Is Christ Enough?

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I am now writing a series of blog posts concerning the above question: Is Christ Enough?

We will explore and apply that question to various areas of our lives such as:

  • Our physical provision in this life
  • Our emotional well being
  • The way we think about things
  • Our personal lifestyles
  • The practical outworking of the kingdom
  • Our families

And perhaps many other things…


Our Physical Provision in this Life

loaves“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? “And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
(Matthew 6:19-34)

The Big Deal

This is a really big deal for us Christians in this modern age.  And it’s especially true of the so called “western world” or “first world”. That’s because we spend so much of our time and energy and attention on “making a living” and providing for our families.  In impoverished countries provision is also a huge distraction because of always needing to find your next meal! So we have the opposite sides of the same coin, that of being mammon (riches or for some just daily bread).

I cannot speak much into the impoverished scenario since I was born, grew up, and lived most of my life in America.  However, I have seen the needy not only in this country but in several third world countries as well.  But I mostly work here (in the U.S.) helping organic expressions of the Body of Christ.  And yet it’s obvious that our Lord’s words in Matthew 6 apply to all people everywhere.  Therefore, I believe this post will apply to everyone in the world even though I may use some examples from my own environment.

It looks to me from the passage above that Jesus went out of His way to hit this nail really hard on its head!  Apparently, even in those days this was a big deal.  Of course, we cannot live without food and drink.  Just won’t happen unless God supernaturally intervenes.  So this is an important matter.  I remember when I was in West Africa and my friend and I went to one of the sidewalk shops and found a statue of a man sitting almost like the “Thinker” by Rodin.  Except this statue had one major difference… he had no stomach!  Curious about this, I asked the store clerk what it meant.  He told me that the man was trying very hard NOT to think about his stomach because he was very hungry!  Wow!  What an eye opener that was!  So this is something that effects everyone throughout the world no matter what their situation may be.  We are driven to find provision because we absolutely must eat and drink – end of story.  However, that is not the main point of the words of our Lord.

The Main Point

From what I can see in this passage in Matthew 6 these are the main points Jesus makes:

  • Do not approach provision the same way that the Gentiles (heathen) do
  • In the Kingdom of God we are not to worry about such things
  • In the Kingdom of God we are not to “store up” or provide for our future provision because if you do your heart focus will be on those “things”
  • This means that you will not only be distracted from the Kingdom but your whole focus (eye) will be polluted
  • Don’t worry!  God is very able to take care of you!  Worry is fear and is the opposite of faith and trust in God
  • We should be like birds and lilies!  They live a simple life of complete dependence upon God
  • Our full focus should always be on Jesus Christ and His Kingdom and nothing else

Wow!  Is this something we all need to hear or what?!?!  I would say that 90% of the believers that we work with in organic churches in the United States struggle with this issue as one of the top five struggles.  There is the incredible pressure all around us to keep up with the “status quo” or “the Jones’s” and whatever that all means.  Especially in large metropolitan areas there is what we used to call “the rat race” which means that we are all running around like chickens with our heads cut off trying to “make it” in the world around us.  The pressure of social and financial “success” is everywhere and in everything we are taught.  That’s why we are told that we need to go to college and get a degree so that we can be qualified to get a good job, and more importantly, a good career.

And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.”  (Matthew 6:28-29)

I have been sharing recently with a few churches about the Song of Solomon.  It has been an incredible experience.

Do you realize that “the Lilies” is one of the themes throughout the Song?

 My beloved has gone down to his garden, To the beds of balsam, To pasture his flock in the gardens And gather lilies.  (Song of Songs 6:2 )

The Beloved here is our Lord Jesus, the King!  The Maiden (the Bride) is telling us that He pastures his flock in the garden to gather lilies.  There are five other references to the lilies in the Song.  Jesus is looking to gather together the lilies.  The only reference in the New Testament is the one in Matthew 6 and yet it completely ties in Christ as the One (the Beloved) who is gathering lilies!

lilies_images

However, there are things that get in the way and the world is one of them.

Brothers and sisters, we are not a part of the world system!

In fact, pertaining to that system we should have the same attitude as the apostle Paul:

But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Galatians 6:14)

In other words; We are now completely DEAD to the world system and the world system to us!

But is this how we really live?  If we are really honest with ourselves isn’t it true that we get most of our cues from this world system instead of God’s kingdom? Saints, do you know who is the mastermind behind the scenes controlling the world system?

We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. (1 John 5:19)

But are we taking cues for our lives from this system?  Are we swallowing the lies, philosophies, psychology, goals, and dreams of that system instead of the Lord Jesus Christ in His Kingdom?  Is the “American Dream” our dream or is it what King Jesus wants?

Seeking the kingdom means that we put all of our attention, our goals, our resources, our thoughts, our time, and our focus on the interests of God instead of Man!

