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Living In Between

We just finished the holiday season and are now between last Christmas and next – only 356 shopping days away.

You might not live from Christmas to Christmas like some, but we all tend just to wait for major life events, living for them. For some, it’s as simple as getting through the work week to the weekend. We all have an “in between” that we are enduring to get to the next event.

Many of us look past the opportunities in these in-between times. We fail to live the days to their fullest. We survive on our anticipation for the next big thing, instead of the joy that each day brings – though those joys may be very normal, regular things.

 

Joseph, the youngest in his family, received a grand promise from God in a dream, that everyone in his family would bow down to him, that he would be a great leader. In his time, where birthright was everything, this must have seemed impossible, but he believed it enough to share the dream with his whole family. God did fulfill his promise, but not until years and years of in-between time passed. That in-between was not easy for Joseph. He was sold in to slavery by his brothers, ended up in Egypt, and was thrown into prison. He was forgotten until the perfect moment, the God moment, where everything flipped on its head and he became the ruler of all of Egypt, under only Pharaoh himself.

But Joseph didn’t waste the in-between days, weeks, months, and years. He lived every one of them with commitment and obedience. He became the head of Potiphar’s household, then a trusted leader in prison. He was faithful, no matter his circumstances.

 

In the big picture, we are in between very significant events… Christ’s first coming and Christ’s second coming. We are 2000 years from the first and who knows how long from the second. How shall we live our lives in this in-between? We should strive to live each day with purpose. We should live lives of faithfulness and obedience, just like Joseph.

None of us know God’s purpose for us or how we affect those around us. The truth is, though, that our choices and how we live have an impact on others. As we live out love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, the people we interact with are presented with the kingdom reality.

There is purpose in the process. No matter what our path, we can choose to live our in-between times for the glory of God. We can trust that God will use us to bring about his glory in those around us.

Live the fruit of the Spirit today, in every moment as if the lives of the people around you depended on it. You represent the King and the kingdom. Be the difference in someone’s life today.

Dare to be a Joseph

Around 2000 years ago a man named Joseph agreed to be part of an incredible, unbelievable plan. Apart from being extraordinary, this plan had very little upside for him.

An angel instructed him to marry a pregnant young woman, Mary, whose child he did not father. Shortly after, he took his very pregnant wife, by foot and donkey, on the long road to Bethlehem; there the baby was born. For some reason, Joseph’s relatives there could not house them, so Mary gave birth to Jesus in stable, with animals. Once again instructed by an angel, Joseph then led his young family in an escape to Egypt – King Herod wanted to kill Jesus, so they hid there until it was safe. Somehow, they eventually made it through their God-appointed exile to return to Nazareth, where Joseph lived as the step-father to the Son of God. No pressure!

When Jesus was twelve, the three of them traveled to Jerusalem, where Joseph lost track of Jesus when he hung around the temple, questioning the Jewish leaders. Can you imagine the panic that must have set in as they realized he wasn’t with them? Once they found Jesus and went home, we then lose track of Joseph entirely.

Joseph is a bit part in the story of redemption, and yet he gave it everything he had. He did not choose his part, it was chosen for him. Still he was faithful.

Most of our lives are like Joseph’s. We aren’t anything special. We are born to normal people and live normal lives. We try to obey God’s leading no matter what he asks us to do. Sometimes the path is easy, sometimes less so. Sometimes we entertain angels, sometimes we eat with pigs. Through it all we hope to be faithful, just like Joseph, so that when we meet Jesus face to face we hear, “Well done, my good and faithful friend (servant).”

Will you join us in daring to live our lives out in faithfulness to God’s leading, no matter where it takes us and no matter what the cost?

We are praying for you!

How can I go on a short-term trip with One Challenge?

So, you’re interested in going on a short-term mission trip. Where do you start?

Pray. The decision to go on any mission trip, short or long, should begin with conversation with our heavenly Father. The moment you connect with OC about a potential trip, we put you on our prayer list. Each week on Wednesdays and Thursdays, we pray for anyone considering missions and OC, because we know and have seen the power of prayer in missions.

Learn. If you decide to pursue OC, we sign you up for “The OC Way.” This short online course teaches our organization’s history and core values, and is required before beginning the application process. Of course, the Mobilization team is always available to answer questions at any time throughout this process. Email us at mobilization@oci.org and either Connor, Jeff, Josh, or Carole are happy to talk!

Apply. If you continue to feel that OC’s values align with yours and would be a good fit with how God is calling you, we move forward with the application process! For short-termers, we ask for four references, a completed application, and a personal supplement (as well as a few legal forms). These help us get to know you a little better, so we can decide together if OC can help you follow God’s leading.

