Part One: The Mission of Jesus [embed]https://youtu.be/DtcNXQviK_U[/embed]
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 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
- 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
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."
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
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
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
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
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!
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.
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!
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.