Back in May this year, my guest was Peter Tsukahira. Peter is a Japanese American who has pioneered churches in Japan and Israel. Along with his wife Rita, they co-founded Mount Carmel Congregation. I asked Peter at the time if he would consider coming back on the show to do a follow-up interview. Here's the recording of our most recent conversation.
Books by Peter Tsukahira (Available on Amazon)
Mark Banyard 0:09
Welcome to Kingdom talk, the podcast where we talk all about things kingdom. I'm your host, Mark Banyard, and I'll be interviewing a variety of people who through their lives and ministries have been committed to advancing the kingdom of God: church planners, church leaders, pioneers of missions and ministries both at home as well as abroad. So let's go straight to today's episode of Kingdom talk.
Back in May this year, my guest was Peter Tsukahira. Peter is a Japanese American who has pioneered churches in Japan and Israel. Along with his wife Rita, they co-founded Mount Carmel Congregation. I asked Peter at the time if he would consider coming back on the show to do a follow-up interview. Here's the recording of our most recent conversation. Hi, Peter, welcome back to the show.
Peter Tsukahira 1:17
Hi, Mark. It's great to be here.
Mark Banyard 1:20
And let's just get right into it. We are people who, I believe, carry a revelation of God's kingdom. Jesus, when he came and started his ministry, he went to the synagogues. He went to the villages. And he taught and he talked, he preached, and he taught on the kingdom of God. And if you fast forward all the way to after his death and resurrection, before his ascension, he meets with his disciples for 40 days and talks about the Kingdom of God. So what is it about this kingdom of God message that relates to our calling and God?
Peter Tsukahira 2:04
Well, it really was the primary message of Jesus. You remember he began his ministry with the words, "Repent, the kingdom of God is at hand." Actually, John the Baptist began his ministry with those same words. And Jesus really focused on that. He told us to pray, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven." And he said, "This is the primary thing, Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, everything else will be added to you." So it really was prominent in his message. But it was not an unfamiliar theme to the people of Israel in his day. They had an understanding of the kingdom of God. And it was a phrase that they were they were used to it, it wasn't something brand new to them. And the reason is that Israel was intended to be the kingdom of God. And God intended to rule Israel as king. And this is, I think, what perplexes many Christians today, because we jump in to the understanding of God's Kingdom. In Matthew chapter four, Jesus comes on the scene with this message, "Repent, the kingdom of God is at hand." But the kingdom of God begins with Israel. Back in the desert, Exodus Chapter 19, God met this mass of former slaves who had just been delivered from from four centuries of slavery in Egypt. And they're in the desert. He says, Exodus 19, verse six, he says, "You will be to me a kingdom, a priestly Kingdom, and a holy nation." Remember, Moses was never king of Israel, he was always the prophet of the Lord, the servant of the Lord. God became the king of Israel, in the desert. And he ruled in a lawful way. And he formed those dysfunctional, disorganized, former slaves into a nation that could be an example to the world. And primarily, he got the 12 separate tribes to agree to follow him as king. And you may remember God camped in the middle of Israel for 40 years. It was like a 40 year camping trip, you know, with God. His tent was always in the middle, you know, they camped in an orderly way, the 12 camped by tribe, and God's tent was in the middle. He led them with a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night, and Moses was his prophet, and the tribe of Levi served him as priests. But God was king. And this continued even after they went into the land, a generation later, under Joshua, God was king. And when they needed military leadership, they needed to fight against their enemies, God raised up judges. So you have the book of Judges, of course, Book of Joshua and the Book of Judges, and the judges would be empowered by God to fight against the enemies of Israel, defend the land and defend the people. And then they would go back to whatever they were doing, before the big conflict. But if we continue with that story, what happened in the days of Samuel, who was the last of the judges, and a forerunner of the great prophets, in the days of Samuel, the people of Israel grew tired of having God as king. And essentially, the people of Israel rejected the kingdom of God during the days of Samuel. They went to Samuel and they said, "We want to be like the other nations around us. The other nations have human kings. And we're this strange nation with an invisible king. The other nations have palaces and guards and soldiers and governments. And we have none of that." And so they complained to Samuel. And he argued with them. I mean, this is all in the first chapters of First Samuel. And he argued with them and said, "No, that's not a good idea. If you have a human king, the first thing he'll do is tax you. Believe me the 10% flat tithe? It's a better system."
