Thursday, February 26, 2009

Amazing, Startling and Brilliant

When I think about God's Missional heart, His wildness is simply amazing, startling and brilliant.  Over the past few posts, I've shared with you some amazing truths about what God has called each of His followers to - a missional life.  But God does not call us to be missional without giving to and placing in us every tool we need to be effective.  Here is a short list of what every believer receives at the moment they become a believer...
God's Authority: Matthew 28:16-20 teaches us that all authority on heaven and on earth was given to Jesus and that Jesus will be with every believer for eternity.  If we connect the dots, the authority that was given to Jesus is in each of us now and forever.  This is enhanced when we remember these verses teach us about our missional purpose which is to be making disciples throughout our lifetime.  This directive from Jesus begins when we become His follower and never ends.  Jesus gives us His authority to us to be successful in this disciple making process that begins with telling people the truth of the good news.
God's Power:  Acts 1:8 instructs to understand that when we become a Christ follower, we receive the Holy Spirit and His power.  This power is explosive!  The word for power here is actually the word we get dynamite from in English.  This explosive power from God is for the stated purpose of being witnesses to the world for Jesus Christ.  God sends us out with His authority and then He gives us His power.  How effective, supportive and amazing is that?
God's Mind:  1 Corinthians 2:1-16 teaches us that God freely gives us what we need to know to be effective in sharing the good news with anyone we come in contact with.  God knows all things about all people.  God lives in us because we are followers of Jesus.  God promises in this section to give us what to know, say or do to be effective dispensers of the good news in each situation.  1 Corinthians 2:16 teaches us that we have the '...mind of Christ."
God's Words:  Jesus knew that people would worry, fret and be fearful when it came time to tell about the wonderful things Christ has done for the world.  Jesus knew exactly how to take care of the problem in a powerful way.  He removed these concerns by giving His children the exact words to say at the right time to have the right effect in their lives.  You can find these verses in Ephesians 6:18-20, Matthew 10:16-20, Mark 13:9-11, and Luke 21:12-15...and there are other passages laced throughout the Old and New Testament.
Those are some wild guarantees from God.  He promises all of them to us so that we can be wildly effective as we share the good news.  I think it is very clear that God wants every one of His children to have fun and be successful in giving away His truth generously.  
Let me encourage you to teach everyone you know these four simple and yet wild gifts that every follower of Christ receives at the moment the give their lives to Jesus Christ.  He certainly is amazing.  Jesus ensures that as you obey His promptings to share Him with others that you will be successful in amazing ways.
I would love to hear stories of what happens after you teach these truths to folks or what happens in your life as you put them into practice.  E-mail me!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Missional Success

Every follower of Jesus is to be living missionally (see my previous two posts for the support of this statement).  To live missionally, from a Biblical perspective, is to be on the lookout for ways to give away the message and love of Jesus.  If we have this mindset, we will begin to see a plethora of opportunities on a daily basis.  As you move out in with this mindset, you will be overwhelmed with joy as you realize just how much Jesus is enjoying watching you farm the soil of souls for His Kingdom.  

Success in the church world often is equaled to the growth of numbers.  We read through the book of Acts and we see 3,000, 5,000, and multitudes of people coming to know faith in Jesus and we assume that if we are doing things right or well, that we too will see at least some significant growth.  We also look at Mark 4, the parable of the sower and the seed, and we yearn to find the 'gold mine' of the fourth and productive soil.  But we often do not stop at the fourth soil.  We desire for the largest harvest of the fourth soil, the '100 fold' harvest mentioned in Mark 4.  These are not bad desires.  If we think that success is mostly understood with numbers or largeness, then most will be sad, disappointed or even angry.  Most believers follow after Jesus with strong hearts and do not see this type of 'success.'  

When Jesus was arrested, tried for crimes He didn't commit and eventually crucified, everyone abandoned Him and Peter denied he even knew Jesus.  At the end of Paul's life, we read in 2 Timothy 4 that everyone deserted him and some of those people simply didn't want to pay the price any longer (see 2 Tim. 4:10).  If numbers often speak of success, then Jesus and Paul were not successful.  But numbers are not how we should measure success.

Success from a Christians perspective should be measured by obedience, faithfulness and humility in our following of Christ Jesus.  Our culture is so focused on 'success' and 'growth' that we often forget that we are NOT responsible for the results.  God may even allow you to do everything right and well and still not have the results in numbers that desired.  He may do this to help you realize that it really isn't about you, your personality or your methodology.  On the other hand, God may watch you do many things in screwy ways and choose to bless you with amazing abundance.

