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Synopsis of The Warfare of Wine Skins
Good and joyful morning this morning to all Christian brothers and sisters on this the day the Lord has made. Pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of coffee, or tea, or milk, or what ever is your favorite…. We’re about to slice a piece of the bread of life, the word of God. And today’s slice comes from… Joshuah 10:7 7 So Joshua set out from Gilgal, his whole army with him—all those tough soldiers! 8 God told him, “Don’t give them a second thought. I’ve put them under your thumb—not one of them will stand up to you.” 11 As they ran from the people of Israel, down from the Beth Horon ridge and all the way to Azekah, God pitched huge stones on them out of the sky and many died. More of them died from the hailstones than the people of Israel killed with the sword. 12 The day God gave the Amorites up to Israel, Joshua spoke to God, with all Israel listening: “Stop, sun, over Gibeon; halt, moon, over Aijalon valley.” 13 And sun stopped, moon stood stock still until he defeated his enemies. The sun stopped in its tracks in mid sky; just sat there all day. 14 There’s never been a day like that before or since. You might say, God took orders from a human voice! Truly, God fought for Israel.
My friends, reading that Word of God makes me think of one of my favorite praise songs, “What a mighty God we serve.” I’ll spare you my singing it but, I believe I’ll have Sue sing it for us.
SUE SINGS…. “What a mighty God we serve, what a mighty God we serve. Angels bow before, heaven and earth adore Him. What a might God we serve.”
|I thought this was pretty amazing and interesting! Did you know that the space program is busy providing that what has been called ‘myth’ in the Bible is true?Mr. Harold Hill, President of the Curtis Engine Company in Baltimore, Maryland, and a consultant in the space program, relates the following development.’I think one of the most amazing things that God has done for us today happened recently to our astronauts and space scientists at Green Belt, Maryland … They were checking out where the positions of the sun, moon, and planets would be 100 years and 1,000 years from now. We have to know this so we won’t send up a satellite and have it bump into something later on in its orbits.We have to lay out the orbits in terms of the life of the satellite and where the planets will be so the whole thing will not bog down. They ran the computer measurement back and forth over the centuries, and it came to a halt. The computer stopped and put up a red signal, which meant that there was something wrong with either the information fed into it or with the results as compared to the standards.
They called in the service department to check it out, and they said, ‘What’s wrong?’ Well, they found there is a day missing in space in elapsed time. They scratched their heads and tore their hair out. There was no answer.
Finally a Christian man on the team said, ‘You know, one time I was in Sunday School, and they talked about the sun standing still.’ While they didn’t believe him, they didn’t have an answer either, so they said, ‘Show us, ‘ He got a Bible and went to the book of Joshua where they found a pretty ridiculous statement for any one with ‘common sense.’ There they found the Lord saying to Joshua, ‘Fear them not, I have delivered them into thy hand; there shall not a man of them stand before Thee.’
If God could do this then; how much more can He do for us today, if we only believe in His word. Never be afraid to try something new. Even like, “doing church differently.”
As told in Mark 2:22, by no other than Jesus. “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. The wine would burst the wine skins, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine needs new wine skins.” This means, in contemporary terms, our minds must be elastic enough to receive and contain new ideas. It seems that we must always struggle against the prejudice of a closed mind.
He told this to the ridged religious leaders of that time and is still speaking, to us, today, about our resistance to new things to come.
So, today’s message title is “War of Wine skins.” Or, should I say, can your mind expand enough to consider doing church differently? Start expanding you mind. It’s coming.
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The War of Wine Skins
Good and joyful morning this morning to all Christian brothers and sisters on this the day the Lord has made. Pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of coffee, or tea, or milk, or what ever is your favorite…. We’re about to slice a piece of the bread of life, the word of God. And today’s slice comes from….
