I spoke a few weeks ago at LifeQuest Church about the life of Solomon. Quoting from the book of Ecclesiastes I mentioned the following:
“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:9
The point of the passage is sin, while unique and exciting for a season, is not new. In fact, all sin comes from the same source of pride and rebellion as every other sin; the human heart. Life on the other hand teaches us we need to see in new ways, with fresh eyes and changing perspectives.
Beloit College in Wisconsin publishes an annual “Mindset List” of how the incoming freshman class of that year sees the world. The list for the Class of 2016 came out this week with some amazing ways in which their lives have been shaped and how it has shaped their views of the world. Here are some examples:
1) They have always lived in “cyberspace” addicted to “electronic narcotics.”(He said as he typed his post to attach to his blog on the web!!!)
2.)Robert De Niro has always been Greg Fockers father-in-law, not Vito Corleone.
3.) They have never seen an airline”ticket.”
4.)For most of their lives, the Secretary of State of the United States has been a woman
5.) Bill Clinton is a senior statesman whose presidency they know little about.
6.) They can’t imagine that people “carry” luggage instead of roll it.
7.) There has always been a football team in Jacksonville, but never in Los Angeles. (Not a good team, but a team nonetheless.)
8.) Having grown up with iPods and Mp3 players they have almost no use for the radio.
9.) They have no recollection of when Arianna Huffington was a conservative.
10.)Little Caesar has always been proclaiming “Pizza Pizza.”
- For the complete list, check out “The Mindset List” at www.themindsetlist.com.
My point is this, times do change. People change, culture changes and the world changes. What doesn’t change in the course of natural history is man’s need for God. Man always has and always will need to know God loves and God cares.
We, as followers of Christ, are God’s instruments to fulfill this need. We are missionaries. We are servants. We are pastors. All of us. Not by training or by vocation, but by God’s design and God’s purpose all those who claim Jesus as Lord are by necessity servants of Him.
Times change. The need does not. How are we, the ones who have been changed at the heart level, going to impact this world with the message of Christ?
One Life Adventures because Every Life Matters!
Dr. Calvin Miller, pastor, professor, poet, author passed away this weekend. This letter is from “The Mission of God Study Bible” and describes beautifully what a missionary is and how every Christian is a missionary. Ed Stetzer posted this at his website here: http://www.edstetzer.com/ .
To every Christian who reads this book: you are a missionary. Missions is the joyous work of informing the world that it is loved. Missions is unrelenting in its desire, it pushes in flaming light against the dark walls of human ignorance. It is honest about all things eternal: we can be free only when we know the truth (Jn 8:32).
Missions is clear, cold water–a cup of grace, a draft of life in the desert. It is as free as air, yet as precious as a pearl buried deep in the brokenness of the human spirit (Mt 13:46). Missions is a message, as simple as two words Jesus Saves–one noun, one verb–and yet this simplicity is God’s broad banner posted just above the gates of eternity (Lk 19:10).
Missions is ravenous in its hunger to please God. It knows no other purpose for its existence. It lives for the single pleasure of hearing God say, “Well done, good and faithful slave (Mt 25:21). You have told the truth in a false world, you have turned the iron key of liberty in the steel door of hell, and the captives are freed (Lk 4:18)! For this liberation you have been called “missionary.”
Missions is a divine madness that hears the voice of God’s only begotten, crying from a mountaintop, into all the world (Mt 28:18-20). It takes this cry to bed and pillow every night. It wakes at every dawn, as Christ whispers in the heart, “I was dead, but look–I am alive forever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and Hades” (Rv 1:18). You must arise for I have come to seek and to save that which was lost. There is no time to waste, the world is loved and doesn’t know it. Hold out your hand and I fill it with gold, and you must go out to give the gold away, making rich all those who are poor in spirit (Mt 5:3). Tell all those who starve about the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Rv 19:9).
To every Christian who reads this book: you are a missionary.
No matter your credentials. All who name the name of Christ have been ordained by the urgency of God’s agenda in a fallen world. Missionaries are not just those special few who have accepted some certificate of some profession. They are not servants of a special calling. Missionaries are all those who have said “yes, Lord!” To say “I believe” is to understand that you have accepted the commission to go into all the world, starting right inside your home, your village, your nation, your world. You have been empowered. Christ has breathed upon you (Jn 20:22). When Christ moves in, you move out. Out where? Out there! Outside your narrow life. Anywhere is the place to start. So start. Seek! Knock! Any door will do (Mt 7:7). You need no grand beginning point.
There, it is done! You have spoken to someone the entreaty, “Come with us to Christ!” Congratulations! You are a missionary and missionaries are the merchants of hope. How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring Good Tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, Your God Reigns (Isaiah 52:7).
But be not proud! In redeeming the world all arrogance is precluded. There are no good, arrogant missionaries (2Co 12:5). Christ’s ambassadors (2Co 5:20) are men and women made humble by the immense size of the message given to them by Earth’s Lover. They feed on the bread they give away. They remember who they were when they met Christ, and just that little act of memory causes them to weep that that they once stumbled into grace, before they were ever called to dispense it. Now they are driven by the joy of God’s call, they are the cleansed unclean, the forgiven forgivers, the wounded healers. Nothing is more important than their preachment. They live for it, they die for it (1Co 9:16). They will not change their minds and they cannot change the subject. They are intentional about one truth, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did” (Jn 4:29). I can baptize you only with water, but He will baptize you with fire and the Holy Spirit (Lk 3:16). Thus holding forth the world in their left hand they reach for heaven with their right hand, and the gulf between time and eternity is pulled shut (Lk 16:22). The world at hand is made one with the world that is on the way.
