Selasa, 21 Oktober 2008

COMMITED TO PURITY



I am committed to Purity for my future mate because my Heavenly Father has lovingly instructed me to do so.
With God's Help I Will Do My Best To:
Plan my dates and outings so that I will not put myself in compromising situations.
Understand that true love really does wait.
Read God's word and seek Him daily for wisdom and strength.
Inform my family and friends about my commitment so I can be held accountable.
Trust in the Lord for His strength in my time of weakness.
Yeild to the Lord's instructions, trusting that His love and plan for my life is truly the best.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things. Php. 4:8  

Sabtu, 18 Oktober 2008

OBSESSION WITH DEATH


Obsession with Death
The black clothing, the makeup, the thoughts, etc. Goths are often accused of being obsessed with death. If you are Christian AND Goth...it's time to move forward. I don't necessarily mean the clothing issue, black is symbolic of 'death' to self (if you wear black as a C. Goth let it be a constant reminder to you that you need to be 'dying' daily to self.) ~ Let's see what God's Word has to say about

Romans 6:1~4  What shall we say then?  Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?  Certainly not! How shall we who dies to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?  Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of Life.
Romans 8:38  For I am persuaded that neither death not life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Philippians 1:2 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Colossians 3:5  (LB) Away then with sinful, earthly things; deaden the evil desires lurking within you; have nothing to do with sexual sin, impurity, lust and shameful desires.
John 5:24  Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him Who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgement, but has passed from death into life.
Romans 8:6  For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
2 Corinthians 2:14~16  Now thanks be to God Who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.  For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.  To the one we are the aroma of death to death, and to the other the aroma of life to life.
Romans 6:7~11  For he who has died has been freed from sin.  Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more.  Death no longer has dominion over Him...Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 5:8~10  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, shall we be saved from wrath through Him.   For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.  And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. 
Hebrews 2:9  But we see Jesus, Who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.
1 Peter 3:18  For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit.
Hebrews 9:14  How much more shall the blood of Christ, Who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
James 5:20 Let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way saved a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.
2 Corinthians 7:10  For godly sorrow produces repentance to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.
1 John 3:14  We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren.  He who does not love his brother abides in death.
1 Corinthians 15:25~26  For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.  The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.
Revelation 1:17~18 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead.  But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, "Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.  I am He Who lives, and WAS dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore.  Amen.  And I have the keys of Hades and of death. 
Leave the Darkness:
Ephesians 5:8-11  In the past you were full of darkness, but now you are full of light in the Lord. So live like children who belong to the light. Light brings every kind of goodness, right living, and truth. Try to learn what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the things done in the darkness, which are not worth anything.  But try to expose them.
2 Corinthians 4:6   For it is God Who commanded light to shine out of darkness Who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
John 8:12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world.  He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."
Romans 13:12  .....Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.
Acts 26:18  ...to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.
Isaiah 42:16  I will bring the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known.  I will make darkness light before them, and crooked places straight.  These things I will do for them, and not forsake them.
Here are some very special words taken from an article by Pastor Dave Hart
TO CHRISTIAN GOTHS
"I believe that the Christian gothic/industrial community has been called for such times as these. Who else is more prepared to deal with dark days and painful times?  You are a tribe of poet/priests and poet/warriors called to fight the darkness you know so well. Like Stryder and the Northern Rangers in "The Lord of the Rings," you will be used to fight the shadows of fear and terror in the dark forests and murky swamps which lie outside the boundaries of the land of the Hobbits. Those Hobbits may never understand or appreciate the work you are called to do and the sacrifices God calls you to - but we do not fight the good fight for their approval. We do it because we already have His.
So what can we do in these dark times? Be who you are. Be confident in your unique calling. You are a chosen tribe, a holy nation of priests (I Pet. 2:9) and a peculiar people (special treasure) (Exod. 19:5; Deut. 14:2) of a Holy (unique, special, set-apart) God. Be imitators of Christ. Look in the mirror. Surrender the weights (of fear, bitterness, the past, the pain) that hold you down (Heb. 12:1-4), and walk in His way. Do not forsake the fellowship of like-minded believers. Read the Word. Walk the Word.  Remember where you came from. Come along side the misfits and the disenfranchised. Be ready to "die": to your old life, to your dreams, to your glory, to your sin-nature, to this world, to this body. Remember it’s all going to burn. Remember that our suffering will not last forever. Live to hear these words and these words alone: "Well done good and faithful servant" (Mt. 15:21, 23).         pastor dave  ~  Sanctuary International, San Diego

