witness

When the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord are you going to free Israel now and restore our kingdom?” “The Father sets those dates,” he replied, “and they are not for you to know. But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere-in Jerusalem, throughout Judea in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”. (Acts 1:6-8)

I love the transparent honesty that the gospel writers and Luke (in Acts) employ to portray the disciples/apostles! This Acts 1 passage is one of our standard Great Commission mandates. Yet I believe it reveals far more about human nature and the radical character of our witness than we might realize. First, human nature: the apostles still did not get it! After three years of Jesus’ teaching – and an extra 40 days of intensive post resurrection leadership training – the apostles are still wondering when Jesus will overthrow the Romans and restore a political kingdom to the Jews. At the end of the day, we humans are still mostly impressed by power, aren’t we?

Jesus’ response challenges me. I think it reveals the type of witnesses we are called to be. Jesus submits himself to the Father. The Father sets dates, and Jesus states that He doesn’t need to know them. Furthermore, He informs His disciples that they don’t need to know them either. Their role is to just submit themselves to the call of being witnesses everywhere, at all times. Bearing witness in this context is explained in Philippians 2: Jesus chose to submit Himself to the Father in absolutely astonishing ways, rather than trumpet himself as the omnipotent Christ who will triumph over sickness, annihilate evildoers and overturn human pride and kingdoms. All three of these, and many more things besides, Jesus does and will do. However, the Jesus we are called to bear witness of is the One who submitted His will to the Father and who reconciles hopeless, undeserving sinners to a just and Holy God.

In some ways this is hard to fathom – and far less exciting than a martial arts hero who will kick “Satanic butt” with flair. Yet it seems my call to be a witness involves my submission to the Father and the Holy Spirit, who will lead me to proclaim the good news concerning the humble King. Yes, the Spirit will work in power, but the gospel we share is far more concerned about spiritual power and kingdoms than political power and kingdoms.

This summer the EFCC conference (July 21-24 at Sun Peaks near Kamloops, BC) will celebrate 25 years of kingdom advance and plateau, in the EFCC. The theme will reiterate this challenge for us to be witnesses of this Christ. Our them is “REGENERATE: Plant. Water. Grow.” I long for the day when we have the passion again to return to the basics that will trigger a spiritual power in our movement in Canada and around the world that will change lives for eternity!

So pray with us as we approach EFCC Conference this summer and plan to join us! We are all witnesses after all. Is our witness shallow hype? Or is it something more spiritually substantive?

Your fellow witness,

Bill

conferenceinvite

Please plan to attend EFCC Conference 2010! This year our theme is Regenerate: Plant. Water. Grow.

We are really excited about this Conference. For starters it will be held in the picturesque Sun Peaks Resort. This gives opportunities for bike-riding, hiking, swimming or just enjoying the scenery.

We are planning some excellent plenary sessions and seminar topics. But we’re also leaving lots of time open for connecting and sharing with other leaders and members of the EFCC community.

We hope you will take advantage of what we’re offering at EFCC Conference 2010. We’re looking forward to seeing you all there!

Registration is now open!

Finally, you can download a high-quality print of this invite by clicking here. Share it with your church family. Everyone who attends will be blessed, and will be a blessing!

churchplanting

You’re invited! Trinity Western Seminary is hosting a Church Planting Bootcamp.

You can see more details from the official brochure by clicking here.

To download the registration form, click here.

This promises to be a dynamic event to put more arrows in your creative quiver, and help you understand and develop your God-given calling to begin new faith communities.

PulseTV is back with a new episode (this is the 4th one, if that kind of thing matters to you). Our two capable anchormen, Rich and Bill are back with compelling stories, one from Canada, and one from abroad. A name you may not have heard is Jeff — he’s a fourth year student at Trinity Western University, and is helping with a variety of our communication efforts. The process of shooting and editing this video was pretty much entirely left up to him. Thanks Jeff!

As always, this video is viewable on YouTube (above), and for downloading to your own computer (right-click on links below to save files):
Download the MP4 version (43.8MB)
Download the WMV version (25.4MB)

We hope that these stories are encouraging to you and the people around you as you share them. We’d love to hear how you’re using these in your social groups in the comments below.

kickoff

“You won’t die!” the serpent hissed.  “God knows that your eyes will be opened when you eat it.  You will become just like God, knowing everything, both good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5)

Well, another Christmas is gone, the presents and decorations filed away.  And it is a new year.  I love this time of year – a time of resolutions, new beginnings – an annual “do-over”.

Speaking of new beginnings, I am back reading in Genesis again.  You really can’t get more “beginnings” than Genesis and reading it is always a painful reminder of the reason I need a yearly “do-over” – I come from a long line of wayward sinners. And apparently you don’t have to go too far into a year before you need a new beginning – it seems like Adam and Eve are barely into this new adventure together and they are lured out of sync with their Creator.

This New Year is a bit of a special one – not only do we kick off a new year, but a new decade.  I am tempted to dream about what my life – and my family – and the EFCC family – will look like by 2020. And if I listen to all the self help coaches out there, I should be busy not only visualizing the future, but creating it.  There is likely some truth in this approach, but I am painfully aware that a bit of this attitude is what sunk Eve.  The serpent got her to ignore the agenda of God because she had the chance to see…to understand…to be like God – all knowing, powerful and in control.  So this year I am trying to hold my plans a little more loosely – with a bit more humility.  It’s not that making plans is wrong – it’s just that I know that Eve’s temptation is mine. I want to know, to understand, to control, to be like God.  These are the attributes of God that interest me the most anyway.  Being longsuffering, forgiving, loving, holy – well, these are attributes of God too, but somehow I’m not as tempted to be like those attributes of God.  No, I like the ones that can make me significant, successful and independent.  But independence sends me my own way and leads to shame, and shame leads to hiding from God, and that leads to excuses, blaming, broken relationships…and ultimately, death.

All in all, I’m excited about 2010 – and this decade.  I have a sense that God is going to do some amazing stuff in the EFCC and this world this decade.  But I’m OK with not having complete clarity and control of how it will all play out.  God’s spirit will move, we will attempt to follow, and He will build His Church and Kingdom.  It is an honour to follow and fellowship with my Creator – by faith, not by sight.

Trusting you are looking forward with hope,

Bill