Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Death of A Vision the Hope of A Calling

Did you hear, a vision died today? What happened? Was it murdered, did it die a natural death, or was it aborted? Who was to blame? How did it happen? How many lives were affected? What will the people do now?

These seem like odd questions to ask about the death of a vision, but they are asked each time a Christian ministry, church or ministry program that sprang from God's heart dies. It might be helpful if we defined vision here as,' the hoped for outcome or expression of a current plan to fulfill the calling God has placed in a person or group of people to accomplish God’s work on the earth.

It could be said that these visions for ministry spring from a person's calling just as children do from their parents. It could also be said that the death of a vision causes the same emotional grieving process to take place that the death of a person might bring. This is true because visions for ministry are born out of our calling from God and thus are a creation of His work in us and through us.

You may have felt this grief or seen it others when they are seeking to blame someone for the pain felt when a vision ceases to exist or when the person who was instrumental for the vision moves on or passed away. We must learn that the death of one vision for ministry or the person instrumental for the vision is not the doorway to hopelessness and despair. The same God who created us in His image also creates in us fresh vision for accomplishing the same calling in new ways and sometimes in new places.

If God has called you to be a teacher it does not matter what your current ministry or job title is, you will seek and find a new way or vision to teach those God has placed around you. In Genesis 3:26 it says that we were created in God's image or likeness. One of the qualities of this likeness is that people are designed to create. This is more than the creation of physical life. Our gifts, talents, education and background cause each of us to have a different set of materials to draw from as God works His creative miracle though us to create new visions for ministry, which spring from the calling of God activating us to fulfill His call in our lives.

Walking through the death of a vision is a painful thing. Our relationship to a vision for ministry is much like a relationship with a person. The closer and more committed we are to the vision the greater the potential for deep grief and all its symptoms when the vision dies.

We must remember that God who has called us and who is responsible for our visions for ministry is the God of hope and that he will create in us a new vision or way to accomplish the calling he has placed in us. We must look to the author and finisher of our faith for fresh visions to carry out our calling for from His calling springs our hope. Hebrews 12:2.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Things Jesus Began To Do and Teach

In Acts 1:1 Luke reminds Theophilus that he had written him about everything Jesus began to do and teach. My next few articles will examine why Jesus came, for that is the foundation upon which all equipping is built and from which it must proceed.
Part One 4-27-05
I am convinced that if we want to find out about anything in the Bible, that we need to see if Jesus said or did anything that relates to the issue we are exploring. If we want to understand what is at the heart of or what the foundation of the exhortation to equip God’s people is, we will need to examine "the things that Jesus began to do and teach".
There is one concept that seems to be the focal point of all that Jesus did and taught. The "Kingdom of Heaven" or "Kingdom of God" is at the very heart of all Jesus did and said. In fact, you could say that His teaching was the proclamation and His actions or works were the doing or demonstration of the Kingdom of God. I shall use the term ‘Kingdom of God’ to refer to the both of these kingdoms, from this point on, unless there is a need to specify a unique quality the kingdom of heaven has. When we read the Gospels and the New Testament, we repeatedly see the terms "Kingdom of Heaven" used 32 times in Matthew and "Kingdom of God" used 70 times from Matthew to II Thessalonians.

This concept, more than any other, depicts the impact and purpose of Jesus’ coming. The Jewish people longed for Messiah to come and to restore Israel as an independent state with God ruling over His people. Throughout the period between the Old and New Testaments leaders rose up who had as their primary purpose to see Israel a free nation again. God, however, had another plan.

This plan was revealed in the Old Testament, but its true meaning was hidden from most. In Matthew 5:17, Jesus said that he did not come to abolish the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them.
In Acts 28:23-30 Paul teaches about the Kingdom of God and Jesus from the five books of Moses and the prophets. We know that the Old Testament law, sacrifices, and prophecies are but a shadow of what Jesus the Messiah (or the Christ) came to do and teach. This Kingdom of God that Jesus came to proclaim was not what many expected; it was instead the completion or fulfillment of what they expected, and because of this, it was even greater than their expectations. Let’s look at few key verses in order to understand more about this Kingdom of God.

1. In Mk 1:15 we see Jesus telling us the time is fulfilled (there is no more waiting needed); the kingdom of God is near; turn from your sins and believe the good news (gospel).

2. In I Cor. 15:50 Paul tells those to whom he is writing that flesh and blood cannot inherit this kingdom because the flesh does not last forever.

3. In Acts 28:23-30 it says that if the people hear and obey the good news, they would be cured by God. He would cause them to be well again. This would be healing for the whole person; this would include the body, the soul, and the spirit. It is from this healing and cure concept that we see that the good news is about more than the forgiveness of sins, or as I like to say, "The Gospel is more than asbestos underwear for the soul."
It is about the restoration and freedom of people under the rule or reign of God as their savior and king or lord.