How it began
We kicked off our C3 Encounters 2012 conference in Amsterdam to much funfare and activity with a great praise and worship session that soon moved into a time of prayer for Europe led by Pastors Simon and Valerie McIntyre who are the C3 Directors for Europe.
Pastors from sister churches around Europe were called to pray in their native tongues and we were given historical perspectives of German influence on European Christianity that gave birth to the Reformation movement through Martin Luther, the Swiss and Calvinism, the Dutch and the New Zealanders who feature strongly in our movement through Abel Janszoon Tasman and much more.
We heard prayers in German, then in French – In fact, I have never heard anyone pray in French, it was moving, I was overcome and then in Bulgarian for the Balkans, for Scandinavia and for all other European nations.
Making disciples – Pastor Simon McIntyre
The first session then had Pastor Simon McIntyre preach from the text of Matthew 28:18-20 where he stressed that disciples were made and not found, highlighting the fact that the seeds for church growth were in the local church itself but they had to be developed. We were to look for what was within and amongst us using that to grow our local churches.
He then extended the command to baptise through immersion to immersing people in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, immersing people in the word of God, immersing them into our lives through modelling the word and thereby being an example to others.
Disciples are chosen
Disciples, he said are chosen by reason of leaders identifying faithfulness or giftedness, it is usually incidental and it involves building on that identified potential.
There is a tough love aspect of making disciples, it is direct, strong, loving and confronting – good disciples respond well to rebuke and it works best when passed from generation to generation.
The lesson to take away from this message was the goal of a good leader is to see potential in others and work on making new leaders by example, deed, lifestyle and conduct.
The extraordinary in the ordinary – Pastor Steve Warren
The host pastor, Pastor Steve Warren took on the second session with a message titled – Recovering the extraordinary in the ordinary.
He exhorted us to have a childlike expectation of the extraordinary in the ordinary, working on text from the Acts of Apostles 2:38-47. A case of ordinary people who being empowered by the Holy Spirit sent to them on Pentecost suddenly performed the extraordinary; speaking in different tongues and adding 3000 followers at the first event.
He illustrated the concept better when narrating the tale of Syrophoenician woman who came to Jesus seeking healing for her daughter. She was at first ignored, then told He only came to save the Jews and went on to tell her it was not right to toss the children’s bread to dogs to which she responded the dogs do get to eat the children’s crumbs under the table – with that she got what she wanted.
Crumbs are as good as the loaf
However, the context was that she did not see the ordinariness of the crumbs but was able to rationalise that whatever was in the crumbs also came from the loaf of bread and therefore was just as good as having the loaf.
He said, “The level of your hunger will determine the level of the extraordinary that will happen in your life.”
Praise, he said opens the gates of heaven to the extraordinary and he exhorted us to give thanks in everything according to I Thessalonians 5:18. Other text references he used in his sermon in relation to the usefulness and efficacy of praise and thanksgiving in creating the extraordinary from ordinary circumstances included Psalms 100:4; Psalms 95:2, Ephesians 5:20 & Psalms 34:1.
The Power of Commitment – Pastor Peter Paauwe
Pastor Peter Paauwe, a guest preacher continued from where Pastor Steve Warren left off with a message titled "The Power of Commitment."
He started by saying that problems and challenges are our stepping stones to breakthroughs.
Then he based his text on the narrative in I Samuel 30:1-15, the story being, David returned home to find that his city had been raided and razed with families of both himself and his men taken captive, though they were unsure of what had befallen them.
Pastor Peter made a number of assertions that prayer does not move God but that God is constant, unchanging and is always committed to us. However, prayer can allow us to change our perspectives radically to see and appreciate God’s cause for us.
As David and his men realised what had happened, the story says these mighty warriors wept sore until they had no strength and got to the point where they laid the blame of their predicament on David and were ready to stone him.
We were to reflect on the number of times were we met with adversity and looking for people, issues, situations and even God to blame for deserting us in our time of need.
Count your blessings
David however took a different tack, he strengthen himself by encouraging himself in the Lord, that is, he recognised the many times God had been good to him – in modern parlance, he counted his blessings reassuring himself of God’s commitment to his cause.
II Chronicles 16:9 says, “The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”
The context of commitment suggests a heart at rest, a heart at peace and a heart confident in God rather than in panic, frustration and turmoil. We have to be fully trusting in God.
