Tag

disciple

The Beauty of “No”

By | Blog, Envision, Equip

Three things happen when you say no to an opportunity, invitation or appointment.

First, you create margin in your life.  When we say yes to too many things – even good things – we fill our schedules and lives beyond our capacity.  You’ve probably heard the expression, “the good is the enemy of the best.”  One has to say no to appointments, invitations and other opportunities to leave margin in life.  For the person living within appropriate margins, when something excellent comes along, he or she can say YES.  For the person juggling all the balls in the air, adding another thing simply means something else must fall.  Wouldn’t you rather be ready for the best than under a pile with the rest?

Second, when you say no, you make room for God’s peace and leadership in your life.  Remember the scripture that begins God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble? Just a few verses later, the psalmist prescribes how to find your rest in His fortress: Be still and know that I am God.  The visual of the peaceful, empty park bench also communicates that quietness; He offers us communion with Him when we cease striving.  When we say yes too often, we don’t have time to pray, to connect with the Lord, to discern His path for our lives and relationships.

Third, saying no develops your character.  My friend Don recently shared a quote with me from a Sunday sermon he heard years ago: “The rejection of adversity is the mark of an immature soul.”  Think about it… aside from the unrealistic dream of vast lottery winnings, there really is no “something for nothing” of true value in this world.  Victory in virtually everything with high value is accomplished through adversity.  Even in salvation, we receive Christ by grace alone through faith alone, but remember the price Jesus paid on our behalf.  My character needs me to say no to easy but meaningless ventures and to say yes to challenges with depth and worth.  Too often we shy away.  When we say yes to the boring, the mundane and the mediocre, we reject healthy growth and maturity.

Reject the lie that being over-capacity honors God or is useful.  Good stewardship of my life isn’t visible in a hectic and frenetic schedule.  My decision to say no clears away the detritus and pollution of my life, and frees me up to be the person God wants me to be.

No can actually be very beautiful.  When free to choose, take your margin, peace of mind and maturity into consideration, and ask the Lord for guidance.  He always leads faithfully.

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?

 

Pass the Gravy!

By | Envision

This is the best gravy I’ve had since Thanksgiving at our friends Rick & Shari‘s place. Ok, it’s not really gravy, let me explain…

My colleague Rick and I are back in Haiti and within hours of arrival the trip has been more than worth it. I turned and said to him, “from this point on, it’s all gravy.” Well, the truth is that we’re now getting saturated in it. God is so good…

In the process of spreading the Gospel to more and more Haitians and training leaders to share Christ and disciple those who have placed their faith in Him, we have included strategies to accelerate the ministry through meeting physical needs of the communities in which we labor.

In the last six months, we have been piloting micro-credit loans to launch entrepreneurship, enabling responsible locals to start business that will feed their family while learning stewardship and responsibility. Our test program has focused on a handful of trusted individuals to explore transportation and communication industries as we look toward a broader expansion of teaching people how to work hard, feed their families, give back to the Lord and save for the future.

Our first conversations on the ground this visit were with these pilots, making adjustments, encouragements and admonishments. It was the result of that dialogue that spurred the “gravy” comment. But within a few hours we were already into more wonderful teaching opportunities, bringing two brothers together to reconcile their differences in a God-honoring way.

Today we will be continuing to disciple our brothers and sisters in Christ here, all the while looking to preach Him and introduce others to the family of God. And we pray that every new opportunity on this outreach trip will be rich and fulfilling, a great spiritual blessing topping a foundation in Christ.

So today as we continue preaching the Gospel, and teaching on stewardship and leadership, working with clergy and the community, it’s my prayer that God continues to bless our labor. I’ll have another helping today, Lord!

20120203-095959.jpg

Guest column: A safe mission

By | Envision, Involve

By Brianna Alexander

It was supposed to be a “safe” missions trip. All I had to do was drive 20 minutes to church, hammer in a few nails, help carry some heavy wood pieces, and voila! I would have helped build a loft house for a family in Mexico and spread the love of Christ without putting a stamp in my passport. I had done this last year and I thought I was prepared.

The thing is though, I didn’t use a hammer. I used a spatula. I don’t use spatulas, or any cooking utensils for that matter. Seriously, I’m a terrible cook. I’m infamous for burning canned re-fried beans and just the other night I ruined crock-pot chicken! So imagine my dismay when I somehow found myself behind the giant church BBQ cooking cheeseburgers for 80 very hungry house builders. Funny, God, real funny.

Yet, as I stood there with smoke blowing directly into my eyes, I realized something. In the parking lot was a whole group of imperfect vessels. People were bending nails, hammering boards in the wrong place, getting bruised up. But no one was complaining, or yelling, or crying in a corner feeling sorry for themselves. They would all just laugh it off, bandage up and get right back in the action.

