What does it look like when people get “uncivilized” about ministry? In my message at LifeQuest Church yesterday I shared about our need to become a “Dangerous Church.” One of the aspects was the need to have an uncivilized approach to ministry. I used the biblical examples of John the Baptist, who no one would consider civilized, and Jesus who turned over tables and drove out the religious money changers from the temple. In short, being uncivilized in ministry means we are unwilling to live with the “normal” in light of God’s goodness.
LifeQuest has become involved with an “uncivilized” ministry. The Bridge Christian Outreach is a ministry turning normal on its head. It is not about buildings (they don’t own one) paychecks (the pastor doesn’t get one) or grand productions. It is about Jesus Christ and his ability to take a broken life and make it new.
One ministry of The Bridge that LifeQuest has connected with is the food pantry. Every week a few hundred people get fed because food is delivered, sorted and distributed by an uncivilized group of volunteers. They refuse to believe that any person should go to bed hungry. Some of our church family have become so passionate about this ministry that they are rearranged their work schedules to serve. They have invested in material to make this ministry work. They have committed time, money and energy to flip normal.
On Tuesday of this week, two days before Thanksgiving, LifeQuest and The Bridge will partner in an incredibly uncivilized ministry. Thanks to some hard work, generous hearts and a little bit of lunacy, 125 turkeys and groceries to go along with them will be passed out to families in Martin County. We will gather in a parking lot of a bowling alley to pass out food, encourage and pray for people. We will become the hands and feet of Jesus to a world in desperate need of the gospel.
Make no mistake, this is not about food. This is about being the church Jesus called us to be; dangerous, obedient, uncivilized. We are choosing not to surrender to normal. We are choosing not to worry about easy. We are choosing not to focus on what can’t be done. Instead we are choosing to believe scripture that tells us that religion that God finds faultless is to “look after orphans and widows in their distress.” James 1:27
Maybe what we need in the American church is a little less civilization. maybe what we need is a little more crazy people who believe God has called us to more than just a holy gathering. Maybe what we need is to be a little more uncivilized!
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!
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?
So, here is the next phase project for One Life Adventures. Operation Barnabas is a prayer and encouragement ministry in support of the mission staff of Northwest Haiti Christian Mission. For those of you who may not know, Barnabas was a supporter and encourager of Paul in the New Testament. In fact his name literally means “Son of Encouragement.” (Acts 4:36)
Here is how it works:
- You will be given the name and e-mail address of a missionary with Northwest Haiti Christian Mission.
- You will agree to pray for that missionary on a regular basis and to contact that missionary weekly through e-mail, Facebook or other contact and encourage them. You can send Bible verse, encouraging articles or quotes and find out special needs that they may have that you can pray for.
- You will become a regular part of feeding their souls as we support and encourage them in their ministry.
To sign-up for Operation Barnabas, contact John Harvey at John@lifequestchurch.com and you will be assigned a missionary. We will have more than one person assigned to each missionary. Thanks for your support.
“He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:10-11
I have recently been challenged by a friend of mine to look deeply into the aspect of God’s character I take for granted far too often: truth. Intellectually I have no issue with God’s truth. I trust God to tell the truth, I trust God to lead me to truth, and I trust God to demonstrate the power of truth. Over the last week I have become aware that truth is not simply an idea or a concept, but a character and value of the very heart of God.
When Jesus describes himself in John 14 he says that he “is the truth.” The power behind those words are amazingly deep. Jesus does not possess truth, he is truth. Jesus doesn’t tell truth, he defines what is true. Jesus doesn’t point to truth, truth points to him. The very nature of the Messiah is truth incarnate.
Even in understanding truth as defined by the nature of God, I must come around to the question of what it means in my life. If Jesus is truth and I trust in Jesus, I place my faith in what is true. If I place my faith in what is true, I must by necessity be changed by that truth. If I am changed by the truth of Jesus, I must let go of what is not true and cling to what is true.
The implications are huge! Jesus is God in the flesh. God is eternal truth. Jesus is truth. I trust Jesus. I live truth. Except when I don’t.
What about those times when I condemn myself for the sin or even the temptation to sin? Romans 8:1 says “There is now therefore no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus.” I have just denied truth. What happens when I listen to the lies of the enemy tell me I am not good enough to serve Christ. Ephesians 2:10 says “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.” Which voice do I choose to listen to in those moments?
The reality is far too often I listen to the voice of condemnation instead of the voice of grace. I listen to the voice of doubt and fear rather than the voice of freedom and strength.
The only defense against the power of the enemy to steal the Word of God from our heart and mind is to take a stand on the truth of God. Truth brings freedom. Freedom is found only in Christ. We must stand in the truth of God in order to live free from the traps of the enemy.
My friend challenged me greatly with this verse last week:
“You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” John 8:32
What voice are you listening to today?