Rabu, 15 Oktober 2008

NO ONE ACCEPTS ME


No One Accepts Me
Mike Clawson
Do you ever feel like an outsider?
Do you feel like you can’t be yourself without people judging you, looking down on you? Have you ever wondered whether anyone understands what you’re going through? Whether there is anyone who cares enough to really get to know you? Do you worry that if people actually did get to know you they wouldn’t like you, that you’d just end up rejected and lonely?
Perhaps you know what it’s like to be mocked, shunned, excluded, or just plain ignored. Being a teenager is never easy. It seems like no matter how hard you try to fit in, there is always someone willing to put you down. The message you get from both parents and peers is that if you want to be loved you have to change. Why can’t people ever just accept you the way you are?
A lot of people act as though they’ll only accept us if we’re better, or smarter, or more popular or whatever. We feel like we have to earn the right to be loved; but then it seems like no matter how hard we try, we’re never quite good enough for some people. Do you ever just wish you could find someone . . .
. . . who will love you unconditionally?
. . . who won’t condemn you for your mistakes and failures?
. . . whom you can trust with all your hopes and fears, your tears and your triumphs?
There is one person who will accept you just the way you are.
God loves you for who you are and for who he created you to be. It doesn’t matter what you look like; it doesn’t matter what you’ve done; it doesn’t matter if you feel like no one could ever love you. God still loves you no matter what. You are God’s beloved creation! He knows everything about you—the good, the bad, and the ugly—and he still loves you! That’s why Romans 8:38-39 says: “I am convinced that neither death nor life . . . nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Nothing can stop God’s love! We don’t have to do anything to earn it; it’s unconditional, and nothing we can do can separate us from it. Of course we’re still going to make mistakes and do things that disappoint God. But even when we do, God is already at work to find us, to forgive us, and to welcome us into his family with open arms. All it takes is for us to admit that we’ve failed and come running into God’s open arms of forgiveness and love.
We all sometimes feel like no one cares, like no one could possibly love us, like we don’t fit in anywhere. But just remember that God does care, that God will forgive all your failings and accept you just the way you are; and if you will receive that forgiveness, you can be confident that you will always have a place in his family.
If you would like to start a relationship with God and know for sure that you are part of his family, talk to him right now from your heart. You might say something like this:
God, I confess that I’ve made mistakes. I know that I’ve disappointed you. Thank you for loving me anyway, and for proving your love by sending Jesus to die for me. Thank you for accepting me just the way I am, in spite of my sin. I want to turn from those things and live for you from this moment on. Please be a part of my life and help me to follow you. Amen.

