All We Need is Love…Jesus’ Love

Lord, I am not ready to serve. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to say. I don’t have the time. I can’t afford it. What if I fail? Just like Jeremiah, I have given God excuse after excuse as to why I am not cut out to be a missionary and why I can’t serve him. There are so many better people out there to do his job.

But God doesn’t see it that way. We are his plan to share his love. He uses everyday people every day. He wants us to serve him just the way we are, in the place that we are, with the people that we are with because that is why we are there. He chose to share his love and good news through us, knowing that we could not even follow one simple direction in the Garden of Eden. He already knows we are not perfect, we are horrible at following directions, and we will make mistakes.

As crazy as it sounds, he still believes in us, has faith in us, and tells us to share his love. He is the creator of heaven and earth, so if he wanted perfect people who knew of his presence from the moment we came into this world, he could have made that happen, but that was not his plan. I think word “mission” or “missionary” can scare people. It sounds like it comes with big expectations. That is why I feel like I cannot do it. I like the word “plan.” It’s simple and something I can be a part of and do.

We are his plan to share his love. We get caught up worrying that we don’t know enough theology to share the gospel, what if someone asks me a question and I don’t have the answer? You are not God so you won’t have all the answers. And the reality is, most people do not become Christians because someone shared a Bible verse with them. Most people come to know Christ because someone showed Jesus’s love. The first step is to not do all the talking but listen to their story and love them for who they are right at that moment. Your act of kindness is what they need. Jesus’s acts of love throughout his time on earth was what brought the throngs of followers to him. When you consider how many pages there are in the Bible, we can see that even Jesus was a man of a few words.

We are his plan to share his love. In 2 John 1:6, the Message says, “Love means living the way God commanded us to live. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is this: Live a life of love.” Look around you, everywhere you look, you will see people who are dying to be listened to and loved. Here is our mission field: in the cars driving by you, in the malls walking past you, in the office buildings working near you, on the streets begging by you; there are people feeling alone, helpless, broken, and lost. It can be anyone: the CEO, the teacher, the mother, the homeless, the barista, the brother, the technician, and the children.

As we begin this New Year thinking about new resolutions, stop your excuses and challenge yourself to a new mindset, to see the world through God’s eyes. His mission for you may be big or small, global or local, but ultimately the plan is the same, to share God’s love. John 13:34-35 say, “A new commandment I give you: Love another. As I have loved you, so you must love another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” We act because we believe, we love because we are loved. Can you do at least one act of love every day? Can you share Jesus’s love because he shared with you first? All we need is love…Jesus’ love.

Watch Dr Scott Dudley’s Jan 8 Sermon about Jeremiah’s excuses to God.

Keep going. Stay inspired. Seek justice. Pursue God.

Becky Gonzalez

I came across this blog post last week on Sojourners and it resonated with me.  I am not burned-out…[today] but I have gone through seasons where I wonder if any of the work we are doing to reach our community and world matters.

Are we making an impact?
Are we doing things right?
Are we doing the right things?
Are we pleasing God?
Are we representing the church well?
Are we creating a sustainable model or one of dependence?
Are we doing more harm than good?

This author, Stephen Mattson, encourages us to “Never quit, and never underestimate your involvement in justice work, because it means passionately caring for humanity — people who are often the most vulnerable, persecuted, abused, helpless, and exploited. Which matters. Keep going. Stay inspired. Seek justice. Pursue God.”

Check out the full article. I hope that it is as encouraging to you as it was to me.  Be encouraged in your work, your ministry and your life for Him.

 

Ramadan is Over: Now What?

July 17 marked the end of Ramadan and the conclusion of the 30 Days of prayer for the Muslim world.  A little over 23% of the world’s population self-identify as Muslim.  Most of those 1.6 billion people live in Asia.  Less than 1% of them live here in the U.S.  Only 20% live in the Middle East and North Africa.

Most of these facts and figures are widely known.  What isn’t widely known is that in the last twenty years, there have been large movements of Muslims turning from Islam to faith in Christ.  According to World Christian (a YWAM group), a movement involves 1,000 or more people.   Christian Missionaries around the world are reporting conversions to Christ in numbers never seen before.  This increase is happening at the same time as an increased effort among Christians to pray for the Muslim world.

So now that Ramadan is over and the 30 Days of Prayer is over too, what’s next?  Here are 3 suggestions:

Pray for Muslims

Pray for Muslims in your own community and around the world.  Pray for missionaries who are living among Muslims in other countries and pray that God would raise up more witnesses for Jesus among Muslims.