Getting Instructions

Volunteers gathered for morning instructions

That day was an amazing testament as to what the body of Christ can do when we set aside our own insecurities, annoyances and weaknesses and just focus on completing the mission God has set before us. Everyone one in the parking lot had a different story. They came from different churches, were different ages and were in a different part of their journey with Christ. What they shared was the desire to serve God by working together to bless a family they didn’t know, in a country many of them had never been to. That desire transcended all differences and weaknesses.

Imagine if we made that our goal all the time? Imagine if we stopped getting hung up on religious technicalities, cultural barriers and personality clashes? What if we stopped comparing ourselves to other people, stopped feeling inadequate, stopped focusing on our weaknesses and instead trusted God to equip us for the mission he has called us to? What if every day, whether it was at church, at work, at home or in a foreign country, we made a conscious effort to focus on the big picture, the God picture, and work with our fellow humans to bring that picture to life? Hmm, I wonder what life would look like then.

For that one morning, I set aside my own insecurities and cooked those burgers as best as I could. And while I did get asked “what’s this green thing in my burger?” (it was just an herb from the herb salt) the burgers turned out fairly decent. I actually didn’t have anything to worry about because the church’s resident chef was there cooking tri-tip that was to die for. Even if the burgers had been terrible, no one would have noticed. And while I appreciated and learned from that experience, I’m glad to be back behind my computer, using one of my actual talents to further the kingdom of God.

Couple receiving the house

Heriberto and Ruth now have a home to share with their one month old son, Jared

Did You Know…?

[arrow_list]
  • Hands of Mercy (HōM) helps churches build loft houses for families in Mexico. They have created a system that allows people to build walls, a roof and steps here in the United States. Then the pieces get taken to Mexico and the house is assembled and ready in a day so that the family can move in.
  • Many people in Mexico have never lived in a house with a lock. Someone always has to stay in the house in order to guard the family’s meager possessions. The HōM loft houses are equipped with locks and keys so families and their possessions are much safer.  Sometimes they have to explain how to use a lock & key set.
  • Some people have never lived in a house with a window. Because their homes are often pieced together with mismatched materials, including rented wood and sheet metal, it’s usually not logical or possible to add a window. But HōM loft houses are very sturdy and protect against the elements. Therefore, it’s nice that there are a few windows to open to let in fresh air.
  • You can host your own HōM loft house build! Gather a core group of people together to organize the event and raise $4,000. That money covers all costs including the cost of bringing the house down to Mexico. Then get the word out and gather a group of builders to help with the U.S. pre-fab and the assembly of the house in Mexico. For more information, visit HōM online or contact The Global Mission to learn how you can create your own event.
[/arrow_list]

BriannaBrianna Alexander is an avid blogger who writes about social media marketing, real estate, Orange County, CA and the ridiculous price of mascara. She’s excited to use her talent to support missions and further God’s kingdom. When she isn’t blogging she’s usually doing things she will later blog about like cheering for the Angels, discovering new parks with her little dog and eating delicious food her husband cooks for her.  To see a video of the prefab she wrote about, watch How to Build a Home.

[divider_top]Back to Top[/divider_top]

Haiti Video Recap

By | Envision, Involve

Here is a moving video which is an excellent wrap-up and moving video of last month’s recent mission trip to Haiti.  Thank you to Jake Hart for his work producing the video.  To answer the inevitable question about how to get a hold of the soundtrack, you can purchase ‘ “Hold On” by Rapture Ruckus from iTunes, Amazon or your favorite media store.

We’re grateful for your partnership with The Global Mission!

Trajectories

By | Envision, Personal
Jason Berken pitching

Throwing well: RHP Jason Berken prior to his call-up (courtesy Green Bay Press-Gazette)

I love playing catch.  There’s something so simple and so peaceful about it.  Playing with a good friend or with one of my kids.  Unlike pitching in the Majors, it doesn’t take a lot of talent either – once you release the ball, it flies on a clear path to its target.  A good throw follows a natural trajectory to its destination.  A bad throw also follows a predictable route.  Our minds naturally understand and follow the flight of the ball, accounting for the force with which it is thrown, any blowing breeze and the gravitational pull of the earth.  Our eyes trace it, our legs speed us along – we track it down, ideally until it lands firmly in the outstretched web of the leather mitt. Click for more on our trajectories on and off the field

Not my will

By | Headfirst, Personal

Why am I going back to Haiti again?  A third time?  Sometimes people assume that because of my heart for God or my heart for the lost, I’m just not like other people.  After all, everyone knows that missionaries aren’t normal.  We can’t relate to them because they’re just wired differently.  Maybe so.  Maybe not.  But I’m not going back because I would like to.  Actually, part of me wants to never go back. So Why Go?