This article, by Becky Pippert, is a great inspiration for our pursuit of spreading the gospel and sharing our lives. The Bible tells us in Romans 3:23 “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
We are no different than our neighbors, we all need this gift of grace. So when we approach relationships and share with those around us, it isn’t and it cannot be a top down or prideful approach.
Becky shared her faith with her hairdresser, though he wouldn’t have listened to someone on the corner handing out cards or waving a sign, he heard Becky out because she was there for him and he could feel her love.
The reason the One Year Challenge is a year and not a one or two week trip, is because relationships and influence takes time. If you want to make a difference by serving God in some places that are seeking workers, knock on the door!
The Bible describes sin as both rebellious unbelief and also idolatry. In today’s culture I’ve found that the concept of idolatry (using God-substitutes to give our life meaning instead of God) is often easier for people to initially grasp. At the right time we will need to explain both aspects of sin, but for now let’s look at how the issue of idolatry can be deeply relevant to unbelievers.
We can’t just say “go” and forget to glory in the gospel that frees us to go. When we exult in salvation, we should prayerfully expect the Spirit in our midst to sweep us up in gratitude and wash us out past American shores.
Next time you preach on a missions passage, before firing Google up for the latest tear-jerking statistics, start with the gospel. Revel in it until it releases you from fear and invigorates your evangelistic impulse, until you can say with the Prophet Jeremiah, “There is in my heart… a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in” (Jeremiah 20:9, ESV).
Missions doesn’t always add up, but neither does the gospel. It doesn’t make sense that God would pour out wrath on His Son, redeem and adopt rebels, and make his riches ours by faith alone.
This article, posted two years ago on desiringgod.com was written by Francis Chan and gets deep into the thinking of how humans view evangelism. If you are considering taking the One Year Challenge, Chan’s words are certainly an encouragement to walk by faith in God and not faith in our own understanding.
We all walk in complete spiritual darkness unless God decides to shine his light on us. In some mysterious way, God shines light in a person’s heart so that he instantly sees the beauty of the gospel. No amount of human effort can produce this. Salvation is a miracle of God.
Many of us would say that we believe this theological truth, but our actions betray us, revealing just how much we trust in people, speeches, and events. On more than one occasion, people have begged me to speak to their lost friends, believing that my words would make the difference. Too often, I have granted their wish (rather than correcting their theology), and tried desperately to come up with the perfect words to talk their friends into falling in love with Jesus. Do you see yet how ridiculous this is?
Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:4 that Satan has blinded these people. Apart from God’s working, our begging someone to see the beauty of Christ is as pointless as begging a blind man to enjoy the beauty of a sunset. Do we direct our begging, first and foremost, to God?
Below is an excerpt of an article on “the missionary challenge” in the Apostle Paul’s life. It was written by John Piper 35 years ago. If you are thinking about taking the One Year Challenge, Paul is a great role model to learn from.
If you were to ask Paul, “Well, if it is Christ that accomplishes everything in your missionary life and gets all the glory, what do you do?” he would answer, “I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.
I trust his sovereign grace to conquer the greed and fear and vanity of my heart.
I trust his sovereign grace to give me hope when I am depressed and friendship when I am lonely and spiritual power in the face of satanic forces and words of truth and wisdom when I need to preach.
I trust his sovereign grace to give me love when I am hated and peace when I am surrounded by turmoil and perseverance when I feel like quitting and want to go home.
And I trust him to give me just enough health and protection to do the work he called me to do, as long as he has called me to do it, and just enough sickness and danger to keep me deep and earnest and real in my prayers.
When you step out in faith like this on the way to the frontiers, it is not you who step but Jesus Christ. And forty years from now when you write your last missionary letter you will know exactly why Paul said, “I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me–to him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
This article, by Susan Narjala, is a great read for those who are feeling inefficient, ineffective, or insecure at this time. If you are thinking about taking the OYC, consider that it won’t be about your resumè as much as your faith, love and willingness to try.
If you’re in a season that seems “wasteful” because of the current pandemic, or because of where you live, or chronic illness, or crying babies, or elderly parents who need your help, or whatever other reason you can’t “get it all done,” then perhaps this is the training ground that God has readied for you.
John Piper unpacks God’s view of human efficiency, saying, “God almost never takes the shortest route between point A and point B. The reason is that such efficiency — the efficiency of speed and directness — is not what he’s about. His purpose is to sanctify the traveler, not speed him between A and B. Frustrating human efficiency is one of God’s primary (I say primary, not secondary) means of sanctifying grace.”