Minggu, 12 Oktober 2008

WHO YOU ARE IN CHRIST


WHO YOU ARE IN CHRIST

    I  am accepted...
I am God's child ~ John 1:12
As a disciple, I am a friend of Jesus Christ ~ John 15:15
I have been justified ~ Romans 5:1
I am united with the Lord, and I am one with Him in spirit ~ 1 Corin. 6:17
I have been bought with a price, and I belong to God ~ 1 Corin. 6:19-20
I am a member of Christ's body ~ 1 Corin. 12:27
I have been chosen by God and adopted as His child ~ Ephesians 1:3-8
I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins ~ Colossians 1:13-14
I am complete in Christ ~ Colossians 2:9-10
I have direct access to the throne of grace through Jesus Christ ~ Hebrews 4:14-16
I am secure...
I am free from condemnation ~ Romans 8:1-2
I am assured that God works for my good in all circumstances ~ Romans 8:28
I am free from any condemnation brought against me, and I cannot be separated from the love of God ~ Romans 8:31-39
I have been established, anointed, and sealed by God ~ 2 Corin. 1:21-22
I am hidden with Christ in God ~ Colossians 3:1-4
I am confident that God will complete the good work He started in me ~ Philippians 1:6
I am a citizen of Heaven ~ Philippians 3:20
I have not been given the spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind ~ 2 Timothy 1:7
I am born of God, and the evil one cannot touch me ~ 1 John 5:18
I am significant...
I am the branch of Jesus Christ, the true vine, and a channel of His life ~ John 15:5
I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit ~ John 15:16
I am God's temple ~ 1 Corin. 3:16
I am a minister of reconciliation for God ~ 2 Corin.5:17-21
I am seated with Jesus Christ in the heavenly realm ~ Ephesians 2:6
I am God's workmanship ~ Ephesians 2:10
I may approach God with freedom and confidence ~ Ephesians 3:12
I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me ~ Philippians 4:13
THE MORE YOU REAFFIRM WHO YOU ARE IN CHRIST, the more your behavior will begin to reflect your true identity!
info on this page from the book: Victory Over the Darkness:
Realizing the Power of Your Identity in Christ
by Neil T. Anderson

Selasa, 07 Oktober 2008

AN OPEN LETTER TO PASTORS FROM A PAGAN


An Open Letter to Pastors from a Pagan
I Have A Question To Ask You


Please allow this letter to speak to your heart. This letter was not written in anger. This letter was Annie's experience as she searched for Jesus Christ. Posting this letter is not intended to harm any one in any way. The purpose for posting this letter is to give insight into someone else's experience...and an opportunity for you to care.

Dear Pastors,

I am a Witch. I know that many of you think that I believe what I do because of a rebellious nature, but in reality, I follow this path because I have found something real. I have committed years to developing a spirituality that I can base my life on. However, I am beginning to realize that although it is real, it is not always fulfilling.

So, I have begun asking some tough questions, and I am giving this God of yours a second look. I have heard some amazing things about Him, and I have to wonder if they are true.

In search of answers, I have visited your churches. I have to admit that I am puzzled by what I have found there. I have sat in the pews hoping to gain knowledge, and instead I have walked away with only more questions.

In the first church I visited, I was met with shock and horror when you realized I am a Witch. Yes, I serve other entities, but what you failed to see was the fact that I was looking for your God. I did not come to your place of worship to disturb you. I came because, though you may not have been able to tell, I myself am disturbed. I have taken a great risk in entering your church, and I did not make that choice casually.

I’ve heard you teach that your God will accept anyone, but you yourselves looked on me with disdain. You told me that you could not speak with me because light is to have no fellowship with darkness. But unless I see this light, how would I ever be able to leave the darkness? If you cannot show it to me, then who will?

So I continued my search, in hope of finding those answers I crave. I was relieved to find a church that did not stare in horror when I entered. Your service was lovely, and I thought I had finally found a place where my questions could be voiced. Afterwards I listened as you spoke to your congregation of the building project and the goals that you have. You talked of donating your time to God’s work, but when I approached you later and asked if we could talk, you said that you had urgent plans elsewhere. As I watched you walk away, I heard you mention to a friend that you were in a hurry to leave for vacation.

I am impressed with your commitment to build a place of beauty for the worship of your God. But who will fill that building? The potluck dinners you mentioned are certain to draw a crowd, but what about those of us who are hungry for something more? I won’t be there, because your vacation was more important than taking the time to have a short conversation.

My next church experience was a bit different than the first two. I was able to slip into my seat unnoticed. Your sermon was about the fires of hell, and how all of those who God cannot accept will meet that horrific fate. Many others were moved to action by pure fear, but I felt nothing.

