Sunday, February 19, 2012

Principles for Missions

“Missions exists because worship doesn’t.” John Piper accurately brings the truth of missions   in this quote. Because worship is eternal and the Bible tells us that people from every tribe, nation, and tongue will worship the Lord, missions is temporary on this earth. In this paper, I will explain six axioms of missions that are crucial to understand to rightly understand missions.
            First, the primary issue is not missions, the primary issue is knowing God. People who have been changed by the power of the gospel will have a right perspective on missions because they will see the need for sharing the gospel with the nations. As people passionately live out their faith, others will see it and want it, and because God won’t hold truth back from them, they’ll receive Christ and the cycle starts over again. Knowing God and growing in the gospel should characterize the life of a Christian, only then will missions be effective.
            Second, missions is more about God than it is about men. Hudson Taylor, David Livingstone, and William Carey are a few of the great missionaries of the Christian faith. All these men gave their lives not for themselves, but for the sake of His name that He would be made known in all the nations. Instead of missions becoming about the greatness of the missionary, it ought to be about the greatness of our God.
            Third, missions is overflow. When a person has something incredible happen to him, it is only natural that he wants to share his experience with others. The same is true when a person is changed by the gospel of Jesus. How selfish of someone to hold back life-changing news! Missions will happen when a person is consumed with knowing God and being filled with the Holy Spirit. It is the natural overflow of the heart.
            Fourth, a missionary is an initiator. A missionary is one who brings the Good News of the gospel to a certain group of people. He initiates the work of the gospel, finds and trains the nationals to reach the core group of the people, and then he goes to repeat the cycle somewhere else. The nationals are the ones who can best reach their own people. Therefore, it makes sense for the missionary to invest in the lives of a few nationals that are able then to better reach the city or village.
            Fifth, the principle activity of missions is discipleship. One of the things that is neglected to notice from the Great Commission is the fact that Jesus commands His disciples to “Go and make disciples of all nations . . .” That second part of the command is important to apply to missions. Making disciples is the most important part of spreading the Kingdom of God. By this, people are evangelized, converted and then taught the Scriptures, and then are able to function as a church to further the Kingdom and worship the Savior.
            Sixth, the Holy Spirit is the authoritative Agent in missions. It is the Holy Spirit who directs, restrains, calls and sends the missionary. He is the one who has the authority to send people to reach those who are lost. He is the one who works in and changes a heart. The power of missions comes from the work of the Holy Spirit.  It is Him we ought to rely on for power, not ourselves.
            Most importantly though, is the fact that everyone is a missionary. Once a Christian realizes this, it has great implications on his life. His entire life should be one that is spent sharing what has happened to him by being changed by the power of the gospel. Through people passionately living their faith out, sharing what Jesus has done in their lives and by making disciples out of converts; the gospel has the power to change the world. And it starts with you making the decision today to initiate conversations with the lost. 

Much love,

Monday, February 6, 2012

You Are A Missionary

The American Heritage Dictionary defines a missionary as “one who is sent on a mission, especially one sent to do religious or charitable work in a territory or foreign country”.  So, even the dictionary recognizes that a missionary is generally known as someone who goes away from home carrying some form of message to share with the desired people.  Too often this is what our Christian culture believes a missionary is: one whom we send out, support financially and maybe, just maybe occasionally pray for. Is this the only kind of missionary there is? Or is it possible for you to be a missionary in your neighborhood, school, or workplace?
            This point is crucial to understand before we begin discussing anything about witnessing. Anywhere you go/attend regularly is your mission field. At my high school, there was a sign above the doors entering the hallways saying “You are now entering the mission field.” I used to think it was backwards, but then it hit me, that saying was right on. I was entering my mission field as a student by going into the hallways. There were plenty of unbelievers at my school and they were the ones God wanted me to reach.
            Our sub-culture of American Christianity tends to forget about the lost souls just across the street. When you think of an unbeliever, you probably naturally think of someone from a far away country that worships some wooden idol. And yes, no one will argue that this guy doesn’t need Christ. But, are you going to be in contact with him today to reach him with the gospel of Jesus? That’s the point I am trying to make in this post. There are millions of lost souls in the world and we as Christians are called to reach the ones in our sphere of influence today. That’s not to say that you can’t have a burden for the people in the Amazon. And I firmly believe that we should pray for those people now. But if those people are not in your circle of influence now, then I would argue that God hasn’t called you to reach those people right now.
            In Matthew 28, Jesus gives His disciples one final command: Go and make disciples of all the nations. I don’t mean to downplay global missions, because it’s a way God brings souls to Himself. But how can you think that God will use you on the “global stage” when you’re not bringing the gospel to your neighbor. We, as Christians, are all on a mission to bring the good news of the gospel to those who have not heard it. So maybe we should focus solely on the first word of Jesus’ command here in Matthew 28: Go.  
            Go. Go to the grocery store to speak to the clerk that works every Wednesday; go to the park to play soccer with that guy on Saturday mornings; go and find ways to give the gospel of Jesus to those who desperately need it. Because if we don’t go and tell them how will they hear? And if they don’t hear, they’ll spend forever separated from God in Hell. Do you see that this simple word Jesus says has life-altering implications depending on if we choose to obey Him or not.
            So the question is: will you go? Will you go develop true friendships with the people in your community? Sure, the easy way is by giving them a tract and never talking to them again. But, I believe the Biblical way is by developing a lasting friendship with them. I understand this is a lot harder than just giving a tract. But how far are you willing to go for the sake of the Kingdom of God? Will you sacrifice your time to invest in a soul that will spend somewhere for eternity? Or will you just go about your day, living as though they don’t even exist?
            What I want you to see is that God has placed unbelievers in your path for a reason. He wants you to share His love with them. He wants to use you to further His kingdom. The unbelieving people in your circle of friends is not a coincidence, it’s directly from God. He’s given you that influence for the sole purpose of sharing the gospel message with them. Do you see it now? You are called to reach these people! This is your mission field. 
(Tentative Chapter 1 for From French-Fries to the Gospel - Cam Lawson)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Wasted Generation?

It seems as though the generation commonly known as "the Millennials" is one with a ton of potential. Yes, I am part of that generation so there may some bias, but I also think we are well on our way to being, what I call, a "wasted generation". Too many of us just live solely for the weekend to where we can party it up, forgetting the week behind and not thinking about the week ahead. I'm here to tell you: there's so much more to life than that. If you can't wait until the day you can get wasted on your 21st birthday, I think it's safe to say, you'll living for yourself. Which frankly may not be that big of a deal to you. But I return to my point: life is much bigger than your weekend.

So, why do I care so much? It's because I see so much potential in our generation to make an impact in the world. And it kills me to see the Christian Millennials accepting the cultural standards our world has set for them. It's no longer rebellion to have sex before marriage, smoke, etc. It's almost as if rebellion is now living a holy life not embracing the pleasures of this world. Because hardly anyone is doing that now. I dare you to rebel against the cultural standard the world has set for you. Together we can make a difference in this world by the power of the gospel, but it requires us to humble ourselves and stop living for us and start living for Him.

So will we settle for being a "wasted generation" or will we embrace the fact that God has called us to a higher calling and expects us to rise above the cultural standards by living a life pleasing to Him? We need to grow up and realize that we are the next leaders in the world. And we desperately need Christian leaders who are not content to waste their lives living for themselves, but are passionately seeking to love God and others with their lives.

Much love,