Category Archives: missionary
There is this pretty cool verse over in James 4:2. It says this…
…you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.
Could life really be that simple? Could it be that so much of our struggle in life is because we simply try to do it on our own and we don’t ask God to intervene?
I was thinking about this in the context of ministry and church life. Instead of complaining that I don’t have enough volunteers, I’m starting to ask people to volunteer. It’s an amazing concept, I know. As a staff at New Life, we are asking God to change people’s lives and that He would lead people to baptism. I know, crazy huh? Ask God to intervene in “our” work. The best part, seeing so many changes in people’s lives the minute we start asking for it. We have seen God do some very cool things. I’ll save some of those stories for another post.
I love how simple this concept really is. My oldest son, Grant, was at a friend’s to hang out. He is nine years old and started a very interesting conversation with the mother of his friend. He simply said, “What religion are you?” She said, “I was raised Buddhist, but my parents never pushed it on me.” So Grant said, “Then what are you?” She replied, “Well, my husband was raised Christian, so I guess we’re just floating right now.” Grant simply said, “Oh, well you should come to my church sometime.”
I don’t know if she will take him up on the offer, but I think sometimes we don’t have, because we simply don’t ask. Are you as a minister taking time to ask God to intervene in people’s lives? Are you as a minister taking time to ask people to get more involved? Are you simply asking the question?
I am striving harder to ask both of these questions. I am asking God to change people’s hearts because I know I can’t. I am also starting to simply ask people to get more involved. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish with a simple ask.
So who do you need to ask?
Do you need to ask God to do the hard work of changing people’s lives?
Do you need to ask a neighbor to come to church?
Do you need to ask someone in your ministry to step it up?
It is God who is able to do more than we can possibly ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). But, at the very least…
It’s time to ask!
Have you heard the news? It’s the end of the world. Or at least, that’s what Harold Camping wants everyone to believe. He made the same, bold prediction in 1994 and now nearly 20 years later, he is making it again. His original date was off, based on a slight miscalculation. However, he believes he is back on track again.
It would be very easy to sit here and spout off my opinion on this topic. However, I want to simply let Scripture speak for itself.
Colossians 1:15 – “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself.
In other words, Jesus Christ not only created the entire universe, but He also holds it together by the power of His words. It was God’s intention to save humanity through His Son, Jesus. It is this same Jesus who also said this…
Matthew 24:36 – “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.”
There is only one thing that Jesus doesn’t know, and that is when God will send Him back to earth.
Acts 1:6-8 – “So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, ‘Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?’ He replied, ‘The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’”
The disciples are concerned about when Jesus is coming back to ultimately take care of Kingdom business. Jesus in essence says, “Don’t worry about that. It’s none of your business. You just be My witnesses and do the work I give you in all the world.”
Matthew 24:42-44 – “So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into. You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.”
Let’s recap |
1) When Jesus comes back is none of my business.
2) Jesus doesn’t even know when He’s coming back.
3) Jesus’ return will be sudden and Scripture makes the assertion that none of us know the time.
There are a couple of questions that come to mind as a result of simply reading what God has to say for Himself (instead of assuming we can figure Him out all the time). The first question is, where does this land our friend, Harold Camping? What should we do with his claims? Where do we land on this issue?
Another question, and by far the more urgent of the two, is, what are you doing with your time? If you are a follower of Christ, did you live life today like you were concerned about the coming of Christ? Or did you go through life today assuming that just like yesterday, Jesus wouldn’t return? Are you living as if your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers will spend eternity without God if you don’t do something? Or are you assuming that you will always have another day?
Have you explored the claims of Christ thoroughly enough?
Have you given your life to Christ and submitted to the will of God through baptism? (Acts 2:38)
If you are a follower of Christ, I want to challenge you to live as if Jesus will come back at any time, day or night. Be careful listening to so-called “prophets” who proclaim the end of the world. Scripture has a pretty clear teaching on that. However, it is also clear in its teaching that we need to live life everyday as if it is the last.
What does that mean for you?
Well, I plan to write again sometime after 6:00 pm tomorrow night. If you don’t hear from me, just assume you missed the train. hahah =)
It was the final session at Exponential Conference 2011. Matt Chandler was the main speaker (I’ll have more to say about him in a later post). Exponential ends with a bang each year. This year was no different. The plan was to have a prayer and anointing time with church planters and teams that wanted to be prayed with before leaving the conference. The New Life staff team was asked to help with the prayer and anointing.
