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Mission Trips aren’t as important as Missional Living (2 of 2)

July 28, 2010

What barriers stop us from living every second like we’re on a mission trip? What gets in the way of us loving others constantly to God? Well, I thought of a handful (read last week’s blog), and here are the rest:

WE DON’T HAVE TIME.

We’re hyper-scheduled and overbooked, working sixty to seventy hours a week to bring home the proverbial bacon. All this work leaves little time for band practice, book clubs, sporting events, church meetings, and some of you are crazy enough to go back to school! Oh, and then there’s of course “me” time. To quote from the Veggie Tales’ “Good Samaritan” cartoon, “We’re busy, busy, dreadfully busy. You’ve no idea what we have to do. Busy, busy, shockingly busy. Much, much too busy for you.”

WE’VE GOT BAGGAGE.

Our hearts and minds are burdened by internal conflict. I feel the4 guilt many times of living in varying degrees of comfort while my peers half a world away dress in rags and eat dust. On this side of the world, I am so tired and beat down at times that I choose not to share the freeing gospel I have inside with those around me in my community who need to be freed. My baggage keeps me from loving those around me. We constantly wonder whether we are driven to serve out of guilt (a longing for warm fuzzies; a hero-complex to validate our otherwise spoiled lives) OR – as it should be, we serve through a genuine, selfless, long-suffering love.

WE’RE CONFLICTED BY OUR CYNICAL ALTER EGOS.

We are still too selfish. We’re still full of pride at times. We hoard and waste and miss countless opportunities – all b/c we’re at the center of our own hearts, not Jesus. We need a revolutionary love to take over our hearts first, before we can allow God’s love to take over the world. Before we can use God-ordained weapons of love, charity, peace, and willful self-sacrifice, these things must reign in our hearts first.

God can eradicate the world’s pain that surrounds us all in His time. But while we’re here on this earth, we can each fulfill His ultimate command to love our neighbors as ourselves. Go live a missional life. Don’t just go to church be the church in all you do.

Zach

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July 28, 2010 Posted by | Zach | Leave a comment

The Cloak

July 22, 2010

Yesterday for Danielle and me it was twenty years together in marriage. As I have taken time to look back over the past twenty, it has been an amazing journey. God has done some amazing things through us together. I can not imagine life without her and can not explain why my heart leaps when I see her, just like when we first dated. I don’t like the time when we are apart and look forward to seeing her each day. God has blessed me with her. She is my bride, my friend, my protector, my supporter, and my team. I know that when we get God and the two of us together we can move mountains. I know that at any moment she would do whatever to fulfill my needs, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. She has always been in my corner and will continue for the next twenty.

As we wrap up 2 Timothy we read in chapter 4:9-18. God has given so many different people in Paul’s life. Some of these were faithful in their commitment to their relationship with him and others not so much. Paul is very specific during his personal conversation. He is again reminding Timothy where he needs to be on guard and to not allow anger or judgment to be held over some others. It gets down to verse 13 that I really found humor and understanding on how close their relationship to each other. I can see that Timothy is willing to do whatever Paul needs; I am not exactly sure why Paul needed to have Timothy get his cloak. Some commentators suggest the jail was cold and winter was due soon. Similarly Paul was anticipating his death so much so that he was looking forward to being released from every evil attack and brought into the Heavenly Kingdom. The cloak and his papers still made me think and then I realized just how close a relationship they had. They were so close that Timothy would be willing to stop off and get a cloak, some papers, and Mark.

Similarly to my wife, I know that she will do whatever my I need her to do, she will go to great lengths for me no matter how insignificant someone feels it is. She loves me enough that she is willing to do the really simple tasks. Paul could rely on Timothy for the simple stuff the really personal things. It was at the cloak that I finally understood that Timothy was not just Paul’s apprentice but a very dear friend. God can do some amazing things with us, but how much more can He do if we do it with others. We all need that friend that is willing to do whatever it takes, no matter how insignificant it may seem. To live your life out loud for Him is better to allow God to give you a friend to help you along your journey.

Your friend,

Mark

July 22, 2010 Posted by | Mark | | Leave a comment

Mission Trips aren’t as important as Missional Living (1 of 2)

July 21, 2010

As you read this, I’m currently leading a mission trip in the 3rd world country of Ecuador. We are building basic homes in the jungle, painting school classrooms that have been rundown, loving on orphans, hugging the elderly, and doing all of this b/c of one reason: We believe love conquers over all broken and ugly things. We’ve sacrificed money, time, comforts – all to express Jesus to those who need to see His love. But if we don’t do the same back home, this is all in vain. Mission trips are great, but missional living is what we’re destined for.

If God is love, and we are made in His image and likeness, surely there is enough love in this world to wipe away every tear that falls from the eyes of those afflicted by pain, hunger, ware, or some other misery.

