Thursday, August 30, 2012
Knowing Jesus simply isn't good enough! Don't get me wrong, knowing Jesus is vitally important, soul saving and life transformational. But knowing Jesus is simply the beginning point on our journey with God.
Apparently the Pharisees had a lot of knowledge of God. The result was that they were haughty, proud and arrogant. They had their laws and traditions based on centuries of Jewish cultural. They thought they knew God, honored God, and even lived for God. But Jesus says they were empty and pathetic - full of disgusting rot inside (Matthew 23:27-28). Their lives were cisterns of dead religious knowledge.
Is the American Evangelical tradition much different today? We have our highly learned PhD's, our seminary taught Pastors, our MBA laden leaders all with a lot of knowledge. We also have our Bible touting, church attending, morning devotional reading, small group going population with all the knowledge of Jesus we need. We weekly hear expertly prepared, theologically sound, biblically inspiring, homeletically tuned messages delivered in our state of the art, multi-media, grand halls we call churches. We fill our heads with knowledge. We invest multi-billions each year in Christian media, books, studies, and resources of all kinds to get even more knowledge.
But here's the problem - it's not working! How do we know it's not working? Because in the past 20 years the number of people who attend church has diminished while the number of those who consider themselves non-religious, agnostic, or atheist has doubled. Alternatives are sought by the pluralistic masses to what they perceive is our dead religion. Divorce, family strife, and other social maladies plague the church as much as they plague our decaying culture. Inside the church pastors and leaders fall into sexual sin and financial malfeasance as much as outside the church.
"Rock star" celebrity pastors regularly misappropriate the trust they are given. The general populace of Christendom is viewed as hypocritically "UnChristian" by the growing population of "Unchurched." We value Pro-life "family values," and we should, but in the process simply want to change laws based on our knowledge of "God's will," instead of changing lives. No doubt you have heard it said we are known more for what we oppose than what we stand for. We value compassion for the least, last and lost and then live our lives to excess with big homes, fancy cars, and latest technology, all while one-third of the world lives on less than $1 a day. We justify this by our knowledge that we are, or at least have been, "blessed by God."
We possess all the knowledge of Jesus we need to make a difference in the world but for the most part we have become cisterns of dead religion, although we claim we have a "personal relationship" with Jesus. Perhaps we'll take a "short-term mission trip" so we can put a notch our religious duty belt. Maybe we'll help "feed the poor" in our community whenever our church leaders decide its time to invite them to our church again. Perhaps we'll even help spruce up the outside of our church building so as to attract the lost so they can hear a Gospel message. But might Jesus be saying, "...you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean."
Yes, we have all the knowledge we need. We don't need another sermon, seminar or Bible study. Maybe we don't even need this blog - nah. And, we really don't even "need more of Jesus."If we have been "born-again," saved by Christ, we really do have all the Jesus we need since we have the Holy Spirit. (We may need to think differently about who we do have though.) We don't need another "quiet time"or "more time in the Word," if we know Jesus. Now, don't get me wrong those things are good but if all we are after is more knowledge, and we aren't living what we already know, then our priorities are misaligned.
Dallas Willard helps us think about knowledge when he says, "knowledge in Biblical language never refers to what we today call "head knowledge," but always to experiential involvement with what is known - to actual engagement with it." Knowledge in "Biblical language" therefore calls us to living out what we know toward others, for God, and always in love (Matthew 22:37-39).
The problem with the Pharisees and much of Christendom today is that we aren't living out the first and the last part - toward others in love. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees because they were self-centered and self-absorbed but isn't much of our attractional model of "church" and the practice of this "relationship" we profess with Jesus likewise? If it wasn't, the difference would be noticeably different because we would be reflecting the glory of Jesus to those who need to know. That's the life Jesus calls us to - living the knowledge we do possess so the knowledge of the glory of God fills the earth.
That is my journey because I know how short of the mark I fall and the purpose of this new blog - Living Sent Today. What does it mean - Living Sent? In John 20:21 Jesus says, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” In Living Sent Today I want to try to discover what this means toward living the knowledge of the glory of God in my daily life. I can tell you one thing "living sent today" does not mean, necessarily, is that we need to leave home, by which I mean my community, to live sent.We must live sent right where we are.
