Wednesday, June 25, 2014

"Like P's In A Pod"

In Sunday’s sermon we introduced six areas of focus for missions, each of which begins with P. To give us a handle on all six we said we must be like “P’s In A Pod.” Since I did not have time to elaborate on each, I want to revisit three of them in this post. In my next post I will cover the other three.

Proximate Community
If we are to remain a strong missions-focused church that supports missionaries on the field, sends people on strategic short-term trips, and produces lasting fruit among the nations, we must make disciples here where we are. This is true for three reasons.

First, no one values missions unless they are growing in Jesus Christ and learning to value what he values. Most likely this will not happen unless a person is regularly in the Bible, praying, and unless they have someone else coming alongside  them to show the way. This fall we will unveil some tools that will help us be more effective helping each other grow within our Ironman/woman teams and Bible Fellowships. Typically as people grow in their understanding of the Bible and in their relationship with Christ, they will have a greater desire to make disciples and to order life by the Scriptures. This is the door to a missions-oriented life. Apart from this, people typically do not value missions.

Second, the knowledge, character, and skills picked up when people are discipled by someone else and, in turn, learn how to disciple others are the very prerequisites for reaching out to internationals in our own area  and for being the most effective on short-term trips. Such persons are essential for any missions movement within a congregation.

Third, as I mentioned in the sermon, the nations are coming to us. Hundreds of students from other countries come to the University of Nebraska in Kearney. A good number of them would love to have a home-away-from home and to learn about American life. And so, they would love to have a family or someone come along side them to befriend them from the area. Here is where what we are learning and what we are encouraging each other to do in Ironman/woman teams can serve us well. Take them with you to events, have them to your home, send them birthday cards, pray for them, and ask God to give you open doors to share Jesus Christ with them. When we win an international student to Jesus and then help establish them in the faith, we enable them to take the gospel back to their country. This is one of the most effective means of missions in our day—and it should be something in which any of us can participate.

Present Missionaries
There are a number of missionaries our church supports and also others with whom the church has connections. With each of these God has orchestrated things such that he developed the relationship with them and the congregation and also led them to the place in the world he wanted them. One of the most important ways we carry out the missions call is to care for and to support these brothers and sisters on the front lines. Every missionary needs a home church and also supporters who are praying for them, encouraging them, and helping them carry what is often a heavy load.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Wartime Missions Mentality

The following illustration of the importance of our giving ourselves to the endeavor of missions was given by the missions strategist, Ralph Winter, a number of years ago. It provides for us a great picture of the challenge we received in Sunday morning’s sermon (June 22, 2014) to be a light to the world. Read this and ask yourself the question, “Am I living by a peacetime mentality and acting like we are not engaged in a war for the souls of men, woman, boys, and girls, or am I living by a wartime missions mentality that leads me to make whatever sacrifices I need for the gospel to go to the lost?” After thinking through that question, ask and answer the question, “What must I do in order to live out a wartime missions lifestyle?”

The Queen Mary, lying in repose in the harbor at Long Beach, California is a fascinating museum of the past.  Used both as a luxury liner in peacetime and a troop transport during the Second World War, its present status as a museum the length of three football fields affords a stunning contrast between the lifestyles appropriate in peace and war.

On one side of a partition you see the dining room reconstructed to depict the peacetime table setting that was appropriate to the wealthy patrons of high culture for whom a dazzling array of knives and forks and spoons held no mysteries. On the other side of the partition the evidences of wartime austerities are in sharp contrast . One metal tray with indentations replaces fifteen plates and saucers. Bunks eight tiers high explain how the peacetime capacity of 3000 passengers gave way to 15,000 troops on board in wartime.

How repugnant to the peacetime masters this transformation must have been! To do it took a national emergency, of course. The survival of a nation depended upon it. The essence of the Great Commission today is that the survival of many millions of people depends on its fulfillment.

So, will we transform our lives from the equivalent of a luxurious cruise ship to that of a missions troop transport—utilized to carry people to Christ and win the war?