The International Illustration of Inconvenience

I am not what one would call a world traveler. I haven’t been to the outer most parts of the world. I haven’t seen what other cultures are like. I haven’t experienced what it feels like to be in a foreign land. But I can still make a perception based on the very little knowledge I have – the idea of “being inconvenienced.” It seems to be a universal, an axiom – that there is nowhere on this earth that is truly at peace. In every city, in every nation, on every continent, there are individuals who either inconvenience themselves or are inconvenienced by others. This I know.

Likewise – I think that if one wants to be a world changer they have to be willing to be inconvenienced. Going with the flow is easy, but when it comes to going against the grain, being inconvenienced is not only probable but inevitable. I’m not talking about “the-microwave-burnt-my-popcorn” inconvenience, but I am talking about truly being willing to put others’ lives in front of your own.

I think that Jesus paid the difference so that we could make a difference. The wage of sin was death, and Jesus died so that we might live and bring life to the world. To be salt and light doesn’t seem easy, especially in the realm of the New Testament church. It seems like when the supernatural happened, it was seen as it was, beyond the natural. The natural to them was stoning, public disgrace, and being exiled.

Think of it this way: imagine that you found a plant or food that could potentially end world hunger. Wouldn’t you want to learn how to properly cultivate and nurture it? Wouldn’t you want to tell everyone you knew, especially those starving, about this food that could save their lives? Similarly, we have the seed of the Gospel to sow into the world, and our jobs are simply to plant the seed.

In Matthew 13, Jesus tells the Parable of the Sower. In this parable, a farmer goes out and plants seed among many different types of terrain. I’m sure Jesus’ audience thought this was foolish of the farmer, but I think that was his point. It would be convenient for the farmer to put the seed on the good soil – the farmer being symbolic for one who sows the Word. It would be convenient for me to just tell the Gospel to people who are seeking but that isn’t my call. My call is to go out and tell the Good News of God to the whole world, regardless of how I think they’ll respond. For me to do anything else would be for me to put myself above God.

Are you willing to inconvenience yourself for the sake of greater work? You have the potential to save the world. The world is hungering for truth and it’s at your fingertips, dancing behind your teeth to be told to the lost. Are you willing to spread the Word wherever it needs to be sent? You don’t need to travel the world to find a lost and hurting soul. You might not even have to travel across the room before you find someone that needs to know the Truth. Are you willing to make a difference? Are you ready to change the world?

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Mordecai, Motion, Millennium.

Mordecai Ham: the name of a man that most people don’t associate. I remember reading his name in a book once, and upon reading it, realized that if my life played out the same as Mordecai Ham’s, then I would consider myself blessed.

Most people gauge success on numbers, figures and statistics. Whatever an individual can yield shows the true success of the individual. This seems to be the same in the realm of the church. Mega church pastors are the ones usually coveted, heavily followed and admired, whereas the small town pastors are sometimes seen as black sheep and less significant.

Pastor Jeff Leake spoke at one of our retreats last month, and he said something that really caught my attention. He said that, “ministry is not about what you do, but what you set in motion.” Pastor Jeff then went on to compare this idea to that of Barnabas, who raised and discipled an individual such as Saul, pouring into him and helping him to be the great missionary to the Gentiles. Barnabas didn’t know that this would be Paul’s ministry. Likewise, sometimes things that seem incredibly insignificant in this world might yield indescribable profits in the next. I think this is something that Jeff realized, Barnabas realized, and Mordecai realized.

I read Mordecai’s name for the first time in the autobiography of Billy Graham. Reverend Graham writes with vivid clarity the night in which he got saved. I remember reading as this great man describes going to a tent-revival service led by Ham in North Carolina, 1934. Mordecai Ham did not know that that night he would be leading to Christ the greatest known evangelist of not only the 20th century, but potentially the millennium! I think that is something we need to realize too. Sometimes we might not be successful in the eyes of the world, but we could be setting in motion something that will change the universe. Are you willing to be a Mordecai Ham?

“If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.”
-Emily Dickinson

Self. Stars. Significance.

