Adventure With God

What makes an adventure an adventure? I got in trouble a few years back while speaking to a church in Canada.  As I introduced my wife, Sally, I said "she doesn’t like adventure, like I do...” The folks in the church had a good laugh at my expense. They knew Sally and the wild lifestyle she has lived for Jesus.

What I intended to say is that Sally is not an outdoors type, doesn’t climb mountains, hunt with a bow, other stuff I like to do. I was doing the thing a husband should never do, I was comparing Sally to me. I made myself the standard. Really dumb!

But adventure? Are you kidding, me? Sally is the epitome of adventure. She left home as young 16 year old from Texas, and journeyed by faith half-way around the world to Samoa. She lived in Afghanistan, where she gave birth to our first child with a mid-wife in Kabul, pioneered in the Red Light District of Amsterdam and shared her home with 35 long-haired drop-outs on two houseboats. See what I mean? I misspoke big time!!

What I should have said is, "what I have learned from Sally is that embracing adventure has nothing to do with personality or disposition". She is a high introvert, neat and tidy in everything.  But, more than her personality and love for order, is her heart to obey God.

So, to try and get this right, let me say what I think of when I think about adventure...

I think there are risks involved... some danger.

Adventure means difficulty... challenge... attempting the impossible... sacrifice.

There is the unknown... Adventure is not adventure if we know all the possibilities and control the outcomes.

Then there is the element of surprise... what if? What could go wrong?

And of course, when I hear the word adventure, I also think of fun, adrenalin, wild animals in Africa, the 'rush' of walking through the bush with hippos on your left and lions or elephants up ahead, tangible danger!

An adventure has drama and tension, like a great movie or a good story... take away the risk, the danger, the 'unknown’ and what you have is predictable, safe and boring... not an adventure at all!

Adventure also means comradeship... friendship. What’s an adventure without some friends to share it with?

An adventure is a mission. We were created for mission therefore we were created for adventure. God’s original plan for us was to join Him on His great mission on earth. That’s where the greatest comradeship exists.

We were made for God adventure. If we take God adventure out of our lives, then we will selfishly turn people or money into our adventure.

The Bible is full of stories of unlikely adventurers with God. I call them 'The Unlikelys'...

• Rehab - woman of disrepute, who helped spies escape capture • Daniel - teenager taken hostage by the ISIS of the day • Joseph – the rejected brother who was trafficked to a foreign land • Abraham – a sheep farmer going where he did not know • John Mark - Paul's rejected team member • John - son of a self-righteous religious extremists • Mary – who pondered a prophetic mystery • Gideon - man of fear • Hosea – who was led by God in the most unusual way

To take adventure out of following Jesus is to rob our life of spice. It removes the emotion from life. God’s invitation to adventure is like a fork in the road. If we say no to God everything in our life changes from that point on.

Think what would have changed if Esther had said no to the invitation from God to rescue her people?

What would have happened if the rich young ruler had said yes to Jesus’ command to sell everything he owned?

My advice? If life has become safe and stable and, let’s face it, boring, it’s time to get some adventure back! Take up the hobby you have always wanted to. Go camping, buy a bike, or take an art class. Do something fun!

And say yes to Jesus. Don’t negotiate. Don’t bargain. Just trust Him and say yes!

See where He leads!!!

Global Trends

Global Trends That Should Impact How We Do Church and Mission

  • Church Planting Movements (see the book Miraculous Movements)
  • The "rest" is out doing the "west": 80% of all missionaries are from non-Western countries
  • Websites and other media allow fast flow of information easily accessible to everyone
  • Strategic partnerships and coalitions
  • Growth of Islam and Christianity
  • Closed countries to classical missions
  • Changes in approach in fighting world poverty, e.g., dependency, etc.
  • Increase of women and children at risk
  • Shift to the Pacific Rim
  • Rapid growth of Christianity in Africa lacks discipleship
  • Reverse migration of Asians
  • Migration of Africans to Europe
  • On the edge of a worldwide economic crisis
  • Mission force is primarily non-professional
  • Government aid will be out-grown by other channels
  • Shift from parachurch to local church based mission
  • Urbanization
  • Modern communication reduces reading
  • Globalization of business
  • Women in leadership
  • Business for mission
  • Alternative forms of church now widely accepted
  • Median age in many countries now below 15 yrs
  • Holistic discipleship

Worship. Mission. Community.

Three short quotes from my book, Follow (published with the title Following Jesus in South Africa) "The first disciples did not just attend meetings…: gospel intentionality was their life. … Christian community was the very center of their lives because they knew it was the center of God's purposes on the earth."