I invite you to join me on this discovery. I hope to blog weekly on what I think Jesus meant when he said "As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Live sent!
Friday, August 24, 2012
Some dates are important, right? We celebrate and or commemorate many special days. But how often does the same date have two distinct and special meanings? Well I guess there are people born on Christmas, anniversaries celebrated on New Years and other such examples. September 1st has two significant meaning for Debbie and I now – both are ‘mile markers’ on our journey with the Lord.
The first, September 1st, 2009, was the date I was re-diagnosed with a rare form or cancer. Many friend know the story and the undeniable intervention of God at the end of 2009. What you might not know is that prior to my healing I had asked the Lord to once again open a door to ministry. You see, my heart from the time the Lord saved me on January 23rd, 1997 and today is to serve God the rest of my life.
When I prayed that December morning in 09, I heard the Lord speak to me that he would return me to prayer mobilization work. I wasn't sure how that would happen because my cancer looked to be headed in the wrong direction. Then the Lord, I believe, answered the fervent prayer of my PET-scan technician on December 31, 2009 that every cell in my body would come into the obedience of Christ. Some commented afterward that Lord must have a reason for leaving me here. I have discovered what that was this past year.
The second September 1st occurred in 2011 when I officially started ministry with the Mission America Coalition (MAC). A year ago, I began yet another chapter in my walk with the Lord or I guess you could say it was a return to a previous chapter, with the intervening six years in Texas a side-bar. This combined with my work with the Perspectives Study Program has kept me very busy these past 12 months. I praise God for what he has done and is doing in the ministry he has privileged me to be a part of. I can honestly say that at first I wasn’t exactly sure what my assignment was although I had been given the title State Facilitator. But as the Lord is always so faithful to do, he brought clarity during those first few months.
Actually he started unfolding the story prior to that. My life purpose was give clear definition when in the Spring of 2008 I first took Perspectives - God’s mission in the world and for Unreached People Groups (UPGs), When I was asked to join the City and Communities team for MAC, I didn’t understand the connection between the MAC and Perspectives. The completion of the Great Commission is foundational to MAC’s mission. Since 1994, MAC has championed evangelism and what is called cityreaching in U.S. cities, but without the “nations” focus of Perspectives. So what does reaching our cities for Christ have to do with reaching the “nations?” As it turns out – everything!
Let me back up to April 2011. I was in the midst of coordinating another Perspectives semester when one early Friday morning I went outside to a neighbor’s home. They were having a yard sale and as I looked around the Lord opened my eyes to who was their – the nations! There was an African woman with her little girl, a South Asian (possibly Pakistani), an East Asian (possibly Chinese), an obviously Middle Eastern person (possibly Muslim), and Hispanics. I uttered, “Wow, Lord, you have brought the nations to McKinney.” I certainly had no idea how that Friday morning on Pebble Court would help shape where the Lord was leading me next.
In September, just prior to speaking to a 3eMcKInney Pastors group, I had another close encounter of the “nations” kind. While at Kroger one day, I learned my cashier was from Egypt, was nominally Hindu, her parent’s faith, and believed all religions lead to the same place. Standing behind me in the check-out line was an Asian-Indian couple. I had been asked to speak to this pastor group about Perspectives but was told I needed to relate my message to their work in McKinney. The Lord gave me what I needed. My comment to the Pastors was: “you don’t need to leave McKinney to reach the nations; the Lord has brought the nations to McKinney.”
The first few months of ministry was a defining time that involved coming to a deeper understanding of what the Lord is doing today. Matthew 24:14 tells us that the Gospel will be proclaimed throughout the whole world to every “nation” and then the end will come. In Revelation 7:9 we find the consummation of God’s plan as every nation, tribe and tongue gather in a cosmic worship service. It seems that the Lord isn’t waiting on His church any longer to “Go” to the nations, although that’s still important.
Instead, he is bringing the “nations” to us and in ever increasing number. Today, there are 8 American cities with a foreign born population greater than 1 million, including DFW – many of these people represent UPGs (meaning there are very few Christians among them). Think of it this way, we can do international missions in our own city! But does the Church recognize the opportunity before us? They are starting to.
