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10 Reasons to Move Out of the Country

Paul traveled to foreign cities, telling the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection for sinners everywhere he went.  He supported himself by making tents (Acts 18:1-4; 1 Thessalonians 2:9).  This model for self-supporting Gospel work has become known as “tentmaking.”  I encourage you to consider it, whether you are called to vocational mission work or you are a Christian who has a job, career, or profession that might allow you to work out of the country.  (I am primarily addressing US citizens, but the concept applies to others as well).

In a recent message, I presented 10 reasons why Christians should consider moving out of the country to a gospel-starved area, working to support themselves while having Gospel impact on the people around them.  The globalization of business, education, and medicine, and the possibility of working from anywhere with a high-speed Internet connection has greatly increased the opportunities for this.  If you haven’t heard the message, please listen to it here.  The main points are reproduced below without comment.  I have borrowed from various sources, including Worldwide Tentmakers and Globalopps.org.

Here are 10 reasons to consider the tentmaking model:

  1. Build relationships with people who are far from God.
  2. Establish the credibility of Christianity.
  3. Give people opportunity to see and know a Christian firsthand.
  4. Conserve missions funds for those who can’t go without support.
  5. Make Christ known in places where mission work is restricted.
  6. Overcome resistance with love.
  7. Maximize the portability of your occupation or profession.
  8. Help existing Gospel work.
  9. Use your skills for a Kingdom purpose.
  10. Experience the ultimate in adventure and fulfillment.
 

Butterflies Aren’t In the Bible. Wait . . .

They aren’t named in the Bible. I wonder why. They’re so beautiful and graceful.  It seems like Jesus would have pointed during one of His outdoor teaching sessions and said, “Behold, the butterfly . . .“ and used it to illustrate some profound truth.  But butterflies aren’t in the Bible.

But wait!  Think with me for a minute. Consider the Monarch butterfly.  A tiny, cream-colored egg the size of the tip of a ballpoint pen is attached to the underside of a milkweed leaf.  After a few days, an unbelievably small yellow, black, and white striped caterpillar emerges from the egg.  It eats the milkweed leaves and grows to about two inches long.  Then it hangs from a stem or branch by its hindmost feet, head downward, and firmly attaches itself with thread.  The skin splits and falls off, and the pale green naked blob soon hardens into a porcelain-like case with black and gold jewels circling the edge.  A couple of weeks later, the case (“chrysalis”) cracks open and a wet droopy form pushes its way out, an unsightly mass of black and orange crumpled wings and groping, gangly legs.  Soon the wings become velvety smooth, looking freshly painted in dusky orange and deep black with little white accents, its body perfectly designed for a new way of life.

Monarch on our Butterfly Bush  10.5.14

Monarch on our Butterfly Bush 10.5.14

The unsightly caterpillar, its range of movement restricted to a few square feet, becomes a Monarch butterfly that will spend the rest of its life as a living miracle, flying above the earth, venturing as far as Mexico on its migratory path.

The name for this radical change is metamorphosis.  This creature’s life cycle is a picture of the biblical concept of transformation.  In fact, the Greek word metamorphoo (-phoo is pronounced fa-o) is used twice in the Bible.  In these two verses, it is translated with the word, “transformed.”

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.  (Romans 12:2)

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.  (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Both these verses are talking about the change that takes place in us when we believe in Jesus Christ and grow to be like Him.

An immediate transformation happens when we are saved.  This is the new birth (John 3:1-17) when we become new creatures in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).  A full and final transformation will occur when believers are raised from the dead and God gives us the capacity to experience and enjoy His presence forever (1 Corinthians 15:51-54; Philippians 3:20-21).

But Romans 12:2 and 2 Corinthians 3:18, the ones that use the word metamorphoo, are talking about ongoing transformation, the growth and change we experience in this life after we are saved and before we go to heaven.  If you are a Christian, you have the capacity to be an entirely new person at every level, including your deepest motivations and passions, your thoughts, your attitudes, and your behavior.  The caterpillar, or “pupa” as it is called at that stage, spends about two weeks in the chrysalis.  During that time the cells from the homely, earthbound caterpillar are being reformulated to produce the body, legs, wings, antennae, and other components of the butterfly.  In the same way, you spend the years of your life after you are saved being “transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18).  God is at work in you, changing you into a reflection of His own image, something glorious.  It happens over time, through circumstances, as you respond to His Word and His work in you.  Paul says in Romans 12:2 to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  This means you have a part in this process, by allowing your thoughts and motives and attitudes to be shaped by an outside force, that force being God’s Spirit speaking through His Word rather than the world around you.

