mission: just act already!

Category : mission

If there’s one thing that most Christians struggle with, it’s finding their mission in life.  When we become followers of Jesus our whole worldview changes.  For many of us it means that we just aren’t satisfied pursuing wealth, fame, or recognition.  And if that’s where our jobs were heading, we find ourselves feeling very empty about our work.

But this presents a problem.  God doesn’t always give us a clear mission.  At least not in the sense that we’re looking for.  God doesn’t always say, “yes marry this person.”  “No, don’t take that job offer.”  Sometimes he does, but a lot of times he gives us the freedom to choose.

In this series on mission I’ve talked a bit about how we go about finding our mission. While many of us may never have a specific mission some of us will. I didn’t realize it at first but R3blog.net was my specific mission.  However that came with its own challenges.  The first, and biggest, was what do I call this blog!?

I spent hours.  Days.  Maybe even months agonizing over the name.  I knew I was supposed to start a website and talk about what it means to live out a life of faith.  I just didn’t know what that looked like.  And I certainly didn’t know how to name something.  I figured if God was calling me to something I should make it perfect.  After many hours I eventually decided on R3blog.net.  I thought it was amusing. (I used to say R3: Radical, Revolutionary, Different – and the “D” was the third “R” and it was different because it wasn’t an “R”.  Don’t worry, no one else thinks it’s funny either...)  But I realize now that all it does is confuse people!  Apparently I am not a branding genius.

Yet I believe God was more pleased with me acting than coming up with a clever name.  (Of course I’m endlessly jealous of well named blogs like “got-fruit.net”.)  But for me, my mission has never been about naming things.  I don’t think this blog would be any better (or worse) if I had chosen another name.  The act of faith was in the act of starting a blog, not in the act of naming the blog.

And you know what?  After all this time, I still don’t know what to name it.  I would have wasted nearly 3 years of work because I couldn’t come up with a name.  I’d still be working on that.  Sometimes our mission starts with action.  It would be nice if it came in a nice little package.  But it doesn’t.  Sometimes mission is messy.  Sometimes your mission is to just act in the now.

photo provided by e. barrett

what is my mission?

Category : living a life of faith, mission, taking action

……….

One of the areas we, as believers, can get hung up is on our mission.  For some reason we think that we can’t act until God comes down in a beam of light or burning bush and directly tells us what to do.  To put it bluntly: that’s a load of crap.

I told you it would be blunt.

The Bible gives us more than enough stuff to work on.  At the very least your “mission” is to fulfill Jesus’ words “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19).

This is even called “The Great Commission.”

Of course that can look like a lot of different things.  God is a creative guy, you can be creative too.  What matters is that you’re being obedient to God.  And while I don’t know what your specific mission may be.  I do know that if God wants you to do something specific he will let you know.  That’s part of what happens when we are obedient – God has an easier time giving us specific instructions.

Perhaps, though, you will never have  a specific mission.  That’s okay.  This isn’t some kind of competition.  You aren’t less of a believer just because you haven’t seen a burning bush.  Living out a life of faith is about being active.  Not sitting back waiting for your “moment” to come.  Even if you are never given anything specifically, you can still live out a life of faith.

So go.  Act.  Do something.

agendas: God’s or yours?

Category : God, choice, faith, mission

     

“We believe God has an agenda for you, but at Laity Lodge,
we don’t have an agenda for you.”
  – Laity Lodge

Sometimes it is difficult to separate God’s agenda from your own.  Or God’s agenda from someone else’s.  And this confusion can have dangerous consequences.  We’ve all been in situations where we instinctively feel that there is more going on than meets the eye.  It’s usually these moments that we feel like we’re dealing with a “used car salesman.”  Where you know that while everything looks legit on the surface, there is something lurking just out of sight. Such reactions make us naturally suspicious, and resistant to God

That’s why I find this quote to be so interesting.  It quickly summarizes the approach everyone should take in any ministry.  Including the times we’re talking about God to our friends. 

I am a contrarian by nature, that means my instincts tell me that as soon as a few people agree on something I should disagree.  If someone would have been pushing an agenda down my throat when I first started going back to church I would have rejected it.  Instead, God allowed me to come to my own decisions.   And he let me come to it at my own speed. 

Now I have no one to blame buy myself!

This is also the philosophy I have tried to adopt at R3.  I don’t want this website to burden people.  You can get guilt from enough places in your life.  Instead R3 should be a place that challenges you, but lets you make the decision.  After all, that’s what God does – he challenges us with a radical way of thought and then says, “you’ve seen the evidence, now decide.”

take courage!

