Daily refreshment under the mighty hand of God. Authentic Ministry, Part 2

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3Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

6He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” 8Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” 9Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet,but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” 11For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”  John 13:3-11

Peter was watching Jesus. He saw him get up, take off his outer garments, prepare the water, and then begin washing feet. If it had been at the door. If it had been the lowliest servant. Peter probably would not have minded. He would have welcomed the moment his feet were cleansed. But now to receive this service from his Rabbi, his master, his Lord was too humiliating. Peter refused Jesus.

But Jesus makes it clear. “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Its a harsh answer that clearly pains Peter. So Peter goes all in, “Then, give me a bath!”

Jesus raises the conversation from feet to hearts. The person who has  received Jesus as Lord for the forgiveness of sin is cleansed; such a person only requires refreshment and relief from the daily press of life in a broken world. Yet, it is essential. Summoned into the communion of God, followers of Jesus  need daily refreshment from Him. We need the Holy Spirit to renew us daily for the life and work of Jesus’ kingdom. Peter had to humble himself in order to receive from Jesus.

Later Peter would express what its like to humble yourself under the hand of God as a person in a ministry community. Peter wanted the church to know what’s required in our hearts in order to receive from God. “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:5-7

Will you reframe what’s its like to be “under the mighty hand of God?” Can  you imagine being still, being quiet, being real, being honest before Jesus Christ our Lord as He washes your feet?”

Tripped up by what we know. Authentic Ministry, Part 1

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1Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, 3Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.  John 13:1-5

When it comes to meeting people and responding to their needs we are too often tripped up by what we know… or what we think we know.

But really Jesus knew.
He knew His hour had come.
He knew which of His friends would betray Him.
He knew the Father had given all things into His hands.
He knew He was returning to the Father from whom He had come.
And knowing what He knew, Jesus loved them to the end.

How often have I been hindered from loving people and giving refreshing  service to others because of what I knew? I can be wrapped up in the knowledge of my crisis, my distress, my judgments, my position, my rights.

But Jesus truly knows the Father. So He does what He has been doing from the beginning. He takes off His outer garments of power, privilege, and position, sets them aside and serves at the feet of His disciples.

Knowing the Heavenly Father makes all the difference.

Running on Fumes

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30 The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. 31And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. 33Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them.

34When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. 35And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. 36Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”

37But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?” 38And he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. 40So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties.

41And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. 42And they all ate and were satisfied. 43And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. 44And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men. Mark 6:30-44

Running on Fumes

The disciples where tired. They had started the day with hopes of rest with Jesus. But Jesus spent the day teaching the crowd that intercepted and interrupted the retreat plan. And now the crowd is hungry. The disciples wanted them to go home. Jesus wanted the disciples to feed them.

Outrageous.

“You give them something to eat.”

Without this invitation and command the day would have passed into the mix of other crowded days in the disciples’ minds. But now, Jesus turned it into a memorable moment. Retelling this moment would have grounded their faith in Him.


An imagined conversation
“Remember what Jesus did with five loaves and two fish?”
“Remember how tired we were? I was fuming by the end of the day!”
“Remember, there was enough!”
“More than enough.”
Jesus is enough. Walk with Him and there will be interceptions and interruptions. This intersection of people and need is a holy moment when our apparent inadequacy meets the not so obvious abundance but very much real grace of Jesus.

Feeling empty? Inadequate? Severely challenged, perhaps annoyed, by ___________________ ( you fill in the blank!)?

Pause and listen. What does Jesus want you to be a part of? As you take what you already have, He will provide the balance… and more.

Who cares for the church?

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…the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

24Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.  Colossians 1:23-29
I have a friend who says, “Disciple-making is largely unappreciated at the time.” The Apostle Paul knew what it was like to be unappreciated. Yet, Paul says he has joy in his assignment from Jesus. Joy! But, its not been easy. Following Jesus has brought him into:

Sufferings.

