“If there were no poor people in the world, would anyone give to fund missionary work?”

Recently the Lord asked me a question: “If there were no poor people in the world, would anyone give to fund missionary work?”

It hit me hard. I knew the answer. The level of giving to missions is already either “not enough” or “misappropriated”* such that we are not getting the work done. Many Christians who have gone on short term trips (and even those who haven’t) get stuck focused on the poverty they saw. The difference between their lives and the lives of the people they are seeing really messes with them! Don’t forget that the majority of short term trips happen in places that already have the good news about Jesus-among “reached peoples.”

What drives this focus? Is it guilt? Why is it so hard for us to see the eternal needs over the physical needs?

I’m not arguing that we do nothing for the poor, or for people who are hungry, but why has this become the all consuming focus for so many? Are we really ok with people going to hell as long as they were not poor in this life?

I could pretend I have an answer. I really don’t. I can speculate. Does that help? Probably not. I think I’ll hit my knees again. That will help.

“God, break our hearts for the things that break yours!”

(If you know who said that, please tell me and I’ll fix it. I could not find a source on the Internet.)

*Depending on your view/missiology.

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Missionary Stories with Don Richardson

Here is a link to a 54 minute audio message available free on iTunes.

In 1962, Don and Carol Richardson, and baby Stephen, went into the jungles of what was then Dutch New Guinea to work among the stone-age Sawi people. The Sawi were violent cannibals and headhunters, constantly at war with each other and with other, nearby tribes. Their favorite “hobby” was convincing someone that they were friends, and then murdering them! If that’s not enough to discourage visitors, diseases such as malaria, dysentery and hepatitis were common. Any real help was miles away……and yet the Richardsons went to bring the good news about Jesus to this group of “lost causes.”

Their story is best heard in the pages of the book “Peace Child”–one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read! (Available here, on Amazon and many other books sellers.) But you can hear the short version, plus a few other stories, in this free podcast. Just a warning: if you haven’t read the book, and you hear this greatly shortened version, reading the book later won’t have nearly the impact.

For the podcast, go here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/missionary-stories/id779674267?i=325681168&mt=2

Posted in Discipleship, Finishing, Following Jesus, Getitdone, Matthew 24:14, Missions, Mt. 24:14, The Great Commission | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

I hate adoption.

Those Sweet Bare Feet

We hear all about the adoptive parents side– how challenging it is, how difficult it is to raise traumatized children, but we never hear from the adoptive siblings point of view.  All my life I have heard of what incredible parents I have (and I do), but never once has someone told me what an “incredible job” I have done or what my thoughts were on having adopted siblings.  Mainly, because I was just a kid when it all begin.  I understand that, and that’s okay.  But I’d like to share my honest opinion on adoption.

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When I was seven my parents started down the road of adoption, I was elated, so overwhelmed with excitement at the fact that I was going to have a new sister or brother.  I remember meeting them for the first time, and they felt like family.  We got along and we were happy.  Until the…

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Practical stuff: Skype security flaw in group chat

I stumbled upon this today and thought I’d share. This flaw may be fixed, I don’t know. It only affects group chat.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/ianmorris/2014/08/14/skype-has-a-security-problem-with-leaking-chats/

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Drop the excuses . . . think like God!

I heard God sigh this morning – a big, deep, heavy sigh. Like He did at times with the disciples: “Oh you of little faith! How long shall I put up with you?”

Why the sigh? Because so many of us are still in diapers!

Don’t misunderstand! God loves us! God takes us where we are, and then works to develop us into the very image of His Son. We’re supposed to think like Jesus, talk like Jesus and act like Jesus!

…and therein lies the problem!

God is perfectly ok starting from scratch, but He wants us to grow up! He needs warriors, not toddlers in diapers. He’s a coach, not a babysitter. I’m not trying to be insulting, but we have got to get this! I do, and you do.

I was reading in Mark 7 when I heard this deep sigh. Starting in verse 24, it tells a story about Jesus traveling to the vicinity of Tyre, just up the coast from Israel in Syrian Phoenicia (modern day Lebanon). The story goes that Jesus entered a house and tried to keep his presence there a secret. More than likely He was tired and needed to rest. But a lady found out He was there, came immediately to see Him, fell at His feet and begged Jesus to cast a demon out of her daughter. Note that she was a Greek, not a Jew, and there is some good missiology in that part of their dialog!

Now this is NOT the point, but I can’t leave it hanging either: Jesus cast out the demon remotely! In other words, sitting where He was, with the girl in another location (she didn’t come with her Mom), He cast out the demon! Awesome stuff!