Your passion was obvious, but I found nothing helpful in the words you spoke. I believe there are consequences for our actions, but you have to realize that the threat of hell does not affect me as it does others. I live a hell on earth every day of my life. Even if that were not the case, I refuse to be forced into such an important decision by fear. So amid the terrified prayers of other seekers, I slipped out the door.

Eventually I found a church that seemed open and friendly. It was a little place, and I was immediately greeted with warm handshakes and several people introduced themselves. You knew what I was, and you were still kind. Quite honestly, I don’t remember what your sermon was about because I was still shocked due to the welcome I had received. So I came back the next Sunday, and again everyone was friendly. Each person I talked to was more friendly than the last, and a few gave me their phone numbers urging me to call if I ever needed anything.

Later in that week, the pain of my situation began playing it’s cruel games. I was desperate for some peace, but I didn’t know where to turn. So I picked up one of those phone numbers I had been given and made the call. I introduced myself, and was puzzled when the church member on the other end of the line seemed distant and detached. I plowed forward, hoping to connect with a fellow human being, but it was obvious the other person was disinterested in the conversation.

The situation repeated itself during two more phone calls, and it became apparent what was taking place. Your church people were more than willing to act concerned when there were others watching. It had been a contest of who could seem most Godly. But when the rubber met the road, and no one else was around to see, their true nature showed through. Helping the poor Pagan had become a sort of power struggle, a way to show who was the most pious. I am offended by this lack of respect and consideration.

So I have gone back to those entities that I serve, and they answered my call. It is a world where I know the rules, and they don’t change from day to day. They offer power and knowledge, but there is no offer of love. I possess strength and power and all the material possessions I could ever want; yet I have to admit that it is love that my soul craves. For a time, I can lock that desire away, but it haunts me. I still wrestle between wanting to know more about a God who claims to be All-Loving, and cursing Him for what I found in your places of worship.

If the people I have met there are His representatives, I want no part of Him. I am not na├»ve enough to believe that Christians are above being human, but your God inhabits your hearts, shouldn’t that be obvious?

It is likely that I visit one of your churches again someday. I have shared my experiences for your consideration, not so that you can offer an explanation, but because I wonder if you are even aware that your church has been presented in such a manner. I am looking to you for an example of your God, because I don’t know where else to look. If my search continues to turn up the same results, then I can only assume that your claims of God are false and I will look no further. I am prepared to accept that my questions have no answers, and that my search has been a failure… but I am still haunted by the thought that there must be something more to life than this. Will I find it at your church?

*based on journal excerpts of Annie Fintan, Refuge Ministries, while she was still a Pagan.

Sabtu, 04 Oktober 2008

MEMULAI PELAYANAN BAGI ORANG MISKIN


MEMULAI PELAYANAN BAGI ORANG MISKIN

   Gereja membutuhkan visioner yang memilih untuk tidak bermain aman,
   namun bersedia mengambil risiko dan beriman kepada Tuhan dalam
   merintis pelayanan yang inovatif di kota, khususnya bagi orang-orang
   miskin yang membutuhkan bantuan.

   Kehendak Tuhan bagi kebanyakan kita yang tinggal di kota adalah
   menunjuk kepada pelayanan bagi kaum miskin. Jika Tuhan telah
   memanggil Anda untuk memulai sesuatu yang baru di kota, seperti
   Tuhan telah memanggil saya, maka Anda akan melalui proses pemahaman
   akan kehendak-Nya, berjalan dalam iman, dan membangun mimpi Anda.

   Berikut langkah-langkah dalam memahami dan memulai pelayanan yang
   penuh tantangan ini:

   1. Izinkan Roh Menaruh Visi dalam Diri Anda

   Tuhan memberi kita penglihatan akan rencana dan tujuan-Nya dalam
   hidup kita dan mengizinkan kita untuk bermimpi dan memiliki visi
   yang jelas dan konkret. Semakin spesifik doa, tujuan, dan sasaran
   kita untuk visi tersebut, semakin besar kemungkinannya untuk visi
   tersebut dapat terwujud.

