rss

CMF eZine


The online magazine of the Christian Military Fellowship.


Excellence in All Things

Excellence in All Things

While our adversary prowls around … seeking someone to devour (1Pe 5:8), we resist him, strengthened in The Lord by praying for each other, supporting each other as the Proverbs 11:14 multitude of counselors, living the seven “reproducibles”. Inductive Bible Study, Conversational Prayer, and Scripture Memory were outlined last month. Here we’ll consider Excellence, Growing Together, and Pray-and-Plan.

Excellence in all things. “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (Col 3:17) Part of an integrated life, this is an attitude to be lived, modeled, encouraged. Military duties, marital and family relations, social life, recreation…everything reflects who we are and how God is working in us, so everything deserves to be excellent, high-quality, … an act of worship (cf Col 3:17,23). In addition to making “even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Pr 16:7 NKJV), such worship reveals God’s transforming, empowering Life in us!

Finding an “excellent” solution involves understanding the problem and balancing solution approaches and quality with expectations and such realities as resources and time available…a second opinion often helps me recognize traps like perfectionism (late at best, maybe impossible) or laziness (“just get something out the door”). Whether that opinion comes from my wife, friends/co-workers, or the guys I pray with, it’s an example of encouraging one another unto love and good works (Heb 10:24)

Pray and Plan, below, is an excellent way to find our way to excellence individually, as families, as groups/teams, etc.

Grow together. We “Run Together” because we value and need each other. Interacting, learning from, and strengthening each other we move beyond anonymity and isolation, beyond dependence to empowerment, to finding the way forward through prayer and Bible study together, guided by the Holy Spirit. Often this means regularly getting together face-to-face, but we can maintain the connections by a handshake as we cross paths at shift-change, etc, or from a distance by messaging app’s, cell-phone, etc. Far beyond “another meeting to go to,” this can lead to the Jesus-centered lifestyle, unity, and joy of Acts 2:42-47, to favor with all the people, to The Lord adding to those who are being saved!

We’re in this together! We benefit from whatever leadership experience or Biblical background anyone brings to the group, while respecting the IBS guideline that “All who want to may participate; No one dominates.” This lets us all explore together with “awe-inspired fear and trembling” how to “bring (our salvation) to full effect” (Phil 2: 12, Amplified). Check out the Australian MCF’s “Small Group Code of Conduct” at the link below.

In between meetings there’s a low-tech approach to growing together: “journal” by screenshots inside a smartphone Bible app or DTO study form and “text” it to your buddy (see the briefing at the link). There are printable cards at the link to use with your pocket Bible in a no-electronics environment; pray for a buddy on the same outpost or “inside the same fence”.

The key is staying centered on learning and living the Word, connected with each other to grow together, to recognize and resist the enemy’s lies and distractions together, to build up one another. Use simple ideas, simple tools, low overhead activities...SIMPLE ENOUGH THAT THEY GET USED!

Pray and Plan. “Running Together” implies that we’re going in the same direction toward shared goals. Pray and Plan (P&P) engages us together in developing direction and goals as we prayerfully let our insights complement and complete each other, working together in Jesus’ presence to let Him align our wills with His (Mt 18:20), to understand His direction.

Whether it’s a small group deciding what to study next, or a group of leaders planning a large-scale event like a conference, the distinguishing aspect of P&P is how the meeting is conducted. The AMCF Reference Manual (access via the link below) describes the process:

The Process. The essential start point for a Pray and Plan is prayer and praise … to “take every thought captive to obey Christ." (2 Cor.10:5) … mention the subjects for which prayer is needed…explain a bit of background where necessary…prayer for each subject mentioned.

Discerning The Plan. …The discussion should not be dominated by any one member … a group of sharing and expectant Christians who are sensitive to the Lord's leading. When there is no agreement on an issue the group should turn to specific prayer and then try again to discern by discussion what the Lord is saying. The characteristic of Pray and Plan should be consensus, but sometimes when seeking to undertake a new initiative a group will have to meet three or four times before the Lord will reveal the fundamental issue, such as the essential aim of the undertaking from which all else depends. The Lord can as easily reveal detail to a Pray and Plan team as He can reveal principles.

The Pray and Plan team should close each meeting with a time of praise and thanksgiving that the Lord has given the team His wisdom and discernment.

A small group is likely to P&P about what to study next; how to bring a new member up to speed on E&RT basics; how to serve “where we are” (the needs, how to reach out effectively )’; “have we grown to the point where we should become 2 groups (‘divide to multiply’)?”