But I heard God sigh.

He asked me, “Why don’t people come looking for you? You know, people who need help, when they hear that you’ve come to their area, why don’t they come looking for you?”

A few years back I would have offered what I thought was a good, rational explanation. But God has been working on me in this area, and I knew better. For the sake of being clear, let’s go there:

So many Christians would say something like this: “Well, Lord…you know…we’re talking about JESUS! You know? Son of God? All powerful? OF COURSE people came to Him! And naturally He could drive out demons from afar! Duh! But me, Lord? You know, I do good to get through the day without blowing it too bad. On the good days I might give a witness for you. That’s my role in life. You understand this, right? There are miles between what Jesus can do and what I can do! Right?”

Wrong.

Understand these principles:

1. Your God is not a haphazard God, and Jesus, while on earth, was not a haphazard Savior. EVERYTHING He did was done strategically, on purpose and done for our example. He wants us to follow His example. He wants us to do what He did!

2. If you have read the New Testament through at least once, or been to church much, you know that Jesus said “I expect you to do greater things than I have done!” Here’s the exact verse:

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” –John 14:12-14

Are you born again? The Bible says you got there by “believing in Jesus.” Jesus, above, says that the one who believes in Him WILL DO greater works than He did while on earth. It’s a simple statement. Don’t mettle with it. Don’t rationalize it away or diminish it. Jesus said you, the believer, would do “greater things.”

Why don’t we? Most of us walk around with this false humility. We think we honor God by putting ourselves down. God is “way up there,” doing crazy stuff like casting out demons remotely and raising the dead, and we’re down here just trying not to blow it today. Our thinking is so messed up!

If you’re a believer, Jesus wants you to do greater things than He did! He wants you to do those things the same way He did them. He needs for you to get this and go after it. He needs for you to grow up.

Next principle:

3. Jesus DID NOT raise the dead as God. No, no He did not! He raised the dead as a human being full of God’s Holy Spirit! Orthodox theology says that Jesus, while on earth, was “100% God, and 100% man.” Now follow me logically. You and I can never be God. Not going to happen! But Jesus just said that He expects you and I, as believers, to do greater works than He did while on earth. Are you getting this? For Him to say that, we must logically conclude that EVERYTHING He did down here, except for His work on the Cross, He did in His “100% man” state filled with God’s Holy Spirit!

For some of you, that statement is messing with your theology. Understand what I’m saying. I’m not saying Jesus wasn’t God while on earth. The whole “100% God and 100% man” thing is a mind bender. The Cross, we know clearly, is something that only Jesus could do. We cannot do “greater” than the Cross. But again, if we can NEVER be God (and that’s a fact!), yet Jesus says we will do “greater things” than He did, it means that we are able to do those “greater things” the same way He did them: as a man FULL of God’s Holy Spirit. The last thing I want to do is stumble you in your faith, so if you still don’t understand, or you think this is wrong, let’s talk some more. Leave me a note below.

Moving on…

Do you have God’s Holy Spirit? The Bible says that God delights to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask! (Luke 11:13).

(Ok, one more side trip: some Christians believe we all receive the Holy Spirit at salvation, others say you receive “the fullness” of the Holy Spirit later, when you ask. Know what? I don’t care, and I don’t think God cares what you believe about HOW you receive the Spirit…just DO IT! People have been arguing this for hundreds of years and we’re not going to finally settle it today. The important thing is that we make sure we are walking each day full of God’s Holy Spirit.)

Just think! What if? What if you really lived your life doing what Jesus did? What if you did “greater works” than Jesus did? What if people heard you were in town and came to you? Wouldn’t it be wonderful?! Can you imagine the people you could touch for the Lord? Think about the people you’re in contact with that have nobody else but you. Your pastor doesn’t know them. In some cases you may be the only Christian they know! Do you want to be that Christian that is so immature that all you can think about is getting through another day? You have nothing to offer? You can’t even pray a faith-filled prayer for a fellow struggling human being?

BIG SIGH!

No. No! It’s time to get up, throw off the lies and chains the Devil has put you in, and walk the earth like a son or daughter of God, FULL of God’s Holy Spirit, doing greater works!

It’s time.

I’ll close with one last “straw man” argument. What about pride? What about letting all this go to your head? Let me be clear: God won’t do “greater things” through you if you are taking the credit. I’ve written about this before, and you can read it here. For God’s power and anointing to rest on you, you must fully understand that it’s not because of who you are that these “greater things” are happening. No. No. No. It’s because of the Lord, and His desire to bless people, and His desire to bless people through you and through me! But we aren’t God. We will never be God. And we won’t even do “greater things” unless we get this firmly in our thinking and deep in our hearts – the John 15 principle: Jesus said, “I am the Vine, you are the branches…without Me you can do…nothing.” Let that soak in. You understand “nothing,” right?