Stewardship.

Struggle.

Sufferings. There are seasons in which Paul suffered physically and psychologically for the advancement of Jesus’ church.

Stewardship. Paul had a persistent sense of responsibility to proclaim the word of God to people, making Jesus known through the Gospel.

Struggle. Paul tapped into all the resources of mind, body, and soul that the Lord made available to him so that people would grow up as Jesus’ disciples.

There is nothing like the Gospel ministry to which we have been called. It has its highs and its lows. It’s rich! It’s glorious! It’s messy! No one else but the church is promised the incredible hope of glory: Christ in you!  Disciple-making is not an easy journey, but it has its joys! There is nothing like being in the company of Jesus, the King of Creation, when He touches the life of a brother or sister.

These joys can be ours when we lean into Jesus with His people and willingly accept some measure of sufferings, stewardship, and struggle for the sake of Jesus and His church. Gospel ministry is not a matter of full-time or part-time vocation. Instead its a relationship and a labour of love. Will you venture into relationship with at least one other person to flame the hope of our glory—Christ in us?

 

 

 

Looking to the interests of Jesus

You don’t have to look long through the pages of on-line media to discover that having the role of pastor or minister does not mean that a man or woman is actually “looking to the interests of Jesus.”  But I have also heard sincere followers of Jesus indicate that they cannot “look to the interests of Jesus” because they don’t have time be full-time.  That’s a problem of perception:  life with Jesus is full-time.  Life in His Kingdom is full-time.

So, what does it mean to look to the interests of Jesus?

Paul writes of Timothy, “I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you.  For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. They all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.”  Philippians 2:19-21

1.  Be with Jesus.  At the the heart of the Gospel is desire of God to be with His people.  Jesus called disciples that they might be “with” Him. (Mark 3:14)  So seek daily to be “with” Jesus.  Paul saw this experience of God’s love and grace in Christ as the source of the attitude required to look to the interests of others. (Philippians 1:1-4) In the practice of being mindful of Jesus’ presence with you and reflection on His words, you will learn to hear (sense) his voice in your daily life.  (John 10:3, John 14:15-21).

2.  Be transformed by Jesus.  The new creation work of God (2 Corinthians 5:14-17) in the life of a disciple translates into new affections, new attitudes, and new actions.  As we follow Him the transformation of our lives through the practices of repentance and faith will show His glory even in our weaknesses.  Even as He has occupied our lives by His Spirit, He is cleansing our lives from the inside out.  (Mark 7) To cooperate with His work we take hold of that for which He has taken hold of us–being like Jesus in His Kingdom.

3.  Be on mission with Jesus.  We must trust that as we submit our lives to Jesus the King He is going to take liberty to progressively call us and place us strategically in His mission of loving people and transferring them from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of God.  For Origin, we are living this out in the UBC campus community and the city of Vancouver.

We trust that God will call out people like Timothy and Epaphroditus, and Euodia and Syntche, mean and women who are giving more and more of their time and energy to the ministry of the Gospel and the church.  But God will also continue to create disciples who remain anchored in the context of their work, their faculties, their dorms, their neighbourhoods, and their families to fulfill His mission.  In those settings, the call is the same, look to the interests of Jesus by contributing somehow to the disciple-life-journey of another person.

Now anyone in a friendship that matters, or married, or working, or responsible for children or parents, will discover that good relationships require that we temporarily suspend our own interests in order to look to the interests of others.  But this willingness and sacrificial attitude is also required at times of Gospel ministry .  To look to the interests of Jesus will sometimes require that we set aside our own interests, just as our Lord Jesus has done for us.  We may need to set aside our own interests in order to “witness” to the grace of Jesus in our lives or to “proclaim” the Gospel, or to meet regularly to share our life with another disciple, or to sacrificially serve another person or His church with the gifts His Spirit has give us.

Jesus said, “Come follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

Today, its full-time: look to the interests of Jesus.