Ambassador Travis

With just seven more days until my trip to Cambodia, my excitement level is rising.  Thanks to everyone who continues to support this mission by financially contributing and by purchasing balloons and candy. 

I can’t wait to be Christ’s ambassador to another country half way across the globe.  Check out one of my favorite verses: 

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us2 Co 5:20 NIV

To think that for 15 days I will be representing Christ to a community in Cambodia seems like the greatest privilege and responsibility of my lifetime.  I am humbled and overwhelmed with this calling and opportunity.  

I pray I will represent Him well.  In view of what He has done for me, may I sacrificially love, serve, give, and do all I can do with all of my heart.  May I leave Cambodia completely exhausted –all energy spent to serve these people as Christ would have me serve these people.

 

 

Don’t Demas -part 2

Continuing with the post from a couple of days ago,

 I was reading about the Apostle Paul in Acts 21 where he was determined to go to Jerusalem.  In verse 4, it seems that Paul was directed by the Holy Spirit not to go –maybe it wasn’t God’s time for him to go.  I believe Paul, as well as his companions knew a trip into Jerusalem would be dangerous; however, God was calling him there. 

One day, while staying in Philip’s home, a prophet named Agabus was there visiting.  Agabus was a mighty New Testament prophet who predicted a famine (Acts 11:28). 

The Prophet walked up to Paul and did a strange thing.  Without a word, he unfastened Paul’s belt and took it from him.  Agabus then wrapped the belt around his own arms and legs and said :

Thus says the Holy Spirit, “So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles”Acts 21:11 NKJ. 

At these terrifying words of the prophet, everyone in the house began pleading with Paul not to go to Jerusalem.  They feared Paul would be imprisoned or even worse, put to death. 

Then Paul answered, “What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart?  For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” Acts 21:13 NKJ.  

I like what Luke writes in the next verse: 

So when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, “The will of the Lord be done”  Acts 21:14 NKJ. 

I believe that Agabus revealed what Paul needed to know, and when Paul saw this revelation, he was certain of what needed to be done. 

As I read this story, I asked myself this question:  What if in this trip to Cambodia, it was revealed to me that my life would be in danger.  Could God trust me to go?  Would I, as Demas did, choose the comforts of the world? 

Obviously, there is some risk involved in any mission trip; how far will I go to see people come to Christ?  How far will you go?  Within the answer to this question we find our love for Christ and his calling.

Before you answer this question, remember Demas.

Don’t Demas (dee’ mus)

Demas was a companion and fellow-laborer of the Apostle Paul during his first imprisonment at Rome and joins Paul in sending greetings to Philemon, Apphia, and Archippus (Philemon 1:24; Col. 4:14). 

Later on, Paul wrote this note to Timothy: 

“Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone…” 2 Timothy 4:10 

It appears that the love of the world mastered Demas, and he deserted the apostle. 

I think of Demas a lot since I read this story.  Many of the people who will read this have never heard of Demas.  Why?  Could it be because he forsook his calling and exchanged it for the things of this world?  Demas could have been one of the greatest men of the New Testament, but all we know about him is that he served with Paul for a season, and deserted the Apostle for questionable reasons. 

Sunday night I sat with a mission’s team from Church of the Harvest- www.Harvestokc.com.  As we began to discuss the many aspects of the trip, excitement began to fill the room.  Thinking of the differences we will be making in the lives of so many people is as exciting as it is humbling.  I think I can speak for the whole group when I say, “We can’t –not do this.  We are called to this mission work” 

The only thing that could keep us from doing such a great work in this life… is life itself.  We can’t let life, or the love of this present world get in the way of what God has called us to do. 

 Most church members will live their whole lives without ever experiencing what it is like to go on a mission trip.  Why?  Is it because we are too busy?  Is it because we think we don’t have the money? Is it because we are in love with our world, just like Demas?

