“If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always gotten.”
There is a principle that states: “If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always gotten.” Maybe you have heard this before. We live in a chaotic world with regular mass shootings, police brutality, countries rattling swords and other countries, and world-wide bigotry. There is no peace. Purpose for living seems allusive. And that seems to be the very theme I encounter in ministering to others. People young and old are searching for purpose and peace. And there seems to be no end to the different avenues people take trying to obtain what they want.
Just recently a young [30ish] Christian man [I’ll call him Joe] contacted me wanting help. His complaint was that he was under spiritual attack and depressed. I knew Joe was part of a ministry in the church we both attend. I asked him what he tried to do about it and he said that he would go and have the prayer team pray over him and that seemed to help, and he would feel better for a while. But then it would start all over again. The other thing Joe said he was doing was spending time with friends into wee hours of the morning talking and talking, trying to understand why this was happening. I asked him how that helped, and he could not answer me.
We set up a day to meet at a local coffee shop and he picked 8AM as the time. 8AM came and went and finally at 8:15 I called him. No answer. Then about five minutes later Joe called me, profusely apologizing and said he would be there in 20 minutes if I could wait. I did. He said he slept through his alarm because he had been out with friends talking till two or three in the morning. We set up second meeting and the same thing happened and no meeting. I tried one more time with the same outcome; same reasons and no meeting.
Later that week I sent him a text with this question: “Are you allowing God’s enemy to rob you of the very things you desire?” Then I shared this verse: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” [2 Timothy 2:15 ESV] Then I asked him if he was spending any time in the Word daily. He said he did not really have time.
We talked about “not having time” to spend time with Jesus. We have time for other important and not so important things. I shared with him that there was only one primary source for understanding how to live as Christ-follower. Sure, friends are important, but they are a secondary resource.
The one mistake that young Christians make is not understanding the concept of discipleship. Listen to this Olympic Champion Eric Lindell: “You will know as much of God, and only as much of God, as you are willing to put into practice.” Guess what? Becoming like Jesus can only happen with practice and listening directly to God as the primary source. “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” [Hebrews 4:11-12 ESV]
So “Joe” … if you want to get out of the crazily repeating cycles in your life, you might want to change what you are doing. Just a thought …
McDonald’s has 1.7 million workers worldwide; the Church has only 400,000 missionaries. It’s not a lack of resources, but hardened hearts.
Something worth reposting from OM World Bytes by Lawrence Tong, O.M. International Director:
I recently read a study that estimated that today’s total Bible-believing missionary force is approximately 400,000 men and women among over 6.4 billion people who have yet to confess Jesus as Lord and Saviour (including nominal Christians and sects)—one missionary for 16,000 unreached people! Frankly, that is depressing and unacceptable. McDonald’s has 1.7 million workers worldwide; the Church has only 400,000 missionaries. It’s not a lack of resources, but hardened hearts. The great need, anywhere in the world, is for ‘ordinary people’ to share the good news among neighbours.
When Jesus said that the harvest is great but the workers are few, He did so at the pinnacle of His ministry and popularity (Matt. 9:37). Today millions are turning to Christ, often from least-expected areas. A pastor told me that 5,000 Muslims were coming to faith in Christ every week in Indonesia. It took 2,000 years to grow the Christian population to four per cent; in the last 60 years, we have leapt to twelve per cent. If that doesn’t amaze us and spark a reflex, we need to ponder why. You might say that the harvest is plentiful, but our response is pitiful.
Highlighting the harvest and need for workers, Jesus’ command was clear: Pray. My first introduction to the classic OM prayer meeting was in 1977. A group returning from serving with OM invited me to a small room, where I joined 30 others. The leader gave out a set of 52 simple prayer cards, saying that everyone should take a few and then pray aloud for the needs of those nations. Never had I dreamt of doing such a thing and I can’t remember the countries I prayed for. But the attitude of the group was life-changing for me: They prayed fervently in expectation that God would change the world through prayer. We need to bring that kind of prayer meeting back.