All we who know Him are the heralds of God, missionaries blind to our own greatness because we have served a magnificent obsession, a glorious compulsion, “Jesus lives, Jesus saves.” There is no other significant, eternal truth (Ac 4:12).
The day we became missionaries we were no longer good at the sedentary life. The word “go” forbids us to settle into the plush present, for we know that the future is where we were meant to live, for only the future holds the possibility of us making our next disciple (1Co 9:19). Of course we love our last convert, but that believer has only fueled our fever to meet the next one.
Here in this volume you hold the grand marriage of the Word of God and the Commission of God. This is the book that holds the definition of forty holy men, the Bible writers, who have defined the heart of God. Missions plus the Word equals everything. You cannot serve just one of these, for to serve the Book is to serve the mission (Php 2:16). To fail to serve either of them is to choose to serve neither. Read herein what God has for you, then do all that you have read. Only then will you enter into life a whole person waiting on God, and knowing who you are. And knowing who you are you will find pleasure in your identity (Php 3:8,10).
Your life belongs to the world. Your zip code is the globe. You are a missionary.
One of the ideas behind One Life Adventures was to connect churches and ministries together to serve missions and missionaries. We didn’t really have a blueprint for what that would look like, but we knew God had laid it on our hearts.
When Sent Life Church and LifeQuest Church partnered for our first trip into Haiti in June 2012, we knew we were on to a good way to bring local bodies of the church together to serve. What we didn’t know was that God would expand our vision and our opportunities while we were on the mission field.
While we were at Northwest Haiti Christian Mission several important items came to our attention. One that struck a chord in my heart was the need for some spiritual care for the missionaries serving at the mission. Haiti is an incredibly hard place to live. The electricity put out by a generator means you have a limited time to get accomplished what many of us take for granted daily. There is no mail service to speak of so letters and packages from home are not easily attainable. Most of the missionaries are separated from their families for months at a time and there is little in the way of “comfort food” to make life a little more relaxing.
In my conversations with the staff I also realized these people spend most of their time pouring out with very little being poured into them. This sparked a crazy idea for Paul and me; “what if we could pastor the missionaries?” I don’t mean move to Haiti and plant a church full of missionaries, but what could we do to make sure they were encouraged and blessed spiritually?
“Operation Barnabas” was birthed out of this question. If you are not familiar with it, you can read the details on the blog. The idea is simply to partner missionaries with people to pray for and encourage them on a regular basis. So far, we have about half the missionaries partnered with people. If you would like to join up, let me know and we will get you partnered.
The second step is a return trip to the mission in October 2012 to lead a staff retreat for the mission. I (John) and my wife Alana will be going October 8-13 to serve the mission staff. Paul is still trying to see if he can work all the details out to join us. Here is the thing: we need help.
The cost for the trip is about $950 per person. We need to have this paid off by September 8 in order to make this trip work. I am asking if you feel led to support us at any level, that you make a check out to LifeQuest Church and mail it to 3998 SW Leighton Farms Ave. Palm City, FL 34990.
Any amount of money will help and all of the money will be used to serve the mission staff and to breathe spiritual joy and health into their lives. I believe God wants this to happen and He will provide.
Please pray for us and the staff at NWHCM as we seek to model spiritual health and refreshment into one another’s lives.
I have been making my way through the book of Jeremiah recently in my devotions. I am always fascinated how God takes humans who are flawed, frail and apt to faint and uses them to communicate his eternal truths. Jeremiah was a man who struggled to understand exactly what was happening and why, but he trusted in the sovereignty of God and spoke the eternal words of god to the nation of Israel. The words were often difficult and not very encouraging, but he spoke the truth clearly and without apology.
In Jeremiah 13, God tells Jeremiah to buy a belt and to bury it in the desert under a rock. Many days later God tells him to go and dig it up. Jeremiah describes the condition of the belt as follows: “it was ruined and completely useless.”
God then tells Jeremiah the condition of the belt represents his plan to “ruin the pride of Judah and Jerusalem.” Why would God ruin his people? Why would he allow them to suffer disgrace in front of the other nations? God allows this for one simple reason: they follow the stubbornness of their own hearts (Jeremiah 13:10).
When we begin to pursue our own agendas, follow our own desires, and seek our own glory, we walk away from the humble state required of us to live in right relationship with God. Pride and submission are mutually exclusive in the kingdom of God. Instead of seeking the desire of our own hearts, God has called us to have renewed minds to seek after him and to be conformed to his good and perfect will (Romans 12:1-2).
The lie of our culture is to follow our own heart. The problem is the heart of humanity is deceitful and wicked. We seek our own desires, our own pleasures and our own glory when left to our own heart. It is only in submission to God that we begin to live beyond ourselves and into the world and kingdom to which we are called.
Paul notes the humility of Christ in Philippians 2 as the model the Christian is to pursue. We are to set aside our agenda, our pride and our glory for the eternal glory of God. In doing so, our lives will impact other lives and eternity. Our calling is not to be a useless garment, but to be a living and loving organism impacting our world with the love and grace of Jesus.
Whose glory are you seeking? Whose heart are you following? What things do you need to change to become useful in the Kingdom of God?