One Simple Truth that Will Help Us Live a Missional Life

You probably have heard the saying, “Love is a choice, not a feeling.” I am not sure I have always understood what that meant. And maybe you have heard this, “Greater love no one has than this, to lay down their life for a friend.”

I think I can intellectually wrap my mind around that, but only because I am a Christian who has heard most of my life that Jesus laid down his life for us. But what does that look like in real life? How does a selfish person like I am choose to love, or even more difficult, sacrifice the things of my life for another?

If I am not “feeling that loving feeling” I struggle with showing love to others, even those closest to me. Now before you go and start thinking I am some really bad person, I love my wife and son more than anything. And yes, I do think that I will lay my life down for either one if the situation warranted it. And I do that now in some ways by giving up things that I want to do or love for their benefit. I even have some friends that make it on that list even though admittedly it’s a short list.

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This One Thing Is Necessary to Live a Missional Life

We see the world through a limited lens. We only know what we know. And if we always look at things from the same viewpoint, what we know and understand probably has no chance of changing.

In today’s western culture, individuals have more ways of expressing their worldview than in any other time in history. I get to do that every day with my blog, podcast, and social media posts. I guess that’s all a good thing, but I wonder if we have lost our ability, or maybe it’s patience, to listen.

In case you didn’t already know these things about me, here are some facts that shape the way I see the world:

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My Motivation for 2018

You won’t find things like bringing a child into your family as your own, spending time with a lonely widow or homeless man, or visiting someone in prison on too many 2018 resolution or goal lists.

I don’t know many people who wake up in the morning saying, “Today, I am going to leave my comfort zone and hang out with someone who looks, thinks, or acts differently than I do”.

Loving our neighbor as we love ourselves just isn’t how we are hard-wired. Instead we think of ourselves and our own family and close friends.

We need a motivation that prompts us to do things outside of ourselves. For many that is a sense of justice. Maybe some do it out of obligation or guilt. For others it is for the recognition that it brings.

So what is my motivation for 2018?

I am like many of you, I set some business goals for my writing, blogging, podcasting, and a couple of new things for this year.

I also set a couple of personal goals too. They are quite simple. One is to avoid complaining and criticizing. I do this in my mind more than I vocalize it, except around home. The flip side to that is to use words of kindness and encouragement.

My wife is doing the happy dance about that goal.

The other is one that I know will impact every area of my life, especially when it comes to successfully living a life sent. It doesn’t have anything to do with the external motivations listed above.

My one other goal is to spend scheduled, intimate time with God.

On our property, down the hill from our house we have a large oak tree with two benches under it. I have spent a lot of time clearing cedar and brush on our property, and I will often take a break sitting on one of those benches. I find peace in the beauty, and it directs my thoughts and heart toward God.

But what happens far too often is that I don’t prioritize times to spend with God. Yes, I will read some scripture in the morning. Some days I will journal some thoughts or prayers.

So I decided that I will spend 2-3 mornings by going down the hill without my phone. Just my Bible, journal, and a pen. And spend time with God in what has become a sacred place for me.

Our church called us to a time of prayer and fasting this week. That is how I am beginning 2018. Praying and fasting as I seek God. He is who makes it a priority to place a child into a family, who cares for the widow and the one who doesn’t have a place to call home. God doesn’t forget the one who is in prison, and yes, He set the example of leaving His place of comfort, not just comfort, perfection, and entering our world.

As I spend time with Him…as we spend time with Him, His nature becomes our nature.

If that is the one and only goal that I accomplish this year, it will be the best year ever.

Identity, Purpose, and Belonging with Joe Elliott Founder of Catalyst Collective [Podcast 33]

Joe Elliott knew that he needed to do something different if he were to reach young adults. During a brain-storming session with several other youth pastors, many great ideas rose to the surface. But they all knew that if they began doing much of what they put down on paper, they all would get fired.

But Joe was in the right place at the right time to begin applying some of the ideas. Out of that the Catalyst Collective was born.

Joe is married, the father of three children, a dreamer, motivator, connector, and speaker. I look forward to you hearing from him.

Here is the interview on His Hands His Feet:

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The Biggest Obstacle to Christians Living a Life On Mission

How God calls a Christian to live is clear and simple. You can phrase it any way you choose—engage others, share the story, live a missional life—it boils down to His call for us to live a life on mission. His mission.

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The question is why don’t more Christians choose to live this way?

I don’t just mean going to another country as a missionary, either short or long-term. I mean living life in such a way that it drives every decision you make. But what does that even look like?

How does living a life on mission impact the way you spend your money; parent your children; spend your time; who you hang out with?

