Friday, July 15, 2011

Knowing God’s Will ... for Others

Have you ever had someone other than God play Holy Spirit in your life?

If you have, you know the sense of frustration in dealing with these “well meaning people.” It has always amazed me how the Lord always seems to tell them what He wants me to do but fails to reveal His will to me. When Paul writes in his letter to Timothy he says  “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” 1 Timothy 2:5 (NIV). Too often these “well-meaning people” substitute their name in place of Jesus.
Now I’m not talking about the clear will of God, like God’s desire that no one should perish but all come to the saving knowledge of God. Nor am I referring to things like the 10 commandments. What I am referring to are areas in our lives where we need to determine God’s will for our lives.

Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. Suppose you felt God’s call to the mission field, a field where you had originally been born into and spent the first 20 years of your life. After years of preparation and raising support you arrive on the field. You have spent four years of successful ministry there and have seen substantial fruit and now you travel back to the states for a furlough.

While you are back here in the USA you meet with the missions committee of your sending church and there are new people at the helm of the missions committee (or board). They review what your ministry and decide that they feel the Lord is calling you to another portion of the country where they speak the same language but the dialect and customs are different.

Let’s throw one more wrinkle into the mix. Let’s suppose that you are a native of the province where you have been serving and you understand the people who you are ministering to. The Lord hasn’t bothered to clue you into this change in His will but you are assured by this leader of your home church that this is God’s will for you and unless you change your ministry location they will cease funding you.

Or what if you are the pastor of a church and a person of prominence tells you that the direction that you believe God is leading the church is wrong?

Is this any different then the non-follower of Jesus who tells you that the decision or direction you believe God is leading you is wrong?

Do these people speak for God? Why has God chosen to speak to them but He has never bothered to clue you in?

What would you do? Where would you turn? Who would you believe? 

We rely on the one true mediator between God and man – Jesus. We spend time in dialog with Him. Notice I said dialog and not monologue! Way too often we are way to fearful of what man thinks and we’re too willing to obey man rather than God!

Are you willing to follow the revealed will of God for your life? The will that he promises to reveal to you and not another? Even if it means loss of position or funds or even prestige?

Follow God regardless of the outcome (at least form a human perspective). Do it for His glory so that his Kingdom is advanced!

29 Peter and the other apostles replied: "We must obey God rather than men!
41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.
Acts 5:29, 41 (NIV)
What great example for us! 

May we also be willing to follow God’s leading regardless if man agrees or not!

Pastor Val

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Missions for the 21st Century

Missions are being done differently in the 21st Century! With the glocalization of the world it is becoming easier for the average layperson to become more actively involved in missions. Many evangelical churches are changing their entire strategies to meet this brave new world.

What I mean by this is that each church or person can look at the gifts that they have and the talents that they have in the local bodies and seek ways of using these unique skill sets and gifts to meet local needs as well as globally. For example a teacher can help local at risk kids learn and perhaps help develop current teaching techniques for schools overseas. Another example would be for farmers to help farmers in drought stricken areas use better methods of irrigating crops to raise more food. Even a biologist could help engineer seeds that might be more drought resistant. All of these would be ways of seeking to fulfill Jesus charge in Matthew 25:34-40

Matthew 25:40 (NIV)
40 "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

Of course we must never loose sight of our calling in Matthew 28: 18-20.

Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

We are commanded to make disciples (which is a life-long process, by the way) and to do so in all the world.

So our goal should be to do this locally, regionally, by country and throughout the entire world. Act 1:8

We need to be intentional in our approach to missions. I believe that this starts with prayer on our part and listening to and following God’s voice and leading. It means realizing that in some instances we need to make use of our resources and give them to local people on the ground who can more effectively reach their local communities.

I have been helping a local ministry in India prepare and train pastors to go back to their local communities to plant churches. It support for a local pastor in a village is approximately $1000 a month and in a city the cost rises to approximately $2000-2500. Compare that to an American missionary in India where we would have to support them to the tune of $4000-7000 a month.

In other instances we need to continue to send people to the foreign field some in long term instances and other times in short term capacities. Sometimes as support for local leaders, other times to raise up local leaders to carry on the ministry. For example China is said to have had only a few believers prior to the expulsion of foreign missionaries but a generation later this number had grown to tens of million or even a hundred million believers because of faithful local leadership.

All of these examples and more have their place in our missions’ philosophy. We need to effectively use God’s resources to extend His Kingdom both here and abroad for the express purpose of bringing Glory to Him!

How’s your serve?

Pastor Val