After writing yesterday’s post I feel a little guilty, a little worn, a little like I’m just too hard on this city we now currently reside in, a little like I am being misunderstood when I just want to explore who I am. This morning I decided to write all the things I’m thankful for about living in West Plains, and being specific regarding some of the wonderful people here who have shaped our lives. Then I went to church this morning, and my whole focus has changed.
The sermon was a review of what the church has focused on all year, and what we can look forward to next year, starting today. So he asked us what do we think of when we think of the word: missionary. There were your standard answers; sent, on mission, telling others about Christ, but he told us that we want to come to the point that if someone asked us this question, we should think of “myself”. This year we want to focus on ourselves as mission minded. He talked a bit about being missional where you are. I thought about yesterday’s post regarding all I miss in Utah, and how I have never felt mission minded while living here. Yes, I’ve worked as a teacher, and helper in children and youth ministries, and I’ve understood the impact this work can have. But, I have never gone out to work and thought: “I am on mission.”
We see a problem that no one else does and pray about being a solution to that problem. We have to engage in that culture, be a part of the culture. We have to get our resources and connections to help us be the solution. This can be where you have gone out as part of a short mission. It can be a place that was part of a presentation or somewhere you’ve read about. Or it can be the place right where you live. I’ve thought about this in a minor sense, that I’m here because God brought me here to learn, perhaps to be a small part of a group that helps those in need. I have never seen it in the big picture sense though: that I am here to serve as a missionary to serve Him and be that solution that no one else has seen. I understand that wherever we are that we are to be mission minded, but for some reason never considered it as a whole idea here. I’ve always thought of this move as temporary; as a step on our way to learn things then move on.
God never stops sending people out. He is always sending people on some mission or other. Always. Why should I consider the time I have here any different? God delivers people, then He sends them. Never alone: He is always with us. Here is here, with me, right now, in West Plains.
One verse that really struck my today is Jeremiah 29:7, “And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace.” This is where God has taken the nation of Israel away from their land to another, as prisoners. God tells them to seek the peace, and in the NASB it says the welfare of the city. Seek the welfare of the city, and I will have welfare. Wow. I suppose you could look at this the same way for the company you work for. Seek its peace and prosperity, pray for it, and with what it gains, I will gain as well. I never thought of that, never saw it.
I am glad the Lord works out these writings and the sermons I hear the way he does. I am a bit ashamed, but at the same time glad I can look forward to an idea that He puts in my mind. I know it is a battle to be satisfied here, but these ideas will spur me on to look positively on this city and it’s works. I hope I can bring Him glory in the things I can do for Him and through Him in the time I have left here.
The last thing the sermon covered was, we can’t be an Acts 2 Christian until we become an Acts 1 one. What that means, is that we are always seeking the fellowship of the church, the bond we have as Christians that is displayed in Acts 2:42-47, and we forget about becoming the Christian that is mission minded of Acts 1:4-8. They were baptized with the Holy Spirit, then they were sent out to be “witnesses to Me [Jesus] in Jerusalem, and in Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Then later came the bond of fellowship and community from Acts 2. Perhaps we are getting this wrong. We join a church to meet people and to have fellowship and community, and we forget our first mission: to go out. When we try to be Acts 2, we become so inward focused that we forget about our mission.
Our assignments are to meet two people and hear their story, and to pray that God would reveal to us the thing no one else sees that we can become mission minded towards. Thank you God for opening my eyes and allowing me to be brought low so I can be lifted up, and that you are sovereign, even in my writings. I will ever praise You! I even recall the fact that I will be starting the Perspectives class in January: to be more Mission Minded!
You know, I talk the big talk, but I don’t walk the big walk. I tell everyone how much we need each other, how little we become when we don’t share our lives with each other. But when it comes right down to it, I listen and absorb who Satan tells me I am, when I walk in the front door of that church, or sit down at my computer at work, or come home from work after another day of expectations unfulfilled. A really good friend tells me to say, “Yes, you’re right I am, but by the grace of God, I am…” and tell him what the bible really says about who I am. That I am a child of God, that I am redeemed, that I am united with the Holy Spirit, that I am a member of His Body, that I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realms, that I am significant and who I was doesn’t matter about who I am now. But it is such a habit, that I see the waves building and I know it’s coming in but sometimes it’s comfortable to just let the waves come over me and wash me away, and not struggle back to the beach and safety and security in His arms.
I have a friend who has been experiencing this for so much longer and with such severity, that he is unable to function with people and isolates himself. We had a fellowship group at our home tonight and he was missing. His wife said he was in one of his “moods” again. I was really wanting to see him because it has been three weeks since I have. He has been out of town and I was eager to talk about his trip. I hurt for him. I myself did not want to meet with the group tonight either. In fact it is almost every Tuesday when work is almost over and I sigh heavily in anticipation for the night ahead. I just want to go home and lay around. That is why we have this at our house. Because it forces me to, at least try to be social. It has been getting easier with this group though, for I know they love me and accept me and feel for me and encourage me to go beyond what I always feel. Just a few months ago I would sit there and say to myself the whole time, “Don’t let anything show on your face. Don’t say anything because it won’t matter. Just sit there and get through it and then they’ll be gone and you can go to bed.” But, I don’t do that anymore. By the grace of God I have humbled myself in their presence, in HIS presence, and know that I must let go of my own selfish wants to get away from people and embrace them. Thank God, thank God, THANK GOD!
I have not conquered my depression, for that is the time it will say, “Oh yeah!? You think you can get on without me? Well, we shall see. We shall see indeed.” No, this is a week to week, day to day, hour to hour struggle I face. With the struggles I have been facing at work, I am told to praise Him in these times. For He has given me the opportunity to trust in him more. In those instances my group tells me to praise Him, and I do try. But that is very hard. You can feel that struggle within, “No! I am not blessed.” “Yes you are, I praise Him for my friends” “Of which they are very few and far between, and do they really care?” “Of course they care, they Know me. I praise You for my family.” “Of which you are not a very good provider. You never had any direction. How do you get by month to month.” “God gives us exactly what we need. I praise You for giving me mercy, grace and salvation; everything I need.” Then the flesh comes back and work gets harder and expectations are ridiculous and, “How can I do any of this!?”
But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.
If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been with me, you would surely have sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen my hardship and the toil of my hands, and last night he rebuked you.
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
1 Samuel 23:14
David stayed in the desert strongholds and in the hills of the Desert of Ziph. Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands.
1 Kings 5:4
But now the LORD my God has given me rest on every side, and there is no adversary or disaster.
They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them.
But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.
To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever.But you brought my life up from the pit, O LORD my God.
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.
No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.
But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.
You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.
But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.
1 Corinthians 1:27
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
2 Timothy 2:9
for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained.
Thanks, Lysa TerKeurst for this list of “But God”s. We need to really remember these. I will be studying these for the next week or so to keep me grounded in who I am in Christ.
God may I glorify you in my life knowing that I can not do this by giving in to self. Humble me my God, and give me your grace that I may live for you.
~Stranger on this world, looking forward to the day I see Him face to face.