Okay, he'll tax you. And the next thing a human king will do is he'll draft your children as soldiers. And that's what Samuel told the people. Who do you think is going to pay for those that big palace, and that big government? You're going to pay for it with your taxes. And who are those wonderful soldiers and, you know, honor guards, and all that pomp and circumstance for, you know, royalty, those are your children. But they persisted. And I think I can I can quote to you from First Samuel chapter eight. First Samuel chapter eight, verses six and seven. Here's what it says. "But the thing was displeasing in the sight of Samuel when they said, 'Give us a king to judge us.' And Samuel prayed to the Lord. The Lord said to Samuel, 'Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.'" So it's clear the people of Israel rejected the kingdom of God during the days of Samuel. And so what did we get? We got human kings. And the first one, Saul, was a failure. And it goes on from there. In fact, there are six books in our Bibles about the human kings of Israel. First and Second Kings, First and Second Chronicles, First and Second Samuel. And you can sum it all up in really one sentence. They were a disaster for Israel. And only one of the human kings was ever considered a truly great king. And that was David. Of course, we know David was a, a great king. But we also know that he was far from perfect. But he was a man after God's heart. And I think there are two reasons why we call him a man after God's heart. One is, he really wanted to be the little king, so that God could be the great king. He wanted his city Jerusalem to be known as the city of the great king. And it wasn't his, it wasn't about David, it was about God, as far as David was concerned. So the other reason so he was a humble man. The other reason was, he was the only human king that all the tribes of Israel trusted enough to follow. So soon after, you know, after David, you had Solomon who takes the kingdom to its heights in terms of wealth and glory, but his heart departed from the Lord later in life and the kingdom lost its unity. So after that in the next generation, there was a split - 10 tribes in the north, two in the south - and civil war. And they never recovered from that. They lost, they lost that unity. The 10 tribes in the north never had a good king. It was idolatry, abuse of power, political corruption, assassination. And finally, they're so weak that they're conquered by the Assyrians, taken into captivity and they disappear from history, to this day. The two southern tribes, Judah and Benjamin, they last longer. They had a reformer every once in a while, a reformer king who tried to bring the kingdom back under the rulership of God. But ultimately, they're unsuccessful. And they're taken by the Babylonians, and into captivity, conquered, and taken off as slaves. And for 70 years, what had been God's kingdom on earth ceased to operate. And so, then, so that's why you have those those verses that say, "By the rivers of Babylon, we hung up our harps on the willows. And there we wept when we remembered Zion." That's more than a good reggae song. You know, they wept, because they remembered what they had been, they had been the kingdom of God on earth, the only people with God as king, and he had taken them from a dysfunctional mass of former slaves to a great kingdom, just like he promised. He said, "You do what I say, I'll make you the head and not the tail."
Mark Banyard 11:36
Yeah. And so what we what we might be able to say is that God, right from the beginning, not only wanted a people for Himself, but his people were going to be his kingdom, and he was going to be their king.
Peter Tsukahira 11:50
Exactly. And it's not a good idea to spiritualize this. And what if we come into the kingdom understanding, at the beginning of the New Testament, and forget that Israel was the model and the picture of God's kingdom, we lose the societal aspect. And see, because the Kingdom has a national aspect. And the church is meant to be the the agent of God's kingdom, really, for the benefit of society, not for the benefit of the church, in and of itself. So that leads us to making disciples of the kingdom and also why Jesus, in His Great Commission, he said, "Go and make disciples of all the nations." So we have to have a national vision for the kingdom, because that explains to us why the church is important, and why the church's most important task is to produce disciples of thinking.
Mark Banyard 13:00
Peter, I'm going to stop you there just for a second. And just, it's, I think, for our listeners today, the there's a link here that perhaps they don't have, that you're making, and that is the link between the kingdom of God and being receiving the word from Jesus to go and to make disciples of all nations. And so, you know, it's, I'm not sure it's something I've always seen or understood, at least in the past, but the relationship between discipleship, being discipled, and being a disciple and the kingdom of God.
Peter Tsukahira 13:40
Yes. That's a key thing. And actually, the book I recently completed, called Equip is really focused on making that connection between what is the kingdom of God biblically? And then how does that relate to the task of making disciples that should be disciples of God's kingdom.
Mark Banyard 14:06
Yes. And I was going to mention your book. And since you have, I'll just, I'll just put in an extra plug here. Peter's book is "Equip: Your personal journey to the kingdom". And I have my personal signed copy right in front of me. And it is wonderfully laid out with 52 different chapters. So if you want to read a chapter a week, that would be a wonderful approach or you want to sit down and read it all in one sitting. I know some people would want to do that, I'd recommend you that you don't because there's so much in there that you need to digest and at the end of each chapter, you've added some wonderful questions for discussion groups or if you're just reading it personally yourself for you to think through and prayer points. So anyway, back to you, Peter, your book is exactly that. It brings together the idea, speaks to discipleship, but in relationship to and in the context of the kingdom of God.