I was thinking the other day, What barriers stop us from living every second like we’re on a mission trip? What gets in the way of us loving others constantly to God? Well, I thought of a handful, and some are below and the other half of our selfish reasoning will be displayed next week:

WE’RE QUICK TO RESPOND, BUT ALSO QUICK TO FORGET.

We, especially my generation, are moved by intense, dramatic displays of horror and injustice. And we may be willing to open up a vein and start giving until our blood is drained, but only for a few days. Then the memory fades as quickly as our favorite cable news network jumps to another rest of news alerts, and for us, life moves on to more present and exciting things. I mean, when is the last time you prayed for Haiti? The earthquake is only 5 months old.

WE’RE MEDIA-MOVED PEOPLE.

I don’t know about you, but if I see a movie depicting the horrors of genocide, I’m only as soon as the credits rool wanting to make a donation to www.genocideintervention.net. We witness reporters in a foreign land filled with hunger and we vie to come with suitcases full of food. But we do not have this love and inspiration to love those around us. We aren’t compelled to take our emotional hurting co-worker out to lunch just to love on them. We’re moved by the media, not by the heart of Christ.

WE WILL GIVE FREELY, AS LONG AS IT DOESN’T HURT.

Like the law-abiding rich young man in Matthew 19 who wanted to do “good,” we struggle to give up our own comfort to heed the call of Christ; we’re constantly looking for easy and/or indulgent ways to give. But as Mother Theresa said once, “I hope you are not giving only your surplus. You must give what costs you, make a sacrifice, go without something you like, that your gift may have some value before God. Then you will be truly brothers and sisters to the poor who are deprived of even the things they need.”[1]

Stay tuned next week for the other three reasons why we purposefully choose to not live a life full of mission everyday.

Zach


[1] Jose Lui Gonzales-Balado and Janet N. Playfoot, eds., My Life for the Poort (San Francisco: Harper and Row Publishers, 1985), 32.

July 21, 2010 Posted by | Zach | | 1 Comment

The Christian’s Continual Boxing Match – Round 10 of 10

July 14, 2010

Gospel vs. Religion

I’m a good Christian. I hear that a lot. What they’re really saying is, I follow the rules. I worship the rules. Too many Christians have turned religion into an idol. The reason that idolatry is so alluring is that idols promise to make life worth living, bring us happiness, and provide for us and sense of being good. All of these desires are fine, but they become evil when they become our focus, rather than Jesus, who alone makes life worth living[1]. For many, it seems that control, comfort, and quiet are the idols many people are devoted to worshipping. We have elevated many things to a god-like status that aren’t really God-like at all. Over the next 10 weeks, I’d like to make aware the 10 differences between God’s truth (gospel) and the Christian’s idol (religion).

Round 10 of 10

Religion strives after power through one’s own self-righteousness.

Gospel strives after power through the cross of Jesus, and through an empty tomb.

The Bible repeatedly says that God is righteous in everything He does, and that there is no one righteous but Him alone (Psalm 11:7; Isa. 45:21; Daniel 9:14). To clarify, the Bible uses the word “righteous” to show that God is straight, right, sinless, just, holy, perfect, and good.

As His image bearers, human beings were also made righteous, or what Genesis 1:31 calls “very good” and what Ecclesiastes 7:29 calls “upright”. But since the sins of our original parents, Adam and Eve, unrighteous living has been done by everyone who has walked this earth, except for Jesus Christ, the Author of the Gospel.

The good news of the Gospel is Jesus Christ, not self. Jesus is our glorious eternal God who humbly became a human being as the second Adam; He came to create a new humanity by taking back through obedience all that was lost through the sin of the first Adam, according to 1st Corinthians 15:45.

On the cross, the righteous Jesus died in our place as a substitute for us unrighteous sinners as 1 Peter 3:18 says: For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.

All in all, religion takes one further away from God. The Gospel always brings people closer to God. The Gospel knocks out religion as God still continues to pursue the world through the message of Good Friday and Easter Sunday. May our lives do the same in all we do.     

Zach


[1] Driscoll, Mark, Death by Love, pg. 93

July 14, 2010 Posted by | Zach | | Leave a comment

it!

