MTS2 Session Eight: To Finish the Call Well

MTS-2 Bar Montenegro

October 2009

Session Eight

Why Am I Here?  To Finish My Calling Well


To Finish Well – How Do I Gain Wisdom for the Mission Phil 3:12

Introduction:
Now that you have had a chance to reflect, maybe get away from the field for a few days and collect your thoughts, pray through stuff, you have maybe even gained some wisdom about missions. Especially since you have been on the field for a year or so. What wisdom would be good to share with a new person who was considering missions in your field?

Teaching Intro:
We have really enjoyed being here with you guys. Our lives really will never be the same because we’ve had this time with you, and we know more about Central Europe than ever. So, thanks for letting us into your worlds these few days.

For our last day of studies with you, we want to share with you a few points of wisdom that we have learned as we have pursued the call and the mission. Since we started our days together with a session on asking God the right questions, here are some of the questions we have asked and continue to ask when it comes to staying after the calling!

1. Is it “God’s Will” or is it “me will?”

A lot of times we talk about “finding God’s will for ME!” It’s like we whisper the “God’s will” part, but shout the ME!  God’s will is really a lot more about HIM and a little bit about me.
Remember: He is I AM; we are iamnot.
The-los – God’s will is “purpose, demand”, got to; but it is also, His “pleasure, desire” – get to.
“It’s His plan to will and to work according to HIS GOOD PLEASURE!”
2. Is God’s will a “dot in the middle of a target” that we aim for?
You’ve probably heard or maybe said, “I want to be right in the middle of God’s will.” That’s a lot of pressure on you – of all the mission organizations, of all the continents, of all the countries, of all the cities and villages, of all the streets, and of all the apartments. How could you possibly figure all this out on your own. One wrong step or miscue and the rest of the plan is kaput! Illus. God’s will is more a field with fences that are the commands, and there are places within the field that are better for you, that’s the wisdom, and there are things you do that God delights in, that’s the disciplines to learn to hear Him, and then there are the activities that bring Him glory by doing, and that’s the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Rick: Or perhaps God’s will is more like a path in the wilds! Sometimes broadens, sometimes narrow. Sometimes well blazed, sometimes less clear. Sometimes up hill, sometimes down. Sometimes more dangerous, sometimes safer. We can be wise, or unwise. We can live safely, or make unsafe choices.  As long as we stay within Biblical commands of holiness, relationships, pursuits; and seek Him first; and live wisely, the left bend can be just as pleasing as the right when it comes to a choice between two equals. And God works all the turns, all the ups and down, all the right and wrong decisions to His glory.

3. Is God’s will the “safest place in the universe?”
You may have heard people say to you, just stay in God’s will and He will keep you safe. Nothing can harm you there!
My experience has been really the opposite.
Rick: I had just finished a small group Bible study on the second floor of a small apartment building with a Latino family. I walked into the dirt parking lot and a rough looking guy met me there. Walked right up to me, and began yelling in my face and spitting. I could turn and run – and I thought about it. Or I could stand there and wait for an opening. So I waited – and finally got to say, “We aren’t leaving. We are here.” It was afterwards that someone told me he had a knife drawn and behind his back.
It is sometimes the most dangerous thing you can do to follow God. It’s also the most exciting. Don’t choose to live dangerously just to be foolish, but live the dangerous life of faith that represents Him well and follow His prompting and calling.

4. Is everything you need to know to follow God’s calling in the Bible?
Well… yes… and no. The Bible pours life into our lives, and all we do should align with Scripture. So don’t get our point wrong here. For instance, He says to us, go to all the nations. But you had to choose the nation. He says share the Great News wherever you go; but you have to choose who and what home or apartment or coffee bar to go into. There were places in some of the cities I have lived in over the years that I really just chose not to go into unless I sensed I had to. (When Susan served in Chile, it was the same.) Even Jesus told the “2 by 2’s” to stay where they are welcome – and at least a part of that is so you would have a safe and open place to minister and share in.

5. Are only Christians “in on” God’s will?
God used pagans in the Bible all the time. Most of the time, they didn’t know it was God’s will, and they did it anyway… with gusto! Sometimes they awoke to God’s will and knew what they were doing was bigger than themselves. And pagans ended up turning to the Lord God when they saw His power and will.
Sometimes, when the lost are confronted by His will and wisdom, especially as you relate to them – they will seek Him and turn to Him and away from sin and rebellion.

6. Can wisdom come from only “Christian” sources?
We seek God’s wisdom first and foremost in His Word. And acknowledge, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” But we also get wisdom from godly friends, books, trusted authors and even sometimes, not so godly friends. He can speak through whomever and whatever He chooses. If it lines up with and points you back to a Biblical lifestyle, listen to it.
Rick: I was reading a recent copy of “Seventeen” magazine while I waited for my daughter to get her haircut. One section advised young girls to leave their boyfriends if all they wanted was sex.  Not a Christian magazine, but good wisdom and probably rescued a girl or two from wrong choices.

