7/24/13

Go Be Brave!

I encouraged a friend recently with my new mantra:  "Go Be Brave!"
Let me explain how that mantra surfaced.

Everyone knows life's uncertainties can keep us confused and perhaps cowering. We grow frustrated and afraid.

Think about it:

  • Listen to the news or read daily headlines and sense the tension and chaos in our age. 
  • Read books and blog posts about foolish financial choices, government scandals, abortion, sexual trafficking, immorality and unethical decisions in every area of the culture, and you might say, "Has the world gone mad?"
  • Listen to what most college students espouse - the anti-God philosophies being taught in the average university - and you'll wonder where reason and sanity have gone. 
  • Evaluate the nation's homes and grieve over the mixed-up roles and lack of love.
  • Listen to many of the sermons in America's churches and be shocked that we have so far wandered from the truth of scripture.
In the beginning, God told Adam and Eve to "subdue the earth" (Genesis 1:28) - the first mandate. God wanted mankind to rule over the earth - good rulership and good stewardship - doing what is right for the world as we serve Him.

I think that is still the mandate for the Christian. We can be part of managing God's world and all who live here, and people do not have to agree with us for us to do the Lord's work. We can love, serve, encourage, teach, admonish, counsel ... any number of things to honor God and accomplish His purposes.

But we cannot do this if we sit in our homes, afraid.

It's true, some "uncertainties" are realities, and we need to keep these realities in mind as we consider what God might have us do.

We know that:
  • life is short (a vapor, James 4:14)
  • death is certain (Hebrews 9:27)
  • riches are fleeting (Proverbs 23:5)
  • friends might prove unfaithful (John 16:32)
  • popularity withers (1 Peter 1:24)  
  • beauty fades (Psalm 39:11)
  • we can't count on our government's promises or leaders' expertise (Psalm 146:3)
  • and we're not promised tomorrow (Proverbs 27:1) - except for the Christian hope of heaven.

The only thing that matters is God and what He has planned for us - what He wants us to do, things that count for eternity (God and His Word and the forever-souls of men). These have got to be our priorities, because they are His priorities.  

We need to speak, teach and promote God's truth. We need to seek the souls who are wandering without Him.

I've discovered:
It's easy to stand back and complain. It's harder to stand up and act. It's easy to scoff at Satan's strategies. It's harder to expose the enemy's lies and speak up for the truth of a biblical worldview. It's easy to blast others for their sin. It's harder to see them with the Father's eyes and love them with the Savior's love. It's easy to offer excuses for why we can't get involved. It's harder to offer practical help that makes a difference. 

God may call some to a large platform, a big pulpit. He may call others to pray, write or serve in relative obscurity. But He does call.

Whatever our calling, we must pray for backbone to not only recognize the darkness, not only stand against the lies, but also charge forward armed with the armor of God, taking back ground from the enemy.

The call will look different for every person. It might be as simple as taking a bag of groceries to a hurting family that looks and acts much different from you. It might mean selling some of your material goods to offer money to a ministry dealing with sexual trafficking. Or volunteering at a care center to help troubled pregnant teens. Or teaching a class of refugees English so they can read God's
Word. Or teaching a class of inner-city kids who don't have a clue about ethics or morality. Or learning to how to give a reasoned answer to skeptics.

The important thing is to answer God's call with faith and courage. It's YOUR call.

God has already called us to serve Him and subdue the earth. If we know the truth that sets people free, what's holding us back?

Don't be afraid of criticism. As author Andy Andrews said, "Those who are critical of my goals and dreams simply do not understand the higher purpose to which I have been called." The same might be said of those who criticize our stand for truth.

So as I wrote earlier, my new mantra for women is, "Go Be Brave!" And that's what I'd say to you today if you shared your concerns for the culture, the church or your family with me ... or if you shared your dreams.



7/20/13

Platform versus Daily Grind

A statement by Ray Ortlund about pastors made me think about my blogging posts and ministry.

"I am not impressed by young pastors who seem too eager to publish books and speak at big events and get noticed," Ortlund said. "They are doing the work of the Lord, and that's good. But what impresses me is my dad's daily slogging, year after year, in the power of the Spirit, with no big-deal-ness as the payoff. This is the pastoral ministry that brings Jesus into the world today."

Every Christ-follower who blogs and tweets needs to take that to heart. Every believer who has a dream of "big-time ministry" needs to consider those words. God has not called Christians to "get noticed" or find personal fulfillment or even be a "success" (as the world deems success). He has called us to complete our mission. 

That mission - the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) - takes on many forms, reaching the world through the various gifts and callings of the ministry. Most are called to slog away in the trenches, serving others. Some are called to higher platforms.

That word "platform" can be a good thing or bad. It is good if it launches us into greater creative opportunities to love others with the love of Christ and draw them to consider the Gospel message. It can be bad if it's all about self-fulfillment, climbing social ladders, or becoming a look-at-me celebrity.

The enemy delights in confusing us about our motives. We are called to transformation, not conformity (Romans 12:2), so we need to test how and why we minister to be sure we are following the "good and acceptable and perfect" will of God.

When our platform (which encases not only our identity and voice, but also our goals and launching pad for outreach) becomes corrupted by "self" thinking rather than centered in Christ, we get distracted from the mission. The adversary loves to distract us with good things in order to "devour" us (1 Peter 5:8). 

Life isn't about how many followers we get on Twitter and Facebook. It's about seeking followers for the Lord of Lords and His kingdom. Life isn't about book deals and speaking opportunities. These are merely vehicles to spread the power of the Word of God. 
We have to keep our perspective and priorities straight, especially concerning our platform.

I need to remember that when the enemy tempts me to think I'm failing with social media, unappreciated because no book deals come, or unwanted when my speaking calendar is empty.

Certainly, there are always things I can learn to upgrade my outreach - technical know-how and marketing strategies. But the problem is just that. There are always more things to learn, and if I'm not careful I will focus more on the voices calling me to "learn, learn, learn" than listening to my marching orders from God.

I will continue to learn and take action on what I take in, and if God brings a greater platform for ministry, I'll praise Him for it.

But I must never despise the daily grind of obedience - the daily "yeses" of obedience to the Spirit of God. Whether it means writing a simple post or cleaning a toilet, it must ever be my joy to follow Christ, wherever and however He leads.

Are you struggling with the "platform" thing? Are you distracted from the mission?