It's Obvious! (Guest Editorial by Kip McKean)

Sermon Preached in Syracuse by Christopher Adams, October 26, 2008:
God’s Pattern is Obvious!

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Invites and directions to The Woodcutter’s Ball

Second Anniversary Of The SoldOut Discipling Movement
Guest Editorial by Kip McKean entitled: It’s Obvious!
“In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out – until the day it lifted. So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel during all their travels.” Exodus 40:36–38

Throughout the Bible, the presence of God among His people is obvious! Of the tenth and final plague “Moses said, ‘Every first born in Egypt will die… there will be loud wailing throughout Egypt… But among the Israelites [no one will die]. Then you will know the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.’” God made the “distinction” between Egypt and Israel obvious! When the Israelites traveled through the desert, they were inspired to see the cloud of the Lord above the tabernacle and were surely comforted at night by the glow from the fire in the cloud. God’s presence – by day and by night – was obvious! God’s will – to stay or to go – was equally obvious! At the battle of Jericho, the walls fell when the Israelites marched around the walls for seven days and then blew their trumpets. God’s presence and power were obvious! Though few in comparison, Gideon’s 300 routed 135,000 Midianites! It was obvious, God was with His people.

Saul’s jealousy of David, his crushing defeat by the Philistines, and his suicidal death made it obvious that God had left him. (1 Samuel 16:14) David’s victory over Goliath, his triumphs over the enemies of God’s people as a general, and at Adullam, the gathering around David of the Mighty Men, who were “in distress, in debt or discontented” by the godless leadership of Saul, made it obvious that the Lord was with David. (1 Samuel 22:1-2) Though Israel and Judah were divided through those years, by God making it obvious that David was the king “after His own heart,” in this way, God united His people. Our God does not want His people to “waver between two opinions.” (1 Kings 18:21) On Mount Carmel, Elijah exposed the false teachings of the 450 prophets of Baal, when the fire of God consumed only his water-drenched sacrifice! Once again, God made His faithful few – obvious!

“I will be with you always” is God’s promise when those who follow Jesus “go and make disciples of all nations.” When Paul wrote a generation later “this gospel has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven,” it was obvious that Jesus’ dream to go to all nations was fulfilled! Often in the dark times of church history, the presence, the will and the power of God are not obvious, because lukewarmness permeates the hearts of those who claim to be His people. Illuminating the darkness, Jesus says to the lukewarm, “You do not realize that you are… blind.” (Revelation 3:17)

In October 2008, the SoldOut Discipling Movement celebrated our two year anniversary! In retrospect, the seeds of a new movement were planted in Portland, Oregon in the early days of Elena’s and my ministry in 2003. However, the Spirit formally initiated this movement through the pruning of the Hilo International Church of Christ (ICOC) in the fall of 2006. At its zenith, the Hilo ICOC had 100 in attendance with 60 disciples. After the ICOC leadership’s return to a more mainline theology in 2002 and the ensuing Kriete letter in 2003, the Hilo Church, like most ICOC congregations, was reduced to half its peak membership. Since God had not blessed the Hilo Church with a baptism for over a year, Kyle Bartholomew, the newly hired minister, decided to attend the 2006 Portland Jubilee. After seeing Portland as his only hope, he asked Elena and me to disciple him and his wife, Joan, and rebuild the foundation of the Hilo Church to be only SoldOut disciples. Upon arriving in Hilo, two ICOC evangelists outwardly opposed our efforts. That Sunday, the Hilo Church divided. The 12 who remained united with us had 20 baptisms in the next year! Now two years later, the church created by the ICOC still has not had a single baptism. Interestingly, after experiencing firsthand the refreshment of repentance by the 12 of the Hilo Church, Joe and Mary Santos decided to begin a remnant group in Honolulu. A little more than a year later, they had grown from two to 14 disciples. Then in June 2008, the City of Angels Church sent the Honolulu Mission Team of 10 disciples led by the Bartholomews to join the remnant group. In the first 19 weeks after their inaugural service, there have been 19 additions: 11 baptisms, three placing memberships and five restorations! In stark contrast, the Honolulu ICOC, whose evangelist had opposed our efforts in Hilo in 2006, has witnessed his once 1,000 disciple fellowship dwindle to less than 200. They have had only four baptisms for this entire year. Both the presence – and absence – of God is obvious in the Hawaiian Islands.

