Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What do we really believe about missions?

I have been thinking lately about the words of Christ. There has been much discussion of late about whether Jesus really meant it when he said to sell everything, go make make disciples of all nations....Opinions definitely differ in the area of what the actual responsibility of the local church is when it comes to missions...

8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Acts 1:8

Here is where for some it gets sticky - why some churches think their part of The Great Commission stops at the borders of their local community. In so doing, they "deny Jesus' vision and command for His followers."

Some church "leaders make Acts 1:8 sequential and say they are focused on reaching their "Jerusalem," their own city or town, and perhaps extend their witness in the larger surrounding area of their "Judea." They have no responsibility beyond their locale until they have successfully fulfilled their local mission. Unfortunately this never happens!...Certainly God wants us to witness to the lost where we live and minister to the needs of those around us, but it doesn't exempt the church from responsibility for the mission of God to the ends of the earth. If a church sees responsibility for the mission of God as a set of concentric circles, they will never move beyond the narrow core and will forfeit the privilege of being a part of what God is doing among the nations."
 from Spiritual Warfare and Missions

If we take the verse above at face value - it says we will be his witnesses in Jerusalem, AND Judea, AND Samaria, AND the ends of the earth. From what I can see there is no and THEN. He does not say once you finish in Jerusalem, THEN go to Judea, and once you finish there, THEN go to Samaria....and THEN perhaps once you have done that, THEN go to the ends of the earth for me...

You know WHY he did not say "and THEN go...." Because he knew there would always be a need in every town...we would get quite comfy and settled into "our Jerusalem," and we would never be free to go to the ends of the earth for him. So He simply said "go..."

I believe Jesus has given us the gift of salvation, and he has left the Holy Spirit with us so that we may GO and fulfill His mission to proclaim the gospel to those who have NEVER heard of Jesus.I am certainly not dismissing the great need for local missions - that is essential - just as taking missions all over the world is critical. WE are not to choose one over the is not an "either/or" decision.  Both are to be supported by the church.

"If every church that acknowledges the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as the way of salvation to a lost world, that recognizes all have yet to come to him in repentance and faith are lost and bound for an eternity in hell, and would be committed to the Great Commission of discipling the nations, the mission of God could be readily fulfilled, even in this generation. But Satan does not want to see that happen, so he convinces churches to be content with their provincialism and limited focus." Spiritual Warfare and Missions

I have to stop for today, but may pick this up again later. It was not meant to step on anyone's toes..Just meant to make us all think about what we believe is truth.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

This is why we go....

Lately I can't seem to get the upcoming trip to Haiti off my mind. At times I wonder if or how God can even use me down there. I am just one little person with not so many skills, so how I can I possibly make a difference?

Then I remember that when he calls you, and you are obedient to that call, he WILL qualify you. He will never leave you to "wing it" on your "get behind me Satan!"

I have been trying to get current information about the situation down there, and read just the other day that there are 1.5 MILLION people living in the various tent cities. Sometimes a "tent" is simply sticks and old sheets put together - the bare ground is the floor. It is estimated that most of these same people will be in their tents for years - as recovery and clean up is beyond slow.

A day or so ago, a storm came through, (think along the lines of a tornado and torrential rains here), and those who were displaced after the earthquake once again lost their shelter. They already are without power, and food and clean drinking water...and now the "roof" over their heads is gone....again.

I wonder how many of them have Jesus to cry out to? I wonder how many wonder why this is happening to them? I wonder how many do not know that their God has them in the palm of His hand at this very moment, and that He loves them?

For those people here in America who think it is better to just send a check, or to take care of those in our own community and let "someone else" worry about the people in Haiti, I ask you this....

If  your world as you knew it literally collapsed all around you, and you found yourself without, food, shelter, and water, and your only means of supporting your family had been stripped from you without warning, and you could see no end in sight to your suffering....Wouldn't you LOVE it if someone showed up to hold your hand, to offer a hug, to wipe your tears, to bring you a meal, or medicine, or shoes! 

How wonderful to have a brother or sister come to you and not only TELL you of the love of Christ, but come and SHOW you His share in your suffering. To simply love you through your pain...

THIS is why we go. This is why we can't NOT go. How will they know the love of Jesus if we do not tell them through our actions?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

If only.....

"I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea." Isaiah 48:17-18

I have read this passage several times now, and each time it hits a little closer to home....There is nothing to add to this. It is as clear as a bell.

HE teaches us what is best, HE directs us in the way we should go.....the part that gets me is, IF ONLY YOU HAD PAID ATTENTION......How many times have you said those two little words? IF ONLY I hadn't said that.....If only I hadn't done that......If only......two little words...very telling words.....What is your "If only..."? 