7 So Joshua set out from Gilgal, his whole army with him—all those tough soldiers!
8 God told him, “Don’t give them a second thought. I’ve put them under your thumb—not one of them will stand up to you.” 9 Joshua marched all night from Gilgal and took them by total surprise. 10 God threw them into total confusion in front of Israel, a major victory at Gibeon. Israel chased them along the ridge to Beth Horon and fought them all the way down to Azekah and Makkedah. 11 As they ran from the people of Israel, down from the Beth Horon ridge and all the way to Azekah, God pitched huge stones on them out of the sky and many died. More of them died from the hailstones than the people of Israel killed with the sword. 12 The day God gave the Amorites up to Israel, Joshua spoke to God, with all Israel listening: “Stop, sun, over Gibeon; halt, moon, over Aijalon valley.” 13 And sun stopped, moon stood stock still until he defeated his enemies. The sun stopped in its tracks in mid sky; just sat there all day. 14 There’s never been a day like that before or since. You might say, God took orders from a human voice! Truly, God fought for Israel.
My friends, I love to sing the praise song, “What a mighty God we serve.” I’ll spare you my singing it but, I believe I’ll have Sue sing it for us. “What a mighty God we serve, what a mighty God we serve. Angels bow before, heaven and earth adore Him. What a might God we serve.”
Now, I know I’ve heard from some that this just a story God put in the Bible to bring his people to recognize his abilities, if they call on him. Well…. That is not so.
Let me read to you a report on NASA and The Bible. I thought this was pretty amazing and interesting!
For all the scientists out there, and for all the students who have a hard time convincing these people regarding the truth of the Bible, here’s something that shows God’s awesome creation, and that He is still in control.
Did you know that the space program is busy proving that what has been called ‘myth’ in the Bible is true?
Mr. Harold Hill, President of the Curtis Engine Company in Baltimore, Maryland, and a consultant in the space program, relates the following development.
‘I think one of the most amazing things that God has done for us today happened recently to our astronauts and space scientists at Green Belt, Maryland …
They were checking out where the positions of the sun, moon, and planets would be 100 years and 1,000 years from now. We have to know this so we won’t send up a satellite and have it bump into something later on in its orbits.
We have to lay out the orbits in terms of the life of the satellite and where the planets will be so the whole thing will not bog down.
They ran the computer measurement back and forth over the centuries, and it came to a halt. The computer stopped and put up a red signal, which meant that there was something wrong with either the information fed into it or with the results as compared to the standards.
They called in the service department to check it out, and they said, ‘What’s wrong?’ Well, they found there is a day missing in space in elapsed time.
They scratched their heads and tore their hair out. There was no answer.
Finally a Christian man on the team said, ‘You know, one time I was in Sunday School, and they talked about the sun standing still.’ While they didn’t believe him, they didn’t have an answer either, so they said, ‘Show us, ‘
He got a Bible and went to the book of Joshua where they found a pretty ridiculous statement for any one with ‘common sense.’
There they found the Lord saying to Joshua,
‘Fear them not, I have delivered them into thy hand; there shall not a man of them stand before Thee.’
Joshua was concerned because he was surrounded by the enemy! And if darkness fell, they would overpower them. So Joshua asked the Lord to make the sun stand still! That’s right…. ‘The sun stood still and the moon stayed and lasted not to go down about a whole day!’ (Joshua 10:12-13)
|The astronauts and scientists said, there is the missing day! They checked the computers going back into the time it was written and found it was close but not close enough. The elapsed time that was missing back in Joshua’s day was 23 hours and 20 minutes.. Not a whole day.
They read the Bible, and there it was about [approximately] a day. These little words in the Bible are important, but they were still in trouble because if you cannot account for 40 minutes, you’ll still be in trouble 1000 years from now.
Forty minutes had to be found because it can be multiplied many times over in orbits. As the Christian employee thought about it, he remembered somewhere in the Bible where it said the sun went BACKWARDS.
The scientists told him he was out of his mind, but they got out the Book and read these words in 2 Kings that told of the following story: Hezekiah, on his death bed, was visited by the prophet Isaiah who told him that he was not going to die. Hezekiah asked for a sign as proof. Isaiah said ‘Do you want the sun to go ahead 10 degrees?’