This weeks featured article is written by Eugene Park. His point is one we all know from experience, but don’t like to face; our challenges and trials give the opportunity to drive us closer to Christ. Failing reveals our weakness and humility. As Jesus teaches in John 15, God will prune the branches in our lives and characters that don’t bear fruit. That won’t be a comfortable process, but a necessary one.
The hoarding of groceries, masks, and toilet paper revealed how we value our personal flourishing to the detriment of the broader community’s. Calls to end the lockdown sooner, in hopes of getting a head start on economic recovery at the “cost” of the elderly or at-risk, similarly reveal our willingness to let others suffer so we don’t have to.
We also see self-idolatry in our homes during this lockdown. Working-from-home parents with children might find lose patience with their kids or spouse, struggling to live selflessly in times of stress and close quarters. Others indulge fear by breathlessly monitoring Twitter or the news, filling our now-open calendars not with acts of service for others, but with needlessly scrolling through stressful headlines on screens.
This quarantine and pandemic have confronted us with the realities of our self-idolatry. We see not only the spiritual toll but also a dire physical toll. Our addiction to personal freedom is making this situation worse.
This virus has brought death and destruction to the economy and human lives, unlike any other crisis in the 21st century. However, one silver lining is that what we used to turn to for escape (sports, hangouts, movies, travel) are no longer available. Instead of obsessing about when this quarantine will end, what if we consider how we might use this pause to be transformed?
Recognizing the depth of our self-idolatry should lead us to repentance. Jesus offers clear instructions to his followers that ring true in any context, but now more than ever before: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 16:24–25).
Jesus calls us not to double down on our freedom, but to sacrifice it out of love for our neighbor. There is no better time to do that than now.
Giving up our own mission in life to take up Christ’s is not easy, but it will reveal much of our character and push our dependence more and more on him, rather than self. Consider taking the One Year Challenge and offering God a year of devoted ministry.
This article, by Samuel Parkison, addresses the realities that many churches, and especially young church plants are experiencing during this time. He talks about what to hold onto and focus on in this time.
COVID-19 does some interesting things, but it doesn’t have the ability to turn these biblical commands into suggestions.
For those who are considering taking the One Year Challenge, there may be much to sway you in this time. As the above quote makes clear, our commitment doesn’t need to change simply because the manner in which we may need to carry it out does.
One of the potential positive effects of COVID-19 on Christianity is that the epidemic is likely to kill off consumer Christianity, at least in the short term. And while there is certainly plenty to lament about how this crisis is wrecking lives, economies, and unraveling all the world’s plans in stunningly rapid fashion, the virus’s attack on comfortable Christianity could be something we eventually celebrate.
1. Stripping Church of Excess
2. Blowing Up the Notion of Sunday-Only Faith
3. Challenging Christians to Give Without Getting
In the wake of this crisis, I pray, will be a more resilient and durable church—strengthened in the fires of discomfort and fortified by renewed dependence on Jesus Christ, our only comfort in life and death.
For the first—and hopefully last—time in our lives, churches around the world are about to celebrate Easter by not gathering on Sunday. It’s a tragic picture of these sad and scary days. Yet it’s similar in several ways to what happened on the first Easter Sunday.
1. Don’t Give in to the Pressure to Perform
2. Don’t Downplay Easter’s Significance
3. Rejoice Even as You Lament
4. Rest in the One Still at Work
Instead of resisting this state of affairs, let’s rest in the One who’s still with his people by the Spirit, through the Word and in prayer. For if we can trust him with our own lives, shouldn’t we trust him with the life of the church he bought with his own blood? So don’t just preach a message about Easter this week. Practice the meaning of Easter, too: Christ is risen indeed, so you can rest in him.
This week’s featured article by Mike Riccardi is perfectly paired with a good reading through Philippians. Philippians is chalk-full of great material and a heartfelt message from Paul to the church.
When I began to preach the book of Philippians a couple years ago, I noticed that Paul immediately identifies himself and Timothy as slaves of Christ Jesus (Phil 1:1). Now, most of the English versions have “servants” or “bond-servants” there, but the Greek word is doulos, which is properly rendered “slave.”
In identifying himself as a slave of Christ at the very beginning of the letter, Paul intended that the Philippians—who had been struggling with issues of steadfastness amidst conflict (Phil 1:27–30; 4:1), unity among believers (Phil 2:1–2; 4:2–3), humility (Phil 2:3–9), and joy amidst persecution (Phil 2:17–18; 3:1; 4:4)—would be reminded that they too are slaves of Christ Jesus, and that that identity would inform their responses to those situations.