Friday, January 27, 2012

More from 1 Corinthians

I'm not sure what got me started reading 1 Corinthians, but I'm loving it! This has been a great week of seeing new things in Scripture that I've read probably a dozen times.

I talked about what I learned from Chapter 2 here but now I'm thinking through what Chapter 3 is teaching me. Before I tell you about it, let me first let you know that I'm not a Bible scholar and I don't know if I'm reading this in the right context, but I can't deny that I've heard God's voice clearly through this book.

So, in Chapter 3 Paul continues to address the church in Corinth and calls them infants in Christ, partly because they are quarreling about who they follow. Here's Paul's response to their actions:

5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

I keep finding myself relating what I read to the field of missions. I don't know if I'm sensing a call or if I've just been thinking about it for some other reason lately. Either way, I think this is valuable for anyone considering missions or any kind of ministry.

We are called to be God's fellow workers, but to never forget that He alone is the one who can make things grow. Our job is to simply plant a seed or water it. In practical terms I see this is as evangelism and discipleship - telling people about Jesus and mentoring them in their relationship with Him.

But we should never think we are the ones who saves them or even makes them grow. We can only play a small part in the process - it is God's part that changes lives and makes dead things come to life!

So, who do I follow? I follow Jesus alone, but I am thankful for the people in my life who water the seed that was planted long ago!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

How to be a missionary

In my recent blog of random thoughts, several of those thoughts related to the field of missions. I've never felt called to be a missionary but I definitely feel led to be part of missions work, whether through supporting missionaries, going on short-term mission trips or simply sharing the love of Jesus with anyone I come into contact with.

But, what if God decides to call me to be a missionary? Well, he already has in the ways listed above, but what if it meant moving my family to another part of the country, or another country and living as a full-time missionary? Would I be willing? Would I be prepared? Could I do it?

There are plenty of reasons I feel unqualified, or unprepared, to answer that call should it come my way. The first, and most significant, reason is because I don't feel like I have the right training - i.e. I didn't go to school to be a missionary, a pastor or any other kind of minister. I don't know the Bible as well as I should. I don't have much experience in evangelism. I am painfully fearful of public speaking.

But, this morning I was reading 1 Corinthians, chapter 2, and I realized I don't need to be well-studied or confident in my own abilities. See, Paul wasn't either of those things. He said he came to the church in Corinth in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. His whole strategy was to know only Jesus Christ and him crucified. Read it for yourself:

1 Corinthians 2 1 When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.
 6 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 However, as it is written:   “No eye has seen,
   no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
   what God has prepared for those who love him”—
 10 but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.
   The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. 14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment:
 16 “For who has known the mind of the Lord
   that he may instruct him?”
   But we have the mind of Christ.

Nothing in this chapter tells me that I am unprepared to do whatever God calls me to do - whether that is to be a full-time missionary, share Jesus with my neighbors or show my kids what a relationship with Jesus looks like. I have the Spirit of God in me, and that's all I need.

So, I'm ready! I'm prepared! I'm still scared, but I'll go where He sends me! 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Random Thoughts

As I think through my desire to start blogging on a regular basis, part of the process of getting started is sorting my thoughts into manageable categories that lend themselves to readable posts. That's not an easy process for me, so here's a bunch of thoughts that have yet to be sorted but may end up as posts in the future. Whether they end up as readable posts is still to be determined!

1. I wish I had more experience with international travel. I love experiencing new cultures, but getting to those cultures is somewhat confusing for me. I guess the only way to learn it is to do it!

2. I wonder how good I can get at Spanish by July?

3. If my entire Small Group of Junior guys gets kicked out of Walmart during one of our meetings, does that make me a bad leader?

4. Why do some people send many emails concerning the same subject while some can get all their thoughts into one email?

5. Rice and beans. I love it!

6. How much does the music I'm listening to affect my attitude and spiritual state?

7. Why do I find myself being hesitant to lead people? Is it low self-esteem or pride? Or something else?

8. If God called me to sell everything and move my family somewhere else, would I be willing?

9. I like the color green in my design work, but I don't particularly like to wear the color green. Weird.

10. I have a goal to completely remodel a bathroom in my house for less than $1,000. How can I do that?