The present political climate finds many bemoaning the fact that our generation is mortgaging our children’s future. Trillions of dollars of debt and astronomical amounts of interest on that debt threaten to destroy the US economy and reduce a once great nation to rubble, leaving our descendants with far less than their forefathers had to enjoy. These startling realities should motivate us to get involved, vote for change, and hold our elected officials accountable.
But while the future generations face these and more desperate problems, if things continue as they are, something far more alarming and significant may be in store for them. The Christian church, especially the American Christian church, seems far more concerned about its children’s Social Security than its spiritual security. What if we correct the course of our political and economic ship, elect a responsible and effective Chief Executive and fail to leave a godly heritage to our children? What if we fail to do all we can to instill in them an eternal perspective, hunger and thirst for righteousness, and a passion for Christ and His gospel? What if we restore the so-called American dream and fail to pass on a Biblical vision to the generation to come? What if our children inherit our IRAs, property, and houses and do not inherit from us an unshakable faith in the Almighty God that will stand the test of time?
I realize that we cannot give our children, or any of our descendants, genuine saving faith in Christ or unshakable commitment to His truth. But we can, by God’s grace, lay a foundation for them, model a commitment to them, and teach them with a genuine and fervent passion that communicates something of their eternal value. As Paul invested his life in his son in the faith, Timothy, and passed on to him his gospel vision, may we do the same with the children the Lord has given us. Let no cost deter us nor any burden hinder us from passing a vision for Christ and His kingdom to our children and the future generations. May we walk in the integrity of gospel-centered lives and see the blessings of God on our descendants after us (Prov. 20:7).
That the generations to come might know Christ,
In the last couple of weeks, I have embarked into a wonderful book called, ‘What is the Mission of the Church?’ [By Kevin DeYoung & Greg Gilbert] For this week’s post, I wanted to leave you with a section I read that hits the issue of ‘missions’ square in the heart. It deals with a viewpoint that is often forgotten when it comes to a proper theological belief on the subject. In fact, I am afraid it is a sickness that plaques our churches in whatever issue we teach and deal with on a daily basis. It addresses the problem of developing our beliefs through proof texting or a failure to see the importance of an issue from the narrative of scripture as a whole. I hope as you read this brief section it will encourage you to read this sound and excellent work on the issue of missions. More importantly, I hope it encourages a personal study in the scriptures in order to draw your beliefs not just from a few texts, but the Word of God in its entirety – whether it is missions or any theological issue.
“Its never a good idea to make a biblical case for something – especially something a monumentally important as the mission of the church – from just a few text. The Bible isn’t just a potpourri of pithy sayings from which we can pick up a nugget here and a nugget there. No, it’s a grand, sweeping, world-encompassing story that traces the history of God’s dealings with mankind from very beginning to very end. If we really want to understand what God is doing and what he would have us to do as his people, we need to have a good grasp of what that story is, what its main themes are, what the problem is, what God’s remedy to the problem is, and what it all looks like when the story ends.
Though we started this book with a look at some specific texts, our thesis – that the mission of the church is to proclaim the gospel and make disciples – does not rest on the Great Commission texts alone. Rather, we believe that those texts are so important and have gained their nickname precisely because the entire story line of the Bible presses forward toward them.” – ‘What is the Mission of the Church?’
So, get into the Word. Never ground yourself on issue with a couple of verses. Build your understanding and belief from the entirety of the Word. Never think it is not important. Realize, it will affect in what manner you GO – whether it be your own or God’s.
Be not moved away,
Several years ago I attended a ladies Conference where the speaker was Pasty Clairmont. In her talk she used a phrase, “God uses Cracked Pots”.
I have never forgotten that phrase. In returning home I was working in my garden and I picked up a clay pot to plant something and found out it was all cracked. Now ladies, the natural thing to do is throw this pot away. I choose to keep it! I taped it up with clear tape, put dirt in it, a small artificial plant and a small sign that read “GOD USES CRACKED POTS.” That pot brings to my mind that in my weakness He is strong through me. Romans 9:21 ” Has not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor and another unto dishonor?” The LORD will not toss out a broken pot. Being complete in Him means that everything we need is in Christ. 2 Peter 1:3 says, “According as His divine power has given unto to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that has called us to glory and virtue.” Did you catch it in that verse? We have enough and are complete in Christ because of the knowledge of Him that has called us.
When we fail – when we blow it – there is no rejection from the Lord, only forgiveness and mercies new every day. How freeing it is in our lives to know that it is not about me and my performance but that I am in Christ and He is enough. I am complete when I am in His will for my life. I have been a Pastors wife and I have been a homeschooling Mom. I know how quickly we can let performance be the guide and the gauge of our spirituality. I stumble, I fail in my own strength as a Christian woman, but I bring to mind His mercy towards me and I am forgiven and cleansed and made fit for the task before me. Sometimes I feel more like a crack-pot rather than a CRACKED Pot!!!! (And those who know me might agree!) So every time I pass that cracked pot in my bathroom I am renewed in the knowledge of who I am in Christ and Christ is doing the work in me and frankly that brings a smile to my face and joy in my soul that is hard to comprehend. Oh ladies, stop today and think and be grateful – He has chosen cracked pots and sinners saved by grace to be used for His glory. I leave you with a thought from Elizabeth Elliot: “The Recognition of Who God is is a lifetime process.
