Monthly Archives: September 2010

Conclusion – Principles in Maintaining a Godly Organization by K.P. Yohannan

Principles of Maintaining a Godly Organization - KP Yohannan Books

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Perhaps, as you’ve read through this booklet, you can identify with what I’ve shared. You recall the vibrancy and passion you shared with your fellow workers to reach the lost. You remember your enthusiasm to serve one another, the love and family atmosphere you enjoyed and the unity you experienced. But all those blessings you once enjoyed are now just a memory.

Is there hope for your church, your organization? Absolutely. You can return to the original vision of your ministry. You can once again experience life and joy between you and your coworkers.

I encourage you to determine in your heart to seek the Lord and listen for His voice. It is His life that will restore your ministry. It is His vision that will guide and direct you.

© 2003 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

 

Practical Steps Toward Restoration

Principles of Maintaining a Godly Organization - KP Yohannan Books

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The simplest way to bring about change, as I mentioned in Chapter 3, is to start with yourself. If I demand or expect change from others but refuse to do so myself, I will never see any difference. I must take the initiative and lead by my example. This works in a family, in an organization and in a society.

Let us take a look at some practical, “hands-on” ways through which we can maintain and renew the freshness and life within the ministry where we serve.

Radical Living Restored through Abandonment

Genuine revival comes from a personal, intimate encounter with the living God, not with the rules and regulations of an organization. How can I be a servant? When I know the one who is a servant of all. How can I be broken? When I meet with the one who was broken for the world. To be radical means you must be inwardly motivated.

Take time to think deeply, to pray sincerely and ask the Lord to renew, within your own heart, the vision of your ministry. Translate that vision into your specific area within the ministry. Search for unique ways that you can share and spread this vision within your own personal sphere of influence—your supporters and supporting churches, members of your local church, even believers you meet through your everyday activities. One longtime, faithful volunteer at our ministry originally started serving here because of her contact with a staff member in the laundry room of their apartment complex. The possibilities are virtually unlimited, but you can only access them when you have allowed the Lord to do the work in your heart.

Regularly review your mission statement†, your vision†† and your core values†††. Talk with leaders and others who have been with your ministry a while to learn what it was like in the early days.

To be radical, you must deliberately choose to do things that would help develop and cultivate your heart. It will not happen on its own. Take stock of your spiritual condition; face yourself honestly. Take responsibility for your own spiritual growth—don’t shift the blame to others or to circumstances for your failures, shortcomings or stagnancy.

† A mission statement outlines the direction for your life/organization—the compass that keeps you going in the right direction.
†† The vision fulfills the mission statement with the actual steps—the map you use to get to your destination.
††† The core values are the principles and standards with which you fulfill your mission statement.

Transformational Living Restored through Decontrol

Think of all the people within your church or organization with whom you have influence—large or small, directly or indirectly. It may be an “official” position in which you have responsibility over them, or it may simply be that you share a bond because you live nearby, share similar tastes or have children who play together. Whatever the case, you can begin to think about those people: their potential, their giftings, their backgrounds, their testimonies, their character and their dreams. As you begin to do so, you will find within yourself a growing appreciation for each one of their lives. Begin to pray specifically for each individual.

The life of Jesus, in its finest manifestation, was all about caring for others. “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve” (Mark 10:45). Let us be continually thinking of how we can bless and encourage others. Those who are in responsible positions within the organization need to be considering how to continually build up and “recharge” those who are under their authority and how to develop each one based on his or her abilities and giftings. What matters is not so much money, housing or things. People matter most.

Motivate others, not through power and heavy-handed techniques or through benefits, false hopes or manipulations but through love, grace, encouragement, approval, forgiveness, correction, challenge and integrity—and in some cases prayer and fasting. Do what it takes, as the Lord gives you the grace, to work toward really becoming one. We are not one just because we work together—it is because we genuinely care for one another.

I can testify that nearly every miracle that happened in our ministry came about not just as a result of my efforts or prayers, but also because a few individuals prayed, fasted, believed and stuck together. It had nothing to do with position or power. God’s only method for getting things done, moving His kingdom forward and doing miracles is men and women. The work comes only secondary to the people who do the work.

Relational Living Restored through Empowerment

When you have influence over someone, whether it is a position of authority or simply the advantage of experience through having served a longer period of time in your ministry, you should never use that influence to get things done or make things happen. Force, veiled threats or intimidation, even when spiritually disguised, are never a substitute for love, mercy and grace.

Make sure that you place a higher value, above anything else, on a person’s inner reality, character, humility, and brokenness and on a heart that seeks no glory or ambition. Acts 6 tells how the Lord directed the apostles to select men for service.

