April 8, 2019

Good Monday Morning!! It is good to be back. I have a lot to cover today so I’m going to jump right in since my wife told me I needed to keep my blog brief – ha.

For those of you who missed our report on Jamaica I wanted to just let you know that we are confident that we were exactly where we needed to be last week. For those of you who believe missions means suffering for Jesus we had plenty of that from no A/C (anywhere) to fighting off the mosquitos to hauling 100 pound bags of rice. We also had opportunity to share our faith and to preach the gospel for those worried about that. We never set foot on the beach but we did see it. But what we saw more was a people in need. Their most obvious need was for food and shelter but more importantly they needed Jesus. I say we enjoyed our time there because when you are where God wants you to be it is a joyous thing. Was it fun? Ummm, no, not really. Was every moment exciting and fulfilling? No. But did we find joy and gladness? Absolutely. Being able to just give a hug to a child that has no parents is a good feeling. To have one young man come up and ask me for preaching tips . . . before I even spoke, is pretty cool (I told him to let me preach and if he still wanted tips to ask me again . . . and he did!). Many more stories but I’m trying to keep this brief so I’ll move on.

I mainly want to give you a few quotes and a few links today. The quote I had yesterday in my sermon came from Mark Batterson and if you were there hopefully you remember it. Remember David Wilkerson’s son saying, “Sometimes you have to go halfway around the world to realize you're not called there"? But then he also talked about how “that mission trip produced not only a restlessness but an openness to go anywhere, to do anything. And in my experience that's what mission trips do.” And then the last quote which I hope you remember more than any today was, “When you get out of your comfort zone, you hear God's voice more clearly.” I type that this morning from my comfort zone, my office that I come to every day. May God get us out of our comfort zones today!!

I want to give you a few articles to read today as well. The first is called “Mission Trips are for Discipleship, Too.” It’s a very short article and the first paragraph is as follows:

Spending time and money on mission trips can seem silly when we can just as easily share the gospel right where we are. And it’s true that, regardless of location, followers of Christ should strive to live as his ambassadors, leading lives of continual testimony. Nevertheless, this doesn’t discount the unique value of short-term trips, for they serve as a powerful means of fueling evangelistic passion and empowering believers to live on mission.

The second article is titled “6 Long-Term Effects of Short-Term Mission Trips.” And again it is a very short article and I won’t even bother to quote from it other than to say its eye-opening in regards to the impact we can have as we go.

The third article is called “How a Long-Term Partnership in Mexico Strengthened My Small Churchin Virginia.” Again, short article, and let me give you just one quote. “Our partnership in Mexico City isn’t an isolated interest of the members who went on the trip; the entire congregation is invested.” This is a small congregation not unlike ours but they sensed God wanting them to invest in a place where the immediate physical benefits were not about them. They moved outside their comfort zone there in small-town Virginia and listened to the prompting of God. I was going to give one more quote but for the sake of time let me just say that he lists 4 ways that this long-term relationship has strengthened their church: Focus,UnityGiving, and Joy. Let me encourage you to read the short article . . . shorter than my blog today – ha. When you have a shared mission outside yourself the benefits can be amazing.

So I know some of you are saying, “Yeah, yeah, we get it. The pastor is on his mission trip rant again because he just came back from one. He needs to (fill in the blank) instead.” But we miss the point. As Solomon discovered when we try to chase after our own happiness we will never find it. It is when we invest in the lives of others that God brings joy into our lives. I’m trying to help you, and me, get out of our comfort zones so that God can speak and we can listen and then God can use us as we obey. Mission trips are just a vehicle to get us there. They help us see things at home differently. They help us focus more clearly on what is most important in life. They renew our passion for Him. They challenge us to walk more closely with Him. Get out of your comfort zone today. You will be glad you did. And God will be glorified!!

Somewhat related to this I wanted to let FBCWS know that we have decided to postpone our trip to Greece this year to work with refugees. It was mainly an issue of finances but in that we saw God closing the door for this year. We are already planning next year’s trip. We will go earlier in the spring and we already have several more who said they want to go with us. So if you want to get out of your comfort zone without sweating in Jamaica, make plans now to go with us! What I am really praying for is that the “entire congregation” will be “invested.” In the meantime please be in prayer for Jennifer and I. We had already invested in 3 hotel rooms there and now that we have had to cancel the trip we are losing $1800 of our own money. I don’t know about your world but in mine that is a LOT of money. So be in prayer that God would provide for that loss and if not somehow He would still gain the glory for our sacrifice.

Last Word: Welcome to Andy Hutchison, and his sweet wife Theresa, as our new Music Minister aka Worship Pastor. We are excited to have them and we believe God has brought them here at a key time in the life of this church. I know some voted in the negative yesterday but my prayer is that we will all love and support them and work together for God’s glory!! I can still remember our first church out of seminary. I went as the Youth, Music, and Education Minister. Uhhh yeah. We had some “no” votes and I still remember a lady coming by after the vote and saying she had voted against us but now that we were there she would do all she could to help make our ministry a success. As it turns out she was the church organist!! See above that I was the Music Minister. Ha. I loved her for that and will always remember her. And no, she never really turned me into a Music Minister, but she tried!!

I am ON MISSION Today! Are You?



P.S. Sorry. I know this wasn’t “brief” but I tried! Hey, I’m a preacher! What do you expect?