In a past era, teams would only advance through prayer and sacrifice. In place after place, there would be strong resistance, and so we waited on God. Of course it was not easy. Of course we had to be willing to encourage one another to keep praying, keep thinking about lost and suffering people. Of course we understood that our own needs paled in comparison and that God was in charge anyway. Is it time to capture that again? Of course it is.
O.M. International Director.
How much is one human being worth? How much value can be assigned to one individual?
How much is one human being worth? How much value can be assigned to one individual? Is a person’s importance a factor in assigning worth to a human being?
Each one of us is of immeasurable value to God because our lives belong to Him; He created us whether we choose to believe it or not. There is no human measuring device that can assign some numerical value to an individual life. Life insurance places a value on our lives; the more money we pay into the policy the more we are worth. No paid in, no worth assigned. If we cannot assign a value to life, then maybe we need an outside source to help us.
Most of us are not career practitioners in the life saving business on the street or in hospitals. By that I mean we are not on the front lines of life and death situations like firemen, emergency room personnel, police or first responders in ambulances. The inherent motto of their profession is “all people are of the same value and worth saving.” Regardless of how they ended up in that circumstance they are given life saving aid, at least in America. However, in some other countries, life saving professionals may not be so inclined if the victim is racially or politically different.
When we think of life saving, we generally think of someone who is at death’s door due to an accident. But there is another type of life saving that is less dramatic unless one is aware of the dramatic yet unseen consequences of not rescuing that person. It is one thing to see the physical danger and act in a life saving manner accordingly. It is another to affirm the value of others and verbally or physically bless them. We fight to save lives. Do we have the same attitude as Jesus and refuse to be OK with wasted life, sacrificing our lives for others. All of heaven celebrates joyfully when one life is rescued. This celebration points to the value we have to God.
The Spirit of God reminded the Prophet Ezekiel that “Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine …” God is the Supreme Creator. He values us far above human valuation systems. Doubtful? Look at what He accomplished through the cross and how that communicates our value through His rescue of us. Paul reminds us that “God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—” Think about that for a moment. ‘Even when we were dead’ to God; even when we wanted no part of God or what He stood for, He had a plan and it was not to abandon us. Because we have inestimable worth to God, He counts us worth the death of His son Jesus to save us.
This give us a clue as to why Jesus made it a point that it was not just loving God that was important but at the same level we are to love our neighbor. “… you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” [Mark 12:30-31] Think about the last seven days. When did you take the opportunity this week to mentally give the benefit of the doubt to someone or verbally bless him or her?
All too often we fail to see those around us as God sees and values them. Luke the doctor turned historian quotes Jesus: “I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” I read this and I wonder how serious do I take Jesus’ words? I want to make a difference and experience the reality of the heavenly celebration of the rescue of those in your world … my ‘neighbors.’
Being other-centric is hard to do consistently individually, much less for a church. It is much easier for both to institute and follow rules for controlling people’s lives. I like to be connected to churches that want to intentionally reach people who do not go to church. I like being a part of a church that looks out at those people who are outside of the church looking in. Jesus made disciples of all sort of people – people that society would normally ignore. Jesus embodied the good news of salvation and restoration to God’s kingdom. That is what we are to be about, inviting people looking in, people of all sorts regardless of their social or economic status.
Jesus was deeply passionate about setting the stage to be able to invite people to “do life with God.” And that is what we should be about as well. Biblically based Christianity is a life that is not about rules but about relationship. Church should be a place where we can bring our friends, family and any others that are far from God. I think that we have lost the concept of the original church that started in the marketplace. We tend to only invite to church those that appear to be a fit for our church. With that attitude goes the hope that they will get a taste of what life with God will be like and help them move toward a better understanding of who and what God is all about.
What direction are you taking in 2013?
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 NASB)
This is the greatest motivation speech ever given by a man. Millions upon millions of people and uncountable monetary and material resources have been mobilized by this single speech given over 2000 years ago.
Jesus gathered around Himself a ragtag group of twelve men, and together they changed the world. After He died and rose again, those same disciples gathered around them other men and women, who were much the same kind of ragtag people, kept multiplying down through the centuries and are still changing the world today!