Peter Tsukahira 15:10
Thank you Mark. And I think probably the key to this understanding is knowing that we shouldn't jump into the kingdom of God understanding the kingdom of God, with the New Testament, we should start as the Bible does in the beginning. And then we start the good places to start in the beginning God created and then that leads directly to Abraham, God choosing Abraham and making a covenant with him, telling him that he would use Abraham to create a great nation. He says when he called Abraham in Genesis chapter 12, said, "I will make you a great nation. And in you, all the peoples of the earth will be blessed." And this is where Israel starts, because Israel is part of the process of fulfilling that promise to Abraham. Israel, of course, are the people, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and Jacob's name has changed, Israel. So God from the start said, "I want a nation. And I will rule that nation, as king." And when he does, that becomes the picture of the kingdom of God. And that's the foundation for the message of Jesus. And so we have to start at the beginning. Because that tells us in God's eyes, the kingdom of God is a society that he rules. So he rules all areas of the society, he rules the culture, he rules families, he rules businesses, and he rules government. And this shows us why the people of God's Kingdom today as in every generation, come with a wide variety of professions, skills, gifting and calling. And most of our professions, and most of our giftings are not found in the church. I think, less than 10%, or maybe around 10% of the people who are born again, serving God, about 10%, a little bit less, I think, will be called to work professionally, in the church. More than 90% of us are called professionally to work outside of the church. And that's by design. Because because we bring the kingdom to society.
Mark Banyard 17:51
Now for years, you know, I totally agree with you. But for years, we kind of interpreted if you were that 90% or whatever. We interpreted that by going to church every Sunday and serving in some way in the church, whether it was welcoming people at the door or serving in the kitchen or something like that. That was how we worked out our kingdom destiny, our kingdom call. But that's not at all what it is to work out your kingdom calling, would you agree?
Peter Tsukahira 18:24
I do agree. And I say that most Christians do this. Because I did this. I started learning about the kingdom with the words of Jesus. And it took me years to realize, that was like coming into a movie late. If you come into the movie in the middle, you'll find out how it ends. I hate that. And if you pay attention, you'll figure out eventually who these main characters are. But you never really understand why it ends that way. Nor do you really get it with the motivations and the reasons the values of the people you're dealing with, in this in this movie, because all of that is established at the beginning. And so it is with the kingdom of God. If we come into this movie late and and we don't understand the social aspects, the society that God wants to rule, then all we know about the kingdom is the church. And so everything that has to do with the kingdom has to do with the church. And the church is really where people get equipped to do their work of the Kingdom, but most of the people's work of the kingdom will be outside of the church. And that's how a society changes.
Mark Banyard 19:49
So let me ask you this question. It's kind of flipping what you're saying. What does a person who is discipled without a kingdom perspective, what does that produce? What does that disciple look like?
Peter Tsukahira 20:05
Okay, that disciple is a faithful church goer. And dedicates that one day to God, in worship and in prayer and giving financially and supports the church, all good things. And then goes out to work and tries to be a good believer in family and in profession. So it's not bad. It's just insufficient because it doesn't really change the society. You know, as a pastor, and I've been a pastor for about 40 years, as a young pastor, I thought my church was the kingdom. And that my job as a pastor was to get people out of the world, out of society, into my church. And if I got them into the church, there they would be, they would be joining the kingdom. And so of course, we measured that by the number of chairs we had on Sunday, the number of chairs we could fill, it was about church growth. That was the metric, you grow your church, you're extending the kingdom. It took me years to realize that strategy is doomed to failure. We'll never get everyone inside the building. And then I started to read what it says in the New Testament. I realized that was never Jesus's plan. And Paul never, never saw that either. He, Paul writes, Ephesians chapter four, "The apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, and evangelists are for the equipping of the saints for their work of service." And that really struck home to me. I realized that as ministry professionals, our job is not to just gather and gather more and more people and speak to bigger and bigger crowds. Our job is to equip the ones that God sends us, they go out and do the work of the service. And Jesus at any time could have stopped at any time during his three year ministry and formed the largest group, you know, I mean, he could have been a megachurch pastor, many times over. And he resolutely refused to do that, and kept turning away from the crowds. He meant he had a fast public ministry, but he kept turning back to these 12 disciples. And if you read carefully the New Testament, even if you don't read it carefully, you realize that was the focus of his ministry. When they were ready, He was finished, he was done. I mean, he says so, John, chapter 17. It's called the high priestly prayer of Jesus. But I think it's more like his final performance report. He says to the Father, "I finished the work that you sent me to do. And the entire chapter is about His disciples. He hasn't even gone to the cross yet. He hasn't given his life. He hasn't. His blood hasn't been shed for the atonement of the sins of the world. But he tells the Father, "I've completed the work that you sent me to do." And then he prays the entire chapter, he prays about his disciples.
Mark Banyard 23:45
Now, it seems to me listening to you that the hint that discipleship is about the Kingdom of God is when Jesus said, "Go." He didn't say, "Stay". He said, "Go." So if you really grasp this idea that we are being commissioned, you know, anointed, consecrated, redeemed, all those things, and then Jesus says, "No, go", It's so different than from this idea that we save everybody out of the world and then just say, "Stay here because you'll be safe."