A – O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

B – You have set your glory
above the heavens.
C – From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise
because of your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.

D – When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
E – what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
E’ – You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.

D’ – You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet:
C’ – all flocks and herds,
and the beasts of the field,
B’ – the birds of the air,
and the fish of the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.

A’ – O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

It’s always fun whenever I am reading a passage and I find a chiasm. I get a little giddy like a school girl and start metaphorically jumping for joy! I borrowed the outline of the chiasm from a website online. I guess the chiasm here was a little obvious, seeing as the Psalm is bracketed with the phrase on the majesty of God – But I’m going to take the credit this time, k?

It’s been a year since I’ve been in the Bahamas. Last July, a group of us from school went for three weeks to minister and run a kid’s camp. It was exhausting! All day we were planning games, adventures, swimming, and playing. I just remember getting to the end of the day and being ready to relax. A few of us, after the kids went to their tents, would go up onto the roof of the shack we called a kitchen, and we would stare at the stars.

The stars there were phenomenal – not that they were different stars than what everyone else sees. But being on a deserted island with no electricity and being around islands that also have no electricity meant that at night there was pure, untainted darkness. On average we would see roughly ten shooting stars a night! We could see the Milky Way stretching across the sky! God seemed so BIG in comparison to it all! And I remember feeling so small.

Sometimes when we look at how big the world is, we can feel insignificant and think, “God, who am I that you are mindful of me?” We see God’s majesty, and then we feel like we make no difference in the rifts of eternity. This Psalm about God’s majesty hinges on the idea of God being mindful of man. It is a testimony of how truly great God is! God, being all that He is, loved and made people as small and seemingly insignificant as us, but yet He has made us just a little lower than that of the Cherubs and Angels! It almost seems like an oxymoron wrapped in an enigma.

So I guess if I have a point to make it’s that sometimes we are significant in our insignificance. So for my oxymoron statement to make sense, I will say we are “insignificantly significant.”

Being an intern, I get the idea that sometimes what I do isn’t making a lasting impact. Some days it seems like all I do is move the most mundane of materials. Sometimes I feel like I am going to leave here and it will be as though I never even came. But I remember that only God knows the end before the beginning, and that He knows the intricate workings that lie under every situation.

Do you feel insignificant sometimes? Do you feel like sometimes you are working without recognition? We need to remember our place in relationship to God’s. We need to remember whose majesty rules sovereign over every situation. We know that when we are weak we truly are strong – Paul said that. But do we know that even when we feel insignificant – when we feel like everything we are doing is meaningless – that that is when we might be doing what is most significant for the Kingdom?

Ministers. Missionaries. Momentarily.

Mark 5:18-20 – “As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, ‘Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.’ So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolishow much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.”

I remember sitting in Dr. Haltom’s Synoptic Gospels class learning about this passage. One of the things that really gripped my attention about this passage was the difference in the story between the Synoptics. Matthew documents there being two demon-possessed men, whereas Mark and Luke only document one. “Why is there an inconsistency?” is what I thought.

Upon deeper investigation I realized why Mark and Luke only mentioned one man, instead of both. Mark wanted to focus on the man who came to Jesus after the demon was cast out. This man is significant because Jesus sent him back to be the first missionary to any Gentile people. In my mind, it would seem more logical for Jesus to take this man with him to disciple him. But Jesus sought it better to send him out – to his own people in his own land.

Summer is always difficult because all of us go back to our homes, our internships, or wherever. Sometimes it’s easy to get discouraged because we are ready to get back to school, or go out and do ministry – to make a difference. This passage really challenged me because Jesus saw it more fit for the man to go back and preach to his own people rather than follow him. It doesn’t make sense to me.

Jesus is putting us where we are now so we can be missionaries in our own right. When we think about just wanting to graduate or get back to school, we need to remember that Jesus has us where we are for a reason – to follow the Great Commission. If you’re home and bogged down, don’t lose heart. If you feel like you aren’t making a difference, than just do what you can. Let us be missionaries wherever we are, whoever we are with, and in everything we do.