Ask the Lord to show you a handful of people within that circle of influence, one or two perhaps, in whom you can invest your life and share your vision. If you have responsibility over them at the office, begin to train them to do your job. Be open and honest with them, even at the risk of rejection or unresponsiveness.

I would highly recommend that you regularly read—perhaps every three months or so—Gayle Erwin’s The Jesus Style1 and study through the book Humility2 by Andrew Murray.

The disciples stuck with Jesus for no other reason than love. And it is crucial that we understand this as we relate to one another.

Notes:

1Erwin, The Jesus Style.
2Andrew Murray, Humility (Pittsburgh, PA: Whitaker House, 1982).

© 2003 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

What Must We Do?

Principles of Maintaining a Godly Organization - KP Yohannan Books

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Karl Marx said, “Philosophers have only interpreted the world differently. The point is to change it.”1 You can have all the ideas, dreams and desires for change in the world, but that will not make one ounce of change.

So, how do I effect change in the people around me—or in an entire society? It has to do with a deliberate decision on my part, as an individual, to change. Thinking about change only produces new philosophies, as Marx observed; it is only changed people who will see progress in others’ lives around them.

If we stray away, how do we recover God’s original plan for us? How do we change? What must we do?

Abandonment

If our radical lives have become conventional, the way out is to start over. If we have come to the place at which we have accepted the means to the end as the end in itself, it is time for us to leave that all behind. Begin to work with the end in mind. We should no longer ask how we are going to get things done. That will automatically be answered if we concentrate on what we must do to change and move forward.

We must pray for the Holy Spirit to give us a fresh vision of hell, of the lost world and of revival. Abandonment means going back to the original vision and passion for which the Lord called us (Revelation 2:4–5). It means we are no longer motivated to serve because of structure or because of a leader who is over us; now we are gripped with the vision we have received.

Abandonment always causes people to become more innovative at what they do. They take ownership of the tasks they’ve been given. They now have freedom to make decisions—and the mistakes that naturally accompany those decisions.

In no way am I saying that we should abandon structure altogether. A train can’t run without its rails, and neither can an organization move forward without structure and leadership. But if there is no fire, no steam, no fuel, the train will go nowhere. What we must do is pray that God will protect us from stagnancy and a conventional life; and we must be willing to abandon whatever is holding us back from the radical edge (Philippians 3:13–15).

Decontrol

If you have raised or are raising children, you are aware of the delicate balance there is between freedom and accountability. As they grow physically, you slowly allow them to grow in areas of taking responsibility and making their own decisions.

As Jesus was leaving the disciples to return to heaven, He did not present them with a carefully planned agenda and schedule for world evangelism. Instead, what Jesus gave them was a passion and a vision that drove them to the ends of the earth and filled them with a willingness to lay down their lives for His sake. They never walked away from their calling, because they were following Jesus out of love and freedom.

That same balance between accountability and freedom must exist in an organization. When Jacob worked 14 long, hard years of anguish to win Rachel’s hand in marriage, the Scripture says it was like a few days because of his love for her (Genesis 29:20). No one forced him into it. He simply loved her. In the same way, within the context of accountability and submission to spiritual authority, we must have freedom to serve our Lord with love and joy, not because of some demands that are made of us.

My philosophy has always been that if the Lord called someone, then I will see the fruit of that calling in their confession, their circumstances, their maturity, their faithfulness and their trustworthiness. I don’t ever want to come to a place where I demand respect and hold a heavy hand over my brothers and sisters.

Let us not end up with a life filled with heaviness, control and calculation. If an individual has been entrusted with a particular responsibility within the ministry, let us regard him as our leader with regard to that responsibility. Let us give each other freedom to make mistakes, and then we will grow as an organization. If we don’t, we will die from within.

Empowerment

What do we do when our relationship-oriented ministry has become more focused on ability rather than servanthood? We must come to the place at which we let go of our controls and give freedom to one another. Empowerment happens when we can say to a brother or sister, “By the grace of God, I just want to trust you. Do the best you can—dream the best you can—and let us continue moving forward.”

Empowerment happens when we give freedom to faith and potential in our dealings with people. Those who are in a position of responsibility over others should be discipling at least one person to take their place (2 Timothy 2:2).

I believe that the best is yet to come. Nearly 3 billion people are waiting to hear the Gospel; the Lord has committed this burden to the Body of Christ and will continue to work in us. We have the opportunity to change our generation! And I believe that the Lord will continue to bless the Church with growth to accomplish His task—through many means such as increasing staff, expanding physical facilities and raising needed finances.

One of the greatest blessings God raises up within an organization is the leadership. The responsibility for a ministry rests not upon one man, but upon a group of leaders. I am committed to the leaders in our organization, so much so that if their consensus is different than my own plan, I am willing to change. I have no desire to have my own way in anything.