7. Does God speak to us today?
This is a tricky one that needs to be answered carefully. Illus. In my seminary days, the same person that would tell me God is finished with His supernatural revelation would ardently confirm to me that God called him supernaturally to the ministry. God speaks today through His Word. He speaks to us through wise counsel, etc. And he speaks to us supernaturally, confirming or affirming something we need to know, do, change, pursue, etc. Those “in the last days” things in Acts 2/Joel 2 that Peter affirmed can be a little scary. But whatever the form it takes it always lines up with Scripture; and never violates His written Word. But it sure can be very personal and clearly from God.

8. Can God only speak in limited or certain ways today?
This is the follow up question to the previous one, “Does God speak to you today?”  If you answer yes, then you have to ask and answer for yourself, “How does He speak?”  Acts 2, Peter recounts that in the last days visions, dreams, prophecies, etc. would be a part of our experience. I’m not here to shake up a theological bee’s nest, but God will speak in ways you need Him to if you give Him permission. You’ve probably heard the stories of how Christ has been revealing Himself personally or through an angel to Muslims in the 10/40 areas. And Muslims are saying “yes” to Jesus because He is speaking to them.

9. Can I really be doing God’s will if my job doesn’t use my “gifts,” “skill set,” or “talents and experience?”
There will be occasions, and even seasons, during which you will serve outside your passions. It’s best to work at what you love the most and are strongest at – and my feeling is that we should do our best to work toward this. But, it’s not necessarily outside of God’s will to do what you aren’t especially “skilled” or experienced at.
Some seasons in serving God, you may have to do things you don’t really like that much – so what, do it with all your heart as to the Lord. Somebody has to wash dishes; somebody has to hang out the wet clothes; somebody has to clean the toilet. I see servants doing these things who are leaders in the making. It’s the whole “faithful with the little things/granted bigger things” promise that we need to get in on. Jesus is our example and he came “not to be served, but to serve.” That value took him to his knees with a bowl of water and a towel, and I’m not sure we would have listed this in His top five “skill set” items.
And if you don’t feel like you are accomplishing “the calling” God has for you, and perhaps are doing a lot more “outside the passion” than inside, then find ways creatively outside the “job” that you can fulfill it. Ask your supervisor to bless this and help you make time and prioritize it.
(Illus. Ten Boom family – skilled watchmakers and business oriented, but known for letting God’s compassion work through them by rescuing refugee Jews from the Holocaust.)
When you are mostly doing things that are assigned to you, or your options are limited in how you can serve God, ook at it as a gift: 1) sometimes, you are freed from “all those options” you might have had in your other life or culture and, 2) the choices are simpler on how you can serve Him. The options are limited on what it means to “please Him” and it helps you redefine your relationship with Him and the world He created and put you in the middle of.
Rick: The key words for “wait on the Lord” infers more than “patience” – it also means to serve Him like a waiter. And it maybe limited what this looks like  — and He will renew you and strengthen you. So don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t all fit your expectations and “skill set.”
Also, you may say – but I have given up so much, my home, my job, and my stuff. So, you’ve got a good start on surrendering yourself to Him.
Jesus said you die to live, you lay down to get it back, you surrender to get, and you lose to gain.
When you give up what you “want to do,” you discover through His leadership what you “get to do.”
It may be that the most fulfilling thing is to make a difference in a homeless person’s life, or a child’s, or a coach’s, or a group in a recovering addict’s home. Do it with all your heart to God.

10. Is God’s will hidden?
Sometimes it feels like it is, and sometimes we are just too full of “me” to hear “HIM.” But Jesus told his disciples that he shares his secrets, his will, his plans with his children. Ask and keep on asking for His wisdom. And seek and keep on seeking His glory first. And knock and keep on knocking for His answer.
Give him time and He will speak.

Closing:
We want to bring your questions back in now to see how God has met you and answered your prayers and perhaps your cries for wisdom. (Hand out the expectations forms. Let them look through them for a minute. Ask if anyone wants to share something.)

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MTS2 Session Seven: To Reach Out

MTS-2 Bar Montenegro

October 2009

Session Seven

Why Am I Here?  To Reach Out

To Reach Out– The Gift of Great News! Isaiah 55:1-13

Teaching: During this session, the table time will drive the process of discovering God’s covenant desire for witnessing, how He partners with us, the power of His word to multiply disciples, the surpassing goodness of the Great News, and the effect salvation has on the world.

We have all heard a few sermons on “Reaching Out” and “Witnessing.” What passages come to mind right now that you’ve heard preached on?

First Passage:
The message of the Great News starts with the Great Initiator. God reached out and gave the invitation to come to the table. God has formed an agreement, a covenant with us. God has completed His part of the covenant. He has completed the requirements to buy us back. He has given us freedom – Fullness of life – Joy uncontainable – Love immeasurable – Mercy unmerited – Peace unsurpassable. And that’s just what He has for us here! He has eternity’s Google calendar planned out for us. What we have is Great News!

