THE BARKADAS OF JESUS

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The third apostle we met on our trip to the Philippines was Molong Nacua (pronounced naquah). I met Molong on the internet whilst surfing for house churches in the Philippines. His writings connected with my spirit and we finished up spending 5 wonderful days with him and his wife Lisa and their extended family on the Central Philippines island of Cebu.

The story of Molong (or as he says, ‘Long’ for short) is one of a gradual journey through traditional style church (youth pastor, worship leader) to traditional style homechurch (doing the same but in a house) to a less structured homechurch (but still based on attending a weekly meeting), to his current passion, simply building a company of disciples for Jesus.  While we were with him he coined the phrase ‘The Barkadas of Jesus’ to describe them – a barkada being a wonderful Filipino word referring to a company of friends joined in a common bond of friendship and loyalty. No set meeting times or programs but what he refers to as a life of ‘intention – relational discipleship’, mainly based on reading the Bible, learning to listen to the Spirit and learning how to disciple a friend for Jesus. We did a lot of listening and talking while we were with him but the highlight of our visit was an unintentional demonstration of the ‘barkada’.

It happened when a young recently graduated high school student, Jommie, turned up with his friend Julian, who he had recently invited to become a disciple of Jesus. Jommie had been discipled two months earlier, beginning with the same invitation, by Albert, who had been discipled by Molong. Albert had baptised Jommie the Saturday before we arrived  and now Jommie was ready to baptise Julian.

So we headed down to the sea to baptise him. Two days later however, the three boys turn up at Molong’s house with a new friend, Louey Dan, a not-yet-believer who they were working on. Over lunch the Gospel was explained to Louey Dan and an invitation given to become a disciple of Jesus. He was ready, having observed his young friends for some time. An hour later Julian, baptised only two days earlier, was praying over his friend as he baptised him into Christ.

Later, as we celebrated over Dunkin Donuts, I took the opportunity to quiz the members of this growing Barkada of Jesus about what they had done and how deep was their grasp of the Gospel. Each man impressed me with his grasp of repentance and faith, one of the most articulate being Louey Dan.  We finished our donuts and the boys hung around for a meal with Molong and Lisa and then headed home.

And three days later we headed back home ourselves, back to our own nation of Australia with a whole new understanding of what Jesus meant when He simply said (my paraphrase),

“Go and preach the Gospel, making disciples, baptising them and teaching them to obey me. And lo I am with you to the end … every day, not mainly on Sundays, not mainly in your meetings, not mainly via the Pastor, but moment by moment, day by day, until I come again.”

You can catch up with Molong’s writings at the new blogsite we are building together, The Barkadas of Jesus.  It’s still in in the building stage but you might like to bookmark it.  But be warned. It could change your thinking about the nature of church.

Here’s a Youtube of the new barkada.

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STANDING AMONG THE ASHES

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A Salvo House Church is a Centre of Hope After the Fires

The following came from Les Smith, a Salvation Army house church guy that found himself heading up some of the Victorian bushfire relief effort. It’s an encouragement to those of us in house church that you don’t have to be big to be effective. Reprinted from www.oikos.org
 

 

Hey mate,

 

Sorry about my tardiness in getting back to you, been pretty busy here as you would imagine. Although things are still sometimes tough and extremely challenging we feel very much that we are engaged in the work God has for us to do.

 

Early on in the bushfires whilst the Salvation Army was still working out how best to respond, I almost accidentally (although we know it wasn’t really by accident) found myself representing the Salvos at the fire front and found things very tough indeed. It was both physically and emotionally draining and I was not entirely sure I would be able to continue to offer assistance; it was taking a toll on me. My brothers and sisters from house church rallied to support me (and the bushfire survivors) and they were just incredibly amazing.

 

House churches are like that – supportive, caring, flexible and easy to adapt.

 

The fire stopped only 10 minutes up the road from where and I live, one house church family was put on stand by to evacuate, another missed the fires by minutes (wind changed direction) and all of us saw the smoke – not realising just how close it actually was (we thought it was 100s KM away, but it wasn’t).