The door has opened for the Cavanaugh Family to go to Ecuador this Summer 2012 and conduct a Family Leadership Conference with multiple churches in the city of Esmeradles, Ecuador. We will also be conducting a one night leadership training event with many of the city leaders. The excitement of our heart over this opportunity cannot be put into words. This is a continued fulfillment of the burden that God has placed in our hearts to proclaim the gospel to all nations that the generation to come might know. Many years of prayer and intense life preparation have brought us to this point, and we are humbled at the door God has opened. Our work will be building on the foundation of relationships built by Global Encounters Ministries with pastors and laymen of that country. Both Vision4Living and Global Encounters will be partnering together for this trip. We will be working directly with pastors and their families in extensive training on what it means to raise a gospel centered family.
Meet Pastor Louis Chanez: This brother has become a dear friend and fellow laborer in the gospel. His precious family and church minister there day after day in that dark city of Esmeraldas. This coastal city is raught with crime and immorality. A common theme of high poverty, broken homes, and streets that run with kids is burned into my memory. However, there is the light of hope that is being shed abroad through the work of this brother and the churches he partners with. It was so exciting to sit with Pastor Louis on my last trip to Ecuador and talk about how we could partner together to raise up leaders to equip the next generation to proclaim the gospel. He shared with me their need for training and equipping the families of the local assembles. With tears, he told me of American missionaries that had come many years ago and shared the glorious gospel and because of that he was sitting with me today. He went on to share how his health was deminishing and that he was burdened to raise up others who could carry on the work even after he was gone. He realizes he cannot do it alone and wants to partner with people like you and me to accomplish the task of disciple making and training others to make disciples. I can’t tell you how humbled I was that he would want to work with us. Equally, I was struck with a burden for the great need in this city – the need for the life changing gospel. I could do nothing but respond to my dear brother with an affirmation that we would work with him by the grace of God, together, to accomplish this great task.
Before we had left that conversation, plans where made for the Cavanaugh Family to return in the Summer of 2012. We are so excited, yet, overwhelmed at the door God has opened to equip His people to go and make disciples for His glory – to produce worshipers of His great name. It is our desire that the nations would be glad!
For His Renown,
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In my last post, we looked at God’s global plan of redemption. We touched on the fact of its evidence throughout the Old Testament. However, in viewing this evidence, it is only proper to understand that until the ushering in of the New Covenant, the plan of redemption through the God man – Jesus Christ – was always a mystery. The Apostle Paul proclaims this mystery to us and gives his following credentials to reveal in Ephesians 3:1-8 [ESV];
“For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ”
Though not an Apostle, we are still compelled to take the wonder of this mystery to the ends of the earth. Three things are very evident in this passage so lets take a moment to expound on them. There is:
1. The Plan of the Mystery
For the first time in history it is revealed that the Gentiles are partakers of the promise of Christ, members of the body of Christ, and joint heirs with Christ. This was so counter to the Jewish way of thinking. For the Gentiles, it was glorious news, but for the Jews a total shift – missions, if you will, was being ushered into the newly established church of Christ for the first time. We are so accustom to this concept now that its familiarity leaves us lethargic in our motivation for proclaiming the gospel. But Paul is laying out the mission’s plan – to bring God’s people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. You can almost sense Paul’s excitement as you read chapter 3. He is revealing a mystery that has been hid for ages. The promised seed of Abraham had come and through that seed all nations were to be blessed. Paul is proclaiming the missional application to the theology of Christ work – the mystery revealed. Our mission is clear: take the good news to all people who will partake “of the promise in Christ Jesus in the gospel.” How exciting is that?
2. The preacher of the Mystery
This mystery is what made Paul a minister. This mystery is what gave Paul his mission. As I said, you can sense his excitement and passion to be a part of this mission. How about us? Are we passionate to proclaim the mystery revealed? Are we giving of our life for this mission? Remember the words of Paul: “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? [Romans 10:14 ESV].”
3. The Person of the Mystery
The Person of the mystery is clear. We find Him in the risen Son of God – Jesus Christ. He alone compels and gives the passion for our mission. If your passion for Christ is dull and your desire to proclaim Him lethargic, maybe you need to spend some time getting to know Him better. Pick up the word of God where the mystery of Christ is revealed. Be fueled in your passion for Him. Find renewal in your vision for the mission. If you do so, you will GO. You can do nothing else.
