A Fertile Soil

By | Envision

Jesus taught the parable of the soils on multiple occasions (also known as the parable of the sower) as recorded three times in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.  (Yes, if you read the context, they’re not simply synoptic reprints – they are different events.)  He concludes the teaching by inviting those with a thirst for God to pay heed by saying “Let him who has ears to hear, let him hear.”  While this saying may be familiar to many, the intent is overlooked.  Certainly all those in the audience physically had the appendage known as an ear.  In fact, a pair of them.  But Jesus points out that many who have ears don’t use them to listen to truth – they don’t listen to what is important.  Are their hearts available or are they closed off?  He asks his audience to pay attention, because their part in the Kingdom is at stake.

So what is so important to know?  What is it that Jesus wants us to pay attention to, above the noise and distraction of the world?

First, God loves everyone, whether they love Him back or not, whether they even pay attention to Him.  He’s bringing His Word to them and He is extravagant with His generosity.  The sower scatters seed everywhere.  Not just on this spot or that; these regions but not those areas.  Every type of soil receives seed.  Is that wasteful of God to preach His Gospel everywhere?  Is it wasteful if Jesus died for the sins of people who would reject Him?  For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son (John 3:16.)  But while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8.)

Jesus wants us to know that He loves us regardless of whether we love Him back.  Pure grace.  An unqualified gift.

Second, people respond differently to God, and there are rewards and consequences of how we respond.  The beautiful part of God’s love is that we must receive Christ’s sacrifice for us through grace, by faith.  It’s not forced upon us, nor is obedience imprinted in our souls.  There is only one type of soil that the Word will thrive in and bear fruit.  So you actually play a part in determining what type of soil you are.

Jesus wants people to know that He loves them, He is available to them, and they need to respond to Him.  Some won’t listen, some won’t respond.  Some will receive Him and become mature and bear great fruit.  Are you open to that?  Do you have ears to hear?

 

Wake Up Call

By | Blog, Headfirst, Personal

Alarm clock take offIf you learned you only had weeks to live, would you change the way you’ve been living?

Dramatic life changes prompt questions like this, and most people would answer in the affirmative: “Yes, I’ve got a lot to change.”  Change is painful and difficult, so we are reluctant to depart from our ways.  More than reluctant, we’re resistant.  Usually we aren’t willing to make any significant change apart from something which shakes our foundation.  Without the wake-up call, we flounder forward, unwilling to disturb the comfortable, the traditional, the repeatable.

Metamorphosis is rare without acute causation.  If the transformation isn’t hardwired into the DNA, driving the caterpillar into the chrysalis to exit as a butterfly, then what spurs such focused energy to stop the routine and become something different, something more?  Rarely is it something less than death or than a life-threatening event.  Doesn’t the clichéd conversation always revolve around a deathbed?  “I’d do it differently if I could do it all over again.”

So if you found out that your time had run out, or someone you deeply loved was being taken from you, what regrets would you have?  Is it a “bucket list” because you haven’t seen the Louvre, gone swimming with dolphins, or climbed Everest?  We’re fairly certain that those things are mostly okay, but amassing a larger pile of assets is not.  As Jesus taught, “”For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26.)  Then again, the next metaphor is the epitaph.  What will it read?  What do you want to be remembered for?  Something temporal or something eternal?  Something transient or lasting?  Is there anything so weighty, so glorious, that you would give your life and your soul to live with everlasting meaning?

The phone rings.  Your doctor asks you to come in to discuss the results from the lab tests.

Would anything change?  Name it, list it, write it down, shout it out.  Can you interrupt your life’s course without the wake-up call?  What will it take?

Start today all over.  And perhaps read 1 Corinthians 15.  It’s worth it.

