Friday, October 15, 2010

The Key to the Missionary’s Work

He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world . 1 John 2:2

This is the simple gospel. It is not about how kind Jesus is, or that he heals..or even what He has done for me. It is about Jesus dying on the cross as a propitiation for our sins.

I have to admit that sometimes I dance around this when I share my faith with others. It happened yesterday. I met up for lunch with a girl I went to library school with. She does not know Jesus. She's very depressed, is in a bad marriage...and generally stressed out about life in general.I knew that I should somehow share Christ with her. I listened to her. Mentioned my faith vaguely. I'm afraid the conversation really amounted to nothing. How do I get to the root of the message?

The key to the missionary’s message is the propitiation of Christ Jesus— His sacrifice for us that completely satisfied the wrath of God.

A missionary is someone who is bound by marriage to the stated mission and purpose of his Lord and Master. He is not to proclaim his own point of view, but is only to proclaim “the Lamb of God.” It is easier to belong to a faction that simply tells what Jesus Christ has done for me, and easier to become a devotee of divine healing, or of a special type of sanctification, or of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. But Paul did not say, “Woe is me if I do not preach what Christ has done for me,” but, “. . . woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16). And this is the gospel— “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

My prayer today is that I will be a true missionary to my friend as well as to others. That I won't do the "share my faith dance" around the key message.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Sphere of Ministration

He said to them, "This kind [of unclean spirit] can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting" Mark 9:29

A quote from Chambers just to start us off:
We can remain powerless forever, as the disciples were in this situation, by trying to do God’s work without concentrating on His power, and by following instead the ideas that we draw from our own nature.

I think I am guilty of doing this very thing quite a bit. My own nature is flawed. I am not a perfect person. That imperfection gets in the way of serving Jesus. I get "weary" of people. I have to admit this. I am quite the introvert and sometimes I find it just easier to go away by myself. Then I don't have to deal with loving them the way the Lord calls me to. When I go away by myself, I do things for myself-like read, or take a walk, or surf the net. Jesus sometimes got away by Himself-but not for himself. He would go away to pray, seeking to get closer to his Father. He would go away because He was loving people the way He was supposed to. He was empowered by His Father to serve.

Another quote:
Your duty in service and ministry is to see that there is nothing between Jesus and yourself. Is there anything between you and Jesus even now? If there is, you must get through it, not by ignoring it as an irritation, or by going up and over it, but by facing it and getting through it into the presence of Jesus Christ.

Is there something between Jesus and me? I am currently examining myself to answer this question. I aim to get through whatever it is.

We must be able to “mount up with wings like eagles” (Isaiah 40:31), but we must also know how to come down. The power of the saint lies in the coming down and in the living that is done in the valley.

I don't always like living in the valley...but that is where I am called to live. My retreat is on the mountaintop, but he has built my house in the valley for me to dwell in and live in...and love people in. That is when I am forced to call upon Him for help.

Chambers was so good today that I just wanted to quote the whole thing. I'll end with his final thought:
Can I face things as they actually are in the light of the reality of Jesus Christ, or do things as they really are destroy my faith in Him, and put me into a panic?

Photo of my husband and daughter on Mt. Cardigan, NH.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Sphere of humiliation

"...but if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us." Mark 9:22

Today we talk about the valley of humiliation after being on the mount. How fitting after a week like mine. I have been doing my practicum at a primary school nearby under the supervision of a school librarian who has been doing her job for about 20 years. Last week I was on the high. My lessons went really well, I was smart and savvy and knew I could be a great school librarian some day. Then this week started. Blunder after blunder after blunder! By Wednesday I started wondering if I had made a mistake in trying to do this job. I even had a nightmare that practicum was a disaster and that my supervisor had called UB because of some serious issues with me. Luckily I woke up and was able to regroup when I realized that things weren't all that bad.

I'm thinking that this is the way the disciples felt after that mountaintop experience. They came down...and faced a big blunder when they couldn't cast an evil spirit out of a boy who was brought to them by a desperate father. I'm sure the disciples were thinking, "Am I cut out for this job? Has Jesus made some sort of mistake in choosing me." Nope. He chose them and I'm quite sure that he was well aware of the big challenge facing them when they came down from the mountain. In fact, I think it was all part of the plan.

Some quotes to think about from Chambers:
We see his glory on the mount, but we never live for his glory there. It is in the sphere of humiliation that we find our true worth to God, that is where our faithfulness is revealed.

"If thou canst do anything..." It takes the valley of humiliation to root the skepticism out of us.

When you were on the mount, you could believe, but what about the time you were up against facts in the valley?

Image Source: Picture of Death Valley by Ken Lund, Creative Commons flickr