And one day the process will be finished, the waiting will be over, and you will leave the dark, confining, yet in some ways beautiful, chrysalis of this life, and you will be fully and finally transformed.  You will have “a body like His glorious body”(Philippians 3:21) and you will “know just  as (you are) known” (1 Corinthians 15:12) and “there will be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying . . . no more pain, for the former things have passed away” because the One who sits on the throne “makes all things new” (Revelation 21:4-5) and you “will reign forever and ever” (Revelation 22:5).

I’ve searched, and I can’t find any butterflies in the Bible.  But I’ve found transformation in the Bible!  You can too.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on October 7, 2014 in Bible Reading and Study

 

The Pastor & Despair

Maybe a discouraged pastor will do a search and find this article.  I’ve been there.  It’s hard to be transparent and acknowledge it, but I am a pastor who is subject to periods of despair.  Sometimes I know what is causing it, other times the cause is not evident.  I lose my sense of direction and motivation for ministry.  I’m ready to walk away. I tell my wife, “My demon is back.”

I’ve received help from various sources during these times.  I want to share two here.  Maybe they will help a pastor in despair. The first is from a book, the second is from Scripture.

A few months ago when I was going through such a season, something prompted me to read a chapter in Charles Spurgeon’s Lectures To My Students. The chapter is called, The Minister’s Fainting Fits. He’s an old guy, it’s an old book, and even the chapter title sounds archaic.   But this chapter is gold for the despairing pastor.  He gives some explanations for why pastors experience despair, and he offers practical and spiritual help.  It is helpful to hear a man like Charles Spurgeon acknowledge the experience of despair in the life of the pastor and lovingly lead our dark thoughts in a brighter direction. Dig your copy out (or order it if you don’t have one), get alone for a few hours, and mark this chapter up.  My pencil found these bits of encouragement:

  • “Fits of depression come over the most of us . . . Knowing by most painful experience what deep depression of spirit means, being visited therewith at seasons by no means few or far between, I thought it might be consolatory to some of my brethren if I gave my thoughts thereon . . . “
  • “Being men (we) are compassed with infirmity . . . Most of us are in some way or other unsound physically . . . . As to mental maladies, is any man altogether sane? Are we not all a little off the balance? Some minds appear to have gloomy tinge essential to their very individuality . . . These infirmities may be no detriment to a man’s career of special usefulness; they may even have been imposed upon him by divine wisdom as necessary qualifications for his peculiar course of service.”
  • “Our work, when earnestly undertaken, lays us open to attacks in the direction of depression. Who can bear the weight of souls without sometimes sinking to the dust? . . . Such soul-travail as that of a faithful minister will bring on occasional seasons of exhaustion, when heart and flesh will fail.”
  • “Sedentary habits have a tendency to create despondency in some constitutions . . . To sit long in one posture, poring over a book, or driving a quill, is in itself a taxing of nature; but add to this a badly ventilated chamber, a body which has long been without muscular exercise, and a heart burdened with many cares, and we have all the elements for preparing a seething cauldron of despair, especially in the dim months of fog.”
  • He encourages walks in nature, which I love and always find refreshing. He says, “The ferns and the rabbits, the streams and the trouts, the fir trees and the squirrels, the primroses and the violets, the farm-yard, the new-mown hay, and the fragrant hops – these are the best medicine for hypochondriacs, the surest tonics for the declining, the best refreshments for the weary.”
  • And one more: “Be not dismayed by soul-trouble.  Count it no strange thing, but a part of ordinary ministerial experience . . . Cast the burden of the present, along with the sin of the past and the fear of the future, upon the Lord, who forsaketh not His saints . . . Put no trust in frames and feelings . . . Trust in God alone . . . “

(Quotes from Charles Spurgeon, Lectures To My Students, Zondervan Publishing House, 1982.)

The second source of recent help for me has been 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24.  I was in a dismal state of mind a few months ago, wondering how in the world I was supposed to shepherd my church with all of my past and present sins, my weaknesses and inadequacies, the overwhelming responsibilities.  My heart came to rest on this:

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.

I take from this that:

  • God is at work in my life, enacting a process of sanctification – growth, if you will.
  • His work touches every aspect of my being.
  • He has called me to this process, and whatever path my life takes is His design in bringing this process to completion. His calling for me includes a life of ministry.
  • He is the faithful one. He is. Not me. He is.
  • He will perform this work in my life. He will enable me to fulfill my calling.  My “success” rests on Him.  Not me. Him.  He is faithful.  He will do it.
  • I can pray these things, because that’s what Paul was doing. So I turn these promises into prayers.  And I am lifted from being a pastor in despair to a pastor with hope.
 
6 Comments

Posted by on September 23, 2014 in Pastoral Ministry

 
 
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