Hezekiah said, ‘It is nothing for the sun to go ahead 10 degrees, but let the shadow return backward 10 degrees.’ Isaiah spoke to the Lord, and the Lord brought the shadow ten degrees BACKWARD! Ten degrees is exactly 40 minutes!’
Twenty-three hours and 20 minutes in Joshua, plus 40 minutes in Second Kings make the missing day in the universe! Isn’t it amazing?
References: Joshua 10:8, 12-13 and 2 Kings 20:9-11.
If God could do this then; how much more can He do for us today, if we only believe in His word. Never be afraid to try something new. Even like, “doing church differently.”
Remember that my recent messages has been about having to put new wine into new wine skins, as told in Mark 2:22, by no other than Jesus.
“And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. The wine would burst the wine skins, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine needs new wine skins.”
This means, in contemporary terms, our minds must be elastic enough to receive and contain new ideas. It seems that we must always struggle against the prejudice of a closed mind. He told this to the ridged religious leaders of that tiame and is still speaking, to us, today, about our resistance to new things to come.
Also, I have spoken recently about the fact that we are living in “The Third Day.” Or, should I say, “The Third Millennium.” Like… 3000 years from the life of Christ to this time in God’s history.
So today’s message title is “War Over Wineskins.”
Or, should I say, can your mind expand enough to consider doing church differently?
Start expanding you mind. It’s coming.
But, let us discuss things like:
What does it mean to “do” church differently?
What does “change” really mean?
What does “new” really mean?
Let’s take them one at a time;
NEW = an adjective used to describe,
Definition – different, fresh, innovative, novel
FRESH = an adjective used to describe
Definition – not previously used
ADDITIONAL = adjective used to describe
Definition – Extra, added, fresh, more, new
PRESENT = an adjective used to describe
Definition – in existence now, contemporary, current
It seems easy to remain vague about change, until it is defined. With “change” being one of the driving themes of an entire shift in US politics, everyone is crying out for more clarity, more specificity, more steps, more exact actions.
What do we mean by change? And what are we actually changing?
To see true change come to the church may sound similar to the nebulous eco-political jargon of today. We don’t want to offend anyone in the church so we often couch our nomenclature in ambiguous terms, or at least religious ones, like, we just need “renewal,” we just need “revival,” we just need “reformation.”
But without specificity most people read that as we just need a new “program,” we just need a new “vision,” we just need a new “pastor,” or at least newer “buildings,” and new, softer “pews.”
So, we find ourselves adjusting the lighting, laying down new carpet. Trading in the old pews for theater seats, buying the hottest new flesh tone wireless microphones, firing an old preacher, hiring a new preacher. We work at doing fresh demographic studies and change the order of service, of if all else fail add a new services on a new night.
But this time, that will not be enough, it will not work. All of this is merely patching the wineskins.
O.K., so we will paint the wineskin, put new carpet in the wineskin, rearrange the seating in the wineskin. Add a second wineskin, maybe even a Saturday night wineskin for the younger set.
Of course none of these changes make a difference over the long haul. Sure, we may get a few kudos about some of the subtle shifts and slight changes we have engineered. But has anything really changed for real and for the long run? We even brag about the changes we have made at the Annual Wineskin Convention, maybe even write a book about our new wineskin, and start an association around this new way of wine skinning.
But honestly nothing really changes, all we do is end up diluting the wine, forgetting that the purpose of the church is to accommodate what God is doing, not praying and make God cooperate with what we are doing.
With time these aesthetic adjustments too will fade; this time we need something more. Right now, like no other time in history, we need a completely “new” way of doing church, a “new” way of being the church: a new way, not an additional way, or even just a fresh way, and definitely not the present way.
You don’t think so. What is happening to our youth. What is happening to young married couples. They are running away by the droves. We’d better wake up.
