Why I love taking people to Israel

I can come up with a lot of answers to this question I received recently, but to put it simply: its discipleship. If you’ve heard of MERGE at Mobberly, you’ll recognize this sequence: Discovery, Ownership and Leadership. Discipling others includes each of these steps. For followers of Jesus Christ, discovering new facets of the Christian life is almost a common occurrence through reading His Word, trusting His leadership, gleaning from others in the faith and experiencing His grace in the surprises and challenges we face. There is no better way to make these discoveries than while walking and worshipping in the footsteps of Jesus.

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Why Church Membership?

A popular mindset today is to pick and choose what suits you best. The paradigm has shifted in many churches from the cost of commitment to the choices of comfort. The Bible says, “We are created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them…therefore, walk worthy of the calling you have received…For He has personally given some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the training of the saints in the work of ministry to build up the body of Christ until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.” (Eph. 2:10; 4:1; 4:10)
People outside the church bubble are not waking up on Sunday morning hoping to find a church they can help make successful. If they do come to church, they are looking for a platform to run their lives on. They are not interested in creating institutional success.
Membership is a privilege. What has developed in the last 20 years in church life is the concept of customer service in church. We expect and demand to be treated as consumers. “If you want my patronage, you had better cater to my needs.” What has happened is the member has become the customer to whom the product has been tailored.
We were created to join God on a mission. Some people think of God as hanging around beyond the edges of the universe somewhere, listening to really good worship music. The Bible teaches us something very different. God is at work 24/7 all over the world (just check out http://www.greatcommission2020.com/).God is filling His followers with grace and mercy and power to reclaim and redeem this broken planet.
It’s as if God has work gloves on, and He calls us to roll up our sleeves and join Him with our talents, our money, and our passion. He wants His mission to become our mission. Every local church goer has a choice to make. He can park in his usual spot in the church parking lot, make his way to a comfortable seat in a favorite row, watch a good service, chat with friends, and then go home. That choice makes for a nice, safe Sunday morning experience. Or he can throw himself into an adventure by rolling up his sleeves, joining a team of like-minded servants, and helping to build the local church God has called him to be a part of.

What is the Difference between an inheritance and a possession?

As our church recently voted to purchase an additional 87 acres connecting to our existing property, my mind reflects back to Joshua and the Promised Land.
Joshua 11:23 says: “So Joshua took the entire land, in keeping with all that the LORD had told Moses. Joshua then gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal allotments. After this, the land had rest from war.” But Joshua 13:1 says: “Joshua was now old, advanced in years, and the LORD said to him, “You have become old, advanced in years, but a great deal of the land remains to be possessed.”

There seems on the surface to be a contradiction here, but there is none. The contrast here is between an inheritance and a possession. The land of Canaan was their inheritance but they had to claim it by faith. The same thing is true in our lives today, we have untold riches in Christ but we must claim them. All of God’s economy works this way, there are two sides to everything.

There is a reality gap in the church today just as there was in Israel. The Bible says “we are seated in the heavenlies”, “more than conquerors”, “free from worry”, but in most cases Christians don’t appear to reflect that at all. The reason is, they have not appropriated their inheritance in Christ. We must conquer the land by obedience and appropriation. You cannot receive your inheritance through your own strength, it must be in the strength of Christ. You must learn the meaning of Christian rest (Zech 4:6). It means we cease to try to do what only God can do and we submit ourselves to Christ and His power. It is a far cry from most activity most of us engage in daily.

Sowing, Sharing, and Shaping

When I see ground being cleared, I always think about planting seed. It’s not that I’m much of a farmer, but I am fascinated with growth. It has always amazed me how God created everything out of nothing; how God created man out of dirt, and how God created woman out of Adam’s rib. So, although He didn’t need anything, He chose to use something to form His crowning climax of creation! As much care as God put into forming humans physically, we know that spiritually, “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10 ESV). What’s really humbling is that God has allowed us to participate in the growth and harvest process as well.

As you see dirt being moved around our campus at Mobberly, it’s not just about buildings – its about building lives – its about shaping the next generation! The latest soil moving in the back of our campus is to reap souls. Lord willing, by this summer we will see hundreds of children and families using the recreational field space through ministries like Upward football, soccer, and cheerleading. We are responsible for every ounce of soil God gives to us.

I’ve been a fan of Upward ministry for years as I’ve witnessed God use it to reach many young lives for Jesus! Even this year, I had the joy of coaching my own son’s Upward basketball team. The Lord placed 7 boys before me (and their families) so I could share Christ with them and make an impact on them for God’s glory. Sharing in the shaping of these boys, blessed my own life as well! When God invites us into the shaping process, there is great joy in the sowing and the reaping! It is my prayer that every opportunity God gives us to impact lives for Jesus is potentially the opportunity to literally shape the next generation for God’s glory. And as I’ll soon get to see personally, Thessalonika was where Christ’s early followers were “turning the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). May God allow the generation that we are shaping, to do the same in their world!

Luck – when preparedness meets opportunity

A flat tire on the way to church provides two chances to witness. A job promotion turns into ministry potential. A non-elective surgery brings estranged family members together. Louie Giglio has said, “God is always at work for His glory and for our good.” That’s a Romans 8:28 perspective for sure!

As Christians, it is easy to say there is no such thing as luck, but to actually believe that God is intricately involved in the details of our lives – that’s the litmus test. This type of faith is not so easy. I know that God is always at work. In fact as I was reading the opening lines of Joshua, I was already contemplating this truth. The complexity of that truth was not on my mind, however. Not only is God always at work, but God is always using today, to prepare us for tomorrow. As you know from the book of Joshua, Moses was a servant to God. Joshua was a servant to Moses. You could say, that before you get into leadership you must be tested with followship. Some of us do not know how to follow so we cannot lead. Wherever Moses was, Joshua was right along with him. God prepared Moses for his purpose. Remember he was on the Nile River in a basket and ended up in Pharaoh’s palace. He was raised in royalty but was tending sheep when God called him. Moses knew what it was to be rejected when he was put in the basket. From rejection he went to royalty. He had to be raised in the palace because he had to go to Pharaoh and speak his language. Every event in your life is preparing you for a greater purpose. Moses had the spirit of a possessor and that same anointing was on Joshua. God made a divine deposit on Moses so he would be a possessor. If you follow someone who is going nowhere you will go nowhere.

Preparation is an act of faith. If we really believe God is going to do something, we get ready for it. God gives what we are prepared to receive. While it is God who gives the reward, remember, that it is also God who gives the preparation. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” Being prepared to obey God’s voice is the evidence of our faith. No need to wait for the roll of the dice; be ready for action now!