Run with Endurance (Heb 12:1)

August 31, 2009

Sometimes our dreams seem to be stuck in the “pause” mode.

In an age of instant gratification, delay doesn’t seem normal. However, in the economy of God, life grows over time and bears fruit. It takes time for roots to go deep; time for fruit to grow; God-given dreams take time.

Some dreams are God-given. Others come from flesh—flesh that is trying to prove something. If we listen (during the delay) we can tell the difference.

Time purifies; Time clarifies; Time intensifies; or Time distorts; and Time discourages.

So, here’s the question: “am I on the path that God intends for me?” Yes, He does have a path for me (“that I may finish my course …” Acts 20.24).

If I know I’m on the path of His calling, I just look for the mile-markers He offers to keep me encouraged. It’s not a sprint….it’s a marathon—“run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Heb. 12.1); with an incredible finish line—“keeping our eyes on Jesus…” (Heb. 12:2)

We may finish the race tomorrow….or, we may not. But until then, let’s get up tomorrow and ask Him to lead the way …and then run—run with Holy Spirit given endurance!


This Week

August 24, 2009

God blessed our weekend services and it was my great honor to be with many of you in worship.  Any Sunday we have 21 people give testimony of personal faith through the waters of baptism…it’s a great day!

Today (Monday) was a real encouraging time for me as I met with several pastors and listened to their perspective on the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR).

Speaking of the GCR, tomorrow (Tuesday) I leave for Northwest Arkansas for the 2nd meeting of the SBC’s Great Commission Resurgence Task Force. We will have a pastor’s forum and then the Task Force will meet for the second time this month.  We will only meet but a couple of more times this calendar year (that is face-to-face).  We will have video conferences and conference calls  in the coming weeks…but I won’t have to travel.  Thanks for praying for us as we face this huge challenge. 

Have you told us that you’re praying for us?  The list has crossed the 3,000 mark and we are praying that at least 5,000 people will join us in the movement of prayer.  You can sign in at www.pray4gcr.com    Periodically, I read through the names and I am encouraged.

This week is a little unusual for me.  When I return from the GCR Task Force meeting in Arkansas, I am going on a retreat with the Conexion 10/40 Board.  Pray for Steve Nolen and this strategic ministry and read more about Conexion 10/40 by clicking here.

If you’d like to keep up with what’s going on…take note of the “twitter” entries in the right hand column.   Thanks for being my prayer partner.

 


Why Missions and International Church Planting

August 21, 2009

Our friend J.D. Greear posted this video on his blog yesterday.  I watched it and….wow!  You need to take a 5-minute prayer break and watch it some time this weekend.

Turn up the speakers on your computer and  click here  to watch it


Senders and Sent Ones

August 17, 2009

“…Who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…” (2 Cor. 5:18)

God gave us the ministry of reconciliation and committed to us the “word of reconciliation. (2 Cor 5:19)  This calling and responsibility moves us to share the Gospel in our spheres of influence and care for those we send out to share the Gospel in other places.

Yesterday, there were many reminders of our responsibilities as “senders.”  

  • We welcomed home a family who have been serving in a war-zone.  We have the chance to love on them during their months of state-side assignment. 
  • We sent out a teacher to serve two years in South America. 
  • We remembered our missionaries returning to Southeast Asia.
  • We had an update from our member who serves in India.
  • We remembered our team in Kenya.
  • We prayed for our church planters in Boise and Baltimore. 

Notice I said “we” every time.  Some of these we could discuss in public and some we could not.  However,  we (the Body of Christ) are in this together.  As we think about the Sent Ones let’s remember how desperately they are depending on us…the Senders.  We must pray for them, communicate with them and keep our lives tied to theirs…together we fulfill this ministry of reconciliation–the Sent Ones and the Senders.


Benediction

August 15, 2009

A few months ago I spent some time reading through the “benedictions” found in the N.T.   Looking at these passages reminded me that too often we have the wrong focus. ( Here’s some of these benedictions)

Webster’s gives this etymology for benediction:  (Middle English benediccioun, from Late Latin benediction-, benedictio, from benedicere to bless, from Latin, to speak well of, from bene well (akin to Latin bonus good) + dicere to say).

When the New Testament writers ended their letters, or a section of a letter, they would remind the readers of the goodness of God, the good work that He is doing and the nearness of His presence.  

As a kid, I remember my pastor raising his hand saying some words as the service came to a close.  The 21st Century Baptist Church does not usually end with this kind of benediction…but maybe we should.  If you let these good words sink in, they will change your focus!

I’m raising my hands today and believing the Word of God.  He is a good God and He’s working good purposes; He is worthy of my attention, allegiance and affection:

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.  (Jude 1:24-25)


The Great Commission and Me *

August 13, 2009

*Initially posted on the website Pray4GCR.com

My wife and I started serving in the local church right after we were married. Attending seminary was our first goal—after three years we finally arrived! Knowing I was called to pastor, I avoided “Missions Chapel.” My call was to the church not “missions.”

But, after years of serving as a pastor, God began to deal with my heart. While my wife served as a trustee for our Foreign Mission Board (1988-96), I had the opportunity to see the lost world through the eyes of our missionaries. Everywhere I turned in the Bible, I began to see God’s heart for the nations. Our church became excited when we led them to go on overseas mission trips and their commitment to Christ grew: they prayed more, gave more and witnessed more locally. Watching all of this, I finally began to get it—the Great Commission is for every believer; God’s plan is to reach the world through His Church!

Then God gave me the privilege to share this message with other churches when I was asked to serve as the Special Assistant to the President of the IMB. For five years I visited missionaries serving in hard places and preached in churches awakening to a missions vision. My assignment was to be bilingual: speak “church” to the mission board and speak “missions” to the churches.

In the churches I kept hearing the question: “Is it local or global?” It is not a question about who needs Jesus the most—the whole world is filled with people who need Christ! We must embrace the local and global task. We know we are called to do evangelism—but what about missions and the local church?

Although the term “Great Commission” is not found in the Bible, it is easy to see that this is God’s heart for His Church. In Luke 24:44-48 Jesus explained that He is the central Person of the Old Testament. He said: “…things written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms…” As we look to the future of the Southern Baptist Convention we must keep the Person and work of Christ at the center of our focus and our message. He alone is worthy to be worshiped! Jesus also explained the central purpose for His followers. He said, “…repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to ALL NATIONS (peoples).” We, His Church, have been given “the ministry of reconciliation.” 2 Cor. 5:18

Now, as I again serve as pastor in the local church, I must challenge our people to this missions purpose every day. Every day we must honestly ask: How are we fulfilling the local and global task given to the church? Even writing this causes me to search my heart and the priorities of our church.

As Southern Baptists we are doing a lot of good things in our churches and denomination but not all of them are accomplishing this Great Commission purpose. The time has come for us to fall on our faces and ask God how to focus the task we’ve been given…telling the world about Jesus.

God has started this movement in the hearts of Southern Baptists. Let’s all continue to pray that this will truly be a Great Commission Resurgence!  

Click here and join us in praying for a Great Commission Resurgence.


Pray for GCR Task Force

August 10, 2009

We are grateful for the 2,000+ people who have signed up to pray for the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force.  

We meet Tuesday and Wednesday for the first time in Atlanta. We have a big task and I look forward to these first days with great anticipation.  I am praying God will bring clarity to our task and it means a lot to to know that so many people are praying for us.

BTW, I had the priviledge to write this week’s blog for the Pray4GCR website.  Check it out by clicking here