• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

Offer one’s help to another

One of the strengths of the World Team Global community, in my mind, is our willingness to reach out and offer our help to others.  This notion of community is strong among us and I, like you, have many times experienced the blessing of such service.hands-reaching-out

However, the call to ‘fall on our face’ and ‘look up’ together causes us to ask a deeper question: what is our true heart motivation for offering one’s hand to help another? 

It could be that our motivation is one that flows out of a heart that has been mastered by the Gospel; where the Gospel of grace has ‘gone downtown’ in our hearts and brought about deep transformation, leading to a godly longing to serve others.  It could be that our motivation flows out of a heart that is less discerning and tends towards seeking the value or acceptance of the other as we serve them.

It’s not my work to ‘assess’ the motivation of others.  However, it is my work to ‘assess’ my own motivation.  To do that effectively, I need the Holy Spirit and others to help me.

And it is my work to build up others by thanking them for the ministry and service they have had in my life.

Look up together

He may not have been the most photogenic (or portrait-genic) personality, but Samuel Rutherford spoke deeply to people’s souls in his day about the power of God’s love and the power of His mighty hand guiding and directing all we do.  He speaks as deeply to our souls as well today.  gl095_sm

The quote below is long, but worth the read:

How hard it is to be patient if we allow our thoughts to become stuck down among the confused rolling and wheels of second causes. By this I mean all the times we say, “If only I hadn’t been in the wrong place.  If only I had done it differently.  If only this hadn’t happened to me.”  I mean the subtle temptation to link together earthly causes and effects.  I need to fight against the temptation to accept the confused, grinding, second wheel of this logic.  The answer to this is “Look up.”  Look to the master-motion and the first wheel.  It is a petty view of our Father’s love, goodness, and wisdom that demands or expects an answer according to our desires apart from his wisdom.  We see hardly one inch of the narrow land of time. To our God eternity lies open as a meadow. It must seem strange to the heavenly people, who have reached the beautiful End, that we should ever question what Love allows to be, or that we even call prayer unanswered when it is not what we expect.”

When our hearts are tempted to focus on the here and now, on what we think we see and control in our lives and ministries; when we are tempted to consider all the “would have, could have and should have options” as if we could really make ministry work on our own, it’s time to look up.   It’s time to look up together and remember the true ‘first cause’ of all things, particularly of all things related to our ministries.

We often cite the verse, but may our hearts truly cry out that ‘without Him, we can do nothing’.

Let’s look up together:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JuZptGxcook

Fall on our faces before the Lord

I’ve always been struck by the image in the Old Testament of one ‘falling on one’s face before the Lord’.  One passage in particular that comes to mind is Ezekiel 1 where we read: “Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.”  (1:28).fall-on-one-face

I often associate such a stance of prostration before the Lord as one of fear.  Certainly, a godly fear or respect is present.  However, the act of falling on one’s face before the Lord is an ultimate sign of submission, humility and total dependence.

One blog commentator had this to say about Ezekiel’s stance before the Lord: “I wonder how our lives would be different if we began to grasp the majesty and holiness of God. I wonder how our churches would be different if, even for a moment, we glimpsed the glory of God as did Ezekiel. Not only might we fall on our faces before the Lord, but we might also be empowered afresh to serve him in every facet of our lives.”

Our mission statement states that we exist ‘to glorify God by working together to establish reproducing churches’.  We exist, we live to glorify God; to fall on our face in recognition of our total need for Him to do anything in life and ministry. That ‘falling on our face’ before Him should then thrust us out into service.

As cross cultural workers, this is our ‘clarion call’.  However, our actions often times communicate something very different.  Our actions sometimes state that we are more about building our own kingdom and value than we are about God’s kingdom.  Our actions sometimes get the message across that ministry is more about us than it is about Jesus.  Our actions sometimes are telling people that we are looking for their praise, rather than encouraging them to give praise to the God of glory!

Falling on one’s face is a picture of submission, humility and dependence.  Falling on one’s face before the Lord is also a picture of the daily repentance needed to lay aside all that in our lives takes away from His glory; it is a repentance that opens the way to receive again all He has for us in Jesus.

Stand up with me

A number of months ago, I saw this commercial online and felt it captured, in a humorous way, the struggle that many of us have in ministry calling others to join us in the vision God has placed before us.

As believers, we talk a lot about community, working together, teamwork, and learning how to carry out the ‘one another’ exhortations.  However, in practice we are at times reticent to join with others; to stand up with them.  The simple reason being that we believe we often have a better idea or better vision than the one being suggested. Instead of giving support to a vision, we prefer to evaluate and critique that direction.  Is this beginning to sound a little like a group that wandered through the desert for a number of years?