What next? Pray for an overhaul (guys) and a makeover (girls). You and I both know how deeply ingrained our wrong thinking has become. Many of us sit under pastors who also have believed these same lies. Surrender again to God. Tell Him that you want to walk the earth like the man or woman He created you to be. Tell Him that you are eager to be useful to Him, touching all the people in your world. Not in pride, but because you’re full of His Spirit and you have GOOD STUFF to give out–His good stuff–you want people to come looking for you!!! Tell Him you want to do greater things!

Then strap in and get ready. Here it comes! And best of all…

God won’t sigh over you anymore! You know what? I want to turn His sigh into a big grin and a deep joy, as my Father sees His son doing what He created me to do! Amen? Amen. Let’s go!

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Every Morning Prayer

The Lord asked me to write an “every morning prayer” – a petition and declaration, if you will. I know in some Christian traditions written prayers are common, but for me, this is a first. I felt I should share it here. At the same time, I urge you to approach the Lord regularly with your own thoughts and words. There is power and usefulness in both types of prayer.

Good morning Lord!

It’s a whole new day, provided by Your gracious hand! Thank You for sleep and refreshment!

Your mercies are new every morning. Whether I face difficult times or joyful times today, Your mercies are new, and Your strength is sufficient for every event and every season. Without You, I can’t even get through a good day. With You, I can conquer and prevail in the worst day Hell can muster! I’m glad You’re with me!

I belong to You, Lord. All that I am is Yours. Take me. Fill me up with You. Use me for Your purposes and Your glory!

Lord, this family is Yours. Please be strong in our midst. Help us to love each other as You love us! Help us to serve each other as You serve us. I ask for Your strong hand on my wife  and each child and grandchild. We DO NOT want to stray from You even a tad! Keep us in Your ways! Please keep us in Your ways!!! These are evil days, but with You, we will stand firm until the END.

Lord, I want to walk with You today. As if You were physically back on earth, and we did everything together today…yes, I want that! Because YOU ARE here by Your Spirit! So when You speak, I want to hear. I also want to remember that You are near, so that I’m reminded to talk to You about things that need Your help and direction.

I’m grateful for the Cross, for cleansing and forgiveness paid in Your precious blood. I’m broken by my sins, and humbled by Your gracious offer of forgiveness and new life. I am so wicked, and yet You reach out to me and lift me up from the trash heap. Oh Lord, You gave it all! Thank You for rescuing one who is not worthy to even have You glance my way. Thank You for Your focused attention!

Lord, purify me. I don’t want to sin in any way. I want to walk with You, with my heart fully devoted to You. Renew my mind by Your Word and by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Change the way I think, the way I act, the way I speak, and the way I react to situations. I want to be like Jesus. Please help me! We both know for that to happen it will have to be You–all YOU!

And when I go through this day:

with my mind and heart renewed by You…

with You by my side, indwelled and empowered by the Holy Spirit…

as a son destined to be conformed to the image of YOUR SON JESUS…

with ears to hear what the Spirit is saying…

with a heart that says a quick and hearty YES to Your directions and commands…

with eyes and heart to see what You see, and do what You would do in each situation…

THEN I KNOW it will be a GREAT DAY! Then I know that You are using me to bring Your Kingdom! Then I know that Your beloved creation will be touched and ministered to, in the mighty name of Jesus! Lives will be touched and changed, because this vessel has been prepared to let You flow through! Mighty things will happen, and I will be there with You to see it happen. I am humbled, Lord. Thank You for letting me have a part in what You are doing.

Keep me today, Lord. Keep my wife and kids and grandkids. Keep us! Use us!

I love You!

Matt

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Coming ‘Home’: When Missionaries Come Off the Field

By Carla Williams

They were so vulnerable and wounded, barely able to look me in the eye. They’d gone into missions directly after college, bright with hope and the thrill of obedience. With sincere love and determination, they’d adopted an unreached people group. Thousands of dollars had been sacrificed for their language study and living […]

via Coming ‘Home’: When Missionaries Come Off the Field.

Posted in Discipleship, Following Jesus, Home church responsibilities in missions, Matthew 24:14, Missionary care, Missions, Mt. 24:14, Priorities, Serving as a "Sender", Sin, The Great Commission, Tips for New Missionaries | Leave a comment