1

Category : Acts, Jesus, Paul, live for the eternal, mission

      

Take courage!  As you have testified about me in Jerusalem,
so you must also testify in Rome.
(Acts 23: 11)

Let me get this straight; Paul has been arrested, beaten, put in chains, nearly flogged, held in prison (twice), and was just nearly torn apart by a mob (for the second time in as many days).  And Jesus’ message to him is, “Take courage!”  Not because he’s going to be set free.  Not because he’s going to be given an easier job.  But because he’s being sent to Rome to do the whole thing over again!

I don’t know about you, but I don’t find that to be very encouraging.

But that’s because I’m looking at this from an earth-bound perspective.  If my goal is to live to old age, have nice things, and take an easy path, then what Jesus is telling Paul sounds horrible.  It sounds as if Paul did something wrong and is being punished.

But if I look at it from an eternal perspective, everything changes.  Suddenly Paul is being rewarded for his faith by being given a harder task.  Now he’s to take God’s message to the center of the world.  Only because Paul was faithful in the little things (Jerusalem) is he able to go and do the big things (Rome).

It’s funny how a little perspective changes things.

busy, busy

1

Category : God, bible, faith, mission

      

One of the interesting aspects about blogging is the sense of obligation you develop.  I feel like I’ve made a commitment to you, the reader, to have something new here three times a week.  When I don’t post new material it feels like I’m not holding up my end of the bargain.  I begin to feel like I need to apologize for any irregular posting.  I feel like I’m letting you down.

Isn’t that strange?

Isn’t it strange that something we start out doing with good intentions changes into something that becomes consuming?  How is it that something we start as a joy, so quickly becomes a burden?  Why is it that we get so wrapped up in accomplishing tasks, that we miss the whole point?

What first got me thinking about this was reading the Bible.  I try to do that regularly.  My goal is to read the Bible within one year.  I have no idea why I chose a year.  It just seemed like a good length of time.  The problem is I started in February.  And a quick glance at the calendar reveals that February is not, in fact, the start of the year.  So since February I’ve been trying to squeeze a year’s plan into 10 months.  This means I need to really stay on top of my reading.  Unfortunately on some days, the reason why I started reading the Bible gets completely lost.  I’m only concerned about the fact that I’m supposed to read 12 pages today.

Completing the task becomes my goal, not learning about God.  When that happens God loses out to my agenda.  So what happens when God wants you to do other things?  What happens when God wants to interrupt your agenda to insert his own?

You get annoyed.  Or at least I do. 

God isn’t really impressed with my streak of reading the Bible on consecutive days.  Or impressed when I post regularly.   He’s more impressed when I drop what I’m doing and serve someone else.  Even if that’s a major inconvenience. 

No matter what I’m doing, or how important I think I am to something, nothing is more important than keeping God the focal point of your life.  We are created to be in relationships with others.  We are created to serve.  And anything that gets in the way of that is unhealthy.  Even if it’s reading the Bible, posting on a blog, watching TV, or volunteering for charity.

I never want my life to be about word counts, or regular blogging.  I want my life to be about serving God, wherever that may take me.  And to do that, I need to leave space in my life for God to fill, so I can be revolutionary just like him. 

talent show

1

Category : God, bible, faith, mission, sin

  

God wants us to change the world.

Sometimes that’s hard to believe.  We’re so used to hearing “it can’t be done” or “you’re not good enough” that it’s hard to imagine God would give us such a crazy task.  Of course God would never send us out to do something he hasn’t prepared us for.  That’s why he gives us each a unique set of gifts.  That set of skills and experiences is something only we can use.

No matter how talented you think someone is, or how brilliant you think they are, there are things that they can’t do, and only you can.  That’s why God calls each of us to a mission.  Because there are tasks that only we can perform.

One of my favorite movie scenes is the moment when Darth Vader reveals his true identity.  “Luke, I am your father” is probably one of the most quoted lines in movie history.  It was such a huge moment that Lucas eventually went back and made three prequels to explore how Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader.

Anakin, as we learn, was a kid of near unimaginable potential.  He was naturally gifted.  Naturally talented.  And naturally better than almost anyone.  He excelled quickly despite his surroundings.  In fact he had more gifts than most of us combined.  But what started out as his greatest gift turned into something that nearly destroyed an entire galaxy.

