This from Lena:
We have been enjoying a fresh season these last 8 months of seeing a baby church take shape! We are part of an international team of missionaries who are working together to sort out the difficult task of forming our identity as a church and how we present it. One of the great joys of this process is seeing people come to Christ and being witnesses to the transformation that is taking place—and also the great responsibility we have to correctly present the Kingdom of God to these baby believers! As I have specifically focused on the Kingdom of God in my recent studies, here are a few scripture points that have stuck in my heart. I wanted to share them with you, too!
In the Kingdom of Heaven…
Mark 1:15 Repentance is a precursor for citizenship. We can paint things as pretty as we like, we can try to de-uglify sin and make it sound as though they have just made an oversight until now….but if the recognition of our own sinfulness is not there, followed by sincere repentance, we run the risk of misrepresenting the gospel. I remember being 18 at an Amy Grant concert, trying to convince myself that I was fine—that my dark little teenaged soul didn’t need rescuing (yeah-back then there was an altar call after an Amy Grant concert! And tracts on the way in!). It was a horrible experience. I was so glad to finally walk that humiliating walk to the altar and lay my burdens down. We need to not cheat others of the revelation of their own sin and need for a root change of heart.
Luke 11:20 Demons gotta go. I am not sure why, recently, we have had so many encounters of the demonic kind—but we have had many in the last 8 months. I think it is interesting that demons can even sit through a sermon politely, but once the individual starts doing serious business with God, demons get pretty angry about the breach of contract. At first, I wanted to try to make sense of the fact that in 20 years or more of ministry, I have not seen anywhere near the consistent appearances I have seen in the last 8 months. Now, I sort of wonder what was wrong before, that they were comfortable to hang out around me. Perspective!
Luke 9:2 Citizens of the Kingdom of God are supposed to be praying for the sick! I have heard testimonies galore of healings and I have been present for some healings…but I want a lot more. I think we should be totally going for it. I have heard that Heidi Baker became determined to just keep praying for healings until she saw them up close. She prayed for hundreds before seeing anything. I don’t want to quietly accept sickness. If we don’t ask, we won’t receive.
Matt 21:31 Audacious sinners of the past who are now obeying Christ passionately are entering the Kingdom quicker than good religious talkers. I think we all better take note of this one. What a dangerous place it is to be where you know how to play the game all too well; that is, to make people think you are on Jesus’ speed dial, when you are just playing a game. It doesn’t matter if you are a missionary, pastor, worship leader, or the church’s accountant. Obedience is where the blessing is—in the secret place, where nobody knows what you are doing. But someone does. And we are not talking about yesterday. Today. Now.
Matt. 13: 1-23 You’ve got to sow a lot of seed to get some of it to stick. People are hindered from entering the Kingdom by a variety of things—sometimes they are just blind to the truth because they are so lost in sin and haven’t been made desperate enough yet for an alternative. These folks are the blank stares and social smiles we get when we try to evangelize. Then there are those you have a good conversation with, but it goes nowhere. It may not have been because you did a horrible job—which you might have. But even the fact that you were trying calls them to wake up to their real need. I am convinced that a lot of people don’t let on that they know Jesus is real because they know life is going to change radically the minute after they give their life to him. Let’s not lie—that is very true. You might lose your friends, your addictions (those are DEFINITELY gonna have to go), your comforts, or even your job. All this to say—sowing is hard work, and you don’t have any control over the soil you are preaching to. The only thing we can control is how much seed we scatter. Let’s scatter a LOT.
Matt 13:31-2 Some of that seed you scattered is going to surprise you with how big and well it grows. If you scatter enough seed, you are going to get to see some folks really explode. Maybe they will even pass you! In our later years of campus ministry, Bill used to tell our university students that they were his last hope for greatness! He said it jokingly, but he meant it. “Grow as far as you can grow little seed! Pass me up!” That should be our heart for all we nurture in Christ.
Matt 13: 24-30 You don’t really know who’s who until the end. I suspect that this dynamic is a little like reading our donors list. We realized long ago, and with great humility, that some of the sweetest little ladies on Social Security are the most faithful and have been the longest, steadiest supporters. I think it will be that way at the final judgment. I try to warn myself periodically to not become Miss Fancy Pants Missionary—because there may be some rude awakenings at the end, if I see some surprises up ahead of me in line!
I hope this list at least gave you something to think on. I am so thankful for the opportunity to help form a new church and disciple the new citizens. Blessings to all of you!
|One of our sweet young believers giving her testimony of how the Lord has been changing her life!|