No matter how the size of an organization increases, it is important to continue to maintain unique love, fellowship and excitement about what the organization does. Let us continue to develop a culture within our organizations in which individuals have the freedom to do their best and grow personally, without compulsion, restrictions, rules or regulations; but with the perspective of submission and reasonable structure. Let us keep the freedom the Lord has given us and never lose the original vision He has set before us.

There is a balance that is absolutely important when it comes to freedom. Consider this example:

Birds have two wings, and the only way they can fly straight is if both wings are healthy, functioning normally and operating simultaneously.

As people grow together in any ministry, two things must happen simultaneously. One is this whole concept of continually renewing and maintaining freedom and freshness, both individually and as a ministry. The other wing of the bird is a framework of accountability and submission to leadership. It is absolutely vital if we are to continue moving forward and to find ourselves equipped to do the work the Lord has given us to do. It is within this context that freedom, trust and empowerment actually work best.

You need to have the freedom to take ownership of your God-given responsibilities. So, as you look at the specific tasks that He has set before you in your ministry, take the freedom to pray, dream and imagine what He can do through you to reach the lost world!

We will discuss some very practical ways to implement these three steps in the next chapter.

Notes:

1 Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1,501 Other Stories (Tennessee: W Publishing Group, 1988), p. 622.

© 2003 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

What Happened?

Principles of Maintaining a Godly Organization - KP Yohannan Books

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Someone once said that within the timeline of any movement, the original life, passion and vision would be sustained about 25 years. The excitement, freshness and newness are on a basic uphill incline up to that point. After that, things will begin to change. There will be more of a plateau effect on the distinctives of the movement.

During the early days of my ministry with Operation Mobilization, I heard its founder, George Verwer, speak about the problem of losing vision and passion. He said, “God raises up a man with a vision and heart for God, and that becomes a movement. Then it turns into a machine. Then it ends up becoming a monument, and it is history. It is dead.”

This is exactly what happened to the YMCA, the Salvation Army and most mainline denominations, such as Methodist, Lutheran and Moravian. What glorious beginnings they had under godly leaders! But now look at some of the mission organization of the past and see—where are they today? The vision, the burden and passion are gone.

Unfortunately, I have found this to be true in organizations I have known. But the greater question to ask is when will we ever learn from others failure? Let us take a look at what changes.

Radical Becomes Conventional

In the secular world, a business’s generation is also said to last about 25 years, after which freshness and vision—and thus success—decline. Japanese organizations, however, have manipulated this time frame through education and structure changes. They begin to implement changes after only about 10 years, before people become set in their ways and find difficulty adapting to change. In this way, businesses are perpetually moving on, without losing their edge and success in the industry.

After a certain point in the life of a movement, things somehow shift into “maintenance” mode. The life that was once radical is now a part of the past, a part of history; now the goal is simply to “do it the way we’ve always done it.” What was once a fresh, flexible way of doing things now becomes a hard, stiff structure of rules, regulations and bylaws that we build around ourselves to feel some sort of protection.

Individuals now have positions on a variety of levels—some you can approach directly and others you cannot. By the time you attempt to go where you want within the organization, the structure is so complex you almost need a road map to navigate the maze!

A movement that has gone from radical to conventional is no longer regulated by vision and faith; instead, the decisions that come out of it are based on careful calculations of the lowest risk possible. Prayer meetings become planning meetings. Simple, childlike faith is replaced with smart, business-oriented brains. Change becomes nearly impossible because the ball and chain of bureaucracy is too strong.

This shift has happened to some of the finest movements in the history of the Church. Even right now there are some that are going through a terrible crisis. And we should not think that, regardless of the organization with which we serve, we are immune to this change. It can happen to us!

Keep in mind—I am not saying that structure is wrong. With the growth of any movement, structure is vital, for you cannot function without discipline. The last verse of the book of Judges says, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). The next verse in the Bible is Ruth 1:1, which says, “. . . there was a famine in the land.” No army can survive without discipline. No nation can survive without discipline. And no organization can survive without discipline.

But what I am talking about is the heart. The danger we must avoid is not discipline and structure, but replacing love, enthusiasm, freedom and empowerment with laws, regulations and power-based structures. When that happens, do you know who pays for it? The lost world . . . and our children who are growing up within the context of our ministries.

Transformational Becomes Transactional

This is when the motivation changes from one of heart condition to one of external rewards and benefits. Instead of, “I am so excited to be here; God is fresh and real, and our family is growing in His grace,” the attitude is more like, “What do I get out of it—money, position, recognition?” As time goes by in an organization, people start thinking more about benefits and vacation time than service from a sold-out heart.