A Promise from the King

And guess what?  The Lord Jesus (the King of the Kingdom of God) guarantees us that if we put His interests and priorities first that He will completely take care of all our physical provision!  And that’s not all!  He also promises us that we will live a worry-free life.  Do you see that?  Matt. 6:33 is a spiritual principle.  But it is a conditional principle!  It’s as if He is saying: “if you do this, then I will do that.”  If you see first my interests, my purpose, my kingdom, then I will take care of all your physical needs.  Wow!  What a deal!!!

Seeing the Unseen

Of course, what our Lord is talking about here is pure and simple faith.  That is, complete trust in Him.  It is by faith that we bring things that are not seen into the seen realm.  It has to do with the word “substantiation”.

Now faith is the substantiating of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
(Hebrews 11:1)

The word “substantiating” literally means:

  1. to establish by proof or competent evidence
  2. to substantiate a charge
  3. to give substantial existence to
  4. to substantiate an idea through action
  5. to affirm as having substance; give body to; strengthen

In other words; faith actually brings the invisible into the visible world!  When we trust God with all of our provision He will do it!  He will bring it into this physical world by our simple trust in Him.

What a King we have!

Why I’m Still Involved with Talking About, Writing About, and Planting Organic Churches

And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
(Ephesians 1:22-23)

To me, though I am the very least of all the saints (God’s consecrated people), this grace (favor, privilege) was granted and graciously entrusted: to proclaim to the Gentiles the unending (boundless, fathomless, incalculable, and exhaustless) riches of Christ [wealth which no human being could have searched out], Also to enlighten all men and make plain to them what is the plan [regarding the Gentiles and providing for the salvation of all men] of the mystery kept hidden through the ages and concealed until now in [the mind of] God Who created all things by Christ Jesus. [The purpose is] that through the church the complicated, many-sided wisdom of God in all its infinite variety and innumerable aspects might now be made known to the angelic rulers and authorities (principalities and powers) in the heavenly sphere. This is in accordance with the terms of the eternal and timeless purpose which He has realized and carried into effect in [the person of] Christ Jesus our Lord, In Whom, because of our faith in Him, we dare to have the boldness (courage and confidence) of free access (an unreserved approach to God with freedom and without fear).
(Ephesians 3:8-12)

This, in a nutshell is why I cannot and will not, as long as I have breath in my body, cease from proclaiming this “mystery” which Paul tells us is “Christ in you (plural), the hope of glory”.  (Col. 1: 28)

This church, (the one that functions out from the life of Christ within us).

This church, (the one that functions out from His Headship and Leadership).

This church, (without hierarchy, clergy, or laity) that functions with all of the members (believers) by the life of Christ in them and under His direct headship.

This church, (who us learning to abide in Christ (the Vine) and live by His life).

This church, (who is not intimidated by polls, surveys, the public opinion, what’s popular or not popular).

This church, (who is the expression and direct reflection of her Lord Jesus the Christ).

This church, (who is the obvious usher to bring the kingdom of God to the earth).

This church, (who is the absolute fullness of the glory of her Christ).

This is the church that I will live for and die for as long as I am on this planet!

I don’t care what others are doing or saying.

I don’t care how much it cost me or how much time it takes.

Just to make things clear.. I am really only still doing this for one simple reason:

It is the will of God in Christ Jesus!

How could I do anything else?

 

By the way: if you cannot find an “organic” church in your area you may consider starting one. Either that or you could move to another location where there is such a group.

If you feel lead to start one, please see my FREE ebook: Starting Organic Churches

If you are willing to move to be a part of such a church please email me at:
milt@therebuilders.org

 

Starting Organic Churches – New Ebook!

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Starting_OC_Cover_Smaller

Starting Organic Churches  (FREE Ebook!)

A Short and Simple Guide for the Newbie

By Milt Rodriguez

It’s now very documented that over 60 million American Christians have left the institutional/traditional churches over the last ten years! What is going on? Are these folks dropping out of everything? Have they fallen away from the faith? On the contrary, they are looking for MORE! That is, they are looking for much more than they received from the institutions. They are looking for more of the life of Jesus Christ in His people. They are looking for more freedom to live by and serve this Christ. They are looking for a Family, a group of believers who share their lives together. In other words, they are longing for the authentic expression of Christ in and through His Body, Bride, House, Kingdom, and Community!

Milt Rodriguez and his wife Mary have been starting and planting organic expressions of this community since 1990. They have learned much through trial and error, making a ton of mistakes, and yet never giving up. In this ebook, Milt will share with you how to start such groups of Christians. Written both as a spiritual and a practical guide, Milt will share with you his knowledge and experience. If you have longing to experience this kind of life and want to help start new groups that have a much better chance of making it towards that goal, then this is the book for you!