The City of Angels Church was planted in May 2007 by Elena and me with 40 disciples from Portland. Among our “partners in the gospel” were: Nick & Denise Bordieri, DJ & Kacie Comisford, Victor & Sonia Gonzalez, and Vic & Aurora Gonzalez. The Lord blessed us in our first 18 months with 150 baptisms and 70 restorations! During these months, compelled by the Spirit, other powerful couples joined us. These “partners in the gospel” included: Michael & Sharon Kirchner, Lu Jack & Cathi Martinez, Carlos & Lucy Mejia, Marty & Cathy Wooten, and Ken & Liliana Zindler. Unparalleled in recent memory, is a “baby church” sending out 37 disciples on three mission teams: Honolulu, New York City and this Sunday, Portland! Even after the Holy Spirit sent out these teams, the City of Angels Church has 220 members with almost 400 on Sundays! Some have suggested that the LA ICOC with 5,000 disciples and 400 baptisms last year is by far the strongest ICOC church in the world, and they may well be right. Yet, one must not forget that over the past six years since the ICOC leadership’s return to mainline theology, over 6,000 disciples have either fallen away, moved away or walked away from the LA ICOC! Jesus said, “Each tree is recognized by its fruit.” (Luke 6:44) The City of Angels Church with 40 disciples had 101 baptisms in our first year! Extrapolated, the 5000 members of the LA ICOC baptizing 400, sadly means every 40 LA ICOC members saw only three baptisms in that same year’s time. Though we are few in comparison, the difference is obvious.

The Sold-out Movement “spread rapidly” from Portland into all the United States. (2 Thessalonians 3:1) The twin plantings of New York City and Washington DC on September 14, 2008 are preaching the Word! DJ Comisford reports that the Empire City International Christian Church (ICC) has seen the Lord add to their mission team of 20, four baptisms and one restoration! Andrew Smellie of Washington DC praises God for adding three baptisms, two restorations and nine placing memberships to their 18 member mission team! The two year old church plantings of Chicago and Phoenix are also multiplying disciples. Chris and Theresa Broom have inspired the Chicago Church to increase from 29 to 104 disciples. Starting 2008 with 75 disciples, God has blessed the Chicago Church with 30 baptisms already this year! The 14 disciples of the Phoenix Mission Team led by Matt and Helen Sullivan, presently in Santiago, Chile, joined the small remnant group led by Chris and Sonja Chloupek. Two years later, there are 70 disciples and their campus ministry at Arizona State University, the largest university in America, has grown from six disciples in January to now 26!

To inform those who are now just beginning to consider joining God’s new movement, we are composed of two types of congregations. First are the “church plantings,” which are initiated with mission teams led by trained full-time couples. Therefore, these churches multiply disciples quickly. Secondly, there are “remnant group churches,” which grow more slowly. For the most part, these churches are led by untrained, but gallant disciples. Their desire is to be a part of a discipling movement whose central leadership holds to the motivating vision to evangelize the world in a generation. The remnant group often forms the base to which we send a mission team, as we did to Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles and Phoenix. In the United States, we have dynamic remnant groups in Las Vegas, Reno, Sacramento, San Diego and San Francisco. Orlando is unique and more of a “church planting” as this congregation is led by a trained couple, Anthony and Elizabeth Eckels. They started in March 2008 with just the two of them and now have 17 disciples, which are able to support Anthony full-time!

To be commended for their sacrifice of disciples and finances for the mission teams are our sister churches in Hilo, Hawaii; Eugene, Oregon; and Syracuse, New York. These congregations joined us directly from the ICOC. Up to this time, they have retained the “ICOC” name. So that these churches can be identified by those who want to participate in the new movement, all have agreed to adopt the distinctive nomenclature of “International Christian Church.”

