Why I’m Excited! – by MVC Guest Author, Bob Rasmussen
Monte Vista Chapel has occasionally gone through periods when God has thrust us into new directions. These are reminiscent of the times when the early church was visited by God in special ways.
As we have entered a series in the Book of Acts, I can’t help but think of how God moves His church forward and out. The Day of Pentecost is a prime example (Acts 2). The visitation of the Spirit in wind, fire, and multi-lingual proclamation signaled His intention that the church be for all cultures. This came out of weeks of prayerful waiting by the 120 followers.
Fast forward a few years and the elders at Antioch were fasting and worshipping the Lord. I think they were asking God for direction because the answer from God explained a next radical step, which was to launch cross-cultural outreach by dispatching Paul and Barnabas.
MVC has had these kinds of visitations. One which I had the privilege of participating in was the worship team that went to Kenya in 2004. We partnered with the worship team in Nairobi Chapel for outreach. That trip initiated the vision of a trans-global partnership with First Love Kenya which has continued for 16 years!
I think we are on the verge of another forward thrust. Pastor Ken and our staff and elders are calling us to extend God’s kingdom locally and globally. Next year they plan to introduce a year-long cohort with this focus. I really appreciate the leadership our pastors are gifting us in this regard.
As you have heard, there are three pillars of discipleship: Know God’s Story, Develop Christ’s Character, Expand God’s Kingdom. I love these three pillars because they make “normal” what sometimes seems the exception. By that, I mean that we make “missions” that which a few people do, usually far away. It’s true, not everyone is cut out to learn a foreign language so as to move and live in another country, but every Christian can be a life witness for Jesus.
Could I share four ways I’m excited about what’s ahead for our community?
- I love the connection I see between all three pillars and the year-long cohorts being planned. One connection I see is the way the Developing Christ’s Character pillar (and its cohort called “The Journey”) will inform the Expanding God’s Kingdom cohort. Here’s how. Spiritual practices which help conform us to the character of Christ can also help us grow continually in sharing His love with the world. Let me give an example or two.
In our discipleship, we often seek solitude and silence to invite God to give us His perspective on our inner life or relationships. In our desire to share Christ with others, spiritual practices can also assist us. Our prayers, for example, may consist of lament-prayers sue to the suffering, injustice, and lostness of humanity. Such prayer gives us a Biblical way of dealing with our own frustrations and shortcomings.
- Here’s another way the three pillars complement each other. Sometimes when we sing a worship song, our main thought is about our own needs, like comfort in sadness or help with our fears. But our worship can be enlarged when we sing or pray with an awareness of God’s work in the world.
I recently viewed a short video which called believers to pray for people who live with intense fears of war, shame, and abuse. As I watched the images of dear women and children and listened as a believer from their culture prayed God’s peace over them, my heart began to sing the chorus we use in worship, “I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God.” I began to praise God that His deliverance from fear is not only for us but for every human being to experience, and this led to greater worship in my heart.
- Thinking about this has led me to believe that the spiritual practice that is within reach of every Jesus-follower is hospitality. By that, I do not mean entertainment. Hospitality is making room in our heart, schedule, and dwelling for passers-by in need. Hospitality can be as simple as a smile, to the complexity of housing a refugee or fostering a child. It is bringing someone into a welcoming atmosphere and trusting God to give them peace and nourishment. Aimee and I are trying to overcome our individualism and need for privacy by practicing hospitality as fits our current capacity and faith.
- Now for one final, and surprising, connection between the pillars of discipleship: Sabbath. Expanding God’s Kingdom is both a joy and a difficult lifestyle. God gave us the pattern of working productively and resting enjoyably. The longer I’ve gone in my walk with God, the more I embrace the spiritual practice of Sabbath – not as stepping away from pleasing God but a falling forward into His pleasure. Sabbath is our declaration of faith that God is in charge of expanding His kingdom even when we are resting in His presence.
Sometimes on our Sabbath, Aimee and I will practice hospitality. Is that violating the Sabbath principle? Not if we (in our hearts) are inviting others in to enjoy the presence of our gracious God who fills our home. Not if we take food and conversation as reminders that God is our provider.
A final thought. God’s mind is not divided. He does not call us on the inward journey only to draw us back from reaching out to others. Instead, He calls us to be conformed to Christ, who would retreat for a night in solitary prayer, to then share bread with hungry families on a crowded hillside.
As our vision reminds: Christ in us, Christ through us. He gave us all the task of sharing His life and message. I’m confident He will give each of us a way to do that and still be true to how He created us. This could be really fun!