Peter Tsukahira 24:26
That's right. And so what happens is just a number of things, you develop a spectator attitude, because the church then thinks of itself as a gathering, where a few talented gifted individuals do ministry, which causes more people to attend. And so you have more people sitting, watching a few do the work of the ministry, and very little emphasis on being equipped and for everyone to go out and do ministry outside of the church. So also, I think it not only is like a spectator attitude, but it really, it makes people who are gifted and called by God into other areas of society feel like they're kind of Second Class spiritually. So in that in those in our assemblies, we're going to have gifted business people, we're going to have educators, we're going to have scientists, we're gonna have doctors, lawyers, homemakers, all kinds of people. And our job, the pastors, prophets, evangelists, teachers, are there to equip them to be able to do those jobs as members of a heavenly kingdom. And each one of them is going to be given a circle of influence by God. And how well they manage their circle of influence determines the kind of fruit they are personally going to have in their life. And, and that also determines whether we, the apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, and evangelists are doing our job. So you know, you can't, you have to produce something in your life, every every person in the kingdom. And right now, because we're really kind of stuck on this church growth model. We say that the work of a disciple is to go out and to evangelize and actually bring more people into the assembly. But that message is a result of coming into the movie late. Because because we're stuck on crowds. And the truth is, everyone knows this, you don't get discipled in a crowd. You spiritually grow, you get discipled, by people who know you.
Mark Banyard 27:13
Yeah, that's such a key point. Can you just repeat that again?
Peter Tsukahira 27:19
Okay, you don't get discipled in a crowd. And discipleship happens when you're with people who know you and care about you spiritually. They're, you know, they're concerned about you, and they want to see you progress and mature. And if you have people like that in your life, you're gonna grow. If you don't, you won't.
Mark Banyard 27:41
Yeah, that relational context really is so key to accountability, good accountability, which is fertile for spiritual growth.
Peter Tsukahira 27:52
I think that one of the things we miss in current discipleship approaches is the importance and the power of friendship. Jesus' disciples were his closest friends. In fact, he says that, "I don't call you servants here, my friends, alright, because a servant doesn't know what his master is doing. But I make known everything to you. And by the way, I'm commanding you to love one another. And Greater love has no man than this that he lay down his life for his friends, like, I'm going to lay down my life for you." Basically, that's what he's saying to them. And so, if we can make that link between discipleship and spiritual growth, and friendship, it's going to really take off because you want to be with your friends. You're excited about being with your friends, you make time to be with your friends, you know, and if that human drive, to have friends and be with friends is connected as it was in the life of Jesus with the process of discipleship, then there's nothing that can stop it. And you don't need a building. You don't need a crowd. You need a cup, you need a cup of coffee, maybe. And you need two or three people can sit, you know, on a park bench and accomplish this far better than a powerful speaker and 10,000 people in some big building.
Mark Banyard 29:32
So I'm going to play the role of the disturber right now and just say, "This, to me, is all common sense. It has been for a very long time. Why has there been so much pushback from the church over the years?"
Peter Tsukahira 29:54
You know, don't get me started. You know, I kind of say it in a joking way we come into the movie late. But what's happened is it's become corrupted. And the economics of building a crowd are now they're so far down the road, that it's hard to turn back. And you know, if you have a small church, the economics are very different from if you're successful and have a large church. And the tragedy is that only a few pastors are gifted to be able to handle large crowds. And so there are 1000s and 1000s, 10s of 1000s, of pastors of small struggling churches that many of them just want to give up. And it's so basically what I'm saying is one of the key factors is the economics of it. The other is the prestige of it, we are so addicted to church growth, that, you know, sooner or later among pastors, someone's going to ask you, so how many? How many people do you have? Which means how many people attend that particular two hours on that particular day? And that's the metric that is supposed to tell everybody everything? And it's totally false.
Mark Banyard 31:34
Yep. It is, in my mind, I often think about, I should just say this, I believe it's your heart too. I love the church. I love pastors. I love you, know, those who are giving their lives to serve full time, I love them. But often, I feel like what we're bumping into is this, this big machine that has taken so long to build that the idea of dismantling it is just out of the question.
Peter Tsukahira 32:12
Well, look, 500 years ago, the church, the existing church, was one huge pyramid. And I'm talking in terms of structure, the Catholic Church, still to this day resembles a pyramid, you have one person at the very top. And that person, according to their doctrine, speaks for God and is infallible, and everybody, everybody listens. And so you have successive layers of hierarchy under that person, you know, you have bishops and cardinals and whatever, okay, down and a great mass of people at the bottom. That's what I mean by a pyramid. So 500 years ago, that was the church. And some people who were reading the Scriptures said, that's not sufficient. That's not the model. And they protested. And that's why we call them Protestants. And they, they were finally successful, in breaking it apart. But now that was 500 years ago, that's a long time long now. And now in some way, it may appear that we were successful in breaking up or breaking, at least breaking away from the big pyramid. And what we've resulted in what we've ended up with, is 1000s and 1000s of smaller pyramids.
Mark Banyard 33:44
Okay, very true.
