Saturday, April 20, 2013

Northland Missions Conference 2013

So, as you can see from the title, missions conference at Northland was this week.  We had two main speakers: Phil Hunt (missionary to Zambia) and Dr. David Brown (missionary to South Africa who's coming to Northland next semester to teach).  It was an awesome week of sessions that God used to challenge my thinking and convict me.

I'm going to hit some of the highlights...

Chasing the work of God
Dr. Brown
(Isaiah 55:8-9, Romans 11:33)

You could say that in this session He spoke of the problems in missions.  Probably the coolest analogy he gave was the fact that we put our God in a box.  We have this idea about how things should be done, but God looks at that box, laughs, and breaks it open.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9 (ESV)

He emphasized the fact that we need to work to correct the mistakes of the past by adjusting the way we do missions to fit the current culture.  This of course does not mean compromising the truth of God's Word.

The reason the session had the title "Chasing the work of God" is because he talked about the fact that we often underestimate God.  We think the mission can't be accomplished unless we do it.  God, however, is working in places and in ways that we cannot even fathom.  He spoke of the fact that missionaries these days are going into places where they think there are no believers, and they're finding churches.  So, we are in essence, chasing God's work...He's so far ahead of us...

He gave us some startling facts too...there has been a 27% decrease in US missions since 1990.  Also...evangelical Christianity is currently the fastes growing faith in the world right now.  We truly are chasing the work of God, and we (Americans) need to get with the program.

The World's Greatest Need: And what you must do to meet it
Phil Hunt
(Romans 10:1-17)

The main focus of this session was on the Gospel, and the fact that it is the greatest need for everyone on earth.

He spoke with passion about the fact that men are dying and going to hell, and if we truly understood what hell was like, it would fuel us to action...but too often we don't care.

"If we are to see lives transformed by the gospel, we need to do more than just talk about it."

What is my all consuming desire?  Is it to see the lost come to Christ?  If it isn't, it should be.

"Follow Me"
Dr. Olson
(Matthew 16)

In our modern Christian culture, we have romanticized what it means to be a follower of Jesus.  But Jesus called us to take up our cross and follow Him.

The world looks at death while seeking to accomplish our goals, but when we're seeking God's will and we die, this is not failure...

If we are a follower of Christ our crosses will look different, but we all have one that Jesus wants us to bear.

Following Him is simple, but it's impossible to do without Him.

God loves losers...those who die to self, and give all to Him...

Why should we reach beyond ourselves?
Dan Seeley
(Psalm 96)

Premise: Worship of Christ must precede service for Christ.

Before Jesus gave the Great Commission, the disciples were worshipping Him!

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.  And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.  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.”
Matthew 28:16-20 (ESV)

When we are filled with awe at all that God is...we are filled with Him...we will be like a cup that is full of water...when someone bumps a cup of water that is full to the brim, water spills out...in the same way, when we are full to the brim with Him, He will spill out when we "bump" into people...

"Our engagement in mission is the gauge for how much I'm engaged with God."

It isn't a one time decision...it's a day by day, moment by moment thing...
I make the decision every moment what/who I will worship...am I worshiping God, or "lesser lights and fleeting shadows?"

What/who am I functionally worshipping?  He must be my everything!

Discerning God's Will
Dr. Brown

One of the leading questions asked by Christian young adults (and older ones) is “How can I know the Lord’s will for my life?” Probably not the best question because God reveals His will in installments. The better question is, “How can I know the Lord’s will for my next step?” The question implies a desire to know what God wants them to do, or where He wants them to go. But God’s will lies first and foremost with what the believer is than with what the believer does in life. Be what God wants you to be, and He will cause you to do what He wants you to do. So let’s look at discerning God’s will in that order.