Christianity is growing by leaps and bounds in other countries in the last decade while it is diminishing in the United State of America.
I know, I know… some of you are getting hot under the collar right now. Remember the title of today’s message… The War Over Wineskins. All I can say to you is: “You are not at war with me, but when it begins to happen you will be at war with God.”
All of this requires first a complete and definitive ‘paradigm funeral.’ A willingness to start all over with a highly missional, highly participatory band of believers, who regularly care for one another and make themselves readily accessible to the lost by inviting them into their homes for “meatings,” m-e-a-t-i-n-g-s not “meetings,” m-e-e-t-i-n-g-s.”
Oh, you don’t think that would work. Hmmmm…. It seemed to work for the disciples of Jesus’ day. New believers were brought to Christ by the thousands.
Let’s return to simple church and a common meal with a common cup, and not “meetings” with more of the “sit, soak and sour,” as a professional does all of the talking but, instead, meetings that are a highly prophetic act and the released Holy Spirit to function in and through the people at His bidding, relying on His leadership, not the scripted program that worked last week.
Let’s refuse to sit in silence leaving the meeting with more we simply can’t apply to our lives, or the lives of others.
Let’s do 24/7 missional church rather than another weekend when we drive to a campus, struggle through a twenty minute search for a parking space, an athletic sprint to drop of the children at the Christian babysitters, another mad dash to the coffee kiosk, and then a press to find a decent seat before the performance begins. Only to look around for the first twenty minutes trying to find the family you want to go to lunch and spend the afternoon with after the meeting.
“Nor do people put new wine into old wine skins, or else the wineskins will break, the wine is spilled, and the wine skins are ruined. But they put new wine in new wine skins, and both are preserved.” (Matthew 9:17).
I didn’t say that…. Christ said it.
No more crying over spilled wine. It is now time for a “new” way of doing and being church, not a “renewed,” or “refreshed,” or “repainted,” or “redecorated,” or a “refurbished,” or “re-patched” one.
No more “patching” of the old wine skins, we have already polluted and diluted way too much of the good wine, the old wine skin couldn’t handle the radical lifestyle of the next generation, the passionate, missional movement that is in front of us, even the press to the level of intimate, yet expressive worship of the new wine. It is time for a totally new wineskin.
So, where do we start? We must examine the current church system.
- The current church system is designed to produce dependency on the system.
- The two major obstacles to removing people from dependency of the current church system are the church building and paid professionals. We need to find a way to create a new organizational system that doesn’t rely on either. Jesus didn’t.
- We need to find a way to redeem people’s generosity by removing the obstacles (such as buildings and paid staff) and thus releasing people’s resources directly into missional opportunities.
- Dependency is ultimately dysfunctional because we’re not designed to be dependent forever. We’re designed to become interdependent mature people who can love.
- We know how to do 500 people really well. But we don’t know how to do 12 people really well. Jesus modeled the latter.
- The primary concern and fear by the current church system is that if we actually release people to become the priesthood of believers they will sure fall into heresy. Funny, heresy exists regardless, always has, always will. Example: We have 30,000 denominations. Some of them are wrong. But Jesus left His followers, and released His Holy Spirit to lead ordinary people. Can we do the same?
- Exponential growth happens when people participated in what God was already doing. Not through prayer events to call down God to bless our latest agreed upon program we picked up at the latest conference or ministry fair.
That will never work, Bro Dick!!! Really? It is already working in many other countries. All I’m trying to do is to expand your mind, stretch your thinking, because, it is coming.
Are these specific enough challenges for today’s church to face? You will have to decide if they are.
You also will have to decide what approach to any remedies you are going to risk. If you are really serious about change and not just a repatch of the wineskin, you will have to ask God what He wants you to do, not what I want you to do, not what you want to do; and then address what is holding you back.
Not next week or next month. But, keep you spiritual eyes and ears open and above all keep your mind open.