When he lost focus of what was important – using his gifts to improve the world – and because of that he became Darth Vader and lead a life consumed with revenge and hatred.

Rick Warren, in the Purpose Driven Life, says “even abilities used to sin are God-given; they are just being misused or abused.”

We see this played out in the writings of a man named Ezekiel.  His mission was to tell Israel why it was being punished.  But he also spoke to the surrounding nations, and even addresses his comments to specific people, such as the King of Tyre.

Now the King of Tyre was an interesting guy.  God had given him some pretty amazing gifts.  He was good looking, had a knack for making money, and was wise.  As they say, it’s good to be the King!  The problem was he lost track of what was really important and allowed his greatest gifts to become twisted.  The King of Tyre became proud because of his looks (Ezekiel 28:17), he had become violent because of his wealth (28: 16), and lost his wisdom because he was focused on luxury (28:17).

The King threw everything away.  In fact it got so bad that he actually began to believe his own marketing hype, and declared himself a god!  (28:2)

Just like Darth Vader (but without the cool helmet) the King of Tyre lost track of his mission.  By losing his focus on the eternal, and focusing exclusively on the present he went completely astray.  In fact he went so far off course that it led to the destruction of both his kingdom and himself.

It is so easy to lose focus on what’s really important (God).  We get busy, and tired, and scared.  And just as dangerous we get wealthy, comfortable, and lazy.  That’s why it’s so important to remind ourselves that the race really is long, and we need to plan accordingly.   

what is my ministry?

Category : God, different, mission, sharing faith, taking action

   

If you’ve ever spent time in, or around, a church it won’t be too long before you hear about this thing called “ministry”.  A lot of times people understand that to be a formal ministry, such as working in a soup kitchen or going door-to-door talking about their faith. 

As a kid I thought the only two ways you could show your faith was by visiting nursing homes and hospitals.  To be honest those ideas really turned me off to Christianity.  Not because they aren’t worthwhile, but because they are so far outside of my skill sets that they are intimidating.  I’m just not an empathetic person.

This caused a great deal of guilt.  On the one hand Christians are called to go out and explain their beliefs to other people.  On the other, my skills and abilities weren’t very well suited for nursing homes and hospitals. 

It wasn’t until recently that I’ve realized that’s not what ministry is.  Ministry is living every aspect of your life through your faith.  Gregory Koukl has said “ministry [isn't] something you do. Ministry [is] something that you are.”  For some the natural extension of that is visiting nursing homes and hospitals.  But for others it’s simply hanging out with friends who don’t know Jesus.  For still others it is being available to listen to someone who needs an ear.  For me it is my writing.

What is it for you?

unburdening the burdened

Category : Bible thumping, mission

   

 “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.” (Luke 11: 46)

As I searched to understand God, I started to read some blogs on the internet. Like all things in life, there are good blogs and bad blogs. But I have to admit, I was often surprised by the anger, bitterness, and argumentativeness with which so many Christian blogs are written. I almost always stop reading these blogs. “How can someone so angry teach me of God’s love?” I ask myself.

Before I started this blog, I gave a lot of consideration to what my motives were. Why was I writing? What was my purpose? Certainly I didn’t have anything to offer. After all, I’m not a Bible scholar, I’m not a brilliant theologian – I’m just a guy that wants to know who God is.

Of course being “just a guy” often means I’m no different than anyone else. I can be every bit as angry, bitter, and argumentative as the next guy. But Jesus wasn’t. Jesus was this guy who always knew the right way to handle the situation. He always knew when to get angry and when to act in love. Of course for him those two things went hand in hand.

As I thought about some of these “angry” blogs, I realized I would leave them feeling a huge sense of burden. I would feel the guilt of not trying hard enough, or feel bad about being a failure at living up to lofty standards. I never felt encouraged or “built into”. I felt weighed down.

But that’s not the impression I get of how Jesus left people. I think whenever someone encountered Jesus they knew they had met someone different, someone who made broken people whole. For certain he challenged everyone. But being challenged is entirely different than weighing people down with burdens.

Jesus frees us to pursue God by lifting our burdens and placing them on himself. That’s an amazing thing.

I don’t want R3 to be a place of burden. I want it to be a place of challenge for both you and for me. Sometimes hearing the truth can be difficult. Sometimes knowing we need to change our lives is hard. Sometimes doing the right thing feels impossible.

But I won’t run away if you won’t.