In this ebook you will learn the following:

    • Contacting some believers (and/or unbelievers) who may be interested
    • Opening up your home (or someone else’s) for some initial gatherings
    • Sharing your vision and purpose for starting such a community
    • Meeting together on a regular basis to get to know one another (in and out of meetings)
    • Gaining more of a revelation of Christ
    • Calling for an experienced church planter to help lay the foundation of Christ
    • Practical guidelines and steps to follow through which each of these!
    • Many resources to use and apply (and edit) for your own use!

Special bonuses!

      Future revisions and additions sent directly to your email!

Plus there is a very special offer that Milt is presenting at the very end of the book!

Help is on the way!  The book is NOW released.

Click Here to Download Your FREE Copy!

It’s Here!!! Starting Organic Churches – Download Your Copy Today!

Starting_OC_Cover_Smaller

Starting Organic Churches  (FREE Ebook!)

A Short and Simple Guide for the Newbie

By Milt Rodriguez

It’s now very documented that over 60 million American Christians have left the institutional/traditional churches over the last ten years! What is going on? Are these folks dropping out of everything? Have they fallen away from the faith? On the contrary, they are looking for MORE! That is, they are looking for much more than they received from the institutions. They are looking for more of the life of Jesus Christ in His people. They are looking for more freedom to live by and serve this Christ. They are looking for a Family, a group of believers who share their lives together. In other words, they are longing for the authentic expression of Christ in and through His Body, Bride, House, Kingdom, and Community!

Milt Rodriguez and his wife Mary have been starting and planting organic expressions of this community since 1990. They have learned much through trial and error, making a ton of mistakes, and yet never giving up. In this ebook, Milt will share with you how to start such groups of Christians. Written both as a spiritual and a practical guide, Milt will share with you his knowledge and experience. If you have longing to experience this kind of life and want to help start new groups that have a much better chance of making it towards that goal, then this is the book for you!

In this ebook you will learn the following:

    • Contacting some believers (and/or unbelievers) who may be interested
    • Opening up your home (or someone else’s) for some initial gatherings
    • Sharing your vision and purpose for starting such a community
    • Meeting together on a regular basis to get to know one another (in and out of meetings)
    • Gaining more of a revelation of Christ
    • Calling for an experienced church planter to help lay the foundation of Christ
    • Practical guidelines and steps to follow through which each of these!
    • Many resources to use and apply (and edit) for your own use!

Special bonuses!

      Future revisions and additions sent directly to your email!

Plus there is a very special offer that Milt is presenting at the very end of the book!

Help is on the way!  The book is NOW released.

Click Here to Download Your FREE Copy!

Foundations

Yo, Look!  Another podcast!

We are breaking records here on this blog…

This particular message was given in Sonoma County at an Infusion event in Northern California.  This is where I introduce the idea that we desperately need to tear down all our religious history and begin from “ground zero”, that is the beginning.  When we speak of the beginning we are speaking of the Ground and the Foundation that is laid upon that ground.

One of the main problems we encounter as we travel planting organic churches is the idea that we can just tack on something (organic church) to what we already have.  This never works!  It’s the wrong foundation!  If you build upon the wrong foundation then the building is doomed to be the wrong building.

What is required in order for us to begin again?  We must become those who are poor in spirit.  If we are not willing to empty ourselves and embrace the humble Christ, then we will not see God’s eternal purpose in His Son.

Enjoy!

 

Christ in the Story

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This blog post is actually a podcast!  The message is taken from the Infusion SoCal 2014 conference in which I spoke with Jon Zens and some other new co-workers in southern California.  What I attempted to do in this message is tell the story of the New Testament church.  However, I added some things.  Not to the story, but to my presentation of it.  One thing I did was to preach the gospel (which is Christ!) from Paul’s letter to the Colossians chapter one.  I did this throughout the telling of the story.  The other thing I did was to compare our popular messages preached and written today to that original message of the first century.

I hope that you will enjoy this message.  Please let me know your responses by commenting.  Thanks!

 

 

 

Laying a Foundation of Christ Alone

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Since we have covered The Sending of God and how he calls, prepares, and sends out workers; and have discussed in a podcast “How God Makes a Worker”, I thought it only fitting to also end this series of posts with the idea of “planting” or laying a foundation for the church.

This, along with the sending, has almost been totally lost in our modern day thinking and application of how we start churches. Yet the foundation is everything! The beginning of a church will greatly determine the far reaching future of that church.

First, let’s look at the scriptural meaning of the word “planting”.

I realize that this term has been misused and misapplied by many organizations in the past. It’s usually used by missionaries or missionary agencies to denote the beginning of a “church” in the field. However, the apostle Paul never went on any “missionary journeys”. The idea of missions, missionaries, and missionary organizations and agencies are an invention of the institutional modern day church. The only thing we see in the story of the New Testament is the Work and the Church. The Work is those who are called, prepared, and sent out to preach Christ and plant churches. The Church is the universal term used by Christ in Matt. 16 to denote all believers in Christ. The churches (local) are the groups of believers that were planted by the workers in different localities. Christ referred to the churches (local) in Matt. 18. 