Finding Jesus in the Chaos

By | Blog, Equip, Headfirst, Personal

You may have seen the jokes posted with the tag #FirstWorldProblems.  They ridicule the frustrations of our lives in contrast to the life struggles of the 3rd World.  Some are mean-spirited, but many raise awareness that sometimes our “big problems” are insignificant when held up to the “big picture.”  I’d like to offer one contrast of my own: Too busy for God.  This applies to Christ-followers and unbelievers, but my comments here are intended for the believers who are drowning in this conflict every day.

This isn’t a book, so let’s skip the chapter where I try to convince you that there is chaos in your life and you’ve allowed it to distance you from God.  If you don’t have this problem, move along.  I do, so I’ll just write for myself and you’re welcome to read along as an observer.  (Yeah, I just said that I have chaos in my life, and even the calling to lead a missions ministry has not made me immune.  Actually, it contributes, just like any other occupation.  It just has it’s own unique twists.)

So let’s embrace reality: my work, recreation, health, family, iPhone, friends, hobbies, travel, responsibilities and to-do lists…  they’re all part of a noisy, clanging, distracting battle where focusing on God and my relationship with Him gets obscured and lost.  Not because they are bad things, but because they aren’t Him.  They don’t simply dovetail into a beautiful symphony.  Some people recognize this, begin to re-prioritize, and re-launch the search for the elusive “balance.” (Surely if all my choices are honoring to the Lord, then everything will supernaturally sync.  Right?)

Let’s go after this from the other direction.  I want to find Jesus.  I want Him everywhere in my life.  I want to walk with Him but my life is full of chaos.  Not because I’m making horrible unbiblical decisions.  Rather, because I don’t live in the Garden, and I’m plagued by the consequences of sin and all its deformities.  Death and disease have come into this world, and I must work and sweat and battle.1  Jesus has won the war and I am victorious in Him, but every day until His Kingdom, I must battle.  One of those battles is against chaos.

There are two pillars I’ve learned that guard my soul in the fight against chaos so that I might walk closely with God.  Their names are Peace and Order.  We need to see that when we instill peace in our lives, we restrain chaos.  Peace means more than quiet (though silence is certainly peaceful.)  Quieting my heart means slowing, slowing, stopping.  My mind begins to drift to other thoughts that are not of Jesus…  stop.  Come back.  Slow.  Easy.  Nothing else, just Him.  Peace means surrender – of my soul.  Learning to be present in His presence.  “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”2  How could my heart be still then?  Only in my abandon to the Shepherd of my soul.

Order also restrains chaos.  It is more than structure – putting things in their places so that nothing distracts.  Order is intentionality.  Singularity of purpose.  I have no other agenda.  The Creator brought order out of chaos.  He can do the same in the depths of my heart.  “No weapon forged against you will prevail.”3  Purposefully give Him His rightful place and deny that which brings distraction and disharmony.

When I guard my heart and mind in Christ, when I let His peace and order reign over me, the chaos fades and I can find Jesus.  It’s not easy – surrender never is.  I must lay my will down and lift His cup.  “Not my will but yours be done.”4  It happens in His power or we fail every time.  I’ve been learning to invite God into moments and to ask Him to help me yield to Him.  To usher in His peace and His plan… and to let me come to a stop and purposefully surrender, that I might know Him.  More and more.

This week, the Lord brought to mind how much I need Him every moment.  A hymn came to mind and I decided it would help me build the pillars higher as I battle chaos.  I found this version on YouTube – the author (Sam Robson) seems to have created a number of these moving performances.  It was exactly what I needed to help me enter His presence.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3wSbLa2uGg

  1. Genesis 3:17-19
  2. Psalm 23:5
  3. Isaiah 54:16-17
  4. Luke 22:42

Update from Haiti

By | Blog, Envision, Involve, Media

NewsletterHaving returned from Port au Prince on Saturday night, I wanted to get this update online to share about the wonderful progress through The Chanje Movement, our spiritual and humanitarian outreach in Haiti.  Inside the letter you’ll find details of how funds were raised through last month’s MissionsRace, all about the three shelters for children where we’re helping change their future, and a few new ways (like the Amazon Smile program*) that you can take advantage of and bless our ministry.