 

We felt very strongly that we had to make a response.

 

Together we setup a massive warehouse at Whittlesea which has become the main distribution centre for bushfire survivors in Whittlesea, Kinglake, Flowerdale and the surrounding areas. Whilst many other centres have already closed, The Salvation Army is planning to maintain services in this area (through this facility) for at least the next 12 months.

 

God has been good to us,

 

I keep meeting people that I know – affected by the fires – and the stories I have heard (many of us from housechurch have heard) are truly horrifying and impossible to imagine. Whilst the despair of the whole thing hit us in the first week, now we are blessed to be part of the healing and restorative process that has begun, we can see Gods spirit at work in spite of all the tragedy.

 

There is a way to go yet but the support we have received from other housechurches around Australia has been very humbling indeed. Please pass on my thanks to all those involved – I really just can’t express how inspiring and encouraging this support has been.

 

Please keep us in your prayers.

 

Thanks again mate

 

Peace to you

 

Les Smith

Salvo House Church

THE DONKEY by G.K. Chesterton

I found this on a Palm Sunday site. It reminds me of Christ’s humility and also of Paul’s words to the Corinthians; “Not many of you were … noble … but God chose the lowly … the despised … the things that are not … so that no one may boast …” (1 Corinthians 1:26)

THE DONKEY
G.K. Chesterton

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born;

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.

MORE THAN A SONG

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Listening to a Chris Rice song today in which he sang about the whole of creation worshipping God I began to ponder the thought of mountains worshipping. They can’t lift up their hands and sing, actions we attribute to worship.  So in what way do they worship?

Then tonight I watched ‘EARTH’, an amazingly beautiful documentary on the marvels of this planet, and was again  reminded that day after day the earth  silently gives praise to its Maker. Just by being. By being what it was created to be.

And surely this is the highest form of worship and what He supremely seeks in us. Surely God takes His greatest delight in us when we are simply being what we are made to be.  A reflection of his image, resting in  his love and grace and being led by his spirit into a multitude of creative affirmations of  His Being.

Just singing about Him is too easy. The Carols by Candlelight tele-spectaculars are evidence of that and the great worship spectaculars exist because we do in fact love to sing His praises. However, in a day when the church is able to turn out great songs so easily, maybe the ‘hillsong’ * that we need is closer to that which the hills give to God day after day just by being what they were intended to be. Nothing more and nothing less. Perhaps worship is more about being than doing. Being available. Being transparent. Being vulnerable. Being a vessel. Being a friend.

Lord help me to be all that you made me to be in the coming year. Help me to bring you more than a song.

* No criticism of Hillsong intended here. To a great extend they are simply being what they were raised to be.

THE KINGDOM AND THE CAR LOT

 This is just too good not to circulate. Comes from Terry Somerville from Canada www.totalchange.org  I’ve added a few friends courtesy of PIXAR
 

cars_portrait_007-small.jpgWhen I first came to “Rejoice Evermore” Car Lot, I was a brand new model. All the other cars thought I was wonderful. They wanted me to get involved with everything at the Car Lot, even though I had hardly any miles at all.  It was great! Each week we would gather together to hear manager Good-Brand speak about being cars, or he would tell us the great designers’ plans for the Car Lot. He is a very wise car, and has many repair manuals and road maps in his office. I like him.

Manager Good-Brand says it is very important to attend the weekly cell-lot. The leaders of the cell-lot are like Manager Good-Brand, except they are compact models, and just have one car offices.  (Manager Good-Brand is the largest model on the lot, and has big fins. He’s been around a long time.)     I’m not sure how the cell-lot is different than the car lot, but I like it.  Until recently I went to cell-lot every Wednesday. We would be washed and have our oil checked, and then…. (this is the most exciting part)  we would have our engines started!  The leaders always tell us to stay in “P” and not push the pedals when the engines are running. But it feels so good to have our engines running that we all want to do it.