I stood backstage awaiting instruction. Our team listened as the session was talked through and how everything would go. I left with a small tube of oil as did the rest of our team. As we sat through the service, something began to nag at me. I wasn’t sure I was ready for this. Who was I to pray with and anoint these people, these church planters and leaders. The more I thought about it, the more inadequate I began to feel. In fact, I sent a text message to one of our guys who was sitting behind me. It said…
I don’t feel qualified to anoint. God has much work to do on me still.
His reply was fantastic and really helped me to make one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Up to you. Question isn’t whether you have it all figured out, but whether you can be God’s agent in blessing these pastors. If you decide to pass, no worries.
I decided that I would go for it. I wanted to be up there with our team, praying for all these men and women who were getting ready to start a new church or had just gotten underway.
When the time came, I went to my spot with the rest of the people set aside for this role. People began to flow forward by the hundreds. I heard stories from church planters who were tired and worn out. I heard stories from those who were afraid and anxious about what was coming their way. I met teams of people who were working together to make an impact in places like Los Angeles, Denver and Orlando. I met one woman who was on a team trying to plant churches in Canada. I was able to pray with them and put some oil on their forehead.
I don’t know how everyone else felt. I can only speak for myself. What we did for those people, praying with and for them, maybe accomplished as much, if not more, for me than it did for them. I was blown away by the stories and by what God is up to in our world. I was given a fresh sense of the fact that, it’s not about me. It’s all about God and what He is doing.
I am so thankful that I went for it. I’m so thankful that the man I sent my text to, didn’t just give me an excuse to get out of it. Instead, he challenged me to bless others. God worked in my heart and soul through praying for others. It was an unbelievable experience and I wouldn’t have traded it for anything (except having my wife beside me when all this happened).
If you’re out there, working in ministry, church plants, leadership team, etc, I want to hear from you. I want to hear your story. I want to know how I can pray for and encourage you.
God is doing big things my friends. Sometimes it feels like we’re losing the battle, but I assure you, God is winning the war!
Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid!
Keep it up, church!
Keep it up!
I can’t even begin to comprehend how the people of Japan are feeling. I won’t even begin to pretend I understand. Because I don’t. I don’t understand or comprehend what it must feel like to lose thousands (possibility of that number going up into the tens of thousands) of your countrymen in a matter of hours while nuclear reactors leak radiation into the air which will ultimately lead to a sad and painful death for some of the workers. I don’t understand it, but I know it bothers me. And I hurt for them.
One thing I do know, what’s happening there reaffirms for me that we were designed for so much more. We weren’t created for this. We were created for more. For better. For perfection. For eternity.
I know that I’m not the only Christian hurting for the people of Japan or thinking about them constantly. I also know that some people are waiting on the Pat Robertson’s of the world to say something ridiculous. Well, they got it, but it didn’t come from Pat. It came from this man…Reverend David Cho.
The Reverend David Cho leads an Assembly of God church in Korea with more than one million members. Before Pat Robertson could get his speech together, Pastor Cho had this to say…
Because the Japanese people shun God in terms of their faith and follow idol worship, atheism, and materialism, it makes me wonder if this was not God’s warning to them.
If you can stomach it, the rest of the article is here.
Let’s assume for sake of argument that Pastor Cho is right. Let’s say that this awful tragedy in Japan, was done by the very hand of God and it is His judgment on their country for their idol worship, etc. Let’s say that God appeared in the sky and spoke in all languages simultaneously to tell us all that the tragedy in Japan was His idea, His plan and that He would take all the credit (blame). Let’s just say that everything I just wrote is accurate. With that in mind, how do Pastor Cho’s comments help this situation in any way? Even if we could say with 100% accuracy that this was an act of God’s judgment, do his comments help any of the dying and hurting in Japan? Wouldn’t he be of better use if he mobilized his one million members to get to Japan immediately and make a difference for Christ in the lives of the Japanese?
Let me be perfectly clear, I, 100% do not agree with this man’s comments. They are uncalled for and out of place. They only add to the hurt and make Christians around the world look like self-righteous jerks.