MissionsRace was extremely encouraging, not only because we helped create and host it, nor simply because we raised over $8,000 for our international ministry, but it also blessed so many other ministries, such as My Refuge House, an outreach to women rescued from sex trafficking in the Philippines.

Being in Haiti also provided the opportunity to take the next steps in our micro-credit lending program.  We identified a potential loan officer and gave her a case load of one applicant in order to test her feasibility.  At the same time, one more small loan will now help another family start a small retail business to help feed their family.

Because of the groundwork laid on this last trip, we were able to establish a new beach-head for ministry in another community in the area, and in 2014 our teams will have new opportunities to serve and preach the Gospel.

The Amazon Smile program:

*Amazon will donate a portion of every dollar you spend to The Global Mission – at no cost to you!  This can be very powerful and add up quickly because so many people shop online at Amazon.  It’s a very simple process – the first time you visit http://smile.amazon.com you will be asked to register your charity.  Type in “The Global Mission” and select our donation mailing address (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA.)  That’s it.  From now on, each time you start your shopping at smile.amazon.com and check out, you’ll be giving to the Kingdom!

Build Your Kingdom Here

By | Envision, Involve, Media

Our November 2013 mission team of 16 men preached the Gospel in the prisons and in the public squares, reaching hundreds with the Gospel for the first time. Many adults and children children received Christ during our ministry outreach. In addition, hundreds of meals were provided to the hungry, needy and homeless, and the hope of salvation in Christ was presented to many more. This was the second team to visit the new Chanje Lakay shelter for children. Child Sponsorship is now a powerful tool of generational transformation, as we begin support for our third shelter of children.  Micro-Credit programs were advanced for community development.  Thank you for your support!

Enjoy and share!

httpvh://vimeo.com/80757787

Music written and performed by Rend Collective Experiment and available on iTunes, Amazon and wherever music is sold.
Video recorded and produced by Jacob Hart on behalf of The Global Mission
The Chanje Movement (chanje.org) is the humanitarian outreach of The Global Mission, a 501c3 nonprofit.
No photography or videography was allowed in the Haitian prisons.

What Love Can Do

By | Blog, Envision, Media

Having recently met worship leader Aaron Blanton at Crossline Church, and having heard him perform the song he wrote What Love Can Do as an acoustic piece, it was a joy to discover that our Creative Director, Jacob Hart, asked him for and received permission to use his song in the soundtrack to our most recent mission team’s video.  Aaron was a founding member of the band Sonicflood, and you might recognize this song from the call-to-action movie Not Today, in which recording artist Kari Jobe sings the arrangement that he and James Tealy put together.  The lead-in song is Audio Adrenaline‘s Kings & Queens.

The team we sent this month was part of The Chanje Movement, the humanitarian outreach of The Global Mission.

Enjoy and share!

httpvh://www.vimeo.com/73106653

Video recorded and produced by Jacob Hart on behalf of The Global Mission

At a Loss

By | Envision, Involve

This is really complicated.  How can I explain what’s going through my mind when my heart is beating so hard that I can’t hear myself think?

What kind of anguish is going on in a person’s life that they can entrust their young child to you and walk away?  I can’t fathom the despair, the discouragement, the denial or the complete sense of defeat that a parent would have to experience.

And despite my inability to comprehend, it happened today.  It happened.  Did that really just happen?

fatherlessYes, and more than once.

First there was the pastor’s widow.  She lives in a community of immense poverty with her five children in a house built from cinder block that remains unfinished because her husband died.  She brought us two of her sons that she cannot feed or care for.

The next girl was five years old.  Her mother didn’t come.  The little one came with the widow because her mother just had a baby boy and couldn’t physically make the trip.  But the father of the son is not the father of the daughter – that man previously deserted the family.  The new father doesn’t want her.

Then we met a five and seven-year-old sister and brother.  Her mom had come earlier but had some emergency and left abruptly.  Without the kids.  She told someone at the shelter we should do whatever we can with the children.  The dad had already abandoned the family.

