Sunday, January 22, 2012

How do I prepare for future ministry?

This is an interesting question indeed. I started this post back in January and just now getting around to writing more about it. I have several thoughts on the subject, however for the sake of attention span and time, this post will be brief.

It might be easy to figure out what exactly we are meaning by "ministry." One of the common misconceptions that we have in our day and age is that there is such a great divorce between "ministry" and "daily living." This mindset can be very problematic and have terrible consequences in all areas of our lives. My friends, if you are a banker, you are called to the ministry of doing everything that you can to represent Christ through your integrity, through sacrificial living for the good of others, and being the very best, with Christlike attitude, seizing every moment of every day to live in such a way that Christ is seen as glorious. Another way of saying this is simply, you are called to "live out the Gospel" in every relationship. (I would personally suggest a really good study of the book of Galatians for further assistance with this).

Those things being said, every single believer, whether you are a high school student, doctor, public school teacher, mechanic, waste management specialist, police officer, fireman, computer programer, you are called to the ministry. Every single person who is called by Christ as one of His children, is "called into the ministry." Yes, there are some of those who are going to be "teachers of the Scripture" who are going to make their living by being supported by others, but this group of people in no way are doing anything different than what you and I should be doing. Their gifting and calling is simply different. When you and I realize this, it will free all of us to minister every day in whatever context we find ourselves.

Those items being said, what are some practical ways that you and I can prepare for this ministry for which God has called all of His children? First, God calls all of His children to seek Him first, and His righteousness. Our daily lives should be filled with prayer and radical holiness. Keep in mind what is holiness. Our example - The Lord Jesus Christ. I would suggest a good and complete study of his public ministry. Then ask yourself, questions such as "if I am to live like Christ, how does that work out in my life?" For instance, Christ did not seclude himself to studying the latest Piper book over coffee at Starbucks, going from there to a conference on indigenous world missions, to come home and then to debate others on theological correctness, then from one "fellowship" to another. (Please understand that this is obviously being overstated to paint a picture...I certainly believe that everything just mentioned, in their time and place, are good and profitable efforts). Christ DID spend so much time, not participating in the sin of the world, but he did spend time associating with those whom the world rejected as "lost causes" and "filthy" so much so that the "religious" wanted to kill him and made false accusations against him.

My final comment on this, with hope to follow up soon on other practical steps is this. If you and I want a recommendation on how to "live out the Gospel" then I can offer you and I no better book than the Gospels. I can offer you no greater example than the Lord Jesus Christ himself. There is no greater teacher than to take a long hard look at His life and ministry and then, by God's grace, walk in the reality of your identity as a follower of Christ.

In all things...Christ preeminent!


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Thoughts on the latest mission trip

Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!
(Psalm 67:5 ESV)

This past Tuesday a group with Psalm 67 Missions Network returned back to the St. Louis area after spending a week ministering to those along the Rio Grande Valley.  We were so blessed by this opportunity as I believe in many ways the Lord, as always, uses these opportunities to bring challenge, encouragement, and clarification to the lives of His people.

What exactly was done in the Valley? Well, this is always a trick question because we are tempted to think "look for the bottom line", which is impossible to do when we consider this type of work.  However, here are some highlights.
  • Six people attended this short-term trip.  We were able to drive the entire way without stopping over on the way there.  (We did stay over on the way back).
  • Billy Jackson was able to capture some great pics and take some interview video of the area and has been making these available to all of us.  This will help us continue to tell the story. See his page for more information.
  • I was able to preach three different times at two different congregations.  One day Rick ministered through music for a group of Winter Texans.  I preached a message on Matthew 13:44 to the same group on another day.
  • Visit Sarah's page to see more from her perspective
  • Each night, including adults, we had about 70-75 or so people in attendance!  Our study was over "Things Hidden" an evangelistic study of Kingdom Parables, by Children Desiring God.  We had classes for each age group.
  • We were able to use previously stored supplies that we keep in Psalm 67's storage unit.  This provided a monetary savings.
  • We were able to get caught near a high-speed chase involving helicopters, and multiple police agencies.  
  • Books donated by Desiring God ministries were provided to Pastors in Tamaulipas, Mexico.  Books donated by Iglesia Maranata in Granite City, Illinois, were provided to congregations on the United States side of the border.  Some of the books include a large case of "The Pilgrim's Progress" in Spanish.
  • We grew in love and unity with our brothers and sisters at Cristo el Rey, and along the US/Mexico border.
  • The Lord used humor by our mistakes to bring about closer relationships with some of the people!  This seems to be a common happening!
There is so much more to share.  I am so thankful to all of you who went and to those of you who held the rope!  I'm so thankful for my dear wife and daughter and the fact that they put up with me and love me!  We couldn't have made it without you! May the Lord be glorified in His church.  May His Kingdom come and His will be done!

In all things...Christ preeminent!


How is life?

You may read later on and think to yourself "what in the world does this passage have to do with the title of this post."  Well, read the passage and then keep reading and hopefully you will see the connection.

And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

(Matthew 9:10-13 ESV)

There are a few points in this text that will be considered today.  As in all observations, none of them can be exhaustive, but perhaps you would be blessed by thinking on a couple of things.

Friend, how is your life?  You may be surprised to find out that the very people whom the Lord Jesus Christ sought were those whose life was a wreck.  That's right, if you read through the Bible you will find out that those people that were most hated by the "religious" people were those with whom Jesus and his followers spent much time.  In fact, they spent so much time with them that it lead to people hating them and questioning their "spirituality" that they would associate with people "like that."

You may be thinking "what in the world does this have to do with anything."  Please allow me to ask you a question again..."how is your life going?"  Do you find yourself miserable?  Are you longing for "something" but you just don't know what.  Do you find yourself without "hope."  Or if you have "hope" you have no reason for why you have "hope" and at times life just seems to be "hopeless."  Let me ask you this, do you belong with the crows that the religious people "hate."  Then let me tell you that there is great hope in Jesus Christ.  Notice, that the Lord did not call people to continue in their despair or current lifestyle, but He brought them out of where they were and gave them new life in Him.  It would be a joy to talk to you more about this, to answer questions, to pray with you, or to point you to others who can do the same thing.  The most important thing, is that you and I both are pointed to Jesus Christ.