Overseas the movement has advanced into 17 more nations: Australia, Canada, Curacao, Democratic Republic of Congo, El Salvador, England, Estonia, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Kenya, Russia, Sweden, Tanzania, and Ukraine. Recently in September, new churches were established in Ecuador and Suriname. In the Central and South American region, through the heroic stand of Raul and Lynda Moreno and the continued efforts of the Sullivans, our sister church in Santiago, Chile has grown from 29 to 60 disciples in one year! The San Pedro Sula, Honduras Church started by Dorian and Rosa Bonilla has grown from 16 to 93 in two years! One enthusiastic brother promised, “When we break 100, I’ll slaughter and cook a cow for the church to celebrate!”

More good news from abroad: The London Remnant Group, led by Tim and Lianne Kernan, hosted the second European Missions Conference on October 17-19, 2008. Remnant disciples seeking revival and fellowship came from the British Isles, the United States, Scandinavia, Europe and Africa! In Africa, inspiring so many has been the conversion of the denominational preacher, Michael Orieny. Michael has personally established two new congregations, baptizing 20 disciples in Nairobi, Kenya and 24 new converts in Tanzania! Finally, and very excitingly, there are now five churches in India – Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Delhi and Chennai – all under the oversight of Raja and Debbie Rajan, our new full-time workers supported by Chicago, Hilo and Syracuse.

Perhaps the greatest highlight of our second year is the establishing at the 2008 Jubilee of our central leadership for the SoldOut Discipling Movement! Humbled and prayerful by this responsibility are: Nick & Denise Bordieri, Chris & Theresa Broom, DJ & Kacie Comisford, Andrew & Patrique Smellie, Matt & Helen Sullivan, Tony & Therese Untalan and Elena & me. After this historic moment, the most encouraging event for Elena and me is the emerging of the remnant group in our beloved Portland. Three weeks ago, Elena and I were in Portland preaching the Word, pleading with disciples to no longer “waver between two opinions.” We called them to examine the obvious, and make a decision as to where God wants them to worship, using the Scriptures and not sentimentality as their guide. In the three years of our ministry in Portland, God grew the church from 25 to almost 400 disciples with over 500 in attendance on Sundays! The Comisfords were so moved that they wrote, The Portland Song, commemorating the gathering of a remnant of mighty men and women from all over the world that was “in distress, in debt and discontented” by the unbiblical changes in our former fellowship. DJ and Kacie sang, “Welcome to Portland, Oregon! Where the rain’s a pourin’! Hope your soul feels at home! All the people criticizing, but we’re just baptizing! Got plenty of H2O! Hey – O, Welcome Home!” By grace, God chose rainy Portland as the birthplace for the new discipling movement.

Upon our leaving to plant the City of Angels Church, the leadership of the Portland ICOC slowly drifted to a more mainline theology that included autonomy. Unsuccessfully confronting them were Tony & Therese Untalan and Michael & Michele Williamson, who then moved to be with us in LA. Soon after the 2008 Jubilee, the Portland ICOC leadership formally renounced being in the new movement. Consequently, scores fled to several churches in the new movement. Yet, others who believed in the dream could not move. So, from the influence of Jeremy and Amy Ciaramella of Eugene, as well as our visit, there are now 41 disciples (25 English, 16 Latin) in the Portland Remnant Group! Today, from the City of Angels Church, we will be sending out the Portland Mission Team to join these noble hearted disciples. On the team from Los Angeles are Ron and Tracy Harding, who will lead the new Portland International Christian Church, and Gordo Esparza. Joining the team from Phoenix are Marcel Turner and Janelle Rushen, and from Eugene are JB Firman and Whitney DiLoreto. The Portland ICOC, which was once the fire igniting a revival that glowed around the globe, now only has around 200 members remaining.