   Visi adalah gambaran yang membara di hati tentang apa yang Tuhan
   ingin lakukan melalui Anda di tempat tertentu bersama kelompok orang
   yang spesifik. Visi adalah pewahyuan tentang rencana Tuhan yang
   dapat terjadi. Dengan memercayai dan menindaklanjuti visi tersebut,
   mimpi dapat terwujud. Dua visioner kuno, Abraham dan Sarah, telah
   mengalaminya. Saya melihat tiga benang dalam struktur kehidupan
   mereka yang membentuk pola masa kini dalam memahami kehendak Tuhan:
   panggilan untuk taat, iman terhadap visi, dan hasil yang sudah
   diantisipasi.

   Panggilan untuk Meninggalkan Tempat Tinggal

   Abraham dan Sarah tinggal dengan nyaman di Haran saat Tuhan
   memanggil mereka: "Pergilah dari negerimu dan dari sanak saudaramu
   dan dari rumah bapamu ini ke negeri yang akan Kutunjukkan kepadamu;"
   (Kej. 12:1). Tidak mudah bagi mereka untuk menaati panggilan itu --
   banyak risiko dan pengorbanan untuk pergi ke tempat entah-berentah;
   di gurun.

   Sebuah "panggilan" akan selalu mengiang, bisikan dalam diri Anda
   yang mengatakan, "Tinggalkan rumahmu dan pergilah ke tempat yang
   Kutunjukkan kepadamu." Mungkin rumah yang kita tinggalkan bersifat
   geografis atau spiritual. Tempat yang ditunjukkan kepada kita
   mungkin adalah kota, pelayanan baru di lingkungan, atau cara hidup
   baru di mana kita berada. Yang terpenting adalah meresponi dan
   mengikuti visi yang lahir dari Tuhan dalam diri kita, tanpa
   menghiraukan risiko dan besarnya pengorbanan.

   Saat Abraham dan Sarah pergi, keponakan mereka, Lot, ikut bersama
   mereka. Kemudian, gembala Abraham dan Lot berselisih tentang
   pembagian tanah. Abraham, yang percaya akan visinya, memutuskan
   untuk berpisah: "Jika engkau ke kiri, maka aku ke kanan, jika engkau
   ke kanan, maka aku ke kiri." (Kej. 13:9)

   Lot melihat ke Timur dan "melihat seluruh Lembah Yordan banyak
   airnya, seperti taman TUHAN, seperti tanah Mesir" (Kej. 13:10).
   Seketika itu, Lot berpisah dari Abraham dan tinggal di Yordan.
   Abraham memilih tinggal di Kanaan yang berbukit-bukit, yang nampak
   tidak sedap dipandang mata. Di situlah Tuhan menegaskan visinya:
   "Pandanglah sekelilingmu dan lihatlah dari tempat engkau berdiri itu
   ke timur dan barat, utara dan selatan, sebab seluruh negeri yang
   kaulihat itu akan Kuberikan kepadamu dan kepada keturunanmu untuk
   selama-lamanya." (Kej. 13:14-15)

   Ada pelajaran yang dapat diambil dari peristiwa tersebut untuk
   visioner kota pada masa kini: mata iman tidak berfokus pada
   penampilan, namun pada pandangan yang luas dan penglihatan akan
   rencana Tuhan yang dapat terjadi. "Apa yang dapat kamu lihat secara
   luas, Aku dapat memberikannya kepadamu," kata Tuhan kepada orang
   beriman. "Apa yang tidak dapat kamu impikan, Aku tidak dapat
   memberikannya kepadamu."

   "Pandanglah sekelilingmu dan lihatlah" adalah kunci kepada
   keberhasilan di luar batas kemampuan manusia. Jika kita dapat
   memimpikan visi Tuhan dan spesifik dengan hasilnya, apa yang kita
   perlukan akan disediakan oleh Tuhan "yang menjadikan dengan
   firman-Nya apa yang tidak ada menjadi ada" (Rm. 4:17).

