This Week’s CHALLENGE:
1) Ask God this question: What am I afraid of?
2) Write down what comes to mind
3) Then ask yourself: If God is with me, why am I afraid of that?
|WHAT’S HAPPENED WITH ME
|A New Role and the Ball is Rolling
|It’s hard to believe it has been a couple of months since I joined Encompass World Partners. It has been a blast getting to know many of the people I have served with and long respected!Last month, I had the privilege of joining 2 other current staff and 7 other soon to be deployed missionaries for Core Orientation (link). I hope you’ll go to my post to see more about that week.Also I was in Ohio, for a meeting with Mission Mobilizers (link) at the Wooster Grace Brethren Church. A great group of leaders who were challenging one another to be intentional about calling people to living on life-long mission.I also was with a gathering of men and women at the Lexington Grace Brethren Church who have all been in Africa and have a passion for Leadership Training. God is stirring up something for the benefit of the church leaders there — in Central Africa, Cameroon and Chad!
I need your prayers for following up on the leaders and churches from these meetings. We asked these leaders to pray and seek the Lord about next steps. Pray for me as I have the joy of sifting through all that God and trying to form some coalitions.
|What Are We Talking About?
– a covenant group of churches, leaders or ministries
– cooperating in joint action
– together for a common purpose.
This is the simplest definition, but a potent one. We believe that moving forward together in joint action as teams will truly be the future of mobilization.
There are a host of coalitions in formation right now.
Please Pray that there would be 3 solid coalitions by next month.
On this day when we have a memorial for our beloved Erin Vidovich, I remember back to the end of August when she and Pete Anderson did an interview with me for our Los Altos Grace Church family on Sunday morning. It was a powerful time of reality and truth.
Below is the write up from that time….and what a beautiful way Erin worships our Jesus now: So that it how I worship Him, by submitting my life to Him in a real way.
In this interview format, our own Pete Anderson who lost a spouse to divorce and another to death (and is now happily married to Cheryl) and speaks about the difficulty of worship even through great loss.
Erin Vidovich is currently battling through cancer for the second time. She articulated succinctly about what it means for her to worship in this “crucible of life.”
For me worshiping has been as it is written in Romans 12:1, where we “offer up our body as a living and holy sacrifice to God.” It has meant surrendering, submitting, trusting God completely with my life–in a very real way.
Other problems that I’ve been through in my life, with jobs, or kids or other things, God would always say to me, “Let it go. Love me more than these. And trust Me to handle that.”
And then when it came to my cancer, He said to me, “You have to love me more than your own life.” And I truly understood what that meant.
Everything I thought my life was to be about: getting old, sitting on the porch swing with my spouse or traveling the world or playing with my grand kids. Whatever it was, those were my plans, and I had to let go of those. Maybe that’s not what God’s plan was for me.
So that it how I worship Him, by submitting my life to Him in a real way.
One of the questions was to share some of the Scriptures which were most meaningful as they walked through their crucible experiences. To spur you on to love and good deeds, we thought we would list the ones they shared:
Erin: A lot of the Psalms, but particularly Psalm 57:1 and her favorite Psalm 34.
This interview was deep with meaning and powerful testimonies to God’s goodness and grace through the most difficult things in life.
We encourage you to check out the recording of this interview online here and share it with others who might be encouraged by the truths found there.
“The Bible is basically a story about God. When we turn to the Bible as a self-help book, we end up bored or frustrated with what seems to be a rambling collection of stories. What if the Bible is more about God than it is about us? How thrilling to discover that every element of scripture—the reports of events, the verses of distilled wisdom, the lyrical prophecies—converge in one central saga of one worthy Person.
“We’re used to the idea that the Bible is a true story. It’s so true that the story is still unfolding to this minute. We are used to hearing that the Bible is a love story. But we tend to see only one side of the love: how God loves people. If the main point of the Bible is that God is to be loved with heart, soul, mind and strength, perhaps it would be wise to read the entire story from God’s point of view. When we look at it all from God’s viewpoint, the grand love story finally makes sense: God is not just loving people. He is transforming them to become people who can fully love Him. God is drawing people as worshipers to offer freely to Him their love-inspired glory.
“God can be loved only when He is known. That’s why the story of the Bible is the story of God revealing Himself in order to draw to Himself obedient worship, or glory, from the nations. With God’s passionate love at the core, the Bible is truly the story of His glory.
“To trace the story of God as the Bible presents it, we need a grasp of three related ideas which define the story at every juncture… READ ON
Most people instinctively avoid conflict, but as Margaret Heffernan shows us, good disagreement is central to progress. She illustrates (sometimes counterintuitively) how the best partners aren’t echo chambers — and how great research teams, relationships and businesses allow people to deeply disagree.
The former CEO of five businesses, Margaret Heffernan explores the all-too-human thought patterns — like conflict avoidance and selective blindness — that lead managers and organizations astray.