One time my friend “Accel” pushed the pedals. (He’s Japanese. He says his name is short for “accelerator”) Anyway, when he pushed his pedals he suddenly shot across the cell-lot and crashed into Volvo, who was quite upset. Volvo said “you new models are always trying to change things, and are out of control.” Accel and Volvo had to see Manager Good-Brand for a long time. They went to the garage and some of their parts were changed. Accel says he doesn’t feel the same anymore and won’t come to cell-lot with us now.    

Occasionally a model called “Prophet” comes to our car lot….unexpectedly. Manager Good-Brand doesn’t like him much. He says his headlights are aimed too high, and when the other cars listen to him the whole lot is in turmoil.  I always listened to him though; he says things that were exciting. My temperature gauge goes up to “normal” when he talks, and it doesn’t usually do that. Prophet always talks about how the great designer made us for the open road. He would say we have power we don’t know about unless we travel the “Kings Highway”.  He always tells these amazing stories about lights from above and signs that point the way. I want to see that!  He also says “don’t wait for your speedometer to move before you go, Just go, and your speedometer will move!”   

One time Prophet talked to me personally. He read my sticker, which I couldn’t see from where my headlights are. He told me how my model had something called “four wheel drive”, and ran best in challenging terrain. We don’t have any of that in the car lot, so I didn’t know how it worked.  But, I thought it must be true because whenever I hear the words “four wheel drive” my windshield washer goes off all by itself.  I talked to Manager Good-Brand about letting me try the four wheel drive, but he said “we have no place for that here. Just stay on the pavement and you’ll be fine.”  

2006_cars_portrait_vw-small.jpgA couple of weeks ago a car named “Missionary” came to visit us. He went on the open road and did what prophet was always telling us about. He has a partner named “Ambassador”. Missionary was all banged up but very happy. He didn’t care about “clear coat” paint jobs and leather seats at all.  He said as long as his engine was strong and faithful he was content. He was getting a tune up in the garage, and told us that once he had his new tires he would be on the road again.  

I asked Missionary lots of questions, and he explained that car lots are supposed to put cars on the road. (I always thought that the road put cars on the lot.)  I told him that Manager Good-Brand had plans for a bigger lot when the ”car lot revival” comes.  Missionary told me he had seen the biggest car lots in the world. He said they were only that way because they put the most cars on the road. He said I had to get out on the Kings Highway, or I would end my days sitting in the back lot. I didn’t want that to happen so I decided I would try it.

Early the next morning I went out on the road.   I stayed in sight of the car lot…. just in case.   I slowly moved from L to 2nd to D.  I felt a surge forward! Something was revving up my engine. It never did this before! I moved so fast! There was so much power. What Prophet said was true; there were signs along the way. They said “Kings Way”, or “Grace Avenue”.  It was great!  Then it happened!   A light from above directed my course! Sometimes, it told me to slow down and stop. Sometimes it said go, and when I did what it said my travels were coordinated with the other cars. Other cars!!! Yes, there were other cars out there with me. I never thought that would happen.

Finally I went back to “Rejoice Evermore Car Lot”. The other cars were excited, but some were concerned. They thought it was unsafe. “What if you go in the ditch?” they said.  “You are only safe in the car lot.”  Others weren’t worried about me, but thought I must need a “front end alignment”.  My steering wasn’t the same as theirs.Over the next few weeks I took many trips onto the Kings Highway.

Finally Manager Good-Brand called me to his office for a talk. He told me I needed to choose between the car lot and the highway.  I asked him “why can’t I do both?”  He said that cars in his lot must be loyal, and I was not doing what he said by going on the road.  He also warned me that when I was on the Kings Highway he could not direct my path.  I said the lights directed my path, but he said it was not the same.

So I chose to go onto the Kings Highway to stay. I just wanted to say good bye, and I hope that you will come on the Kings Highway too. It’s what you are made for.

Your friend, Wheeler