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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.

 

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
.

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!