The first shall be last, and the last, first.
The mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, respectfully approached Jesus. She had a small request for Jesus. “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom” (Matt. 20:21). It sounds like a typical Jewish mother’s request (“My boys are good boys!”). She wasn’t asking much, only that one could be the assistant Savior and the other the associate Lord. Jesus must have thought that he had heard it all now.
Jesus replied in a straightforward fashion, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink?” James and John chime in, “We can” (v. 22). Their response proves they are pretty clueless.
The other ten disciples get wind that mama has been politicking for the “Sons of Thunder.” The disciples start to make some noise of their own. “When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers”—probably because they also wanted those positions (v. 24). Pride and vanity have a tendency to bring to the surface more pride and vanity. So we see the picture—all the disciples jockeying for position, working one-upmanship. They were a pretty ratty bunch.
The First Shall Be Last and the Last Shall Be First
Talk about a teachable moment. Jesus, the master teacher, was not going to miss this opportunity. But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave” (v. 25-27, NLT).
What a paradigm change! I wish I had been there to see the look on their faces. He had just described to them an upside-down leadership style. If you want to be a leader, become a servant; do what others are not willing to do. If you want to be first among the leaders, become a slave (a bond servant), not embraced with a legalistic obligation, but born of a free choice motivated by love. In this commitment there was no free agency; it was a lifetime of voluntary indentured service.
Remember, the Pharisees, the religious leadership of the day, modeled a different kind of leadership. They loved the best place in the synagogue. They loved to be noticed in the market place and for others to recognize them and say, “Hello, Rabbi.” The disciples must have been tempted to think that when their movement succeeds, it would be nice to occupy the best seats and to be noticed by the people. But after this little discourse by Jesus, they might have been thinking, Maybe I should rethink this leadership thing.
Finally, Jesus reveals to them the hinge that would support this radical service. That hinge would be the willingness to give up their lives. “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many” (v. 28). At the core of all authentic service is a relinquishment. No, for most of us it will not be our physical lives, but in true service there is always the aspect of giving up what we want in order to do what he wants. How did this teaching go over with his disciples? Let’s fast-forward to the end of Jesus’ ministry on earth to answer this question.
The Secret Weapon
The scene is the last Passover meal that Jesus would share with the men he had picked to carry on his work here on earth. He knows their hearts and understands that they have a long way to go to apply his truth to their lives. He needed an object lesson that would demonstrate the leadership principles previously outlined. His disciples had been with him three and a half years. They had watched him raise people from the dead. He had touched people’s mouths and the mute spoke. Ears were opened and the deaf began to hear. They were amazed as the seas obeyed him. Yet, it hadn’t brought the change in their lives the Lord had sought. He needed a secret weapon that would not only change them, but also be a tool to reach the world. This was the last interaction with his disciples to etch upon their minds the image by which he was to be remembered. What would it be?
“Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him” (John 13:1-5).
Jesus takes a common towel and washes the disciples’ feet. That night he must have shaken Hell. Demons must have shuddered when they pondered what would happen if this mindset replaced the mentality of the world—this system of the world that is under the “control of the evil one” (1 John 5:19), which says you are important according to position, possessions, or posture in life. Jesus blew a hole right in the center of this mentality by the most valuable taking the role of the least valuable.
A Footwasher to the Footwashers
I worked with Youth with a Mission (YWAM) for 17 years, 8 of those in Kona, Hawaii, where Loren and Darlene Cunningham, co-founders of YWAM, lived. On several occasions I heard Darlene say that God had called her to be a “footwasher to the footwashers.” When Loren needed to be away to take care of the vast responsibilities God had given him, Darlene was home taking care of the children, always with a positive attitude. I watched her spend untold hours counseling and encouraging those of us who were called to minister. We needed encouragement. Being logistical workers and not directly reaching the lost, we sometimes viewed ourselves as second-class missionaries. Darlene encouraged us by speaking worth and value into our lives both in relation to who we were and what we did. Through her life and example, she helped us esteem the high position of service to which God had called us. Like Jesus, she was willing to humble herself to lift others up.
I think we might be a bit surprised when God gives out rewards for our earthly deeds (Matt. 16:27). We might find high on his list of tasks, child-rearing responsibilities, washing socks, or championing others even though it placed us out of the glow of the limelight. I would not be the least bit surprised if on that day we have some shocked people when they finally realize that in serving God, it is not the height of the task or even its breadth that impresses God. It is the depth of our love for Christ—the motivation for our service—which catches the eye of our Father.
The finest book I’ve read thus far this year, is We Are Not the Hero: A Missionary’s Guide to Sharing Christ Not a Culture of Dependency by Jean Johnson. This book, based on a combination of thorough research and personal experience as a seasoned missionary, is another that deals with the chronic issue of western-promoted dependency in missions.
