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Just a Little Bit Crazy

The night wore on, but the storm showed no sign of letting up. Peter stood at the stern of the boat, tiller in hand, shouting orders at everyone. James and John were at the oars straining to move the small craft forward against the wind and waves, and Andrew was running around in response to Peter’s commands, trying to keep everyone and everything in the boat. The others were huddled near the middle, holding tight to each other and anything else they could get their hands on. Everyone was wet. Everyone was tired. It was 3 AM.

Thomas glanced toward an unseen shoreline they had left hours before and wondered about turning back – when he froze. He screamed, his cry piercing through the din of the storm. Other’s eyes followed his to the figure of a man walking over the water toward them. Fear overtook them all, then. Peter, whose eyes were still focused ahead, swore at them, understanding the extreme peril they were in from the storm. Andrew, saying nothing, pointed a shaking hand aft. Peter glanced back, and dropped to his knees, gasping at the sight, unable to control his aching muscles.

A voice then floated across the water. “Calm down. It’s just me. Don’t be afraid.” Their tired eyes strained to make out who it was. It sounded like Jesus, but how could that be? Peter forced himself to his feet. “Lord, if that IS you, ask me to come to you on the water.” Jesus smiled, shaking his head slightly. “Come,” was all he said.

 

Many of us heard this story as children. We know that Peter gets out of the boat and walks toward Jesus, but then loses heart and begins to sink, so Jesus reaches out and saves him. Peter had to be just a little crazy to say those words, and a little crazier to act on them.

Our faith has become too sane: we have studied it, analyzed it, and figured it out. We know what to say and do to stay in the boat. We can look and act the part; but every once in a while, Jesus calls us to be just a little bit crazy, to get out of that boat and to walk to him on the water.

The Bible is full of people doing crazy things for God. Noah builds an ark where there was no water, Abraham left home to go somewhere unknown, Moses obeyed a voice from a burning bush, Gideon led 300 against 300,000, the apostles faced persecution and death with joy.

The life Jesus calls us to is a life on the water – it’s a little bit crazy, it takes belief without proof, it requires sacrifice without immediate reward. Our obedience could lead to ruin or death. Who takes those kinds of risks? Who lives that kind of life?

Those before us have given us the example, beginning with Jesus who set everything aside to obey the Father and bring us into the family. Right now, there are 35,000 or so cross-cultural kingdom workers from the US only making sacrifices to continue that legacy. Is Jesus asking you to consider joining them? Are you that crazy?!

Pray to the Lord of the Harvest

Matthew 9:36-38 (NIRV)

When he saw the crowds, he felt deep concern for them. They were treated badly and were helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  Then Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is huge. But there are only a few workers.  So, ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers out into his harvest field.”

 

When confronted by the vast need around us one might ask, “What can I do that would make a difference?” It’s true – our resources are not up to the task. What we can accomplish would make as much difference in the world as one raindrop does to the ocean. The spiritual reality is, though, that we are not in this alone; we can make a difference because it doesn’t depend on us. Our role is to obey, God’s is to bring about the change.

So where do we start? What should we do first?


Pray
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Near the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, he traveled from town to town calling everyone to recognize the kingdom of God which was happening right before their eyes. He was deeply impacted by the spiritual condition of the people around him. They were lost. They were needy. They lacked hope. He was the answer but, limited by his human form, he could not possibly minister to everyone. What was his solution? Where did he turn?

Jesus turned to prayer. He looked at his followers and encouraged them to pray, asking the “Lord of the Harvest” to send more workers into his field. Now for more than 2000 years Jesus’ followers have been praying the same prayer. As we involve ourselves in kingdom work, whether it be formal ministry as a profession or informal ministry in our communities, we are answers to that prayer.

We should continue the effort. We should pray every day for God to send even more harvesters, because the harvest is still abundant, and the workers still few. As we do this, we may find that we ourselves may be part of the answer to our own prayer. Perhaps we need to expand our reach and cast our nets more widely. Are we making the best of each opportunity, each relationship God brings across our path? Are we loving others are Jesus loved us, pouring ourselves out for them?
Would you join us by setting your phone alarm to go off at 9:38 (in reference to Matthew 9:38) or 10:02 (in reference to Luke 10:2) every day, as a reminder to pray for more harvesters? Thanks to time zones and Christ-followers all around the world, this pray could be raised every hour of every day!

The harvest is huge! The workers are few. Pray for more!

Holding Nothing Back

.         Few things in our lives demand everything we are or have to give, and even those that do rarely actually get it from us. Jesus said, “If you love me, do what I command you to” and then followed that up with “…and this is my command, that you love one another as I have loved you.” He made the ultimate sacrifice for us. We should be learning to make that kind of sacrifice for each other.
.         We encourage you to pursue a life where you hold nothing back in your commitment to the kingdom.

