Upward, Outward: Missional Community.


36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew22:36-40NIV

Epidemic…
A friend of mine has traveled extensively and spoken to numerous pastors and church leaders. As a result, he’s discovered there is an epidemic. It seems there is a vacuum in many hearts; the vacuum is often discovered when believer’s feel / sense there must be more to life than what they are living. They may be encouraged to pray, worship, journal, read books, attend conferences, attend church or meditate upon scripture to fill their void. In reality, the vacuum they are sensing may be a purpose deficit.

All inflow, with no outflow, creates a sick heart. You and I were created to flow outward, to do good works.

Eph 2: 8-10NIV
  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. 

We are saved by grace through faith not by works. However, we are His handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.

Good works don’t save us, good works reveal us. 

If you and I are not giving our lives away by serving others… somewhere we, at our core, are purpose impaired.

The below diagram illustrates:

                                                                                                                                                            

Upward:Give. Upward:Receive. 
Everything in life flows from our connective relationship to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Everything. He is the source of our identity. Knowing Whose we are enables us to draw near with confidence.

In Him, we live and move and have our being. Our heart connection is so important. We draw near, and He draws near to us. His promise is true. 

All life flows from our relationship with Him. We draw near to give: to give our hearts, to give our lives, to give our worship. 

I give my worship because He is so worthy, so gracious, so loving, so forgiving. 

It’s amazing… as we give, we often receive. (I personally believe we receive more than we are aware when we spend time in His  presence.) 

What we receive is a by-product of our worshipful giving. I give my time, I give my life as worship. He, in turn, pours His love and grace into my heart. When we receive, we then have something to give. Knowing Him, I can then make Him known. (I John 1:1-9)
                                                                                                                                                                 
Outward:Give. Outward:Receive. 
The great Investor invests into our lives so that we are built up, and have something to give away to others. 

He gives us love, joy, hope, faith, grace, power, talents, giftings, gifts, and passions for others. 

As I make Him known, through active love and service, He in turn, gives something back… a sense of destiny, a sense of purpose, a sense of fulfillment.

It’s in the very act of giving, laying our lives down for others we receive. We receive encouragement when someone is genuinely encouraged and cared for through our service. We also can sense God’s favor as we give away what we have received. When we bless others, we are blessed.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

My friend Shana has a new photography business. She decided to dedicate 10% of what she earns to help people in need. Yesterday, she went shopping for groceries and toiletries. She then headed up to Trotwood to deliver the groceries and supplies to women in crisis. She stayed awhile encouraging the women and children. 

                                                                                                                                                                       
Here is a snippet of her story.
 “There are days when my envy for what others have makes it hard to breathe and others when my heart aches for what others do not. Every day I work hard to be a humble servant, putting others ahead of myself in my relationships and in my business. All the money in the world would mean nothing to me if I couldn’t help others.
Today was hard and beautiful all in the same, I was able to gift a car full of groceries to the Mustard Seed Foundation in Trotwood, a home for teenage mothers. These girls are facing challenges on so many levels and I am so thankful this home exists. I was greeted with warm smiles and big hearts and I left behind a little goodness and grace.” 

Her passion intersects with God’s purpose.  

Her passion:To care for people. Her purpose:Release her creative gifting to care for others, both in her chosen profession as a photographer and giving to people in need.

Guess where her tank is filled? Shana’s life passion is connected to her life purpose. She genuinely cares for her clients and for the people in need in her community.

My wife teaches literacy enrichment.  
Her passion:Child development. Her purpose:Teaching literacy. 
She wants to love the kids as Jesus loves. She has done this well. She is loving, creative, joyful, kind and open hearted. Guess what? Kids love being with her. Her love for Jesus overflows in creative teaching.


  Note: Both are not “full time” church workers. They are full-time Jesus followers.

Where does your passion intersect with God’s purpose?

                                                                                                                                                               
Together:A Missional Community.

When we, together, worship, love, serve and care for others we become a missional community; a community on mission. 

I’ve heard it stated, “If you pursue community you may develop community, but you may not be on mission. However, if you(all ya all), as a group of people, pursue mission you will form a community.”

Upward:Give. Upward:Receive.

Outward:Give. Outward:Receive. 

Upward:Give. Give thanks and praise for what He did in you and through you and through… all ya all. Community on Mission=Missional Community.

If it doesn’t work … It’s probably American.

 
It’s been a good two weeks. I’m in Warrington, England with my friends Mike and Jane. They were pastors of a church I helped plant in Scotland. They sold everything and moved to Warrington a few years ago to plant a new generation church called Oasis. 