   Tuhan membangkitkan pemimpin yang memiliki mimpi dan visi yang
   spesifik, yang percaya kepada-Nya akan hasilnya. Surat Ibrani
   mengingatkan kita bahwa iman atau visi "adalah dasar dari segala
   sesuatu yang kita harapkan dan bukti dari segala sesuatu yang tidak
   kita lihat" (Ibr. 11:1).

   Saya percaya bahwa dalam diri setiap orang, tersembunyi visi Tuhan
   yang menunggu pemenuhan melalui iman dan ketaatan.

   2. Bangun Visi Secara Perlahan

   Setelah memahami kehendak Tuhan, kesabaran diperlukan dalam
   mewujudkan visi bagi pelayanan untuk orang miskin di kota. Seperti
   halnya janin membutuhkan sembilan bulan untuk dapat lahir sebagai
   bayi, butuh bertahun-tahun untuk mimpi atau visi dalam hati itu
   menjadi kenyataan.

   Apa yang terjadi pada Anda sama pentingnya dengan apa yang Tuhan
   lakukan melalui Anda. Bersabarlah menunggu Tuhan, biarkan Tuhan
   mengerjakan karya keselamatan dalam diri Anda, dan kemudian bangun
   visi Anda secara perlahan, namun pasti.

   Saat saya dan beberapa orang melayani di New York, kami memulai
   pelayanan dengan visi yang cukup murni. Kami membutuhkan waktu untuk
   mapan sebelum kami melakukan banyak pelayanan. Namun, kami melangkah
   semakin cepat dan kami menjadi terdesak. Hasilnya adalah krisis
   dalam pelayanan: banjir permintaan dan kebutuhan, sedikitnya uang,
   pelayanan semakin sempit, dan staf kedodoran. Selama bertahun-tahun,
   kami berjuang untuk bertahan sampai kami memerlambat laju pelayanan
   kami, kemudian mengambil waktu untuk merenung, memikirkan fokus
   pelayanan, dan peletakan dasar spiritual.

   Intensitas pelayanan kota dapat menghancurkan bahkan visioner
   paling percaya diri sekalipun. Cara untuk hidup berkemenangan
   adalah membiarkan visi Anda tersingkap secara perlahan, hari demi
   hari, tahap demi tahap, mengikuti irama Roh.

   3. Ajak Rekan Sepelayanan

   Seorang visioner tidak dapat memenuhi visi Tuhan seorang diri. Visi
   itu harus dibagi. Butuh waktu untuk menemukan orang yang tepat. Ajak
   orang yang Anda kenal dan percaya, yang berkompeten, berkomitmen,
   dan yang Anda percayai serta yang memberi rasa nyaman. Jangan
   terburu-buru mengajak orang hanya karena mereka bersemangat. Tunggu
   waktunya Tuhan memberikan orang yang tepat.

   Butuh waktu lebih dari setahun bagi saya untuk menemukan lima orang
   yang bersedia dan mampu melayani bersama di San Fransisco. Yesus
   sendiri membutuhkan waktu tiga tahun untuk memuridkan dua belas
   orang pria dan sekelompok wanita. Barulah setelah itu Yesus
   mengatakan kepada Petrus, "gembalakanlah domba-domba-Ku" dan di atas
   batu karang ini Aku akan mendirikan jemaat-Ku" (Yoh. 21:17; Mat.
   16:18).

   4. Pilih Ladang Pelayanan

   Setelah mengajak rekan sepelayanan, langkah selanjutnya adalah
   secara perlahan dan penuh doa mengidentifikasi lingkungan yang akan
   dilayani. Tanyakan pertanyaan ini: Siapa yang Tuhan ingin kita
   kasihi? Lingkungan dan daerah geografis bagaimana yang nampaknya
   paling membutuhkan kehadiran Tuhan? Lingkungan mana yang nampak siap
   akan hadirnya pelayanan untuk mereka?

