I would like to introduce you to my PawPaw, a man who I am blessed to have in my life and is always a joy to be around. Over the past few weeks with all the holidays I was able to spend a lot of time with him and my MawMaw at their house near my parents. Times like this are times I cherish and am so thankful for to sit with and talk with them and a lot of the time simply sit there and listen, listen to stories of how they met, listen to them joke with each other, or listen to the latest news that my MawMaw just read in the National Enquirer (she loves these stories). These times are precious cause I know I won’t always have them, my PawPaw is 92 and although his goal is to catch Moses at 120 years old, (a joke he has had for the past 10 plus years and one I’m starting to think may actually happen) he is slowing down some along with my MawMaw who is 90. As I spent time with them over the last month and began to think of their legacy in our family and what I have learned from them over the years. This is not an exhausted list by any means, just a few of my first thoughts as I have dwelled on this.
- The Importance of Faith – The picture above is how I found my PawPaw one day I stopped by to say hi. He was sitting on his spot on the couch doing what he has done nearly everyday for the past 30 years, reading his Bible, as my MawMaw took a nap. He came to know the Lord while in his 60′s as the Lord saw fit to use my dad to lead him to the Lord. And since that day my PawPaw has forever been changed, after spending the first 60 years of his life trying to be good enough, the Lord opened his eyes to His love and grace. My PawPaw was worn his Bible out since then, and every time I go by there he tells me about what he read that day. One of the highlights of our time together over Christmas break, was sitting there with my 92-year-old PawPaw sat there and told me a list of answered prayers the Lord had answered this month for him, how some people may not believe in Christ, but he knows that when he prays to Him that the Lord answers him. On Christmas he told us, “This family is built on love and joy. Love for Christ and love for others.”
- The Importance of the Individual – This may be one of the biggest things I have noticed about my PawPaw, and that is he makes everyone feel important and as if you are the only one he is talking to. If you were to come with me and my family to meet them, he would talk to you directly and include you in everything. You would leave feeling like you are part of the family and not just some stranger who was tagging alone. And he has been this way it seems like his whole life, he was a car salesman most of his life, and even today we run into people who when they hear my dad’s name (he is a junior) they ask if his dad sold cars because they bought a car from him and remember how he helped them and how he got them into the car they wanted. I’ve purchased two vehicles in my life and couldn’t tell you the names of the salesman I dealt with.
- The Importance of Being a Witness – Any opportunity my PawPaw gets to point to Christ he takes it. Recently when at the doctor about to be released to go home, all the doctors and all the nurses were in his room (see point above, people are drawn to him) and they were asking him about being married for 71 years and whats the secret, his answer short, simple and powerful, “Jesus Christ.” Even at 92, and no longer able to be out and about he is still being a witness to anyone and everyone he may come in contact with, whether family member, doctor, nurse, or home health nurse that comes to check on him, he will tell you the main thing in his life and the secret to his joy is Christ.
- The Importance of a Never Changing Joy – My PawPaw is 92, and rides a scooter to get around in the house and has to basically sit on the couch all day long watching a TV he may or may not hear that well, but you would never know it. He is always joyful, regardless of the circumstances, and happy to see you. Never once can I recall him every complaining about his or my MawMaw’s circumstances. Through hospital trips, losing a home to a hurricane, having your car taken from you, zero complaints. Always joyful, always joking around, always thanking the Lord for what he has.
- The Importance of Family – My Grandparents have been married 71 years and are still in love. In an age where more than 50% of marriages end in divorce, my Grandparents have made it through, most people would be happy to live for 71 years and they have been married 71. It’s an amazing thing to see and witness and one that the world is astonished by, leading to questions as mentioned above, “How?” And the answer is always the same, “Jesus Christ,” Christ has sustained them. My MawMaw recently told my dad that no matter what family is family, they will make mistakes but the Lord tells us that whoever is without sin to throw the first stones, so no matter what you love your family cause that’s what the Lord has told us to do. And they have loved us all well, through ups and downs their love has remained constant.
This is just some of the many things that I have noticed in my PawPaw and MawMaw’s lives, and a small part of the legacy they are leaving our family. I am incredibly grateful for all that the Lord has used them to show me about living out His Word, and loving others. I cherish the moments the Lord continues to allow me to sit with them and just talk and listen. These times are precious and whether I get a few more years of these opportunities, or they make it to Moses and I get another 25+ years with them, these are the things I will hold onto.
“This family is built on love and joy. Love for Christ and love for others.”