"How you love Jesus determines what you believe about mission, and what you believe about mission determines how you do church. … Our love for God fills us up and overflows into our love for one another, and that love then empowers us to love the lost."

"When we come to faith in Jesus, we become part of the people who are sent by God into the world. This means that God's mission to save the world is our mission as well. … God has one mission and one group of people to accomplish His mission: the church. The church exists to love and enjoy God by aligning our hearts with His great longing to bring glory to Himself in the whole earth. There are not 'missionaries;' and 'nonmissionaries,' but the obedient or the disobedient."

Apostolic Passion

What is Apostolic Passion?

 

The term "passion" is used to describe everything from romance to

hunger pangs. I don't know what it means to you, but for me passion

means whatever a person is willing to suffer for. In fact, that's the

root meaning of the word. It comes from the Latin paserre, to suffer.

It is what you hunger for so intensely that you will sacrifice

anything to have it.

 

The word "apostle" means a sent one, a messenger. To be “apostolic” means we are sent people. The apostolic calling of the church includes forging new ways for how we do church and pioneering new places where we do church. To be apostolic is to be radical, to be adventurous, to think strategically and to listen prophetically.

 

"Apostolic Passion," therefore, is a deliberate, intentional choice to live for the worship of Jesus in the nations. It has to do with being committed to the point of death to spreading His glory. It's the quality of those who are on fire for Jesus, who dream of the whole earth being covered with the Glory of the Lord.

 

I know when apostolic passion has died in my heart. It happens when I

don't spend my quiet time dreaming of the time when Jesus will be

worshipped in languages that aren't yet heard in heaven. I know it's

missing from my life when I sing about heaven, but live as if earth is

my home. Apostolic passion is dead in my heart when I dream more about

sports, toys, places to go and people to see, than I do about the

nations worshipping Jesus.

 

I have lost it, too, when I make decisions based on the danger

involved, not the glory God will get. Those who have apostolic passion

are planning to go, but willing to stay. You know you have it when you

are deeply disappointed that God has not called you to leave your home

and get out among those who have never heard His name. If you will not

suffer and sacrifice for something, you are not passionate about it.

If you say you will do anything for Jesus, but you don't suffer for

Him then you aren't really passionate about Him and His purposes on

earth.

 

If you don't have it, how do you go about getting this thing called

apostolic passion? Is it like ordering pizza at the door in 30 minutes

or less, guaranteed? Is there an 800 number to call? Or better yet,

just send us your special gift of $15 or more, and we'll rush you some

passion, express delivery, overnight mail. If you're like me, you need

help figuring out how to grow this thing called passion. I am

motivated by reading how the apostle Paul got it. He chose it. And one he received it, he nurtured and kept it alive.

 

Paul says in Romans 15 that it is his ambition, his passion, if you

will to make Christ known. It began for him with a revelation of Jesus

that he nurtured all his adult life. Paul not only encountered Christ

on the road to Damascus, he kept on meeting Jesus every day. This

revelation of Jesus, and his study of God's purposes, gave birth to

Paul's apostolic passion. Knowing Jesus and making Him known consumed

the rest of Paul's life. He "gloried in Christ Jesus in his service to

God" (Rom 15:17). By comparison, everything else was dung, garbage,

stinking refuse. Paul's ambition was born from his understanding that

God longed for His Son to be glorified in the nations. Paul did not waste his passion, but focused it on spreading the glory of God to the Gentiles, that they "…might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit" (Rom 15:16).

 

Human enthusiasm cannot sustain apostolic passion. When God invests

His own passion in you, you must build and develop what God has given you. Four things will help make that happen:

 

1. Apostolic Abandonment

 

Too many people want the fruit of Paul's ministry without paying the

price that Paul paid. He died. He died to everything. He died daily.

He was crucified with Christ. This strong-willed, opinionated man knew

that he must die to self. He knew that in his flesh, he couldn't

generate the revelation of Jesus; he couldn't sustain the heart of

Christ. So he died. He abandoned his life. He abandoned himself.

 

We live in a world of competing passions. If we do not die to self and

fill our lives with the consuming passion of the worship of God in the

nations, we will end up with other passions. It's possible to deceive

ourselves into thinking we have Biblical passions when, in reality,

all we have done is to baptize the values of our culture and give them

Christian names. We will have chosen apostolic passion only when our

hearts are filled with God's desire for His Son to be worshipped in the

nations.

 

May I encourage you, dear friend, to give up your life? I challenge

you to pray this prayer: "Lord, be ruthless with me in revealing my

selfish ambition and my lack of willingness to die to myself." I

guarantee that He will answer your prayer and quickly.

 

2. Apostolic Focus

 

The greatest enemy of the ambition to see Jesus worshiped in the

nations is lack of focus. You can run around expending energy on all

sorts of good ministries, and not get one step closer to the nations.

