninitiated!

And if anyone is fascinated by nuance it’s me! But nuance and niche theology can become an idol and if our salt is becoming less salty because we have gone in so deep that it takes a PhD to decipher our conclusions.

We have a responsibility to be clear on the core tenants of our faith…to go back to the Bible, read it and determine what the gospel is really all about.

I will share my view on the gospel soon…stay tuned!

In the meantime, how would you define the gospel? What makes the good news good news? What makes salvation in Christ more significant than learning you are cancer free or that you won the lottery?

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Why Aren’t Most Churches Making Disciples?

May 9th, 2022 · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

The reality is we are all being discipled and every church makes disciples…the question is “what kind of disciple?” Some churches produce consumeristic disciples who are following the latest fad or who are being appealed to on the basis of their desires. Other churches are producing Christ-like disciples. There are churches everywhere in between.

There could be many answers to the question – Why Aren’t Most Churches Making Disciples? So I want to focus on one that I believe is extremely important to consider. Most churches aren’t making disciples because they have adopted a paradigm of church that is focused on church (aka the gathering) rather than on maturing believers to be better followers of Jesus in kingdom living.

If you focus on church you will not necessarily get Jesus but if you focus on Jesus you will always get church.

We adopt these consumeristic approaches for a few reasons:

1 – It is all we know. We have been handed a model of church that we perpetuate.

2 – It “works” from a business metric perspective. We got so good at gathering that we can draw a crowd, produce numbers, meet the budget, etc. Someone can be a successful preacher because they preach at a large church and they may not have discipled a single person in their entire ministry.

3 – Because we like it. It is nice to “go to church” and not have all the messiness of dealing with the hard areas of each others’ lives on a regular basis.

You will rarely to never develop solid disciples of Jesus by appealing to the things that draw a crowd.

You will rarely to never develop mature believers by producing goods and services that meet needs.

You will rarely to never develop healthy disciples if your metrics for success are derived from the business world.

Making mature disciples is hard work over a long period of time and it takes patience and dedication. You can’t sit on the back row and have this happen. You can’t not know anyone and make it happen. It is going to take relationships, time, solid teaching, consistent examples, and much more to see this happen and the way our churches are set up, those things aren’t happening on a regular and intentional basis.

Maybe it’s time we sat down and had a discussion about what our churches are producing, what our internal mechanisms are that are producing what we are producing, and look to see if the results and processes match Jesus’ kingdom priority.

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Starting a House Church Resource List:

May 2nd, 2022 · No Comments · Church Plant

Have you ever considered starting a house church? Here are some resources that I have found particularly helpful along the way. We have a weekly zoom that we do for those who are serious about starting and need some help to get things going. Let me know if that interests you – matthewdabbs@hotmail.com

What is important is that these books are written by practitioners who have demonstrated success:

Books:

“The House Church Book” by Wolfgang Simson
This book is a paradigm shifter if you come out of “big church” and are looking at house church.


“Houses that Change the World” by Wolfgang Simson
A Fuller Exposition of the previous book. It gives the history of house churches and the principles involved in forming a house church and carrying on ministry.

“In the Way” By Damian Gurke
Damien talks about some of the shortcomings of the traditional paradigm of big church and the advantages of the house church model.

“Training for Trainers” By Ying Kai
Ying and Grace Kai outline their method of multiplying house churches. They have multiplied thousands of churches over the years.

“The Only One” By Curtis Sergeant
Similar to the Kai’s – Curtis has also multiplied thousands of house churches. This book will motivate you to action. You can download this one free to an e-reader at this site here with the code ONE4FREE

Neighborhood Mapping By Fuder & Bakke
Practical tools to understand your community.

Websites:

Zume training – 20 hours of free training that is well worth your time

2414now.net – a network of people working to make disciples and plant churches around the world.

Finishing the Task – getting Bibles to all people groups in every language

Feel free to add more resources in the comments!

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You Don’t Have to Ask the Elders About Everything

April 28th, 2022 · 4 Comments · Uncategorized

Sometimes you will hear people say “We need to ask the elders about that?”

There are times when that is true – that you need to talk with a more mature Christian to get insight and input, prayer, etc.

But in some cases we are asking for permission to do things God already said to do. Why would we need to ask the elders for permission to do what God said to do? If you ask them and they tell you not to do it, are you going to follow their lead if it contradicts scripture?

If God said it, we don’t have to ask for further permission from people to do it. If Jesus modeled it and you are following his lead, why would you have to seek additional permission to do what Jesus did?

You can reach the lost…make disciples…pray for all sorts of things…greet visitors, get together in homes for study and prayer…and so much more without ever having to ask permission.

The elders were never meant to be gatekeepers between you and obedience to God.

Sometimes elders learn to micromanage because people think they have to ask permission for everything. So really all the elders are doing is responding to what is being brought before them, who wouldn’t? It becomes self-fulfilling. You think they want a say so you take everything to them for their say then they believe that is their job. Maybe it would be better to start being discerning about what issues need a second eye, input from mature believers, etc and which things God gave you the green light on.

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Teach Like Jesus

April 26th, 2022 · No Comments · Uncategorized

If we want to teach like Jesus we are going to need to:

1 – Ask lots of questions

2 – Use the Bible

3 – Speak truth to power

4 – Humble yourself

5 – Show people by living what you teach

6 – Train people in skills

7 – Pray all the time

8 – Fast on a regular basis

9 – Rely on the Holy Spirit

10 – Be prepared for pain and abuse

I have a long way to go in teaching like this! What would you add to the list?

It is far easier to lecture than train skills. It is far easier to assemble a class than to do life on life. It is far easier to give answers rather than ask questions. It will take true humility to embrace the ways of Jesus and jettison the ways that are self-serving…and by that I don’t mean all lecture or Bible classes are self-serving. I am saying that if they are in our own soul that we need to take inventory of that, repent and move to more Christ-like approaches! This starts with me.

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Four Things About God that Help us in Life’s Disappointments

April 4th, 2022 · No Comments · Uncategorized

There are several working assumptions about God that help us through disappointments in life.

1 – God is big and powerful.

2 – God loves us

3 – God constantly works on our behalf for our good.

4 – God knows everything.

Because God knows everything, has the power to work change in our lives, loves us and is constantly working for us – everything is going to work out alright.

If God is powerful and present but unloving, he is dangerous to us.

If God is powerful, loving but absent and inactive we are without hope.

If God is short on knowledge but big on power and capability he might make the wrong move in a big way and that would be worrisome!

But God is all four!

When you face disappointment in life just be reminded that it doesn’t mean God is powerless, unloving, or not working on our behalf. It might just be that what you are going through is the loving thing or that God is working now for something later. Only time will tell.

Just keep on trusting God to work all things for the good in the end rather than right this second!

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

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