Pastor Cho, from me to you, please don’t talk about this anymore. Get down from your million-member pedestal. Get involved in a messy world, as Jesus did. Use your influence to share a message of hope, grace & forgiveness with the people of Japan as Jesus did with the woman caught in adultery. Love those who are without hope the way Jesus did. Don’t speak. Act on the grace that has been given you. You have that platform for a reason. Please, don’t use it to add pain to the people of Japan or to hurt the cause of Christ.
What do you think about Pastor Cho’s comments?
If I told you that risk was greater than failure (r>f), would you believe me?
Some of you would. More of you wouldn’t. For many of us out there, risk is equally associated with the possibility of failure. And most of us out there want no part of failure. We are taught and trained to believe that we must succeed and that failure is not an option.
But what if I told you that failure was a great option? What if you began to believe that your failures were simply steps forward and that they were necessary for you to be successful?
Seth Godin says it this way in his new book, “Poke The Box,”
Risk, to some, is a bad thing, because risk brings with it the possibility of failure. It might be only a temporary failure, but that doesn’t matter so much if the very thought of it shuts you down. So, for some, risk comes to equal failure (take enough risks and sooner or later, you will fail). Risk is avoided because we’ve been trained to avoid failure. I define anxiety as experiencing failure in advance…and if you have anxiety about initiating a project, then of course you will associate risk with failure.
Honestly, sometimes I get stuck. I am afraid to fail. There are probably many reasons for this. Some linking back to how I was raised. My beliefs growing up were that when I made mistakes (sinned), that somehow God was then against me and all of the work was on me to make things right with God. I grew afraid to mess up, paralyzed, afraid to move for fear of getting out of line with my God or my family. As a result, I fell in line (for the most part) like a good soldier.
My story has lead me to where I am today. I have been in full-time ministry for 9 years. The first 8 years of ministry, I took a lot of risks. I made poor decisions and many of them did not pay off. Those failures have fed into my feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness. My thoughts go something like this, “How could God use such a failure? How can God use someone who has made so many mistakes? Surely God will just find a more talented, qualified person to do amazing things.”
Sometimes, my thoughts win. I fail to risk everything for God.
Other times, my heart for risk wins. I succeed and risk all I have for God.
Does that make me bi-winning?
I want to risk everything for God. I hate the status quo. I despise common. I abhor same old.
What if Jesus was afraid of movement and collisions in life? What if Rosa Parks allowed a fear of failure to keep her from sitting right where she belonged? What if failure prevented Martin Luther King Jr. from having a dream? What if fear paralyzed our Presidents in times of crisis when we need them to be our fearless leaders the most?
Mr. Godin has nailed me on this point. I’m tired of being afraid of failure. It’s not a good feeling. I want to do more. I want to risk more. Why? Because God created me for risk.
When I “push the envelope”…God sends another box of envelopes.
When I stand on the edge of the cliff…God sees a bigger cliff around the corner.
When I turn over a new leaf…God sends fall.
When I shift a paradigm…God says that’s just the beginning.
Even when I think I have risked as much and gone as far as I can go, God can do more and wants me to accomplish more. He wants the same for you.
Ephesians 3:20 – Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
Are you risking everything to make your marriage a success?
Are you risking everything to bring your children up in the right way?
Are you risking everything to make sure you are a good steward of your finances?
Are you risking everything to tell your friend, neighbors, co-workers and family about Jesus?
Are you risking everything to make sure God has your entire heart?
Are you risking everything to love the unlovable?
Are you risking everything to make sure that God’s name is made great?
Are you risking everything for the mission of God and His Kingdom?
What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary. But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t results in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? the answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different…here’s a word that you can take to heart and depend on: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. I’m proof – public sinner number one – of someone who could never have made it apart from sheer mercy. And now he shows me off – evidence of his endless patience – to those who are right on the edge of trusting him forever.
-the Apostle Paul (Romans 7:15-25; 1 Timothy 1:15, 16 MSG)
Ephesians 4:11-15 says…
Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. *emphasis mine
There are so many applications to this passage it seems. There are directives to those who lead the church. People in positions of leadership who shepherd God’s people. But there is an even greater emphasis here. One that lies at the heart of an issue I seem to continually wrestle with. There is a huge emphasis in this passage not on the leaders of the church, but on every person who calls themselves a follower of Christ, a Christian.