I don't have anything against all the projects and ministries out

there done in God’s name. God's people do them, and I don't question their obedience to God. But the Church has an apostolic calling, an apostolic mission. God has called us to the nations. We must focus, or we won't obey.

 

Focus on what? I believe God wants a people for Himself. Activity for God

without a sharing God’s passion to have a people for Himself is good

activity, but it’s not the mission of God. You can have evangelism without fulfilling God’s mission. You can care for the poor without connecting with God’s mission. You can do short-term outreach without obeying God’s mission.

 

Everything we do must lead to making, gathering, teaching and baptizing disciples for Jesus. Some people are under the illusion they need a special calling to save souls, to disciple them, and to get them together in communities of faith that are committed to loving and obeying Jesus.

Whatever you do for Jesus, if we are to obey the great commission it must lead to this one thing: that Jesus has more worshippers who know, love and obey him. Call that what you will. I call it church planting. If that term does not appeal to you, choose another. But make sure that above all things you do what he commanded us to do: go, teach, baptize and make disciples.

 

That is apostolic focus.

 

3. Apostolic Praying

 

A young man in Bible school offered to help David Wilkerson years ago

when he was ministering on the streets of New York City. Wilkerson

asked him how much time he spent in prayer. The young student

estimated about 20 minutes a day. Wilkerson told him, "Go back, young

man. Go back for a month and pray two hours a day, every day for 30

days. When you've done that, come back. Come back, and I might

consider turning you loose on the streets where there is murder, rape,

violence and danger. If I sent you out now on 20 minutes a day, I'd be

sending a soldier into battle without any weapons, and you would get

killed."

 

You can get into heaven, my friend, without a lot of prayer. You can

have a one-minute quiet time every day and God will still love you.

But you won't hear a "well done, good and faithful servant" on

one-minute conversations with God. And you certainly can't make it on

that kind of prayer life in the hard places where Jesus is not known

or worshipped. Here's a challenge for you: Read everything Paul says

about prayer, then ask yourself, "Am I willing to pray like that?"

Paul said that he prayed "night and day with tears without ceasing

with thankfulness in the Spirit constantly boldly for godly sorrow

against the evil one."

 

4. Apostolic Decision-Making

 

If you live without a vision of the glory of God filling the whole

earth, you are in danger of serving your own dreams of greatness, as

you wait to do "the next thing" God tells you. There are too many

over-fed, under-motivated Christians hiding behind the excuse that God

has not spoken to them. They are waiting to hear voices or see

dreams all the while living to make money, to provide for their future,

to dress well and have fun.

 

The Apostle Paul was guided by his passions. Acts 20 and 21 tell of

his determination to go to Jerusalem despite his own personal

anticipation of suffering, the warnings of true prophets, and the

intense disapproval of his friends. Why would Paul go against his own

intuition let alone the urgings of prophets and weeping entreaties of

close friends? He had a revelation of greater priority, of greater

motivation: the glory of God.

 

Apostolic decision-making starts with a passion for God's glory in the

nations, then asks: "Where shall I serve you?" Most people do the

opposite. They ask the where-and-when questions without a revelation

of His glory in the nations. Is it any wonder they never hear God say

"go!" They have not cultivated a passion for the passions of God. Lesser desires are holding them captive.

 

Present your gifts, vocations and talents to the Lord. Press into God.

Stay there until you long to go out in His name. Remain there and

nurture the longing to see the earth bathed with His praise. Only then

will you be able to trust your heart if you hear God say, "stay." Only

those who long to broadcast His glory to the nations have the right to

stay in this nation.

 

If you have apostolic passion, you are one of the most dangerous

people on the planet. The world no longer rules your heart. You are no

longer seduced by getting and gaining but devoted to spreading and

proclaiming the glory of God in the nations. You live as a pilgrim,

unattached to the cares of this world. You are not afraid of loss. You

even dare to believe you may be given the privilege of dying to spread

His fame on the earth. The Father's passions have become your

passions. You find your satisfaction and significance in Him. You

believe He is with you always, to the end of life itself. You are sold

out to God, and you live for the Lamb. Satan fears you, and the angels

applaud you.

 

Your greatest dream is that His name will be praised in languages

never before heard in heaven. Your reward is the look of pure delight

you anticipate seeing in His eyes when you lay at His feet and the

just reward of His suffering: the worship of the redeemed.

 

You have apostolic passion!