Peter Tsukahira 33:45
And so now we have to break away again, if we want to recapture the vitality of the movement, that Jesus started. And he's very clear about his instructions. And he was very clear about what he did. We have the record. And the scriptures are sufficient. They're clear. They're sufficient, what he said, what he did, and the model that he left us. So, in my opinion, it's time to break away again and again, and get back to being a movement that really provokes the nations to jealousy. And people who say, How can I how can I be a part of that?
Mark Banyard 34:27
Right. Just before we move on, I want to go back to the Go word, because I think it's so important to understand what was in Jesus' heart and what was in Jesus mind when he gave that command? You know, for years, anybody, you know, back to the church, anybody who kind of seriously took on board the Go word ended up being a missionary. You know, and they were a peculiar bunch and they were a minority. And they were, it was kind of like, if a few went, the rest of us could stay at home and support them. And if anything, we made them into super Christians. Right? They were better than anybody else. And gifted and anointed, and unintentionally, perhaps we created an elite group of super Christians called missionaries who were the ones who responded to the go word. But with the kingdom perspective that you're talking about today, the command to go and to become a disciple is for all of us in Christ.
Peter Tsukahira 35:42
Absolutely. And, for for some, it may mean, go teach that kindergarten class, but teach that class as a disciple of the Most High God, go to your office, and be the manager of that department. But be the kind of manager that everybody in the department says, "Wow, I feel like I'm with Jesus. You know, when I'm with you, I love this place. Because I feel like I'm not just doing my job, I feel like I'm, I'm a real human being." Go and be that lawyer that understands that God rules a lawful kingdom. And that my job is to bring some of God's lawfulness into the legal system of my people. Go, be that doctor, who's praying every day, to the great healer, Lord, use my hands use my mind, to heal people in the name of Jesus. I mean, that's what it means, because every one of us has somewhere to go. And every one of us has a calling, and an accountability for the gifting that God has given us.
Mark Banyard 36:59
I recall from our first and last interview together, you sharing with me about coming to Christ in the States. That's where you met your wife. And then you both had a sense about going to Japan. And as brand new on fire Christians, you went to Japan, but you weren't a pastor of a church in the sense of that was your full time work? Right?
Peter Tsukahira 37:27
Well, right. I mean, back in the 80s, when we left the United States, that was 19, I guess it was 1982. You know, it was the most expensive place in the world. And no one knew us. I just finished seminary, I'd just been ordained. But there was no way we're going, we could we could live there even for a year. Because we had no support. But while I'd been in seminary, I learned how to program computers. And I had the very beginning of a resume. So I sent out my resume, and I got hired by a Japanese company. So they took us to Japan and brought us right into the center of the Japanese working world. And then I met a man who was starting an international fellowship. And right away he said, "I want you to work as my associate, let's build this. Let's build this fellowship." And we did. And we had a great time, it was such an adventure.
Mark Banyard 38:28
So it was really, in terms of your experience, the message that you're preaching is not just academic, you yourself as a Christian, since sensing calling and destiny on your life, went to another nation, in this case, a nation that you're connected to through your ethnicity. But you actually went into the workplace and saw that as a kingdom calling.
Peter Tsukahira 38:56
Yes, I actually, I wrote a book about it years ago called My Father's Business. And it was, and I wrote that book because of the gap that I surprisingly, it was a surprise to me, that I experienced between the world of ministry and the world of the marketplace. You know, I had this job for a Japanese telecommunications company. And, but as soon as I started telling other ministers, that not only was I pastoring a growing church, but I had this desk job I went to every day, the more I talked about my job, the faster their respect for me as a as a spiritual leader fell. You know, they were, as soon as I mentioned that I was working for a living and I wasn't being supported by the church fellowship, they got this funny look in their face and pretty soon I could predict the next question they would ask. And it was usually something like, "Oh, you mean you're not in full time ministry?" And then I'd say, "Well, yeah, I am in full time ministry. And, you know, and the church is growing and, but I also have this job," and, you know, I was so naive, I thought it was just about time management. But I realized it was a culture gap. And, then and back in the day, I couldn't bridge that gap. And so eventually, I just tried to solve that problem by not telling them anymore.
Mark Banyard 40:38
Peter Tsukahira 40:41
So, I lived with that gap. And years later, I wrote that book, because I realized that it was one of the symptoms of coming into the movie late and spiritualizing God's kingdom. And or seeing it just as a religious church expression, and not having a vision for your society.
Mark Banyard 41:08
I remember years ago, knowing a few people that were what they would say we called them bi-vocational. And so they pastored a church on the weekends, but Monday to Friday, they basically had a job. And they would say the thinking was, as soon as there's enough money, we have enough people and there's enough money in the offering plate, then we'll get rid of the faux job so we can be full time in the real job. And it was, unfortunately, it was an extra practical explanation, but lacked real Kingdom understanding.