Oasis is amazing. I love the energy, the way people are encouraged, and how they reach out to the community. Many of the people who now attend were reached, met Jesus, were then baptized, now are disciples and function as band members, creative arts people, outreach participants or serve in other ways.

One of my Bible college professors stated, “If a principal works in any culture it’s God. If the principle doesn’t work in any culture, it’s probably American.

Serving their city works.
Oasis serves the community mainly through acts of kindness. They have served the people of the city from day one. In this culture nothing is free, and there is always a catch. When people receive a small gift, a coke on a hot day, a small bag of treats, or chocolate to celebrate Warrington people are impacted. The simple acts of kindness reaches the heart. They ask questions. Many receive prayer. Some meet Jesus then begin to attend Oasis.

We’ve gone out to the main shopping area in the town center. As we’ve served more than one person asked, “What’s the catch?” We were able to share why, have great conversations, and pray with people. 

One day the police came down after seeing us serving on CV monitors. Their response, “Oh, it just Oasis.” 

I prayed for a police woman. I simply stated, “I’d like to pray for your protection. Would that be ok?” She replied, “Thanks that would be nice.” We prayed for her. Invited angels to be with her. Declared protection over her. We declared she’d have eyes to see and ears to hear and God’s presence would be near her.  We noticed her smile, gratitude and genuine up beat response. “I’m protected now. Thank you.”

One lady who had pain in her back was shocked when her pain level moved from an eight down to a two. Most people we prayed for encountered the love of Jesus through the  presence of the Holy Spirit.

Several people mentioned they would like to pop in and check Oasis out. 

They have a family service at 11am. At 6 pm a new generation service starts. This service is mainly made up of 20’s and 30’s. The style is fun, upbeat and has an amazing house band who lead worship. Last week there was a tangible sense of God’s presence as we worshiped.

Since I’ve been here there has been a shift into prophetic encouragement and prayer. People are now stepping into the next phase of outreach. As they pray for people they are receiving insight, knowledge and encouragement for the people they serve. This connection to the Holy Spirit is wonderful to see and experience. 

Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson wrote a best selling book The Externally Focused Church. My favorite line from the book. “Good deeds, creates good will, which opens hearts to the good news.” 

Oasis … They are serving their way into the hearts of people… Tiz working in Warrington, England.

This is what Pattie and I do. We encourage, and in return we are encouraged. If you’d like us to come to your church or support us in prayer of giving. Simply click Invite Steve or Donor Box link.

Is He more than enough? Bowen update.

Hey just wanted to write a brief update…

It’s rewarding to see the potential for missionaries using the film we gift to highlight who they are and what they do. Two short video’s have been completed. We are waiting on completed edit. While in Costa Rica we filmed Thebackwardsmissionaries.com

Our heart is to equip, train and encourage wherever we are located and go. We are practitioners not just theorist. I do more than travel to encourage missionaries; this is just a part of what we are doing. We are learning and growing even at our age.

Worship a key that unlocks our hearts…
I was worshiping and felt so small, so young, I asked Jesus, “Why?” Reply, “Because you are eternal.” Yep, much pondering on this statement happened.

Stunned…

I was worshiping a while ago, and I felt a nudge, a whisper… “Steve, if this was the only thing you did …. would it be enough?” 

I sat in silence for some time then replied, “I want you to be enough. I’m so driven. I don’t know. Help me to allow you to be enough.” 

I walked away from that moment forever changed. 

Worship is our number one way of expressing our heart to Jesus. As we worship He appears. Sue Ranaldi, a worship leader in the UK once said, “Worship is the scene of His appearing.” 

Those who worship, touch the Father’s heart 
as they glorify Jesus. The Holy Sprit loves to glorify the Son.
 As we worship He shows up.

 Number two way, is serving others. Both sacrifices are pleasing to HIm. (Hebrews 13)


We sing … more than enough… but really, is He? When I remember this encounter I cease striving. I pause. I reflect. In eternity He will be more than enough… I’m learning to practice making Him so here.

More to follow.
I head to the UK Monday for 3 weeks, and yes another video guy is going, thanks to the partnership support I’m receiving. His first out of the country mission. Excited for him. 

He will be filming Overtoun House and Bob and Melissa Hill. 

I’ll be in Warrington, England for a couple of weeks with Mike and Jane McMahon training and encouraging before heading north.

Last thought. Times are a changing: partnership and support come from relationships with ones being sent.This includes churches and individuals. We are grateful for those we know, or we have known, who help us do what we do.

We are so grateful,

Steve and Pattie
for more
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