TRUE OF ME BEFORE GOD DIRECTS (10 things)

  1. I am a born-again believer in Jesus Christ? (Jn. 3:3) God lead His own children; you are not Christian by association; not just your parents’ faith 
  2. Though aware of my self-will and sinfulness, I have a righteous (obedient) walk and talk, so as not to quench or grieve the Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19, Eph. 4:24-32) 
  3. I have no known unconfessed, unforsaken sins (clean conscience – 1 Jn. 1:9, Acts 24:16) 
  4. I have a supreme love for God/Jesus (no seriously competing idols – Deut. 6:5, 1 Jn. 5:2, 21) 
  5. I am staying renewed in the Scriptures (the filling and sword of the Spirit – Ps. 119:105, Rom. 12:1-2, Col. 3:16, Heb. 4:12) 
  6. I worship Him personally and pray to know and do His will in the seemingly small things (Col. 1:9-12) 
  7. I am staying and serving in a community of believers and am accountable to others (Acts 2:42, Heb. 10:24-25) 
  8. I love and value all people, made in God’s image, and try to move them toward Christ through my relationship with them (2 Cor. 5:18-20, Rom. 12:9-21) – people and God’s principles are a priority 
  9. I have an abandonment to the will of God; a willingness to do whatever, wherever, whenever (2 Cor. 4:11) 
  10. I am doing now what He wants me to do, and am watching for His leading (Ps. 5:8, 37:23, Jer. 10:23). When people who whine and complain then feel a sudden leading from the Lord, that leading is highly questionable. God often won’t release you from a hard thing until you are resigned to that being His will. Job, not getting married, not getting pregnant, not losing weight 
WHEN GOD DIRECTS
  • Sometimes God pushes you, orders your circumstances to make you move. We are talking about when God gives you options. 
  • I understand that this might seem mystical, but our God is spirit and does communicate with us – our bodies are both skeleton (God’s Word) and soft tissue (the work of the Spirit) 
  • Leading: Children of God are led by His Spirit (Matt. 4:1, Rom 8:14-16, Gal. 5:16, 1 Jn. 2:27)
    • Inner prompting like the conscience 
    • Inaudible (your own mind’s voice) 
    • Often using the Scripture 
    • Never contrary to the Scripture
  •  Calling: A summoning by God creating a deep compulsion to do something 
    • To salvation (Rom. 1:6-7) 
    • To a career/mission (Rom. 1:1, Acts 13:2) 
  • Desiring: A passion to capably serve God in a certain place, context, or ministry 
    • Augustine: “Love God supremely … and do whatever you please” ” because a person who loves God is taught by that same love never to do anything that will displease Him and to leave nothing undone that may please Him. When the heart and life of a person is right, then his or her desires will line up with what God wants. 
    • God fixes the “wanter” of those who delight in Him (Ps. 37:4) 
    • God “wires” His children with giftedness and experiences to help us choose His direction 
    • If you walk with God, don’t be afraid of doing something you enjoy 
RESPONDING CAREFULLY TO GOD’S LEADING (10 things)
  1. Pause, pray, and fast (to see if the burden goes away – Acts 13:1-3) 
  2. Deliberate your gifts, abilities, station in life, financial situation, relational responsibilities, the implications of the decision; wrestle with the burden and your unworthiness – Is this a good fit at this time? In what ways might God use us to make an impact? Does this draw on the strengths God has given me? What are my real motives? Did I really sense direction from the Lord? Am I leaving a place because it’s difficult? Greener pastures? Will the place I am leaving be injured by my leaving? Am I breaking promises or firm understandings? In ethics, we say that there is a right way and a right time in which to do every right action. But we also wrestle with our unworthiness because God often leads us to a place beyond our abilities to glorify Himself (2 Cor. 12) 
  3. Consult with godly people, mentors, your church’s leaders (Peter and Paul in Acts 15) 
  4. Submit to the “go, wait, or stop” admonition of leadership (parents, church leaders – Heb. 13:17, Acts 13:1-3) 
  5. More prayer and fasting about the matter (Prov. 3:5-6, Ps. 139:23) 
  6. Decide one way or the other 
  7. Delay (to see if it sits right with your spirit, and you have peace – Col. 3:15) 
  8. Look for signs of confirmation in Scripture or in circumstances despite speed bumps and road blocks 
  9. Realign my life (hold off certain decisions, purchases, moves, be willing to wait on the Lord) 
  10. Equip myself (learning, experience) to fulfill the leading

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