It could mean completely rethinking your views on the church as it relates to the land (properties, facilities) the learning (training systems, learning dynamics) and the leadership (styles: both old and new) and then address those models you insist on perpetuating that continue to weaken today’s legacy church.
O.K. Eventually, I don’t know what everyone is going to do with their buildings and/or their addictions to them, and I am definitely not a real estate agent. But one thing is sure, we must rethink the price and priority we pay for what was once considered, at least in America, our greatest asset.
We are infatuated by our facilities, many times not realizing that the edifice addiction totally and completely impacts how we think and do church in every way.
In a day when church campuses experience bankruptcy (both physically and spiritually) as well foreclosure, we can no longer feed this Constantinian edifice complex that harnesses our souls to the lending brokers of our day and prevents us from fulfilling our mission.
- Do we give away our buildings to our local civic governments who will turn them into Boys and Girls Clubs? With, perhaps, a clause in the contracts that we have priority use for off times (weekends, etc.) for events or celebrations?
- Do we remodel our facilities to use them every day as feeding and training centers for the uneducated and underdeveloped? And maybe rent them back for our larger celebrations?
- Do we redevelop and redesign our entire property to be turned into low cost housing for the poor and homeless? Set up ministry offices and ministry bases for those missionary units to live and work among the poor?
- Whatever we do, we no longer have luxury to treat the church as a piece of real estate, but as a people, a people highly empowered, highly emboldened, and fully released from the excess weight of mortgage and maintenance to fulfill their mission.
We simply can no longer be a people who “go” to a building for “church.” We must become the church wherever we “go.”
We have long contended for both the “gathered” paradigm of the church as well as the “scattered” paradigm. And long believed you learn more one-on-one, in small groups, in book groups, small accountability groups, even through “webinar-type” interaction on the internet.
Sure, these larger meetings need larger places. So when called by God to do them rent the meeting halls, the restaurants, the civic centers, the school auditoriums, and the stadiums. And if the climate supports, move them outside so the whole world can see.
But as long as the people of God keep making their weekly pilgrimage to the “Church Building,” that address on the corner of Main Street USA will remain iconic. The church is a reality, and not an activity or an address.
People are the church, so I don’t ask people anymore, “What church do you go to?” Or, “Where do you go to church?” But rather, if I am curious, I might ask, “Who they are walking with?” or, “Who are you hanging out with these days?” or even, “Who do you enjoy authentic fellowship with?”
No where does Jesus call us to “Go to church.” He does say connect often and build each other up whenever you can. Body life is where a local group of people choose to walk together for a bit of the journey by cultivating close friendships and learning how to listen to God together. Buildings don’t meet, people do.
Dr. Joseph Umidi, President of Lifeforming Leadership Coaching states it as simple as it gets.
“Jesus defines “success” as the bottom line of whether or not we are making disciples. Discipleship is almost entirely relational in a combination of small group and one on one culture, outside of church meetings, and especially through the influence of healthy conversations from healthy families around the table. Until spiritual fathers and mothers are themselves disciple, transformationally, they are dependent on programs and methods that are information transactions more than life transfer.”
Life transformation or information transactions? It is pretty easy to see that tweaking a meeting in which the genesis of that meeting is and always has been to create a setting where one man teaches all, simple doesn’t work anymore, in fact never has, at least in the arena of disciple-making.
Sorry, this time, no cigar! People need transformation and not just a cooler meeting room. We must be about the business of making disciples, not collecting people and then trading them like trading cards.
Even Bill Hybels of the Willow Creek Association authentically announced that his “seeker-friendly” congregations did not produce transformational change in the lives of its members; meaning they were not discipled. And George Barna’s extensive research states we live with a discipleship deficit in the American church.
The local church was never meant to be led by the Lone Pastor, there is no “one-man-teaches-all” working model in the NT. The local church was meant to be fathered by an Elder, a local person of wisdom and reality, who relates to an Apostolic Team.