When believers in the book of Acts were beaten up and persecuted, the Bible says that they regarded it as a privilege that they were considered worthy to suffer for Jesus’ name (see Acts 5:41). Paul tells us in Philippians 1:29 that “it has been granted [to us] . . . to suffer for His sake,” or in other words, our “gift to suffer.” Tradition says that when Peter was eventually sentenced to die by crucifixion, he asked to be crucified head down, as he did not feel worthy to die in the same manner as his Lord. For those who sold all to receive the precious pearl of great price, nothing could hold them back. They wouldn’t ask, “What can I get out of it?” but rather, “What can I give?”

But as time passed, things began to change in the first-century church as well. Paul writes in Philippians 2:21, “All seek their own.”

And what about you—where do you stand in this chronology? Are you feeling that the burden is too heavy for you? Do you wonder, “How long can I keep doing this? It’s too hard to keep going. I don’t know why I am doing it anymore. What about the future? Is all this worth doing?” Somehow, very privately, deep within your heart, these questions and thoughts can begin to burn and grow, even while outwardly you appear to be full of enthusiasm and praise to God.

I am not saying in any way that we should not have a plan for vacation time, insurance benefits or any of these things. The danger lies, though, in our hearts going after these externals or after some kind of promotion or recognition. When that happens, the joy that used to fill your heart will fade away, and all that will be left is self-centered motivation.

Relational Becomes Rational

Back in the mid-80s, when God led one young man to join us and help with our computer, I remember the one question I asked him before we accepted him: “Are you willing to clean the toilets and wash the dishes for the rest of your life, and never touch another computer again?” You see, I wanted to know if he was willing to become a servant—that’s all I wanted. When I heard that he was willing to do anything, then I was glad to have him join us.

I tell you this to make a point. My concern was not so much about whether or not he had a big degree or his expertise and skill in his area. I was looking for someone with a servant heart.

When an organization goes from relational to rational, its values change. Skill and competency become more important than allowing the Lord to work through people. Things are perceived rationally and logically rather than based on faith that will produce miracles.

But when God calls people to serve Him, He will look beyond the 99, who have the best brains but are not broken, to the 1 who is perhaps not as smart but who is humble and willing to be used. Paul says that God chose the foolish things of this world—the least and last, the nobodies—to confound the wise (1 Corinthians 1:27, KJV). That is His way. Paul tells us that he himself was gifted with a brilliant mind, a stellar education, an impeccable pedigree—but he valued knowing Christ above it all so he threw it away and regarded it as dung (Philippians 3:4–8, KJV).

What matters to God? Servanthood, brokenness and faithfulness. Look at Joseph’s life. How much education and training did he have to become prime minister? I don’t think he had ever been to school. How about Daniel—what type of preparation did he have to become one of the top rulers of Babylon? And what was Amos’s job that led him to become a prophet of the living God? David’s qualifications to become the mightiest king of Israel included sheep herding and being a refugee. These are not fairy tales. This is reality. This is the way God works.

Do I place a premium on ignorance, on people who have no ideas or education? No, that is not my point. What I am saying to you is that when an organization comes to the place where passion is no longer a central value and, instead, titles, recognition and degrees hold priority, it will go astray.

So what must be done in a situation like this? How can we walk carefully so that we can avoid these three pitfalls? Let us explore that in the next chapter.

© 2003 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

How It Begins

Principles of Maintaining a Godly Organization - KP Yohannan Books

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If you look at any movement that God begins, you will see three distinct characteristics. You will find these in the early church.

Let us take some time and go back to the book of Acts, to the very beginnings of the Church. If we can live with these believers for a while and feel what they felt, I believe we can return to our own situations and circumstances with some timeless principles.

It Is Radical

It does not take long when reading through Acts to discover that these believers were radical—they were willing to take all kinds of risks. To the rest of the world they were crazy people, blind to reality—nuts!

But this is what Jesus was after—radical, fearless men and women. These were the kinds of people He was looking for when He told them:

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

When the early Christians understood that Christ had risen, victorious over sin and death, they readily burned all their bridges behind them and said, in essence, “There’s nothing to go back to. This is a one-way trip” (see Acts 2:45; 4:19–20; 5:29–32; 7:51–60).

At this time in history, the city of Jerusalem was completely anti-Christian. Imagine trying to preach the Gospel out in the open today in the nation of Afghanistan or in a Hindu temple—believe me, that would be easier than doing so in Jerusalem in A.D. 33. The early Christians knew they would be beaten up and put in prison if they preached the Gospel (see Acts 8:3). It did not matter to them—they did it anyway, considering it an honor to suffer for Christ’s sake (Acts 5:41).

These people were so radical that nothing would stop them. They were not concerned with preserving their lives. They were bold and adventurous. They were open to new ideas. They wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. They were motivated from within rather than from tradition. They were willing to endure any hardship, but they wouldn’t keep their mouths shut. And ultimately these characteristics earned them the reputation of being “world revolutionaries” (see Acts 17:6).