A while ago, when I was in junior high school, I remember a teacher of mine that taught the process of the “big bang” and carbon dating. Though I did not really have a care at that time the difference from the “big bang” theory and a Creator. One thing that stands out in my mind now is that he told our class that they were theories. I never knew what his stance was but, he put doubt in both. This doubt was important for me to decide confidently on my Creator when I fell in love with Him.
In II Timothy 4:1-8 “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” Paul is reminding us to always lead our life and to be ready to represent the Word at all times.
Most importantly to be ready with the Word to use it patiently and carefully. As with all that we do we must use His standards to lead it, live it,learn it, and teach it. Stand firm on the Word, never leave it behind, don’t water it down, and use it confidently. We will be challenged to walk away, not speak the truth or provide only half of the truth. The truth is not always fashionable or warm and fuzzy, it can hurt, but that should allow us to grow. Grow in Him!
Re-read verse 8, lead with the Word, preach the Word, live the Word, and learn the Word. Be completely ready to let go and live your life out loud for Him!
Love ya,
Mark

July 8, 2010 Posted by | Mark | | Leave a comment

The Christian’s Continual Boxing Match – Round 9 of 10

July 7, 2010

Gospel vs. Religion

Round 9 of 10

I’m a good Christian. I hear that a lot. What they’re really saying is, I follow the rules. I worship the rules. Too many Christians have turned religion into an idol. The reason that idolatry is so alluring is that idols promise to make life worth living, bring us happiness, and provide for us and sense of being good. All of these desires are fine, but they become evil when they become our focus, rather than Jesus, who alone makes life worth living[1]. For many, it seems that control, comfort, and quiet are the idols many people are devoted to worshipping. We have elevated many things to a god-like status that aren’t really God-like at all. Over the next 10 weeks, I’d like to make aware the 10 differences between God’s truth (gospel) and the Christian’s idol (religion).

Round 9 of 10

Religion leads to a life full of pride, or a life full of despair.

Religion cannot work in one’s life because it either leads to pride (behaving well) or despair (behaving poorly). If you base your life on trying to earn salvation, or God’s approval, through moral conduct and religious devotion, you will live in pride or in despair.

Religious people have a long list in their mind of what kind of person God loves (a good person) and they make it their life ambition to do their moral duties and prove to God that they love Him by what they do. If they do their mental list well, they become arrogant and have little compassion for people who struggle with sin. The hard truth for all of us, even me, is that pride is the worst sin of all. Our culture loves “self-esteem” and labels pride a virtue, but please don’t forget that pride is what got Satan’s tail kicked out of heaven. Satan’s example shows that pride can keep my tail out of heaven if I fail to repent and fail to revolve my life around Gospel principles.

On the other hand, religion leads to despair for those with the humble honesty to admit they don’t fully obey God’s law, and they also don’t live up continually to the little rules they’ve made up that aren’t in the Bible. No matter how hard they try, they never quite measure up to Jesus’ standard of perfection given in Matthew 5:48. Not only this, but a religious person’s spouse and kids will live in despair under this pressured example.

Gospel leads to a humbly, confident, joyous life full of obedience.

The Gospel teaches us that righteousness is not our own, but rather a gift from Jesus because of His work on the cross, which will lead into our final topic next week. Updated score: Gospel: 9, Religion: goose egg.

Zach


[1] Driscoll, Mark, Death by Love, pg. 98-99

July 7, 2010 Posted by | Zach | | Leave a comment

Graduate?

July 1, 2010

I can not believe it is July. Danielle and I have been in preparation for this time for 18 years now, our oldest going off to college. She is an amazing young woman of God with a passion to live her life for Him. So next month as we get all the supplies ready and take her to school at the end of August, I struggle with the thought that we have provided her with all that she needs to know. Is she ready to go? Have we effectively prepared her to be out in this world without the parents God has entrusted her with? Am I just at a point to say “well—go with God—I hope I did not mess up too much?” It is not my confidence that I am looking for but her confidence that she should rely on.

In Second Timothy 3:10-17 we read of Paul’s charge to Timothy. This is kind of a wrap up session for them, mostly a reminder of what has been taught along the way. As I desire to make sure that Allana is prepared to go, I have no doubt that before she leaves we will remind her of her commitments, beliefs, and challenge her to live her life completely for Him—in all ways, beginning with the simple understanding that all Scripture is from the breath of God Himself. The hard talk will be that she needs to discern what is being presented to her to be truly from God and not from man or man’s abuse of scripture. The hardest part of letting go will be knowing now that any of her persecutions that lie before her will be without us around.

Yes I am excited for her, I want to charge her to go and live a life for Him. But, is she ready to experience this world without us? I tearfully say that she is. She has been exposed to the Word from infancy, she is ready to use it, live it, apply it, and lead it. This is what Paul was telling Timothy—you’re ready! As I think of what I am experiencing and living and reading from what Paul is stating, are we all ready? Have we kept growth from happening—to not take on—what God is expecting from us? Learning and living for Him is simple but has to be done. Today make it a point to allow God to show you what you need to do and to get past the limits that we have put on our self and allow God to be seen through us.

Love ya,

Mark

PS. Allana, I am so very proud of you.

July 1, 2010 Posted by | Mark | | 1 Comment