Taking the Word to the World

Now Jesus, full of [and in perfect communication with] the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness” (AMP, Emphasis mine).

You may return from a mission’s trip or a spiritual-high encounter on Cloud Nine ready to take on the world and find yourself on Ground Zero looking up from the dust. How did you get there? Are you under satanic attack? No, being full of the Spirit, and in perfect communication with Him, you may be led into the wilderness for a purpose. God has a pattern, purpose, plan, and process for you. You will come out of the wilderness strengthened.

wilderness

John Ortberg talked about how God was going to take His people out of bad place (Egypt) to a good place (Promised Land) that should have involved a short walk that could be done in a week. He led them into the wilderness. 

Like the children of Israel you may be aware of your promised land but it seems so far away and the journey there seems unclear. Brad Bailey in his online lesson wrote, “If you were to picture your life in terms of what happened to the people of God, I believe you would be able to identify times in which you relate to God’s calling you out like Abraham… to a new land and life. Times when you feel enslaved in Egypt. Times of deliverance. Times you stepped into the Promised Land. But also times in life when you may identify with wandering in the wilderness.”

Pastor Aaron Batchelor recently mentioned in one of his sermons, “Don’t waste your wilderness.” Excellent advice! What is God’s purpose for leading you into the wilderness? What can you learn from the experience? Many times people are concerned about their location: where am I going? Other times, their vocation: what has God called me to do? God is more interested in who you are becoming as a person. What will you be? He may be most concerned about who you are rather than where you are.

Here are ten points to prevent you from wasting your wilderness.

  1. Wilderness experiences are critical to our spiritual growth and formation. Thrive in it!
  2. In the wilderness experience don’t be surprised when the devil comes alongside to tempt you.
  3. Don’t merely ask, “How do I get out of the wilderness?” But, “What can I get out of the wilderness?” What lessons can be learned from the experience?
  4. God is not in a hurry. He cares about what you are learning and becoming.
  5. Like Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness depend on God’s Word. Quote it. Believe it.
  6. Take life one day at a time. Have faith for the daily provision. Lean on God. He is your anchor.
  7. The Torah was given in the middle of the wilderness experience perhaps as a reminder while the Promised Land is delightful and amazing, we learn our greatest lessons in the wilderness.
  8. There is a great need to better understand the processes of God. Follow God’s process in order to gain God’s promise. You will survive between the season of promise and fulfillment.
  9. In the wilderness we learn to trust God for everything: shoes, water, food, warmth—everything.
  10. In Hebrew, the word for wilderness is midbar which at its root has the meaning of “speak” or “word.”  God speaks to us in the wilderness. Have open ears to listen and an open heart to obey.

“The wilderness is not just a place of disappointment. It’s also the furnace of transformation” (John Ortberg). Don’t waste your wilderness!

This is a state or period of no progress or action. In aviation it is a maneuver designed to delay an aircraft from landing. Typically the aircraft has a circular or oval path flying around the airport awaiting permission to land.

“Ladies and Gentlemen; this is your captain speaking. We are currently in a holding pattern. We will circle the airport until the control tower gives us permission to land.”

holding pattern

What do you do when you feel God or the circumstances of life have you circling the airport, refusing to allow you to move on or even land, and you feel you are in a holding pattern, vulnerable, and in limbo?

Learn contentment:

Note the words of Paul from a dark, dreary, prison cell: “Not that I speak from [any personal] need, for I have learned to be content [and self-sufficient through Christ, satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or uneasy] regardless of my circumstances.  I know how to get along and live humbly [in difficult times], and I also know how to enjoy abundance and  live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret [of facing life], whether well-fed or going hungry, whether having an abundance or being in need” (Philippians 4:11-12, AMP).

Learn to wait:

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

Learn to trust:

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Memorize it. Embody it.

“Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine” (Exodus 19:4-45).

I once heard Kristen Keller speak concerning the stage in life she currently finds herself and she described it as “buffering.” You know the drill. You are watching something online only to have it stop while your computer buffers the video content. The techies reveal that “buffering” generally speeds up what you are trying to do on a computer. It can prevent lag when streaming video. A “Data buffer” is a region in a computer’s memory storage used to temporarily house data while it is being moved from one place to another.

pause

  1. The condition is not permanent. Hold on, the next phase of life and ministry is coming.
  2. The aggravating circling round and round that appears to slow us down could invariably be speeding us to our next destination. 
  3. The apparent pause may very well be designed to bring God’s plan into sharper focus.

The Insanity of God

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I’m reading Insanity of God. It has challenged my status quo mindset. It shakes up my safety, security, and tosses in suffering. It has been hard to put the book down. I’ve actually been avoiding any trip I’ve felt was unsafe. I’m challenged to change that. There is a suffering world many miles from my office door. How challenging to know young people are willing to risk all to step through those doors and we get to mentor them. I’m tempted to sometimes tell them stay safe, stay secure, and avoid suffering. How boring–and how easy to miss the mark of how God wants to lead to the waiting and the wounded. I feel revived each time I lift up my eyes and look at the whitened harvest. Looking up from safety and security; looking out to the sad and suffering. I’m amazed and surprised by the Insanity of God. Or is it insanity after all? You’d have to read the book to truly understand. Please do. You may never be the same. I hope so!