When I think back to the beginnings of our movement, I see that same radical attitude in our early days. I can honestly tell you, I don’t know how on earth we did what we did! The way so many of our programs developed was not through planning, scheming or figuring. They just happened out of spontaneity, love, dreams, hopes and ambitions rather than out of rules or regulations. We were not on any kind of schedule or timetable. Today I carry a planner with me to help me remember my appointments—but I had nothing of the sort then. I did not know just what was going to happen, but it did—amazingly and radically so.

It Is Transformational

The people involved in the tremendous growth of the early church were not considered to be tools used to get things done. Rather, they threw their lives into their calling, and all the while God was using them to impact the world and carry out His plan, they themselves were actually being continually transformed and changed in the process.

Jesus focused on people’s potential instead of on weakness. He did not recruit perfect people, but people who could change, who would have a heart commitment. You’ve read enough of the Gospels to know that His disciples came from the dregs of society. (Gayle Erwin talks about this in detail in The Jesus Style.1) Just imagine the scenario that surrounded Jesus in just the last 48 hours of His life: 12 men fighting among themselves over who was greatest . . . one of His closest followers betraying Him . . . and the rest running away when the danger got too close. Yet He entrusted these men, in whom He had invested three years of His life, to carry on the calling God had given Him. It was unto Peter, who denied His Master three times, that Jesus gave the keys of the kingdom (see Matthew 26:75; 16:18–19)!

Think about the apostle Paul after he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. Most believers did not want to have anything to do with him. “He’s dangerous,” they believed (see Acts 9:21, 26). But then you see Barnabas enter the scene, put his arm around Paul and vouch for his integrity to the early church (Acts 9:27). And Paul, who had once worked tirelessly to persecute believers in Jesus and eradicate all traces of Christianity, becomes totally transformed into one of the greatest apostles who ever lived. How did this happen? Not all in one day, but in a process that took time, starting with 14 years out in the wilderness.

In our early days, when we thought about recruiting staff members, we had no application form or interview process. I’ll never forget the day when one couple just showed up on our doorstep with their little baby in their arms, ready to serve God with us. I never even thought to ask him for references! It was all so fresh and amazing.

You’ll find that same wonder, awe and fear of God in the beginnings of any organization. God just brings people—no forms to be filled out—He works in their lives and changes them, and then uses them to change others. It is a continuous, perpetual motion in which somehow things just keep happening. Nobody stops to think about how!

You see, God is always more concerned about people than about what they can do. And if we follow Him, He will make sure that we keep this in mind. God’s approach is always from the inside out (Luke 11:39–40; Psalm 51:6). Character is the important thing. If this is taken care of, the rest will follow.

Jesus’ only requirement for those who wanted to be His disciples was that they obey and follow (Matthew 16:24). He did not ask about anything else. He knew, like a potter, that if the clay would submit, He could mold and transform it to become the most precious vessel to be used for His kingdom.

It Is Relational

The third characteristic that marks the beginning of any movement of God is that everything happens through relationship, just as we see in the book of Acts (Acts 2:42, 44–47).

When Jesus sent the disciples out to the villages, He sent them two by two, not one by one (Luke 10:1). If you look in the Gospel of John, beginning with chapter 13, Jesus gives His disciples some final instructions before He goes to the cross. But the crux of His message has nothing to do with world evangelism, changing the world, the reality of hell, how to start an organization or a list of rules. All He simply said was, “If you love one another, the world will know you are My disciples.” His prayers, His concern had everything to do with this one truth.

And how did Paul do his work? Read his epistles, and you will find such phrases as these: “This brother greets you,” or “this sister greets you,” or “the church in your house…” (see Romans 16:23, 1 Corinthians 16:19, Colossians 4:15). And at the end of each letter there always seems to be a list of names tagged on. You will always find relationships working here. Paul’s life and ministry have everything to do with working with others.

We are commanded to forgive one another, to bear one another’s burdens. Look at Romans 12 and Philippians 2, as well as other Scripture portions that deal with our relationship toward one another in the Body of Christ. You will see clearly that this is how God works. This is His plan to get things done.

As time passes, unfortunately, these three natural distinctives that mark a fresh movement of God will naturally degrade. Let us look at these changes in the next chapter.

Notes:

1 Gayle Erwin, The Jesus Style (California: YASHUA Publishing, 1997), pp. 24–26.

© 2003 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

Principles in Maintaining a Godly Organization

Principles of Maintaining a Godly Organization - KP Yohannan Books

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“Where there is no vision, the people perish . . .” Proverbs 29:18, KJV

When we look back at the history of church movements and Christian organizations, we often find they began with great dreams and ambitions. The leadership was strong and on fire for God—and then somehow, something went wrong. The life went out of them. They became “just another organization.” Study the beginning years of some of the major denominations and see how red-hot they were. Look at them now and see where they are! You are in for a shock!