   Setiap kota memiliki daerah kumuh yang terabaikan. Kita bisa saja
   memiliki visi untuk menjangkau daerah kumuh seluruh kota, namun
   pelayanan kota akan efektif apabila kita fokus pada lingkungan
   tertentu.

   Selalu ada lingkungan dalam sebuah kota yang paling cocok untuk
   dilayani. Pilih daerah yang memiliki sejarah, riwayat, dan ciri khas
   -- yang menarik dan menantang Anda. Yang terpenting, pilih daerah
   kumuh yang ditinggali orang-orang miskin dan gelandangan.

   5. Tetapkan Pos Pelayanan

   Menetapkan pos pelayanan di lingkungan terpilih adalah langkah
   penting selanjutnya dalam memulai pelayanan kota. Idealnya, sewalah
   atau belilah bangunan yang memiliki corak budaya dan mudah diakses
   masyarakat. Orang yang berusaha Anda jangkau membutuhkan sebuah
   simbol komitmen dan kehadiran Anda. Masyarakat memerlukan sebuah
   tempat yang hidup, dan pelayanan membutuhkan tempat untuk
   berkembang. Sebuah pusat pelayanan akan mampu memenuhi kebutuhan
   tersebut.

   Jika Anda mengalami kesulitan -- entah itu masalah keuangan atau
   yang lainnya -- seperti halnya saya saat berusaha mengembangkan
   pelayanan di New York dan San Fransisco, percayalah bahwa Tuhan
   dapat melakukan mukjizat. Mukjizat adalah karya Tuhan yang tepat
   pada waktunya. Dari pengalaman saya merintis pelayanan di New York
   dan San Fransisco, tidak ada visi dari Tuhan yang mustahil.

   6. Bangun Komunitas

   Sebelum Anda melaksanakan misi pelayanan Anda dalam sebuah
   lingkungan, kelompok pelayanan Anda harus menjadi sebuah komunitas.

   Apakah komunitas itu? J. B. Libanio, yang menulis tentang komunitas
   kristiani di Amerika Tengah dan Selatan, mendefinikan komunitas
   sebagai berikut: "Sebuah kesatuan beberapa orang yang dinamis, yang
   melalui interaksi sosial yang spontan, terintegrasi oleh ikatan
   persahabatan, emosional, kesamaan sejarah, dan budaya."

   Sebuah komunitas terbentuk saat sebuah kelompok kecil berintegrasi,
   berjalan besama, dan ingin melakukan sesuatu yang lebih besar
   daripada yang dapat mereka capai secara individual.

   Sebagai suatu kelompok pelayanan, kita semua harus merasa terpanggil
   untuk hidup di antara orang-orang yang ingin kita jangkau. Hal ini
   membutuhkan komitmen jangka panjang. Komunitas berarti komitmen
   kepada satu dengan yang lain dan kepada rencana rekonsiliasi Tuhan.
   Komunitas diperlukan sebelum penyembahan dan misi dapat terjadi
   dengan benar. Sebuah kelompok pelayanan yang berharap untuk
   menjangkau sebuah kota dan lingkungan dengan kasih Tuhan, harus
   terlebih dahulu mengasihi dan menghargai anggotanya.

   Perbedaan dalam kepribadian, teologi, latar belakang, standar kerja
   dan kebersihan, talenta, dan panggilan dapat menghancurkan sebuah
   komunitas. Namun hal itu dapat diatasi dengan komitmen bersama
   terhadap proses dan berfokus pada visi Tuhan.

