Sunday, April 29, 2007
Sowing seed is hard work...Jesus said, 'I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.' John 4:38 NIV
Most of the time the seeds we sow don't spring up in a day, sometimes it takes weeks, months, or years to see the harvest. It is a spiritual principle foundational to outward focus and outflow.
What we sow into our lives will bear fruit someday...That's why it is important to continually sow positive, good things into our lives. It is also why it is important to sow seeds into the lives of the people in our communities...the principle no sowing, no harvest.
My friend Doug met with some church planters recently all stated, 'We don't have the funding to sow seeds.' Doug was stunned, he then asked what business they were in? He clarified we are spiritual farmers, we sow seeds it is what we are called to do...the principle, begin where you are...with what you have. If you wait for tomorrow, you may have a long wait...He encourage them to begin now, invest in the community, fling seeds, invite, encourage, challenge the people to do the same, and experiment with what you have.
Last week I talked to a church planter who is beginning where he is. They went out to a local laundry mat to feed some quarters into the machines...only problemo...no people...many leaders would have become discouraged and quit...He being a good leader led the small group to a coin operated car wash and fed quarters to pay for the car wash...They returned encouraged.
Later, when asked how can he and his church begin to kick up the volume, by inviting people to become shareholders? I gave a tip...Invite the people to bring outreach items to the meetings...
This month is granola bar, trail mix and packs of peanuts. When you go shopping pick up a box or two of the above items we will store the items for our monthly outreach.
Are we a coke church or a pepsi church or a water church...I did this in Cincy and we raised 28,000 drinks for a summer outreach. Encourage the people to bring cokes, or pepsi, or water to the church each can or bottle is a vote...plan a 4th of July drinks outreach...and use the drinks as your outreach items.
etc. etc. be creative...
Yesterday at 11am we went out to a low income housing area with mainly a bunch of guys out of the 25 people who showed up only four were women. We delivered groceries and offered prayer. At one door one a single mom with 4 kids opened the door...she burst into tears...she didn't have any food to last that week...When prayed for she sobbed.
At 5 pm a van drove up in our parking lot. I noticed a lady looking lost so I went and greeted the lady and the 4 kids in the van...She was the lady. ... She had been so moved by her experience she felt she just had to come and see who we were...She also said thanks...
It is moving when something like this happens...it's not the norm. Most of the time seed sown is hidden in the ground of a persons heart. How it grows? Nobody knows it is a mystery.
Watering Planted Seeds
I was washing my car yesterday...a guy pulls up in a truck...gets out asks about the house next door...mentions his parents are returning from Vietnam that night, they are missionaries...I noticed he was a searching, needy guy...After our conversation, I ask if I could pray for him...Startled he agreed...I grabbed his hand and prayed blessing prayers over his life...that God would crown him with favor just as God had given favor to his mom and dad and family, that God would provide for him, that God would open doors for him. At the end of the prayer he said, 'You know, you're not the only person who has prayed for me lately.'
My job, your job, to water the seeds already sown in the hearts of men. God brings the increase.
I'm hoping my boys Mattie, Andrew, and Nathan will be prayed for by the believing people they meet...If you have a minute why not pray for them now. ... ask that God's favor would be on them and that they'd meet believing believers I'd appreciate it very much.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Kindness to go...a variant... every 2nd Saturday we gather a group of people and head out into the community.
This past Saturday, our mission to Honduras team and several others gathered to learn, go, and serve.
Here's what it looks like... Caleb my friend and Jedi knight arrived early, we made a couple pots of coffee, set up tables to place the items for our Kindness bags, prepared the computer with graphics, prepared maps, readied the name tags, turned up the volume music, and prayed together.
People arrived, we welcomed the troops, offered the coffee and waited for most people to show up.
Once everyone arrived...we went into our Outreach / Teen space.
Every 2nd Saturday we usually have a short training element. This past weekend I spoke to the Mission team.
Having lived in Scotland for 18 years and having hosted 1 to 2 teams per year I shared some of the things we learned.
1. Learning to serve at home is important for serving in other countries.
2. Most teams don't realize that they are part of the process...they will add to what is already on the ground. Good teams seek to build upon what has already been accomplished by the local church / missionary group and seek to be a positive influence while serving and seek to leave a positive vibe when they leave.
3. Expectations are important...both for the team and the church / missionary group being served by the team.
Most frustrations happen when clear expectations are not spelled out. Good team leaders ask great questions. What are you expecting us to accomplish while we are with you? Do you expect us to be 'on' all the time or will be have some down time? What will we be doing? Who will be seeking to reach? Do you want us to train / teach / equip? What's our schedule look like? Do we need to help cover your costs? If so how much?
When I hosted teams I always gave the group serving a few evenings off and made sure they had at least one day off per week. I also, sent a schedule and an overview of the outreach and spoke often on the phone to the team leaders.
One team sent a couple of people over to Scotland to spy out the land. As a result they came back for 7 years.
4. Sowing and reaping on purpose.
I then spoke about 1 Cor 3 and Paul's attitude as a servant and the Jesus method of evangelism in John 4.
We broke up into groups to pray asking God to send people who would be workers in the harvest.
Caleb then told the people how to pack the bags. I described the outreach, where we were going, and handed out the maps.
We now have a mini green bus so the Honduras team went in the van and the rest of us car pooled to our area.
We arrived and prayed again.
Headed out in pairs of 2 for the outreach. We agreed to meet back in an hour. When we met back we shared stories, prayed again and headed home.
Some things that happened...
When prayer was mentioned at H&R Block a lady jumped up an said yes please pray for a boy in Atlanta that has Bacterial Meningitis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever!
A young worker said 'Hey, I live just across the street from your church.' He had a positive conversation and an personal invite.
One bank teller said, 'You are the Vineyard that pretty good church.' continued 'Aren't you guys going to plant a church in our area in 2008?'
Kindness to go on 2nd Saturday is a great way we've discovered to continue the outflow value at the Vineyard.