Be not moved away,
“You have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.” (Psalm 61:5b)
What were your great grandparents like? Were they poor or rich? Hard working or lazy? Godly or ungodly? It is possible that you do not know and even passible that you do not care or have not given the matter much thought. You may not even know much about your grandparents. In our day, we are all about the present: present comfort; present convenience; present pleasures; present happiness.
Another, perhaps more intriguing question is: “What will our children and great grandchildren be like?” Will they be thrifty and hard working? Conservative or liberal? Will they be God-fearing? We had no choice in the matter of our forefathers. They are ours whether we like it or not. But what about our descendants? Do we have anything to say about them? David said, “You have given the heritage of those who fear your name.” How did he receive such an inheritance? He received it because his forefathers lived with the next generation in view. David’s great grandfather was Boaz, his grandfather Obed, and his father Jesse. This short account admittedly creates unanswered questions, but it also does something else: It challenges us to leave a godly inheritance. It challenges us to live with the next generation in view. You may not have come from godly or Christian ancestors, but by God’s grace, you can be one. You can be the beginning of a godly heritage.
This blog will not always address the issue of trans-generational Christianity so directly. But I trust it will be a challenge to live in such a way as to leave a godly heritage.
That the generation to come might know Christ,
The global plan of the gospel of Jesus Christ has always been at the forefront of God’s heart and mind. Yes, the Israelites where God’s chosen people, but it must be distinctly understood that it was through His chosen people that God planned to send His Son – the hope of Nations.
For centuries, there have been prejudices that have characterized man and, unfortunately, Christians have been the biggest perpetrators of such thinking. However, nothing could be more unbiblical or un-Christ-like than failing to realize God’s plan includes His chosen from all nations.
Furthermore, for those of us who are “American Christians”, our patriotism has created a pitfall. [Don’t misunderstand me. There is nothing wrong with being a patriot.] However, we have generally created an atmosphere that somehow we have a corner on the market when it comes to God and missions – we act as though we have some special dispensation. This kind of thinking is faulty, and its fault lies in unbiblical thinking that has crept into our hearts and minds over the years. This thinking – whether it is American, South American, European, etc. – is unbiblical because it fails to understand God’s plan of redemption for His chosen people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. It fails to see that God’s kingdom is made up of all nations.
1. The Foundation
To address these bold statements, we need to go to the foundation of the above concept, which is found the book of Genesis. God gave Abraham a foundational promise that, “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.”[Genesis 22:18] This single promise alone is packed with meaning. Yes, we know from the narrative of Abraham that God promised to give his offspring great and vast amounts of land. The promise of physical blessing is very evident. But, the real significance of what God promised Abraham is found in the phrase “in thy seed”. Through the seed of Abraham, God sent His Son to die a sinner’s death on a cross so that all nations might be blessed [see Matthew 1].
2. The Focus
Though clearer through our current 20/20 hindsight as we look back and see all of God’s promises from the Old Testament fulfilled in the New Testament, we only need to read through the Old Testament with an observant eye to see God moving towards this plan. God made provision in the law for the stranger that dwelt among Israel [see Deut. 10:9; 23:7; 24:14, Lev. 23:22; 25:6]. Sure, God commanded the Israelites to destroy the nations of the land He had promised Abraham and his seed. Yet, don’t forget that He held Israel accountable for their wickedness and multiple times brought judgment upon them. In our previous post, we saw the Psalmist declare a blessing to Israel for the purpose of God’s ways being known on earth – His “saving power among all nations”. The Psalmist then declares: “Let the nations be glad and sing for joy [See Psalm 67].” God’s ultimate plan that runs through the whole of the Old Testament is that through His chosen people, He would bring the Hope of nations – the Messiah. Israel, by their identity and blessing, was to declare to the nations God’s “saving power”.
3. The Follow Through
Then we come to the New Testament. Paul gives us clear thinking when it comes to what people groups Christ’s salvation included – all who come to Him in repentance. He give a broad statement that “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus [Gal. 3].” Christ commanded His disciples to go unto all of the world and make disciples [Mt. 28]. So, let us do it. Don’t waste time. Give your life to spreading the gospel to the entire world in whatever you do. Make it your driving motivation. Reach your neighborhood. Reach your community. Reach you country. Reach your world. If you can’t go to another country be faithful in the one you are in. Give your resources for the furtherance of the gospel. Expend your energy. GO! Reach your world with the gospel! And you will hear in the end: “Well done thou good and faithful servant”.
Be not moved away,
Okay ladies, my son has talked me into writing a regular Blog for our ministry. Honestly I come kicking and screaming!!! 🙂 (figuratively of course). I invite you to join me on this new journey of writing for “The Art Of Womanhood”. My husband Charles once preached in a sermon that the Christian life is not a sprint but a marathon.
I totally agree. Come with me as I share life experiences, insights and opening my heart. Pray for me for the days ahead. I feel like Esther as Mordecai wrote in Esther 4:14b “And who knows whether you have come to the Kingdom for such a time as this?”