Psalm 68 says that God is a father to the fatherless.  These children are His now, and we are His stewards.  I’m trying to prepare myself for something that can’t be prepared for, because we are going to be introduced to three more children in the morning.

When we acknowledged that we were willing to rescue children as part of bringing hope and transformation to a nation, we knew we would be over our heads.  Today, it is not my head dipping beneath the water that makes me gasp for breath – it’s my heart bursting with a mixture of joy and sorrow.  I cannot imagine doing this alone.

Thanks to God, and all our amazing donors, staff, volunteers and prayer partners who are joining together to make this happen.  Otherwise, there would be no help, no hope, no joy.  No transformation, just sorrow.  But there is joy.  Thank you from the fullness of my heart.

A Bright Light

By | Involve, Personal

Kathia-July-2012I know a woman who heard Jesus say, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”  She went to be with Jesus this weekend, in timing that seems abrupt to us through our temporal eyes.  Kathia Bonhomme was a young, joyful wife and mother who gave her life to serve the least of these in Haiti.  She and her husband Jimmy have been caring for more than 60 children in their home, in addition to their own.

Today we are mourning her loss, because so many are now without their mama, because her husband will need strength to continue to be a hero without her, because her absence leaves a hole so gaping that we can’t imagine how it will be filled.  Soon, the funeral will be planned, and we will have the privilege of celebrating her life.  But today, while we know she is in peace, we are grieving.

Thank you for your prayers for those suffering this tremendous loss.

For those wishing to continue her legacy, we have established the Kathia Bonhomme Memorial Fund.  For more information, see www.hd1st.com/kathia.

 

Cobblestones

By | Envision

It’s a cold, rainy morning in Jerusalem. The cobblestones are wet, making each step slick and treacherous, as we weave our way through the alleys of the Old City. From Jaffa Gate toward the Western Wall, we pass through the Armenian Quarter into the Jewish Quarter, making our way down to the plaza. Young students, pilgrims, tourists, the religious, and the indifferent all jumble together past the vendors and the beggars, moving through the narrow passageways and descending the stairs, yet keeping their distinct identities. Now the words of the Scriptures are ever clearer, describing all the nations here at the center of the universe. Not simply Arabs, Jews and Gentiles, but “Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs.” (Acts 2:5-11a)

The city is awe-inspiring, the archeology breath-taking, the complexity unfathomable. And the God of the people who built it far more so. “Who shall I say sent me?” asked Moses, and the answer was “I AM.” (Exodus 3:13-14.) More than fourteen hundred years later, Jesus answered the leaders of Jerusalem by ascribing this same name to Himself: “Before Abraham was, I AM.” (John 8:58) Only a handful of moons passed between this proclamation, and Jesus dragging a cross down the Via Dolorosa, having been unjustly condemned, scourged and sentenced to death. These cobblestones, now two thousand years further into the future, are worn beneath our feet, and we preach that same message of salvation proclaimed by Peter, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Yeshua, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Yeshua the Messiah for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off-for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:36-39)

O Father, that my people would indeed be cut to the heart, that the veils would fall from their eyes, and that they would truly repent and receive the Lord and forgiveness for their sins.

Just a Day

By | Envision

In the last 24 hours, we:[arrow_list]

  • Got off a plane
  • Fed a family that hadn’t eaten all day
  • Paid for a boy’s funeral
  • Provided food for hundreds of children in Cite Soleil
  • Met with the mayor
  • Taught a young believer how to study the Bible
  • Looked at property to shelter abandoned children
  • Empowered a local pastor who is evangelizing his community
  • Gave hope to a woman who has been fearful and alone
  • Got kissed by a grandfather for bringing him a gift
  • Delivered donated clothes to the unemployed providing an income and a job
  • Had our hearts broken again for Haiti
  • Conspired to bring the Gospel and see transformation in the nations[/arrow_list]

It’s been a good day.