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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Immediate, Radical, Costly Obedience

Several years ago I witnessed a man share the vision that God had given him. Rick, in his executive conference room, leaned back in his chair and talked for two and a half hours.

"I believe," he said, "that God wants us to mobilize a civilian force of compassion using the worldwide distribution network of millions of local churches."

Several lines that he used impacted me.

"Obedience is how we express our love to God," he said. "God is interested in immediate, radical, costly obedience!"

My mind flashed back to earlier days in my ministry to a time when I was unloading a U-Haul truck in muggy, 104-degree weather in central Alabama. I knew no one. I was 26-years old with a wife and two small children. However, I had heard the voice of God.

I recalled leaving a thriving, life-changing church to go to a place with no church. This time I had three children, a core group in the single digits, and a dream.

Another line that caught my attention was, "What is there about my life that God would want to multiply?"

He continued by telling of the largest House-Church Movement in China. The leaders had come together for a time of training. For hours they prayed and discussed their mission. Someone produced a large world map that indicated the spiritual temperature of each country. As they studied this map, the pastors/leaders--mostly rural Chinese farmers--felt impressed that someone among them was called to be a missionary. Finally, one lady raised her hand.

"I am the one God is calling," she said, "To Myanmar."

Later, the missions speaker went to sleep in the same room where the meeting had taken place. When he awoke the next morning, the lady was no longer there. Upon inquiring, he learned that the Chinese had been up all night.

"First, we had to pray to see who was called to go with her," a leader reported. "Then we had to get money together for tickets. The lady--a medical doctor--and her companion left on the first bus this morning for Myanmar. They traveled on one-way tickets."

This was obviously immediate, radical costly obedience.

The ENY-NE District has a goal to plant five churches in the next five years (2010-2015). "Would it be possible, Lord, to speak to men and women regarding the need and opportunity in the northeast? People who could catch your vision for impacting this crucial area of our country? People willing to relocate, get jobs, build relationships and start life-changing churches? Would you place in the hearts of several families a willingness to become core members of a church planting team? Would it be possible that some Bible School buddies or seminary mates would feel compelled to do something significant together in the northeast? Lord, would you give us leaders with immediate, radical, costly obedience?"

"It is possible," He replied. "In fact, I am already about the task. I am just waiting for them to hear and heed. Get ready! Church planters are headed your way!"