 

Floyd McClung

Director

All Nations

 

 

Report From a Remote Village in a Far Away Place

It took a 30 min walk to the river then we took a three hour canoe ride up river where we then walked 45 min through rice patties, mud and a rough trail at the base of the mountain.  What an amazing experience.  We visited with a family that received Christ last year and were very excited to see us.  Four more people came to the Lord, one being the chief of the village.  Then it was the return trip home.  It was a long day but so rewarding.  I am glad  I went but my body did complained the next day.  The guys will go to other villages in the next few weeks.

You exist to fulfill the purposes of God

Thoughts shared by friends Bob and Joanne Leach with CPx students this morning as they are commissioned for church planting outreach: John 15:16 "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you".

- God chose you... amazing!

- God appoints you to go...

- God promises you fruit...

- God declares He will hear your prayer...

You exist to fulfill the purposes of God!

African Family Structure Speaks to the Heart of Being a Missional Church Community

My friend Bruce Chitambala from Zambia gave me some great insight into how to communicate “church” to emerging African leaders. Bruce said he has learned to speak of church as family not as institution. As soon as we speak about church in the more traditional way, it conjures up salaries, positions, titles, education and power. But when we speak of church as “family”, then we can are speaking the language of Africa. Everyone understands family is about belonging, sharing, honoring, and upholding the family values.

My African friends seem to view family and extended family in a deeper and often more profound way than myself and others of us from the West. Church as family is about belonging and caring and serving together.

Mission Agency or Mission Church?

Which are we? Local church or apostolic mission agency? 
I have pondered this question for years. IS it God's will for all he does to happen in and through local churches? Or is there a role, biblically speaking, for mission agencies?
I have worked on the side of the mission agency, then served as pastor of a local church, and now am part of a movement that seeks to integrate the two. I believe God never intended His church to be separated from His mission.
A friend recently used a picture of a new plant tied to stick to give it support. Think of the plant as the local church, and the stick as the mission agency. The stick is there to give support to the plant until it can stand on it's own.
Some gifted great apostolic leaders are pastors as well, and many pastor/apostles prefer to do everything in and from the local church, with good reason, as I explain above. The danger for apostolic/pastors, or their blind spot, so to speak, is their lack of cross-cultural church planting. They assume the model of church that has been successful for them in their culture, works everywhere. In this context, the mission agency can play an important role of providing expertise, wisdom gained from years of cross cultural church planting. Even for a apostolic/pastor who has visited many nations, there is the danger of thinking they understand the culture and context of planting church planting churches.
I believe there is one God, one mission of God, and one people to fulfill that mission, the church. The local church therefore, is to be the primary apostolic agency in the earth today. There is a place for trans-local agencies and ministries, but they are biblical and empowering to the degree they are sent from local churches and are committed to planting new local churches. 
Why is this important?
1. If we separate mission organizations from church communities, we have separated the mission of God (the great commission and the great commandment) from the people of God, the church.
2. Mission agencies and para-church organizations are practical structures that exist to serve the church and her God-given mission in the nations.
3. Missional activity that is separated from local churches are in actuality church people who don't acknowledge they are the church, so they don't function as church consciously and intentionally. This results in unhealthy mission organizations that are driven by goals and not community, and anemic local churches that are robbed of her apostles and evangelists.
4. Mission organizations that don't see themselves as church often draw away from local churches her apostles and evangelists; they model independence from the church, which has weakened local church communities. This reinforces the idea that to be apostolic you need to join a go-getting mission agencies or organization, which in turn weakens the church.
5. One of the freshest things happening in the church worldwide right now is the Spirit inspired trend of local churches and local church networks reclaiming the apostolic mission of God without being dependent on agencies and organizations. What is the role of mission agencies, then? To connect local churches to the harvest to plant more churches, to serve as bridges of God, providing cultural expertise and mission wisdom for local churches to engage in the great mission of God to reach the world with the transforming power of the gospel.
6. The local church is most natural structure for getting the gospel into the culture of a people, and therefore, the primary way God brings transformation to a city or nation. Missionaries come and go, but the local people stay. They are there, assigned by God to carry His good news throughout a city or nation.
7. Missionaries sent by agencies or by apostolic sending local churches are in effect, outsiders, sent to raise up locals, the "insiders". It is the local people, the insiders, that are best equipped by virtue of language, culture and being born in a place, that are the best ones to carry on the generation to generation work of the kingdom of God.
I believe that to the degree that we are holistic (local church and trans-local mission agency married in creative and empowering relationship) we are in sync with what the Spirit is saying to the church today. To the degree we separate these two dimensions of the church, the local church and the apostolic mission of the church, we are dualistic and unbiblical.
For more on this topic, I address this issue in greater depth it in my book, You See Bones, I See an Army: Changing the Way We Do Church. I also recommend Shaping of Things to Come by Hirsch, and the weightier Transforming Mission by David Bosch.