Sportsman

It is said that the journey of 1000 miles begins with one step. Our journey of 1000 miles is actually 6000 miles to be exact: the distance from Kansas City Missouri to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso (West Africa). That journey began in 2008 in a missionary deputation service of Bro. Steve Willoughby. I walked into that service a sin-sick drug addict and walked out forever altered by the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. With every chain broken and with a fresh fire in my soul I began to take my first step by seeking God. In prayer God began to plant seeds of Africa in my spirit. I met my wife not long after this experience in prayer, and she too had a burden for Africa. We were married in 2010, went on AIM to Burkina Faso in 2012 and were appointed as Intermediate Missionaries in 2015. Everything that has happened in my life from 2008-Present has served as preparation and training.”

I want to share with you a quote that paints the picture of my point: ‘To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour.’ (Winston Churchill) God tapped me on the shoulder in 2008. What is He tapping on your shoulder about today? We encourage you to attend Global ConNextions and every training that is within your grasp. The season of your finest hour is approaching. Will you be prepared?

Isaiah 6:8: Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here I am. Send me!”

Zach and Jenn Sportsman

Historically and traditionally, among the Hebrews, the real center of education was the home. In short, Jewish education is homework! Ancient Israel had a limited system of formal education for children. Hence, the home was the center of education and the major source of learning. The parents played the key role in instructing children. Life itself became the child’s school and the family the primary education institution. Swift (1919) concurs, “Throughout the entire history of the Hebrews the family was regarded as the fundamental educational institution”.

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Religious education does not isolate one age group or season of life, but should be from the cradle to the grave. The emphasis in this lesson is on childhood education. The author’s cultural setting involves global missions, specifically in the area of Bible college education. Bible school faculty can be instrumental in promoting, preparing and proclaiming Christian education in local church settings. Additionally the principles derived in this lesson extend to the Bible school classroom and are applicable there as well. Education should begin at the earliest age possible. But it is considered life-long: 

The early Hebrews stressed the idea of education as a continual process to be carried on literally from the cradle to the grave functioning at all times and in all places. For the Hebrews, education was definitely a lifelong affair and did not cease with graduation. Every Hebrew, be he rich or poor, young or old, was obligated to study the Torah every day. (Schoeman, 1997, 422).

A Jewish father would take his baby and dip his finger in honey and place it in the baby’s mouth. This reinforced that God’s Word is sweet. It became second nature—like the air one breathes. It’s always there.  However, these words were strange in the midst of cultures that worshipped hundreds of gods.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates (Deuteronomy 6: 4-9, ESV).

This section of God’s Word, called the Shema, speaks directly to the family. It was to be observed in every aspect of life, taught diligently to children, and reinforced with constant reminders. God’s Word was to be continually in the midst of the family. The Shema or “Hear, O Israel” was used in both morning and evening prayers. It echoed the monotheistic message that God is One. As soon as a child began to speak, he was taught to repeat the words of the Shema. The verses (or at least the first several words) were the last words used before dying and in times of danger.

Gordon Dryden and Dr. Jeannette Vos (1999) in their book The Learning Revolution explained, “Fifty percent of a child’s ability to learn is developed in the first four years of life. This makes parents the world’s most important educators” (31).

The NIV translates verse 7 as “Impress them on your children.” Small children are like wet cement. It is easier to make a lasting impression. Older children become like dried cement. It is more difficult to make an impression. The mold has been cast. When should Christian education begin? Now!

photo credit: hand shaped puddle via photopin (license)

Three and one half minutes rocked the world. The memorable rendezvous was January 21, 2009. It was the day that, out of obscurity, Susan Boyle, with her Celtic twang, encumbered by learning difficulties and shyness, stepped onto the stage of Britain’s Got Talent in Glasgow.  She literally shocked the panel, and mocking crowd, when she started to sing eight words, “I dreamed a dream in time gone by….” One of the judges gave her the biggest yes ever awarded in three years of the contest. She captured and then liberated the hearts of millions. There have been more than three hundred million hits on the YouTube video incarcerating those short moments. Susan’s “I Dreamed a Dream” holds the global record for the most preordered albums of all time. She defied preconceptions, probabilities, and set the stage for anyone and everyone with a dream.

About eight weeks ago my wife and I stepped off the plane in Guam and met fourteen young dreamers. Over the next three weeks of classroom instruction and interaction each of you, in your own way, crawled into our hearts, and took residency in our hope for the future. Then, after we left Guam to return to the States, you continued on to a further fruitful time of ministry for another five weeks. You—we—became family. As you pack your bags and leave in the next few hours, I know tears will be flowing in Guam. But, I also know there are a few tears flowing here in St. Louis as well. We love you! We believe in you!

Next Steps participants 2015, Brother and Sister Brott (our wonderful team leaders), Brother and Sister DeGuzman and Pacific Revival Center; Brother and Sister Prieto and Apostolic Bible Fellowship; Brother and Sister Buckland (Regional Directors, Pacific); Angie Clark; other instructors; and Sister Pat Morgan (faithfully working behind the scenes here at World Evangelism Center)—thank you for all you have done to make Next Steps 2015 such an overwhelming success.

As I prayed for you this morning a song softly pumped its lyrics through my earphones, “Spread your dreams and fly away.” That’s it! Spread your dreams, all across this world, as you fly away today. Fly into your future! Fly as high as God’s Spirit wants to take you! You rocked my world. I know that you can rock the world, at large, as well!

Thank you for being the dreamers that rocked my world!

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