Pray and Plan works for individuals praying alone, for families, for teams, ….
Conclusion. See http://ow.ly/qCfk30e12lm  for the previous E&RT articles, a briefing, resources & links.

Think of the E&RT “reproducibles” as aspects of a single, integrated, Christ-focused life. As they come to characterize our daily lives we’ll realize we’re already leading by example … the topic for next time.

Live the Essentials

Live the Essentials

Live the Essentials

Live the essentials as we Engage & Run TOGETHER!

Following Christ in a demanding environment calls for simple ideas, simple tools, low overhead activities, and personal initiative. Inductive Bible Study, Conversational Prayer, and scripture memorization, the three individual / small group “Reproducibles”, help us continue steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. (Acts 2:42)

The Holy Spirit is our primary counselor as we study and pray. He also uses a group as part of Proverbs 11:14’s “multitude of counselors”, confirming or overriding human insights which may come up, directly or by bringing up the appropriate Scripture for teaching, reproof, correction, or training in righteousness….(2 Tim 3:16)

Inductive Bible Study (IBS) is the study of a limited portion of Scripture by a small group in an informal, discovery style. It emphasizes hearing from God, devotion, and obedience (“what do I do with this”) in context of all of Scripture, while not trying to force acceptance of controversial doctrines or denominational distinctives. The basic guidelines are: Stick to the passage; All who want to may participate; No one dominates; Answer 3 questions: What does it say? What does it mean? What does it mean to me? The traditional who/what/where/when/why/how questions can be useful for understanding what it means; the CMF DTOs offer Bible study tips and a study form to provide additional structure. The DTOs and verse cards at the link below are a good place to start.

The leader’s role is primarily administrative, rather than “teaching”, involving start/stop times and helping the group follow the guidelines. It’s normally best to stay in the agreed passage so that those with less experience aren’t intimidated; at times it will be important to refer to complementary or balancing scriptures for “the rest of the story.”

A group as small as two (The Holy Spirit plus one) can engage in Inductive Bible Study!

Conversational Prayer (CP) is clearly not the only way to pray. It is presented here because many national Military Christian Fellowships have found that it produces an increased consciousness of God's presence, resulting in greater group vitality and unity. CP follows the normal rules of polite conversation … only one speaks/prays at a time … 2-3 sentences or a short paragraph as the others pray along silently. Someone else prays next. At least one person follows up the current topic before a new topic is started, perhaps praying about other details or from a different perspective. Who is the next to pray? Anyone else! Silence in between is fine; it leaves time to hear God speak. Include adoration & praise to God, confession & petition for ourselves, intercession for others. Leave “who’s next” to the Holy Spirit rather than “going around the room.”

And consider conversational prayer as a group of two…God plus one!

Scripture Memory and Meditation help us live Joshua 1:8’s “… you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it.” (NKJV) Learn the passage (with its “address” before and after), and understand the context. Hide/treasure it in your heart that you may not sin against Him (Ps 119:11). Meditate on it as you review, prayerfully asking “what does it say/mean/mean to me”, sing it, chant it, pray it … let the Word transform / renew your mind, your reactions & relationships. Some printable verse cards are available at the link, along with a template for making your own.

Conclusion: IBS, CP, & Scripture memory/meditation are practical forms of individual and small-group worship reproducible in even the harshest, most primitive environments. They’re simple ideas, simple tools, low overhead activities.
This is the second article in the “Engage & Run Together (E&RT)” series. Article #3 will address “Excellence in all Things”, “Grow Together”, and “Pray and Plan”. For the overview article, briefing, & further resources see
http://ow.ly/qCfk30e12lm

Let’s invite others to join us in living this self-reproducing integrated life of faith!

Christian Unity

This writer is often asked “Why are there so many church divisions and denominations?”  there is no easy answer to this honest question.

The lack of unity is based upon the diversity of mankind and the desire to be independent and in control as Adam and Eve chose.

The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die!  For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
(Gen 3:4-5 NASB)

Additional confusion has developed when Christian leaders fail to look to Jesus Christ, the Head of the church for His will and direction as in Israel and the time of the Judges.

In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (Judges 21:25 NASB)

Christian leaders and their followers tend to be prideful over their unique and “true” interpretation of the Scripture, traditions, lifestyle and goals.  Because of these distinctives they look down on those who do not hold them and separate from associating with them.  They warn their followers not to associate with others who do not hold to the same teaching for fear of losing them.