What we know from this passage is that Christianity is not a spectator sport. Over the last 2000 years or so, the church has done a really good job at making church a spectator sport. “Sit in our pews. Listen to what we say. Do as your told. Follow these rules. Preacher knows all the answers. You are dumb. You can’t speak to God, I’ll do that. Come to our potluck dinner. We’ll make it all happen for you.” And it seems to me that we have done a great job at creating spectators, fans, those who simply watch the show but don’t actually take part in making it happen.
That is changing. Winds of change are beginning to blow in the world. Everyday people, normal, ordinary followers of Christ are starting to make a difference. They are living different. They have a different mindset. They aren’t sitting idly by and letting someone else use their gifts and talents, they are actively pursuing God’s mission and purpose for their life. They are living life on mission. They are living, well, like missionaries.
Take a look around at the community you live in. What are some of the needs you see?
Is there a homeless shelter nearby?
What is the percentage of homelessness in your area?
Are there hungry families?
What percentage of families live below the poverty line?
How many people are struggling just to pay for groceries?
Are there food banks nearby working hard to offer a simple meal?
What about abused moms?
Are teens in your neighborhood struggling?
I wonder, what would Jesus’ office look like if he were here, doing ministry today. I wonder if he would have the corner office with a nice window and a good view of the city. Maybe he would have a comfortable couch with a few plants and a picture of his mom and dad on his desk. He would be furiously typing out the “Sermon on the Mount – Part 2” on his MacBook Air. His iPhone would be buzzing constantly with emails and demands from people.
But it doesn’t take long to notice something different in the life of Jesus. Let’s just say, you have to be pretty close to a prostitute for her to pour perfume all over your feet, to wipe you down with her hair and to cry on your shoulder. You have to be pretty close to the traitor to share a meal with him or to receive a kiss on the cheek. There isn’t much room in his life for an office space when there are thousands of people feed.
In every aspect of the word, Jesus lived as a missionary in the world. He was a missionary to mankind. And in every aspect of the word, I can’t grow to be like Christ until I am doing the same thing. I can’t live like a missionary in my world when I don’t even have “non-Christian” friends in my life. It’s hard to be like Jesus when I don’t share a meal with people who don’t share my values. It’s hard to be like Christ when I don’t rub elbows with anyone who doesn’t think, feel, believe and look like me. When it comes to being like Christ, I have a long way to go. But it starts with a belief, a belief that translates into action. It’s the belief that I am a missionary right where I am. I am not here to spectate and watch the world go by, I am here with a purpose and mission to help make a difference and to share Jesus with people.
So what about you?
How would you feel if I told you that you were more than “just a Christian,” but that you were a missionary for Christ right where you are?
Would that change the way you view your world? Would that change how you act toward people? Would that change who and how you interact with people?
Over the next few weeks, I will probably talk about this topic a lot more. I have a lot of thoughts on my mind about this very issue.
I sat down to have dinner last night with my kids. My wife was hanging out with some girlfriends. I was preparing to make some chicken nuggets and mac ‘n cheese. Healthy, I know. I grabbed a pot from the cabinet, walked to the sink and turned on the faucet. Clean water poured into the pot. I started boiling it for the noodles. We sat down to eat and we were all thirsty. I grabbed four cups from the cupboard, placed some ice cubes (frozen, clean water) in the cups and filled them with clean drinking water from our sink. We enjoyed our nutritious meal and moved on with our evening. Most of the dishes were taken to the sink by my children. They’re good, I know. I turned on some hot water at our sink to rinse the plates. Then I filled our dishwasher with the dirty dishes. This is a machine that will spit out, clean water, at a scalding hot temperature to clean your dishes for you. Before long it was dark and time for bed. Upstairs we went. Clothes were stripped all over the floor and children were making their way to the bathroom. Clean water flowed to give my children showers. Each put on their pajamas and stood by the sink. They turned on the water and brushed their teeth in clean water. If I haven’t made my point clear, there is no shortage of clean water in our house.
My guess is there’s no shortage of clean water in your house either.