I have seen this trend too often in Christian ministry, where things go well for so long, tremendous progress is made, the Lord’s kingdom is going forward—but then, over time, things start heading downhill.

This is a great concern to me as I think about the movement of which I am a part. It is my prayer that the Lord will help us continue on course, that we will stay focused and not lose the original vision He gave us, and that we will maintain our vibrancy and joy over the great possibilities He is laying before us.

That is why I believe it is good for us to continually go back to the Scriptures, rather than to the philosophies and structures created by human experts on building great organizations. From Scripture we can see how God called people and empowered them, how they succeeded, how they failed and how they returned to the Lord after their failures. We can learn valuable and vital lessons from their lives. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:11, “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition.”

One powerful example we have is the early church in the book of Acts. You see a fresh beginning, leading and newness. You see excitement and unity and togetherness. You see a cause to live and die for. If we can understand the hearts of these believers more deeply, grasp the principles that worked in their everyday lives and made them what they were, and then adjust ourselves accordingly, I believe this will help us more than we can ever realize.

Because each one of us is an individual, it is not always easy to think of our part in the organization in terms of this bigger picture. By default we think about the immediate—the experience we are going through right now. It takes a good deal of maturity, understanding from the Lord and deliberate thinking to put ourselves in the context of the world in which we live today, realizing that our lives are short and what we do now can truly impact eternity. Jesus told us that the road to eternal life was narrow, and few would find it (Matthew 7:14); and unless we make it a point to think about ourselves as the Lord does, we can easily miss the significance of our call.

What I share in this booklet I have learned over the past couple decades of experience with Gospel for Asia. I pray that you will take the time to think deeply about what you will be reading and learning. Let your understanding and response go beyond your intellect or your emotions.

© 2003 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

Conclusion – Seeing Him by K.P. Yohannan

Seeing Him - KP Yohannan Books

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There is a beautiful chorus that goes, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”1 All the difficulties, all the pain, all the letdowns, all the delays and all the suffering and sacrifice will grow dim when you look to Him.

It is when I look to the world that I begin to have problems. Peter walked on the water when he looked to Jesus. But the instant he stopped focusing on Jesus, he saw the wind and waves and he began to sink (see Matthew 14). It is when I look away from Jesus that I begin to sink.

It is when I look to other people that I begin to have problems. When I compare myself with you, then I begin to have problems. But when I look to Jesus, I have His perspective. Then I see that I am in great need. Then I see that I am a sinner. And I see His grace and mercy and love for me. I see His power. I see His glory. His holiness surrounds me.

And that is the key—seeing Him. That is more important than anything in this whole world.

Prayer

O Lord, whom have we in heaven but You? You are our only hope. You keep us going. Lord, I pray that You would help us turn our eyes to You, that we might see You and worship You. For the one who feels they have lost sight, Lord, I pray that You would restore their vision and help them to see You once more, full of love and grace. Father, help us to see You in the little things, the ordinary things. And may our new sight give us the strength to continue on for Your glory.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Notes:

1 Helen H. Lemmel, “Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus” (1922).

© 2003 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

Seeing Him

Seeing Him - KP Yohannan Books

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One of our great difficulties in life is that we try to understand Christ and relate to Him in terms of time and space. When we talk about being near someone or looking at someone, we think in terms of our eyes and ears and distance. But time and space are only relevant to us as finite beings. God is everywhere and feels all, which is why the psalmist declares, “One cannot hide from Him anywhere, He is closer to us than our own being.” If that’s the case, we must conclude that our seeing the Lord has to do with our spirit, our inner man, rather than our natural eyes. That’s the reason Paul, in his incredible prayer for the believers, prayed that “the eyes of [their] understanding [may be] enlightened; that [they] may know what is the hope of His calling . . .” (Ephesians 1:18).

Paul’s prayer emphasizes on having the eyes of our understanding opened. We could read through the four Gospels and record everything about Christ—how He lived, what He did and what He said—and try to live by that like using a “how-to” book about changing our behavior or building friendship or maintaining good conversation. Yet we still will never be able to see the risen Christ of glory and be changed by Him if the eyes of our understanding are not opened.

It says in 2 Corinthians 3:18, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” In the Word we see the face of the Lord Jesus Christ. And as we gaze upon Him we see the nature, the character and the presence of the Lord. As we gaze upon Him and meditate on Him from the depth of our heart, the Holy Spirit within us begins to transform us and change us from within. Our attitude changes, our feelings change, our evaluations change and our decisions change. Our external circumstances may stay the same, but inside we are transformed. Our eyes have been opened, and we see our risen Savior. And it’s no longer despair and melancholy and hopelessness—but rather hope, strength and confidence that come from the Lord.