These Diaspora peoples (diaspora simply means people living outside their homeland) are part on an historic migration of people all over the world. I could share much more and will soon through a website called EthnicEmbrace.net but I want to share very briefly some of the things accomplished to date. The major highlights include the following (please also see the following 2012/2013 Ministry Highlights):
- Launched the DFW Diaspora Alliance to begin to mobilize churches locally for Diaspora missions
- Provided leadership to the formation of the national Cityreaching Diaspora Initiative to mobilize churches in cities nationally
- In the process of launching Ethnic Embrace USA as a national mobilization initiative.
- Development of a Diaspora focused Perspectives initiative to mobilize PSP students
- Oversaw the training of 100s of World Christians mobilizing for the harvest.
Two words define what the Lord has privileged me to be a part of – Diaspora and Mobilize. Both are crucial in the completion of the Great Commission. The vision is to see more local churches and Christ-followers understand our mandate for the “nations,” pray for and embrace the people God is sending us, and become mobilized for the harvest. Prayerfully, the result will be the advancement of the Kingdom and a new movement of God in our day.The Lord has brought definition to my ministry and we look toward the future with excitement of what he is doing.
I invite you to pray for this work and join me as a Prayer Partner for the year ahead. Some specific prayer requests are:
- ·My own personal walk and that of my family will remain strong with the Lord.
- ·My health to remain strong to do the work ahead with excellence and vitality
- ·Clear vision and strong leadership for the development of these ministry initiatives
- ·Financial resources to complete the work for the glory of God among the nations.
Would you also consider partnering with us financially for the advancement of the Gospel to the Diaspora peoples of the U.S.? Monthly partner support and gifts of any size will help mobilize churches locally and nationally to respond with the love of Jesus to these New Americans toward finishing the task Jesus gave us to do. More than anything we covet your prayers for this ministry. Regular email updates are also planned to keep you informed.
Thanks for your prayers and consideration.
Christ is All,
Brian & Debbie Considine
Checks made payable to Mission America Coalition can be mailed to P.O. Box 13930, Palm Desert, CA 92255 and noted for Brian Considine. Contributions are tax deductible.
2011/2012 Ministry Highlights:
September – Attended Movement Day – Gospel Movement in Cities – in New York City and the “No Need Among Us” Conference in Waco, TX, reconnecting and networking with leaders from all over the U.S.
November – Attended the EthneCity Conference in Houston that made several important connections.
December – Spoke at the DFW Mobilizers monthly meeting about the Diaspora opportunity of DFW. Was asked to coordinate and facilitate the Dallas book tour for Patrick Johnston’s new work – “The Future of the Global Church” and creator of “Operation World.” More than 300 leaders attended 4 venues.
January – Hosted Patrick Johnstone and launched plans for the DFW Diaspora Alliance to bring DFW leaders together to begin to connect on Diaspora missions in our cities. Also Coordinated and facilitated the Perspectives Study Program Spring semester.
February – Launched DFW Diaspora Alliance at a meeting at the Dallas Baptist Association offices. 30 leaders attended this first meeting.
March – Convened 2nd meeting of DFW Diaspora Alliance with 30 leaders in attendance to help design and develop this initiative.
April – Although I was not able to attend personally, helped design and contributed an article and a presentation at the annual Ethnic America Summit in South Carolina. The idea for Ethnic Embrace USA was conceived along with the National Diaspora Network that I gave leadership too.
June – Convened the National Diaspora Network with a national conference call with more than 50 key leaders coming together to hear about Diaspora missions in U.S. Cities.
July – Coordinated and facilitated the 1st Quarterly meeting of the DFW Diaspora Alliance with more than 50 leaders in attendance. Coordinated and facilitated the Perspectives Leaders Intensive on the SIL International campus with 20 students.
August – Completed working draft of Ethnic Embrace USA – Blessing the Nations Among Us – a 40 Day Prayer Journey – to be released at the MAC National Leaders Consultation – Denver 2012 – October 2012
2011/2012 Ministry Plans:
- Continue to give leadership to the Perspectives movement in DFW.
- Complete Ethnic Embrace USA as a resource for local churches
- Provide leadership to the Cityreaching Diaspora Initiative,
- Attend Movement Day & Denver 2012 to connect leaders with the above
- Build the DFW Diaspora Initiative
- Host The Christ Institute with David Bryant (November 7-9)
- Become a published author with works in progress including Ethnic Embrace USA, Quest for a Kingdom Life and other titles.