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July 30, 2009

4

Christ-centered Missions

by Rev. A. J. Iovine

Rev. Todd Wilken of Issues, Etc. (a Lutheran radio program that you should be listening to everyday) reminded me of an important aspect of missions work: Without Christ and His cross at the center, missions is just a strategy.

I was reminded of this topic after reading Rev. Wilken’s response to my post from yesterday dealing with Rev. Anthony Steinbronn’s presentation to the 2009 New Jersey District Convention (a presentation that I must admit I missed; I was talking with a fellow pastor outside of the conference room). The entire presentation is centered on a strategic plan for missions; as Rev. Wilken pointed out, it was missing Christ.

Our district and Synod have been focused on “missions” for a long while, but I feel that we’ve come off the tracks, so to speak, as we try and push this train forward. The Synod’s “Ablaze” program is supposed to be centered on reaching 100 Million people with Christ by 2017, the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation. Regardless of the effectiveness of this missions’ strategy (come see me at church and bring lunch; I will go on for hours), it has always missed an important aspect of why we’re doing these “missions” in the first place:

That is Jesus Christ.

That is fulfilling his command to Baptize all nations in the name of the Triune God.

That is showing love of neighbor as we proclaim Christ crucified.

When our direction is on figuring out how to run a more effective bake sale or how we raise money through a car wash, this direction is not centered on Christ. How is getting a car clean proclaiming Him who died for us?

The important part of a missions strategy has to be on a missions program that presses Christ and the salvation He won for us at the cross. For this salvation is not just for me and the members of our church; it is for all people. Telling this Good News must be at the heart of all missions. Without this very basic Christian understanding of our faith, missions projects become fundraisers.

As a pastor, it is far too easy for me to fall into pressing a missions strategy that is centered on the financial bottom line. But evangelism is more than just bake sales. It is about proclaiming the salvation won by Jesus Christ at the cross.

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4 Comments Post a comment
  1. messenger
    Sep 7 2009

    Revelation I got from God about my life after returning from Sedona,Az.
    ———————————————————————–

    I found myself on a mountain at the end of my rope. Before me appeared a much larger rope that led as far as the eye could see. I had been climbing the rope that I was on for so long and it seemed to lead no where. Sometimes the climb was easy,sometimes it was hard,but it never seemed to get me anywhere. After much struggle with the rope I was on,one day I took a leap of “Faith” and grabbed onto the much larger rope. I started climbing and a change came over me. The higher I got, the stronger I got.At the same time,I became more frightened for fear of falling. I stopped a few times to catch my breath but felt compelled to keep climbing. Then I noticed the more I climbed,the less afraid I became. When I looked up, I could see the top of the mountain,I was in the clouds. I had almost reached the top. My heart was pounding my energy was high and I notice there had been a change in me that had taken place. I reach the top and stood up. What I saw, was the most incredible view I had ever seen. My mind was clear and taking in all the beauty around me. My heart was so soft,I wanted to cry. My soul had been changed and I felt like a new person. I would never look at my life the same. I reflected on the rope that I had spent my whole life on and wondered why I thought that the rope I was on would lead me to happiness. After trying to absorb this overwhelming quest, I all the sudden felt a great desire to climb back down the rope and tell others what I had experienced. As I climbed down,I saw other people on the rope. Some were up high and some had just started the climb. But many people were right in the middle not moving. Not going up nor going back down. When I got to the beginning of the rope, I started telling everyone that would listen to me about the rope that led to the top. Most people wouldn’t listen to what I had to say. They were so content with climbing their own rope, which I knew would lead them no where for I had been climbing the same type of rope for so many years. Some people saw the rope I was on but were to afraid to make the leap of “Faith”. They were afraid of falling. I noticed that while telling people about the rope,the place seemed dark and cold. It was until I saw the light on the mountain top that I could distinguish the difference. The individual ropes that we climb represents us living our own life trying to achieve fame,fortune and success on our own. Living life to satisfy ourselves. The leap to the other rope is the leap of “Faith” when we surrender our lives to Jesus. Give your life and Receive eternal life. The rope of life represents the hand of God.Climb it diligently and always know….God will never let you fall. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Jesus has his hand out. Grab hold of him! The climb represents the struggles that we endure. God will give you the Holy Spirit to comfort you and encourage you on your climb+++ When you reach the top of the mountain,the scales fall off your eyes. You have achieved eternal life You acknowledge that you have been Born Again and you got to go tell someone!!! The people that stop on the rope and become comfortable, represent the Luke warm Christian that God will spew out of his mouth. One is either in the dark or in the light. There is nothing in between. If you are by the door in the dark….your still in the dark. The Lord wants us to have a great passion for him and be on fire for him. When you are in the dark,your eyes adjust. When most everyone around you is in darkness,you don’t know your in the dark. It is only when you step into the light that you realize what a dark place you were in. I pray that this will encourage you and others to seek the lord. Love thy Lord God with all your Heart,Soul,Mind and Strength. Please allow me to share with you HOW to love our Lord God with all your heart,soul,mind and strength.

