Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A PhD in Missional Living

The best education always includes more than theory.  As we continue to dialogue about having missional lives we must at some point put into action what we have learned.  I would love to hear stories about how you have applied some of the truths/principles that we have talked about over the past couple of months.  It would not only be encouraging to me, but it would spur others, who read your words, on to practice as well.  
For those who have yet to begin to implement the truths on these blogs, here is how you can get your PhD and graduate into the work force :-)
Paul had many practical things to teach those who were becoming disciples of Jesus.  On two different occasions, Paul requested for the same three things regarding putting into the action his missional understanding.  He actually asked believers in Ephesus and in Colossae to pray these three simple things so that he would follow through.  Paul certainly had his PhD in missional living and you can too as you pray these things for yourselves and for others.
Pray:  Paul need prayer.  Living missional must always be bathed in prayer.  As Paul was writing to the believers in Ephesus and Colossae, he requested the same prayer requests regarding talking about Jesus.  Listen to how he asks each group of believers.  
"...pray on my behalf, that utterance may be giving to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly as I ought to speak."  Eph. 6:19-20
"...praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak."  Col. 4:3-4
Paul needed others to pray for him as he went about spreading the good news.  I am certain that I must continue to invite others to pray for me (as I pray for myself) to have the qualities Paul requested to have as well.  
Hear:  One of the things Paul prayed for was for clarity to hear from God.  Jesus promised to give us the right words at the right time as we talk about his grace, mercy and forgiveness to those not yet saved.  In order to receive those words, we must hear them.  Paul prayed it would be clear what he was suppose to say.  He needed to hear from Jesus and he asked others to pray for him to hear clearly.
Do: Paul needed to put what he was hearing into action.  Once he saw the 'door' and knew what to say he had to step into the situation and speak the words that were ready to flow.  He needed boldness and action to be effective so he asked for prayer for these things.  We do know a lot of Paul's story and the prayers of these saints for these things in Paul's life continues to pay off today.  Just think how effective your prayers will be as you pray for me, others and yourself to be able to hear and then do what Jesus says to our hearts!
Pray Hear Do - You now have your PhD in Missional Living.  Ask people to pray for you to hear from God as to where you should focus and who you should focus on along with the boldness to speak the words Jesus will give you.  Now go out and live it and then come back and share your stories with us.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Surprising List of Things We Should Represent

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."  2 Cor. 5:17-21
An Ambassador is to represent the one who sent him or her.  It makes sense that an ambassador would know what the person who sent him/her thinks on subjects and what policies that person values.  A good ambassador then, mirrors the person or country who sent them.
With that understood let's take a moment to discover if most people who claim to be Christ followers are good ambassadors of Jesus and heaven.  Let's take a look at what were important to Jesus when he walked this earth and then you can decide if you area representing him well or if you need to make some adjustments.  Ready?
Disclaimer: The following list is certainly not complete.
  • Jesus struck up conversations with people who were really good at sinning in some foul ways like stealing money from people, adulterers, drunkards, swindlers all around not good folks Mark 2:15)
  • Jesus surrounded himself with people from the lower level's of social and moral society (Matt. 4:19, Mark 2:14, )
  • Jesus wasn't always happy with the religious types (Mark 3:5).
  • When Jesus became popular, he often moved on to share the good news with others (Mark 1:35-39).
  • Jesus went to places that were taboo to his peers (John 4).
  • Jesus obeyed what he heard his Father tell him to do (John 4:34 & 12:49-50).
  • At times Jesus allowed his life to be dictated by the needs of others (Luke 7:1-10 & Mark 5:1-20).
  • Jesus was committed to spending time with his Father (Mark 1:35).
  • Jesus enjoyed supplying the best drink at parties (John 2).
  • Jesus told people the truth (Matt. 4:17).
So how are you at being an ambassador of Jesus and heaven on earth?  I am sure hoping to adjust and improve!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Balancing Act

"Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others."  2 Corinthians 5:11 (NLT)
In my last few posts, I have talked about following the lead of the Spirit as you move through life for the sowing of much Gospel seed.  By doing so, you will see crops rise from the dirt.  For many, they read posts, books, attend seminars and have conversations about these sort of things and somehow conclude they should take a more laissez-faire approach in living missionally.  Paul seemed to have a different understanding than a laissez-faire mindset.  We would do well to learn from him.
Many in the church are reacting to what I call 'forced evangelism.'  Forced evangelism takes place when a leader decides that an organization is not seeing enough evangelistic activity, often measured by the lack of new believers.  The leader embarks on finding a great way to increase the gathering in of souls.  This is not a bad motivation but at some point, the leader chooses a method to employ and then handcuffs the people to it.  Whether intentional or not, the people affiliated with the church now feel compelled, bad or even forced to apply the method of evangelism suggested.  This comes in the usual ways of canned or cold turkey approaches that really do not fit either the mindset of the Christian or their prey.
I can understand the swing away from forced evangelism to a more relational evangelism.  Relational evangelism often ends us as an excuse to not share the truth about Jesus with our words, "we'll just make friends and then they'll know we are Christians."  There must be pieces of ground in the middle of these two ends where Jesus can be shared naturally and with a strong work ethic.
In 2 Corinthians 5:11, Paul says he works hard to persuade men.  This sounds like it could fit into the forced evangelism camp but keep reading.  In verse 14 Paul says, "Christ's love controls us."  This is the key to being bold and relational in sharing Christ.  When we come in touch with the deep love of Jesus in our souls, we can do nothing but be compelled to talk about Jesus as often as possible.  A heart that has fresh understanding about Jesus' love for us always responds with sharing His story with others and inviting them to walk with Jesus too.  
It is my strong belief that Jesus gives us opportunities to talk about His love for the world daily as we engage people.  It is the reason we are here on this planet, not only to receive eternal life but to invite others to receive it too.  Jesus gave His life for this privilege.  Is his love compelling us?  If it is, we will be about our Father's business which is being ambassadors for the Kingdom of Heaven.  We'll explore that idea next time.