Hopefully, you are feeling somewhat uneasy about where I’m going with this. And you should feel uneasy about it. Want to know why? Because while you’re going through water like there’s no tomorrow, roughly 38,000 children under the age of 5, die every week because they don’t have clean water.
There, now you know. You don’t have an excuse anymore. You can’t hide behind the story that you didn’t know that was going on. You can’t pretend the issue doesn’t exist. You can’t look at your own five year old without seeing the face of a child who will not make it through tonight because they simply don’t have clean water.
When Jesus walked on the earth, he shared an illustration about the end of time. All of humanity will stand before God, the Creator of humanity. And while we stand there, Jesus will talk to us. He will say to some, “Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed Me. I was thirsty, and you gave Me a drink” (Matthew 25:34, 35 NLT). I don’t claim to be a scholar, but it seems that God places a pretty high priority on giving water to people who are thirsty.
But it isn’t just water that so many people need. It is our highest priority on earth to love and serve people the way Jesus did. And often times this comes in the form of a cup of water. Yet this very opportunity presented itself to Jesus as well. In John 4 Jesus met a woman who was getting water from a well. But Jesus knew more about her than she realized. Her true need went beyond the water. It went into need something much deeper. Water was good, but she needed a Savior. Jesus shared with her some teachings about this very idea. And it was during this conversation that Jesus identified Himself as living water.
Yes, people need water!
Yes, it is our responsibility to provide it!
Even more, it is this generation’s great burden!
But ultimately, humanity needs a Savior. The Savior we need is the One who not only taught us to love and serve people, but will also ask us about how we did it when we meet Him some day.
As the Bible is closing out in the book of Revelation, we are given a beautiful scene of heaven. And in Revelation 22:17 we read these words, “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ Let anyone who hears this say, ‘Come.’ Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.”
Are you thirsty?
Are you giving a cup of water in the name of Jesus?
Because the One who is faithful (Jesus) to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” And we say, “Come. Lord Jesus, come.”
So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and help quench someone’s thirst.
For more information on Blog Action Day, please visit their website. Have questions about Jesus? I would love to hear from you.
It was an awesome night. And by awesome, I mean one of those really cool God moments where people come together, using up their own personal time to do something for someone else. I have to say, I am so excited to be working with the Haymarket Campus at New Life Christian Church. I saw two life groups come together tonight to prepare a ministry we call, “Grab Your Groceries,” for the upcoming school year. Let me give you a few more details.
New Life is a church with three campi (our word for multiple campuses). All three campi collected non-perishable food items for Grab Your Groceries (GYG), which is a ministry of Passion 4 Community here at New Life. This is how GYG works…
We are connected with social workers through the school systems in our area. Through them we are able to reach the families who need help the most. Each school has a representative and that person picks up boxes full of grocery relief for families. They take the groceries to the schools and the schools pass along the groceries to those most in need. It is one of my favorite things about New Life.
After collecting food from three campi across the New Life landscape, we have the shelves completely stocked and ready for the beginning of the school year. It is so cool to watch this come together. Two life groups tonight stuck around to unpack and stock the shelves for GYG. In two days, more life groups will be back to prepare the groceries to be taken to the schools by packing them up into boxes.
I stood there tonight, in the pantry, with two life groups and we prayed for the food. We prayed for the families that would be receiving the food throughout the school year and we prayed for the children who would be able to eat because of it. It was truly one of those great moments. I am in awe when I see people living for someone else. I love to see people giving of their time and energy to make someone else’s life better.
Then to celebrate, we hit Foster’s Grille. The ladies and I sat around a table, drank some soda, some had awesome burgers and we just talked. It was a ton of fun and a great way to end the evening. The ladies were so fun I’m thinking about joining their life group. Wonder if that would fly?
So, thank you.
Thank you to the volunteers at New Life who don’t think church is about what they can consume, but realize it’s about what they can do for others.
Thank you to those who were there to help make it happen.
Thank you to our GYG Coordinator, Jodi N., who has taken this ministry to a whole new level. She is awesome!
Thank you to our GYG volunteers who deliver food to the schools and who are literally the hands and feet of Jesus.
Thank you to New Life for helping create the environment where something like this can happen.
And most of all, thank you to God who allows us to be a part of His work.
Proverbs 31:8, 9 – “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.”
Matthew 25:37, 40 – “Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.”