Peter Tsukahira 41:55
Oh, yeah. And, but this is really embedded in our thinking, the division between sacred and secular. And you know, that there are sacred things which has to do with the church, and secular things that have to do with the marketplace. You know, living here in Israel, and working amongst Jewish people, I realized that first of all, all the disciples of Jesus, including Jesus himself, were Jews, and the Hebraic understanding, doesn't have that dichotomy. Sacred and secular, that's Greek, not Hebraic. The Hebraic understanding is holistic. God made you a whole person. And if you're dedicated to the Lord, as a person, then your job is holy. And your family is holy. Working with your family is holy. Working at whatever profession you have, that's holy, and of course, you're going to worship God. And of course, you're going to sacrifice and pray and do those things. But there's no division in your life between what is sacred and what isn't.
Mark Banyard 43:08
I think we are talking about not just a perspective of it, we're also talking about things we value, right. When you, going back to what I was saying about those people were bi-vocational and their value was being a pastor full time was more valuable than being called into the world as a professional or as a tradesperson, or whatever, to bring the kingdom of God. And so it's not just a way of thinking, it's also a value statement. And just to put emphasis on what you're saying, we need to have a reset not only in what we think but what comes out of that, if it's a revelation of by the Spirit of God, then it brings transformation that resets our value system.
Peter Tsukahira 44:02
Absolutely, if it may be more valuable from a kingdom perspective to actually work in the marketplace. Look at the Apostle Paul. I mean, he was a tentmaker. He had this incredible mobile profession, he could get a job just by walking into town because he was a highly skilled, well trained, maker of handmade hand woven tents. And he boasted about that. He mentions in Corinthians he says, "I never burdened you. I worked every day with my hands." In the marketplace, it couldn't, could never be said that, Oh, Paul's just preaching the gospel for money. No way. He didn't, he didn't take money from them. He earned his money in the marketplace. And that was a powerful apostolic example. So Jesus started out his life, you know, working in construction. His father was a builder.
Mark Banyard 45:06
Hey, steel toed boots, hard hat.
Peter Tsukahira 45:09
Yeah, well, it says, you know, we say carpenter, but that's not what it says. The Greek word is Tecton, which really means builder. In fact, Paul uses that same term in the Greek New Testament architecton, he calls himself a master builder. Archi meaning master and Tecton, master builder. And, Jesus was, his father was a Tecton. So it was construction. We don't have that much wood in Israel, there's a lot of stone, so it's probable that they worked more in stone than they did in wood.
Mark Banyard 45:45
Right? Of course. Yeah. So let's talk about a believer, let's say, a newborn, freshly saved, newborn believer in Jesus. And somebody says to them, like Peter Tsukahira says, "Do you know what your calling is? Do you know what your destiny is?" And they screw up their face and think, "What on earth is he talking about?" What would you say to them?
Peter Tsukahira 46:15
Well, you know, I think the starting point for all believers and people who want to become disciples, first of all, is the Scriptures. And we have to learn to read the scriptures, and let the words tell us what they mean. This may seem ultra simple, but you have no idea how much church tradition and the teachings of others get into our understanding of the Bible. But if we simply read the Bible, learn to just read the Bible and let the words tell us, one of the things that jumps out, at least to me is that there are so many people in the Bible, who came to the conclusion that their lives were planned before they were born. So I'll give you some examples. I have them written in front of me. The prophet Jeremiah. It's written in Jeremiah, chapter one, verse five, God said to him, "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. And before you were born, I set you aside, I have appointed you a prophet to the nations." So I mean, that's pretty clear. God is saying, you know, you're not, you're not accidental. Your calling and what you're doing is not accidental. I decided this for you before you were born. Let me give you a couple more just to make this point. King David. He writes later in his life, Psalm 139, verse 13. "For you formed my inward parts, You wove me in my mother's womb." David is realizing and singing this back to God. I'm not accidental. You designed me to be the person that I am. And then verse 16, three verses later, gets really deep and mysterious. Here's what he sings. "Your eyes have seen my unformed substance. And in your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them." That's, that's pretty deep, right? He's saying, Not only that, you've made a daily plan for my life before I lived it. I mean, that's deep and mysterious. But the list goes on and on. The apostle Paul wrote to the Galatian church, he said, Oh, my God, this is Galatians chapter one, verse 15. "But when God who set me apart, even from my mother's womb, and called me through His grace," so he said, There's nothing accidental about my life. It was God's plan from before I was born, that I would be born a Jewish kid in a Gentile city. I would be a student under Gamaliel. In Jerusalem, I would become a Pharisee of the Pharisees, I would persecute the early believers, but God would meet me on my way to Damascus, and he would turn my life around, and he would make me an apostle to the Nations, none of that was accidental. God had already decided that when I was born, so clear, and then of course, Jesus, we all know there's nothing accidental about his life. He's always been one with the Father. He always will be one with the father, he's eternally the only begotten Son of God. His is the perfect life. He never says what he doesn't hear the father's say, he never does what he doesn't see the father do. He's one with the Father eternally. So nothing accidental about him. So the point is that new believers, all of us, we have to start with this understanding. God created me. And he made me unique. He has a plan for my life. And there is a dream in his heart, just for me.