Johnson updates this important topic with a clarion call to westerners (agencies, churches, individuals) to rethink how mission is commonly being done that could lead to dependency.
As a missionary in Cambodia, Johnson learned from personal mistakes about the unintended consequences of ministry unwisely done that was meant to alleviate poverty but actually deepened it. Through her copious research and hard experiences she has earned the right to speak on this topic.
(35 minutes 34 seconds 17 MB [Right click the link and Select “Download as” to save])
Erwin McManus eloquently states, “Problems, obstacles, and challenges can either become the markers of our limits and limitations, or they can become the springboard into a whole new world.”4
High profile missionaries leave defeated people behind…
High-profile missionaries leave defeated people in their trail. Low-profile missionaries humbly empower the indigenous man and woman to be God’s instruments of noble purposes. “Being in someone’s shadow” is a common English idiom that says there is no room for us to be passive. But I suggest that a missionary leader who intentionally positions himself in someone’s shadow, with the goal to empower that person, is a great leader.
Perhaps we could say that a church is indigenous when any given people group experiences Christ through its five senses—sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste—and not the foreigner’s five senses.
“We could list hundreds of helpful items to start churches, but we can count on our fingers and toes those few essentials that make the crucial difference between reproductive and sterile churches. Blessed is the Christian worker who knows the difference.” DR. GEORGE PATTERSON
In cases where the missionaries initially fill high-profile ministry roles, the local leaders have difficulty filling the shoes of those missionaries. The majority of missionaries serve in ministry roles to their fullest capacity, leaning on years of experience, plenty of resources, and ample equipment. Additionally, they often provide fringe benefits such as English lessons, jobs, medical teams, musical instruments, and equipment. When it is the local leaders’ turn to conduct ministry, they struggle to find acceptance because the church members miss the missionary’s charity, expertise, and charismatic personality. Lastly, there is the ever-present problem of failing to plant a truly indigenous church. Missionaries often conduct and model ministry based on church models from their own countries, albeit with some variation. Inevitably, the church develops a foreign personality, structure, and style.
“The beginning is the most important part of the work.” PLATO
Planting churches by asking questions instead of giving answers takes discipline, creativity, and practice.
…using questions as a method to plant churches seems nonsensical— but I think it is a perfect way to plant an indigenous church.
Great quote by William Smallman:
“The incipient church can flounder and stagnate in its first generation if it has no leaders who think their own thoughts within the framework of the universally applicable Word of God.
“I summarize the experts’ definitions of the indigenous church in the following manner: An indigenous church is a community of believers under the lordship of Jesus Christ who culturally reflect the soul of the society around them and who have the desire and ability to sustain and multiply themselves in every facet of life and ministry.”
“Globalization offers amazing opportunities and unprecedented ways to efficiently connect, communicate, and influence one another. Unfortunately, globalization also allows the rubbish and icky stuff of different societies to cross boundaries at a rapid and influential pace. What does this mean to us? First, while we take advantage of the opportunities of globalization, we need to leave our icky stuff at home as much as possible. Second, we should take steps to ensure that globalization does not become another excuse for the West to practice paternalism in the disguise of advancing God’s kingdom.”
“I have created a saying that guides my cross-cultural work: ‘Day 1 affects day 100.’ In other words, what I do from the very beginning (on day 1) will either impede multiplication or enhance it within a given cultural context down the road (on day 100). In my early years serving as a cross-cultural church planter, I thought multiplication was something to be communicated when the church was more mature. I was wrong. The reality is that everything I say and do from that very first day onward will either empower indigenous believers with the spiritual authority, vision, and capability to multiply, or it will stifle them.”
According to The New International Dictionary of Testament Theology (NIDTT):
“A man is called a [disciple] when he binds himself to someone else in order to acquire his practical and theoretical knowledge. He may be an apprentice in a trade, a student of medicine, or a member of a philosophical school. One can only be a [disciple] in the company of a … master or teacher, to whom the [disciple] … generally had to pay a fee. An obvious exception to this is when [disciple] refers to spiritual dependence on a thinker long since dead.” It is interesting to note that Socrates avoided using this term in part because of “its impersonal and commercial associations.”
Upon reading these words, you likely thought, “That’s close, but not really what Jesus intended!” Keep in mind, however, that this was the manner in which most people living in that period understood the term disciple.
[Three men walking along the road…]
“It has been a crazy, crazy week in Jerusalem,” the man explained to his other two companions. “Just a week ago there was an impromptu parade. It was an amazing moment. Many of us were gathered along the road and were buzzing with excitement. Riding up into the city on a donkey was a man who certainly was a prophet.”