 Trust me, I’ve had some thoughts:   I am about to travel half way across the world to Cambodia with a team of people of whom I just met.  I will leave my family for 17 days (my wife and I have never been apart for more than 7 days).  I will not be at the first 10 days of my son’s football practices (I am his coach).  I will not be preaching in my own pulpit for 2-3 weekends, and I will be missing my wife’s 40th birthday.  I could go on, but you get the point.

 Why am I doing this?  Because He has called me to do this –life happens to us all but we cannot let life stop us from fulfilling our calling. 

Don’t Demas. 

Now Go………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..Are you still sitting here?

Why I’m Quitting Church part 8

Today is the last post on this subject.  I could actually write more on the excuses I’ve heard though out my years of ministry; however, I’ll conclude with this one:

“I don’t have to go to church to be a Christian”

If you’ve been around Church or Christians for any time, you might have heard this statement a time or two.  I have a couple of questions and statements for people who say this.

First, what’s with the “have to” phrase?  We don’t “have to” go to church -we get to go to church.  It is a privilege that many people in our culture take for granted.  Visiting other countries on mission trips often makes apparent our apathetic attitudes for attending church.   It’s sometimes easy to take our gift of weekend worship for granted when there are so many churches in our communities; still we must not look at our gift of worship as a “have to” duty.

Second, while it may be true that we don’t “have to” go to church to be a Christian, shouldn’t we want to?  Shouldn’t we want to show up and worship with other believers?  Although it has evolved over the centuries, the church was Christ’s original idea.  Even though the church is far from perfect, I think He would want us to be a part of it. 

Third, I’ve heard people say that the church is not the four walls, its the people.  While this statement is true, we must realize that worshiping together is a part of what His church is created to do.  Even Jesus, when He was on this earth would often go to the temple to listen, to pray, and to teach.  When he saw the temple being abused, He ran people out.  He not only cared about the people who worshiped, he also cared about the place where people worshiped. 

Maybe you’ve had a bad experience with church.  Maybe you are unsatisfied with the place you currently attend.  Maybe you have another reason for why you are considering giving up or quitting.  Whatever the reason, quitting is not the answer.  When we quit, we lose.  We have been given this incredible mission to fulfill and we need each other to fulfill it.

Never give up. Never quit.

Why I’m Quitting Church part 7

By now you may be thinking “How many excuses has this guy heard?”.  You’re right.  I’ve heard a lot of them, and I won’t share all of them with you, just the most popular ones.  Here’s the next one:

I got hurt, or offended.

In other words, “Someone said or did something to me that has upset me and I’m quitting church.”

It’s true.  People say and do things that hurt others and the church is no exception.  It shouldn’t be this way.  A church should be a safe place to be honest and open about one’s faults and weaknesses.  In fact, the Bible says that we are to confess our faults to each other so we can pray for each other.  Those who are strong should help out those who are weak spiritually.  In many churches, this is not the case.  People judge others wrongly and take an incorrect approach to helping others through struggles and sins.  This has caused so many people to turn from church in their time of hurting and need.

It was never His plan that we are all clean and pure before we enter his house.  In fact, we learn that becoming a passionate follower of Christ is a life-long process.  Why can’t we learn this instead of pointing  fingers at those who struggle with sin, addiction, and simply living  the day to day Christian lifestyle.  I believe that until we can sit down within our group of Christian friends and openly talk about our sins and struggles, we will never truly benefit from what a church can be to our lives and to our families.

On the other hand, we cannot allow the work of a few judgemental Christians to destroy the work of God within us.  There are things that simply will not be accomplished in and through us if we quit church.  If we are not careful, we will allow the people who hurt us to drive us from His purpose.  When we disconnect from His body, we are not connected to the plans that He wants to work in us through His body.  Remember, we can do more when we are together.  Our enemy knows this and his MO is to divide and conquer.

So remember, if you are somehow offended by someone at church (it will probably happen), don’t let it ruin God’s plan for your life.  Do what the Bible says to do; go to that person, confront that person in love, and resolve anything that causes division.

Never, never, never, let someone destroy the work of God in your life.  Never quit God or His work over an offense.