These are notes from a simple introductory course on Church Planting. The majority of the course notes presented here are based upon J. D. Payne’s Planting Apostolic Churches.
Previously I wrote a little about the revival in Nagaland which started in the 1950’s. In any move or work of God we should be aware of potential opposition. Ephesians 6:10-12 tells us,
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Certainly those involved in the Nagaland revival found that opposition was manifest not only from outside the church but from within. I shall use rev. Angami’s own words to express some of what was experienced.
“As the revival fire spread there was great opposition from people who had not experienced the touch of the Holy Spirit. Some church leaders were excommunicated because they came under the sway of the Holy Spirit and became part of the revival. Many members of the congregation because of their ardent support for the revival movement were persecuted and threatened in many ways and asked to withdraw their support for the fast spreading Holy Spirit revival.
Rev Angami goes on to tell of believers who constructed their own building after rejection by other churches,
One night when the service was continuing, some people who were against the revival came and set fire on the church building…right after they [the believers inside the church] came out, the roof of the church burned and crushed down. In many places church buildings were dismantled and burnt. Believers were severely persecuted. In 1962 I went to Mungchun village with six other people. We had a prayer meeting in a private house as we were not welcome in the church. After the night service, we, the visitors, as we came out of the meeting, were led away by a group of young men and were beaten and dragged out of the village. we were ordered never to visit the village again. they left us in the jungle and went back to their village.
One final quote perhaps sums up the work of God in all of this,
Instructions were issued (both in written and verbal) that Christian revival preachers should not be given pulpit. However, the revival fire continue to spread even to this day. (My emphasis added.)
I have started 2018 by doing something different—reading a devotional book. The book in question is The Pleasure of His Companyby Dutch Sheets and I have ben greatly encouraged and stimulated by it.
Sheets spends three chapters talking about Martha and Mary and the incident related in Luke 10:38-42,
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
For the sake of simplicity I shall quote some of Sheets own words regarding one aspect of this passage and allow the Holy Spirit to challenge and convict you.
The passage says that Mary “chose” the right activity. Most of us don’t believe, or don’t consciously take the time to consciously consider, that we always have the ability to choose the simple devotion demonstrated by Mary. But we do.
After informing Mary that only one thing was really necessary, Jesus referred to Mary’s choice as “good.” That seems really lame until the Greek word used is really understood. There are two Greek words that could have been used, agathos and kalos. Kalos means something is well made and looks good. It is even used for “beauty” or “handsome”; in our day we use the term “good looking”…The word stops short, however, of suggesting practical usefulness. A good example of kalos would be a beautiful picture—it looks good but has no practical value.
When a word is needed however, that adds the concept ion usefulness or benefit, agathos is chosen. To fully convey this aspect, agathos is often translated “good works.” Essentially, kalos is good looks, agathos is good works. Jesus said Mary chose agathos.
The irony of this is astounding. The person doing nothing was credited with doing the “good works,” not the person doing all the good works! …Christ was saying, “You look good Martha, but your busyness won’t produce the good works you’re looking for. Mary chose that which will enable her to truly do good works, and her fruit will remain.”
As one who gives his life to full-time ministry in the church, I am terrified by this passage. It shows me that I can be very busy in ministry without it producing genuine and lasting fruit. I can look good, without really doing good.
In the 1950’s God visited Nagaland in an amazing way, today we would call it revival not in being a series of meetings but in being a move of the sovereign God.
I have been reading a booklet by Rev. Neihulie Angami entitled Nagaland Revivals and the Formation of Nagaland Christian Revival Church. In it he speaks of one of the first American missionaries, E. W. Clark, who took the Gospel to the head hunting tribes of Nagaland,
“When Rev. Clark had gone to the Naga Hills, leaving his wife at Sibsagor, one British Officer…asked Mrs Clark, “When have you last heard from Mr Clark?Do you ever expect to see your husband back with his head on his shoulders?” At great risk to their lives the American pioneer missionaries…brought the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the domain of the ferocious Nagas…Through the hard labours and prayers of these missionaries Christianity spread almost over all Nagaland.”