Words cannot express our joy that there is now a “likeminded” sister church in Portland, who shares “the same love being one in Spirit and in purpose.” (Philippians 2:2) In fact, the remnant group is so full of gratefulness and love that, as with all of our churches, if placed into the fellowship of the City of Angels Church, it would be impossible to make a “distinction” between the Portland disciples and the City of Angels members. Truly, in the new movement through Timothys such as Ron, Jeremy, Kyle, DJ, Vic Sr., Vic Jr., Andrew, Carlos, Lu Jack, Tim, Chris, Matt, Raul, Raja, and Michael, the same doctrine and life can be found “everywhere in every church.” (1 Corinthians 4:15-17) I pray that I will live to see 30 years of this new movement. Then, as Paul wrote to his generation, so I too will write at the end of my generation, “the world was evangelized in our day!” To God be the glory!

Kip McKean

“God’s Pattern Is Obvious” preached by Chris Adams on Sunday, October 26, 2008

Exodus 25:9
• God showed a very specific pattern to Moses.

Exodus 25:40
Question: Do you think that God wants to have a relationship with you?

Acts 7:44
• God would be with them in a special way.
• Despite God’s obvious pattern, you have a pattern of turning away from God.
• In the Old Testament of the Bible, there is a pattern of Israel’s obedience and disobedience toward God. (Judges 2:10–23)

Isaiah 53:4–12
• Jesus fulfilled every part of the Scriptures.
• Jesus’ death on the cross for your sins was meant to end the pattern of sinfulness.
Question: What are you supposed to hold onto as God’s pattern?

Mark 1:16–20
• This was not the first time that they saw Jesus.
Question: How did He make them fishers of men?

John 12:31–33
• Jesus’ pattern was being lifted up and drawing men to Him.

Luke 9:23
• The pattern was established.
• Jesus never asked you to do what He didn’t do Himself.
• If you drop your cross, then you risk losing the pattern for yourself and everyone else.

Matthew 28:18–20
• This is the pattern.
Question: How are you doing denying yourself?
• You got to take up your cross; and how you take it up is so important.
• The joy to take up the cross.

1 John 2:6
• Walk as Jesus did.
• The condition is that you talk about your sin and confess it.
• God’s love is unconditional, but a relationship with God is absolutely condition.
Question: Are you walking as He did?
• Discipling is not optional.
• Sin hardens your heart.
Question: What stops this pattern?
• Let the pride down and get open with your life.

Philippians 3:17–18
• There is a way to not follow the pattern.
• You were an enemy of God. (Romans 5:10)
Question: How far are you from being like Jesus?

1 Corinthians 4:14–17
• There is a way of life.
• There is a urging, discipling, mentoring

2 Timothy 2:1–2
• You got to be a reliable man.
• Be loving, faithful and urgent.
• Satan cannot beat this pattern. (Matthew 16:18)
Question: Why would you build a different pattern?

2 Timothy 1:13–14
• You have these relationships when you are living according to God’s pattern.
• You got to live according to your convictions from the Bible.
• You got to take up the cross and live like Jesus.
Question: What is the good deposit?
• This pattern of sound teaching.
• The Greek word for pattern is hupotuposis, which means a pattern, sketch, or outline for a building.
• Faith and obedience as well as life and doctrine are important. (1 Timothy 4:16)
• Guard the sound teaching to the death.

Philippians 4:9
• Put it in practice, God’s peace will be with you; if not, then you will have chaos.
Question: Are people going to see the pattern if you do not live it?
• Be zealous for God.

2 Timothy 1:15–18
Question: Are you going to be like Phygelus and Hermogenes or are you going to be like the household of Onesiphorus?
• There is a way to get “off the ship.”
• The danger is that once you let go of the pattern, now you could let go of the pattern for good.

1: Be strong in the grace of Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 2:1–7
• God will give you insight into all of this.
• You got to be convinced that when you bring yourself to the light, get open and confess your sins that you are as free of sin as you were on the day of your baptism.

2:Entrust to reliable men.
• Guard the pattern with faith and love.
Question: Who will get busy?
• You got to trust to reliable men.
• The pattern must be continued.

3: Do not let hardship steal your joy in God’s Kingdom.
• You are not about the world first.
• You cannot allow yourself to be pulled away from the pattern of preaching the gospel.