It is the one who seeks that finds. It is the one who knocks that the door is opened to. How often we live through years of our life in our own strength, struggling, striving and fighting, while all it takes is for us just to pause and wait in His presence. Then we will hear His voice and see everything from His perspective.

Always with Us

In the book The Horse and His Boy,1 by C.S. Lewis, the main character, Shasta, is lost in a dark forest. He can’t see anyone or anything and does not know how to find his way. He is scared, and most of all, he is totally exhausted. His problem is not just that he is discouraged, but he is also full of self-pity, totally rejected. Seated on his horse, Shasta wanders in the pitch-dark along terrible, narrow mountain trails. Shasta doesn’t know what to do. He is separated and alone and doesn’t know where to go. Suddenly, in the midst of this awful loneliness and despair, he is startled by a new awareness.

Shasta discovered that someone or somebody was walking beside him. It was pitch dark and he could see nothing. And a Thing (or person) was going so quietly that he could hardly hear any footfalls. What he could hear was breathing. His invisible companion seemed to breathe on a very large scale, and Shasta got the impression that it was a very large creature. And he had come to notice his breathing so gradually that he really had no idea how long it had been there. It was a horrible shock.2

When Shasta begins to hear the warm breath, he cautiously asks, “Who are you?” To which the creature, who is the great lion Aslan, answers, “One who has waited long for you to speak . . . Tell me your sorrows.”3 As a result, Shasta is no longer scared, but comforted.

Shasta was no longer afraid that the Voice belonged to something that would eat him, nor that it was the voice of a ghost. But a new and different sort of trembling came over him. Yet he felt glad too.4

Just like Shasta, we too often get lost in the dark. No matter what we do, we simply can’t seem to find the Lord or hear Him. What should we do in those times? I believe one of the significant things we can do is to remember that whether we see Him or not, hear Him or not, He is still with us. We must learn to quiet ourselves and wait, asking the Holy Spirit to open our inner eyes to see Him and to hear Him.

Recognize Him

One of the most powerful ways to see the Lord, on a constant basis, is to be aware of events that happen every single day, seeing God at work in the little things—the email you receive or the telephone call; a letter or just someone saying a word of encouragement; a song you heard or something you read. Perhaps you were driving on the road and switched lanes, only to realize that that change of lanes spared your life from a terrible car accident. The Lord orchestrates the circumstance of our life with His own hand. We need to develop a habit of seeing the invisible with the heart’s eye.

A couple of years ago, my wife, Gisela, was in our master bedroom doing some writing. She spends many hours sitting at the desk in our bedroom, quietly writing various pieces for the ministry. At this particular time, I was overseas in Asia visiting the mission fields. The morning was normal; she was busy writing and concentrating on her work when, all of a sudden, she felt an urge to get up from her chair and go to the kitchen to get a drink. She got up, walked to the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. Suddenly, she heard a loud explosion, as if someone had dropped a bomb into our bedroom. She ran back to see what had happened and discovered a large SUV in the middle of our bedroom.

Two teenagers had been driving on the road in front of our house, and for whatever reason, they had lost control of the vehicle. In full speed, the SUV crashed into our house, completely demolishing the brick wall and totaling the vehicle. Can you imagine what would have happened if Gisela had been sitting at her desk for just a few minutes longer? It would have been a whole different story. She would no longer be writing.

How wonderful it is to know that angels are watching over us. As the chorus goes, “His eyes are on the sparrow and I know He watches me.”5 But the question is this: Are we able to see His face, His eyes and His concern in events like these? Can we see the face of our Lord during tiny little conversations, in the breeze or in the flower, in the smile of a child or as we drive along the road? When we can’t see Him or feel Him, we should deliberately look for Him, to see His care and His presence all around us. And if you listen closely enough, if we quiet ourselves long enough, as Shasta did, we too will realize He has been right alongside us the whole time. And that will change everything for us.

Our problem often is, like Elijah, we are trying to see the Lord and hear Him in the midst of huge events and experiences. But often, more than you realize, He will reveal Himself in a still, small voice and in so many tiny events and encounters. Most miss it. Keep your eyes and ears open—you will see Him and you will hear Him. For He Himself has promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). And He always keeps His promises.

Notes:

1 C.S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1954).
2 Ibid, pp. 155–156.
3 Ibid, p. 157.
4 Ibid, p. 159.
5 Civilla D. Martin, “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” (1922).