Unfortunately after WWII there was an obvious need for revival seen in the lives of many Nagas,
“Robbery, adultery, drunkenness, dishonesty became common in Nagaland, Christians became world, lukewarm, indifferent to god and their spiritual life had touched the lowest ebb.”
At this moment God in love and grace stepped in and started to revive his church and bring salvation to many. Rev. Angmai quotes some of peoples experiences through the time of revival—here is one example:
When questioned about his and a colleagues presence in a village a local believer stood up and said, “Friends since these preachers have come, many people are turning to Christ, with broken heart, confessing their sins to God in repentance. Every day many sick people are coming to them for prayer. I never knew that there were so many sinners and sick people in this town until these preachers came.” The revival did not come in a moment of time but it came when people sought God in humility and prayer (My emphasis added.)
From 1957 onwards, starting in Wokha town, Rev Angami speaks of an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Nagaland. It was clear to all that the power of God had invaded the lives of many,
“A great change came over the people. The fruit of the Spirit…could be seen in the daily lives of believers. The heathen saw the wonderful change that had come over the Christians and it simply overwhelmed them…The Holy Spirit revival in Nagaland was in answer to the prayers of the saints of God. In many churches revival broke out without any revival preacher. “
Jerry Bridges book, Respectable Sins, is powerful and challenging.
In chapter 1 he addresses the issue of Anger and makes some useful suggestions in addressing the anger that is within us:
We are to respond to any unjust treatment as “mindful of God.” To be mindful of God means to be mindful of God’s will and God’s glory. How would God have me respond in this situation? How can I best glorify God by my response? Do I believe that this difficult situation or this unjust treatment is under the sovereign control of God and that in His infinite wisdom and goodness He is using these difficult circumstances to conform me more to the likeness of Christ? (see Romans 8:28; Hebrews 12:4-11)
Having addressed the issue of our own anger he makes this comment about being angry towards God,
Let me make a statement loud and clear. It is never ok to be angry at God. Anger is a moral judgment, and in the case of God, it accuses Him of wrongdoing. It accuses god of sinning against us by neglecting us or in some way treating us unfairly. It also is often a response to thinking that God owes us a better deal in life that we are getting. As a result, we put God in the dock of our own courtroom. I think of a man who as his mother was dying of cancer, said, “After all she’s done for God, this is the thanks she gets.” Never mind that Jesus suffered untold agony to pay for her sins so she would not spend eternity in hell, this man thought that God also owed her a better life on this earth.
On a couple of occasions recently I read or heard the story of Charlie Peace and his walk to the gallows. In Why Revival Tarries Leonard Ravenhill quotes the story:
Charlie Peace was a criminal. Laws of God or man curbed him not. Finally the law caught up with him, and he was condemned to death. On the fatal morning in Armley Jail, Leeds, England, he was taken on the death-walk. Before him went the prison chaplain, routinely and sleepily reading some Bible verses. The criminal touched the preacher and asked what he was reading. “The Consolations of Religion,” was the replay. Charlie Peace was shocked at the way he professionally read about hell. Could a man be so unmoved under the very shadow of the scaffold as to lead a fellow-human there and yet, dry-eyed, read of a pit that has no bottom into which this fellow must fall? Could this preacher believe the words that there is an eternal fire that never consumes its victims, and yet slide over the phrase with a tremor? Is a man human at all who can say with no tears, “You will be eternally dying and yet never know the relief that death brings”? All this was too much for Charlie Peace. So he preached. Listen to his on-the-eve-of-hell sermon:
“Sir,” addressing the preacher, “if I believed what you and the church of God saythat you believe, even if England were covered with broken glass from coast to coast, I would walk over it, if need be, on hands and knees and think it worthwhile living, just to save one soul from an eternal hell like that!
p dir=”ltr”>It made me ask a simple question: Do I believe the gospel?
If I do, then maybe my life (action) need to change and come into line with my stated belief (thought).