Thursday, July 28, 2011

I was recently reading someone’s short blog posting and observation about our ministry and others.  It was in the context of a commitment to world evangelism.  He said:

“But unless you’re Pastor Warner, Mitchell, Rubi, Stephens, and others who are heavily invested in world evangelism, and who have to support regardless of how much and sadly how little comes in month after month.”

It was the phrase “heavily invested” that jumped out at me, which I could certainly relate to.  It echoes Jesus’s “treasure principle” which he spelled out in (Mt.6:20,21) "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Jesus is clearly talking about our eternal investment portfolio, or our lives and investments in the light of eternity.  In the last two or three years, many people’s investments have taken a major hit, suffering some significant losses.  This is why there are all sorts of companies, large and small, who specialize in “investment strategies” to help build and protect your portfolio.  I’m not sure how successful many of them have been, but I do hear at least a half a dozen radio advertisements every day about gold as the place to be, the only safe haven with a falling dollar and the prospect of hyper-inflation etc.

It was the earlier blog reference and assessment of things that was “spot on.”  A few years back, our accountant, who does our annual financial compilations, remarked that he had not seen a church with such a large percentage of its operating budget dedicated to missions.  Sometimes, this puts you me into a precarious state of mind, wondering if we aren’t over-extended in the pursuit of the Lord’s Great Commission.  I was surprised last week by the title of an article that said, “The End of Church Planting” - A look at whether churches should expand through a missionary model rather than relying on professional entrepreneurial pastors to plant churches.  It turned out to be a discussion about methodologies, but I couldn’t get the title out of my mind since it so contradicted the priority of being heavily invested in God’s harvest. I couldn’t help but compare that title with the recent international church-planting announcements from the Tucson and Prescott Bible Conferences: Bamenda, Cameroon; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Yerevan, Armenia; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Praia, Cape Verde Islands, Pusan, South Korea.  Church planting is certainly not over in my mind!

To be “heavily invested” in world evangelism is not the same thing as living life with blinders on, or being a monomaniac.  It means being invested in God’s entire plan of redemption in all its many aspects.  From winning souls and unchurched people, making disciples, edifying the church, gifts of the spirit, family and marriage ministry, training in service, and raising up new leaders, all with the goal of reproducing the same life of Christ in other cities and nations.  Paul’s motivation captures this when he said, “I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls.” (2Cor.12:15a) The Message version put it, “I’d be most happy to empty my pockets, even mortgage my life for your good.” 

All of this is not simply the promotion of a program as it is the igniting of the heart in the direction of God’s burden.  Again, I think about how prominently this figured into the thinking, the theology, and the passion of the apostle Paul.  How many times did he refer to people as “my joy and my crown” or the focus and fruit of his investment.  To the Philippians he said, “Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.” (Phil.4:1) To the Thessalonians his heart overflowed, “Or  what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you?  For you are our glory and joy.”  (1Thess.2:19, 20) He is affirming what he is heavily invested in before the Lord.  Finally, he verbalizes his ultimate goal at the end of his life in (2Tim.4:8) “Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.”
The exciting thing about this to me is that he is not excluding the rest of us.  In fact, he opens the door wide to us all to be invested when he said, “not only to me but also to all who love His appearing.”  It is also important to realize that this investment will not always be immediately repaid, but realized and fully-amortized in heaven!

“Only one life, ‘twill soon be past.
Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

LET’S STAY HEAVILY INVESTED, MY BELOVED BRETHREN!

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