Monday, November 21, 2005

Washing the Feet of Youth

Have you ever considered the immensity of Jesus' act of total selflessness when he washe dthe feet of his disciples? I think about some times this past summer (I love wearing sandals!) when upon removing my sandals, I had to put the shoes outside on the porch! There is nothing especially high or mighty about my feet! To get down on my hands and knees to wash the feet of anyone, even my friends, seems counterproductive to building relationships. After all conversation and time spent with the person face-to-face are the great communication aspects of growing together right?

Yet Jesus demonstrated that the disciples were important to him when he got down and washed feet at the dinner table. How strange! What did this act signify to the disciples? May I suggest some things?

1. He was not grasping at a position of superiority or dominance over others.
2. He was interested in meeting needs and modeling servanthood to the next generation of church leaders.
3. He ministered out of personal interest and affection for these men.
4. He modeled his prescription for correction and cut through their objections precisely.

What great patience as a teacher! What dedication to his students! Doug Stringer has nailed this thought when he writes:

"While men reach for thrones to build their own kingdoms, Jesus reached for a towel to wash men's feet. We must have a servant's heart toward each other and toward this generation. Only with this sacrificial attitude will we see the needed breakthroughs in the Church and in our cities, and souls added to God's kingdom."
Somebody Cares, p.93

I need to focus on being that kind of leader and example for these teens. I expect so much out of them, because I see their great potential for God. Yet do I regularly wash their feet? I need to follow Christ's example more closely. I need to have my attitude and interaction with teens stretched. Lord, increase my faith and build my ministry muscles!

Longing to be like the Master,
Pastor Mike

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Is prayer enough?

Maybe your church's prayer list is different. But ours has a portion on the bottom for the names of unsaved people. We pray often for the lost and put the names of loved ones in this category. But is prayer enough? Should we just continue to pray hoping that God will intervene in their lives in a miraculous way? I submit to you that there is another part of this equation taht we have left out -- sharing in their lives!

We must have both prayer and personal appearance in our evangelistic efforts. We must pray before we go, while we go, as we are there, and after we have left; but we must go! After all that is the great commission is it not? "Go and make disciples" (Matthew 28:19-20)

Stringer puts it very succinctly in this statement: "How will our communities be reached? By our intercession and then our intervention for the multitudes hanging in the balance of eternity." p. 51

Well said. Will we hear "well done" as well? Prayer is vital to evangelism. Let us not make it our only evangelistic effort!

As I go today, would you alert me to the need of others around me so that I might invest your glory into their lives. Help me to reconcile others to you through the grace that I show today. May these prayers and thoughts be the start, not the end of evangelism today. Help me to be intentional in my witness for you by intercessiona dn intervention. May my face shine, reflecting your glory to a dark and dying world, because I have been in your presence today.

I am praying for you as you pray for others, and I am going too!

Your fellow journeyman,
Pastor Mike

The Value of Relationship on Evangelism

I have been studying the book of 1 John again (in order to complete a writing assignment). The central tennets of the books are exactly where Stringer has placed his emphasis in Somebody Cares. He writes:

"There are so many still to be reached! Together, with each of us doing our part, we can make a difference. If we walk in a right relationship with the lord and with each other, His light will shine through us and draw people to Him." p. 51

1 John is all about bringing others to know for sure that they are forgiven and part of God's eternal family. In fact, the stated purpose of the book is found in 1 John 5:13 (NIV)

"I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life."

John's book is both evangelistic and discipling. He begins his book describing how to have this fellowship and partnership with God and with others.

"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched--this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete."
1 John 1:1-4, NIV

That 1-2 punch of fellowshipping with God and with others is the strength of the Christian faith. Without a relationship with God, our relationships with others are left to be controlled by our own special interests. This basis for relationships is doomed and destined for ruin! Without a relationship with others, our faith in God is hidden and unusable! We must have both. We must love horizontally and vertically if we are to love in either direction.

My relationship with God allows me to share that relationship with others and model that relationship in the relationships that I have with others. Wouldn't it be great if I handled allof my friendships like God deals with me? That is the goal exactly! I need divine enablement to overcome my natural self-protecting, self-promoting, self-fulfilling motivations. A perfect marriage, a perfect working relationship with my co-workers, a perfect friendship comes only through a growing relationship with God!