© 2003by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

Point to Jesus

Seeing Him - KP Yohannan Books

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I heard it said one time, “The church is not here to meet the needs of the people, but to connect them to the only one who can.” How true that is.

Early one morning my telephone rang. The call was from the senior leader of our work in India. He called to speak with me about a problem he was having with an older staff member. This particular man had served with our ministry for quite some time and was responsible for overseeing a vital part of the ministry. However, a few days prior to this phone call, a younger brother was placed over the older staff member as his leader. And because this man was older and had been with the ministry longer, he would not submit to the younger man. He refused to carry on any work with a young man as his leader.

When I heard about the situation, I said to the senior leader, “Somehow, somewhere along the line, he has lost sight of Jesus. Now he is looking at his ability, his skill, his position and his wisdom. Somehow he thinks that he should be above this younger leader.” I continued, “This didn’t happen overnight. It is only that it just came into the light through this situation.”

I continued to speak to the senior leader, saying, “I will pray with you, and you should gather the rest of the leaders together and pray as well. I encourage you to re-read Watchman Nee’s book Spiritual Authority and look in the Scriptures at the life of Korah, Saul and others. Look at the fall of Lucifer. See how these didn’t submit and how they resisted God’s authority. And then, in contrast, see Jesus. See how the Son of Man lived and died in total surrender to the Father and to those the Father put over Him.”

Then I said, “After that, call the older brother and share with him the things you read. Always remember, you must point him to Jesus. If you can paint Jesus before him, you will have succeeded.

“Pray that he is able to see what you are saying. Pray that he is able to see Jesus. Then give him the opportunity to be restored. Restoration is what we want. That is our goal. Always remember that if you have to err, err on the side of grace. But after you have pointed him to Jesus, if there is no repentance, then please ask him to leave. You have no other recourse.

“Even if you have to shut down the whole operation that he is in charge of, that won’t be a problem. There are other people who can step in to run it. Running that part of the ministry is not important compared to his following the Lord.”

And you know what? A few days later I got a message from the senior leader saying that the older man had repented. He was able to see Jesus, in His humility and submission, and the problem was solved. The answer is always Jesus.

The best thing we can do for anybody is to point them to Jesus. Only when we keep Jesus before us can we then live and work with one another in love and humility. But if we are not connected with Him, if we lose sight of Him, then we have thousands of reasons for disunity, fighting, discouragement and all kinds of problems.

Remember Job? God said he was the most righteous man in all the earth (see Job 1:8, 2:3). He endured horrible trials with no knowledge of what was going on behind the scenes. His wife and his friends didn’t help him. They didn’t point him to God; they only got him more confused. Job despaired of life because it seemed God had deserted him.

But then we see what pulled Job out of his despair. It says in Job 42:5–6 (NIV), “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” Isn’t that interesting? Before Job had heard a lot about God, but now he saw Him. And when he saw Him, everything made sense. The questions stopped. The arguments with his friends stopped. The struggles stopped because Job saw Jesus.

The same thing happened with Isaiah. When Isaiah saw the Lord, he said, “Woe is me, for I am undone!” (Isaiah 6:5). After seeing the Lord and repenting, Isaiah became the man God could use to speak to His people.

The best disciple, the most effective witness of Jesus, is one who points everybody not to himself, but to Jesus.

This is exactly what the Holy Spirit came to do—to point people to Jesus (see John 15:26). And all of creation—everything—points to Jesus. The entire Old Testament points to Jesus, while the New Testament is a fulfillment of who He is. The Bible is not a book full of doctrines; it is a book full of Jesus.

Why do we point to Jesus? When I see Jesus, I see the truth—that I am nothing. He is all there is. I have nothing to offer you, I have nothing to offer the beggar and I have nothing to offer the lost world, except Jesus. Paul asks a very good question in 1 Corinthians 4:7, “And what do you have that you did not receive?” Think about that for a moment. Paul goes on in that same verse to say, “Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” That understanding helps us to always look to Jesus and point others to Him. We have nothing but what we receive from Him.

This is our purpose in studying the Word—seeing Jesus so that we might point others to Him. You can study book after book of the Bible and still never see Jesus. A friend of mine once said, “You will never find more carnal, self-centered, ungodly people than you find among the so-called fundamental, Bible-studying, Bible-memorizing group.” They know the whole Bible, but somehow they miss Jesus. Jesus said to the Pharisees, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life” (John 5:39–40).

So, I encourage you, when you read the Bible see if you can find Jesus. Don’t study just to know how to do something. Don’t study to find another rule you can follow. Some people are not really following Jesus; they are following the teachings of Jesus. That is the problem with us many times. But study to see Jesus. Desire to see Jesus.

Notes:

1 Watchman Nee, Spiritual Authority (New York: Christian Fellowship Publications, 1980).

© 2003 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.