Mark Banyard 50:26
So significantly, central to everything that comes after.
Peter Tsukahira 50:33
Exactly, that's the starting point, then the question is, okay, so what is the plan? Who did he make me to be? How can I become the kind of person who can actually live that kind of life? Who's going to help me? And that's where the role of the church is. I think that after 40 years of pastoring, I believe that's the essentials.
Mark Banyard 50:57
So really here the question is, how can the church be of more help with regard to, I mean, it sounds almost, I don't mean to be offensive, but how does the church help Christians walk, fine, and then walk in their destiny and calling?
Peter Tsukahira 51:16
Okay, well, from a pastoral perspective, which is, has been my calling, pastor teacher. That means God sends someone to you, they walk in the door. Your first question is, "Who are you sending me Lord? Who is this person?" And you use your experience, your wisdom, your spiritual gifting, some of us have, you know, spiritual gifts of knowledge and wisdom. All right? Who is this person? What's my responsibility to help this person get from point A to point B? How can I help this person?
Mark Banyard 51:56
And of course, all this help is in the context of them walking in the kingdom calling,right?
Peter Tsukahira 52:05
So worship is part of it. Prayer, as part of it depends, let's say if they're brand new believers, you know, they have to learn the basics. Who is God? What is the Bible, how to begin living a holy life, how to worship, how to pray. But eventually, and I'd call that the basics. But then, once they start learning how to pray, they began to, you want to see them mature to the point where not only do they talk to God, but they begin to listen to God. And once believers can not only talk to God, but basically discern when God is talking to them. They're there, now they're moving out of the nursery, into first grade, kindergarten into first grade. All right, now God can talk to them directly. And so you shift your discipleship to, "So what is God saying to all of us?" And then "What is God saying to you?" And then the next step is, "Okay, so what are you going to do about it?" Right? "Are you going to go?" "Well, I think God is telling me I should, I should learn this and then go here?" "Well, are you going to do it? And what can I do to help you?" And I think that's the role of the church. You know, it, we are, one way to look at it is the church as an organization should be a disciple-making factory. And we should be rated not by the size of our factory, but we should be rated by the quality of our output. What kind of people leave my church? Are they able to function in their calling successfully? And fruitfully?
Mark Banyard 54:16
Are they able to reproduce themselves?
Peter Tsukahira 54:19
Yeah. And reproduce? Exactly. And I think, once we start helping people really find their calling, which is their destiny, which is their great joy, which is their passion, which is their skill, which is their success, all right. Not only in life, but in eternal life. All right, so you won't be able to stop the people from coming in the door.
Mark Banyard 54:46
What comes to my mind listening to you talk is how do we help without trying to own or control people?
Peter Tsukahira 54:54
Exactly. We are, we who work in the church, are meant, You are there for the equipping of the saints God's sent to us for a while and intends for them to go out and to be fruitful.
Mark Banyard 55:12
Now, I wasn't planning on talking about this, but just for a moment. So much of the Christian experience is what we call fellowship. And that's what we get by belonging to a local church, denomination congregation, and that we meet the same people over, sometimes over a lifetime, Sunday after Sunday, midweek, other times and we put some, again, back to values, we put such an emphasis on fellowship, that it actually gets in the way of responding to any kind of a calling or destiny, or it seems sometimes it does. Any thoughts about that?
Peter Tsukahira 55:56
Well, you know, Jesus, as wonderful as fellowship is, I mean, there's nothing, you know, fellowship is great and, and family, okay, and friends, especially old friends, the older I get, the more I appreciate friends that I've known for a long time. But Jesus was pretty clear, he says, "Anyone who's ever given this up, for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel will receive many times more." So there is that call to go. So you have to balance that. And because we're part of a kingdom, that's moving ahead, this is the gospel of the kingdom, okay. And the kingdom is advancing. And he said, "Go into the nations," okay. And he said, "this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to every nation, and then the end will come." So there is that's where the call to go, it's a tension between staying, which is wonderful, especially once you when you build something, all right, there's a tension between staying, and going. And that's, I think that's meant to be, there's meant to be attention there.
Mark Banyard 57:12
And also, as we go believing in God's provision, and part of His provision, when we leave family and we leave fellowship, is that there will be family and fellowship ahead.
Peter Tsukahira 57:27
And family and fellowship that remain, so we can come back. Because not all going is forever. Sometimes you go out, you do something, and then you come back. And also, when you're new and inexperienced, sometimes you go out and it doesn't really work out and you need to come back and get more advice. And build backups, you know, and but that's the process. And that's the wonderful thing about fellowship, you know, and love in the kingdom is that you can go out and fail and come back and and say, well, you should be asked, "So what did you learn? What are you going to do different next time?" Right. And, then you get you get built back up. And I think the best thing is you go out again.