Allow me to quote just two short passages to help you understand that growth or numbers are not the measuring stick for success.

"After all, who is Apollos?  Who is Paul?  We are only God's servants through whom you believed the Good News.  Each of us did the work the Lord gave us.  I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow.  It's not important who does the planting, or who does the watering.  What's important is that God makes the seed grow.  The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose.  And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. "  1 Cor. 3:5-8  NLT

"Jesus said, 'The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground.  Night and day, while he's asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does  not understand how it happens.  The earth produces the crops on its own.'"  Mark 4:26-28  NLT

In both these passages, the one who sows the seed is obedient - nothing more.  After planting the seed or watering the seed, it grows under God's direction, all by itself.  The farmer does not know how it happens.  He is clueless and he often is asleep on the job!  That sounds like an inviting job description to me.

So in order to be successful at living missionally, all we have to do is to be obedient, faithful and humble to tell people the Good News with the words that Christ puts in our mouth.  We must have a focused life that is looking for the opportunities that Christ puts in our path and when we spy them, we should share whatever Christ gives us to say.

So go out and be successful by being obedient to the missional living Christ has called us to and has already equipped us to do.  Jesus is responsible for any results and that takes the pressure off of having to be 'successful.' 

So what do you think about these thoughts?  Feel free to leave a comment on this blog or send me an e-mail.

Next time let's look at what Jesus promises everyone of us when we engage in sharing the Good News as we live missionally.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Missional Examples from the New Testament

Being missional is normal for all believers in the New Testament. To be a Christian and not being missional is like a person who claims to be a guitarist but has never picked up a guitar. It just doesn't make sense.
When we think about people in the New Testament who lived out their lives missionally we often think about the bigger names. We think of folks like Paul, Peter, John the Baptist, Philip and Barnabas. We often place these men in the superstar category of Christianity. They certainly were strong believers, but many of them stated that they were just ordinary men who chose to obey what God called them to do.
But there are lesser known or more obscure men and women who set missional examples for us to follow today. Allow me to highlight a few very ordinary people who set the example of living missionally for Jesus.
*Andronicus and Junias (Rom. 16:7): This man and woman were outstanding missional people. They were well known as apostles (which means sent ones) and their work caught the attention of Paul who mentions them here in Romans. Many people have never heard of them but here we find people who lived out what it meant to be sent out.
*Many Unnamed Believers from Thessalonica (1 Thess 1:5-10): These newer believers were reported to have; become imitators of the Lord, had much tribulation, became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and beyond, spread the word of the Lord everywhere they went so that Paul had no need to say anything. Now that is living missionally. What were their names again? Right, they are nameless.
*The Handicapped Man (John 9): Here is a story of a man who was born blind, was healed by Jesus, probably as an adult, and then he went and confounded and confused the religious leaders of his day right after his sight was restored. He wasn't educated, wasn't trained by a Pharisee nor did he have much time to learn anything about his new faith and freedom. He began his faith living largely missional.
*The Nameless Immoral Woman (John 4): Here is very loose woman had previously lived with several men and was currently living with a new guy. She met Jesus at a well, learned about living water and went back to the city to tell everyone to come and hear Jesus. She intuitively began her walk of faith in Jesus with a missional bent.
*Lois and Eunice (2 Tim. 1:5): These two women poured their faith into Timothy (son and grandson of these women) which then began his journey to being missional as well.
*The Unnamed Saints of Acts 8:1-4ff: Here we find all of the 'common' people (I hate those terms) who scattered out of Jerusalem because of persecution and went to the surrounding areas where the Gospel of Jesus Christ spread like wildfire. The leaders or apostles remained in Jerusalem and everyone else fled and became missional in unknown places.
Over and over again, we see the 'everyday' people of the New Testament being missionally focused. They were not waiting for a pastor or apostle or missionary or seminary graduate to come and do the missional work for them. They knew that they were chosen by Christ, anointed by Christ and sent by Christ to proclaim the truth of Christ everywhere they roamed.
Do you think that the 'common' people of Christ today believe they are to live missionally? Why or why not? I'd love to hear from you.
Next time, let's discuss what success is when we live missionally.