I think that about sums it all up! Why do we all feel the need to go searching everywhere and asking those around us for answers? God's word is so clear about what we are to do..

And the best part of all, is that whatever our "if only" is, if we confess it to Him he is faithful to forgive us. We are redeemed, and we can move forward, bringing glory to His Kingdom in the process.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Is the modern church functioning the way God intended?

Think back to the original church and its they operated in the beginning....the time they spent with one another in fellowship and worship, the support they provided one another, how they lifted one another up, how people humbled themselves, how people admitted their weaknesses and faults, how people weren't afraid to ask for forgiveness (from their neighbor as well as their God), how they went to the ends of the earth for their Savior....

The question is this - is this the modern church we see today? Are we really a people who are humble, do we pray for those who wrong us, do we spend enough time with fellow Christians?

Do we let our guards down, let people see the flawed individuals we really are, or do we sit in church and act as though we have it all together? If we can't trust those we are church with to see the real us, the imperfect person who really doesn't have it all together, the one who puts on a smile for the world, how can the church possibly function as it was intended? We cannot bear the burden alone, we can't solve our problems on our own. We need our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to lean on, to pray for us, to fellowship with.

If we can't get ourselves together and be real to the world, how will we ever reach a hurting world? Does a world that is full of pain, full of hurting, and full of it in general have any desire to join the fellowship of a church that cannot admit they're not the picture of perfection? How will they ever relate to us if we cannot relate to ourselves? How they will they ever relate to "pretty plastic people" in churches with "pretty plastic steeples." How will they open up to us if we cannot open up to ourselves?

I wonder how can we share Jesus with them, if we do not really know him ourselves?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

And 4 years later, she finally gets it....

I found this post from over 4 years ago...I guess I am a little slow! I get it now, and we are going. :-)

"I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?'" (Isaiah 6:8)

I am curious, how many of us hear the call of the Lord? How many of us are REALLY listening? I know that I am so guilty of being so wrapped up in my life and the lives of my children that I rarely stop to breathe, much less stop to listen for God telling me what He wants from me. I am really good, however at deciding what I think he wants from me. I think I know what I am good at, not good at, and how I think he can best use me. But guess what? As long as I am focused on myself, thinking I know better than God what I should do.....then I will be of no use to him....I will ignore the call, tune it out, or worse yet - NEVER EVEN HEAR IT! The trick for me is to finally remove the focus from myself and to surrender to his will for my life - even if it takes me out of my comfort zone. I have to be in a right relationship with him to hear the call......

My prayer is that we will all forget about ourselves and really listen for the call of God and then obey the call when we hear it. That is the only way the church will function as intended. God Bless!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

All that matters.....

As the time draws near for our trip to Haiti in November, Paul and I are naturally trying to organize and get things in order: airfare, shots, what to take with us, etc. It is a bit stressful for me, and I get a little overwhelmed by it all - wondering if it will really come together, wondering if we can financially "pull it off," and what will we have to sacrifice or give up if we go...will we be able to get groceries when we get back, pay the power know those worries that can sometimes consume out thoughts.

The more I think and pray, I am left with the thought of what a selfish thought pattern that really is. We are going into a country that was struggling before the 7.0 earthquake destroyed the infrastructure, killed like 200,000 people, left millions homeless, and created 300,00 NEW orphans. How dare I?

While we live pretty simply by American standards, compared to much of the rest of the world, I live as royalty. I am left wondering how we became so blind and numb to the plight of the rest of the world. Are those of us who call ourselves Christians so wrapped up in ourselves that we think going to church on Sunday and Wed. night, and giving our 10% is really all it takes to please our God?

Do we really think that He is going to be understanding when we stand before him and explain that we had to have a new car, a bigger house, designer clothes, plastic surgery, or whatever the case may be instead of helping His children who are dying of starvation, dying of thirst and disease every SECOND of  EVERY day.

I don't think so. There is no excuse we can offer to justify our self centered lifestyles. It is time we move to action before it is too late.

As Christ told the church in Sardis, who had a great reputation, "I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead" Rev. 3:1. All that matters is the reality of who we are before God.

His work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. 1 Cor. 3:13-15

Do I just want to "escape" and get into His kingdom by the skin of my teeth, or do I want Jesus to be pleased with me?  To say, "Well done my good and faithful servant." It is time for us to stop living selfish lives, forgetful of our God. Nothing matters except our King and our God.

Please join us as we get "Radical" with a "Crazy Love" for the One who gave everything for us.