       We can look at this in multiple ways. Matt Redman’s song, Gracefully Broken, expresses it well. Give it a listen.
Here I am, God, arms wide open. Pouring out my life, gracefully broken. All to Jesus now. Holding nothing back. I surrender.

.         Giving everything up for God to work in and through us is one way to hold nothing back. May God give us the strength, courage and commitment to live life that way! But there is another way to see “hold nothing back” – watch this clip from Monday’s football game:

       Marshawn Lynch somehow carried most of the LA Rams defense into the end zone. Beastmode (his nickname) was holding nothing back in striving for that goal line.
He poured everything into that run, and it would not have been possible if he had held anything back. Should we offer anything less in our kingdom work?

       Colossians 3 says:

Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

       If slaves of Paul’s day were supposed to put everything they had into their roles, how much more should we, as free people in Christ, throw all of ourselves into our service for him?

       As you live out today, lay everything on the altar, and as God gives it back to you, pour it all into service for him!

New Short-Term Missions Coordinator!

.        Hello friends and family! Allow me to introduce myself: my name is Connor Bland, and I have been appointed as OC’s new short-term mission’s coordinator. My story began as a high school boy, getting to serve every year for 6 years on my church’s short-term trips to Guatemala, where I ended up living for 4 months afterwards. During these trips, God really moved my heart to care about short term ministry. In 2016 I added my beautiful wife Kirsten to God’s plan for my life, and she has encouraged me every step of the way to dive wholeheartedly into what God has for us. On our one year anniversary, I was accepted to One Challenge, and began to raise support – I’ve now been blessed with enough support to work 20 hours a week here at the USMC.

What does the Short-Term Coordinator do?

.        My primary goal at OC is to manage the logistics and financial needs of our short-term (ST) missionaries. This also includes getting to know each ST missionary personally. We believe that without creating close-knit relationships with all our missionaries, we are less likely to ensure their emotional and spiritual health while on the field.

.        Another part of my work will begin by reaching out and creating relationships with mission leaders in the Colorado Springs community, to discuss the potential dangers of ST that I believe are hurting the Church. I see some churches falling in to thinking that ST missions are more statistics than actual effect – many set specific numbers of people they want to see go on a ST trip, instead of focusing on meaningful impact. I believe God’s calling on my life is to show that ST missions are more than that, and to do this from a place of love.

.        Personal life:38242763_10214600645641313_380036088082726912_n I have been married to my beautiful wife Kirsten for two and a half years, and we just brought our first daughter into the world! Rylee Rose Bland was born on February 27th, 2018. We love being involved with community events and hosting people at our home. We have two dogs, Koda and Mason, who keep us constantly on the move, and we purchased our first house in October of 2017. We ask that you keep us in your prayers as we continue to pursue what God has called us to with passion and wisdom. We are so happy to be a part of the One Challenge family.

Your One Ring

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them…  – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Tolkien wasn’t talking about priorities when he wrote that, but we’ll use it to launch into our topic anyway: what you value the most will become your “one ring,” and everything else will orbit around it.

As Christ-followers and kingdom workers we of course want to affirm that following Jesus is our “one ring,” and that our lives revolve around living for him. But consider this angle: in the Lord of the Rings story, the one ring so consumes the person possessing it that they can not give it up. In fact, the ring led most of its owners to their deaths.

Do you have something in your life that you are unwilling to sacrifice? These things can become conditions to our obedience to God. For some, it might be family. Others may hesitate to obey because they are single and don’t want to live life alone. Money can also be a concern. If God’s leading requires you to beg for money to fulfill it, would you obey?

Where do you draw the line in the sand, telling God you will only go so far, and no further?

 

A young, single woman was settled in the perfect job as a photo-journalist for a non-profit. She got to travel the world taking pictures, recording video, and writing stories about what God was doing in different cultures. She was settled in life as well, surrounded by friends and family. Her parents and siblings lived close by, and her younger sister was pregnant with her first child. Everything was wonderful.

One day she got a call from a school overseas, asking her to come and meet an emergency need as a teacher for a year. Having taught at the school before, she knew what she would be stepping into. She also knew what she would be stepping away from. Nothing inside of her wanted to go, but she felt that she needed to take steps towards this, to see what God wanted her to do. She prayed. She asked for guidance from mentors. She asked the leadership at her non-profit. She considered finances. She hesitated to commit, waiting for and wanting the door to close – but it never did. All counsel was for the move. The money appeared in a matter of days. Sacrificing what she had and loved, she obeyed, and left.

That woman is in good company. Reread Hebrews 11 to catch a glimpse of the biblical people she is following. Many others will follow after her. Will you be one of them?