    Ray Baker
    (Messenger)
    followingjesus@comcast.net

    Reply
  2. messenger
    Sep 7 2009

    Revelation I got from God about my life after returning from Sedona,Az.
    ———————————————————————–

    I found myself on a mountain at the end of my rope. Before me appeared a much larger rope that led as far as the eye could see. I had been climbing the rope that I was on for so long and it seemed to lead no where. Sometimes the climb was easy,sometimes it was hard,but it never seemed to get me anywhere. After much struggle with the rope I was on,one day I took a leap of “Faith” and grabbed onto the much larger rope. I started climbing and a change came over me. The higher I got, the stronger I got.At the same time,I became more frightened for fear of falling. I stopped a few times to catch my breath but felt compelled to keep climbing. Then I noticed the more I climbed,the less afraid I became. When I looked up, I could see the top of the mountain,I was in the clouds. I had almost reached the top. My heart was pounding my energy was high and I notice there had been a change in me that had taken place. I reach the top and stood up. What I saw, was the most incredible view I had ever seen. My mind was clear and taking in all the beauty around me. My heart was so soft,I wanted to cry. My soul had been changed and I felt like a new person. I would never look at my life the same. I reflected on the rope that I had spent my whole life on and wondered why I thought that the rope I was on would lead me to happiness. After trying to absorb this overwhelming quest, I all the sudden felt a great desire to climb back down the rope and tell others what I had experienced. As I climbed down,I saw other people on the rope. Some were up high and some had just started the climb. But many people were right in the middle not moving. Not going up nor going back down. When I got to the beginning of the rope, I started telling everyone that would listen to me about the rope that led to the top. Most people wouldn’t listen to what I had to say. They were so content with climbing their own rope, which I knew would lead them no where for I had been climbing the same type of rope for so many years. Some people saw the rope I was on but were to afraid to make the leap of “Faith”. They were afraid of falling. I noticed that while telling people about the rope,the place seemed dark and cold. It was until I saw the light on the mountain top that I could distinguish the difference. The individual ropes that we climb represents us living our own life trying to achieve fame,fortune and success on our own. Living life to satisfy ourselves. The leap to the other rope is the leap of “Faith” when we surrender our lives to Jesus. Give your life and Receive eternal life. The rope of life represents the hand of God.Climb it diligently and always know….God will never let you fall. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Jesus has his hand out. Grab hold of him! The climb represents the struggles that we endure. God will give you the Holy Spirit to comfort you and encourage you on your climb+++ When you reach the top of the mountain,the scales fall off your eyes. You have achieved eternal life You acknowledge that you have been Born Again and you got to go tell someone!!! The people that stop on the rope and become comfortable, represent the Luke warm Christian that God will spew out of his mouth. One is either in the dark or in the light. There is nothing in between. If you are by the door in the dark….your still in the dark. The Lord wants us to have a great passion for him and be on fire for him. When you are in the dark,your eyes adjust. When most everyone around you is in darkness,you don’t know your in the dark. It is only when you step into the light that you realize what a dark place you were in. I pray that this will encourage you and others to seek the lord. Love thy Lord God with all your Heart,Soul,Mind and Strength. Please allow me to share with you HOW to love our Lord God with all your heart,soul,mind and strength.

    Ray Baker
    (Messenger)
    followingjesus@comcast.net

    Reply

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