Mark Banyard 58:20
Yeah. Well, you know, the last few minutes of our time together today. It's again, a big question. I'm always at fault of asking the big one right at the end. But for those who are called to the marketplace, they understand they're solid believers, they've got a kingdom perspective. They believe they're called to be in health care, or education or military or whatever it is. How do the pastor's-teachers, which you've identified as being both, how do we help those people enter into a secular environment and actually make a difference? Because my experience in the past is we say, well, you kind of go and you let your light shine. And that's kind of the best answer. But surely, there's got to be more.
Peter Tsukahira 59:20
Yeah, you know, I call this the socks and shoes of discipleship. And there's a chapter in my book Equip called Socks and Shoes of Discipleship. Basically, there's the basic discipleship. It's like putting on your socks. Everybody needs socks, and one size fits all. All right, so we all need to learn to pray. We all need to learn to worship, read the Bible, fellowship, these are the basics of the socks. The shoes kind of discipleship is because you don't go to work in just socks and depending on the type of work you go to you have to put on different shoes. If you're called to be a dancer, you're going to wear different shoes than someone who's called to build houses, right? Okay, so we need to get from the socks kind of discipleship to the shoes kind of discipleship. And what we find is that as soon as you start equipping people to go out into a particular profession as disciples, you're going to find that there are disciples who have been out there for 20 or 30 years already. And, you'll find these people, and you say, "Well, what did you learn? And could you teach other people?" And sure enough, you're going to find that there's a wealth of knowledge and wisdom, and just good advice from all kinds of believers who just basically went out there, no one telling them, they just knew that they were supposed to, and they did it for 20 years. And now they could gather, they could gather a dozen people around them and meet on a weekly basis in a restaurant, maybe have breakfast together and just sit at someone like that, at their feet and glean tremendous truth. So I think we just haven't tried, that tried it yet.
Mark Banyard 1:01:16
I think there's so much to be said on this subject. Because if we're going to encourage people, Christians, believers, followers of Jesus to live out their kingdom calling and destiny in the world, that there has to be some very clear, clear things that can be offered to them in how practically even of how they can live that out how they can minister to people. One of the things I've heard in the past that I remember to this day, a long time ago, is somebody who was a lawyer in but a solid Christian kingdom guy. And he said, I felt the Lord's call me to law and to stay in law, and not to become a full time pastor in a local church. But he said, I felt that the Lord said to me, whatever you do, do with excellence, really be the best at what I've called you to be because it will open up opportunities for you to talk to people because they'll want to know you know, perhaps as a businessman or as a lawyer, but that opens the door to the Kingdom.
Peter Tsukahira 1:02:37
Yes, absolutely. And, and increasingly today, because there is a marketplace movement. There are more groups in so many different professions that that are rising up and becoming known. And with the internet, it's not that difficult to find experienced believers in just about every walk of life who have something that they're ready to share. So true in the legal profession, medical profession, and there are international ministries that are reaching out and do various aspects of the marketplace. It's slowly but massively gaining some momentum.
Mark Banyard 1:03:14
Yeah, yeah, it's so true. Well, we've come to the end of our time today, it's gone so fast. I always end up with more questions than answers. But thank you, I'm wondering if before we go, I could ask you to pray for those listeners in particular who love the Lord. And perhaps they've gone to church faithfully, year after year, and given their time and, but always understood there might be something more and now they're thinking about the kingdom, their calling, and their destiny. So would you please, Peter, just close off by just praying for those people and in asking the Lord to just bring them into the fullness of all that He has for them and through them?
Peter Tsukahira 1:04:04
I'm sure Mark, let's let's, let's pray together.
Mark Banyard 1:04:07
Thank you. Lord,
Peter Tsukahira 1:04:09
I pray that you'll give each of us the wisdom and the power to grasp our unique and personal destiny, and find our gifting and calling in this life that is irrevocable, that you'll never change your mind about. Because you decided for each one of us before we were born. Help us to find and to walk in that. I pray that we that we'll redesign our fellowships to focus on helping people discover these truths. These are the kinds of truths that set us free. It's not just true theological truth about God. It's also truth about identity. Who am I to God? Who does he say that I am? And I ask Lord that you'll help us to each one of us to rise up and begin to have the confidence that when our lives are over, when we see the Lord, He's going to look at each of us and say, well done. Good job. Come into the joy of your master, you were responsible over a few things, and I'm going to give you a lot more
Mark Banyard 1:05:27
And that's our show for today. Thanks for listening. We hope you enjoyed this episode of Kingdom talk. You can find all the notes and links for today's show at our website, www.kingdomadvanceministries.com/podcast. And once again, if you enjoyed our show, be sure to subscribe so that you won't miss any of our upcoming episodes. Bye for now, and may God bless you.
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