1.) “Planting” is a scriptural term and is even defined by Paul in 1 Cor. 3:6-17. Here, Paul uses two images or types of “planting”.  One is agricultural (planting and watering), and the other is architectural (foundation and building).  In the context of this passage it is quite clear that he is using both images to say the same thing.  In other words, planting is the same as laying a foundation.  Watering is the same as building upon the foundation.  But it’s very clear that the foundation (in both natural life and in the church) comes first!  You can’t have a very good building without a foundation.  Also, you will not have a very healthy tree if you don’t first plant it into the ground!

Also, it’s very important that in this passage Paul tells us what (or who) the foundation actually is: Jesus Christ! This is not referring to doctrines, teaching, theological systems and so forth. The foundation is actually the Person of Jesus Christ, that is, his very life! There can be no other foundation if we are going to have a church according to the mind of God. Also, as a quick sidenote, Paul stated clearly elsewhere that not only was the foundation he laid Christ, but the gospel he announced was also Christ (He Himself).

… to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.“ (Col 1:27-28) 

Now, I’m sure that you agree with what I have said so far.  However, notice with me that both the planting and the watering were associated with certain individuals.  “I (Paul) planted and Apollos watered.”  Notice that individuals plant and water the church, not the church itself!  Of course, these individuals are specifically called, prepared and sent by God to perform this task.  This pattern holds true throughout the whole New Testament beginning with Jesus Christ Himself. 

2.)  We know that God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts.  It’s very important that our minds are renewed to function with His thoughts and His ways.  If not, then we will make the same mistakes that Christianity has made in the past that have resulted in the man-made institutions. 

God sends people to plant and water the church.  There is no record of a church planting or watering itself.  Even the new groups in Judea and Samaria (as a result of Saul’s persecution) were visited by apostolic workers for the purpose of laying a foundation of Christ alone (see Acts 8:14 and Acts 8-10). Now, of course, if there has been someone who has planted (laid a foundation) of Christ in that group then we definitely have no business coming to plant since Paul said that he never built upon another man’s foundation (Rom. 15:20).  If the group has already been planted then I would ask the question: who was the person who planted it? 

3.) Starting a group is not the same thing as planting a church.  Not even close!  People start Christian groups all over the place all the time.  But do these groups have the true foundation of Jesus Christ (and only Christ)?  According to the New Testament this can only happen if someone has been called, prepared, and sent to do that work.  Unfortunately, this is very rare and that is (in a large part) why we are in the mess that we are in.

* However, we see in the New Testament story that there were some that were used to help “pre-plant” a church, that is, these folks would open their home, invited people to meet with them, and then call for the help of an experienced apostolic worker to actually plant the church. An example of this is the couple Priscilla and Aquila. 

(Please understand that we do not use any of these words carelessly or lightly.  They have been tested and proven in the scriptures and throughout history.) 

So, what I have written above, in conjunction with those blog posts that I referenced, should give enough explanation.  But if it doesn’t, then I also recommend the following books that cover this topic much more in depth: 

The Church and the Work by Watchman Nee

The Stewardship of the Mystery by T. Austin-Sparks

Finding Organic Church by Frank Viola

 

How Does God Make a Worker?

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ANNOUNCEMENT!!!  OUR FIRST PODCAST EVER ON THIS BLOG!

A short time ago, ten crazy saints got together to hold a conversation on the topic of “How Does God Make a Worker?“.

For those of you who may not know, my wife Mary and I have been learning to plant organic churches for the last 25 years or so.  In the beginning we had absolutely no experience and had no idea what we were doing.  But we had a vision of His purpose and a strong desire to help see that purpose be fulfilled.  So, for several years we basically experimented on God’s people!  We learned what worked and what didn’t work.  We also learned that we desperately needed some experience in genuine body life ourselves!  After all, how could we impart an experience to a group of believers that we had never experienced (in an intentional way) ourselves?

Well, very fast forward several years and we finally received that experience and training and then were sent out to plant New Testament style organic churches ourselves.  It was still very difficult but we learned much along the way.  Now, we are having the glorious privilege and honor of training others to do the same!  These are all folks who have been in one of the churches we have planted for at least three years and been fully recommended and sent to us for training by their respective churches.

The recording you are about to hear is a session with those eight new workers.  I hope that it will give you a better insight into how God calls, prepares, and sends workers into his harvest.  Enjoy!

Note: By posting this we are by no means claiming to be experts in this field!  I don’t believe anyone is.  We are all still learning and with every church plant we learn new things.  After all, our Christ is so big and so vast that we will never stop learning to experience him and know him!

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