Interview. Once we receive all your application materials, we set up an interview together either in person or over Skype! We may also ask you to meet with someone from our MemberCare department should any concerns arise – we want to make sure we know our missionaries and are well-suited to caring for them once they’re on the field.

Acceptance. Congratulations! You have been accepted to OC and we are so excited to have you! At this time, each missionary’s path can look different. Where you go, what you do, and for how long all factor in here. We begin active communication with your desired field of service in order to start setting your place up overseas.

Fundraise. The length, location, and living situation of your trip determine the support level needed. If you are planning to go longer term, we recommend working with a Tailored Fundraising coach – this is through an organization we partner with, and they can prove invaluable to your financial journey. They help you stay on task to reach your support goal, providing encouragement, accountability, and various other resources.

Train. Once again, the length and location of your trip can affect the amount of training required. Longer term (1 year+) might require attending CORE or Transitions Orientation, which are both programs to help prepare you before deployment; shorter term might require only some of that, or none – i.e. a 2 week trip does not require what a 6 month trip would.

Go. When you’re fully funded and have completed training, we pray over you and the ministry God has laid for you. We are with you every step of the way and continue to pray week after week. Although we always hope for smooth sailing for all our missionaries, we know things do come up. You will be partnered with a team in country that helps with immediate needs, and we’re always here in the US to help with logistics that can’t be handled on the field.

 

Blessings be upon you, for you are the harvesters of the Lord. May God use you in special ways to bring many closer to him and grow his kingdom around the world!

Mission Is Not What We Do

“Mission is not what we do, it is what we become.”  –  Dr. Frank Strang

 

As we become more like God, we are yet further drawn into mission with God. It is inevitable. To ignore the mission of God is to turn away from him. What is the mission of God? To reconcile the world to him, to restore the unity between creator and creation. It was for this purpose that he sent Jesus… to seek and to save that which was lost.

We are to live on mission, in everything we say and do. As stated above, it is what we become. The Great Commission is for all of us.

Does that mean that all of us are missionaries? It depends on how you define the term. If a missionary is someone on mission for God, then yes, we are all missionaries. If a missionary is someone who moves to a different culture and shares the love of Jesus in there, then no, we are not all that kind of missionary.

We are to be the light in the darkness wherever God places us, and our heart is to be for the world to know Jesus; so, whether God sends you somewhere or keeps you put, be that light and pray for the world. Let your influence impact all places through your words, deeds, and resources.

Become the mission of God!

Disciples are Needed (No need for others to apply)

It was early morning. Peter, Andrew, James, and John stood knee-deep in water, each about a league from the other, casting their nets into the Sea of Galilee hoping to catch some fish. Their conversations, yelled out to each other, usually included current event topics of lakeside life, but today there could be only one topic: Jesus.

A few days earlier, Andrew, a disciple of John the Baptizer, had met Jesus and spent the day with him. That evening he’d brought Peter to meet Jesus, too, and ever since they could talk of nothing else. James and John asked questions and pondered the possibility that Jesus may be the Christ, the Messiah, the promised deliverer and king of the Jews.

The sun was rising, and they began to pull in their nets for the last time. A crowd was forming on the shore behind them. There were so many people, it was hard to tell what was going on. The fisherman forced their way on to shore to clean their nets, when Andrew shouted, “It’s Jesus!” Peter turned to look where Andrew was pointing; James and John, further up the beach, stood to see if they could catch a glimpse; but none of that was necessary. Jesus was already walking along the water’s edge in their direction. Upon reaching them, Jesus simply said, “Become my disciples and I will have you fishing for men.” Just like that, all four of them set their nets down and went to him. Peter pulled his boat up to the shore and Jesus got into it and began to teach the people.

 

We know that these four as well as eight others became Jesus’ disciples. What does it mean to be a disciple of someone?

In biblical times, a disciple was someone who followed a mentor with the goal adhering to their teachings and imitating their life so completely that in time they would be living copies of their master.

If we call ourselves Christ-followers today, disciples of Jesus, should we not reflect him in everything we do? What does it take to be truly a disciple?

The first commitment is that of studying the life of Jesus. Scripture gives us not only one, but four accounts of Jesus’ life. If we don’t spend time learning how Jesus lived, how will we know how we should then live?

The second commitment is to spend time in conversation with Jesus. Prayer and meditation is critical to our lives as disciples.

A third commitment is to live out what we see in Jesus, first to each other and then to the world around us. Being a disciple is not just a personal commitment, it is a life lived out as a living copy of Jesus. The apostle Paul put it this way, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship.” Romans 12:1.

If we are to change the world, we must live our lives as examples of the world’s most radical change agent… Jesus.