He said, “Our problems say nothing about how God is committed to us.”
The text goes on to say David enquired of the Lord if he should go after those who raided his city and he was told to go and he would without fail recover all.
Act decisively and promptly
The pastor then said God does not speak in long sentences and the opportunity to take advantage of a word from God is only there for a season.
Case in point was when the Israelites were refused to step forward to take the Promised land at the first opportunity and judgement was visited upon them that they roamed the wilderness for 40 years before a new opportunity to possess the land.
In essence, we need to be decisive, prompt to act, maintain a spirit of compassion for within our doing right and doing good might lay the solution to the once insurmountable problem.
A fleeting moment of opportunity
They found an Egyptian who for three days and three nights had not taken food nor drink and he had been left for dead because he took ill and as it transpired when he was brought to David, he was fed and watered. On recovery and interrogation, it was discovered he was a servant to the people who raided the city, he knew what they had done and where they had gone.
The lesson here was that God’s keys to our solutions usually appear weak, for instance, another day of waiting, grieving or being inconsiderate would have had the Egyptian die with David and his men none the wiser as to how to obtain a fulfilment of God’s promise that they will recover all.
He averred that, “All the power of God is displayed in the weakest things.”
We need to be committed to compassion, committed to people and committed to recognising God’s commitment to us and it is in making that a lifestyle that we can obtain our breakthrough.
The offertory – Pastor Thierry Moehr
Before the evening message, Pastor Thierry Moehr from C3 Lausanne shared from Isaiah 54:2 for the offertory.
“Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes.”
He said we have an invitation from God to live a big life, we are all extendable but God can only take the space we give Him.
We need to give God the chance to be a big God in our lives and that can only come about when we decrease ourselves to let God increase. It is about stretching, extending, sacrifice and letting go, all that allows for God to do what he is good at – being God.
Forgiveness and healing – Pastor Phil Pringle
The final session of the day came with Pastor Phil Pringle, the leader and founder of the C3 organisation preaching from Luke 5:17.
“Now it happened on a certain day, as He was teaching that there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out of every town of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was present to heal them.”
He preached the gospel of grace signifying who and what we are in Christ is not as a result of what we have done but by reason of our taking on what Christ had done for us.
Conversely, the learned scholars of the law could not comprehend the essence of Colossians 1:21-22 “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.”
It is accepting the sacrifice of Christ that allows us to be presented holy, blameless, and above reproach in the sight of God.
Achievement is the work of many
Then using the passage of Luke 5:17-26 he expatiated on how the power of God to heal was of no benefit to the scholars who had crowded out the place such that those who believed the power of God might help their paralytic friend had to find alternative ways to get to Jesus.
He assigned roles to the four friends of the paralytic; Leader (Had the idea that Jesus could heal his friend and proposed all the strategies to get to Jesus.), Helper (Joined in to follow the leader in what he had to do.), Intercessor (Arranged for the bed to convey their friend.) and Evangelist (Persuaded their friend to get in the bed to be carried to where Jesus was.)
In setting out this scenario, he said no one could achieve their full potential without the help of others stressing that unity is the place of power and the fulfilment of any destiny in the church is done in the context of connections and relationships with others.
Forgiveness presages healing
Having found they could gain no access to Jesus they let the man down through the rooftop having removed the tiles and the story says, Jesus saw their faith and then addressed the man that his sins were forgiven and thereby he was healed. [Note that it is the faith of the four friends Jesus saw in ministering to the paralytic - sometimes we need a helping hand to access the free mercies of God.]
As the scholars questioned what Jesus had done reasoning with their hearts about how he could forgive sin, the man who had believed with his heart that his sins were forgiven picked up his bed and walked.
One notable statement Pastor Phil made was that, “People are attracted to a non-judgemental environment.”
He developed this by saying, “Unforgiveness lies at the root of many people’s illnesses,” and that “forgiveness and healing almost always go together.”
As he shared a story of forgiveness and healing he said there are three main blockages to forgiveness.
- Not accepting forgiveness from God.
- Not accepting forgiveness from others.
- Not forgiving oneself.
He closed by calling people forward to be prayed for.
It was a very busy day, well organised and everything seemed to work as planned, I am sure most attendees were mightily blessed and all this was just on the first day of the conference. There is excitement in the air.
C3 Encounters 2012 is on a roll.