Apostolic team? What’s that? That which we, the church, has thrown away. Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists and Pastors
When the people of God get unleashed and we actually begin to mobilize masses of people, we create a new synergy for effective leadership, and now no longer require the heavy investment of time, energy and money into church buildings and administrative factories called Bible colleges and seminaries.
How can we do away with such? Have you heard of the Holy Spirit?
And this whole shift? Is cheaper, more efficient, and definitely more biblical all the way around.
When local house churches and smaller ministries get networked into regional movements rather than competitive fortresses, the Elders and the members of the Ephesians 4 team, (Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists and Pastors who teach) can circulate “from house to house,” or call together larger apostolic regional gatherings for conferences, seminars, workshops, open worship nights, celebrations and parties with lots of sounds, expressions, and participation with the whole body ministering. Yes,the whole body ministering We are all disciples, called to disciple others to the discipline of the Bible.
We can enjoy these larger Christian meetings, celebrations and parties that our culture enjoys, but they are not the life transforming times for intentional discipleship and mutual mentoring that we live in in our weekly smaller groups.
A Pastor (or shepherd) is a very necessary part of this whole team. But because he/she cannot fulfill more than just a part of the whole task of “equipping the saints for the ministry,” he/she has to be complemented synergistically by the other Ephesians 4 ministries in order to function properly.
A Pastor is a part of that apostolic team, not the sole leader of a local church. That is done by elders who have been released into their vision, their ministry, and equipped by the Apostolic Teams. The elders are freed from the chore of managing the investments of the church, the upkeep of the church, the planning of the programs. They can concentrate on their ministry equipped by the Apostolic Team.
People are rightly related to each other now, entering into personal responsibility for their own Christian walk and uniquely within a group of people who will help do the rest by intentional relationship.
The mutual mentoring of these groups led by the Elders, surface any ongoing needs that must be addressed at different times by the Apostolic Team.
The natural fathers, the elders, are in the best place to assess and assist in assimilating the life transforming process no matter how long it takes, or how many tracks it goes down.
This kind of leading and growth does not come through endless series of messages. This type of fathering comes from specifically designed truths that deal with real life issues within the lives of the believers in house groups in real time.
The groups now experience the benefit of extended times of chewing and re-chewing in the full application and learning of what is being taught. Very unlike the average generic 20-minute versions meant to be the “one-size-fits-all” during the weekend meeting.
It is a Christian life we are called to, not a series of Christian meetings. Who are you living your life with, sharing your life with, who helps carry your burdens and you theirs? Who are you growing together with, who knows what is your current process of walking out certain applied truths and or problems in your own life, in your family and in your community?
Sorry, we can no longer try to patch a sinking ship with duct tape, we no longer can cure the sickness of today’s church with a band aid or some new translation or paraphrase of the text of God’s Word. It requires drastic measures this time.
As the clock chides me to finish let me end by saying:
Whatever we have been doing, whatever we have been perpetuating, and whatever we have been paying for is not and has not been working to build God’s Kingdom. Notice, I said God’s Kingdom on earth, not building the local church or the denomination. We must demand a full refund and must start all over. From a full and a complete New Testament perspective.
This time we must give up the old system and step up to the bar, as the best wine has been preserved to the last as stated in John 2:9-10 (KJV)
9 When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,
10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.
This time we have been given permission to do church differently in the 21st century, and with new wine skins.
Most of this message I obtained from Gary Goodell, a former evangelist, pastor, college dean and instructor involved in ministry for almost 50 years. He is an author and consultant working with the international church planting movement known as Third Day, that he and some friends founded in 2001. Third Day International now involves leadership and ministries in over 20 nations.
His two books, “Permission Granted To Do Church Differently in the 21st Century,” and “Where Would Jesus Lead?” are both available online.
Until next Sunday same time same station
Throughout this message I kept saying “it is coming,” “it is coming.”
Take notice, however, it has been happening since 2001. We have just been slow in keeping up. Or perhaps I should say we have been unwilling to adjust our thinking or our wine skins.
America Bless God and God will Bless America