Now I’m not suggesting that we each drop the dream God may have given to each of us.  However, it is time for us as a World Team global community to stand up together and to lock arms together to fulfill the mission & vision God has given to us: Innovative teams multiplying disciples and communities of believers, bringing the Gospel within reach of lost people everywhere we go.

It’s time for us as a World Team global community to stand up together and share our resources with one another (human, prayer, intellectual and financial).  It’s time we stand up together and challenge young and old into cross cultural ministry with us.  The idea of World Team growing to 500 workers in the next five years will not happen if we don’t stand up together and mobilize together.  It’s time we stand up together and speak the Gospel to one another day in and day out so that our confidence would be in the Lord and not in ourselves.  It’s time we stand up together and live by what we say are our guiding principles and organizational ethos, and fulfill our central ministry focus.

Will you stand up together with me?

This is who we are

wt-ministry-framework-jan-2016A couple of months ago, we ‘launched’ the World Team Ministry Framework.  It’s our best attempt as a global community to describe ‘who we are’ and ‘what we do’.  You hopefully have seen this graphic or other slightly different ‘versions’ of it around World Team.  We’re trying to ‘contextualize’ this graphic to our various contexts.  However, the point is not having a ‘nice’ graphic that you and I like; the real point is calling each other to live and work in line with what we have decided best describes who God has called us to be.

We are at times better ‘word-smithers’ and discussion activists than implementers.  However, the world around us watches to see if all our ‘words’ will actually cause transformation and change in the way we work with one another, in the way we treat one another, in the way we freely forgive one another.

What should get us out of bed everyone is the call to “reach, invest in, and equip others to release them into ministry.”  Obviously, this focus centers on our primary stakeholders who are the lost (see Matthew 28:16-20).  However, this same focus should drive the way we support one another build up another, and forgive one another, so as “to release one another into ministry”.

I pray that our Ministry Framework will ‘frame’ the way I build into other’s lives and the way I reach out to those who do not yet know Jesus.

Did you say ‘passion’?

In a recent post, I asked the question as to where had our passion gone.  I started out with an example of my waning passion for training runs.

Well, the other day, while getting myself back out on a run, I jogged through a neighboring town, only to see the following sign on the front wall of an evangelical church pastored by a friend.

20160821_095113Loosely translated, it says: “A passion to share”.

Did your say ‘passion’?

There it was again, that notion of a passionate message to share that comes out of a heart that is more and more deeply rooted in our passion for Christ and His passion and love for us.

Then I came across this YouTube video by a Christian young peoples’ musical group in our area.  That was sort of the proverbial ‘icing on the cake’.  You may not understand all the words, but one of the lines in the song talks about ‘voices overflowing with passion’; a passion that flows from who He is and what He has done for us.

Passion is not something I work up.  It grows, it deepens, it bubbles up from a heart that chooses to focus its interest, affections and time on Him.

I don’t trust the plan

I have been reading the book, Nothing is Impossible: Reflections on Weakness, Faith, and Power, by Rose Marie Miller, with several colleagues.  It is the story of Rose Marie’s lifelong journey to see the Gospel worked out in very tangible ways in her everyday life and character.  Her honesty is disarming, but also strikes to the core of what plagues us the most: self.

At one point, she makes this short but telling statement: “She needs faith that God has a good, the plansovereign, wise plan for her son and the rest of the family.  Our basic problem is this: We don’t trust the plan.  We are taught by our flesh, by Satan, by our culture, even by other Christians, that we must do everything we can to avoid suffering.”

We delight in ‘being the masters of our fate’ and grate when the Lord uses situations to remind us us of how much we trust in the flesh.  We don’t like it when God uses others to re-align our plans with His.  We struggle to follow a decision our team has made or to respond graciously to a request from leadership for needed information or statistics.

Now I’m not denying the fact that some of the life situations we face, or the decisions and requests made might be worth challenging.  However, our normal reaction to these events is to question the heart intent of those involved in causing those events or making those decisions.  We reason that we would have made a better (read: ‘much wiser and smarter’) choice.

Many of us can probably remember a time when a leadership team or colleagues made a decision that we needed to get additional experience and training before moving into a new job or ministry that had been proposed to us.  We probably chafed at the ‘lack of understanding’ of these people.  However, if we look back now on that life event, we realize we struggled to ‘trust the plan’. In the long run, I’m sure that decision actually had nothing but major beneficial impact on our life and future.

In ourselves, we don’t know what is always best. However, God has given us His Spirit and He has placed you and I in a community where we can learn to discover His will for each moment and boldly walk in it.