Build relationships with Muslims

Build relationships with Muslims in your own community.  Many Muslims have moved here to Bellevue and the Eastside because work brought them here.  Others have come seeking safety for their families from the political turmoil and violence in their own countries.  One of the best ways to show the love of Jesus is to welcome them and help them transition to life here.

Go

Romans 10:14 asks us, “How then can they call on the one they have not believed in?  And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?  And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?  And how can they preach unless they are sent? God is moving in unprecedented ways among Muslims in North Africa and the Middle East.  Might God be calling you to be one of His workers for this great harvest?

Do you have other ideas for how to follow up with the 30 Days of Prayer?  Please let us know, or send this to someone you think would be interested.

Four Things You Should Know About Your Call

By Rich Leatherberry, Mission Pastor

My oldest daughter and I used to invent games to play when she was really, really young. One of our favorites was right before bedtime.
I would lay on the floor along the side of her bed so she couldn’t see me. And she would start out on top of the bed and crawl slowly to the edge – knowing I was down there somewhere, but not able to see me. Then with a loud squeal that was half giggle, half scream she would dive off headfirst. And I would catch her. Holding her in my arms, I’d kiss her, turn her around and then toss her up into the air
– up over the edge of the bed and back onto the mattress again where she would bounce around a few times. More squealing. More laughter. Some silence. Then suddenly she would dive off the mattress and I’d catch her again. And again. And again. Dive, catch, toss. Those were great times. Great Daddy game right before bed time. Don’t you think? It’s in the dad job manual by the way. Page 3. “Get the kids all wound up right before bedtime and then leave them for Mommy to deal with. It’s actually the last page of the dad manual. I think my wife’s manual was 3 volumes. But I’m not sure cause I wasn’t paying attention like she was.

Our little game is a great picture of what it is like when we are living into our calling. God launching us out on the ride of our lives
and us jumping into God’s arms because we are totally dependent on His power and His love to make it happen.

There is one other part of that story that is really important for us to understand if we really want to live into our calling. And here it is. Nothing happens until we get off the mattress. We have to leave our places of safety and security in order to experience the adventure of our call.

There are four principles we all should know about our calling and here they are.

First. Finding our calling is a process. It takes time and it takes some patience. It means trying new things; discovering what give us life, brings us joy and makes time fly by when we do them. It also means we will experience the opposite when we are doing things that are not our calling. Life gets drained from us, time drags on by and we wish we were somewhere or someone else.

Second. We are called to be like who we are, not to be like someone else. That means while God called Moses, He has not called me to be like Moses’ or like Peter or like Scott Dudley or like any other person on staff. God calls us to be like who God uniquely and wonderfully created us to be. Its your best ‘you.’

Third, our calling is not something we create. Its something we discover. We discover our calling when we examine how we are made, what we are good at and what we are not so good at. What we really care about. All the stuff that makes you, you. And through a process of self examination over time, we begin to discover things about ourselves. Like whether we are a people person or prefer keyboards and screens. Analyzer or intuitive? Creative type or logical and linear? Are you better with your hands or with your mind or with your speaking ability? Do you prefer helping other people or solving problems behind a desk?

When we pay attention to ourselves, how we respond to different situations, the kinds of things that, when we do them, bring us joy, then we begin to discover our calling. Our calling isn’t a job someone else thinks we would be good at. And it isn’t a set of goals we create for ourselves so that we can earn a certain kind of lifestyle or live in a certain place. We can’t create ourselves. Because the person we create will be different than the person we really are. Calling is within us. It wants to be discovered.

Fourth, our calling is daily. Most of the time we think of our calling in terms of the bigger purpose and mission of our lives. Big decisions we have to make or choices that will shape the trajectory of our lives. Like the job we think God wants us to have, or the person we think God wants us to marry or the volunteer opportunity we think God wants us to take.

But there is a part of our calling that is so daily. Each day is filled with dozens of opportunities God gives us to bless other people. Each opportunity is like a door God opens up before us and His call is for us to go through it. It could be noticing someone who needs help and so you walk through that door. It could be the opportunity to heal a relationship so you walk through that door. It could be the opportunity to offer to pray for someone so you walk through that door.

That might be in the job you have now or in the school you are at now or with the friendships you have now or in the neighborhood you live in now. When we start recognizing the doors God is opening up for us each day, life becomes an exciting adventure.

So what is God showing you today about your calling? What are you discovering about the ‘you’, God has created you to be? What doors is God opening for you today?