   7. Biarkan Misi Mengalir

   Sebuah kelompok Kristen kecil yang diorganisasi bagi misi dan
   setidaknya bertemu untuk menyembah, berdoa, dan saling menguatkan
   seminggu sekali, memiliki potensi untuk memahami visi Tuhan serta
   apa dan bagaimana Tuhan terlibat di dalamnya. "Handbook for Mission
   Groups" karya Gordon Cosby menjelaskan setiap langkah bagaimana
   sebuah komunitas terbentuk dan menemukan pelayanannya.

   Awalnya, sebuah kelompok berkumpul bersama visioner yang sudah
   mendapat visi Tuhan untuk melayani dan menyuarakannya dalam beragam
   cara -- dalam percakapan pribadi, dalam kepemimpinan, atau dalam
   nubuatan.

   Jika tidak ada yang meresponi, orang yang terpanggil itu menunggu
   beberapa saat untuk orang lain menceritakan panggilannya. Saat dua
   atau tiga orang meresponi, mereka memulai hidup mereka bersama,
   "saling mengasah talenta, dan berdoa bagi kejelasan dalam mendengar
   kehendak Tuhan bagi misi mereka".

   Panggilan itu mungkin dimulai saat seseorang mendengar bisikan
   (gambar, perasaan) Tuhan yang terus mengiang, yang mengatakan
   "berilah makan orang yang kelaparan", "sediakan tempat tinggal bagi
   gelandangan", atau "hiburlah penderita AIDS". Saat orang lain
   meresponi panggilan itu, implikasi dan perkembangannya akan
   terlihat. Prinsip penting dalam kelompok misi memerlukan komitmen
   bersama dan tanggung jawab bersama yang diterima oleh setiap
   anggota. "Hal ini dapat dilakukan hanya dengan mengenali talenta
   setiap anggota," kata Cosby. "Bahkan jika satu atau dua anggota
   tidak mengenali talenta mereka," peringatnya, "masalah gengsi dan
   iri hati akan mencuat ke permukaan."

   Orang yang memiliki multitalenta akan menghadapi godaan untuk
   memenuhi kepuasan ego dengan melakukan segala sesuatu seorang diri
   daripada bersama-sama. Tanpa komitmen untuk hidup dan melakukan misi
   bersama, sebuah kelompok misi tidak akan berhasil.

   Dengan komitmen bersama, sebuah kelompok misi akan bertahan selama
   semusim atau sepanjang hidup. Karya pelayanan yang sudah dilakukan
   itu akan menjadi karya Tuhan dan selamanya menjadi bagian dalam
   usaha Tuhan berdamai dengan dunia ini.

   Kadang, sebuah kelompok misi mencapai misinya dan kemudian bubar.
   Apa yang sebaiknya terjadi saat sebuah kelompok misi mati secara
   alami? Menurut Cosby, "Saat diketahui tidak ada lagi dua atau lebih
   anggota yang terpanggil, kelompok itu mungkin dapat meninjau ulang
   sejarahnya, bersyukur atas apa yang sudah dilakukan, dan merayakan
   matinya kelompok itu. Sering kali, diperlukan adanya kesadaran akan
   dosa yang harus diampuni, luka hati yang harus disembuhkan, dan
   keberanian untuk mengambil langkah selanjutnya."

   Jika kelompok misi memertahankan tahap perkembangannya dan arahan
   dari Tuhan, maka pelayanan akan terbentuk. Entusiasme akan dibumbui
   dengan hikmat, inovasi akan diwarnai dengan tradisi, dan banyaknya
   orang yang antusias akan diarahkan oleh Tuhan untuk mendukung dan
   membantu usaha komunitas. Kelompok misi mungkin dapat tetap menjadi
   bagian dari gereja atau berdiri sendiri sebagai komunitas
   penyembahan dan pusat misi sementara. (t/Dian)

   Diterjemahkan dan diringkas dari:
   Judul buku: A Call for Compassion; City Streets City People
   Judul asli artikel: Lift Up Your Eyes; How to Start an Urban
                       Ministry
   Penulis: Michael J. Christensen
   Penerbit: Abingdon Press, Nashville 1988
   Halaman: 53 -- 70