Here are some thought questions for us all in this area:
  1. Do I have a personal relationship with God through his son Jesus Christ? (1 Jn. 5:12)
  2. Do I spend a sufficient amount of time developing that relationship through the spiritual disciplines of Scripture memory, Bible reading, and prayer?
  3. Have I neglected my relationship with God in order to pursue a relationship with others? Or perhaps vice versa?
  4. Is my love for God and others in the category of sacrificial? (Jn. 15:13)
  5. Have I asked for God's help to use my relationships to draw others to him?
  6. Have I accepted my responsibility as a reconciler of relationships and thereby demonstrated God's reconciliation to those around me? (2 Cor. 5:18-20)

Thanks for thinking about the importance of relationship to evangelism (1 John 4:7-12). My desire is that I will live the goodness and mercy of God before others, forgiving those that offend me in the same way that God did that for me (Matthew 6:12, 14; Ephesians 4:32). There is no greater love than a man giving his life for his friends (John 15:13).

There is no greater force for evangelism in our postmodern world than that of friendship. Will you be a friend (of God and of others) for the sake of Christ and his kingdom?

Your friend,

Pastor Mike

Friday, November 11, 2005

Why I need to be a farmer

I think I have posted this before. I hate waiting! I am so success-driven that I want to see it all happen -- goal set, action taken, results recorded -- and quickly! But, as I see over and over again, it is not the rapid response that is best. It is the "established" response that is so much better. Scripture says it this way:

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness."
Colosssians 2:6-7, NIV

Paul knew that spiritual growth takes time and that like a farmer he had to be patient with that process. Faith (or at least the faithful believer) it seems is like a plant -- requiring foundation in the soil, proper roots and lots of T-I-M-E to continue to grow.

Doug Stringer wrote about that frustration of watching some of those we invest in die out anyway. He gave some great words of advice that are like a well-timed drink of water to quench the thirst. He writes:

"We may work with an individual off and on for many years before the breakthrough comes in his or her life. Sometimes we never see it. Yet no labor for the Lord is in vain. God is faithful to watch over every seed sown into a soul."
Somebody Cares, p.39

Jesus told a parable that echoes this sentiment.

"This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain--first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come."
Mark 4:26-29, NIV

I am so looking forward to harvest, especialy in the lives of the young people that I minister to. But I am in all probability reaping the benefits of someone else's planting, watering and weeding right now. So, I must just be content to do my work knowing that some of it falls on rocky soil, some on weedy soil, some on good soil. (see Mark 4:1-20)

I must say with Paul, "[I am] confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6, NIV)

Thanks for planting, watering and weeding,
with patience in the lives of young [and old] people,

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

A mission statement for Turning Point Ministries

As I mentioned before, Doug Stringer has written a book that describes his passion for ministry to young people on the streets of Houston, TX. He has included the Turning Point Ministries mission statement:

"Preparing a people for the coming of the Lord through a message of consecration, commitment, and action." p.45

He further defines each part of that mission statement this way:

"Consecration: being separated unto God, recognizing His holiness, our own unrighteousness and His grace;

Commitment: not just "romancing" God and His work but acknowledging our responsibility to obey Him and letting that knowledge provoke us to action;

Action: turning our responsibility into concrete obedience" p.45

What a great way to describe what he is trying to do and what he is encouraging others to join him in doing! Doug describes this statement as a trumpet blast, used to call others to action -- to the front. Again, while I cannot agree with all of Doug's ecumenical activity, I can agree with his premise.

In fact, I could have just as easily written these words instead of Doug. IWe are striving to the very same things with the Sr. Hi. Youth Group at Wyoming. I might say it a little differently. The goals that we are aiming at, here at WyBC, are:
  1. A personal, vibrant relationship with God through Jesus Christ
  2. A growing understanding of the Word of God, its relevance to our culture, and its direction for every area of life
  3. A passion that motivates me to tell others about the purpose, peace and promise of this relationship with God

It also fits well with my own personal mission statement: Being conformed to the image of the Son, through the power of the Spirit, to the glory of the Father.

I would love to hear/read your mission statement. How do you define what it is that God has called you to do?

Pursuing the purposes of God,

Pastor Mike