Pay attention, come close now,
listen carefully to my life-giving, life-nourishing words.
I’m making a lasting covenant commitment with you,
the same that I made with David: sure, solid, enduring love.
I set him up as a witness to the nations,
made him a prince and leader of the nations,
And now I’m doing it to you
: 3-5 Message

1. When you share a secret, or good news with someone, what kind of emotions do you have?
2. What is the covenant that God is making with us? Name three things it includes.
3. What does “a witness to the nations” mean here? And to you?

Second Passage:
This covenant leads to an awesome partnership. He leads us, empowers us, delivers to us the Good News and forms in us a heart of compassion. Our job – obedience.
Rick: I had lived in Texas for nearly three years, and was driving back from a pasturing position in Dallas toward home in Fort Worth (about an hour away.) I spot two Mexican guys on the side of the autostrada hitchhiking. In the US we don’t usually pickup hikers, but I knew I needed to get these guys. But I didn’t speak Spanish and they didn’t speak English. It was a long and slightly uncomfortable drive, and I ran through the list of everyone who might speak Spanish. I found Mike at the dorm (a music major) and drawing the bridge illustration on the dust of my beat up “ministry car” and getting translation help, two new believers entered into heaven’s rolls.
Nations=ethnics (we see boundaries, God sees groups and families who need Him; we see barriers to the Gospel, God sees languages of the heart that the Gospel resonates with)

You’ll summon nations you’ve never heard of,
and nations who’ve never heard of you
will come running to you
Because of me, your God,
because The Holy of Israel has honored you.” 5

Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth
not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.
8-9 Message

1. When you moved to your field, what was the first good “surprise” you got about your new country? What was your first “hard surprise?”
2. When you first arrived at your field, did you discover a “new country” in the area you never knew about?
3. In this passage, who is responsible for nations moving toward you and the news you carry?
4. Who carries the action in the second half of this passage? Who is the messenger? What is the message?
5. How does rain and snow compare to the “words that come out of my mouth?”
6. What is the promise of this passage?

Third Passage:
God works in ways both different and beyond what we expect. We might want to convince someone to trust Christ. We might want to make it make sense to them, or explain it in a way that is logical. We might want to argue them into the Kingdom.
Evangelism happens in a lot of different ways, but I think sometimes we complicate the process. 1) God is already at work in the life of the person we are sharing with. 2) Compassion is the best packaging. 3) The gift is the message. 4) It has to be opened personally. 5) Most people won’t open it unless they are invited to.
Remember what the first verses said – come if you are thirsty, hungry, want to be filled. If there isn’t a thirst already developed, your message becomes salt to make them thirsty.

“I don’t think the way you think.
The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
God’s Decree.
“For as the sky soars high above earth,
so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
and the way I think is beyond the way you think.
8-9 Message

1. Since you have been on the field, would you say that your ministry job is: a) poetry in motion, b) a mystery, c) a love story, d) history, e) a masterpiece in process
2. How does God’s work surpass the way you work?
3. How do God’s thoughts go beyond your thoughts?
4. Is it important to line up our thoughts and work with His? Is this possible?

Fourth Passage:
God is inviting us to His table, to His fountain. He says in this chapter no less than five times “Come.” No matter what you have been drinking, what God offers is better. Eating. Feasting on relationally. Spending your spare time on.
Susan: I was in a conference a few years ago and hear the story of a girl from Trinidad and Tobago – she had a really good friend who lived apart from God and really lived like the devil – no hope, unsafe life – she pleaded with him “God love you – you don’t have to live like this.” This man married her a couple years later.

“Hey there! All who are thirsty,
come to the water!
Are you penniless?
Come anyway—buy and eat!
Come, buy your drinks, buy wine and milk.
Buy without money—everything’s free!
Why do you spend your money on junk food,
your hard-earned cash on cotton candy?
Listen to me, listen well: Eat only the best,
fill yourself with only the finest.
1-2 Message

1. What is your market day like? Have you ever been aggressively talked into buying something in the market?
2. What does the market vendor’s call to “come” in these verses represent?
3. In what ways is the “food and drink” Jesus offers better?

Fifth Passage:
We really have a “one-dimensional” perspective when we share the Great News. All to often, we are thinking “no hell/know heaven.” Important – very important! Eternally important! But what happens to those around them if they are discipled so they can share their faith, too. And what about the generations to come because he or she will raise kids who will hear the gospel. And what about the praises the following verses speak about!  We can only imagine how significant one soul is to God’s heart!
“So you’ll go out in joy,
you’ll be led into a whole and complete life.
The mountains and hills will lead the parade,
bursting with song.
All the trees of the forest will join the procession,
exuberant with applause.
No more thistles, but giant sequoias,
no more thornbushes, but stately pines—
Monuments to me, to God,
living and lasting evidence of God.”
12-13 Message

1. What excites you most about seeing someone become a new Christian? a) potential as a witness to family and friends, b) excitement about their new faith, c) heaven’s new citizen, d) new worker in church, e) the cosmic effect of their salvation

Closing:
Pray at your tables. Ask God to open eyes around you to the Great News. Ask Him to cause your life to be salt and light to the nations. Ask Him to give you open doors and boldness to give away this gift you have. Ask God to cause you to be faithful in this covenant to share.