Attempts for Organizational Unity

Over the years some denominations and church organizations have sought to join together, but were unable to reconcile practices regarding the Lord’s Supper (Communion) and the meaning, time and mode of Baptism.  Differences of church government (Pastor led, elder rule or congregational) at times were also divisive.  Jesus said regarding Biblical salvation:

I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.  (John 14:6 NASB)

Most Christian churches and organizations believe that there is only one way to gain salvation and that is through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ.  However, even understanding  the biblical nature of salvation divides.  Must a Christian be a member of a certain church to be saved?  Can one loose their salvation and then regain it by repentance?  Or is a Christian’s salvation secure in Christ and cannot be lost?  Jesus prayed:

The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.  (John 17:22-23 NASB)

Even in the early church there were  divisions regarding leaders.

For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe's people, that there are quarrels among you.  Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” Has Christ been divided?  Paul was not crucified for you, was he?  Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? (1Corinthians 1:11-13 NASB)

The Apostle Paul expresses his understanding of Christian unity.

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.  (Ephesians 4:1-6 NASB)

Examples of Unity Among Individual Christians

This writer was a missionary to the US military stationed in  the Philippines.  We ministered to men and women from about 50 different church backgrounds plus many who were unchurched or unsaved.  Our focus was upon Jesus Christ, salvation, bible study and the Christian’s daily life in Christ Jesus.

Rarely were the various church differnces brought up or condemned because of our oneness and focus on Christ.

Who are you to judge the servant of another?  To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.  (Rom 14:4 NASB)

Daily Life and Christian Unity

Jesus promised that wherever you go He will always be with you.

For He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5b NASB)

Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.  (John 16:24 NASB)

Since the Lord Jesus Christ dwells within you by His Holy Spirit, it is fitting while talking with other Christians indwelt with Him, to give credit and praise to Jesus for all of the factors of your life and whatever your circumstances may be.

It is always appropriate to pray with other believers.  You may pray for Christ’s provision for whatever their needs may be.  You can praise Him for His grace, provision and protection.  You can thank Him for His love and care.

“Making” a Disciple Takes Time

To make a disciple-making disciple requires that someone pours their life with Jesus into another person, until that person looks only to Jesus.

Modern life in the developed world has changed much from the first century but the principle that Jesus illustrates is still the same.  Those who are called to love and serve God must be disciples by others who have gone before them.  New believers must see what it looks like when someone puts God first.  They must watch others as they strive to put God first in all things.  They must observe what it ooks like when another man lives by and obeys the Holy Scriptures.  And they must be in a relationship of trust such that they can ask honest questions.

My first real encounter with this discipling pattern of Jesus, in an intentional way, came when I was taken under the wing of a wise old pastor who lives thousands of miles away form me.  He suggested we talk each week for an hour by phone.  At first we just got to know one another, and he answered some of my pressing questions.  But as time went on I realized that he and I were in a different relationship than any I had had before.  He wanted me to only seek for Jesus’ affirmation.  He only wanted for me what God wanted for me.

My life in the institutional church had not been like that.  Though many in authority would have said otherwise, the general relationship I had with my ecclesiastical superiors was all about organizational accountability and performance.  ...In my forty-four years of ordained ministry, I was never called to talk for an hour about my life and ministry as a disciple of Jesus.

A disciple-making disciple cares about those he is discipling.  He prays for them, and loves them, and gives himself to them.  All he knows of the Lord he shares with them.  And perhaps the most important thing he gives them is time.

Jon Shuler, NAMS Network, September 27, 2016 (excerpted).

About the Author:

Pastor Bingham is the founder of CupBearers, and was for 17 years a missionary with Cadence International and has been the Pastor of Rocky Mountain Evangelical Free Church for 32 years.  He also served on the CMF Board of Directors for several years. 

Shepherding Grace Ministries
PO Box 1930
Englewood, CO 80150-1930
http://www.ShepherdingGrace.org

 


Christian Military Fellowship

An Indigenous Ministry • Discipleship • Prayer • Community • Support
Encouraging Men and Women in the United States Armed Forces, and their families, to love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

Contact Us

  • Address:
    PO Box 1207, Englewood, CO 80150-1207

  • Phone: (800) 798-7875

  • Email: admin@cmfhq.org

Webmaster

Book Offers