Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Love the One You're With

Most people’s ministry is to 2s and 3s, 10s and 20s. Personal discipleship and mentorship is vital and valuable. I’ve been changed by someone else personally investing in me and there are a few people who I empower in that way but I still feel and desire there is more for me. One of the items on my bucket list is to speak to a stadium full of people (25,000+).

Truthfully, it makes it difficult for me to ‘stay in the moment’ when I’m with others, especially in a ministry setting. I would not likely be called or described pastoral, and a mercy gift is something the Lord is increasing in me. I live by the motto: go big, or go home. Trouble comes when you can’t ‘go big’ and you can’t ‘go home’; people who think like that (me) become easily overwhelmed by problems of social justice, gross injustice or even one-to-one evangelism. For every one who is helped, there are millions who still have tremendous needs.

I was worried about how I would respond while I was in Southeast Asia. I’ve heard about extreme poverty, human trafficking, sexual exploitation and religious persecution but I had never been exposed to it. I was anxious I would become overwhelmed by the futility of my single effort. A drop in the bucket at the bottom doesn’t recognize its contribution to the tipping point at the top.

Fast forward to my return home; I’ve enjoyed a ‘celebrity’ status among friends and family (at least for the first week) as I’ve recounted testimonies from the trip. Among the testimonies, I was asked how I processed the negativity [of social problems] that I saw and heard; the very thing I was anxious about prior to the trip. I stopped to consider the question and I realized even more of God’s grace toward me.

 Jesus said he only did what he saw the Father doing. If we have eyes to see what heaven is doing, we will see there is more than enough to fill our vision without leaving room to be anxious about what isn’t occurring.

Over the past two years, I’ve been writing about increasing awareness of God’s presence. It’s my single greatest desire and it’s my first consideration about how to direct my life, activities and desires. I’ve been [and still] learning to cultivate a deeper relationship with Jesus, Holy Spirit, and Papa God, and this is what I’ve learned: as I [boldly] approach the throne of grace, I obtain mercy and grace for my time of need.

God is outside of time, and yet he’s inside every moment. He’s big, and still in the details. When we tap into the heart of the Father, and look into the face before us, we see and feel as Papa God does. Before the trip I may have been anxious about how I would respond but in the moment I didn’t even think about it. I only did what I saw the Father doing. He loves each heart – one-to-one.

God is good – all the time. Every heart is important to him. Jesus forsake the crowd to connect with the little children because that’s what he saw the Father doing for that moment. His mission was to save the world. My desire for bigger isn’t gone, but the desire for big doesn’t swallow up responsiveness to one person.

I came away with a new personal testimony – don’t despise the small beginnings because there is great reward in seeing a human heart connect with the Father’s heart. When I stay connected to his heart and set my heart on things above it’s possible to stay in the moment and love the one you’re with.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Lies Christians Believe #6

The salvation message is the totality of the gospel message.

I’m fresh from a trip to Southeast Asia; I spent eight days in Cambodia (Siem Reap & Phnom Penh) and eight days in Penang, Malaysia. While I was away I communicated some of what I witnessed to friends and family at home via social networking sites. Most of what I saw were healing miracles in people’s bodies; it’s what I expected to see because most of the scheduled meetings were dubbed as “healing services”. Amongst the testimonies of healing, I was asked a question if we were presenting the gospel message. I replied, “People's lives are being changed because of his transformative grace and yes we are preaching the gospel message but if your question is to ask if we are preaching the salvation message, then no.”

Jesus’ favourite message (some might argue it was his only message) was about the kingdom of heaven, a.k.a, kingdom of God. In Matthew 10 and Luke 10, we see examples of his commissioning his followers to go out and preach the kingdom of God is near. In other words, it is at hand, or within reach. In the great commission found in Matthew 28:18-20, we are told to go out and make disciples and teach them to do everything Jesus taught. Jesus taught by demonstration what the kingdom of God was like; we are wise to do likewise. Throughout the gospel books I don't find a single example or mention of the salvation message Jesus taught.

The kingdom of God begins with salvation but it doesn’t end there. Let me say that again another way: we must be forgiven of our sins to enter the kingdom of God. The gospel includes salvation but there's more, much more.

Imagine the kingdom of God is like a mansion a generous benefactor has given us. Salvation is the key that unlocks the door to the house. Some (many) receive the key and the deed to the house but never go inside. They treat the mansion as a mausoleum; they plan their funeral and arrange their final resting place within the mausoleum but never take advantage of what it offers to them while they are still on this earth.

When I was a child and received cash as a gift, my parents taught me to honour the gift and the giver by using it for something I would not have been able to purchase on my own. A gift is special and should be enjoyed.  I appreciate the lesson and I’ve contemplated and reflected on it every time I receive a cash gift. It’s a kingdom mindset operating out of abundance, and not lack. We do not have to be miserly about the gifts we’ve been given, instead appreciate the gift and be extravagant in your enjoyment of it.

In the mansion there are many rooms to explore. There is a library to learn about history, science and the arts.  There is a sitting room which is ideal for quiet intimacy. We have access to a projection room, which is like prophetic pictures that give us greater perspective, and a health & fitness room which is fully equipped to keep our bodies in divine health. The view is heavenly (literally) and from this perspective the things of earth are small and hardly seem worthy of anxious thoughts. And if you find you have “stinkin’ thinkin’”, well, there’s a room to take care of that too.

We’ve been given the whole kingdom of heaven that’s the gospel message. Not only do we need to live in the rooms we’ve been given, we should be teaching others to do the same. Our heavenly papa has given us many gifts, let’s enjoy them.
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