Without God’s direct intervention in our hearts our lives are reflective of ocean tides … they’re constantly changing. We as humans change our standards and make our talk and actions match what is currently culturally expedient. All during human history, God has not changed His standard for acceptance. All during human history, God has not changed His message. All during human history, God has not changed His methods of restoration or transformation. God does not change. “Jesus the same yesterday today and forever.”
That is the best news for the new year. There are those who are waiting to hear the Good News. If you have given your heart to Jesus then He has given you, as His disciple the authority to go. In our multicultural nation, other nations and cultures are waiting, just outside your doorstep. Will you go, just as you are, as Jesus commanded? God is eager to share His love but He only does it through ordinary folks like us. Go!
Here in America, the popular world view is that there is no spiritual dimension because it cannot be explored by the five senses…therefore it does not exist. We do talk about “spirituality” but this is something that we generate within ourselves. We see external spiritual activity as an aberrant mind at work. This cultural mindset seems to run counter to what is common knowledge in other parts of the world.
To a large degree, Africa understands that there is an invisible world comprised of spirits that constantly need to be appeased. Spirits that are offended and are out to destroy possible can be appeased when the right mixtures of fearful appeasement rituals are carried out. They experimentally know that there are spiritual forces at work all around us. They know that evil spirits working in darkness control the physical world we live in. They have a hope that somehow good will overpower evil but they have no clue how to access that power. This is what makes sharing the Gospel in most of Africa so exciting. There is unbelief as anywhere in the world. But it is focused on whether God can overpower the spirits surrounding their lives…Not on whether there is a God.
Col 2:15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
Imagine 200,000 men gathered to worship, pray and learn from God’s Word. The picture you see is one that I took during one of the sessions under an open sky. You can only see about a third of the men there. The rest are on the other side of the hill out of sight.
When the 200,000 shouted “Amen” it echoed off the hills across the valley about 2 miles away.
Can you think of any time in recent American history where 200,000 men gathered under the banner of Jesus Christ…I can’t!
Wow! Praise God! Our car cost us less than R600 [$60] to fix. All it needed to fix its constantly dying was a new battery. Batteries do not last more than about two years here…even top of the line products. The original battery was just over two years old.
I told my co-workers last week during some prayer time that ever since I acquired the car I have wanted to blow it up because it has cost me too much. It is a true P&P missionary car…Pray & Push.
Recently I have had an interesting insight. This car is being used by Father as a “forming tool” not unlike those used in forming clay objects. He has been forming prayer habits in us. Now I am not so sure that I want to part with the car…not because it is a good car or my having any sentimental value toward it…but it keeps me aware that it is God who brings good things into my life and not my cleverness. God is faithful to continue what He has started, both in my life and my work here in South Africa. The KEY to experiencing this faithfulness is my implicit trusting Him. God has no reason to prove Himself to me nor is He obligated to do so. I must learn to come to Him as a child expecting Him to take care of me.
Did you ever notice how many casualties there are in prominent Christian leadership positions?
Paul knew this. “I fear that after having preached to others, I myself might be declared unfit and asked to stand aside” (1CO 9:27)
There are many who aspire to leadership. They think that obtaining this goal that there it will be an arrival to a safe haven. Think again. Leaders…especially Christian leaders…and more especially Christian leaders in the lime light are men that are marked by the Enemy. They are vulnerable to spiritual attack and failure. Prominence and visibility are hazards of leadership, not benefits. The price is high.
Preparation for leadership involves a lot of weeping and painful testing. Heb 5:7-8 “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.” We experience this as part of the Holy Spirits curriculum to stand the fierce pressures that befall a leader.
Christian leadership is not glamorous; it is warfare. We as Christ ones are at war with Satan and the world. We can be misunderstood by family members. We can be misunderstood by friends. We can be misunderstood by fellow-Christians. As if this is not enough we are exposed to often times being criticized by people motivated by jealousy or fear.
Elijah – “I‘ve had enough, he told the Lord. Take my life. I’ve got to die sometime, and it might as well be know” (1 Kings 19:1)
No doubt about it. There is a price to pay to being a leader. If the preparation seems hard , just remember that the pressures that go with prominent leadership will be much harder than the training that got you there in the first place.