Cut and Paste!

Last Sunday's message was very important to me, and it should be important to you. 

If you missed it, or heard it but completely forgot it, I was sharing from God's Word the mission of the church. Read the end of every Gospel account - none of them end with "And they all lived happily ever after..." or "And then Jesus said, 'Look me up when you get to heaven.'"

They all end with a command, a charge, marching orders... the mission. Actually, the Great Commission. Go make disciples. Jesus gave the church one thing to do, and sometimes it seems like the church just can't get around to it. 

I wanted to cut and paste a couple of portions of the message. Why? Because many of our people were out of town for holiday. And because if we stop focusing on the mission, we will soon be off-mission!

Here is what the Bible says the early church was doing: 

Acts 2:42-47 - And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. 

And if Luke chronicled the activity of the church today, it would look quite different. I suggested it would look like this.

Acts 2:42-47, version 2013 - And they devoted themselves to the cute pep talks and the potlucks, to the secular music to be culturally relevant and the talking about prayers. And indifference came upon every soul, and many creative gimmicks were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and occasionally felt badly for people in need. And they were hoarding their possessions and belongings and closed their ears to the needs of all, as any had need. And occasionally, when absolutely nothing else was going on, attending the temple together and hoping no events were asked to be held in their own homes, they received their food with ungrateful hearts, pretending to bepraising God and having favor with all the people they preferred to be around. And the Lord added to their numberoccasionally those who were being bored

God, rekindle the fire in us that the early church had. Passion for the things you are passionate about. On task for one thing: making disciples. 

I also shared the story of the Life Saving Station. I hardly ever use stories like this in a sermon, but it is such a great metaphor for the church:

On a dangerous sea coast where shipwrecks often occur, there was once a crude little life-saving station. The building was just a hut, and there was only one boat, but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea and with no thought for themselves went out day and night tirelessly searching for the lost. Some of those who were saved, and various others in the surrounding area, wanted to become associated with the station and give of their time and money and effort for the support of its work. New boats were bought and new crews trained. The little lifesaving station grew. 

Some members of the lifesaving station were unhappy that the building was so crude and poorly equipped. They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge of those saved from the sea. They replaced the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture in the enlarged building. Now the lifesaving station became a popular gathering place for its members, and they decorated it beautifully and furnished it exquisitely, because they used it as sort of a club. 
Fewer members were now interested in going to sea on lifesaving missions, so they hired lifeboat crews to do this work. The lifesaving motif still prevailed in this club’s decorations, and there was a miniature lifeboat in the room where the club initiations were held. 

About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boatloads of cold, wet, and half-drowned people. They were dirty and sick, and some of them had black skin and some had yellow skin. The beautiful new club was in chaos. So the property committee immediately had a shower house built outside the club where victims of shipwreck could be cleaned up before coming inside. 

At the next meeting, there was a split in the club membership. Most of the members wanted to stop the club’s lifesaving activities, since they were unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal social life of the club. Some members insisted upon lifesaving as their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a lifesaving station. But they were finally voted down and told that if they wanted to save the lives of all the various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own lifesaving station down the coast. They did. 

As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old. It evolved into a club, and yet another lifesaving station was founded. History continued to repeat itself, and if you visit that sea coast today you will find a number of exclusive clubs along the shore. Shipwrecks are frequent in those waters, but most of the people drown.

Getting back to the mission - and the why and how - is our focus this month. Come and join us!

p.s. - This mission, if you choose to accept it...

Mountain, Hills, Everywhere: Three Good Mission Fields

When I was a kid in Sunday School, we sang this song at Christmas-time: Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere. Go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born.

I love that sentiment. Just get out there and belt it out. Go climb a mountain and use that as a platform for preaching. Not just at Christmas, either.

One of the 4 Pillars of Harvest Bible Chapel is Sharing the Good News of Jesus with Boldness. That is, when God gives me opportunity to speak for Him, I will take it. I want to use this space to talk about that over the next few weeks.

Witnessing. Evangelism. Sharing your faith.

For many Christians, just reading those words can stir up some bad thoughts and feelings.

“Oh no, here comes the guilt trip. I should witness more.” Yes, maybe you should. But my job isn’t to book guilt trips. My job is to just say what the Bible says. So we have to start here: Why do we have to talk about this? Why is this a pillar of the church?

Matthew 28:18-20:

And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

There it is. All of it. Right there. Why should we be so fired up for evangelism?

  1. Jesus’ last command is my first priority.

    This was the last thing Jesus said before He returned to heaven (it‘s also in Acts 1). I’m leaving, I’ll be back, here’s your job, get on this. Four commands in those verse, did you see them? Go (Get out there. In your family, in your workplace, in your neighborhood…). Make (Not “Say something.” -- it‘s “Make something!” Make disciples. How…?). Baptize(When they respond to Jesus, let them identify with His death, burial, and resurrection). Teach (It doesn‘t end there, it begins. Teach them to observe all that Jesus commanded).

    No asterisk. No footnotes. No exceptions. Have you been touched by the Gospel? Then Go-Make-Baptize-Teach. “Yeah, that’s not really my gift.” Yeah, but it’s your job: Go-Make-Baptize-Teach. “I‘m not really great at it.” Do you know the Gospel? If you are saved, you must know something. So Go-Make-Baptize-Teach. “What if people reject me?” There is no “what if“. Some will. But others will get saved. Results are up to God. Your job? Go-Make-Baptize-Teach.
  2. Jesus’ power and presence is manifested in this work.

    “What give you the right to be going around telling people about this religious stuff?” Jesus said that ALL authority in heaven and on earth had been given to Him. That’s the top of the ladder. The boss of everything. He said to do it. And… He said He’ll be with us while we do. “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Why in the world would He choose to work this way? Use people like us? Proclaim salvation through fallen people? Entrust the message of heaven to people like me?

I don’t know. But one thing I am sure of: He wants me to Go-Make-Baptize-Teach. And He’ll be with me.

More to come.

p.s. - wonders how people in Ohio “tell it on the mountain”