“Over the last several years, his reputation had grown and grown. The stuff he taught was truly inspiring and not like our boring rabbi’s teaching. He hung out with anyone…even those who drank too much and who slept around. Cleo and I always enjoyed being with him at the table as he would smile, laugh and ask such thoughtful questions. He was always genuine whether he was talking just to you or to the large crowds that had begun to follow him around from place to place. He could bring to light the truth of the Scriptures in ways that even baffled the temple leaders.”
“On top of all that, Jesus of Nazareth did so many extraordinary things. He helped some of our fisherman friends get their largest catch ever. He took a young boy’s sack lunch and multiplied it to feed thousands of people. He helped a paralyzed man walk again, and a blind man to see and even relieved several people from evil spirits. Through his amazing healing power, a 12 year-old girl was saved from dying. Just a few weeks ago, we heard from Mary and Martha that their brother and one of Jesus’ own friends was brought back to life after having died from sickness. Wow…what a guy!”
“Even though Jesus did so many amazing things and was such an amazing man of God, he and his influence threatened our religious leaders. Our leaders handed him over to the Roman government for treason, as one who claimed to be a king. Jesus was sentenced to death and executed immediately after being sentenced. It all happened so quickly. It all started on Thursday late in the evening and Jesus was dead on Friday. It was a brutal death, by crucifixion, unfair and uncivil in so many ways.”
“Both Cleo and I had hoped that Jesus was the One—the Messiah—that has been promised for years and years to our Jewish ancestors. So much of what he did matches what the Messiah would be like. We were hoping that Jesus would be the One, but that hope was dashed by his death on Friday.”
“Our hope has continued to evaporate over these three days. There is something strange going on though. A few of our friends went to the grave early this morning but didn’t find his body. These women then came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the grave as well and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
“Sir, I’m sorry to overwhelm you with all of this, but Cleo and I have been really depressed as we have been processing all of this as we are walking back to our village. You did ask us, ‘What things were going on?’ as you joined our conversation on the road.”
The man who had just recently joined them on their walk toward the village, challenged them boldly:
“How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”
“Remember back to what the prophet Micah said ‘But you, city of Bethlehem, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.’ Wasn’t this Jesus of Nazareth actually born in the modest town of Bethlehem?”
“Didn’t Yahweh, our God actually tell our forefather Moses these words, ‘ I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.’ Moses received God’s forecast of the Messiah being like Moses and being a common man—a countryman if you will, but with all of the word of God.”
“And the prophet Isaiah spoke many things about the Messiah parallel the life of Jesus.
Isaiah wrote that the Messiah: ‘He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.’ Does this sound like what happened to Jesus?
Isaiah went on:
‘Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God,
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.’
“This sounds like the Messiah would suffer! Isaiah goes on by saying, ‘We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.’
“Don’t you see that the Messiah would deliver you and he had to suffer to actually fulfill what the prophets said?!”
Cleo and his friend were listening intently to all that this very learned man was saying. It was like he had inside information on how all of this stuff for the Messiah fit together. He had to be some sort of a rabbi or teacher they assumed.
This conversation carried on as they walked together. Soon they were approaching their village and it was getting to be late in the afternoon. Cleo and his friend invited the man to have dinner with them. It seemed like the teacher was heading further passed the village, but Cleo convinced him to join us finally by joking with him that “You gotta eat somewhere before you can keep going farther.”
The three strolled into the village of Emmaus and then up to Cleo’s house. Relieved from walking in the heat, they washed up from their journey and sat down to recoup their energy at dinner.
At the table, Cleo said to the teacher, “Would you bless this meal in prayer for us?” and the teacher graciously did. After they prayed the teacher picked up the basket of bread and started to pass it around the table. Cleo and his friend were looking intently at the teacher and all of a sudden they recognized the teacher actually looked JUST LIKE Jesus. They turned and looked at each other with excitement and said, “That’s Jesus!” Looking back toward where the teacher was seated, they saw him no longer there.
They jumped up from the table and scurried around to find him. They checked the house and then ran out to the street yelling his name trying to call him back to the table. Jesus was no where to be found! He had vanished!
“Cleo, that was Jesus! As we were walking side-by-side down the road, I guess I never looked at him very closely. I don’t know how I didn’t recognize him, but that was Him! Who else could explain the Scriptures like that! We’ve got to get back to the rest of the disciples in Jerusalem and tell them that we’ve seen Jesus too!”
Cleo joked back, “Well, we were at the table, and we gotta eat before we can go again!”
They quickly shoved some sustenance in their mouths and headed quickly back to Jerusalem to tell the others they had seen Jesus.
[The rest of the story continues in Luke 24:33 and following]
A Retelling of the Walk on the Road to Emmaus – Luke 24:13-33
By Mike Jentes © 2013
Written for Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013 at Los Altos Grace Brethren Church LAGBC.org
An audio recording of the message available
 Luke 24:25-26
 Micah 5:2
 Deuteronomy 18:15,18
 Isaiah 53:3
 Isaiah 53:4-5