Quote I have been chewing on:
The Kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. And he who will not suffer this does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ; he wants to be among friends, to sit among the roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the devout people. O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing who would ever have been spared?
for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way,
as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.
~ 1 timothy 4:7-8
Two weekends ago I went home for the first time in almost 4 months since moving to Dallas, to watch two dear friends get married. While home, though I had the same conversation over and over with friends and family; that basically went like this:
Someone: “Nick, you have lost weight, what are you doing?”
Me: “Diet and exercise.”
It got to where it was comical to me, because the response to me saying I had lost weight to diet and exercise was almost one of disappointment, like people were hoping that I had moved to Dallas and found some special formula that didn’t require diet and exercise (I’m sure the reading load in seminary has helped too). Cause although deep inside we really know that the secret to weight loss and getting in shape is diet and exercise, we all want that easy fix. Diet and exercise take discipline, effort and is difficult; please give us a special pill, or some 6 minute abs belt that we can wear while in bed eating, and we will try it.
Just make it easy…
Now this isn’t a post on health and fitness, but I have been chewing on this, because is this not a picture of our spiritual lives? We are called to be Holy (1 Peter 1:16), we are told to pursue Godliness, righteousness, and faith (1 Timothy 6:11). To often we try to achieve this the easy way, like attending church once or twice a week will help us get to where we are supposed to be. Or we just wait for the Lord to sanctify us, and claim “we will be Holy, one day, when we are with Him;” Yes, ultimately this is true, but that does not take away the command to train ourselves for Godliness (1 Timothy 4:7). If we were to go to our heroes of the Faith, and ask them how did you get so Godly? When they told us, would our response be, “oh…” wishing the answer was simpler?
All of this started to connect last week as I was preparing for my home group bible study where we were focusing on the passage in James 4:7-10:
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
As I was reading this passage, I noticed all the “action” words that pertain to us, that we are to do: submit, resist, draw near, cleanse, purify, and humble, all words that pertain to us getting near to God.
We cannot pursue Godliness apart from actively pursuing Him. Yes it takes discipline, effort and is difficult sometimes, but what else is there to go towards?
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence
~ 2 Peter 1:3
I have been chewing on this verse for the past week. We have been supplied all we need to live a life of Godliness, through His divine power. His power, the One who spoke the earth into being, formed man into His image, and breathed life into him; this God has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness. And He’s done this through the knowledge of Him. In order to live the life that He has called us to, all we need is to know Him more.
Life of Godliness starts with knowing Him, not simply knowing about Him, but knowing Him and continually pursuing Him. Life of Holiness starts on my knees in prayer and in His Word listening for Him to speak, not out of duty but out of delight, knowing that He has supplied all I need to live the life He has called me to, I just need to dive into Him to live it.
13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
~ 1 Peter 1:13-16
“There are only 3 kinds of Christians when it comes to missions:
Zealous goers, zealous senders and the disobedient.”
~ John Piper
According to the International Mission Board website (imb.org) there are currently 2,987 Unreached and Unengaged People Groups in the world. That is People Groups where there are no current plans to reach them, no missionaries living among their midst for the purpose of reaching the Group with the Gospel, and no Bibles available in their language.
If roughly 2000 years ago a Commission was given to go and make disciples of all nations, why are there still 2,987 People Groups who haven’t heard, and with no plan to reach them? I know we have heard the illustration but it is spot on, if Coca-Cola has been around for 127 years and is available all over the world, what’s the missing link in the spread of the Gospel to all Nations?
I have been thinking about this the past few weeks and this is a simple stab at what is missing.
A + B + C = Missions Task is Accomplished
A & B will be Constant Variables (variables that cannot change)
C will be an Independent Variable
A = Gods Commission to Go and Make Disciples of All Nations
B = Power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish the task given
So far we have:
Commission Given + Holy Spirit + C = Missions Task Accomplished
Jesus states that all authority in Heaven is His, and has given the command to Go and Make Disciples of all Nations (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:14-20)
Then in Acts we get the promise of the Holy Spirit coming that will provide the power needed to accomplish the Great Commission (Acts 1:8). The Disciples are told that once they receive power from the Holy Spirit they will be His Witnesses to the end of earth.
So if Jesus has given his Commission for the Spread of the Gospel among all Nations and has provided the Power needed to accomplish this task. What’s the missing link? We know the Lord has a plan to have His Gospel to all the World then He is going to come back (Matt. 24:14); and we know His plans will not be thwarted (Job 42:2). What is Our Independent Variable? I believe the independent variable in our simple equation here, which determines the accomplished task finished date is:
Commission Given + Holy Spirit + Believer’s Obedience = Missions Task Accomplished.