Maybe you have never given that much thought. Instead you make those decisions with no consideration how they impact your ability to live a missional life. In fact, if you ever think about living a life on mission it’s only a few times a year—like the end of the year when you consider making a donation to a “good cause” for a tax break.

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Want a Simple Way to Live a Missional Life?

When do you think about taking time out of your busy schedule to invest in another person’s life? Are you one of those super organized people who has it on your calendar each week or month? Maybe it’s when something is said at church or you read something that compels you to do something.

I find that I need a reminder. It’s not natural for me to think of others. Well, I will if it involves me in some direct way. Either the person is already close to me, like a family member or friend, or I derive some benefit from it—it makes me feel better.

Not a very pretty picture of myself, but I know that is who I am.

But when I press into God and spend time with Him, He changes me. He takes my eyes off myself. He gives me a heart of flesh instead a heart of stone. I care about the vulnerable, the hurting, the lonely…I care because that is who He is.

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How to Determine What Cause to Support

So many good causes. Social media does a fantastic job of spreading the news about those who don’t have a family, haven’t heard the gospel, need rescued from slavery, or just need a helping hand.

Such limited resources. All of us only have 24 hours in a day. Sure some have fewer commitments than others, but still. None of us has all the energy or money that it would take.

Downside is that this fact often keeps us from doing anything at all. If I can’t help everyone, I won’t help anyone. I don’t want to play favorites or make a choice.

If I had my choice, I would foster and adopt from right here in our community (which we did) AND be on the mission field in a foreign country while serving on multiple boards of nonprofits doing great things. Then every time I was made aware of a cause that needed money, I would give, generously.

The truth is I can’t be in two places at once. I only have so much time to devote to nonprofit volunteerism. And who among us has an unlimited amount of money?

The reality is that none of us can respond to every good cause. So, what do we do?

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4 Terrible Reasons to Do Missional Church

What Is a Better Way to Do Missional Church?

Missional church—a gathering of Christians devoted to the mission of Christ in sharing the Good News of who Jesus is by going to where the people do life entering their context and engaging them on their turf instead of expecting them to attend a church meeting on a church campus.

Photo Credit: SteveJM2009 via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: SteveJM2009 via Compfight cc

Sounds appropriate right? What could be wrong with this approach to church?

I watched an interview with Steve Timmis, church planter, author, and missional thinker. You can watch the interview too by following this link—A Field Guide Conversation with Steve Timmis.

Steve Timmis fully advocattes the idea of a missional church.

The Gospel is a missionary word so the church must be mission – centered… The Church exists both THROUGH the Gospel and FOR the Gospel.Steve Timmis and Tim Chester, Total Church

However in the interview Steve Timmis comments that some reasons for “doing missional church” are not a good idea, in fact probably won’t work. I add two more reasons of my own.

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5 Ways to Help You Use Your Money as a Missional Tool

I bet tax time doesn’t make any top 1o favorite time of the year lists. Doing our taxes is more obligation than anything.

Photo Credit: fpsurgeon via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: fpsurgeon via Compfight cc

It’s not just tax time that is difficult when it comes to money. In most households “money” is a bad word. We don’t talk about it, or when we do, it causes a lot of stress.

I have heard the phrase, “use money as a tool”, and ” money is not good or evil”.

I agree with both. Yeah, easier said than done.

But how many of us view our money as a tool to further a mission? As a Christian, I view myself as the caretaker or money manager of the funds that come my way. I want to manage that money just as wisely as I expect my own financial planner to do with the money I invest with him.

When I think of it this way, I understand that all the money I have has been entrusted to me by the One who owns it all. And He asks me to use it to further His mission.

5 Ways to help you use money as a missional tool:

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Warning: Program Driven Church Can’t Sustain the Art of Neighboring

I grew up in the 60s and 70s when most churches ran between 100-500 in attendance. We didn’t need a lot of programs to bring us together. We just got together. To worship. To celebrate. To mourn. To live life.

Photo Credit: Leanne Michelle via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Leanne Michelle via Compfight cc

You really did know everyone regardless of age or stage of life. We lived relatively close to each other. I don’t recall people driving 30-60 minutes to get to church. Why would they do that when they had a local church much closer?

In the 80s, mega-churches became the rage. The goal became to get as many people to attend one location as possible. Pastors went to conferences to learn how to attract more people to their campuses.

Churches began to run 1000-2000 or more.

In order to meet the “needs” of the attendees, pastors  had to add event coordinating to their long list of responsibilities. The staff placed people into similar age or life stage groups to make programming easier.

People came from further distances creating an environment where many lived up to an hour from one another.

The intent behind a program driven church was good one.

But I think the pendulum is swinging back to local, community driven church, or at least gatherings.

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