I believe our obedience, or lack thereof, directly affects the pace at which the Gospel spreads into all the World.
I believe that God is Sovereign over all, and that He will accomplish His task, even of it takes using the rocks to do this. But He has provided all that we need to accomplish His Commission.
The question I’ve been chewing on this past week or so is this:
“If we really long for the return of the Lord and a new heaven and new earth,
as much as we say and sing; then why not give our lives to the one task that
this happening hinges on?”
The Accomplished Task of the Spread of the Gospel to All Nations Needs Believers Who:
- Are obedient to sell all and GO when God tells them to sell all and Go.
- Will be obedient when God tells them to move to an inner city to part of a Church Plant.
- Are obedient to stay where they are and live life on mission daily where they are if God tells you to stay.
- Will be obedient and be generous with the funds God has blessed them with for the advance of the Gospel, among all Peoples.
- As parents who are obedient and train up their children to love Christ rightly, and teach them about God’s heart for the Nations.
- Will be obedient and plant and lead churches in the hard areas where they are or where ever God will lead them too.
- Will be obedient till the end of their race on earth, and give their lives to the advancement of the Gospel to the ends of their earth.
- Are OBEDIENT!
The bottom line the advancement of the Gospel requires one thing from us, and that’s obedience. He has given the commission, provided all we need to accomplish it, and promised He will complete the task. Its just on us to trust and obey.
Church, the world should not be better at providing the world with a drink than we are at providing the world with the Gospel.
Simple yet true.
You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltines be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
~ Matthew 5:13-16
A few months ago, I was down in Brazil on a mission trip to a Children’s Home for two weeks. While there I was reminded of a few things:
- The World is a Dark and Hurting place
- Sometimes we have to get outside of our small comfortable bubble to realize this
- The truth is there are hurting people in other countries, but there are also hurting people in the cubicle next to us, in line at Wal-Mart, and across the street
- We just have to have eyes to see
- Jesus said that, us believers ARE the light of the world
- Not that we should be, or if we get a chance to be to do it but that we ARE
- You see light makes what was once unseen now seen
- Light is only effective in the midst of darkness
- When you turn on a flash light in a well-lit room it adds no benefit
- When I was walking back to my house at night in Brazil, a flashlight was a huge benefit
- As Christians we love simply hanging out with each other, so all of our lights are together, essentially turning on a flashlight in a well-lit room
- For light to be effective it must be shown in the darkness – in order for Christ light to shine in the World, His disciples must go out into the world
- Sometimes that means jumping on a plane and traveling thousand of miles away, and sometimes it means meeting your neighbor where they are
- We do this to shine in the darkness, so that the world can be shown Christ
- We shine our lights so others may see and give Glory to God
Read this last week as I’ve continued to think over all that the Lord showed me this summer:
Charles H. Spurgeon – Morning and Evening Devotional
Morning September 6th
“In the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.”
— Philippians 2:15
We use lights to make manifest. A Christian man should so shine in his life, that a person could not live with him a week without knowing the gospel. His conversation should be such that all who are about him should clearly perceive whose he is, and whom he serves; and should see the image of Jesus reflected in his daily actions. Lights are intended for guidance. We are to help those around us who are in the dark. We are to hold forth to them the Word of life. We are to point sinners to the Saviour, and the weary to a divine resting-place. Men sometimes read their Bibles, and fail to understand them; we should be ready, like Philip, to instruct the inquirer in the meaning of God’s Word, the way of salvation, and the life of godliness. Lights are also used for warning. On our rocks and shoals a light-house is sure to be erected. Christian men should know that there are many false lights shown everywhere in the world, and therefore the right light is needed. The wreckers of Satan are always abroad, tempting the ungodly to sin under the name of pleasure; they hoist the wrong light, be it ours to put up the true light upon every dangerous rock, to point out every sin, and tell what it leads to, that so we may be clear of the blood of all men, shining as lights in the world. Lights also have a very cheering influence, and so have Christians. A Christian ought to be a comforter, with kind words on his lips, and sympathy in his heart; he should carry sunshine wherever he goes, and diffuse happiness around him.
Gracious Spirit dwell with me;
I myself would gracious be,
And with words that help and heal
Would thy life in mine reveal,
And with actions bold and meek
Would for Christ my Saviour speak.